This time Hogan's companion on the trail was his mentor and dear friend, Father James Fox, pastor of St. Joachim's church in Old Mines. Hogan was apparently excited by the settlement opportunities he had seen on his first swing through the eastern Ozarks. According to parish records, he returned to Chillicothe October 15 and a month later (Nov. 15) he was headed south once again to ride deeper into the much more affordable real estate of the Ozarks.
Father Fox, a native of County Wicklow, Ireland, shared Hogan’s concern for the waves of arriving poor immigrants who could not afford to establish themselves in this new land, with land or homes or businesses. For three weeks they rode through southeast Missouri. That they both came from rural backgrounds, with knowledge of agriculture and the kind of land needed to support a farming operation was an invaluable asset in their evaluation of the terrain.
From Chapter V of On the Mission in Missouri, 1857-1868:
MY DEAR FRIEND FATHER FOX
Arrived at Chillicothe, I corresponded without delay, with my dear friend and worthy brother priest, Rev. James Fox, rector of St. Joachim's church, Old Mines, Missouri, who as I well knew, was deeply concerned for the matter of land ownership and occupancy by Catholic emigrants. The incidents of my late journey, which I related to him, so interested him that he requested to be permitted to accompany me on another such journey, if I should have occasion to make one. I wrote to him to be ready and that I would soon call on him.
Before many days, and in the latter part of November, we set out together on horseback from Old Mines. Traveling by way of Caledonia and Edgehill, we passed through Centerville the county seat of Reynolds County. Thence entering Shannon County, we descended Blair Creek, remarkable for its alternate limestone and red porphyry hills. Afterwards, we crossed the Current River at the mouth of Jack's Fork,
The Jack's Fork River (on left) flows into the Current. Close to this spot, Hogan and Fox forded the Current in 1857 on their November trip to explore possible sites for a settlement in the Ozarks
thence to Eminence, thence to Birch Tree, thence to Thomasville, thence to Pike Creek, thence to Van Buren, thence to Ten Mile Creek, thence to Black River, thence by way of Otter Creek, McKenzie Creek and Big Creek, through Caledonia and Potosi, homeward. Reynolds County we found entirely unfit for settlement, not one tenth of the land being tillable. Shannon and Oregon counties had much tillable land, perhaps one-third of the whole area, but none of it of prime quality except the river alluvial bottoms. Everywhere through these two last named counties, there was good stock range and abundance of valuable pine forest.
Thomasville in Oregon County is situated in this broad alluvial valley along the Eleven Point River. Both Hogan and Fox brought to bear their complete grasp of agricultural and industrial technologies and supremely practical analysis of the opportunities and limitations available. Hogan definitely intended this settlement to succeed.
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