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Boone County

History of Boone County

By an act of the Legislature approved November 16, 1820, Boone County was organized out of a portion of the territory of Howard, "the mother of counties." At the time of its organization it contained about 3,500 inhabitants, chiefly from Madison County, Kentucky. It retains its original boundaries and contains 674 square miles or 431,000 acres of area. If not in fact the largest, it is among the largest counties in the State; larger in superficial surface than some of the States of Europe and islands of the ocean, which, stricken from the roll of empire or blotted from the annals of nations, would so mar the eastern hemisphere as to leave it measurably without a history. It is also about half as large as one of the States of the American Union, and one-third the area of several others; and in the sphere in which it has moved, considering the extent of its opportunities and capacity, and the comparatively short period which has elapsed since its first settlement, will favorably compare in its achievements and prowess with some geographical divisions of our own and foreign lands, larger even in size and much older in years, whose history is canonized in poetry and song.

The county was named in honor of Daniel Boone, the old Kentucky and Missouri pioneer, hunter and Indian fighter, who died in Femme Osage Township, St. Charles County, in the latter State, September 26, 1820, less than two months before the county was organized. As early as 1812-13, before the tide of flagrant war reached the interior of the territory of Missouri, a few of the emigrant Kentuckians that settled in Cooper's Bottom, in Howard County, ventured to the rich and higher lands on the east side of the Moniteau Creek, in the neighborhood of "Thrall's Prairie," as it was afterward called; and they were emboldened to make this venture by the protection afforded by Head's Fort, a small stockade defense, so named in honor of Captain Million Head, who was himself an emigrant. This fort was situated at a spring of never-failing water in a bend of the Moniteau, on the east side of the creek, and about two miles north of the present town of Rocheport.

The first settlement, or more properly the first cabin erected, and patch of corn planted, were the work in 1812-13 of  John and William Berry, Wm. Baxter and Reuben Gentry, in the neighborhood, if not on a part, of what is now known as "the Model Farm," formerly constituting the large and rich estate of Honorable John W. Harris, and in earlier times called "Thrall's Prairie"; called by this name because the prairie was owned and settled in 1816 by Augustus Thrall, an emigrant from Tennessee.

About the same time emigrants from Madison County, Kentucky, came over the Moniteau and settled there, namely, James Barnes, Robert and Mitchel Payne, John Denham, David McQuitty and Robert Barclay, with their families. Little progress was made, however, in the settlement of the country, now embraced by the boundary lines of Boone County, until after the war with Great Britain and the treaty of 1815, by which the Indians relinquished all claims to any portion of the territory north of the Missouri River.

Speedily following the declaration of peace and the ratification of this treaty of relinquishment of Indian titles, the tide of immigration sent in a flood, and Robert Hinkson, after whom the creek on which Columbia is located was called; William Callaham, for whom "Callaham's Fork" of the Perche and "Callaham's Lick" are named; William Graham, Reuben and Henry Cave, and perhaps some others, all from Madison County, Kentucky, settled along the old Boone's Lick trail, or old St. Charles Road, leading from St. Louis to Franklin, a "trail" which was first traversed in 1808-10 by Lieutenant Colonel Ben Cooper, and other immigrants of that name, while en route by land from Madison County, Kentucky, via St. Charles, Missouri, and the Loutre Island settlement, in the present County of Montgomery, to "Boone's Lick," opposite Arrow Rock, on the Missouri River, in Howard County. This "Lick" was at Salt Springs, at which, in 1808, two of the sons of old Daniel Boone—Daniel M. and Nathan—manufactured salt. Old Daniel had nothing to do with the enterprise; in fact, never was in the present limits of Howard, Boone or Cooper Counties, much less lived in either.

The years 1816, 1817 and 1818— in November of the last year being the time of the first land sales at Franklin by the United States—witnessed a great influx of population into the "Boone Lick Country" and in the western part of the territory now embraced by Boone County. In the spring of 1816 many crossed the Moniteau to the county seat east of it and settled on "New Madrid Claims," many of which were then owned by Taylor Berry, a land speculator of Franklin. Among these were Anderson Woods, a Baptist preacher; Robert Barclay, John Barnes, William Pipes, Absalom Hicks, John Stephenson, Jefferson Fulcher, Jesse Richardson, and a family of Bartons, relatives of United States Senator David Barton.

On August 31, 1824, Taylor Berry and Abiel Leonard (afterward a Supreme judge) fought a duel on Wolf Island, in the Mississippi River, in which Berry was killed.

The settlement about "Thrall's Prairie" grew rapidly, and comprised some among the best citizens of that time; men who have left their impress upon the history and development of the country. Among them were the following: Augustus Thrall, Oliver Parker, Anderson Woods, first judge of the county court; Dr. J. B. Wilcox, Clayton Herne, Tyre Harris, Overton Harris, Sampson, William and Stephen Wilhite, Henry Lightfoot, James Ketchum, William Boone, William Goslin, John Slack, Wilford Stephens, Jonathan Barton, James Cochran, Reuben Hatton, Charles Laughlin, and a number whose names we have not space to give. In 1819 Oliver Parker had a store at "Thrall's Prairie" and kept a postoffice, which was for some time known as "Lexington."

In the spring of 1817 the next settlement was begun in Perche Creek Bottom, in the southwestern portion of the county, by John Hickam, Anthony Head, Peter and Robert Austin, John McMickel, Jacob Maggard, Silas Riggs and Abraham N. Foley. In 1817 immigration to the county was large, and steadily increased during the years 1818, 1819 and 1820. On Southern Two-mile Prairie were Overton Harris, Peter Bass, Peter Ellis, Tyre Martin, Lawrence Bass, Mason Moss, David M. Hickman, Wilson Hunt, John Broughton, Benjamin White, Rev. David Doyle, Samuel Crockett, Philip and Benjamin Barns, Daniel Vincent, Lewis Woolfolk, William Shields, William Simms, Noah Sapp, Ed Bass, Abraham Barns, John Jamison, Robert and Cyrus Jones, Richard Lawrence, Durrett Hubbard, Francis Lipscomb, J. P. Lynes, John Yates, Ambrose C. Estes, Stephen Chapman, Richard and James Barns, Elias Simms, Mosias Jones, John M. Smith, Michael Hersh, Daniel Hubbard, James Harris. On the Two-mile Prairie, north of the St. Charles Road, were Samuel, Elijah and Sampson Wright, Elias Newman, Isaac Geyhart, Charles Helm, James Chandler, William Edwards, Elijah Stephens, Thomas Peyton Stephens, Samuel Riggs, Absalom Renfro, Nicholas McCubbin, William Wright, William Timberlake, James and Hugh Crockett, Benjamin Estill, Rev. Mr. Kirkpatrick, a Methodist preacher, Asa Stone, Thomas D. Grant, Roger N. Todd, first circuit clerk; Levi McGuire, Lazarus Wilcox, Thomas C. Maupin, afterward sheriff and State Senator; James Barns and others.

Between Rocheport and Thrall's Prairie were John Gray, Given and Joseph Head, David and Andrew McQuitty, Samuel Beattie, Robert Daley, John Cooper, Solomon and Zachariah Barnett, William Baxter, John Boggs, John Berry, David and James Pipes, John Copeland, David Kincaid, William Lientz, John G. Philips, father of Honorable John F. Philips, United States circuit judge, Kansas City; Michael Woods, James R Abernathy, afterward a well known lawyer of Paris, Monroe County, Missouri; Robert D. Walkup and Tyre Harris, afterward State Senator.

East and southeast of Rocheport generally known as "Terrapin Neck," lived Granville Bledsoe, Daniel, William, Jesse and James Lewis, P. Y. Russell, William Burch, John Graves, afterward one of the founders of Chillicothe, Missouri; Ichabod C. Hensley, Thomas Williams and William Fulkerson. East of this, and in the present neighborhood of Midway, John Henderson, Jonathan Freeman, Benjamin Mothershead, Charles Laughlin, W. T. Hatton, George Crump, William and James Y. Jones and John Onan. A few miles north of Columbia settled Cabel Fenton, Riley Slocum, Hiram Phillips, David C. Westerfield, Jacob Hoover, John Slack, John T. Evens, Zachariah Jackson, John Hamson, John Graham and Aquilla and Amos Barns. Near where Hallsville now stands were John Roberts and other settlers of that family, Peter and Joseph Fountain, the latter the grandfather of Mrs. John A. Logan, of Washington, D. C.; Andrew G. Hendrick; John and Joshua Davis, Smith Turner and others. In the Rockbridge Mills neighborhood, southwest of Columbia, were Thomas S. Tuttle, the first settler; Peter Creason, Nathan Glasgow, Elias Elston and John H. Lynch.

Within the neighborhood of Providence lived, first, Ira P. Nash, for whom Nashville was named; then John and Robert Peters and Gilpin S. Tuttle. A few miles northwest of Columbia were John Witt, James Turley, James Mayo, and a family of Barnetts. Around the present site of Columbia were Richard Gentry, afterward colonel of a regiment in the Florida War, and killed at the battle of Okechobee, December 25, 1837; Lewis Collins, John Vanhorn, John M. Kelly, Peter Wright, Dr. D. P. Wilcox, Samuel Wheeler, A. B. Lane, Thomas Dooly, James Lipscomb, David Jackson, Henry, Richard and Reuben Cave, David Todd, Warren Woodson, Thomas W. Conyers, Charles Burns, Wallace Estil, Minor Neal, William Ridgeway, Peter Kerney, Kemp M. Goodloe, John Cave, Daniel King, James Laughlin, Elijah and Abraham N. Foley, John J. Foster, Adam C. Reyburn and Willis Boyce.

The first church organized in Boone County was a Baptist Church called "Bethel," situated in a northwestern section of the county, eight miles north of Rocheport. It was organized June 28, 1817; the persons forming it were Rev. Anderson Woods, Betsey Woods, David McQuitty, John Turner and James Harris. William Thorp was its first pastor. The next church formed was Little Bonne Femme—Baptist—in December, 1819, by Rev. David Doyle, Rev. Anderson Woods, Elizabeth Woods, James Harris, Polly Harris, Mounring Harris, Elizabeth Kennon, John Maupin, Elias Elston, Matthew Haley, Jane Tuttle, Lazarus Wilcox, Lucy Wilcox, James Wiseman, Thomas S. Tuttle and Nancy Tuttle. Rev. David Doyle was the first pastor, and continued in that position for ten years, when he became pastor of Salem Church, and so continued for thirty years, thus spending forty years in the ministry in the county, for which, it is said, he never received any remuneration in money. He died July 29, 1859.

The first representatives to the Legislature, elected in 1822, were Peter Wright, Elias Elston and D. C. Westerfield.

The first steamboat that ever passed up the Missouri River, which forms the southern boundary of the county, was the "Independence," Captain John Nelson. It left St. Louis, May 15, 1819, and arrived at Franklin, Howard County, on the 28th of that month. The first four-horse Troy mail and passenger coach from St. Louis was driven into Columbia by Benjamin Stephens in 1834. Mr. Stephens was for many years a citizen of Boone, and died a few years ago at his home in the county west of Columbia.

The first deed of record in the county was executed by Taylor Berry and Fanny, his wife, December 12, 1820, to John Walkup, for 160 acres of land, $950.

Taylor was killed by Abiel Leonard in a duel in 1824.

The first mortgage was by Ben F. White to Robert Dale, February, 1821, on a quarter section of land and some horses, cattle and hogs, for $67.25.

The first letters of administration were granted to James Furley on the estate of Daniel Furley, deceased, and dated May 21, 1821. Sureties, Nathaniel Fagan and John McKinzie, in the sum of $2,500.

The first marriage in the county was that of Isaac Black and Sarah Maupin, July 14, 1820.

Previous to 1820 there was but one gristmill within the present limits of the county. It belonged to Minor Neal, and stood on the Moniteau and several miles north of Rocheport. In 1821 Durrett Hubbard built another about eight miles southeast of Columbia.

Several hundred yards north of the present site of Christian College, in a "clearing" or small field, the first hanging for murder occurred, December 13, 1831. The murder was committed in New London, Rails County, December 6, 1829, Charles B. Rouse being the victim, Samuel Earls the murderer. Under a change of venue the trial was held before the Boone Circuit Court, June term, 1830, David Todd, judge; Roger N. Todd, clerk; Thomas C. Maupin, sheriff; Robert W. Wells, prosecuting attorney. Earls was buried under the gallows, and it is probable his remains are on the spot to this day.

The first military companies organized in the county with the view of immediate service in the field were those of Captains Thomas D. Grant, David M. Hickman, Sinclair Kirtley, Elijah P. Dale and Michael Woods, in 1832, for the Black Hawk War.

In 1834 David S. and William Lamme, John W. Keiser and Thomas J. Cox established a paper mill at "Rockbridge Mills," six miles southeast of Columbia.

During the fall of 1835 "The Daily St. Louis Republican" was published on paper manufactured by this mill. Nevertheless, the mill enterprise was a financial failure, and soon collapsed with great loss to its projectors.

The first agricultural fair held in Boone County, and, in fact, in the State, was held at Columbia in November 1835, Abraham J. Williams, president, and Archibald W. Turner, secretary. The fair was held in a pasture in the eastern suburbs of the village, its location now occupied by magnificent dwellings and grounds.

It is a remarkable and very suggestive fact, and one too often over Early Colleges and looked in recalling the Academies early history of Boone County and Columbia, that the five commissioners appointed by the Legislature to fix upon and locate the permanent seat of justice in said county, did, on April 7, 1821, not only fix it at Columbia, but in their report to the circuit court reserved ten acres of ground "conditional if the State University be established therein," thus showing a prescience and foresight and interest in higher education without parallel in the location of any other town in Missouri. Add to this the fact—for fact it is—that the people of Boone established, in 1835, the first agricultural fair in the State, and the people of Columbia, the previous year, the first female academy west of St. Louis. We have not space in this synoptical history for a tithe of the details.

Suffice it that on December 27, 1838, the Legislature chartered Bonne Femme College, with William Shields, Overton Harris, Theoderick Jenkins, John H. Field, John Jacobs, Gilpin S. Tuttle and Walter L. Woolfolk as trustees. The college had been in existence a number of years before its incorporation, and become one of the most reputable inland colleges in Missouri, graduating some of the most distinguished men and women of the State. It was situated six miles south of Columbia, Bonne Femme Baptist Church now occupying the site of its buildings. In the fall of 1830 Mrs. H. T. Peerce established the first female school in the county in a two-story log house that stood on the ground now occupied by the fine residence of B. Loeb, on University Street, Columbia. In 1832 Lyman Guernsey and W. M. Kern opened the Columbia English and Classical Academy. In 1834
J. Coleman Boggs opened Bear Creek Academy, one mile north of Columbia. In the courthouse,
on Tuesday evening, August 9, 1831, a citizens' meeting was held, which inaugurated an enterprise to establish a college of high grade, and then and there planted seed which in a few years bore fruit in the shape of the State University. In the language of Emerson, "they builded better than they knew." Meetings were held, committees were appointed, plans projected, grounds purchased, and finally a brick building erected sixty feet front, twenty-six feet deep, two stories high and divided into rooms suitable for a college. On the first Monday in November, 1834, "Columbia College" was opened for the reception of .students. Thomas Miller, a graduate of Indiana University, was elected president. The buildings were beautifully located, being the same known in recent years as the residence of Rev. R. F. Babb. Dr. James W. Moss was president of the board of trustees. The history of the institution, which proved to be the forerunner, inspirator and father of the State University, shows that the following, among other prominent citizens, actively co-operated in its establishment, maintenance and success: Robert S. Barr, Dr. A. W. Rollins, Oliver Parker, Austin A. King, elected Governor of the State in 1848; John B. Gordon, William Cornelius, Warren Woodson, Sinclair Kirtley, Dr. James W. Moss, Dr. James H. Bennett, Dr. William Jewell, David S. Lamme, Thomas W. Conyers, Rev. W. P. Cochran, David Todd, James S. Rollins, Rev. Thomas M. Allen, Richard Gentry and James B. Nichols. After a useful and distinguished career of a few years the institution was supplanted by the State University, and ceased to exist. It is due its memory, however, to state that Columbia College, under the presidency, first, of Thomas Miller, and later of Miller and John Rennie, nobly performed its mission, laid the foundation for the education, culture and refinement of the people of Columbia and vicinity, and opened the way for the advent of the university.

Soon after the establishment of Columbia College, that is, in 1833, the people of Columbia resolved to provide better facilities for the education of their daughters, and their public-spirited efforts in this behalf resulted in the purchase from William Cornelius, at a low and very reasonable sum, a suitable lot for the erection of the needed buildings for "The Columbia Female Academy." A board of trustees, of which Joseph B. Howard was chairman, was chosen, the building erected and the academy opened under the wise and successful management of Miss Lucy Ann Wales. In 1840 she returned to New York and married John S. Thayer, after which the institution was successfully conducted by Miss Livinia Moore, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, John D. Ferryman, Eleazar Root, Rev. Tyre C. Harris, who died in Lexington, Missouri, October 9, 1854; Oliver Cunningham and J. S. Sloan. The academy was situated on the present site of the Cottage Hotel.

Baptist, afterward changed to Stephens, Female College, was established in 1856, and soon after that Christian Female College, with larger grounds, buildings and educational facilities, 'supplanted the academy, and it was discontinued. Nevertheless, it was an important factor in beneficent and elevating influences, but for which perhaps these larger colleges would have been above the ambition and beyond the grasp of our people. Both of them are now among the largest and most reputable and successful in the Mississippi Valley.

The history of the enterprise displayed by the people of Boone Public Buildings, Plank, County in connection with Rail and Rock Roads, the University and Agricultural College is briefly given elsewhere under those titles, to which the reader is referred. In 1824 the first courthouse was erected, an unpretentious brick structure, with few conveniences, served as such until 1847, about a quarter of a century, when the present courthouse, jail of stone, and brick offices for clerks, etc., were erected. On the second Monday in December, 1845, the Boone County Court, consisting of Judges Alexander Persinger, James W. Daly and Gilpin S. Tuttle, resolved on building a new courthouse, and made an order appropriating $10,000 for that purpose, and appointing Dr. William Jewell superintendent of the work. The courthouse was completed after another appropriation, and delivered November 22, 1847. The entire cost of the building was $17,165, and it was at the time regarded as the largest and most magnificent courthouse in central Missouri.
During 1851 and several succeeding years, the plank road mania prevailed in Missouri, and also in Boone County. Failing to secure a plank road to St. Louis, the people of Boone County determined to build one of their own from Columbia to Providence, nine miles distant, on the Missouri River, and for this purpose, June 6, 1853, organized a plank road company. On Saturday, May 13, 1854, at a meeting of the directors held in Columbia, the road was definitely located, and on July 15th the contract for building it was let to Jacob Barcus and Samuel Leonard, of Louisiana, Missouri, they taking $2,000 stock and giving bond to complete the work in twelve months for $30,000, and they completed it accordingly. In a few years the road was a ruin, and not a plank of it remained.

In 1853 the North Missouri Railroad, now known as the Wabash, was projected from St. Louis to Macon, and a proposition was made to the people of Callaway, Boone and Howard Counties that each subscribe $100,ooo to its capital stock to aid in its construction, and to secure the road through those counties in preference to a rival route. At a special election, June 13, 1853, the people of Boone voted on the question, after an exciting canvass conducted by James S. Rollins, William F. Switzler and Odon Guitar, in favor of the subscription, and Austin Bradford, James Cunningham and James M. Wright, against it. The subscription carried, yeas, 1,056; nays, 816, and the road was secured on the present route. No election was held in Callaway and Howard.

During the session of the Legislature of 1856-7, W. F. Switzler, one of the representatives from Boone, introduced a bill chartering a branch railroad from Centralia, on the North Missouri, to Jefferson City, via Columbia, and also a bill authorizing the construction of a system of rock and gravel roads, four in number, radiating from Columbia to the county limits. The railroad charter and the rock and gravel road bill authorized the county court, with or without submitting the propositions to the people, to .aid their construction by subscriptions of stock. After the close of the Civil War the subjects of building a branch road from Centralia, and of constructing turnpike roads, attracted earnest attention, and were pressed upon the acceptance of the people and the county court by many citizens. A petition, asking the court to make subscriptions of stock for the objects named, was circulated for signatures, and in a remarkably short time a large majority of the taxpayers signed it. On February 7, 1866, in the presence of a crowded court room, the petition was presented, and the court authorized the issue of $200,000 in county bonds in aid of the construction of the railroad, and $150,000 in bonds for turnpike roads running east, south and west from Columbia to the county line. On May 2nd a contract was made with Joseph and James Kelly, of St. Louis, to construct the railroad; on May 21st the ceremony of "breaking ground" at the Columbia terminus was witnessed by an immense concourse, Colonel Switzler, the author of the charter, dumping the first wheelbarrow of dirt on the track, and on October 29, 1867, the completion of the road was celebrated in Columbia. In due time the turnpike roads were also finished and proved of priceless value to the people.

Boone County is one of the rich agricultural counties of Missouri, and its history from the date of its earliest settlement has been a record of continuous progression. Its population in 1900 was 28,642.
By William F. Switzler.
[Source: Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri: Edited by Howard Louis Conard; Publ. 1901;  Pgs.
323-328; Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack.]


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