Callaway County, Missouri Genealogy Trails

First Settlers

First White Man Settlements
Source: William, Walter; History of Northeast Missouri, 1913; Vol. I, transcribed by C. Horton 2010

The first settlement of white men in the county was at Cote Sans Dessein, where in 1808 a few French traders established a village and
built a fort. The historian Rose, who was not always accurate, says the settlement was founded before 1800, but cites nothing to prove
his statement, while Henry M. Brackenridge, who visited it in 1811, says the village was about three years old at the time of his visit.

Brackenridge says: "The Cote Sans Dessein is a beautiful place, situated on the northeast side of the river, and in sight of the Osage, It will in time become a
considerable village, The beauty and fertility of the surrounding country cannot be surpassed. It is here we met with the first appearance of prairie in Missouri,
but it is handsomely mixed with woodland. This wooded country on the northeast extends at least thirty miles, as far up as this place, and not less than fifteen on
the other side, The name is given to the place from the circumstance of a single detached hill filled with limestone, standing on the bank of the river, about 600 yards
long, and very narrow. The village has been established about three years; there are thirteen French families and two or three Indians. They have handsome fields
in the prairies, but the greater part of their time is spent in hunting. From their eager inquiries after merchandise, I perceived we were already remote from the

Switzler, in his "History of Missouri" (p. 175), said: "Cote Sans Dessein was once a village of considerable importance, contained a small block house, and during
the War of 1812 was the scene of some hard-fought battles with the Indians, in which were exhibited many instances of woman's bravery and determination."
The name Cote Sans Dessein means "hill without design."

History of the Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-06) does not speak of Cote Sans Dessein, because it did not exist at that time, while the Rev. John Mason Peck Peek, positively fixes the date as 1808.
Grants of land in the county were made as early as 1800, however, for in that year Baptiste Duchoquette, of the city of St. Louis, obtained a grant of four thousand arpens from Spain, the cession being known even now as Survey No. 1837. Cote Sans Dessein was built on the land granted to Duchoquette.

Cote Sans Dessein has ceased to exist, even the post office having been discontinued. The hill on which it was located remains, but the river has encroached on the surrounding ground and washed away the old graveyard, while all of the buildings that stood in the original settlement have rotten down. The name has been given to the township in which the settlement was located and in that way it will be preserved.

Daniel Boone is credited with having crossed Callaway County in 1808 in company with Captain Clemson, who on his way, to establish Fort Osage. An oak Tree still stands on Nine Mile Prairie on which is inscribed "D.B., 1808" and local tradition says that the letters and figures were carved by Boone. Seven years after that time Col. Nathan Boone, a son of Daniel Boone, surveyed  the Boone's Lick Trail from St. Charles to Old Franklin, directly across Callaway County; and the following year Colonel Boone, with Joseph Evans, began a survey of the county, which was complete in 1817.


The First Permanent Settlements
Source: William, Walter; History of Northeast Missouri, 1913; Vol. I, transcribed by C. Horton 2010

Uncertainty exists concerning who was the first permanent American settler. The Rev. John Ham, a Methodist minister and Jonathan Crow, who built bark cabins on Auxvasse creek, about ten miles southeast of Fulton, in the fall of 1815. In a brief sketch of James and John Estens (probably Estes), says they came to Callaway county in 1815 and also were the first American settlers, while in still another sketch he says Asa Williams, of Cote Sans Dessein, settled here in the Spring of 1815, which if true, probably would make him the first American settler.
Ham's Prairie- was named after Ham, and Crow's Fork Creek for Crow.
During the next few month a few other American settlers came to the county and by the fall of 1817 a number of families were established in the district which now comprises Callaway County.

Capt. Patrick Ewing, of Virginia, who later was the second sheriff of Callaway County built the first residence in the county outside the village of Cote Sans Dessein in January 1816. It was located a short distance northwest of the present town of Mokane. Aaron Watson located on the Boon's Lick Trails in the Spring of 1816 and about the same time James Van bibber, of Kentucky settled on Auxvasse creek, near the present Cross-state Highway crossing. Immigration into the county was heavy during the next two years or three years and by the time the state was admitted into the Union, the county was quite generally settled.

John S. Ferguson, of Kentucky, who settled near Cote Sans Dessein in the fall of 1817, is credited with having built the first mill in the county spring of 1818. Previous to that time meal and flour were obtained in St. Charles county or ground by the settlers hand. Henry May, who located on May's Prairie, southwest of Fulton, in the fall of 1818, soon afterward built another mill and also established a race track. John Phillips who settled on Crow's Fork Creek, east and south of Fulton in 1817, built a still house and made whiskey a short time after coming to the county. Benjamin and James Goodrich, who settled on Auxvasse creek, near the present Berry ford bridge, in 1817 built both a horse mill and distillery.


Callaway County, MO Genealogy Trails