Gasconade County Missouri
One of the first of the settlers in the county, if not the first, was Isaac Best, who owned and ran a horse mill somewhere in the northwest part of the county. For protection from the Indians he built a block-house, and had about a dozen dogs, which he had trained to give the alarm upon the approach of savages. One day, while grinding at his mill, his faithful sentinels attracted his attention by their uneasiness, and himself and his companion, Callahan, sallied forth to learn the cause. A shot from the Indians disabled Callahan, and compelled both to retreat to the block-house. Here they made good use of their rifles, but the Indians, nevertheless, captured the two horses with which the mill was propelled. Mr. Best, unwilling to risk another attack from the Indians, abandoned the mill and with his family and friend, paddled down the river to the nearest settlement. His family being now in comparative safety, he returned to his mill and cabin to recover some of his property, and was again attacked by the Shawnees. Being pressed too severely he jumped into the Missouri River, and, saving his rifle by placing it upon a cake of ice, " performed the almost incredible feat of swimming with the cake to Talbot's Forts, a distance of eight miles," and, after gaining terra firma, his clothing froze upon his person before he could reach the forts, 200 yards back from the river.
The above story is related by different authorities, substantially as given above ; but some locate it on the north side of the Missouri River, just opposite the mouth of the Gasconade. The time of its occurrence was most probably in the fall of 1811.
The first permanent settlers, it is believed, came into the county in 1812, and among them were Henry Reed, on the Bourbeuse, James Roark, three miles southeast of Hermann, and Isaac Perkins, William West, N. Riggins, and a few others who made their living principally by hunting and trading with the Indians. Some of these others were George Packett, Philip Boulware, and the Pryors, Pointers and Schockleys, John G. Heath, James Kegans, the Ridenhours, the Strains, James Crider, the Maupins, and a Mr. Wallace. Almost every one of the early settlers, as was the most natural and indeed necessary thing for them to do, settled on the bottom lands, near a small stream or good spring. No attempt was made to settle on the prairie until 1838, when Uriah Shockley located on Douglas Prairie, but, owing to the absence of water, and the difficulty of breaking new prairie land, abandoned his claim to Samuel Burchard, who, in his turn, was succeeded by Fred Douglas, after whom the prairie was named Douglas Prairie.
At that time those who followed stock raising (and the number was few), kept them during the winter on the bottom lands, along the Missouri River below Morrison, and along the Gasconade. These bottom lands were then covered with rushes and wild but nutritious grasses, upon which stock could not only live but keep fat without other feed during that season. After the Indians had been removed, and had " gone West," many of the farmers and settlers made a profitable business of rafting pine lumber from the Upper Gasconade River to St. Louis, while others found profit in hauling iron from the Massey Iron Works in Crawford County to Hermann, and in hauling provisions from Hermann to the works, as is mentioned in the sketch of the town of Hermann.
The following information about the early settlement of Gasconade County was furnished by E. R. Bowen, of Red Bird, and is inserted almost verbatim as written by him: On March 3, 1829, Isaiah Bowen, familiarly known as Col. Bowen, and family, pitched their tents on the banks of the Bourbeuse, about one and a half miles southeast of the present site of Eed Bird. The Colonel came to Missouri as an employe of Samuel Massey,* the founder of the Meramec Iron Works, in 1828, and superintended the building of the first gristmill at that place; and while he was employed with Mr. Massey he selected the location above referred to with the view of building a mill of his own. He continued to work at the iron works, at his trade, while his boys were engaged in clearing his land near Red Bird, what is now known as the old Bowen farm, which is owned at the present time by J. D. Faris. The Colonel, after finishing his day's work at the " Works," would, on Saturday evening, shoulder his trusty rifle [which is an heirloom in the family of E. R. Bowen, in memory of his grandfather], and set out for his Bourbeuse home, on foot, taking the North Star for his guide, as there were then no roads to follow. Wolves and bears were quite plentiful then, and the wild Indians, though not numerous, were yet frequent visitors at the Colonel's home, as it was near their trail leading ta St. Louis. Later on, when the country began to settle up, Col. Bowen built his first mill on the Bourbeuse, which, owing to the sandy formation of the banks of the river, washed away a few years later. After this he built a second mill, about half a mile lower down the river, at the mouth of Bowen's Creek. This mill was a great success, and was patronized by the scattered population of an extensive territory. It was the only mill in that part of the county until some time in the seventies, when the Red Bird Mill was built. The present location of Red Bird was first settled, about 1840, by James Miller, who opened up a small farm and started a tannery. At this tannery Mr. Miller tanned hides on shares for the people, who either made their own shoes or took the leather to a neighbor, and had shoes made by him. After some years Mr. Miller quit the tanning business, and soon after this died. His family remained here, however, several years. In or about 1874 Wellington Henderson bought the farm, and started a sawmill, intending to add other improvements, but himself died in a short time, and the property fell into the hands of N. G. Clark, of Cuba, Mo., who erected a first-class gristmill and added other improvements. In 1883 Red Bird Post office was established, the name "Red Bird " being selected by E. R. Bowen, because he thought it would be easy to spell and remember.
Following are some of the early land entries in Gasconade County, which will serve to show the names of early settlers and their choice of lands. No entries are here introduced except those made previous to the organization of the county, November 25, 1820.
The following were made September 17, 1818: Joel Starky, Section 19, Township —, Range G; William Clark, Section 0, Township 45, Kange 6; James Kegans, Section 10, Township 45, Range 6, also a portion of Section 11, Township 45, Range 0; and William West, Section 15, Township 45, Range 6. October 14, 1S18, Angus L. Langham, Section 3, Township 45, Range 6. October 20, 1818, Robert Thobe, Section 5, Township 45, Range 6; Thomas F. Reddick, Section 12, Township 45, Range 6. October 28, 1818, Samuel Merry and Richard Graham, Section 2, Township 45, Range G. October 29, 1818, William C. Rector and Robert C. Wightman, Section 4, Township 44, Range 6 November 4, 1818, Philip Tackett, Section 15, Township 44, Range G; November 25, 1818, Section 17, Township 43, Range 6. December 3, 1818, George Poynter and John Phillips, Section 32, Township 44, Range G. February 5, 1819, Edmund Anderson, Section 5, Township 43, Range 6. February 27, 1819, Joseph Poynter, Section 10, Township 44, Range G. February 1, 1819, William Pryor, Section 32, Township 44, Range G. March 6, 1819, John Phillips, Section 17, Township 44, Range 6. March 19, 1819, James Clay, Section 22, Township 44, Range G. June 25, 1819, Robert and J. G. Heath, Section 11, Township 45, Range G; and, October 24, 1819, William G. Pettus, Section 6, Township 43, Range G.
The following statement of voters, in Gasconade County, was filed June 6, 1828:
Roarks, 3; Jarvis, 1; Breeding, 1; Chrismans, 2; Phillips, 1; Bromley, 1; McManus, 1; Hilton, 1; Chuisin, 1; Grada, 1; Robertson, 3; West, 1; Tackett, 4; Hill, 3; Kirby, 3; Pryor, 3; Boulware, 1; Perkins, 5; Shockley, 3; Cox, 3; David, 1; Inslow, 1; Massie, 4; Wyatts, 2; Bittick, 1; Starkey, 1; Renfro 1; Crider, 4; Howard, 4; Reed, 2, Watson, 2; Wur, 1; Cowan, 1; Holden, 1 ; Burchard, 3 ; Babarick, 1 ; Skaff, 1 ; Rufro, 1, Pound, 1 Lane, 1 ; Walter, 1 ; Hincles, 5 ; Nasset, 1 ; Cliuus, 1 ; Rollins, 1 ; Waldo, 3 ; Kians, 1 ; Warsley, 1 ; Scott, 1 ; Keeney, 1 ; Hoops, 2 ; Barclay, 1 ; Glasgow, 1 ; Buckis, 1 ; Burns, 1 ; Francis, 1 ; Owens, 1 Watkins, 1 ; Holbavor, 2 ; Casons, 4 ; Case, 1 ; Sulbound, 1 ; Millions, 1; Evans, 2; Dinous, 3; Kailles, 2; Graw, 2; Fief, 1; Jiuv, 1; Labuss, 1; Laster, 2; Heatherly, 1; Edds, 1; Gibson, 3; Laughlins, 4 ; Poynter, 1 ; Abbott, 1 ; Morrow, 1 ; Jeans, 1 ; Hull, 1 Shobe, 3; Alker, 1; Willow, 2; Dubois, 2; Dodds, 1; Lively, 1; "C & N," 2; Parson, 1; Taylor, 1; Hughs, 2; Maysen, 2; Simpson, 2 ; Foulks, 1 ; Wrattly, 1 ; Jefferson, 1 ; Hoffmann, 2—total voters, 163.
Counting six inhabitants to each voter, as it is probably safe to do in a country as new as Gasconade County was then, there were 978 inhabitants in the county at that time, June 6, 1828.
History of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford and Gasconade Counties Missouri
Published by Goodspeed Publishing Company 1888
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