History of Boonville, MO
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
N 38° 58.421 W 092° 44.946
15S E 521733 N 4313886
Towns history, the railroad influence, and migration influences of the area...and two wars fought on this soil.
Waymark Code: WM15AWH
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 11/26/2021
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member Geo Ferret
Views: 1

County of marker: Cooper County
Location of marker: foot of 1st St., just S. of Spring St., Boonville
Marker erected: 2010
Marker erected by: Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Marker Text:

History of Boonville

1790 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Indians Along the Missouri

The Missouri River served as a boundary between Indian tribes in historic times. The Osage dominated a vast area south of the river. To the north, the Ioway, and later Sauk and Fox, held power. Pictographs on Missouri River bluffs - some representing "Manitou" great spirits - were possibly painted by the Sauk and Fox as recently as the early 1800s. The Missouri tribe, living about 40 miles northwest of Boonville in what is now Saline County, was ravaged by smallpox and nearly destroyed by the Sauk. Surviving Missouri Indians joined their Oto relatives upriver. Many river blufftops, including Boonville's Harley Park, hold ancient burial mounds.

Boone's Lick
In 1805, while Meriwether Lewis and William Clark journeyed west, Daniel Boone's two sons Daniel Morgan and Nathan, started a salt-making business at a spring in present-day Howard County. Salt was a meat preservative and spice, and used in tanning hides. James and Jesse Morrison joined the Boones, and bought them out when the Boones feared conflict with Indians made business too risky. Indeed, the War of 1812 damaged operations, but the Morrisons kept the business alive until 1833. Today, Boone's Lick is a state historic site open to visitors. The area contains evidence of 5,000 years of Indian use. Excavated chert flakes indicate Indians hunted animals gathered at the lick.

"Forting Up" in the War of 1812
During the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, Indian tribes allied with both sides. Here in the Boonslick Region (Named after Boone's Lick), the Sauk fought with the British against the Americans. Some Sauk moved to Little Moniteau Creek after an agreement with William Clark, and generally acted as neutrals. The Rock River Band under Black Hawk, angry over losing their lands, fought against Americans up and down the Midwest. Trade and settlement largely halted until the end of the conflict around 1815.

1816 . . . . . . . . . . .
Boonville Beginnings
Benjamin Cooper and his family came to the Boonslick (or "Boone's Lick") area in 1808, but Louisiana Territory Gov. Meriwether Lewis ordered Cooper back east to American lands. The region officially belonged to the Osage. After a treaty opened the area to settlement, Cooper returned in 1810 with Stephen Cole, his sister-in-law Hannah Cole and their families. Several hundred American settlers followed, but war struck in 1812. Following the war, the Boonslick grew quickly to more than 15,000 in 1820.

Franklin, across the Missouri River, became the Boonslick's first town in 1816. Boonville, founded the next year, was destined to greater importance because its location on bluffs protected it from floods. Asa Morgan and Charles Lucas laid out Boonville in 1817 as part of Howard County, then a huge area comprising one-third of Missouri Territory. The first county seat was Hannah Cole's fort, but later moved to Franklin. When Cooper County split off, Boonville immediately became its seat of government. Lots started selling in 1819, but the process was complicated by speculators - rarely the original claimants - using New Madrid claim certificates to acquire rich lands in the Boonslick. The federal government had issued the claims to landowners displaced by the catastrophic earthquakes of 1811-1812 in southeast Missouri. Early settler Gilead Rupe operated a ferry and tavern near the mouth of what is today Rupe Branch.

Steamboat Era
The steamboat Independence, reaching Franklin in 1819, was the first on the Missouri River. Once floods washed away Franklin in 1826 and 1828, Boonville became the next logical steamboat port. Steam-boating was a dangerous business. Boilers sometimes exploded, and the Missouri River was treacherous, with fast currents, snags and collapsing banks. But compared to overland travel, boats were fast and convenient. Steamboats carried passengers and freight from the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the Boonslick and points west, and returned with furs, buffalo robes and agricultural goods.

1861 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Rise of Boonville
Three forces propelled Boonville: the bounties of agriculture, its central location in the Boonslick as a trading post, and a steamboat landing on the Missouri River. Most early Boonville settlers came from Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, with a later influx of German immigrants. In the beginning, agriculture was king: corn and hogs, wheat and cattle, and because of slavery, tobacco and hemp, which were shipped to the south. Soon, manufacturers produced flour, pottery, furniture and tobacco. German wineries nd breweries gave Boonville its early nickname, "The Vine Clad City." Thespian Hall, completed in 1857, has been a library, stage, lecture hall, Civil War Hospital and barracks, opera house and theater.

Civil War Comes Early to Missouri
One of the first Civil War Battles took place at Boonville on June 17, 1861, a month before Virginia's First Battle of Bull Run. When Missouri's executive branch sided with the Confederacy, Union forces under Gen. Nathanial Lyon secured the capital of Jefferson City. Lyon then steamed upriver in pursuit of Claiborne Jackson, Missouri's pro-South governor, and Gen. Sterling Price, state guard commander. Just east of Boonville, Union troops met Confederate forces led by Col. John Marmaduke. The Union won a brief battle and occupied Boonville More importantly, victory meant Union control of the Missouri River.

Railroad Revolution
From humble beginnings in the 1840s, railroad soon connected rural towns to the rest of America. Boonville was no exception, and the Missouri River ceased to be the main travel route. Three lines passed through the city: the Missouri Pacific, south of the river, ran from St. Louis to Kansas City; the Osage Valley & Southern Kansas west to Versailles; and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas (M-K-T or Katy) crossed the river from Sedalia to Moberly in 1874, late connecting to St. Louis via Franklin Junction. Railroads meant the Boonslick Region was no longer the centerpiece of the state.

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