Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
All of the present State of Missouri, lying west of Cedar Creek, and north and west of the Osage River, and extending to the territorial line on the west and north, was for many years, known as the "Boone's Lick Country." The first settlers, who came here, knew it only by that name.
It receives its name from a place called "Boone's Lick," in what is now Howard County, situated about eight miles northwest of New Franklin, near the Missouri River. This place was visited by Daniel Boone at a very early time, but the exact date is not known. Here Boone found several salt springs...
Although it has always been stated as a surmise, that Daniel Boone once resided at this Lick, and afterwards, within the present county of Cooper, yet it has been impossible to find anything authoritative on the subject, and as Samuel Cole, a member of the first white family, which settled in the present limits of Cooper County, says emphatically, that Daniel Boone never lived farther west than St. Charles County, the conclusion is inevitable, that those historians are mistaken, when they make the statement that he was the first settler in the "Boone's Lick Country."...
When the families of Hannah and Stephen Cole settled in what is now Cooper County (20th February 1810), there were no white Americans living in Missouri west of Franklin County and south of the Missouri River...Col. Benjamin Cooper, with several others returned to what is now Howard County...The Sauk Indians under Quashgami, their chief, lived on the Moniteau Creek, in the south part of Cooper County. When the settlers first came here, those Indians professed to be friendly to them...but they stole horses and committed other depredations. During the War of 1812, these Indians took sides with the British against the Americans. After the conclusion of the war, the Sauk Indians were ordered off to Grand River, and from thence to Rock River...
The first fort in the present limits of Cooper County was built by Stephen Cole, his neighbors assisting, in the year 1812, and was called "Cole's Fort." It was situated in the north part of what is now known as the "Old Fort Field," about one and one-half miles east of the City of Boonville, north of the road from Boonville to Rocheport. (It was built as a means of protection against the hostile Indians.) The Indians gave the settlers quite a bit of trouble for several years. (--History of Cooper County, 1876, Stearns & Drake, pp. 11, 12, 16, 17 & 21.)
Organization of Cooper County
Cooper County was organized the 17th day of December, 1818, comprising all that part of what had been Howard County, lying south of the Missouri River.
It was bounded on the north by the Missouri River, on the east and south by the Osage River, and on the west by what was then called the Territorial line.
At the time of organization, it included the Territory now embraced in the whole of the Counties of Cooper, Saline, Lafayette, Jackson, Cass, Henry, Johnson, Pettis, Morgan, Moniteau and Cole; and part of the Counties of Bates, St. Clair, Benton, Camden and Miller; eleven whole counties and part of five others.
The act under which Cooper County was organized, located the seat of justice at the town of Boonville. This place was designated as the place for holding court, by the act under which the county was organized, which was adopted by the Legislature, and approved during the year 1816, and entitled an "act establishing a part of Howard County into a separate county, by the name of Cooper."
The commissioners to locate the county seat appointed by the Legislature, were Abel Owens, William We r, Charles Canale, Luke Williams and Julius Emmons.
The first court in the newly organized county of Cooper, was held in the present limits of the City of Boonville, on the first day of March, 1819. It was held at the boarding house of Wm. Bartlett...The court, under the Territorial laws of Missouri, exercised the present duties of the county, probate and circuit courts. The duties of these three courts continued to be exercised by the one court until the duties of the Probate and County Courts were separated from those of the Circuit Court, and a new court, called the "County Court," was organized.
The first County Court within the County of Cooper, was held on the 8th day of January, 1821, at the house of Robert P. Clark...in the City of Boonville. This court exercised the powers and performed the duties of the present County and Probate Court, which had, previous to this time, been under the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court. However, in 1847, by act of the Legislature, the Probate Court was separated from the County Court, and continued separate to the present day, (1876)...The first court house was completed at Boonville, in the year 1823. Previous to that time, the court had either been held at the house of the clerk or at one of the boarding houses...
There have been three attempts to remove the county seat from Boonville. The first attempt was made in 1832, the second in 1838, and the third in 1842. The first two attempts were caused by some of the citizens wanting to remove the county seat to a more central location in the county...The third was caused by the excitement resulting from the fight between the militia and an organization of settlers known as the "Fantastic Company." (--History of Cooper County, 1876, Stearns & Drake, pp. 48, 49, 56 & 57, 58.)
The Fantastic Company
From the organization of the government of the State until the year 1847, there existed a milita law which required all able bodied male citizens between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, to organize and drill on certain days...A company muster was drilling the members of one company; a battallion muster consisted in drilling the companies of one-half of a county; and a general muster was a meeting of all the companies of a county...
But after a lapse of time these musters became tiresome to a portion of the citizens. They were obliged to lose so much of their valuable time in attending these musters, were compelled to pay a fine of one dollar for each failure to attend on muster day...musters...became very unpopular, as the citizens believed them to be an unnecessary burden upon them.
Therefore, sometime before Battalion Muster was to take place at Boonville during the year 1842, a company whose citizens was known only to its members, was formed at that place. This company contained some of the best citizens of the county, and was styled the "Fantastic Company," on account of the queer costumes, arms, etc. of its members, they being dressed in all manner of outlandish costumes, carrying every conceivable kind of a weapon, from a broom stick, to a gun, and mounted upon horses, mules and jacks. The company was intended, as a burlesque upon the militia, and to have some fun at their expense.
The regiment of State Militia which was to be mustered at the same time...was composed of all the companies in the north half of the county. On the morning of the muster day, Col. Turley formed his regiment in front of the court house. After which they were mustered and ready for drill, the Fantastic Company, which was commanded by John Babitt, each member dressed in his peculiar costume and carrying his strange weapon, marched up into full view of Col. Turley's command and proceeded to drill.
The Col. felt that it was intended as an insult, and ordered his command to surround the Fantastic Company. Eventually, a fight ensued, in which brick-bats were thrown. Several members of the State Militia were struck by stones and brick-bats, and Major J. Logan Forsythe was struck by a brick-bat in the face just below his right eye, and died the next day of his wounds.
The death of Major Forsythe caused great excitement in the county...and a petition was circulated to remove the "county seat of Cooper County from Boonville," to a more central part of the county. But the county seat, after a severe struggle before the county court, was retained at Boonville. (--History of Cooper County, 1876, Stearns & Drake, pp. 68, 69, 70, & 71.)
Coal Beds of Cooper County
Stephen's Bed - Twp. 47, Range 17, Sections 27, 28
Cannel Coal - Twp. 46, Range 17, Section 10
Col. James Staple had a coal bed in Twp. 49, Range 19, Section 16.
Paxton's Coal Bed was located one mile south of Choteau Springs.
Stiger's Coal Bed was a half mile south of Paxton's.
Colonel Thomas Russell's coal bed was located in Twp. 47, Range 16, Section 18 or 19.
J. T. Johnson & Co. and Washington Adams Coal bed was in Twp. 47, Range 16, Section 17.
Farley's Coal Bed was in Twp. 46, Range 18, Section 18.
Drafton's Coal Bed was in Twp. 46, Range 17, Section 18.
Mrs. Fryer's Coal Bed was Twp. 46, Range 17, Section 18.
Moody's Coal Bed is in Clarks' Fork (Township).
Jenkins Coal Bed is in Twp. 48, Range 16, Section 22.
Jenkins Robinson Coal Bed was in Twp. 48, Range 16, Section 22.
Mrs. Son's Coal Bed was in Twp. 47, Range 18, Section 13.
There were many other deposits in the county but for want of space we cannot mention them. Hist. of Howard and Cooper Counties, 1883, p. 800.
Note: "IS" refers to the date of publication of the history.
This township is a peninsula, being almost entirely surrounded by the Lamine and Blackwater Rivers. It is bounded on the north by Lamine Township, from which it is separated by the Blackwater River; on the east and south by Pilot Grove and Clear Creek Townships, from which it is separated by the Lamine River, and on the west by Saline and Pettis Counties...There are, in this township, six salt and a number of fresh water springs. Salt was successfully manufactured at these springs as early as 1808, and from that time till 1836 the manufacture of it was carried on pretty extensively by Heath, Christie, Allison and others. (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., p. 682.)
It is bounded on the north by the Missouri River, on the east by Saline Township, on the south by Clark, Palestine and Pilot Grove Townships, and on the west by Pilot Grove Township. The first settlers of this township were Stephen and Hannah Cole, who settled there in 1810...Wm. McFarland, the first sheriff of Cooper County, was born in Buncombe County, N. C., in the year 1775. He emigrated to Ste. Genevieve, now St. Francois Co., Missouri, in 1811, and from there to Cooper Co., and on the 16th day of October, 1811, he settled on the north side of Petite Saline Creek...This was the first township of the county which was settled. (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., pp. 652, 653, 655.)
Clear Creek Township
This township is bounded on the north by the Lamine River or Blackwater Township; on the east by Pilot Grove and Palestine Townships, and on the south by Otterville and Lebanon Townships. Among the early settlers of this township was James Taylor...He emigrated from the State of Georgia to New Madrid, Mo., where he witnessed the long series of earthquakes which occurred in 1811; from thence he moved to Cooper County in the year 1817. (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., pp. 684, 685.)
Clark's Fork Township
This township is bounded on the north by Boonville Township; on the east by Prairie Home and Saline; on the south by Moniteau and Kelly, and on the west by Palestine Township...From the best information that can be obtained, John Glover was the first settler of this township, he having located there in 1813...The next settlers were Zepheniah Bell and John C. Rochester. Mr. Rochester was a grandson of the founder of Rochester, New York. (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., p. 683.)
This township is bounded on the north by Palestine and Clark's Fork Townships; on the east by Moniteau Township; on the south by Moniteau County, and on the west by Moniteau Co.
This township, from the best information which can be obtained, was settled early in the spring of 1818. Among the first settlers were John Kelly, James Kelly, and James D. Campbell...James Kelly, who was one of the first settlers in the township, and the father of John, William J, and Caperton Kelly, was a Revolutionary soldier, and died in 1840 at an advanced age. John Kelly and James D. Campbell served as a soldier in the War of 1812. The Kellys came from Tennessee, and James D. Campbell from Kentucky...The first mill in this township was built by Robert McCulloch, the father of Judge Robert A. McCulloch. (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., pp. 687, 688.)
This township is situated in the northeastern part of Cooper Co., and is separated from Howard County by the Missouri River. It is bounded on the north by the Missouri River, on the east by Boonville Township, on the south by Pilot Grove and Blackwater Townships, and on the west by Saline County...
Among the first settlers was David Jones, a Revolutionary soldier, who came in 1812. In the year 1812 or 1813 there was a fort called "Fort McMahan," built somewhere in this township, but the exact location could not be ascertained. (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., p.691.)
Lebanon Township is bounded on the north by Clear Creek and Palestine Townships, on the east by Kelly Township, on the south by Morgan Co., and on the west by Otterville Township. This township was organized about the year 1826, but afterwards -- in fact, a few years ago -- (from 1883) all that portion of the same lying west of the Lamine River was formed into a township and called Otterville...
About the fall of 1819 and the spring of 1820, Rev. Finis Ewing and several other people settled at New Lebanon, six miles north of Otterville...At New Lebanon these early pioneers pitched their tents, and soon began the erection of a rude building, as a sanctuary, which, when completed, they called "New Lebanon," in contradistinction to the house in which they had sung and worshipped in Kentucky...
A man by the name of Smith (Christian name unknown) built a band mill on what is now (1883) known as Cedar Bluff... (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., pp. 694, 695, 696, 699.)
Moniteau Township is bounded on the north by Clark's Fork and Prairie Home Townships; on the east and south by Moniteau County and on the west by Kelly Township. This township first embraced what is now Prairie Home Township, and assumed its present form in 1872...About the first settler was one Mr. Shelton, a blacksmith, who settled in 1818, where the town of Pisgah now (1888) stands...
The first school in this township, as far as can be ascertained, was taught by James Donelson. He only professed to teach arithmetic to the "double rule of three."
The first mill was erected by a man named Howard at what was afterwards known as "Old Round Hole." Judge C. H. Smith and an Englishman also kept a store in that place. At a later date, Patrick Mahan built a tread-mill, which was a great improvement on the old style "horse-mill." Mr. Richard D. Bonsfield kept a store at Pisgah at an early date. (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., pp. 692, 693.)
It is bounded on the north by Clear Creek Township, on the east by Lebanon Township, on the south by Morgan County, and on the west by Pettis County. Otterville formerly comprised a portion of Lebanon Township, but has since been formed into a voting precinct and embraces all that part of Lebanon Township west of the Lamine River...
Thomas Parsons who was born in Virginia in 1793, and later moved to Kentucky, emigrated to Cooper County in 1826, and settled northwest of Otterville...Mr. Parsons established the first hatters shop south of Boonville...George Crammer was born in the State of Delaware in 1801...and moved to Boonville, Mo., in the year 1828. He was a mill-wright. He settled at Clifton in about the year 1832, and shortly afterwards, he and James H. Glasgow...built what was known as Crammer's, afterwards Corum's Mill, precisely where the M. K. & T. R. R. now crosses the Lamine. Crammer named the place Clifton. (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., pp. 700, 701, 702.)
It is bounded on the north by Pilot Grove and Boonville Townships, on the east by Clark's Fork Township, on the south by Kelly and Lebanon Townships, and on the west by Clear Creek and Pilot Grove Townships...William Moore and Joseph Stevens were the first settlers of Palestine Township. William Moore emigrated from North Carolina, and settled about 8 miles south of Boonville.
Mrs. Margaret Stephens, widow of Judge L. C. Stephens and daughter of William Moore, says that in the fall of 1816, after her father settled in this county, she went to Boonville with her uncle, a Mr. McFarland, and on their arrival she asked her uncle where Boonville was, thinking she was coming to something of a town. Her uncle pointed to Robidoux's store, a round log cabin, with the bark on the logs, and said, "There's Boonville."...That store house was the only building which she then saw at Boonville. It is almost certain from other good evidence, that the place on which Boonville now stands was called "Boonville" before any town was built or located there. (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., pp. 709, 710.)
Saline Township lies in the northeastern part of Cooper County, bounded on the north by the Missouri River, on the east by Moniteau County, on the south by Prairie Home Township, and on the west by Clark's Fork and Boonville Townships...
Saline Township was settled as early as 1812 by Joseph Jolly, who had only two children, John and William...
William Jolly was a gunsmith, a wheelwright, a blacksmith, a cooper, a miller, a distiller, a preacher, a doctor and a farmer. John Jolly kept a ferry across the Lamine River, on the lower ferry road, which is still (1883) known as "Jolly's ferry." (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., p. 725.)
Pilot Grove Township
Pilot Grove Township is bounded on the north by Lamine Township, on the east by Boonville and Palestine Townships, on the south by Palestine and Clear Creek Townships and on the west by Clear Creek and Blackwater Townships.
The name of the township is derived from the fact that a small grove of trees standing prominently above all the rest proved a pilot to the traveler...Hence the name "Pilot Grove."
This township was settled about 1820, though the exact time is not known. Among the early settlers were John McCutcheon, John Houx and Jacob Houx...
The first mill was erected by a man named Hughes. It was a horse-mill, and stood on one of the branches of the Petite Saline. (--Hist. of Cooper Co., 1883, National Historical Society of MO., pp. 715, 716.)
The first election after Cooper County was organized was held the second day of August, 1819...At this election four townships were established...Arrow Rock, Miami, Tabeaux and Lamine, which included the town of Boonville.
In May, 1820, the townships were the same and included Moreau Township...At the time of this election Cooper County was bounded on the east and south by the Osage River, on the west by the Indian Territory, and on the north by the Missouri River. Lamine Township then included about all within the present limits of Cooper County, and some territory not now included in its limits.
In August, 1820, the townships of Osage and Jefferson were added.
On July 12, 1855, the following townships had been established:
Boonville; Lamine; Saline; Clark's Fork; Moniteau; Kelly; Palestine; Clear Creek; Pilot Grove; Blackwater; Lebanon.
(These townships have been described above.)