Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
The first white man that ever stood on the soil now included with the boundaries of Marion County, Missouri, of which there is certain knowledge, was Louis Hennepin, a French monk of the order of St. Francis, who had accompanied the Chevalier Robert La Salle to America in 1678-79. By the instruction of LaSalle Father Hennepin left Fort Creve Coeur ("Broken Heart") near the present site of Peoria, Illinois, on the Illinois River, on the 28th of February, 1680, for a voyage to the headwaters of the Mississippi.
About the first of April, 1680, Father Hennepin and his party reached the mouth of what they at first took to be a stream of considerable magnitude, but which, after a brief examination they found to be a bay or inlet. A crucifix was erected ("raised") and Mass celebrated. The bay was named Bay de Charles.
In the spring of the year 1792, one Maturin Bouvet left St. Louis in company with two voyageurs and a guide, for a voyage of exploration up the Mississippi. Maturin Bouvet was a Frenchman, and his name appears among those of Laclede's Colony as an "artisan" or "mechanique."'
Bouvet made his way up the Mississippi River to the mouth of the Auhaha,
or Salt River. Then he followed the course of that stream several miles
to a point near where Cincinnati, in Rails County now stands. Here he disembarked
and marched about a mile and a half northward, or to a point in the northwest
quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 25, Township 56, Range 6, where
he found a saline," or salt-spring, the
waters of which were strongly impregnated with salt.
Bouvet experimented and found he could make salt. He went back to get more help and material to engage in salt making extensively. He had brought with him three horses or mares, along with other property and utensils. Returning as soon as possible, with three men and supplies, Bouvet found that the Indians had broken up his establishent, carrying off his horses and supplies.
Bouvet was not discouraged, but went to work at once in an effort to improve his fortunes.
During the year 1792 he and his associates worked hard. They cleared the field, erected a salt furnace, a warehouse, a dwelling house, and other buildings and made some salt. Late in the fall Bouvet sent his men to St. Louis and took with them some salt. The men got sick and did not return. Not long after that Bouvet "cached" or hid away his effects, and followed them. Returning the following spring, he found that the Indians had again visited him and broke him up. Then for a time he made no effort to open his salt factory. However, in 1795 he decided to go up again, provided he could obtain assistance.
He asked Gov. Trudeau for a grant of land, and was successful. But the Ihdians again took advantage of his absence and robbed all he had left behind.
Bouvet was determined, however, and applied for, and received another grant.
Bouvet and his men began operations vigorously and at once. The salt well at the Bastion was sunk to a considerable depth and a large furnace was installed.
At Bouvet 's warehouse, near the mouth of the Bay Charles, was the first white settlement in Marion County, and It was begun in July and August, 1795. As near as now (1884) can be determined the site of the warehouse and attendant settlement was a little south of the mouth of Clear Creek, either in the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 12, Township 57, Range 5, or in the northwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 7, Township 57, Range 4, or on both of these sections. Here some houses were built besides the warehouse and a large field cleared and cultivated. There was also a garden or gardens.
Just how many persons composed the settlement cannot now be determined, but there must have been at one time as many as 25. Mr. Bouvet himself was unmarried, but he had a number employees, and some of them had their wives with them.
Bouvet continued to work his salt factory. In the spring of 1800 the fierce and cruel Sacs and other Indians swooped down on the old Frenchman. The Ihdians came upon him, murdered him and burned his body in the dwelling.
In the year 1818 the land now included in Marion County was surveyed by townships and ranges--as was the greater part of this region of Northeast Missouri--and settlers began to push cautiously up after the surveyors. In this year, among the very first that settled in where the county now is, were John Longmire, Martin Gash and Hawkins Smith. Longmire lived on South River, near the now Hannibal Road; Gash was on Section 12, Township 57, Range 6. Smith was east of Gash and east of the railroad bridge.
In the fall of 1818, Jacob Mathews came out from Bourbon County, Kentucky, by way of St. Louis, and brought the first wagon that ever crossed North River.
In 1820, in the first settlement of the county, North and South Rivers were called the Two Rivers, and one was called North Two Rivers, and the other South Two Rivers. Down in St. Charles, Lincoln, and Pike, a great portion of what is now Marion County was called the Two Rives Country."
HIST. OF MARION COUNTY, 1884, E. F. Perkins, St. Louis, pp. 125, 126, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 145, 148.
This year, too, the first stores were established-Vaughn's at Palmyra and Bates' at Hannibal. Both were in log cabins, and the stock of trade comprised lead and powder, a few groceries, and pepper and salt, coarse muslin and woolens, some cutlery and a small assortment of "notions".
In December, 1820, Ralls County was organized out of Pike County to which our county had thitherto belonged, and now people were subject to the jurisdiction and formed a part of the population of Rails County.
In 1825 the United States Land Office was established at Palmyra, with Henry C. Lane as the first Receiver, and a great accomodation to our own people. Hitherto Land Offices had been located at St. Louis and St. Charles, and the work of entering land was considerable. The first sermon preached in the county was by John Riddle, a Baptist, in about the year 1820. During the War of 1812 he had been taken prisoner by the Shawnee Indians, who had cut his ears so that they hung in strips, resembling wattles, giving him a singular appearance.
The first post-office wa at Palmyra, and Obadiah Dickinson was the first postmaster. He frequently carried the post-office around with him in his hat.
Upon the acquisition by the United States, in 1803, of the Territory of Louisiana, including what is now the State of Missouri, the territory now embraced within the metes and bounds of Marion County, belonged to the "District" of St. Charles. October 1, 1812, St. Charles County was organized by proclamation of Governor Clark, and the this county was made a part thereof December 14,1818. Upon the organization of Pike, it became a part of that county. November 16, 1820, when Ralls County was created, it was included therein. The first step taken by the Legislature to form the county of Marion was on February 16, 1825, when an act defining the boundaries of the several counties of the state was passed. Section 29 of the act was as follows:
Be it further enacted. That a county hereafter to be established north of Ralls County, shall be bounded as follows: (The boundaries are given on p. 113 of HIST. OP MARION CO.)
Upon the next session of the Legislature for the complete organization of the county, with all the powers and privileges of the several counties became so imperative that the Legislature passed a new act on December 23, 1826, from which period Marion dates its existence. (This act is given in full on pages 163, 164, of the HIST. OF MARION CO.)
By the terms of the organizing act the first courts were ordered held
at the house of Wm. Massie, but, soon after Massie sold to Richard Bruer,
and the county court held its first session at Bruer's house, in Palmyra,
and met March 26, 1827. The session it appears, was a special one called
to appoint an assesor and collector, and to attend the laying out of certain
roads and highways.
--148, 149, 162, 164.
At the second day's session of its first term, March 28, 1827, the county court proceeded to lay off Marion County, into three municipal townships or civil townships.
FABIUS TOWNSHIP All that part of territory bounded as follows to-wit: Beginning at a point in the middle channel of the Mississippi River where the township line between Townships 59 and 60, if extended east will intersect the same, thence west with same township line to the range line between Ranges 8 and 9 west of the fifth principal meridian; thence south with said range line until the same will intersect the head waters of the North Fork of North Two-Rivers; thence down said North Fork, in the middle thereof, to the mouth: thence down said NorthTwo-Rivers, in the middle of the main channel there-of, to the mouth; thence due east to the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi, to the beginning, also all that portion of territory lying north which by law remains attached to Marion County.
(By the latter clause, Fabius Township practically extended to the north boundary of the State, including the counties of Lewis and Clark, and portions of Knox and Scotland.)
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP All that portion of territory bounded as follows, to-wit: Beginning at a point in the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi, at the northeast corner of Fabius Township; thence west with the southern boundary line of Fabius Township to the range line between Ranges 8 and 9; thence south with said range line, to the township line between Townships 56 and 57; thence east with said township line to the range line between ranges 5 and 6; thence north with said range line to the township line between Townships 57 and 58; thence east to the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi; thence up said river to the beginning. Also, all that portion of territory lying west of the western boundary line of Marion County which, by law, remains attached to the county.
MASON TOWNSHIP Concerning the creation of Mason Township, the county court made the following order, which was entered of record: "It is ordered that all that portion of territory within the county of Marion lying south of Liberty Township shall compose a municipal township to be called and known as Mason Township."
By a provisibn in the organizing act, Isaac Ely, Stephen Dodd and Chas.
C. Trabue were appointed commissioners to select the permanent seat of
justice. These commissioners, on June 18, 1827, reported to the circuit
court, then in ssssion at Palmyra, that they had discharged their duty
by the selection of 50 acres of land belonging to Moses D. Bates and David
G. Bates, adjoining the town of Palmyra on the north side, being the southeast
quarter of Section 24, Township 58, Range 6, "to lay in squares;" and also
one block (NO. 21) in the town.
--166, 167, 168.
November 16, 1827, the county court ordered that the above selection, " be and remain the permanent seat of justice for Marion County." Block 21 was reserved as a public square. on which to erect the public buildings. Obadiah Dickerson was appointed county seat commissioner.
Note. Dickerson's name is spelled two ways; part of the time it is spelled DICKERSON; part of the time it is spelled DICKINSON.In May, 1838, CANTON TOWNSHIP was formed. Its boundaries were declared to be a line beginning at the mouth of the Fabius River on the Mississippi. thence up the Fabius to the junction of the North and South Forks; up the South Fork to Township 60; thence west to the range line between 9 and 10; thence north to the northern boundary of the State; thence east to the middle of the Mississippi; and then down to the beginning. Canton Township as thus bounded, comprised what is now a portion of this county and all of Lewis and Clark Counties--about 675,000 acres of land, and all of this vast area of land, in 1830, had but 72 inhabitants.
BLACK CREEK TOWNSHIP was organized in May, 1834. It comprised all that portion of territory lying west of the range line between Ranges 9 and 10, formerly included in Warren Township; and all west of the western boundary of the county which by law remained attached to this county. The territory now included in Shelby County.
NORTH RIVER TOWNSHIP was organized in November, 1834. Its boundaries were at first fixed as follows: On the north by Lewis County, east by range line between Ranges 8 and 9, south by a line drawn from a point in the western boundary of Warren Township, on the dividing ridge between the waters of Black Creek and North Two-Rivers, thence along the dividing ridge between the waters of Black Creek in a northwest course between Black Creek and North River to the Lewis County line. This territory is also all now included in Shelby County.
January 2, 1835, Shelby County was organized taking off this county
Black Creek and North River Townships, and reducing it to its present size.
WARREN TOWNSHIP In August, 1831, Warren Township was formed.
Its metes and bounds were fixed as follows: Beginning at the south boundary
line of the county at the intersection of the rqnge line between Ranges
6 and 7; thence due north to North Two Rivers; thence up North River to
the west boundary of the county; thence due south to the county line, and
thence east to the beginning.
UNION TOWNSHIP was created with the following boundaries:
Beginning with the mouth of Wyaconda River; thence up the main channel
to the north side of the tract then owned by Stephen Cooper; thence west
to the dividing ridge between the Wyaconda and Dirty Air Creek; thence
west with the ridge to the western boundary of the county; thence south
to the township line between Townships 59 and 60; thence east to the river,
and up the river to the begining. This was not the first organization of
the Union Township of today (1884), but the territory so bounded now comprises
the southern and a part of the western portion of Lewis County.
MILLER TOWNSHIP comprises all of Congressional Township No. 57, Range 5, west of the fifth principal meridian. The Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad crosses the southwestern portion of the township entering at the soutwest corner of Section 35, and running northwest six miles and passing out near the northwestern corner of Section 18. It had three stations in this township: Beaver Creek, Wither's Mill and Barclay's.
It is said that John Palmer made the first actual settlement in the northwest corner of the township, along South- River, in Section 6, but removed soon after.
Wm, Ritchie built a woolen mill in the western part of this township, not far from the year 1825. This was the first mill of the kind north of Salt River. Mr. Ritchie was from Ken~ tucky. His mill had a carding machine, etc. About 1823, the Bay Mill was built up on Clear Creek, near the mouth. This mill, it is believed, was built by John Rush, or at least, it was called at first Rush's mill and Clear Creek was called by many Rush's mill. Afterward in 1828, the mill was rebuilt by Stephen Glasscock and was called Glasscock's mill, and so changed its name as often as it did ownership. At last people called it the "Bay" mill, because it was new the Bay Charles.
The first trading point was Moses Da Bates' log store', near Hannibal.
For twenty years Township 57, Range 5 comprised a portion of Mason Township, but March 1, 1847, the county court formed a separate township called Bear Creek. (The boundaries are given on page 640, Hist. of Marion County.)
The township bore the name Bear Creek but in a few months, on the 8th
day of June, 1848, the name was changed to Miller Township.
--634, 636, 637, 640, 641.
SOUTH RIVER TOWNSHIP comprises all that portion of territory in Marion County lying in Township 57, between Range lines 6 and 7, and the second half of the half section line running east and west through the second tier of sections in said township, together with those portions of Sections 7 and12, which are south of South River.
It was in this township where the first permanent settlement by American families was made in Marion County. Marion Gash and John Palmer settled in the northest corner of the township in Sections 1 and 12.
Up to 1836, South River formed a part of Liberty Township. November 9, 1836, the new township was created. (Boundaries are given on page 663.)
The first brick house in Marion County was built by Martin Gash in 1829.
The first orchard in the county was planted by Martin Gash in about 1819,
from seeds he had brought with him from Buncombe County, North Carolina.
--657, 659, 662, 663.
WARREN TOWNSHIP comprises all of two Congressional Townships (57, Range 7 and 58, Range 8) and fractional parts of four others, viz, the first 12 sections of 56, Range 8, Sections 6 and 7, the greater portion of 58, range 8, and a portion of the lower sections of 58, Range 7.
The first settlements in what is now Warren Township were made in Township 57, Range 7. In the fall of 1818, George See and family came from Kentucky and settled on the southwest of southwest of the southeast of Section 23.
Upon the first organization of the county, in 1827, the territory now
included in Warren Township formed a part of Liberty Township. In August,
1831, Warren Township was created. How it became to be called Warren can
not now be definitely stated. One account says that it was named in honor
of Joseph Warren, who fell at Bunker Hill; another says it was named for
Warren County, Kentucky, the old home of many of the first settlers of
--672, 674, 675, 683.
UNION TOWNSHIP was formed out of Fabius, August 10, 1837. (The boundaries are given on page 716, HIST. OF MARION CO.)
The first settlements in this township were made along North River, in the southern or southwestern portion of the township. Settlements were made from 1820 to 1825, by Elisha Freeman, Stephen Gupton, and Wm. Montgomery, all Kentuckians.
ROUND GROVE TOWNSHIP lies north of Union and west of Fabius Township, and is the northern township of the county.
The eastem portion of Round Grove township was the first settled, near the Fabius Township line, in Township 59-7. Old timers say John Keech and Wm. Gard made settlements in 1829. The pioneers in this quarter were all, or very nearly all from Mercer County, Kentucky.
Round Grove Township was organized February 1, 1833. (The boundaries are given on page 750, HIST. OF MARION CO.,) The township was named for a noted grove, nearly circular in form, which was once northwest of Emerson.
In January, 1871, a couple were married in this township under somewhat
singular circumstances. Mr. Joseph Chipman bantered a Miss Hutchinson to
marry him. She accepted the challenge, and they were married at midnight,
seated in a buggy. Both regretted the hasty step, afterwards, for each
was engaged to marry another party. It was. indeed, a case of marrying
in haste and repenting at leisure.
--748, 750, 752.
FABIUS TOWNSHIP comprises the northeastern portion of Marion County, its eastern boundary being the Mississipi River; its southern, the North River; its western, the range line between Ranges 6 and 7 and the South Fabius; its northern, Lewis County. It lies in two Congressional Townships, 58 and 59, and two ranges, 5 and 6.
As to the origin of the name Fabius, there are conflicting reports. One version is that it was named by the Spaniards from the Latin or Spanish word, faba, a bean or pea, and so called from the number of wild pea vines along its bank in the time of Spanish possession. The other and most probable, is that Don Antonio Soulard, the Spanish surveyor general was a great admirer of some of the characters of Roman and Carthagenian history and on his first voyage up the Mississippi. somewhere about 1628, he christened a number of the streams after some of the ancient heroes.
In this county he named what we now call Bear Creek for the great Carthagenian warrior Hannibal; the Bay St. Charles he rechristened "Scipio River" in honor of Scipio Africanus, the Roman general who conquered Hannibal and subdued Carthage. Two Rivers was already named, but the next stream above he called Fabius in honor of Fabius Maximus, the Roman general so skillful in retreat (the ancient Franz Sigel!) who preserved Rome when Hannibal invaded it, by avoiding a general engagement and wearing out the Carthagenians.
After a while the town at the mouth of "Hannibal Creek" was named Hannibal, but the settlers changed the name of the stream to Bear Creek. The shipping point at the mouth of "Scipio River" was called Port Scipio, but the water itself was identified as the Bay de Charles of Father Hennepin.
The first actual settler in what is now Fabius Township was Jacob Mathews
who, in the year 1818 came from Bourbon County, Kentucky, and came by wagon
all the way, crossing the Mississippi River at St. Louis, and coming up
via the Gash and Palmer settlements on South River to the present site
LIBERTY TOWNSHIP extends from the Mississippi River on the east to the range line between Ranges 6 and 7 on the west--twelve miles in length from west to east--and is bounded on the north by North River and on the south by Miller and South River Townships.
The first white settlement in what is now Liberty Township was made in November, 1818, by the Vanlandinghams--Benjamen, Louis, William and Mesach--father and sons. Old Benjamin settled near the Big Spring, on the town site of Palmyra; his son, Louis built his cabin two miles below Palmyra on Section 2-57-6.
Many of the neighbors and acquaintances of the Vanlandinghams thought
the name "too long for one mouthful" and so, somehow came to call them
"Flannagans". If, therefore any readers of this book ever hear any old
citizen speak of old "Benny Flannagan," or any other "Flannagans," as a
pioneer of the township, he will understand that Vanlandingham is meant.
Page numbers refer to HIST. OF MARION CO., 1884, Perkins.
"Lover's Leap" is a large bluff in the southern part of Hannibal. It was given this name about 184o, by some genius who applied to it the scene of the oft repeated story of the Indian Maiden who dashed herself down from a rock precipice rather than wed a warrior she did not love.
From Winona, Minnesota, to the mouth of the Ohio there are not less than a dozen "Lover's Leaps" and "Maiden Rocks," all with the same legend, and each with the same claim to being the only genuine "Leap"--all others being mere imitations and deceptions--"beware of counterfeits."
The Hannibal "Lover's Leap" has just as good claim to the distinction of being the locality where the dusty maiden distributed herself along the sides and among the rock. at the base, as any other bluff or declivity. Since the whole story is an invention of a romantist and he who is deceived thereby is not wise---an Indian girl marries the "buck" selected for her by her father, and is indifferet about the matter altogether.
Should she remonstrate at the selection made for her, a few applications
of a rawhide or a keen hickory switch, applied to her bare back soon overcome
HISTORY OF MARION COUNTY, 1884, St. Louis, E. F. Perkins, 879.
Springfield-Greene County Library