Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
The inhabitants of Osage territory had nothing to do with organization, at least until the creation of Gasconade County in 1821... Gibson Township about covered Osage territory in 1822, and up to 1839, when an Osage Township was created. In those days Maries Township generally represented that county; Cullins Township was the better part of what is now Pulaski and Phelps Counties, and so on ... Hon. A. Alexander was the Gasconade representative who was elected with a view to creating the new county, and he proposed the following act, which was passed and approved January 29, 1841.
An act to organize counties therein named and define the boundaries thereof (including Nodaway, Andrew, Jasper, Dade, Grundy, Niangua, Wright, Ozark, St. Clair, Kinderhook, Scotland, Bates, Adair, Osage and Shannon)...
All that portion of territory included within the county of Gasconade, and being west of the range line dividing Ranges 6 and 7, is hereby created a separate and distinct county, to be called and known by the name of the county of Osage... Gasconade seems to have set a precedent in county naming in honor of one of her most prominent streams, for her daughter Osage and granddaughter Maries were named in the same way ... The name Osage came originally from the name of the Indian Nation who once occupied Western Missouri -- the word is a corruption of Oua-chage, meaning "the strong" and was applied to the river by the French. (--State of Missouri, History of Osage County, 1889, pp. 643, 644.
A trading-post was established by the French, at Cote Sans Dessein, on the north side of the Missouri, now in Calloway County. The cutting away of the bank of the river caused many to cross over to the south side and settle on the bottoms in the locality of Bonnot's Mill. Here a number of huts were built between 1805 and 1810. The names of these pioneers have been lost to history... It was at this village that a Frenchman named La Plante, who had been a pilot for Lewis and Clark some of the way on their journey up the Missouri, settled as a trader. The place was known only as the "French Village." (--Encyclopedia of the Hist. of Mo., 1901, Conrad, Vol. 5, p. 28.)
The first store of which information can be gained was Captain Bennett's at French Village. The next one was at Lisletown, in 1831 or 1832; this was the second town and first post-office in the county, and was "boomed" by its founder, Benjamin Lisle; it was located at the left of the mouth of the Maries but never prospered, for Westphalia was founded about 1835 and soon overshadowed Mr. Lisle's town completely ... Medora was an early settlement, but its real town features were not assumed until the advent of the railway. The second post-office was kept by Wyatt Smith, on Indian (afterwards Smith's Creek). The next agitation for a town was the
location of a county seat. A Mr. Goodman had a mill about five miles south of Linn site, and this land was bought and laid out into the town of Van Buren, to secure the seat of justice ... The place soon died out. Castle Rock, on the Osage bottoms at its main western bend in this county, was a beautiful site for a town; it was founded a few years before the Civil War, by Col. George W. Bloomer ... who soon secured a large mill, a furniture factory, stores, hotel, church and school.
The first seat of justice was temporarily at Thomas Robinson's on Loose Creek (a corruption of L'Ourse) about six miles northwest of the site and then for a few terms at Elijah White's on Swan Creek, near the site of Rich Fountain; the court next ordered it to the house of Adolphus Mengese at the Cave Spring, about four miles west of the site of Linn. Finally the commissioners appointed for locating a county seat ... and the spot afterward named Linnville (since curtailed to Linn) was chosen.
Meanwhile a Mr. T. A. Baker ... bought land about four and a half miles southeast of Linn, and started a town called in the records "Vanburin" (Van Buren), and boomed it as a candidate for the commissioners to consider. The court even held a few sessions there, but when Linn was chosen, and named in honor of Senator L. L. Linn, court was ordered there ... Here it has remained without any strong attempt at removal, except Van Buren and Loose Creek efforts. (--History of Osage Co., pp. 642, 644, 645.)
In addition to the stores previously mentioned, John Thompson also had a store on Big Maries before Westphalia's time ... Schiller's Mill, near Westphalia, was about the second mill established, and here also the first "still," near 1833. (--Ibid: p. 642.)
One of the first acts of the first day of the Osage County Court, (March 25, 1841) was the formation of municipal townships as follows:
Jackson; Jefferson; Crawford; Benton; Washington; Linn;
On June 18, 1855, the next reorganization was made by changing the old boundaries somewhat, but on May 31, 1866, the six townships were divided so as to add the following new townships: Lincoln; Fletcher, and Harris ... These were, however, soon abolished, and the old six-township organization resumed, as at present (1889). (--Hist. of Osage Co., pp. 646, 647, 648.)