A sketch of the history of Benton County, Missouri

I was selected to prepare a Sketch of the History of Benton County, Missouri, in response to the following resolution and proclamation:


Wherbas, a Joint resolution of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States was duly approved on the 13th day of March last, which resolution is as follows:

Be it Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United Stales of America in Congress Assembled:

That it be and is hereby recommended by the Senate and House of Representatives, to the people of the several States, that they assemble in their several counties or towns on the approaching centennial anniversary of our national independence, and that they cause to have delivered on such day a historical sketch of such county or town from its foundation, and that a copy of said sketch be filed in print or manuscript in the clerk's office of said county, and an additional copy in print or manuscript be filed in the office of the Librarian of Congress, to the intent that a complete record may be thus obtained of the progress of our institutions during the first centennial of their existence.

And Whereas, It is deemed proper that such recommendation be brought to the notice and knowledge of the people of the United States; now, therefore, I, Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States, do hereby declare and make known the same, in the hope that the object of such resolution may meet the approval of the people of the United States, and that proper steps may be taken to carry the same into effect.

Given under my hand at the City of Washington, the 25th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1876, and of the independence of the United States the 100th.

By the President: U. S. GRANT.

Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State.

Since this duty was assigned me, early in June, I have devoted nearly all my time to it. I soon found that I should not have time to prepare a history of the County, in detail, up to the present time; and I thought best to devote my inquiries to its earlier period.

I thought it more important to prepare a record of this time, because nearly all those who participated in its events, have passed away. Even now, I find it very difficult to get reliable information in regard to the first settlement of the county. Although I have used every means possible to get at the facts, correctly, I fear some errors may be found.


Table of Contents

I. Discovery and Exploration
II. Indians
III. Old Remains
IV. First Settlement
V. Getting Homes
VI. Organization of the County
VII. Organization of Townships
VIII. Warsaw
IX. Early Courts
X. Bank of Niangua
XI. Slicker War
XII. Noted Criminal Trials
XIII. Pomme De Terre Bridge - California Excitement - Cholera - Improvement of the Osage - Kansas War
XIV. Churches
XV. Newspapers
XVI. War of 1861 - Conclusion
List of County Officers
Table of Population


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The first knowledge which the whites had of the region of the Osage, was obtained by De Soto's expedition, nearly 300 years ago, seventy years before Virginia was settled. In the summer of 1541 this expedition reached its most northern limit, supposed to be on the Ozark Mountains, in the vicinity of Springfield. An exploring party, which was sent to examine the regions to the north, reported that they were almost a desert. The country nearer the Missouri was said, by the Indians, to be thinly inhabited; the bison abounded there so much that no maize could be cultivated, and the few Indians were hunters.