File submitted for USGenWeb/MOGenWeb Lincoln County Missouri History Page by Patty Archer, 13 December 2001.  Link change or update: 25 Sep 2004


History of Lincoln County,
By Dr. Joseph A. Mudd
{From the 1878 Lincoln County, Missouri Atlas}

Mudd, Joseph A. History of Lincoln County, Missouri, An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Lincoln County, Missouri. Philadelphia: Edwards Brothers of Missouri, 1878.
Transcribed by:  Patricia (Jamerson) Archer
December 2001

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Alphabetical Index

 The Early Settlements

        The history of Lincoln County properly dates from the first year of the present century, when Major Christopher Clark erected his cabin and made the first permanent settlement within its present limits.  About five years previous a few persons located on Spanish grants, in the eastern part of the county, adjacent to the Mississippi and Cuivre Rivers.  These were mostly French trappers and hunters, whose residence was only temporary.  Hon.Tully R. Cornick, in an address before the first agricultural and mechanical fair ever held in the county, October 4,1856, estimated that at the commencement of the present century less than forty acres of land had ever been put in cultivation in the county.  These settlements came to nought, and in a very few years every single grant was held by a non-resident owner.

     Major Clark was born in Lincoln County, North Carolina, in 1766.  His father, James Clark, was a native of Ireland, and his mother, Catherine Horne, of Scotland.  They first settled in Winchester, Virginia.  They had six sons---Alexander, William, James, Christopher, Johnand David. Alexander, James and John remained in North Carolina. William was killed by Indians in Kentucky, David visited Missouri in 1811.  Returning to his native State, he married Margaret Douglass, by whom he had one son, William, who is known all over the county as “Uncle Billy”.  The family came to this state in 1823, and settled on the Wright City Road, three miles south of Troy, where the son now lives. David Clark died many years ago.  He was greatly respected for his honest and upright character, and was for many years a Justice of the Peace. Christopher Clark in 1788 settled in Lincoln County.  He married Elizabeth Adams, by whom he had six children--James, Sarah, Catherine, David, Hannah and Elizabeth.  He served as lieutenant in a company of volunteers, guarding the frontiers of Kentucky, and also during a campaign up the Wabash River in 1790.  He came to Missouri in 1799,bringing with him his

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 horses and cattle.  On this occasion he came on a prospecting tour as far north as the present site of Troy, where was then situated a small Indian village, the wigwams being placed in a kind of circle around the spring.  The following year he brought his family in a pirogue, or large keel-boat, down the Kentucky and Ohio and up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and landed at St. Charles.  He settled at what is now known as Gilmore Springs, on the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railroad.  A few days after his arrival his wife died.  He immediately returned to Kentucky and purchased a black girl to do the house-work in his new home.  He remained here about a year.  In April, 1801, he moved into the limits of this county, being the first white man to cross Big Creek with a wagon, and built his cabin within a few feet of the present residence of Frederick Wing, Esq., three and a half miles southeast of Troy, on the St. Charles Road.  This was the first permanent settlement in the State north of the present limits of St. Charles County.  At that time his nearest neighbor was Anthony Keller, who lived on the south bank of Big Creek, four miles off; after that the nearest settlement was at Flint Hill.

     Shortly afterwards came Jeremiah Groshong, a native of Pennsylvania, who had lived a few years in St. Charles County, near the Missouri River.  He settled half a mile northeast of Clark’s on the land known as the Castleman, or Herndon Place, now belonging to the heirs of the late Talbot Bragg.  He built a stone-house on the farm.  He raised nine children, of whom six survive; one in Kansas and four in Wisconsin, whither the family, with the exception of Jacob, removed in 1836.  Jeremiah Groshong and his wife both died in the last mentioned State, the former at the age of eighty-six years. Jacob was born in October, 1800, a few months before his father came to this county.  About thirty-five years ago he settled at his present place of residence, four miles from Chain of Rocks, on the Troy Road.  He has been longer resident of this county than any other person, and is doubtless the only person within its limits who has been a subject of Spain and France, and a citizen of the District of Louisiana, the Territory of Louisiana, the Territory of Missouri, and the State of Missouri, without changing his place of residence.

     Next came the families of Zadock Woods and Joseph (commonly called Deacon) Cottle, from Woodstock, Vermont, who settled in Troy, 1802.  The other pioneer settlers will be mentioned further on.

     I shall here finish the personal history of Major Clark, and only refer to him hereafter in his public capacity of military officer and member of the Territorial Legislature.

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    In 1804 he married his second wife, Hetty Calvert, of Virginia, by whom he had three children---Ralph H.F., Julia, and William Calvert.  He died in 1841.  He was a man of sterling honesty and of good, solid judgment, and ever retained the confidence of his fellow-citizens.  During the last twenty years of his life he was frequently solicited to run for office, but he invariably refused.  Of his children, James served one year as orderly-sergeant under Capt. Nathan Boone, the youngest son of Daniel Boone, and was once severely wounded. David served one year under Capt. James Callaway, who was a grandson of Daniel Boone.  He went to Texas, with his brother James, in 1826, and was killed in battle in 1838.  Sarah married Col. Alembe Williams, and went with him to Texas, in 1831, where they both died many years ago. Catherine married Capt. Joseph McCoy, and went to Texas, in 1824, where her husband died a few years afterwards; she is still living. Hannah died single, in 1820.  Elizabeth married Jesse Cox, and lived and died in this county.  Ralph was born while his mother was on a visit to Green’s Bottom, in St. Charles County, in 1804.  He married Mary Murphy, of Kentucky, by whom he had two children.  She died in 1839, and he afterwards married Mary Atkinson, also of Kentucky, by whom he had eight children.  He is again a widower, and lives near Martinsburg, in Audrain County.  He served many years as Justice of the Peace, while residing at the old homestead in this county.  He left it for his present residence in 1858.  From him most of the personal history of his father’s family is obtained.  Julia married Valentine J. Peers, who was sheriff of this county from 1836 to 1838.  Mr. Peers died a few years ago in St. Louis, where his widow still resides.  William died on his way to California in 1850.  Jamesdied in Texas. McCoy and Williams served each a year under Capt. Daniel M. Boone, and a year under Capt. Callaway during the war of 1812.

     At the time of Major Clark’s settlement, this country was commonly called New Spain  Its official designation was the Province of Upper Louisiana.  Its capital was St. Louis.  The Executive, under the style of Lieutenant-Governor, the title of the office during the Spanish dominion, which lasted from May 20,1770, to March 9,1804, was Carlos Debault Delassus.  In compliance with the provisions of a treaty, ratified March 21,1801, between Spain and France, the former retroceding Louisiana to the latter, Delassus, on the 9th of March, 1804, delivered the Province of Upper Louisiana to Capt. Amos Stoddard, the agent and commissioner of the French Government.  On the following day Stoddard delivered it to himself as agent of the United States, by virtue of authority from Wm. C. C. Claiborne, Governor of Mississippi and ex-officio Governor of the Louisiana Purchase. Captain Stoddard was executive, under the title of Commandant, until October 1,1804, when that part of

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the purchased territory north of the southern line of Arkansas was designated the District of Louisiana, and was temporarily assigned to the government of the Territory of Indiana, the Governor of which was Gen. William Henry Harrison, afterwards President of the United States, with seat of government at Vincennes. Governor Harrison, on the 21st of Dec., 1804, commissioned Christopher Clark a Captain of Volunteers, and he was sworn into service February 9,1805.  Clark’s Company used to muster at Zumwalt’s Spring, now known as Big Spring Mills, near Flint Hill.  This was perhaps a central point, but the chief attraction was the whisky that was made from Adam Zumwalt’s two distilleries.  At one of these musters the Captain treated his men to a wash-tub of whisky, which so elated them that they resolved to receive it with all the honors of war and military display which their proficiency in the drill permitted.  They marched around it several times, and then fired a salute over it with blank cartridge.  One of the men had already partaken too freely to be able to hold his gun in a proper position, and the wad from the charge cut off one of Daniel McCoy’s toes.  There were many settlements of the Sac and Fox Indians within the limits of the county at that time, and the district watered by the two Cuivres and Big and Peruque Creeks was one of the favorite hunting grounds of the two tribes, whose head quarters were in the Rock River Country, Illinois. Black Hawk, or Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, the name by which he was known among his own people, one of the most celebrated Indian braves that ever lived, frequented this county, first on the hunt, and afterwards on the bloody trail of war.  He was popular with the whites, and liked their company; he was particularly fond of attending the dancing parties of that day, and took his place in the quadrille with infinite zest.  He had a partiality for strong drink, and much of his leisure time was spent at the still-houses, which were then considered the vanguard of civilization.  He lived for some time with Adam Zumwalt, whose capacious larder, the generous and free hospitality of himself and wife, his four daughters, Elizabeth, Rachel, Mary, and Catherine, pretty, lively, and ever ready for the dance; his four sons, John, Andrew, Jonathan, and Solomon, vigorous, full of life and spirit, and excelling as hunters, and last, but not least, the two still-houses near by, all combined to render this a most agreeable home for Black Hawk, when resting from the excitement and fatigue of the chase.  He was often very drunk; but in all his intercourse with the whites, drunk or sober, his bearing was gentle and dignified, characteristic of his kindness of disposition and greatness of intellect.  Black Hawk was perhaps more friendly towards the white people than any other Indian, certainly more so than the most of them; but he was not a chief, and it was about twenty-five years afterwards, when he had nearly reached his sixtieth year, and his eminent wisdom in council recognized far and near, before he had much to do in shaping the policy of his tribe.  The attitude of the Indians was becoming more and more threatening.  From the first they and the

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whites regarded each other with more or less suspicion.  The Indians would sometimes drive off horses, kill stock, and fire into the houses of the settlers.  On one occasion they shot at two of Major Clark’s children standing in the door, and one of the balls came within six inches of the mark, and at another time shot and killed a horse in his stable. Major Clark had long before learned to be cautious and wary in his dealings with the savages, the result of his frontier campaigns in Kentucky.  While returning from Kentucky the second time, in 1800, bringing with him his black girl, and within a short distance from home, he camped one night with three Indians.  Everything passed off quietly until next morning, when one of the Indians wanted to trade rifles with the Major, nolens volens.  The Major let the Indian’s gun fall, held on to his own with a strong grasp, and by a sudden twist loosened the hold of the would-be trader.  Springing out of reach of the Indian’s knife, should he attempt to use one, he put himself in an attitude of defence and cast a look of defiance at the red men, whose eyes fell before his keen glance.  He then left without further ceremony than to keep a close watch on their movements as long as he was in sight of them.  In speaking of this incident afterwards, the Major said that he made up his mind that his bones should bleach on that camp-ground before he gave up his gun.  At his settlement in this county it was his invariable custom to place his gun and butcher-knife at the head of his bed every night, and to have the axes brought into the house.  In the morning he would reconnoitre some distance from the house in every direction to see if any of the red skins were lurking in the bush.  This vigilance was the more necessary on account of his isolated situation.  Sometimes for the space of six weeks he saw not a white face outside of his own family.  The Indians called Major Clark the “Man with the Big Hands,” and often threatened to kill him because he spoiled their hunting grounds.  The Major never believed, however, that they really intended to kill him, because they had so many opportunities.  Their object was rather to intimidate the whites, and to prevent by that means a further encroachment on their territory.

     Except the massacre of the McHugh children, there is no authentic account of any murders of white persons by the Indians prior to the breaking out of the war of 1812.  Doubtless some were perpetrated, as some of the descendants of the pioneers remember to have heard the facts stated; but names and circumstances are alike forgotten.  In 1804, William McHugh sent his sons James, William and Jesse to hunt the horses, which they found about a mile from home up Sandy Creek.  On their return they fell in with Frederick Dixon, a famous Indian scout.  The two older boys were each riding a horse, and Jesse, a lad of ten or twelve years, got up behind Dixon.  At the ford of Sandy Creek, a short distance below where the bluff road from Cap-au-Gris

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to New Hope now crosses the stream, and while their horses were drinking, they were fired upon by the Indians, who were concealed behind a large sycamore.  The two older boys were instantly killed.  Dixon’s horse made a spring up the bank, breaking the girth and throwing the riders to the ground.  They sprang to their feet and fled for their lives. Jesse McHugh could not keep up with Dixon, and he kept crying out, “Oh, Mr. Dixon, don’t leave me! Don’t leave me!”  In spite of this piteous appeal for help, and his own strong sympathy for the unhappy youth, Dixon kept on, knowing that to do otherwise would be but a useless sacrifice of his life as he was entirely unarmed.  He said he should never forget the agonizing shrieks of the poor little fellow, mingled with the demoniac yells of the savages as they cleft his skull with their tomahawks. Dixon was pursued to McHugh’s fence.  The three boys were buried in one grave, on a high point of land near the place of their murder, on the north side of the creek, and between where the old trail ran and the present bluff road. John Lindsey helped to bury them, placing split puncheons around them for a coffin, and then cut their initials on a white oak tree, and his own on another, the two standing on either side of the grave.  These in the vicinity, but they have disappeared. Capt. Stonebreaker cut the last remaining one for a saw-log some twenty years ago.  The bluff road at this point is a part of the first public road laid off in the county.  It was located in the early part of the war of 1812 as a military road from Fort Howard, in this county to Fort Madison on the Mississippi River, in Iowa.  The Indians claimed the massacre of the McHugh boys was done out of revenge for a difficulty with some white men a short time previous, in which three dogs belonging to the Indians were killed.  The murdering party numbered only four or five, and is supposed by some to have been under the command of Black Hawk himself.  Black Hawk in his “Life,” written at his own dictation, says nothing about this but many rangers who had taken part in the war of 1812, and who read Black Hawk’s Life when it was first published, in 1833, claimed that the narrative was not strictly true in several matters to their own knowledge, but was rather an apology than a correct history, Black Hawk having committed many acts which his natural nobility of character was ashamed.  The impression that Black Hawk commanded the party referred to has this authority; A brother of the murdered boys lived many years afterwards near the Iowa River in the country frequented by the Sacs, and it came to his ears that Black Hawk on several occasions had boasted of being concerned in this particular exploit.  On the whole the weight of the testimony is against the probability of Black Hawk’s participation in the affair.  McHugh declared his determination to ascertain the truth of the matter, and if Black Hawk was really concerned in the murder of his brothers to avenge their blood by shedding his.  It is scarcely probable that he failed to satisfy himself.  There is also strong reason to believe that Black Hawk was then at home in the Sac village.  At this time the Sacs

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held a council, and Quash-qua-me, Pa-she-pa-ho, Ou-che-qua-ka, and Ha-she-quar-hi-qua, four of their principal civil chiefs, to St. Louis to ransom a captive, who was in prison for killing a white man.  This they expected to do by paying a sufficient sum of money to satisfy the relatives of the murdered man, thus “covering up the blood,” according to their own custom.  This delegation was gone long enough to exceed the apprehensions of the tribe.  It finally returned with many presents, and that a treaty had been signed; that the prisoner was let out of prison, and when he started to run was shot dead, and that great quantities of the white men’s fire-water had been drunk.  The result of this embassy was not at all satisfactory to the tribe.  The interference is a reasonable one that these four Indians, realizing that they had failed in the purpose for which they were sent, and that they had exceeded their instructions in consequence of their prolonged sprees, during which they were outwitted by the whites, were determined by some specific act of revenge, and that they were the men who perpetrated bloody massacre.  The McHugh boys were uncles to Thomas, Francis, Stephen Riffle, Mrs. David Allen, and the late Mrs. Wallace W. Birkhead.

     The short notice upon which this sketch is prepared prevents the collection of much more information than is already in possession of the writer concerning the settlers who came here prior to the war of 1812.  The data on this part being obtained exclusively from the recollection of persons now, or recently living, must of necessity be defective, and inclusive of only a partial list.  So as it is, it is here given.

     Alexander McLane came from Kentucky in 1801, and settled on the Stuart Place, on the bluff, four miles from Cap-au-Gris.  He took his negroes, dammed McLane’s which was since named for him, and built a grist-mill on the spot where the stream cuts through the bluff.  The burrs were quarried in the vicinity and dressed by himself and slaves.  This was the first mill built in the county.

     His son-in-law, John Riffle, came in 1804.  Mrs. Nancy Daniels, a daughter of John Riffle, is now living in Burr Oak Township.  She was with her parents in Fort Howard during the war of 1812, being nearly grown, and familiar to many stirring events of that time, which she remembers with great distinguishness.

     Francis Riffle, born in West Virginia, October 14,1781, came here from Kentucky, where he was raised, and settled on the ridge below McLane's Creek in 1803.  He died in this county May 22,1858.

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    Col. Ira Cottle, nicknamed “Muxey,” came from Vermont in 1799, and settled at Monroe, in this county, in 1802.  His father, Warren Cottle, settled in St. Charles County, and was a soldier in the war of 1812.  Ira Cottle married his cousin, Suby Cottle, and afterwards the widow of John Ewing.  During the war, he, unlike the other settlers, would not retire into the fort, but remained at home.  In 1820 he was the second richest man in the county, and paid taxes on a thousand acres of land.  He built the house now occupied by Mrs. Henry Hemmingmeyer as a store and dwelling, which is one of the first brick buildings erected in the county, and was, at the time it was built, the largest.  He died in 1843.

     With Zadock Woods, whose settlement at Troy has been mentioned, came his mother and his two brothers, James and Martin, who settled the same year, 1802 near Monroe.  Mrs. Woods died in this county at a very advanced age.  The three brothers went to Texas at an early day, where Zadock and some of his brothers were killed fighting for the independence of the Lone Star Republic.  The three brothers were each possessed of considerable means.  Zadock was a stone-mason, and built the first stone-chimney in Hurricane Township.

     William McHugh, whose three sons were murdered, was of Scotch ancestry.  In 1803 he settled on Sandy Creek, on the farm now owned by Burt J. Cocke, and built his cabin about thirty steps northwest of where of where the latter’s house now stands.  He died a few years after the close of the war of 1812.  He and his wife are buried on the banks of Sandy Creek, about two hundred yards north of the site of their cabin.  The male line of his family is extinct, except probably a grandson, John McHugh, who was living a few years ago on the Des Moines River, in Iowa.

     Col. David Bailey, who occupied a prominent position in the affairs of the county until his death, which occurred in 1864, came here from Vermont in 1803.  He was a captain of rangers in the war of 1812.  He has two grand-daughters living at the old homestead, in this county.

     John Lindsey, from Maine, settled on Sandy Creek in 1803.  He possessed an excellent education, and was Deputy County Clerk in 1820, and afterward a member of the County Court, and for many years a Justice of the Peace.  He died some time in the winter of 1833-4, having survived his two children.  His widow went to Wisconsin.

 James Burnes, about the same time, settled on Sandy Creek, a quarter of a mile above the scene of the McHugh massacre.

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    Roswell Durgee also came here about the same time, and settled at the m___ of Durgee Hollow, on the David T. Killam Place.

     The same year, 1803, Frederick Dixon settled in Monroe Township.  He married Elizabeth, daughter of James Burnes, lived here many years after the war, and died in Iowa.

    Benjamin Allen, of Woodstock, Vermont, came to St. Louis in 1804, and then moved a few years prior to the war to the Tinbrook Place, near Monroe.  After the war he settled on Hurricane Creek, where he died about the year 1840, at sixty-two years.  He was a prominent and respected citizen, and served many years as Justice of the Peace.  He was the grandfather of David Allen, Esq., of Burr Oak Township.

     Ezekiel Dunning, an Irishman, and cousin to Gov. McNair, came about the same time.  He established the first tan-yard in Lincoln County.  It was on the Captain Wehde Place.  He was step-father to Freeland Rose, Esq.

     About this time came John and William Ewing.  They were not nearly related, if at all.  The former settled near the Mississippi River, not far from the old boundary line of Hurricane and Monroe Townships.  He possessed considerate property.  He died about the year 1819-20. Col. Ira Cottle administered his estate, and married his widow. William Ewing settled further down, probably between Sandy and Bob’s Creeks.  His wife died in 1811.  He divided out his children, and had no settled home after that.  His youngest child, named after himself, was killed in the O’Neal massacre.

     Jacob Null came to St. Charles County in 1808 from Cocke County, Tennessee, moved to this county the following year, and settled on the Yearly Jackson Place, three miles west of Troy.  After the war he moved to where his son, John S., lives, one mile south of Troy, on the telegraph road, where he died in 1819.  John S. Null was born in 1806, and with the exception of Jacob Groshong, has resided longer in this county than any other person.  Jacob Null was a great bee hunter.  He spent so much time hunting bees on Honey Creek in the forks of Cuivre, and was so successful, that the name of the stream was changed to Null’s Creek.  His brother John, and the latter’s son, Jacob, Jr., came to the county the same year, 1809.  They were prominent in home defence during the war, and also in public affairs in the organization of the county.

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John Null died in the western part of the county a few years ago.

     Several other families settled in the vicinity of Troy before the war, but the exact date cannot now be ascertained, nor can all their names be recollected.  The following were among them:  John and Joseph Hunter, the former the father of the late John M. Hunter, of New Hope, settled near West Cuivre, five miles northwest of Troy.  Robert McNair, a blacksmith, of Irish parentage, born in Pennsylvania, and brother to Gov. McNair, settled in Troy, and after the war moved to above Auburn, and still later to Hurricane Creek, where he died.  Elijah Collard and his father, Joseph Collard, Alembe and Job Williams, Major Robert Jameson and his son, George W. Jameson, who was the first white settler inside the Forks of Cuivre, having located on the farm now belonging to Mrs.Thomas Dwyer, two and a half miles east of Millwood, in 1817, and a man named Paris, settled in Troy or vicinity.  A more complete list of the early pioneers will be found further on.

 The War of 1812

     The apprehensions of the early settlers as to the Indian attitude were greatly increased by the intelligence of the declaration of war between this country and Great Britain.  The population within the confines of this county did not exceed five hundred.  The exposed condition of the inhabitants would invite the hostile attention of the five or six tribes, who considered this county and adjacent territory as their hunting ground.  It was expected that these would make common cause with the British.  The declaration was made by Congress on the 12th of June,1812;  and when it became known, the people lost no time in providing for the defence of their homes.  Stockade forts were built at convenient points. Major Clark, with the assistance of two hired men, built a stockade at his residence, and it was called Clark’s Fort.  It took six weeks to complete it, the three working every day, except two Sundays.  When done the Major put up seven thousand pounds of pork to cure, with other provisions, for the use of those families that would seek shelter within its walls after being driven from their homes.  A large stockade was built at Troy, and called Wood’s Fort.  It was built on the lands of Deacon Joseph Cottle and Zadock Woods, and took in the spring.  Stout’s Fort was built on Fort Branch, near Auburn.  A large stockade was built on what is now called the Tinbrook Place, and known before that as the Samuel Bailey Place, which belongs to Edmund Dederich.  It stood on the bluff, north of the intersection of the bluff road, with that leading from Chain of Rocks to Cap-au-Gris, and not far back of the cave spring, where until recently stood the house erected by Samuel Bailey.

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This was called Fort Howard, in honor of Benjamin Howard, who was Governor of this Territory, but resigned November 29,1812, to engage in the war as Brigadier-General.  At the time of his appointment as Governor, September 19,1810, he was member of Congress from Kentucky.  He was an efficient military officer.  He died at St. Louis, September 18,1814.  Mrs. Daniels, who was in the fort, remembers that General Howard came on a visit of inspection once or twice.  He complimented the people for having made the best selection and built the best fort in his district.  He was a large, fine-looking man, and wore a buckskin coat or hunting shirt, plentifully adorned with fringe.

     As far as known, most of the rangers who volunteered from this county served in the companies of Capt. Christopher Clark, of this county, and of Capt.(afterwards Colonel) Daniel M. Boone, Capt. Nathan Boone, and Capt. James Callaway, the last a grandson, and the other two sons of Daniel Boone, all of St. Charles County.  A few were under Capt. Craig, who was killed in this county; but where he came from is not known.

     Lieutenant(afterwards General and President) Taylor, of the regular army, had his headquarters at Wood’s Fort, and under his command were quite a number of the citizens of this county, including Zadock Woods, the Cottles and Collards; but whether it was the last year of the war, or just after the war ended, is not now known. David Bailey, Jonathan Riggs, and John McNair, all of this county, were Lieutenants in active service.  Before the war ended, Bailey was promoted to the command of a company, with the rank of Captain. Riggs was a man of undaunted courage, but of cool judgment.  He was frequently entrusted with the command and on many occasions his sagacity and knowledge of the Indian methods of warfare saved the lives of his men; a notable instance being when on the 7th of March,1815, the gallant, chivalric, but rash and often incautious Callaway, led his men into a trap laid by a largely outnumbering force of Indians on Loutre Creek, in Montgomery County, and laid down his life in a vain attempt to force his way through. Lieut. Riggs brought off the remainder of the men in good order and without further loss. McNair, son of Robert McNair, and nephew to Gov. McNair, was a good soldier, and a brave but rash man.  He saw a good deal of service in Illinois.  He was killed in a skirmish opposite Cap-au-Gris.  The campaigns of the Lincoln County Rangers extended from the Missouri River to past the Iowa line, principally in the vicinity of the Mississippi.

    Black Hawk, in the latter part of the year 1812, was commissioned Brigadier-General in the British army, and wished to descend at once upon these settlements;

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but Gen. Procter would not consent until after the second unsuccessful siege of Fort Meigs, which ended in July,1813.  Black Hawk then came down, as he says, with thirty braves; but the rangers of that day said that he had a much larger force.  His avowed purpose was to avenge the death of his adopted son, whom he said was killed by the whites.  He divided his force, he and a party landing near Cap-au-Gris, went across the bottom, and reached the bluff in the vicinity of McLane’s Creek; the other party ascended Cuivre, and made a feint on Fort HowardBenjamin Allen, Francis Riffle, Frederick Dixon, Roswell Durgee, John Lindsey, and William McHugh went up to Lindsey Lick, a place now owned by Joel Crenshaw and John Averall, under the escort of five Rangers, names unknown, except one, James Bowles, to sow turnips.  It was the custom in those troublous times to keep the families in the forts, and the men to put in, work, and gather the crops, as best they could, taking a guard whenever practicable.  The party, not fearing any immediate danger, was somewhat scattered. Dixon and Durgee were riding on one horse along a path, on the side of which Black Hawk and another Indian were concealed.  When they got within reach the Indians fired, mortally wounding Durgee.  The horse jumped, and both men fell to the ground.  Black Hawk started in pursuit of Dixon, who rose and ran.  The latter ran over a pile of new rails; when, as he was about to be overtaken, he picked up a stout stick and turned to defend himself.  As he did so, Black Hawk saw his face.  He says in his Life:  “I knew him. He had been at Quash-qua-me’s village, to learn his people how to plow.  We looked upon him as a good man.  I did not wish to kill him, and pursued him no further.”  In the meantime, the ranger Bowles was killed.  Before the alarm had been given, Edwin Allen, Chauncy Durgee, John Ewing, and John McLanewere bathing in the creek.  When the firing began Benjamin Allen galloped up, took his son Edwin on the horse, and telling the other boys to hide, rode off.  The little fellows lost no time in hurrying out of the water, and finding on the bank a large hollow log, crept into it. Black Hawk, in turning from the pursuit of Dixon, heard the noise and sprang upon the log. Chauncy Durgee afterwards said that he looked through a knot-hole and saw the Indian, who seemed to be looking him right in the eye, but that he turned off without discovering them. Black Hawk said that he saw the boys, but thought of his own boys at home, and let them escape. Dixon soon recovered his horse, and found Durgee and attempted to help him mount, but the latter being severely wounded and scalped, had partially lost the use of his reason, and could not be made to comprehend what was desired of him.  Finally he took hold of the horse’s tail, and Dixon made him understand that he was to hold fast and travel as rapidly as he could.  After going about a hundred yards his hold relaxed and he fell back. Dixon being hard pressed and unarmed made his escape. Black Hawk and his companion came across Durgee.

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He says the latter “was staggering like a drunken man, all covered with blood.  This was the most terrible sight I had ever seen.  I told my comrade to kill him to put him out of his misery; I could not look at him.”

     Not long after this a rise took place in the Mississippi River, and the backwater came up from Cuivre along the bluff.  A party from Fort Howard went out in three skiffs for some purpose.  They had not gone far before they were fired upon by a part of Black Hawk’s band, and seven men killed;  among them George Burnes, a son of James Burnes, who settled on Sandy Creek, as already mentioned.  The survivors put back, and the Indians rejoined Black Hawk.  The latter expected an attack and formed his men in line, himself standing boldly in front.  This was scarcely done before the rangers, who had heard the firing from the fort, were seen advancing with great impetuosity, led by Capt. CraigBlack Hawk took deliberate aim and fired.  Capt. Craig fell dead from his horse.  The rangers never halted, but fired as they advanced, and killed five.  The Indians, without taking time to reload, retreated before the soldiers into a large sink-hole, the bottom of which was covered with bushes, which afforded protection from the aim of the rangers.  They also dug holes with their knives in the sides of the depression, which gave them a pretty safe shelter.  A desultory firing from both sides was kept up for some time.  William McCormick, one of the rangers, declared that he was going to kill an Indian, and that he would shoot him in the mouth.  He carried out the boast exactly, he and several others going up to the edge of the sink-hole for that purpose.  The other fired, but without effect.  The fire was returned, killing Lieut. Spears dead on the brink, and mortally wounding McCormick. Black Hawk thus continues the narrative:  “Some of my warriors commenced singing their death-songs.  I heard the whites talking, and called to them to come out and fight.  I did not like my situation, and wished the matter settled.  I soon heard chopping and knocking; I could not imagine what they were doing.  Soon after they ran up wheels with a battery on it, and fired down without hurting any of us.  I called to them again, and told them if they were brave men to come down and fight us.  They gave up the siege, and returned to the fort about dusk.  There were eighteen in this trap with me.  We all got out safe, and found one white man dead on the edge of the sink-hole.  They could not remove him for fear of our fire.  We scalped him and placed our dead man upon him.  We could not have left him in a better situation than on an enemy.”  The “battery” was a keg of powder ignited by a fuse and placed on the fore-wheels of a wagon.  This was run up to the brink and intended to be pushed down into the midst of the Indians, but it exploded prematurely.  The abandonment of the siege, which had continued from early in the day, was the result of a false alarm.  This sink-hole was not a great distance from the fort, and is only a few yards from the present Chain of Rocks and Cap-au-Gris Road.  Near by is a large spring, which is

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known as the Black Hawk Spring.  When the rangers returned to the fort some of them brought the head of one of the fallen savages and stuck it upon a high pole.  Being without an officer, and in need of reinforcements, they sent for Captain Whiteside, who came the next day and had the pole taken down and the head buried. Mrs. Daniels does not remember where Captain Whiteside came from. Black Hawk and his party abandoned their canoes and returned to Iowa by land, taking with them only two scalps, those of Durgee and Lieut. Spears.  The body of the Lieutenant was found where he fell, with the dead Indian sitting astride it.

     Chauncy Durgee, who hid in the log, moved to Canton, in this State, and died some years ago.  His widow was living there quite recently. John Ewing, who was one of his companions in the log, was a son of William Ewing, who, when his wife died, divided out his children, giving the youngest, Willie, a boy not quite two years old, to Mrs.O’Neal, whose husband had moved a few years before to three miles above Clarksville.  At the very first of the war, O’Neal and some of his neighbors were engaged in building a stockade, where Clarksville now stands.  On returning home in the evening O’Neal saw the hogs dragging some object down the path, quite a distance from the cabin.  It was the body of his eldest daughter, who was seventeen years of age.  The whole family had been massacred, his wife and nine children, and the Ewing boy.  Most of the bodies were found in the yard.  Hanging over the fire was a large kettle, which Mrs. O’Neal had been using to heat water for washing.  In this kettle, O’Neal’s youngest child, a mere infant, was thrown alive, and when found was, literally roasted. Willie Ewing had been thrown on the fire, beneath the kettle, where his body was found partially consumed.  This horrible butchery was perpetrated by a band of Pottowatomies.  The next year this tribe made peace with the Americans after the defeat at Malden.  Many of them were in the habit of visiting Fort Clark, at Peoria, Illinois, while going on their hunting excursions down the Sangamon.  One of the band, who visited the fort frequently, became very friendly, and loved to talk of his exploits, during the time his tribe was at war with the whites.  In one of these talks he told of having led the party that massacred the O’Neal family, and how when scalping one of the boys, the victim grinned in the agonies of death.  This came to the ears of Lieut. John McNair, who lived in Troy, before he enlisted. McNair said, “The next time I see him, I’ll make him grin.”  The next day the Indian came back. McNair was asleep at the time.  When he awoke he was told that the Indian had just gone.  He inquired the way, and gave immediate pursuit.  He got almost upon the Indian before he saw him or was seen himself.  From the manner of his pursuer the Indian saw that the matter was one of life or death, and prepared himself for defence.  McNair got the first

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shot, and sent a ball crashing through the skull of the savage.  Near the close of the war, Lieut. McNair was stationed at Cap-au-Gris, where Capt. Musick had command.  A force of Indians came down on the Illinois side.  Hearing of this the Lieutenant took six men and crossed over to reconnoitre, against the advice and caution of Frederick Dixon, who was familiar with the ways of the savages.  They had not proceeded fifty yards from the river before they were fired upon.  Four men were killed, and McNair severely wounded.  He and the other two men, Burnside and Webber, made for the skiff.  The Indians reached the water’s edge as soon as they did and sunk the boat.  The white men plunged into the water, and the Indians after them. Webber succeeded in driving his hunting-knife so deep into the breast of and Indian that he could not withdraw it.  He and Burnside reached a drift, where they were rescued by Dixon, David Lemastre, and Thomas McNair, John’s brother. Lieut. McNair was never afterwards seen.

     A party of rangers going from Fort Howard to Madison, along the bluff road, camped one night at a house on Hurricane Creek that had been lately abandoned.  They found some provisions and a barrel of honey-beer, of which they partook freely and with great satisfaction.  The next morning, after marching a mile or two, about a dozen of the men returned to help themselves to the beer and to bring as much as they could for the others, who according to agreement, were to march along slowly so as to be easily overtaken.  These last had not gone very far before a proposition was made and immediately decided upon to have some fun.  They deployed themselves in ambush in such a manner as to make as large a show of strength as possible, intending to give their comrades a good scare and then laugh at their expense.  The result was not according to programme.  The “scare” was on the other side.  Presently the dozen rangers were seen coming along the road, happy in the possession of their beer, and anticipating no danger.  Their friends in ambush, at the proper moment, fired their guns in the air, raised the Indian yell, and kept up scattering volleys.  The surprised men fell back with some disorder, which was keenly relished by their comrades in the bush.  They were fully convinced that the surprise was a genuine one, and like brave soldiers they began making ready for battle.  They could not see the supposed enemy, but they knew the point whence proceeded the heaviest firing.  They advanced quickly and poured a well directed volley into it.  The command rang out sharp and clear, “Load, boys, and let the red devils have it again!” and again the leaden hail rattled through the bushes.  The “fun” had now lost all attractions for its originators.  Several of them were wounded, fortunately not severely, and they recognized the fact that their lives were in imminent danger.  The other party was so intent upon the work of self-defence that all the shouting and hallooing could not make it understand the real situation.  Finally some of the party in the

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bush rushed into the midst of the others, and explained the affair.  The wounded men were attended to, the beer brought out and drunk and every man pledged himself not to engage in a practical joke of that kind again during the course of his natural life.

     William Lynn, who lived where Brown’s addition to Troy now stands, was a ranger, and at one time on duty at Fort Howard.  He was fond of his dram, and used to keep his bottle hid out.  One day he took his usual walk to enjoy the bottle, and was in the act of drinking, when he was shot and killed by the Indians.  Abraham Keithley, of St. Charles County, while hunting his horses, crossed Cuivre at White’s Bar, about half a mile above Chain of Rocks, and a few yards from the river, on the between-the-lands of Major H. Anderson and Francis Freise, was killed by savages.  His son, who died near Troy a year ago, preserved his vest, which showed the mark of the fatal bullet.  Samuel Groshong, son of Jeremiah Groshong, was wounded in the shoulder, which caused a paralysis of the arm that lasted for several years.  This occurred in Moscow, which vicinity was greatly infested by the Indians.  After this five men from Clark’s Fort were detailed to guard Groshong’s mill.  Among these were Peter Pugh, who used to declare, as Jacob Groshong well remembers, that he would die before he would run from the Indians.  He was a very pleasant, agreeable man, had been in several engagements, and possessed an excellent reputation for courage.  How well he kept his vow will be presently seen.

 The disastrous attempt to relieve Prairie-du-Chien was made early in the spring of 1814.  The expedition consisted of three flat boats of soldiers, forty-two regulars under Lieutenant Campbell, and sixty-five rangers, mostly from the county, under the command of Lieutenant Riggs and Rector, and one or two boats loaded with provisions.  At the rapids Campbell’s boat grounded, and the other two passed on.  Black Hawk attacked Campbell’s boat, set it on fire, and killed several men.  Seeing this the other two boats put back, Riggs getting aground and being delayed nearly an hour.  Rector ran his boat alongside of Campbell’s and took off the men.  The Indians attacked them with great fury, causing considerable confusion among the soldiers, rendering their fire ineffectual and preventing a proper management of the boat.  Riggs, after getting his boat off, concealed most of his men, handled his boat as if he were panic-stricken, but managed to get it between the rest of the force and the Indians.  The latter poured several volleys into it, to which Riggs paid no attention, but keeping the same show of utter demoralization, ran his boat towards the shore where the Indians stood.  As soon as it touched, the savages rushed pell-mell for it, anticipating an easy triumph. Riggs saw his opportunity.  At his orders the men rose and delivered

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a volley that sent the savages flying from the scene of battle.  The diversion allowed the other boats time to recover themselves, and they proceeded with all despatch down the river. Lieut. Riggs hoisted sail and followed them without having lost a man.  The expedition returned to Cap-au-Gris.  Two or three from this county were killed in this action, among them Peter Harpole, who was in Campbell’s boat, and was about the first man killed.  The total loss were twelve killed and between twenty and thirty wounded. Black Hawk, in speaking of the conduct of Lieut. Riggs on this occasion says:  “I had a good opinion of this war chief; he managed so much better than the others.  It would give him pleasure to shake him by the hand.”

     In April,1814, Joseph McCoy, Sr., and his nephews, Joseph McCoy, Jr., and James McCoy, the first two being commonly known respectively as Big Joe and Little Joe, the latter a son-in-law of Major Christopher Clark, were sent from Fort Howard to find the whereabouts of the Indians.  They went to Sulpur Lick, a spring strongly impregnated with sulphur, iron, salt, and other minerals.  It is situated about a quarter of a mile east of North Cuivre, and a mile and a half north of the Riggs Ford, on section three, township forty-nine, range one west.  The place had been settled some time before the war, a cabin built, and a small patch of ground cleared around the spring, but at this time it had been abandoned.  The mineral water made the spring a favorite resort for deer.  Only this occasion no Indians were seen, and the scouts concluded to take a hunt.  They unsaddled their horses, and turned them in the old field to graze.  Big Joe was not very well; he lay down in the lap of a fallen tree and went to sleep. James McCoy had killed a deer, and was at the spring washing out his gun.  The Indians fired on him, wounding him in the thigh, and ran him about three hundred yards, where they overtook him, and killed him with their spears.  Big Joe awoke at the sound of the firing, but could not get a good chance to shoot, the Indians were running about through the woods.  Presently he was discovered and the savages closing in on him, he made a run for life.  He was the fleetest footed and most active of all the rangers.  A big Indian, swift-footed and active soon distanced his fellows, and held McCoy a tight race for a mile or so.  A large oak had been felled, and the branches lay directly in the path.  Without swerving in the least, Big Joe made a terrific spring and leapt entirely over the tree-top.  The Indian stopped in amazement: “Whoop! Heap big jump! Me no follow.” McCoy’s speed never slackened until he had put several miles between himself and the Lick.  Little Joe was standing on the bank of the Lick Branch, about a quarter of a mile below the spring, when his brother was killed.  He went up to the old field, caught and saddled the horses, and finding the coast clear, went in the direction of the fort, leading the other two horses.  He sent word to Major Clark.  There were only two men in the fort besides the Major, Isaac White,

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who had both thumbs shot off a short time previous while in the act of firing in a skirmish below Cap-au-Gris, where the rangers were driven back by a superior force, and David McNair. Major Clark collected eight men and gave pursuit.  He followed the Indians some distance up North Cuivre to a point where they separated.  It is said there were twenty-seven of the savages.  Some time after this, Peter Pugh and Robert McNair, a mere boy, and brother to Lieut. John McNair, went to the same Lick to hunt horses.  The Indians attacked them and killed both.  They might have easily escaped by a timely retreat, but Pugh dismounted, put his gun across his horse and fought until he died.  He killed four Indians.  The savages in revenge for his bloody work hacked his body to pieces and scattered it over the field.  The remains were collected and buried with the body of young McNair on the bank of the Lick stream.

     There were many other skirmishes in this county during the war, some of the particulars of which are still vivid in the recollection of persons now living; but as the names of those killed and wounded are forgotten, no further mention will be made of them, the limits of this sketch only permitting a description of those of which more exact data have been preserved.  The actual loss in battle conveys but a faint idea of the sufferings of the inhabitants during that period.  Farming operations had to be almost entirely abandoned, and not infrequently the uncertain results of the hunt left the besieged families on the very verge of starvation.  The pangs of hunger are as strongly remembered by some of our old citizens as any other incident of the war.  Could a full and thorough history of the deeds of the rangers of General Howard’sdistrict be written, its pages would read like the wildest romance.  They were as gallant a set of men as ever shouldered a gun.  Their services were often sorely needed in those dreadful times, and right heartily were they rendered.   Not always successful, and often times some of their best material sacrificed through want of skill and fool-hardy recklessness, they were ever ready for the saddle, the long and weary trail, the slow, tedious siege, the sharp clashing skirmish, or the bold, desperate fight.

 The County Organization

     To the first settler of Lincoln County was reserved the honor of securing an establishment as a separate county, and also of selecting its official title.  In the Territorial Legislature which convened at St. Louis in December,1818, being in the fifth session since the creation of the territory, the organization of several new counties was discussed.  MajorClark, who was a member, proposed a new county out of the area of St. Charles, of about twenty-four miles square, with the boundaries corresponding

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Alphabetical Index

1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7

File submitted for USGenWeb/MOGenWeb Lincoln County Missouri History Page by Patty Archer, 13 December 2001.  Link change or update: 25 Sep 2004

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