Early Missouri History
(As written in 1867*)
“The man who is ignorant of the transactions of former times is condemned to a perpetual state of childhood.”---Cicero
The valley of the Mississippi was first discovered by Hernando De Soto, appointed by the Emperor Charles V of Spain, as Governor of the Island of Cuba, and President of Florida. He explored the Lower Mississippi, as far north as the mouth of the Arkansas, in 1539, and passed up White River, crossed the Ozark ridge, and spent the winter of 1541-42 on the plains (or prairies) beyond—probably in the western part of this State. (See Vernon County) He named the country “Florida.”
After describing the Ozark hills in Missouri, Schoolcraft says: “Through these Alpine ranges De Soto roved with his chivalrous and untiring army, making an outward and inward expedition into regions which must have presented untoward hardships and discouragements to the march of troops. To add to these natural obstacles, he found himself opposed by fierce savage tribes, who rushed upon him from every glen and defile, and met him in the open grounds with the most savage energy. His own health finally sunk under these fatigues; and it is certain that, after his death, his successor in the command, Moscoso, once more marched entirely through the southern Ozarks, and reached the Buffalo plains beyond them. Such energy and feats of daring had never before been displayed in North America; and the wonder is at its highest, after beholding the wild and rough mountains, cliffs, glens, and torrents, over which the actual marches must have laid. Some of the names of the Indian tribes encountered by him furnish conclusive evidence that the principal tribes of the country, although they have changed their particular locations since the year 1542, still occupy the region. Thus, the Kapahas, who then lived on the Mississippi, above the St. François, are identical with the Quappas, the Cayas with the Kanzas, and the Quipana with the Pawnees.”
In 1673, the Mississippi valley was further explored by FATHER MAREQUETTE and M. JOLIET, from New France, (Canada) who entered the Mississippi river at the mouth of the Wisconsin, and continued down the stream to the mouth of the Arkansas River, which point they reached in 1673. Thus it will be seen that that portion of the Mississippi forming the eastern boundary of this State was discovered by the last-named French explorers, who were the first white men that had floated upon the Mississippi for a period of 130 years---or since the disastrous voyage of Louis de Moscoso, with the remains of De Soto’s expedition, in the year 1543. Returning from the mouth of the Arkansas, they passed up the Illinois River, and discovered all that country in July, 1674. more....
*Transcribed from "Missouri - As it is in 1867, An Illustrated Historical Gazetteer of Missouri by Nathan H. Parker, J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, 1867"
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