AHGP Transcription Project

Cole County

Cole County, in the central part of the State, bounded north by the Missouri River, which separates it from Boone and Callaway Counties, east by Osage, south by Miller, west by Miller and Moniteau Counties, and contains 234,466 acres.

Population in 1830, 3,023; in 1840, 9,286; in 1850, 6,696; in 1860, 9,697; in 1870, 10,292, of whom 9,041 were white and 1,251 colored; 5,595 male, and 4,697 female; 8,234 native (5,884 born in Missouri) and 2,058 foreign.

As early as 1816, a few families from Kentucky and Tennessee located within the present limits of Cole, but white families were few and far between until after its organization, November 16th, 1820, when it was named for the intrepid pioneer, Capt. Stephen Cole. The county seat was located at Marion in 1822, and removed to Jefferson City in 1828. The seat of government of the State was removed from St. Louis to St. Charles in 1821, thence to Jefferson City in 1826. At the time of the admission of Missouri into the Union, Congress granted four sections of land for the location of the seat of government. The Constitution fixed the location of the capital upon the Missouri River within 40 miles of the mouth of the Osage. At the first session of the Legislature, commissioners were appointed who, after a tedious examination, selected the present site of Jefferson City, which Maj. Elias Bancroft laid off into lots under the superintendence of the commissioners, in 1822. The first sale of lots took place in May, 1823, under the supervision of Maj. Josiah Ramsey, Jr., Capt. J. C. Gordon and Adam Hope, Esq., trustees on the part of the State.

At this time there were but two families residing in the place, Maj. Josiah Ramsey, Jr., and Mr. Wm. Jones. This year (1823) the building of a brick State house was let to the lowest bidder, Daniel Colgan, and afterwards transferred to James Dunnica, of Kentucky, who built the capitol at the bid of $25,000. The State house was completed at the stipulated time, and the Legislature assembled in the new State capitol on the third Monday in November, 1826. Up to this date, all the families that resided in Jefferson City, were Wm. Jones, Josiah Ramsey, Jr., John C. Gordon, Daniel Colgan, Jesse F. Roystan, James Dunnica, Harden Casey, Robert A. Ewing, Alexander Gordon, John Dunnica, John P. Thomas, Reuben Garnett, Stephen C. Dorriss, James R. Pullen, Christopher Casey, Henry Buckner, Hiram H. Baber, David Scrivner, Samuel Harrison, Geo. Woodward, Terry Scurlock, David Slater, Granville P. Thomas, Robert H. Jones, Azariah Kennedy, Willis Thornton, David Harmon, Wm. Henderson, Mr. Thompson, McDaniel Dorriss and Mr. Moss.

The present State capitol was commenced in 1838, and occupied by the Legislature of 1840-41, and cost about $350,000. The stone for the building was taken from the bluffs near by, along the line of the Pacific Railroad, in front of the city. The limestone for the pillars was from Callaway County. Mr. S. Hills, the architect, here planned one of the best buildings in the West, whether as regards its substantial character, architectural beauty or interior arrangement of the Legislative halls and the several State offices.

Physical Features
The general surface of the country is high and undulating, and covered with a heavy growth of oak, hickory, elm, walnut, ash, sugar maple, buckeye, cottonwood, etc. The bottom lands are rich in soil and heavily timbered; they are also almost entirely free from riparian loss or acquisition. The upland soil is light and warm, with yellow and red clay for a basis, and peculiarly adapted to the production of small grains and fruits of superior quality. The low-lands in the valleys and the margins of the streams will sustain a rank growth of nearly everything native to the Temperate Zone.

The central part is drained by Moreau and North Fork of Moreau, both of which furnish excellent water power. The Osage River lies on the eastern boundary, and is navigable far beyond the limits of the county during the freshet season, and by judicious expenditure on the part of the Government, could be made a valuable water route. The northern border is washed by the great Missouri, and this, with her railroad connection, gives Cole great facilities for the transportation of produce.

The Agricultural Productions are wheat, corn, oats, barley and hay. Tobacco of fine quality is also produced, and the apple and peach grow in great perfection.

Mineral Resources
Coal in large quantities exists, and in the western part numerous beds are worked. The coal is generally bituminous, but cannel coal has been excavated in various localities, particularly in the vicinity of Elston and Centertown. Lead has been found in the south and southwestern parts of the county, on either side of the South Fork of the Moreau, in great abundance. Rich deposits have been opened south of Russellville and smelting furnaces erected. Two have been in operation in the vicinity of Pratt's Mills for the past two years, their average net profits being about $25 per day each. Kaolin is found in the bluffs of the Osage, though of what quality for usefulness has not been ascertained. Indications of copper are found in the south central part of the county, and iron exists in immense banks within a short distance of the Osage River, but, until facilities for transportation are afforded by the improvement of the navigation of the Osage by means of locks and dams, must remain a "hidden treasure."

The Manufacturing Interests are yet in their infancy. One machine shop and foundry, started a few years since with small capital, finds a demand for twenty times the work it can do, and is accordingly increasing the extent of its productions. The flouring mills of Jefferson City, Osage City and Centertown have an established reputation as the manufacturers of flour from Osage Valley wheat in the markets of Boston and New York. There are 2 furnaces, a few carding machines, and 2 looms in the county. The manufacturing of the penitentiary, which is located here, is meagre, comparatively. An effort to reorganize the labor of the institution so as to make it contribute to the employment of mechanics and artizans outside, is now being made with some show of success. Shoes are made in the penitentiary, and furniture, which finds a ready market in the West, thus giving employment to a large number of experienced prisoners.

Valuation of the county per census of 1870, $7,000,000.*

The Missouri Pacific has 26 miles of track. It passes along the bank of the Missouri for 15 miles, and then turns due west.**

The Exports are corn, wheat, tobacco, fruit and stock.

Educational Interests
Public schools are established in many parts of the county, but the superintendent in his annual report says: "The people generally do not seem to realize the importance of popular education, and many of them are opposed to the public school system. In many of the districts they have poor school houses, poorly furnished; make frequent changes of teachers, and have but a short school term."

Cole County Places in 1875

Brazito, 15 miles south south west of Jefferson City, has 1 school house and a store.

Centre Town, on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road 15 miles west of Jefferson, has several stores, 1 wagon shop and a large flouring mill. It is the point to which large quantities of lead and coal are hauled for market. It has 1 church and 1 school house, and a population of 300.

Elston Station, on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road 10 miles west of Jefferson City, has several stores and shops, and 1 saw mill. Lead is found near the town and coal is mined within a short distance. It has 1 church and a school house. Population, about 200. The county farm is located near the town.

Hickory Hill, 21 miles south south west of Jefferson City, has 1 school house and 1 store.

JEFFERSON CITY, the county seat, and the capital of the State, on the Missouri River and on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road 125 miles from St. Louis, and connected by ferry with Cedar City, the terminus of the Missouri branch of the Chicago & Alton Rail Road, has a population of about 7,000. It is a picturesque and interesting town, and possesses in miniature all the elements of a large city. The principal public buildings are the capitol, State armory, the State penitentiary and the court house, all substantial stone structures. There are a number of handsome private residences, and the Governor's mansion has a commanding location and was built in 1871 at a cost of $100,000. It is an imposing edifice of brick with stone trimmings. The public school building of the city is a very creditable structure. It accommodates four hundred pupils, and is an attractive feature of the city. There are 7 churches, Episcopal, Swedenborgian, Presbyterian, 2 Methodist, Baptist, Catholic and Lutheran; also a female college and a male high school, and 3 newspapers, The State Journal, daily and weekly, N. C. Burch, editor and proprietor; People's Tribune, daily and weekly, Regan & Carter, publishers; Der Fortschritte (German weekly), Nitchy & Schiller, publishers.

Marion, on the Missouri, 7 miles north north west of Center Town, was originally the county seat. It has 2 stores, a saw mill and 1 church.

Osage Bluff, is a post office 12 miles south of Jefferson City.

Osage City, on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road 8 miles east of Jefferson City, at the mouth of the Osage River, has 1 large flouring mill, 2 saw mills, 1 stave and barrel factory, several stores and 1 hotel.

Russellville, is a post office 15 miles west south west of Jefferson City, and has 1 store and 1 church. It is on the line of the Jefferson City, Lebanon & Fort Scott Rail Road, which is partially graded.

St. Thomas, is a post office 18 miles south of Jefferson City.

Scott's Station, (Upper Jefferson), is on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road 7 miles west of Jefferson City.

Stringtown, is a post office 10 miles west south west of Jefferson City, and has 1 store.

Taos, is a post office 5 miles south of Jefferson City.

Upper Jefferson, See Scott's Station.

*Assessed valuation in 1873, $3,734,616. Taxation, $1.50 per $100. Bonded debt, $148,000.
**The advantages of the Missouri Branch of the Chicago & Alton road are also secured to the county. This branch has for its present terminus the village of Cedar City, opposite Jefferson City, and the extension of the line through the county in a southwest direction is already graded to Russellville, near the west line of the county. At no distant day the Missouri River will be bridged at this point, and unbroken communication established over this line from the great Southwest to the Lakes.

Source: Campbell's Gazetteer of Missouri, Revised Edition, by R. A. Campbell, Published by R. A. Campbell,
St. Louis, Missouri, 1875

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