AHGP Transcription Project

Cooper County

Cooper County, in the central part of the State, is bounded north by the Missouri River, which separates it from Howard and Boone Counties, east by Moniteau, south by Moniteau and Morgan, and west by Pettis and Saline Counties, and contains 355,172 acres.

Population in 1820, 6,959; in 1830, 6,904; in 1840, 10,484; in 1850, 12,950; in 1860, 17,356; in 1870, 20,692, of whom 17,340 were white, and 3,352 colored; 10,664 male, and 10,028 female; 18,597 native (12,300 born in Missouri) and 2,095 foreign.

Cooper County was first settled in 1812 by Stephen Cole, Daniel Boone, Robert Wallace, Wm. McMahon, Joseph Stephens and Wm. Moore, at or near the present site of Boonville, and was organized December 17th, 1818. During the late war there were two engagements in this, county (near Boonville), the first in 1861, between the Federals under Gen. Lyon, and the Confederates commanded by Gen. Sterling Price; the other between the Confederates led by Col. Brown, and the Federals, Col. Eppstein commanding, in both of which the Federals were victorious. The county was held first by one party then by the other, so that its citizens endured the disagreeable necessity of military occupancy up to the close of the struggle. Since the establishment of peace, the county has enjoyed an uninterrupted course of prosperity, which has placed it in the front rank of the counties of the State in wealth and population.

Physical Features
The face of the county is about equally divided between timbered lands and prairies, the latter rolling, and gradually rising into a hilly, and somewhat broken country, as they approach the river. The western portion is drained by the La Mine River; the central by Little Saline Creek, and the southeastern by Moniteau Creek. There are numerous fresh and mineral springs throughout the county. Among the latter the most noted for their medicinal properties are the Chouteau Springs, about 12 miles south west of Boonville, and near the line of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad. They are much frequented, and when improved will be a delightful place for summer resort. The medicinal properties of these waters are highly spoken of, and numerous individuals have received great benefit from their use. There are also several very fine salt springs in the western portion of the county.

The alluvial soil occupies a large area in the bottoms of the Missouri, La Mine and the Little Saline, and is generally covered with a heavy growth of cottonwood, sycamore, elm, box-elder, sugar and white maple, white and black ash, coffee tree, honey locust, the various kinds of oak and hickory, red bud, hackberry, and numerous varieties of willow. The upland timber consists of hickory, oak, walnut, sugar maple, ash, haw and hackberry. The soil of the county is very fertile, and well adapted to all the purposes of agriculture.

Agricultural Productions
The bottom lands are particularly adapted to corn and hemp, while the uplands are well suited to corn, wheat, oats, tobacco and the grasses. Apples and peaches are grown in abundance, as are also the small fruits. The grape is cultivated extensively, and considerable wine of excellent quality manufactured. About three fifths of the county are under cultivation, and there remain about 1000 acres of "swamp land" still unsold.

Mineral Resources
Professor Swallow estimates the amount of good available coal, in Cooper County, to be not less than 60,000,000 tons. It is found in working quantities on nearly every section in the county. Lead and iron in considerable, and zinc and manganese in small quantities have been found. Of building materials, there is an abundance of limestone, sandstone, marble, hydraulic cement, fire rock, and clays for fire brick.

The Manufacturing Interests of the county are not very extensive, considering the many advantages, both natural and artificial which it possesses. There is 1 woolen mill, a foundry, several flouring`mills, 4 stoneware establishments, several wine manufactories, 2 breweries, 1 large tobacco factory and several smaller ones.

Valuation of the county per census of 1870, $10,000,000.*

There are three railroads running through the county, which, with the Missouri River, furnish ample means for transportation: the Missouri Pacific, which has 6 miles of track passing through the southwestern part; the Osage Valley & Southern Kansas (usually known as the Boonville Branch of the Missouri Pacific) runs through the center, from south to north, having 23 miles of track; and the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad passes through the western and northern portions of the county, for 24 miles. The latter road has built a fine iron bridge across the Missouri River, at Boonville, which will probably be the means of bringing other roads through the county, as several are already projected.

The Exports are wheat, corn, oats, tobacco (in the leaf and manufactured), flour, woolen goods, stoneware and wine.

Educational Interests
There are in the county about 75 public school buildings, including 10 for colored children. Some of these are very fine edifices. There are also several excellent private schools and colleges. The county has an agricultural and mechanical association which holds its annual fairs at the county seat.

Cooper County Places in 1875

Bell Air, is a post office 7 miles north west of Bunceton.

Billingsville, is a station on the Boonville Branch of the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 6 miles south of Boonville, and contains 1 store. There are several large stone quarries near this place, which are extensively worked. It is surrounded by timber.

BOONVILLE, the county seat, on the Missouri River, 232 miles above St. Louis, is the terminus of the Boonville Branch of the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 25 miles north of Tipton and 187 miles by rail from St. Louis. It is also on the Missouri Kansas & Texas Rail Road, 35 miles from Sedalia and 37 miles from Moberly. The railroad bridge, noticed above, spans the Missouri River at this place. The city is beautifully and healthfully located among the hills and is surrounded by a fine farming country. Mrs. Hannah Cole owned the land on which Boonville is built. The original plat was made by Captain Asa Morgan, and Chas. Lucas, August 1st, 1817. It became the county seat August 13th, 1819, and was incorporated February 8th, 1839. The first election held May 3d, 1839, made Marcus Williams, Sr., mayor, J. Rice, president of the board, and Wm. Shields, J. L. Collins, Jacob Wyan, David Andrews, Chas. Smith, J. S. McFarland, and J. H. Malone, councilmen. The first court was held at the house of Wm. Bartlett, Esq., March 1st, 1819, David Todd presiding, Wm. M. McFarland, sheriff, and Robt. C. Clark, clerk. Boonville possesses great natural advantages, being in the midst of a populous and wealthy section, having an abundance of coal and water; also, timber, stone and other building material. Its extensive railroad connection, together with the Missouri River, afford easy and cheap transportation for the agricultural productions of the surrounding country. The town is well laid out with wide streets, generally paved and lined with shade trees. The buildings are substantial, mostly of brick, and in the city and suburbs are many handsome residences. The court-house is a fine brick structure in the midst of a public square ornamented with trees. The jail is a two story stone building. The city is lighted with gas, and contains a spacious town hall, 1 large public school for white and 1 for colored children, 5 private schools and colleges, 9 churches, M. E. Church South, German Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopal, Baptist colored and Methodist colored; 3 banks, 3 weekly newspapers, The Eagle, Milo Blair, editor and publisher, theWæchter am Missouri (German,) L. Joachimi, editor and proprietor, and the Advertiser, Caldwell, Stahl & Hutchison, proprietors; 5 hotels and a U. S. Land Office, about 20 manufacturing establishments, 2 breweries and about 75 stores. With these advantages, joined to the high social and business character of its citizens, Boonville bids fair to become one of the most important cities in the central part of Missouri. Population, about 6,000.

Bunceton, on the Boonville Branch of the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 15 miles south of Boonville, was laid out and settled in 1866, and has 1 large flouring mill, 1 church, 1 public school building, 1 Masonic hall and 4 or 5 stores, and is surrounded by timber. Large quantities of coal and building stone are found near this place. Population, about 400.

Clark's Fork, is a post ofhce 9 miles south east of Boonville.

Clear Creek, is a post office 16 miles south west of Boonville.

Conner's Mills, is a post office 8 miles east of Boonville.

Gooch's Mills, is a post office 11 miles east of Boonville.

Harrison, on the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Rail Road, 15 miles south of Boonville, contains 1 store.

LaMine, is a post office 14 miles west of Boonville.

Lone Elm, is a post office 18 miles south of Boonville.

New Palestine, on the Boonville Branch of the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 11 miles south of Boonville, is situated on Little Saline Creek, and contains about 200 inhabitants.

Otterville, on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 175 miles from St. Louis, and 25 miles south west of Boonville, is surrounded by a good country, with plenty of timber and good water power. It was incorporated February 16th, 1857, and contains 1 fine public school building, 4 churches, a Masonic and an Odd Fellows' hall and 10 stores. Lead in large quantities has recently been discovered near this place. Population, about 600.

Overton, a shipping point on the Missouri River, 13 miles east of Boonville, has 1 store, 1 school house, and 1 warehouse.

Pilot Grove, on the Missouri Kansas & Texas Rail Road, 12 miles south west of Boonville, has 1 store and 1 church.

Pisgah, 15 miles south of Boonville, and 6 miles from Bunceton, (the nearest railroad station) has 2 stores, 1 church, and 1 school house.

Pleasant Green, on the Missouri Kansas & Texas Rail Road, 18 miles south west of Boonville, in a timbered district, has 1 store and 1 church.

Prairie Home, a post office 18 miles south of Boonville, has 1 store and 1 school house, and is situated in a fine agricultural region.

Vermont, on the Boonville Branch of the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 20 miles south of Boonville, is surrounded by prairie, and has 1 store.

*Assessed valuation in 1873, $5,596,450. Bonded debt, $393,000. Floating debt, $20,393. Bonded debt of Boonville, Clear Creek and Pilot Grove townships, $170,000; City of Boonville, $64,350; all of which, except a portion of the city of Boonville debt, is for railroads. Floating debt of the city of Boonville, $17,170.52.

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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