AHGP Transcription Project

Jackson County

Jackson County, in the western part of the State, is bounded north by the Missouri River, which separates it from Clay and Ray Counties, east by Lafayette and Johnson, south by Cass, and west by the Kansas State Line, and contains 417,089 acres.

Population in 1830, 2,823; in 1840, 7,612; in 1850, 14,000; in 1860, 22,953; in 1870, 55,041, of whom 49,850 were white and 5,223 colored; 30,282 male, and 24,759 female; 45,916 native (18,966 born in Missouri) and 9,125 foreign.

The position of this county upon the great bend in the Missouri River, 300 miles west of the Mississippi, has always, since the earliest explorations of the country, made it a thoroughfare and point of debarkation for trappers and traders of the plains and the Rocky Mountains, for the commercial caravans to New Mexico, Chihuahua, etc., for emigrants and gold hunters to California, Oregon, and the boundless regions formerly known by the name of the "Far West," as well as the point of final outfit and departure for the various Government exploring parties of Fremont, Beale, and others. On July 3d, 1724, M. DeBourgmont, the commandant of Fort Orleans, a French post situated on an island in the Missouri River, 6 or 8 miles below the mouth of Grand River, by previous appointments proceeded to the "Cansas," then the site of the chief town of the Kansas tribe of Indians, afterward Fort Osage, now Sibley, Jackson County, where the general rendezvous of the several nations was appointed, the object being to bring about a general peace of the nations that were at war. M. DeBourgmont made them a great speech, and induced the chief men of the several tribes all to smoke out of the same pipe.

Trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes was carried on in the earlier years of the republic, under what was known as the "factory system." The Government established posts at suitable points, furnished goods, and the trade was carried on by salaried factors and agents. Private traders, however, were not excluded, but the system was intended as a check upon their pernicious influences and extortions.

Fort Osage was established as a Government fort and factory in 1808.

Around the fort a tract of land 6 miles square was laid off, upon which a limited number of white settlers were permitted to locate in order to raise supplies for the post. Hon. George C. Sibley, late of St. Charles, was Government factor and agent, from 1818, until the abandonment of the fort in 1825. By treaty with the Osage, Kansas and other tribes, the Indians' title to nearly all the territory of Missouri, was extinguished in 1808, excepting a strip 24 miles wide, lying eastward from the western boundary of the State, and extending from the Missouri River south into the territory of Arkansas. The eastern line of this strip was a few miles east of Fort Osage, and in it lay nearly all of Jackson County. The Indian title to this strip, including an immense territory lying westward was extinguished in 1825. The settlers who had been previously stopped in their westward progress at the eastern confines of this strip of land, immediately made a general rush into the new purchase. The next year (1826) a census was taken preliminary to establishing a general county organization. The county records show the cost of taking this census, by Jacob Gregg (still a resident of the county,) as being 10 dollars, for ten days' services.

In 1821, Francis G. Chouteau established a trading post on the south bank of the Missouri River, about three miles below the present site of Kansas City. He brought his wife and family all the way from St. Louis to the post in canoes and pirogues, the journey occupying over twenty days. By the great flood of April 1826, every vestige of his improvements were swept away, and the post was transferred to a point on the Kansas River, 6 miles above the mouth. A few years later, a few Frenchmen (mountain trappers), with their Indian families settled along the Missouri River below the mouth of the Kansas.

The county was organized Dec. 15th, 1826, and July 2nd, 1827, the first county court was held at Independence, Henry Burris presiding, and Abraham McClellan and Richard Fristoe, associate judges, L. W. Boggs (afterwards governor) clerk. The commissioners the same month located the county seat at Independence where it has since remained. Although the timbered portion was soon quite thickly settled, various causes contributed to retard the development of the county, and principally the fact that a large portion of the finest lands were for many years withheld from sale. On the Blue River, 36 sections were selected for educational purposes for the Kansas Indians, as provided in the treaty of 1825, and a still larger amount, under an act of Congress, donating public lands to Missouri for seminary purposes. These last were sold in 1832, and the proceeds applied to the State University at Columbia. That portion of the public land not reserved for other purposes was offered at public sale on Nov. 11th, 1828.

Another drawback arose in 1830, in a bitter feud between the original settlers and the Mormons who emigrated in large numbers and settled in Jackson County. They entered several thousand acres of land, mostly west of Independence, professed to own all things in common, though in reality their bishops and leaders owned everything (especially the land titles) and established a "Lord's storehouse" in Independence, where the few monopolized the trade and earnings of the many. They published The Evening Star, (the first newspaper in the county) in which appeared weekly installments of "revelations" promising wonderful things to the faithful, and denouncing still more wonderful things against the ungodly Gentiles. The result was that the Gentiles threw the press and type into the Missouri River, tarred and feathered the Bishop and two others, on the public square at Independence, and otherwise maltreated the Saints, who retaliated upon their adversaries, "smiting them hip and thigh" at every good opportunity. On Oct. 31st, a deadly encounter took place 2 miles east of Westport, in which two citizens and one Mormon were killed. The Mormons routed their enemies, and elated with victory, determined to utterly destroy that wicked place, Independence, which had been the scene of their sorest trials. A "revelation" ordered the work of destruction and promised victory. They marched during the night, and soon after daylight of Nov. 2nd, arrived one mile west of the town, but the Gentiles pouring in from all quarters, met them at that point, and forced them to lay down their arms and leave the county in 24 hours, which they did, crossing the Missouri Nov. 3rd, 1833. (See Caldwell, pp. 87-89.) Since that time (except during the late Civil War) the county has steadily grown in population and wealth.

Physical Features
The surface of the country is gently undulating, except along the river hills and those bordering the smaller streams, and was originally about equally divided between timber and prairie; it is unsurpassed in fertility of soil, with an abundant supply of water, well distributed from never failing springs and wells, and the various water courses. The bottom lands of the Missouri and the smaller streams are unusually productive. The surface of the elevated ridges has generally a deep soil, except as they approach the breaks bordering the water courses, which are timbered with the usual varieties found near and south of the Missouri. The Missouri washes the northern boundary. Big Blue River, with its tributaries, Brush, West Fork, and several smaller creeks, drain the western part of the county. Rock and Sugar Creeks enter the Missouri just west of Independence. Little Blue and its branches, among which are Spring, Bryan's, Camp, Mouse, Big Cedar, Little Cedar and East Fork, drain the central portions, Fire Prairie the northeast, and the head waters of the Big Saiabar the southeastern part of the county. The larger water courses traverse the county in the general direction of from southwest to northeast.

The Agricultural Productions are corn, wheat, oats, hemp, tobacco, cattle and hogs, and the fruits and vegetables common to the latitude.

Mineral Resources
The eastern part of the county is supplied with beds of bituminous coal 28 to 30 inches thick, lying near the surface. In the western part none has been discovered which would justify working. There is an abundant supply of excellent building stone.

Valuation of the county per census of 1870, $38,000,000.*

The Missouri Pacific has 31 miles of track in the county, and Kansas City, on the Missouri River, is a station thereon. It is also the terminus of the Kansas Pacific Rail Road; the northern terminus of the Fort Scott & Gulf Rail Road; the northeastern terminus of the Kansas City & Santa Fe Division of the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Rail Road (whose trains run over the track of the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Rail Road from Olathe); the southern terminus of the Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluffs; the southwestern terminus of the Kansas City Branch of the Hannibal & St. Joseph, and the western terminus of the Western Division of the St. Louis, Kansas City & Northern Rail Way; the latter three forming a junction at Harlem, on the opposite side of the river, their trains crossing over the new magnificent railroad bridge, which is also used as a wagon and foot passenger bridge. $300,000 of the county debt above referred to, and the Van Buren Township debt is for railroads, while the Westport debt is for horse railway purposes.

The Exports are corn, wheat, stock and manufactured articles for which, and the shipment of produce of the country tributary, see Kansas City.

Educational Interests
Jackson County is well attended to in about 100 sub-districts into which the county is divided. The public schools are well organized and taught, and the high schools of Kansas City and Independence are the pride of the citizens.

Jackson County Places in 1875

Blue Mill, is a post office 8 miles north east of Independence.

Blue Springs, is a post office 10 miles south east of Independence.

Fire Prairie, is a post office 10 miles east of Independence.

Greenwood is a station on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 28 miles from Kansas City.

Hickman's Mills is a post office 16 miles south south west of Independence.

Hick's City, near the southeast corner of the county, has a church, a public school, a few stores, and about 100 inhabitants.

INDEPENDENCE, the county seat, selected and laid out in 1827, lies 3 miles south of the Missouri River, and nearly midway between the east and west lines of the county, occupying an elevated, beautiful and healthful situation, with wide, macadamized streets, handsome dwellings, churches, seminaries, etc. It is on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road 9 miles east of Kansas City. From 1828 until about 1845, it was the mart and rendezvous of the overland merchants and traders to New Mexico and the western plains and mountains, and during that period had extensive manufactories of various kinds, especially of heavy freight wagons suited for the plains. It was the point of final outfit and departure of nearly all expeditions going westward during that time. After 1845, the overland westward trade was transferred to the new town of Kansas City, and Independence has since been the center of a good local trade. It has 8 churches, 2 Presbyterian, 2 Methodist, 1 Baptist, 1 Christian, 1 Catholic, 1 African; 4 public schools, 1 female college, 2 high schools, 1 pottery, 2 manufactories of wooden-ware, 1 extensive broom factory, 2 grist mills, a brewery, a distillery, a national and a private bank, 3 hotels, and a full supply of mercantile houses, grocers, drug stores, etc. Population, about 3,600.

Kansas City

Lee's Summit, on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, southeast of and 22 miles from Kansas City, is surrounded by the best farms in the county. It has 1 bank, 2 hotels, a fine merchant flouring-mill, about 15 stores, 1 elevator, 2 schools, 2 churches, and about 800 inhabitants.

Little Blue, is a station on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 7 miles south of Independence.

Lone Jack, near the southeast corner of the county, contains a few stores, and about 150 inhabitants.

Micklin, is a post office 18 miles east of Independence.

New Santa Fe, is a post office 16 miles south of Kansas City.

Oak Grove is a post office 24 miles east south east of Independence.

Pink Hill 15 miles east south east of Independence, contains 1 store and about 50 inhabitants.

Raytown is a post office 8 miles south south west of Independence.

Rock Creek is a station on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 5 miles east of Kansas City.

Sibley formerly Fort Osage, near the northeast corner of the county, occupies the site of old Fort Osage, and has about 40 inhabitants.

Stony Point is a post office 17 miles south east of Independence.

Suy Mills is a post office 24 miles south east of Independence.

Westport, 4 miles south of the Missouri River, and 1 mile east of the Kansas boundary, was laid out in 1833, and from 1845 until 1855 was an important trading point for the Indians and the Santa Fe traders. A horse railroad from Kansas City makes it a desirable residence for business men of the latter place. It has 6 churches, 1 Christian, 2 Presbyterian, 1 Baptist, 1 Catholic and 1 Methodist, a fine public school house, 1 hotel, 1 merchant flouring-mill, and a number of tradesmen and business houses. Population about 2,000.

*Assessed valuation for 1873, $20,740,335. Taxation, $1.61 per $100. Bonded debt $500,000. Van Buren Township $50,000. Westport (municipal), $25,000.

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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