In my last three columns I’ve attempted to describe the
transition of our wilderness into a planned community by
concerned, ambitious citizens working together on the frontier. A
time line of events may help us put local history into
Before 1800 In Kentucky, Daniel Boone taught his sons
to boil saline water to make salt. American Indians hunted and
farmed in our area, moving frequently.
1700-1800 Many of "Kentucky’s best"
followed the Boones to "Upper Louisiana" stopping near
present day St. Charles.
1803 Young Nathan Boone started building a three-story,
"blue limestone" mansion with his father’s help.
Sixty-eight year-old Daniel Boone and his wife, Rebecca, lived
out their lives in a dirt-floor cabin near Nathan and Olive.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began their long
exploration for President Thomas Jefferson.
1804 or 1805 When on a long hunt, friendly American
Indians told Daniel Boone the location of a spring where animals
licked the ground to get salt.
1806 Nathan and D. Morgan Boone went 150 miles west,
located the spring and planned how they’d manufacture salt
there; they continued the mansion project.
1807 Nathan and Morgan, with three helpers, returned
with 12 iron kettles and loads of tools and supplies, and began
to make salt, dry it and ship it by keel boat to St. Louis. There
was no settlement in what would become Boone County. Missouri
would become a state 14 years later.
1808 Nathan and Morgan Boone expanded the salt
"factory" bringing square iron kettles made with
rounded bottoms, providing more rapid evaporation.
1809 Benjamin, Braxton and Sarshall Cooper planted a
corn crop near, but were driven back by hostile American Indians.
1810 Cooper returned and established the first
settlement, numbering 150 people. Nathan Boone and his helpers
completed the first three-story limestone mansion west of the
1811 The Boones sold the salt works. Indians and
settlers enjoyed two years of peaceful coexistence in "Upper
1812 Earthquake tragedy in southeast Missouri;
President Jefferson offered free land near Rocheport; 20 families
moved, others came later. War! Britain incited the American
Indians and provided arms and ammunition to fight the Europeans.
Settlers sought protection in forts; their lives were in danger
for more than two years.
1815 End of War of 1812; "Kentucky’s
best," mostly from Head’s Fort north of Rocheport,
peacefully worked to improve their farms and homes. American
Indians released all claims north of the Missouri River.
1816-18 Many Kentucky wagons bypassed our area to
settle in or near Franklin. The river town had churches, schools,
a factory, a newspaper, a jail and more.
1818 U.S. government sold land for $4 to $6 per acre.
Thirty-five enterprising men bought more than 2700 acres to use
or resell. A cluster of five or six log cabins called Smithton
overlooked Flat Branch and what would later be Columbia’s
business district. Many new families wanted to settle there.
1819-20 Water wells at Smithton, north of today’s
Grant School, did not supply enough water. Residents became
discontented. "Smithton Company" planned and mapped a
city down the hill where abundant water was available, calling it
"Columbia." Many wagons arrived. Sellers traded for
hilltop lots of equal value.
1821 Smithton residents dismantled their cabins and
moved them to Columbia. Much farmland was sold throughout the
1823 Booneslick Trail was rerouted to bring wagons down
Columbia’s Broadway. David Gordon’s two-story brick
home was built with hand-formed bricks and homemade plaster
the first of its kind. Standing in the midst of crude log
cabins and forests to be cleared, it was called "a sentinel
guarding Columbia’s eastern portal."
1999 A hundred and seventy-six years later,
"Gordon Manor’s ruins guard Columbia’s eastern