Because I could see or hear nothing man-made, I felt a special closeness to those men, women and children in covered wagons coming from Kentucky or Tennessee who passed this way, headed elsewhere. Many planned to buy land near Franklin, where a U.S. government land office was opened in 1818.
At the turn of the century, Daniel, Rebecca and their sons, Daniel Morgan and Nathan Boone, led about 150 people from Kentucky to Missouri. The area was known as "Upper Louisiana." They built cabins in the area near where the Femme Osage Creek emptied into the Missouri River near present day St. Charles and Marthasville.
Daniel Morgan Boone found the salt springs that American Indians had told his father about when he was on a hunting trip. Morgan and Nathan returned the next year to boil the salt water until only dry salt remained. Salt was essential to both humans and animals. Hunters used it in curing pelts and seasoning food; Indians used it for tanning deer skins, making venison jerky and in cooking. Animals licked the brackish earth around the springs to get the salt they craved.
In time, the wagon tracks made by Nathan and Morgan Boone in 1806 became a wilderness highway for immigrants headed for Franklin and other western destinations. It became known as Boone’s Lick Trace or Trail. The entire Mid-Missouri area became known as Boone’s Lick Country.
Franklin, on the Missouri River, was a metropolis in the wilderness. Five hundred people lived there before President James Monroe established a U.S. Government Land Office there in 1818. Traffic increased rapidly after the War of 1812, and the earlier settlers came out of the protective forts to improve their farms and homes; they sent messages to relatives in Kentucky and Tennessee about fertile fields, fresh flowing steams and forests with an abundance of wild game. Government land was for sale at $4 to $6 per acre.
After the Indians signed a treaty in 1815 releasing claim to all lands north of the Missouri River, wagons came in a steady flow. Central Missouri was said to be a great place to live. Relatives and friends wanted to buy land and build cabins near the earlier settlers. They built their homes of logs and heated them with wood from the same forests that sheltered wild game for hunting and trapping. Pelts from skunks, raccoons, opossums, mink and beaver could be traded or sold for cash. The meat from wild turkeys, quail, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, raccoons and deer fed their families. Nuts, berries, persimmons and a variety of wild greens helped balance their diets. Sassafras roots made a tasty tea, which was thought important to thin the blood.
The Central Missouri part of Upper Louisiana was a promised land for families on the frontier, thanks to Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone and their first wagon tracks to Boone’s Salt Works, almost 200 years ago!