Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Eccentric surveyor Ira Nash was first ‘white man’ in Boone County

Because of television, we know both fiction and fact about people who moved everything - all of their livestock, their home furnishings, etc. - 800 miles, crossing into Missouri in 1800. They cut trees and started over again, erecting log cabins. One woman in this group rode a horse, carrying a baby only 3 weeks old at the start. Some men made dugout canoes from long, slender white cottonwood trees for women and little children.

It was a long, hard trip!

Four years later, Ira P. Nash, a wealthy native of Virginia and graduate of that state’s university, came "up north" to Missouri from Tennessee. He was probably the first "white man" to set foot in the area that became Boone County.

Nash owned the only Spanish grant ever issued in this county. His property was near where Bonne Femme Creek empties into the Missouri River. He claimed it was "the most beautiful spot in all creation." Nevertheless, he didn’t see it again for the next 12 years! He disliked his farmer neighbors, and they were laughing about his way of life, but his descendants today are our valued neighbors and friends.

Nash was a medical doctor, a qualified surveyor and a sort of Johnny Appleseed in that he planted and cultivated apple seeds and took young apple trees along to give away or plant on his many excursions. His own apple orchard was the first in Boone County. He was quite wealthy. He owned an interest in a steamboat, was a farmer and livestock dealer and owned a fine stallion. No wonder people often talked about Nash! He built his house near the river bluff, and that location is probably now in the channel of the Missouri River.

Nash was an eccentric genius! Married three times and jailed often, he could break out at will. He was a much-talked-about neighbor, of course, but it is now difficult to follow his "do my own thing" way of life.

The Daniel Boone pioneers were in cabins west of St. Charles, and the Boone brothers were constructing a salt factory 100 miles west. Indian uprisings were spotty, and government protection could not be guaranteed for the salt factory or at Cooper’s Fort, which was less than three miles from the factory. Gov. Meriwether Lewis warned the Coopers to go back east.

The Boone brothers’ wagon tracks across the state began to be called "Boone’s Lick Trail" or "Boone Trace."

The river town named for Nash was a trading point laid out in 1819, and it was swept away, along with the adjacent rich river bottom fields, by the tremendous flood in 1844. Water was 8 feet deep in the streets of Nashville. Every inhabitant had to leave.

Lamme’s warehouse was swept away, and some merchants saved their merchandise by shipping it off on steamboats to St. Louis.

Every inhabitant had to get out of the Nashville location, and it was obvious that a new shipping point to and from Columbia had to be established. Merchants included Rice G. Woods & Company and John Parker and Sons. Commissioners included William Shields, John H. Field and Robert S. Barr, who began to sell lots above the Nashville bottom on a permanent rock bluff for the new town named Providence.


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