Wagons are going west over the animal-path trail through what
will later be Boone County. All of Mid-Missouri is known as
Boonslick or Boone’s Lick Country, and the
trace is called Boone’s Lick Trail because Nathan and Morgan
Boone went this way hunting a salt lick. They went back and forth
for four years, manufacturing salt.
It’s 1821. Daniel Boone died last September about the
same time the legislature carved this county out of huge Howard.
They named our county Boone, honoring the legendary Daniel,
before Missouri even gained its statehood.
A stream of wagons moves from Callaway into Boone County by
crossing Cedar "river" and continuing west toward the
salt lick. About 1815, after the Indians relinquished all claim
to land north of the Missouri River, three men, all from Madison
County, Ky., stopped along the "highway" and erected
cabins as taverns for travelers.
The first of these was William Callahan, for whom
Callahan’s fork of the Perche Creek is named. Callahan was a
noted hunter and Indian fighter and "can justly be
designated as the first white man ever to settle in Boone
County." So said historian Edwin Stephens.
"About the same time, the second one of the three
Kentuckians, John Graham, built a cabin/tavern near the present
site of Rocky Fork Church, and Robert Hinkson built another near
the source of the stream that bears his name."
That was a few miles northeast of a hill on which settlers had
built a cluster of five cabins plus a "store, tavern and
house of entertainment." They named that village Smithton
after the genial fellow in charge of the land office at Franklin.
The salt lick is not far from Franklin, which is a metropolis
in the wilderness, situated on fertile Missouri River-bottom
farmland. The U.S. government opened a land office there in 1818.
Early settlers in Smithton and Franklin sent word back to
Kentucky and Virginia that fertile land could be bought for $4 to
$6 per acre.
The war is over, "inmates" who were confined in the
filthy, crowded, almost unbearable forts because of hostile
Indians are busily improving their homes and farms. Many who were
in Fort Head, north of Rocheport, are the intelligent, wealthy
and industrious ones from Kentucky and Virginia. Their
descendants will prosper and remain in Boone County for many
Smithton is being abandoned because of a water problem. Men
dug with hand tools three very deep wells. One hole is 90 feet
into the earth! There was no vein of "living" up on
that hill! There wasn’t enough to even supply the few who
had built homes there.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs formed "The Smithton
Company" and bought hundreds of acres of land, some to keep
and a lot to sell at a profit. They’ve platted a new town,
Columbia, with straight parallel streets, 83 feet wide. The main
street, Broadway, is to be even wider, 100 feet wide, to
accommodate farm sales in the middle with space for wagons to
unload and load animals and space for teams and wagons to turn
around without backing.
Franklin is the boomtown on the frontier. Five years ago, at
the end of the war of 1812, the entire population of Howard
County was only 500. Now in 1821, it’s more than 13,000!
Franklin alone has about 1,500 people. The city boasts 225
buildings, "The Intelligencer" newspaper, two academies
of learning, a jail, three taverns, five stores, a library, a
carding machine, a tobacco factory, six Baptist churches and much
Alas! Like many frontier towns, Franklin, too, will disappear
completely destroyed in a matter of hours by the Missouri