To Rev. S. H. Ford, Editor Christian Repository: -
Mr. Dear Brother - Learning that you are projecting a tour to the central portion of Missouri, and to be present at the General Assoctiation Baptists in that State, I transmit the following sketch of the Boone's Lick country in its early setllement, and of the early Baptist ministers and churches in that field.
I am, fraternally, yours,
J. M. Peck.
Boone's Lick Country, Missouri
and Early Baptists There
By J. M. Peck, 1857
The Boone's Lick Country received its name from one of the many of the salt springs found in that part of Missouri. This spring was called a "Lick," as were all saline springs and marshes to which the buffalo, deer, elk, and other ruminating animals resorted to lick the salt that saturated the waters of certain springs, or impregnated the soil in their vicinity. Hence, in frontier parlance, "Wet Lick" denoted the springs and rivulets of salt water
and "Dry Lick" the clayey banks and dry excavations containing salt enough to induce the animals to "lick" the dry earth. I have seen excavations made from one to ten feet deep, and for many yards in diameter, formed by the treading and licking of the animals that made them their resort for this condiment.
The Boone's Lick was at the bluff, and about two miles from the left bank of the Missouri, and ten or twelve miles above the site of Old Franklin. Here Nathan Boone, the youngest son of the pioneer of Kentucky, and James Morrison, of St Charles, manufactured salt in 1806-7. Tradition told the story that the veritable old hunter, Daniel Boone, made his hunting-camp at this spring, and left his name in return for the accommodations. But tradition in this, as in many other instances, proves fabulous; for I had the facts and took note thereof from the parties concerned. It is very probable that Mr. Morrison, on his return to St. Charles, affixed the name of his partner to designate their locality in salt-boiling.
The Boone's Lick country included on the north of the Missouri river the country above the Cedar. This is is a small stream on the western border of Callaway county, and for a long period, was the western boundary of the district of St. Charles. On the south side of the Missouri, all the early settlements above the Osage River were in the Boone's Lick country. While in a state of nature, most of the country on the north side, where the immigration went until about 1816, was generally covered with primeval forests. In the present county of Howard there were only four small prairies - Cooper's Prairie, not far from the old Boone's Lick, and Weedy Prairie, both on the bottom lands of Missouri; and Spanish Needle and Foster's prairies, on the uplands.
The first permanent settlement was commenced in the spring of 1810, by a colony from Kentucky, including fifteen or twenty families from Loutre settlement, and from the settlements in Cape Girardeau county. In this colony of that year there were about one hundred and fifty families, which, reckoned by the ratio of population in new countries at five to a family, would make seven hundred and fifty inhabitants. I regret being unable to give the names of the heads of the principal families. Nor can I tell, with certainty, from what counties in Kentucky this first migration
came. Certainly some of the leading families came from Madison, Lincoln, Jessamine, and adjacent counties. Among these were not a few Baptists, and two or three preachers. Of the settlers from Loutre (now in Montgomery county, Mo.,) were the Browns, and several other Baptist families. A church on the Loutre had been organized some two or three years previous, and the clerk, with a majority of the members, were of the number, in all probability; for they took their church-records with them, and claimed to be in church relation at their new home in the Boone's Lick country.
Among the Baptist emigrants from Kentucky, in 1810, was Col. Benjamin Cooper, one of the early pioneers to that State, and distinguished as a leader in defending the country from Indian assaults, and as a patriot in civil life. He was a member in the Legislature of Kentucky. He had a strong, well-balanced mind, exhibited a sound judgment, and had that degree of influence and confidence among his fellow-citizens as to become a general arbitrator in adjusting difficulties, and a peace-maker in settling unpleasant disputes. He was a Baptist, and did honor to his profession many years before he emigrated to Missouri. Two brothers, Sarehall and Braxton, both several years his junior, came in the same company with the Colonel.
Among the Kentucky emigrants was Elder David McLain, of whose desperate fight with a band of Indians, while journeying to Kentucky, I shaft furnish the readers of the Repository in its appropriate connection.
I am not certain whether Elder William Thorp came among the colonists of 1810, or during the war, of immediately after its close in 1815. Probably he still is living in the Fishing River country, whither he removed and settled about thirty years since. He went with the anti-mission party, on the division, in Upper Missouri. He was a plain preacher, without much chance for the Biblical education every minister needs, with the prejudices common to that class of men. He was doubtless honest and sincere in. his views, tenacious of his opinions, and in his character and deportment gave evidence of his personal interest in Christ by faith and love to his cause.
Elder Colden Williams removed irom Bethel Church, in Cape Girardeau county, to the Boone's Lick settlement at an early period, - at least before 1816. He gave evidence of a strong mind, considerable knowledge of the Scriptures, and was an instructive preacher.
Elder Edward Turner came from Kentucky to the Boone's Lick country soon after tbe war. He was a plain man, of moderate abilities, honesty of purpose, and correct deportment as a Christian minister. Elders Turner and Thorp came as missionaries from the Mt. Pleasant to the Bethel Association, then held in the "Barrens" below Ste. Genevieve, in September, 1818, where I first formed their acquaintance. In tbe Minutes of the Mt. Pleasant Association for 1820 - the first copy of the series I have - their names, with that of Luke Williams, are printed in Italics, indicating they were only licentiates. Elder Turner and Thorp were ordained ministers before 1818, and I have always understood they were in the regular ministry before they came from Kentucky, but I may mistake in that.
Elder Luke Williams, I think, commenced the ministry in the Boone's Lick country. His residence was on public land, about three miles south of Boonevillee and a member of Concord Church. I should not be surprised, on investigation, to learn that he was the first Baptist minister raised up and ordained in tbe Boone's Lick settlements. He was one of the most self-sacrificing itinerants in those times. His zeal ind Christian enterprise prompted him to ride and preach through all the settlements to the extreme western frontiers. No missionary society encouraged him; no church, even those raised up under his ministrations, gave him a dollar. Yet God was with him, and sinners by scores were converted. He died, after a few day's illness, early in September, 1824, greatly beloved and deeper regretted by all who knew him. On the fourth Sabbath in the same month, the writer, in company with the late Elder John B. Longan, was at the Fishing River Association. It was held in the bounds of a church, and near tbe site of the city of Lexington. The news of the death of Luke Williams, brought by Elder Longan, produced a most thrilling effect on the members of tbe Association, and many other
persons. The arragement made by the Association for the Sabbath, as was customary then, was for three successive sermons, without intermission. First, was Elder William Thorp, from the Mt. Pleasant Association. He was followed by Elder J. B. Longan, and, for effective preaching on such occasions, his equal had not then appeared in Missonri. The writer, a stranger there, and, withal, engaged in the agency of the American Bible Society, had been chosen to occupy the "stand" (or platform, in modern parlance,) as the third speaker. It had been decided in the Association, and by the tacit consent of everybody, that at the close of the preaching on the Sabbath, a collection should be made for the distressed and suffering family of the deceased minister. The writerl had due notice that he must say something at the close of the sermon on that subject. No arrangements could have suited his views and feelings better. He had no personal acquaintance with the deceased, but he had learned just enough of the spirituality, the self-sacrifice, the unflinching zeal, and the success of the voluntary missionary. While other ministers, for a time, apparently laid aside the great commission to provide their families with the rich lands as they came into market and make large farms, there was the singular example of an active, enterprising, and industrious man; who, had he been as intent after the world as other people - and even some of his brethren in the ministry - might have laid the foundation for a fortune. But he cast aside all prospects of earthly gain, when he became consecrated to Christ, made a cabin to shelter his family, and a "truck-patch" and cornfield to furnish their provisions, and devoted his time and talents as an itinerant preacher. The land he occupied at his decease belonged to the national government, the time of his pre-emption run out, and hordes of speculators were hunting up land entering every vacant improved tract. The project was started at the Fishing River Association to raise funds to enable his widow to enter the quarter section for the benefit of herself and children. The effort was made, and the assurance given that whatever lacked of the two hundred dollars would be made up by the brethren in the Mt. Pleasant and Concord Associations. The writer did the best he could in bringing the case
before the people. Money, at that time, was a very scarce article in the interior of Missouri, but I recoltect the amount raised was regarded quite liberal for that region. There is a vague impression resting on my memory, that I learned, on my next visit to the Boone's Lick country, in 1829, there had been a failure in purchasing the tract of land for the family. Probably those who officiated in the bisiness got "pledges" and "promises," instead of money promptly paid. This was the first effort made in the Boone's Lick country to compensate a minister and missionary. But to return to the pioneers in the Baptist ministry.
Elder J. Hubbard, an aged man, was a resident and preacher in Howard county on my first visit in 1818-19. I am under the impression that he came into the country either during or soon after the war. A son of his, with his family, lived in St. Charles in 1819. Elder Hubbard was a strong-minded man, and had received a better education than his compeers in the ministry. He was clear-headed, and Calvinistic in doctrine, and was a studious man and a constant reader. I foand no preacher in Missouri - and few anywhere else - who possessed such copious and correct knowledge of the Holy Scriptures as did Elder Hnbbard. Yet he was modest and unassuming ia giving his views. There was nothing dogmatical and self-opinionative in his conversations; and I made him frequent visits in January, 1819. The general report of his style of preaching was, that he was slow in speech, devoid of much emotional feeling, but very instructive in the Scriptures to all those who did not relish mere excitement.
The last of these Boone's Lick pioneers, though first in the order of time I have reserved for the last in this sketch, is Elder David McLain. He came from the middle section of Kentucky, with a young wife, early in l810. I think he was the first ordained Baptist minister that settled in the Boone's Lick country. He lived in log cabins, and had made a farm on the bottom-land, between two and three miles from the village of Franklin, where I visited him repeatedly in January, 1819. Elder McLain, like many other preachers of that day, had some very crude and imperfect notions about election, predestination, and some other Bible truths. He saw no way to reconcile the free-agency and
moral accountability of man with the divine sovereignty in the dispensation of graces. He had no just conceptions of instrumentalities and means to be used in the service of Christ, as belonging to and constituting a portion of the purposes of God. He could not perceive that the instrumentalities God had appointed, such as preaching the gospel to sinners for their conversion and salvation, was as much of divine appointment as the official work of Christ in justification, and the mighty work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.
This class of preachers held and taught the crude notion, that Christ had a people in the world called the elect, that he knew them indtvidnally, and, by some revelation or some mysterious power of the Holy Spirit, they would be regenerated or quickened into spiritual life without preaching the gospel or any other instrumentality employed by men. No wonder, with such crude and imperfect views of the gospel of Christ, this class were opposed to all forms of missionary efforts. All human instrumentalities were regarded as unlawful interferences with God's work. They professed to preach the gospel, not as the appointed means of the Lord for the conversion of the ungodly, but for the quickening, encouragement, and consolation of the elect.
Conversing with Elder McLain about sending missionaries to the heathen, I mentioned the efforts then making by the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions to furnish missionaries for the Indian tribes of our country, and the action of our national government, conjointly with missionaries, in establishing schools and preaching the gospel to civilize and Christianize the Indians. He replied, with some indignation, "I will give as much as any man, according to my means, to buy powder and lead to kill them all; but would not give one dollar for all the attempts to Christianize them, as you call it."
The first impression was the natural and logical result of his crude and imperfect views of the doctrine of grace. But, surprised at this outburst of prejudice, I modestly inquired for his reasons, and received, in reply, a thrilling narrative of his privations and sufferings during the war.
His cabin, at first, was surrounded with palisades, and the cabins for other families for a stockade fort, where, in times of peril, the neighborhood resorted for protection from mauranding savages that came frequently within the settlements. In the month, of April, 1813, Elder McLain, and a man by the name of Young, started on business to Kentucky. They met with no difficulty till they reached Hill's ferry, at the Kaskaskia River, on the old St. Louis and Vincennes trace, where Carlyle, the seat of justice for Clinton county, Illinois, now exists. Signs of Indians had driven into the old settlemints of St. Clair county the three families that lived at this ferry. Finding the ferryboat tied to the western bank, McLain and his companion ferried over their horses and rode on the trace. They had not proceeded half a mile along the timbered bottom, before they were fired on by Indians that lay in ambuscade. Mr. Young was shot on his horse and fell, and the Indians dispatched him and tore off his scalp. McLain's horse was shot and fell, but he had the presence of mind to throw his saddle-bags into the thick brush. He escaped in the woods, and ran with great speed, with several Indians in chase. Soon all fell back but one, who was a stout, athletic fellow, and appeared determined not to lose his prey. Eld. McLain was encumbered with a thick overcoat, wrappers on his legs, and boots and spurs on his feet The Indian fired and missed him, which gave him time to throw off his coat, in hopes the prize would attract the attention of the savage. Finding the other Indians did not pursue him, he suffered the one that attacked him to approach within a few feet, as he made signs of surrendering, and then assume an attitude of defiance; watch the motion of his enemy, and, at the instant he fired, dodge the ball, and then put forth all his energy to escape. "The contest continued for more than an hour, during which his foe fired at him seven times. In one instance, as he threw his breast forward to dodge the ball, he unfortnnately threw his elbow back and received a severe wound in his arm. During the chase he continued to throw off his boots and spurs.
They had now made considerable distance in the timbered bottom
and down the river. Elder McLain, being nearly exhausted, thought the last and only chance of escape was to swim the river. He plunged in, making the utmost effort with his remaining strength, and yet he had to keep an eye constantly fixed on his wily foe, who had loaded his gun tbe eighth time, and from the bank brought it to a poise, and fired in a second after McLain had dove in deep water. By swimming diagonally down stream he bad gained on his pursuer, who, with the peculiar yell on such occasions, gave up the chase. Doubtless his report to the braves was, that he had followed a "Great Medicine" who was so charmed that his musket balls could not kill him.
Mr. McLain, by running till a profuse perspiration covered him, and then plunging into cold water, was so chilled and exhausted that it was with the utmost difficulty he could crawl up the bank. He was wet, chilled, badly wounded in his arm, and unable to stand, until, by rolling himself on tbe ground and rubbing his limbs, his blood began to circulate. It was thirty-five miles westward to the Badgley settlement, where Elder David Badgley and several Baptist families resided, and, where Elder McLain and his traveling companion had tarried on their way out. After incredible effort and suffering, he reached this settlement tbe next morning. Here, with his wounded arm and a severe fever, he lay several weeks, until some of his friends from the Boone's Lick country came and took him to his family. A party of volunteers went over the Kaskaskia, buried Mr. Young, found Elder McLain's saddle-bags, with their contents safe, but saw no Indians.
These incidents were narrated to the writer by the heroic sufferer, but he could not recollect dates and names. These I found, with a full confirmation of the story, in a file of the old Missouri Gazette, of March 20, 1813.
Elder McLain expected to engage in preaching the gospel with more zeal and sacrifice, when he got his section of land secured and his improvements more extensive, but I had hardly reached St. Louis from my winter's excursion, when I learned that death had ended all his earthly plans! Both he and his wife died of the winter fever, or, as some called it, pleurisy, in February, 1819, within three weeks after I gave them the parting hand.
During the war the Pottowatomies, Sanks, Foxes, Iowas, and Kickapoos, were the depredators on the Boone's Lick settlements. I suppose the Pottowatomies did about nine-tenths of the mischief. They stole about three hundred horses and killed all the cattle and hogs they could find running in the woods. From 1810 to 1813 the settlers had to do their own fighting. The plea of Gov. Howard was, that the organized territory extended no further west than Cedar Creek, already mentioned, and that the Boone's Lick settlements were beyond the territorial boundary. Every man and every boy that could load a rifle was a soldier, and enrolled himself in one of the volunteer companies. By general constent and acclamation Col. Benj. Cooper was commander-in-chief. Sarshall Cooper, William Head, and Stephen Cole were commanders of forts and partisan leaders on scouting parties. Capt. Sarshall Cooper was killed in his cabin, in Cooper's fort, one dark and stormy night. A wily Indian, during the noise of the wind and storm, crept to the wall, made an opening through the clay between the logs, barely sufficient to admit the muzzle of his rifle, which he discharged with fatal accuracy at Capt. Cooper, who sat by the fire with one child in his arms, that escaped unhurt, while the other children were lounging on the cabin floor, and the industrious wife and mother was engaged in domestic duties in the same room.
A single crack of the rifle and Cooper was stretched on the floor! His prowess was well known to the Indians; his skill and bravery had often foiled the subtle and treacherous savages. The assassin made his escape in the darkness and storm.
There were ten persons killed, at different times during the war, in the Boone's Lick settlements, and eight or ten more in the Loutre settlements; the most noted was Capt. James Callaway, whose name has been perpetuated in the county of Callaway.
The sufferings and privations of the people did not end with the war. During 1815 and 1816, emigrants from Kentucky, Tennessee, and other states, poured like a spring flood into the Boone's Lick country, among whom were many Baptists. But provisions were scarce, the old settlers had not time to recruit their stock, nor could they cultivate corn in any degree sufficient .for breadstuff. All the corn that could be purchased in the old
settlement in St. Louis and St. Chatles counties was bought at a high price, and hauled from one hundred and fifty to two hundred miles to feed the starving multitude. And yet many families had not a corn-dodger or a hoecake for many months.
Great excitement prevailed about land-titles. Of course religion made little or no progress. In the eommencement of 1818, five small Baptist churches had an existence. The exact periods of their organization are not known. These were Mt. Zion, Concord, Mt. Pleasant, Salem, and Bethel. These churches became united in the Mt. Pleasant Association in 1818, and brethren were received as messengers of correspondence from it in the Bethel, Missouri, and Illinois Associations.
By an Old Pioneer. Rockspring, O'Fallon Depot P. O., Ill. . April, 8th, 1857
P. S. - In the next and following nnmbers we shall continue our historical and biographical sketches of Missouri Baptists. O. P.
[Samuel H. Ford, Editor, Christian Repository, September, 1857, pp. 281-291. Transcribed and scanned by Jim Duvall.]
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