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The name of the first white man who set foot on the territory that is now the State of Missouri is not known, nor is it known at what period the first settlements were made. It is thought that the first settlements were made in the autumn of 1735 by the French at Saint Genevieve.

Daniel Boone was 65 years old when he walked to Missouri from Kentucky in 1799. He settled in the Femme Osage country near St. Charles and spent his last 21 years in Missouri.  However, Boone never lived in the area that is known today as Cooper County.

On one of his hunting expeditions, Boone came into Howard County and discovered a salt spring about eight miles northwest of New Franklin. Daniel Boone’s sons established a salt works at this location. The area soon came to be known as “Boone’s Lick” and from that the whole region took its name.


Hannah Cole Monument at

Laura Speed Elliott School

Hannah Cole statue and the

busts of influential Boonville

citizens in the background.

Morgan Street Park - Located at the corner of Main and Morgan Streets.

November 6, 2005 by Wayne Lammers

Wayne Lammers holding one of Hannah Cole's sons flintlock rifle, standing beside the Hannah Cole statue at

Main and Morgan Streets


It has been written that Daniel Boone visited his first cousin, Stephen Cole, and Hannah Cole, widow of Stephen’s brother, William T. Cole, at the Cole's’ fort. The fort was located where the present Boonville is today. Boone died in 1820 at his home in what is now Marthasville, at the age of 86.


References: In 1805 Daniel Boone, who then lived near St. Charles, discovered the Boone’s Lick Salt Springs, in Howard County, thirteen miles from Boonville, where Nathan and David Boone, his sons, settled and made salt from 1806 to 1810. This seems to have been the earliest settlement in Central Missouri, and from it an indefinite region, from St. Charles westward, on both sides of the river, was called the ‘Boone’s Lick Country.’


Other settlers followed, and as early as 1810 a small community had built and occupied Kincaid’s Fort, a few hundred yards up the river from the present site of Old Franklin (directly opposite Boonville), while another was established in Cooper’s Fort. Boone died in 1820 at his home in what is now Marthasville, at the age of 86.

A direct descendant of Boone gave her opinions on these books on Boone, along with her critiques of them. Most can probably be found in state libraries or on Amazon, but some may only the available from a "used" book seller.

Biographical Memoir of Daniel Boone by Timothy Flint. (This was written during Boone's life time --1833 and was sold as non-fiction when in fact is almost all fiction, and Daniel was very unhappy with the way it was written.

Daniel Boone (The life and legend of an American Pioneer) by John Mack Faragher. This is fairly accurate book but not an easy read.

My Father Daniel Boone--This is from the Draper Interviews with Nathan Boone (Daniel's youngest son) and edited by Neal O. Hammon. The Draper Interviews are believed to be very accurate and this is after all from the memory of Daniel's youngest son. Because the Draper Interviews are difficult reading and written in an "old time" style, Mr. Hammon has tried to clarify some of the language. 

Boone A Biography by Robert Morgan. I really like this book. It is over 450 pages but I found it to be an easy read. “The writer has obviously done a lot of research and I felt I had a better understanding of Daniel after I read this book.”  Norma Johnson.



Joseph Marie settled upon land in Franklin township, Howard County in 1800.  The land was sold on April 13, 1816, to Asa Morgan in the first deed recorded in Howard County. Morgan, an early resident of Howard County, and Charles Lucas, a St. Louis resident, laid out the town of Boonville on August 1, 1817.

Ira P. Nash was granted land in Howard County in 1800. He came to the site in February, 1804, remained a month and went home. In July of the same year, Nash and four others returned and surveyed, but did not stay.


Stephen Cole and William Temple Cole were born in New River, Virginia. They married sisters with the last name of Allison, and moved to Cumberland, Kentucky. In 1807, they came to Upper Louisiana Territory, and settled on Loutre Island, across the river from the present-day town in Hermann, Missouri, about the same time that the Coopers settled on that island.


In 1810, a band of Indians stole seven horses from the Loutre Island settlers. The Cole brothers were among the volunteers that pursued the Indians. Two days into the pursuit the volunteers, while sleeping, were ambushed by Indians. William Cole and others were killed. It is written that Stephen Cole killed four Indians, wounded a fifth, and sustained 26 wounds before he escaped and found his way back to Loutre Island.


A month later, Hannah Cole, widowed and almost 50, and her nine children, plus Stephen Cole, his wife Phoebe, and their five children, accompanied a group of men, led by Benjamin Cooper, on an overland Journey into the wilderness.


The group arrived at a point just upriver from the present town of Boonville on the north side of the Missouri River. The Coopers decided to settle there; however, the two Cole families decided to cross the Missouri River to the south side and build their cabins on the east edge of what would later become Boonville.


The families of Hannah Cole and Stephen and Phoebe Cole settled in what is now Cooper County in 1810. At that time there were no other white Americans living in Missouri west of Franklin and south of the Missouri River. The families that settled north of the Missouri, were the Cole's nearest white neighbors, but most of these were two or three miles distant. The seventeen members of the Hannah Cole and Stephen Cole families made the first settlement in what is now Cooper County.

The Coles lived for nearly two years with their closest neighbors across the Missouri River. Some of their activities included raising corn crops and tending them with a cow hitched up to a plow. In the fall and winter of 1812 other families settled nearby on the south side of the river.

The first shelter they built was a cabin built of round logs notched together at the corners, ribbed with poles, and covered with boards split from trees. The one room cabin had a fireplace, puncheon floors, a clapboard door, a window, sometimes covered with greased paper, and furniture made from trees.

Hannah Cole Fort Plaque #2.jpg
Hannah Cole Fort plaque.jpg
Drawing of H. Cole Fort by Stephanie    Brunda Witte.jpg

Artist's Conception of Hannah Cole's Fort

Hannah_Coles_Fort_Site Insert top  left.jpg

This is not the Cole Fort, as that fort was constructed in 1812-1813.

This a later building built on the solid rock bluff and

was also easy to defend.

Exploring County page Hannah_Coles_Fort_Site1896 - Version 3.jpg

Barn with windlass


Bluff reduced for two sets of rails in late 1870's

Here is believed to be a very early photo of the stone outcropping where Hannah Cole’s Fort was located in the early 1800's in east Boonville. This image was taken by early photographer James McCurdie in the 1870's. Years later, the Boonville rock quarry would be located in that area, when the Missouri Pacific RR constructed the rails on the River Route down to Jefferson City. This railroad company had to blast away and remove much of this outcropping for the rails to continue down river.

Note: The windlass to the left of the barn on top of the outcropping reaching down to the water's edge, was to supply water for the people and animals up on top. The early settlers had a similar windlass to supply water for those inside the fort that allowed them to be able to withstand the attacks of the Indians during the War of 1812.  When these pictures were taken, Hannah Cole no longer lived in the old fort, as she moved farther into central Cooper County in the early 1840s and died in 1843. It is unknown at this time, who lived in the old fort after the Coles left.


There does not seem to be a lot of information available about Hannah Cole. The same facts seem to be repeated over and over on various documents.

However, Hannah must have been an excellent and generous leader. She opened her fort to her neighbors who were seeking safety during the buildup to and during the War of 1812. She made provisions for the children in her fort to receive an education and arranged for religious services to be conducted at the fort as early as 1811. She was evidently interested in politics and her fort was the location of the first County Seat of Howard County. The first circuit, county, and probate sessions were held there in 1816 and it was a polling place in the election of 1819. Her fort also served, at one time, as a community center, post office, hospital and a place for hunters to cast bullets for their flintlocks.

In 1817 her fort became the first school house, although it is known that children in the fort were also taught during the war. She also was a business woman who was granted a license for a ferry on the Missouri River, which was operated by her sons.

Hannah Cole's Fort - Newspaper Clipping.png
William Lay Credit.png
Stephen Cole's Fort - Newspaper Clipping.png

Reference:  1998 Wm. D. Lay

In 1843, Hannah moved 13 miles south of Boonville from her fort on the bluff overlooking the Missouri River to a cabin where she lived with Lucy, her beloved slave. She died in 1843 at the age of 79, and is buried in Briscoe Cemetery near Bunceton.

Sadly, very little information is available about Hannah’s sister Phoebe, and brother-in-law Stephen Cole and their family.  We know that the two families traveled together to Missouri and were the first white Americans to settle on the south side of the Missouri River. Stephen supervised the building of Hannah’s and his own fort.


Stephen died near Santa Fe, New Mexico when attacked by Indians. He and Hannah Cole's son (his nephew), were journeying down the Santa Fe Trail in about 1822. We do not know if there is a marked grave. Phoebe died in 1825 in Cole County, but no more information is available on her passing or her grave. We do know that some of the Cole family went to Southern Missouri.

These three early settlers and their children must also have been very courageous and strong of character to venture into the unknown and make their home here. We are grateful that they did! - Barbara Dahl, Editor


Bicentennial Boonslick History p 12-13

Cole Family Records

Discover Cooper County by Ann Betteridge

Talk by Bob Priddy for Cole Reunion August 9, 2020

Cole Family Association Facebook

Cole Family Mysteries

Cole Family Reunion, August 9, 2020

Talk given by Bob Pritty

Cooper County was named after Sarshell Cooper, a relative of Steven Cole, (Hannah’s husband) and a well-known and greatly admired frontiersman, Indian fighter and War of 1812 hero. He was a friend of the Cole family and is the one who originally showed the Coles the best place to cross the Missouri River.


We may wonder why Cooper County was not named Cole County, honoring the first white family to set foot on the South side of the Missouri River. Possibly, a reason may have been that Hannah Cole, the leader of the group, was a woman, and in the 1800’s, women were not credited as leaders or founders of anything. But, honoring Sarshell Cooper was a wonderful way to recognize a true American hero who was well known in the area.


There is a Cole County in Missouri, which was established November 16, 1820, and named after Stephen Cole, Hannah’s brother-in-law. He was a lawyer, originally from Virginia. He was also a Justice of the Peace in Missouri, and laid out the original Howard County seat in Franklin, and a member of the Legislature. He was highly regarded in Missouri. He was an early trader on the Santa Fe trail and he and his nephew, also named Stephen Cole, were killed by Navajo Indians near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cole County is the site of the State Capitol of Missouri. 


Source: Bob Priddy

Mike Dickey wrote the following after reading Mr. Priddy's talk:

I would advocate that Bob’s Priddy's article be posted in total if possible on the section of the Cole family/Cole Fort. It is about the best detective work regarding the Cole dilemma that I have seen. 

Something Bob Priddy said is key to interpreting the whole Territorial – War of 1812 period: “oral history, while valuable, can be flawed.” It is extremely difficult to tie down many events and family histories during this period. Governor Lewis ordered the Coopers out of the Boonslick in 1808 because it was still un-ceded Indian territory.

From the federal governments point of view, the Boonslick would now be open for settlement regardless of claims to the region by the Sac & Fox and Ioway. I have not checked the Missouri Gazette for an announcement of the ratification, but it is quite possible that it was several weeks before the news made it to St. Louis and then Loutre Island. Thus, a move by the Cole family from the Loutre settlement to the Boonslick in July or later of 1810 would make far more sense than February 1810 (not to mention the weather).


The Osage signed the land cession treaty on November 10, 1808. Congress ratified the treaty April 28, 1810.

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