The Ozarks in Missouri History: Discoveries in an American Region

The Ozarks in Missouri History: Discoveries in an American Region

by Lynn Morrow

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Interest in scholarly study of the Ozarks has grown steadily in recent years, and The Ozarks in Missouri History: Discoveries in an American Region will be welcomed by historians and Ozark enthusiasts alike. This lively collection gathers fifteen essays, many of them pioneering efforts in the field, that originally appeared in the Missouri Historical Review, the journal of the State Historical Society.

In his introduction, editor Lynn Morrow gives the reader background on the interest in and the study of the Ozarks. The scope of the collection reflects the diversity of the region. Micro-studies by such well-known contributors as John Bradbury, Roger Grant, Gary Kremer, Stephen Limbaugh Sr., and Milton Rafferty explore the history, culture, and geography of this unique region. They trace the evolution of the Ozarks, examine the sometimes-conflicting influences exerted by St. Louis and Kansas City, and consider the sometimes highly charged struggle by federal, state, and local governments to define conservation and the future of Current River.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826273031
Publisher: University of Missouri Press
Publication date: 12/29/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 328
File size: 8 MB

About the Author

Lynn Morrow is the former Director of the Local Records Preservation Program, Missouri State Archives. He is the author or editor of three books, including Shepard of the Hills Country: Tourism Transforms The Ozarks. He lives in Jefferson City, Missouri.

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Copyright © 2013 The Curators of the University of Missouri
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8262-2006-6


Trader William Gilliss and Delaware Migration in Southern Missouri


The early nineteenth century was a time of increased migrations of American Indians on the move west. In the Ozarks, the southern Indian migrations of the 1830s, especially those of the Cherokee, are most well known and often remembered in the region's folklore. But less well known are the migrations and settlements of eastern Indians who preceded the later numerically superior Cherokee. The Delaware, Shawnee, Illinois remnants, and small numbers of southern tribes penetrated the Ozarks in increased numbers during the latter eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Indian immigrants and the Ozarks became a part of each other's history as the Indians' passage left cultural traces in the region. Tribal bands settled in Cape Girardeau District; the watersheds of the Meramec, St. Francis, Black, and Current River country; and groups spread into the White River region and beyond. The Ozarks became the staging area where Indians settled and lived before the Kansas reservations became home to their mid-nineteenth-century generations. The development and naming of the City of Kansas was largely in response to the reservations located west of the city.

Indian migrations into the Ozarks introduced the most profitable trade of the time. As wards of the federal government, the tribes received cash annuities that they spent for trade goods provided by a few white traders. Traders' receipts depended on their diplomacy and skill to monopolize the trade and grow wealthy. A cluster of men, as a result of the Missouri-Ozarks trade, became townsmen and developers in the state. These included the Lorimiers, Menard-Valle interests, the Chouteaus and among others, William Gilliss, a pioneer-entrepreneur of Kansas City where he concentrated his fortune made in the Ozarks Indian trade.

William Gilliss, from Somerset County, Maryland, was borne by a French mother and a Scottish father about 1788. At age fourteen he boarded a ship at Baltimore and ran away to sea. During four years at sea he gained a reputation for physical strength and carpentry and maintained marginal literate skills by reading and writing letters. He entertained himself, and others, by reciting the poems of Robert Burns. In 1806, he left the sea at New Orleans bound for Cincinnati on a keelboat. Once there he began business as a carpenter and builder. Gilliss founded a friendship with William Henry Harrison, who established Gilliss in the construction business. In 1811, Gilliss enlisted in Harrison's command, and apparently spent much time at Fort Meigs in Ohio. Following the War of 1812, Gilliss, accompanied by his mother and brother, moved to Kaskaskia, Illinois, where he immediately became a prominent citizen, purchasing land and building a hotel that was used during the first Illinois legislature meeting in 1818. Adopted the following year into the Delaware tribe, he reputedly became involved in hostilities with the Delawares against the Osages, Pawnees, and others.

By 1820, Gilliss had merchant friends in the Indian trade at Kaskaskia, Ste. Genevieve, and St. Louis. Indian movements through Kaskaskia and Ste. Genevieve lured Gilliss into the lucrative mobile trading markets. The primary markets for Gilliss became the Delaware camps and villages. Associated migrant groups, namely, Shawnee, Peoria, Piankashaw, Weas, Creek, and Kickapoo, substantially augmented this trading business.

The Shawnees, the most common neighbor of the Delawares, shared similar historic experiences in Missouri. Beginning in 1786 with the Shawnee allotment contiguous to the Wyandot and Delaware reserve in Ohio, the Shawnee and Delaware began to have geographical proximity to one another by treaty and grant arrangements. However, members of both tribes were familiar with the trans-Mississippi before 1786. Pierre Laclede of St. Louis had traded with Shawnees as early as 1766, and Kaskaskia merchants had a well-established winter trade with Delawares near the mouth of the Ohio River during the 1770s.

During the 1780s two significant events encouraged the immigration of influential numbers of Delaware and Shawnee across the Mississippi. Louis Lorimier, escaping debts and revenge of the Americans for his support of the British in the Revolution, brought his Shawnee wife, Indian trading experience, and a contingent of loyal and malcontent Shawnee and Delaware to Louisiana Territory. By 1787, Lorimier operated in Ste. Genevieve District on the Saline River but established himself in Cape Girardeau District six years later. Lorimier received a Spanish grant, and some 1,200 Shawnee and 600 Delaware were awarded a Spanish grant of their own in the Apple Creek watershed. These and other important settlements of historic Indians occurred in the Meramec and James River valleys, on major transportation routes. The Cape Girardeau Indian settlements traded with the Lorimiers and Valles.

George Morgan's colonial effort at New Madrid provided another incentive for eastern Indians to migrate into a frontier trading network. Although Morgan's scheme did not develop according to his designs, it firmly established the New Madrid colony that became an important trading entrepôt. Shawnees, Delawares, and Creeks settled near New Madrid. Moving later into the interior, they established the Muscogee Town complex and trading networks for New Madrid, Little Prairie, and Point Pleasant. These St. Francis River groups worked as stockmen, agriculturists, and hunters who furnished bear oil and pelts to the river trade. In general, the historic emigrant Delaware and Shawnee coupled with the immigration of Scotch-Irish, Germans, and English helped make the Missouri Ozarks region a safe place for new settlements.

Indian removal of Delaware, Shawnee, and others in what is typically called the trans-Mississippi proved to be, in reality, the Ozarks region. The sparse settlement, rough terrain, and abundant natural resources made the Ozarks an ideal "dumping ground" for Indians east of the Mississippi River. Prior to the Osage Treaty of 1808, Meriwether Lewis, governor and superintendent of Indian affairs in Louisiana Territory, gave treaty negotiator Pierre Chouteau instructions that "the land was needed for white hunters and intimately friendly Indians." Over a generation Indians spread throughout the Ozarks followed by traders. Encouraging further movements across the Ozarks, President James Monroe instructed William Clark and Auguste Chouteau "to acquire lands on the west of the Mississippi in order to exchange with such of the Indians on this side as may choose to emigrate to the west." Indian removal policies created an "Ozarks domain" for traders that lasted until 1830.

Eastern Indians and white immigrants, who came to the Ozarks during the first generation of the nineteenth century, were both new settlers. Later written accounts indicate good relationships between the two cultures. The Hancock family in Perry County remembered how their children played with the Indian kids; the Russells in the Belleview Valley reminisced about the "friendly Indians"; Ste. Genevieve entertained the Apple Creek Indians at festivals; and southwest Missourians enjoyed mutual participation in horse races. Only the rhetoric of the War of 1812 threatened this peaceful coexistence. Many whites and eastern Indians intermarried during territorial and early statehood years, which bequeathed a deeply embedded Indian heritage in Ozarkians' gene pool and culture.

After the War of 1812, the Delaware left their eastern Ozarks settlements and drifted westward. While a few accompanied some Shawnee into the Upper and Lower Gasconade Valley, most Delawares moved to the Jack's Fork River valley, James River valley, northern Arkansas, or northeast Oklahoma.

Gilliss, in partnership with Menard and Valle of Ste. Genevieve, established the Delaware trading post on the Upper James River. The locale primarily was dictated by the fact that former Cape Girardeau Delawares had already moved there. The negotiation of the St. Mary's Treaty in 1818 did not specify a particular tract of land for exchange. Officials consulted Governors William Clark of Missouri and James Miller of Arkansas and agreed the James River valley would be a good interim reserve.

In 1821–1822, Chief William Anderson and several hundred Delawares camped south of the Jack's Fork River while on their way to join their brethren in the James River watershed. While there the Delaware fell prey to the usual horse-thieving whites, but more importantly, one of Gilliss's first field expeditions to the Delaware was a visit to Anderson's camp in present Shannon County. Trader William Marshall and Gilliss, both supplied by Menard and Valle, temporarily resided there. Meanwhile, Louis Lorimier Jr. had inherited his father's trading business and followed the Delaware into the White River country. Lorimier built a trading house in southwest Missouri at the mouth of Swan Creek that Gilliss bought in 1822 after Anderson's band had removed to the James River. By 1824, Gilliss's Indian friends began hunting seasonally on the Arkansas and Red Rivers among some 2,000 Delaware, Cherokee, Piankashaw, Shawnee, French, and American hunters.

The Delaware became greatly alarmed at their new location, a "ridiculously small acreage given in exchange for all their valuable possessions in Indiana." Lack of game in the region further aggravated discontent and created continued conflict among immigrant Indians, the Osage, and their allies to the west. However, Delawares continued to arrive in the James River valley, building villages above and below Gilliss's trading post. The Delaware Towns included the largest concentrated population in southwest Missouri until the growth of Springfield at the outbreak of the Civil War. Bands, led by village chiefs, swelled the Delaware numbers in southwest Missouri to some 2,500 by the mid-1820s. The Delaware settlements in the James River valley, northwest Arkansas, and northeast Oklahoma were tribal gatherings not to be equaled after 1829. On the whole, eastern Indian immigrants moving into southern Missouri swelled the regional population to 8,000 by 1824. The immigrant groups, seeking old friends, neighbors, and kin, founded new temporary settlements that attracted traders, whiskey-runners, and squatters waiting to capitalize on Indian improvements once the Indians were removed again.

Gilliss established his trading post on the west side of the James River "up the hill" (Che-wa-y-wek), below the mouth of Wilson's Creek. Down river from the post a mile to a mile and a half stood Captain Ketchum's village. Here lived many of the principals who later gave testimony in the landmark Gilliss probate case. Some of the Delaware women whom Gilliss lived with later resided at Ketchum's, as did John Sarcoxie and John and Henry Conner. John Campbell lived at Chief William Anderson's village. He worked as subagent for Richard Graham, an agent for the office of the superintendent of Indian affairs at St. Louis. Delaware leaders, Patterson, Pipe, Beaver, and Suwaunock each established village sites, too. Not within any Indian village, Gilliss's post was situated between villages. A complex of buildings surrounded the trading post. Gilliss lived in the north room of a dogtrot cabin, while his black slaves, purchased in St. Louis, lived in the south room. Other buildings included one where slaves Olive and Matilda made cheese; a cabin for Poquas, Gilliss's Delaware wife of 1822; a cabin for hired men; a storehouse for retailing; a large log building for the storage of bales and unbroken packages; and produce cribs and henhouses.

Joseph Philibert, who came with Gilliss as a gunsmith, soon became his chief clerk, friend, and confidant. Numerous other traders, teamsters, hunters, blacksmiths, and interpreters occasionally worked for Gilliss. Philibert proved crucial for Gilliss's trading success from 1822 until 1833 when Philibert returned from "Kansas" to the James River to stay. Philibert transported trade goods west from Ste. Genevieve through Farmington, Caledonia, and the site of modern Steelville to Massey's Iron Works. Then moving southwest along the "great interior highway" he stopped at Jimmy Harrison's by the Little Piney crossing, and rode west across the Big Piney, and crossed the Roubidoux at modern Waynesville. From there he traveled up the Gasconade to the mouth of Osage Fork and on to Pleasant Prairie or modern Marshfield. Then, down the James River valley and across Kickapoo Prairie, the trail ended at the Delaware Towns. When St. Louis replaced Ste. Genevieve as the river entrepôt, this "great interior highway," developed by the Indian trade, continued to be the most important Ozarks interior transportation route. Travel and Indian trade, which shifted to eastern Kansas, helped spell the economic decline of Ste. Genevieve, while St. Louis continued as the major river entrepôt.

Philibert made one to three trips annually for provisions. The Gilliss supply market extended to many river valleys including the Pawnee Fork, Red, Arkansas, Elk, White, Black, St. Francis, and Mingo Swamp. While Philibert ran the James River post, Gilliss and another trader, Boyer, hustled back east to trade with Indians who had not yet moved across the Mississippi. Philibert and Gilliss marketed pelts and skins at least once in New Orleans, and regularly at Ste. Genevieve. They occasionally rendezvoused at Hix Ferry on the Current River and then followed the Natchitoches Trace into the Black and St. Francis River valleys. Here they traded with Illinois remnants and Muscogee Town villages of Shawnee, Delaware, and Creek. Undoubtedly, Philibert and Gilliss took advantage of hospitality offered at a traditional stopover on the Natchitoches Trace, the Widow Harris cabin, some six miles from Hix Ferry.

Administration at the Delaware Towns on the James River did not prove an easy assignment for government agent John Campbell. His management problems taxed his patience and fortitude. Although Campbell visited all the Delaware cabins in the area, he found it disagreeable to board with them. He wanted federally subsidized buildings erected opposite Anderson's village, but the government refused any construction until the Delawares moved to their Kansas reservation. Campbell complained to his superiors about not being paid as an interpreter for the Kickapoos, who visited him at Anderson's village. He ran out of pen, ink, and paper, and when he requested more supplies, he longed for back issues of the St. Louis newspapers to be included with the next dispatch.

The infiltration of traders and squatters all making their own deals with the Delawares alarmed Campbell. First, it appeared "bad policy" for traders to cultivate the Indian land and keep horses and cattle in village environs without paying rent to the Indians. Resident whites and traders cultivated corn on Indian land and sold it to the Indians at exorbitant prices that reached $2 per bushel in 1824. Campbell decried this as a "grand imposition" by the traders who continued clearing more land to support their Indian families. Discouraged from raising corn or stock, the Indians realized their annuities would buy them whatever they wanted. Some Delawares, however, did raise corn, beans, pumpkins, hogs, and more. Traders enticed the Indians to overspend by purchasing goods on credit against next year's annuity payment. Traders who cheated the Indians out of precious supplies compounded credit-buying. Trader John Wilson cheated the Indians out of iron, creating shortages. On one occasion with the delay of government iron shipments, Valle released 300 pounds of bar iron from the Gilliss warehouse for blacksmithing and shoeing horses. Upon the arrival of annuities, political factions within the Delawares divided them. Some chiefs complained to Campbell about unequal shares. Circumstances finally forced Campbell to require William Anderson's signature on all Delaware purchases except for "something to bury the dead" and items for the sick.

Excerpted from THE OZARKS IN MISSOURI HISTORY by LYNN MORROW. Copyright © 2013 The Curators of the University of Missouri. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI PRESS.
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Table of Contents

Contents Introduction Trader William Gilliss and Delaware Migration in Southern Missouri - Lynn Morrow Slave Labor at the Maramec Iron Works, 1828–1850 - Barbara L. Green “Good Water and Wood but the Country Is a Miserable Botch” : Flatland Soldiers Confront the Ozarks - John F. Bradbury Jr. The Race of Improvement: Springfield Society, 1865–1881 - Charles K. Piehl “The City Belongs to the Local Unions” : The Rise of the Springfield Labor Movement, 1871–1912- Stephen L. McIntyre The Ozark Short Line Railroad: A Failed Dream - H. Ro ger Grant Before Bass Pro: St. Louis Sporting Clubs on the Gasconade River - Lynn Morrow Whose Forest Is This? : Hill Folk, Industrialists, and Government in the Ozarks - David Benac Under Penalty of Death: Pierce City’s Night of Racial Terror - Jason Navarro “Our Company Feels that the Ozarks are a Good Investment” : The Pierce Pennant Tavern System - Keith A. Sculle Lake Placid: “A Recreational Center for Colored People in the Missouri Ozarks” - Gary R. Kremer and Evan P. Orr Reflections on Public Welfare in Washington County, Missouri, 1939–1941- Clarence R. Keathley Agricultural Change in the Western Ozarks - Milton D. Rafferty The Origin and Development of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways Project - Stephen N. Limbaugh Appendix Acknowledgments Contributors Index

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