Pelts from skunks, raccoons, opossums and beaver were commodities for trading. Wild turkeys, quail and white tail deer - along with nuts, berries and wild plants - were foods for their tables. The area we call Missouri was attractive to newcomers from Virginia and Kentucky.
However, an old resident told me of seeing ox-drawn wagons with all of the families’ necessities, passing right on through this area in the years 1815, ’16 and ’17. This was merely a passway for most settlers, who were headed for Franklin. We refer to New Franklin because a flood came and washed Franklin away. Franklin, whose soil, resources and climate had such a glowing reputation with a few early settlers, was gone.
Three men had stopped along the "highway" and erected log cabin taverns. William Callahan built near the creek that bears his name. He is often said to be the first resident of Boone County.
A surveyor and two helpers spent time in this area but did not establish residency. About the same time, John Graham built near the site of Rocky Fork Church.
Robert Hinkson lived near the creek, which is very much in Columbia’s news today because of its pollution. No surprise there. Hinkson Creek provided food and drink for untold numbers of domestic and wild animals.
Wagon travelers followed the muddy, rambling tracks of Nathan and Daniel Morgan Boone, who opened a salt "factory" at an active salt water spring beyond Franklin in 1807. Edwin Stephens called those uncharted wagon tracks "this highway," but it soon got the name of Boonslick Trail, and most of Central Missouri was known as Booneslick Country.
A "lick" was where animals licked the brackish ground to get salt.
American Indians and immigrants, as well as native animals, were drawn to natural salt springs, and the Boone boys operated a salt "factory." Their father, Daniel, had taught them to boil the water from salt springs and dry it, collect it and ship it downriver in containers made of hollow logs to the ready market in St. Louis.
Indians became bold and dangerous during the three years of the War of 1812. Settlers "betook themselves to means of defense" by erecting forts where they stayed, defending themselves as well as possible, but several lost their lives.
Women and girls were important to the survival of those in forts; the natives did not harm them, so they went about their usual chores. Carrying water to the fort saved lives. One woman was able to go for help by dashing out of the fort on a horse when the Indians least expected it.
Government troops arrived at the fort in time to save many lives, but one of the leading settlers was killed while holding a grandchild on his lap.
An Indian found a way to shoot between places where the rugged fort protections joined.
Life on the frontier was not easy.