Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Young Nathan was delighted with the prospe...

Young Nathan was delighted with the prospect of his parents moving to Missouri. His older brother had bought land and built a cabin just west of St. Louis, and he urged his dad to do the same. “Upper Louisiana has everything you’d want,” Morgan said, “fertile fields, lush pastures, clear flowing streams, forests full of wild game, a nearby market for pelts. And Indians.”

“But I’m 65 years old,” his father said. “That’s a mite too old to pull up stakes and move again." Then Nathan mentioned “elbow room” and their father’s troubles with Kentucky’s land officials. That did it! Daniel Boone probably didn’t consult Rebecca. He often went off on long hunts. Twice she assumed he was dead. Soon she’d be moving several hundred miles west to a place called “Upper Louisiana.” Their youngest son, Nathan, urged his dad to make this move. And it was ambitious Nathan who would eventually have the greater impact on the history of our state and nation. Always he worked in the shadow of his famous father.

As in previous moves, a large party of friends and relatives accompanied Daniel and Rebecca. Many of us natives of Boone County are descendants of these pioneer families. They set off in September 1799, with the men driving the livestock overland and Morgan and Nathan accompanying the women and children in dugout canoes.

When Nathan kissed his sweetheart goodbye, he wondered whether he could be happy in Missouri. The farther they went, the more Nathan missed 16-year-old Olive Van Bibber. When they were about 75 miles down the river, he left Morgan and went back with a marriage license in his hand.

They married and immediately collected the things they’d need for the long overland trip to Missouri. A few days later, they rode off on two ponies followed by a pack horse. They cooked over an open fire and slept on the ground. Olive wrote a diary of the trip, mentioning that it was quite an undertaking for a couple so young.

At Vincennes, Ind., one pony was lame, and they had to wait for three weeks before going on. Someone offered to trade Nathan 80 acres of land in downtown St. Louis, for one of their ponies. He said he wouldn’t trade that pony for the whole city! Near St. Charles they crossed the river, with Nathan rowing a small boat and Olive steering it with one hand while holding to the horses’ bridle reins with the other. All of their earthly possessions were in that boat. Their destination was La Charette, the place where the Femme Osage creek empties into the Missouri River, in St. Charles County, about 45 miles west of St. Louis.

Arriving earlier, Daniel and Becky built the cabin in which they would live out their time together. It was near their sons’ cabins and had the usual small windows, low door, a fireplace for heating and cooking and an earthen floor. They never owned a home that had a wooden floor. They did, however, help Nathan and Olive plan and build a beautiful, three story, blue limestone mansion. It was completed seven years later for their growing family.

Nathan surveyed U.S. government land in St. Charles, Montgomery and Warren counties and deep into the Ozarks. He also trapped and sold furs, boiled spring water and manufactured salt.

Nathan accomplished that and much more in his first 10 years as a young, married man.

To be continued

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