Montgomery County Historical Society Montgomery County Historical Society
Dedicated to preserving and perpetuating the rich local history of the Montgomery County, Missouri area.

Missouri in the 1840s

MCHS volunteers discovered a treasure trove of letters written from Montgomery County to relatives in Germany, 1844-1847. The entire story is told in the book Lives and Letters of an Immigrant Family: The van Dreveldts' Experiences along the Missouri, 1844-1866, by Kenneth Kronenberg and C. Hans von Gimborn. The authors (in 1996) shared translations of the letters relevant to Montgomery County. 
 
New Orleans 1840s Courtesty of The Historic New Orleans Collection
In January of 1844, Gerhard Lensing (1809-1879) wrote to his “old university friend” Theodor van Dreveldt (1811-1880) describing life in Montgomery County. Included are suggestions about what to bring if emigrating as well as a budget. Theodor traveled to what is now Rhineland (via New Orleans) and sent letters home about the land, crops, mosquitoes, drought, cornbread, illness, and many other details of life in 1845. Descriptions of a trip to St. Louis, Illinois, Wisconsin, the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls, helps us visualize the Midwest in the 1840's. His enthusiasm about Montgomery County waned due to poor crops, malaria, miserable weather, etc. His family failed to send his inheritance money and by 1847 he was in low spirits, contemplating a move to Wisconsin. Theodor concluded his American adventure and returned to Emmerich, Kleve, in 1849, building a house in the American tradition. marrying and fathering 11 children.
 
In the conclusion, the author reminds of immigrants’ contributions to our heritage:
What is too often neglected in history … is the terrible price exacted upon people who wrenched themselves away from their families and familiar surroundings in order to remake themselves in a new land …Their best efforts were as often as not crowned by hardship, loneliness, and failure. Many died trying. That struggle – and failure – is a crucial component of the American experience.
 
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First Elected Officials in Missouri

200 years ago, Missouri was being governed as if it was one of the United States and the residents considered the State a member of the Union. The Territorial election was not held as scheduled, but officers authorized by the new Missouri Constitution had been elected and were acting.
Governor Alexander McNairGovernor Alexander McNair was not an exceptional man, but had served as a U.S. Marshal, head of the federal St. Louis General Land Office and St. Louis Town Trustee. He was well met and was not tainted in his personal life. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1775 and came to Missouri in 1804. He was Governor of the State until 1824, after which he worked in the Federal Indian Department until his death in Missouri in 1826.
 
The State Representative elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, attorney John Scott, had served as a delegate in the House during Missouri’s territorial status. He came from Virginia with his parents in 1802 and settled at St. Genevieve. He had no opposition in the election and served in Congress until 1827. After his defeat in 1826, he returned to the practice of law in St. Genevieve and died there in 1861.
Missouri in 1822
Locally, a sheriff and two representatives in the General Assembly, as well as a senator from a district comprised of Franklin and Montgomery Counties, were elected as provided in the State Constitution. The election, on the 4th Monday of August of 1820, was according to the schedule in the new Constitution on writs issued by David Barton, President of the Constitutional Convention.
 
Irvine S. Pittman was elected as Montgomery County’s first Sheriff. Little is known of the Pittman family. John and Dorothy (Robinson) Pittman came to Loutre Island and are said to, at one time, have owned much of it. Their son, Irvine, married Nancy Talbot, daughter of Hale and Elizabeth, and after her death he married Rachel Sweet. The Sheriff was a tanner by trade and early in life ran a business on Massa’s Creek. In 1821 he was commissioned a colonel in the 15th Regiment, Missouri State Militia. He last appears on a Federal census in 1860 in Bridgeport, Warren County and MCHS has no record of his death.
 
Dr. James Talbot, elected State Senator in Missouri’s first election, was connected to the Hale Talbot family of Loutre Island through marriage to Jane Talbot, the daughter of Hale and Elizabeth. He was born May 4, 1780, and died August 19, 1844. He and Jane are buried at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery north of High Hill.
 
The State Constitution allocated Montgomery County two members in the House of Representatives of the General Assembly. Bethel Allen and Jesse Bryan Boone were elected. Bethel Allen was born April 29, 1780, in Rockingham, North Carolina, married Elizabeth D. Reed in 1800, and died September 15, 1856 at Salem, Richardson County, Nebraska. Allen was a captain in the 1st Tennessee Mounted Gunmen Volunteers in the War of 1812, and first appears, of record, in Montgomery County on the 1819 tax list and 1820 Federal Census. He is listed in Callaway County on the 1830 census. A History of Callaway County records Allen receiving 114 votes for the State legislature in 1822 and in Lay’s Sketch of the History of Benton County, Missouri, Bethel Allen of Pettis, is reported to have been selected on January 9, 1837, to a commission to locate the County seat of Benton County. Missouri Archives list Bethel Allen representing Montgomery County in the General Assembly in 1820, Platte County in 1842 and Atchison County in 1852.
 
Jesse Boone, the son of Daniel and Rebecca (Bryan) Boone, was born in North Carolina May 23, 1773. In 1790 he married Chloe Van Bibber in Boonesboro, Kentucky. They had nine children and the family was well established in Greenup County, Kentucky, where Jesse was one of the first magistrates and where the family owned 400 acres of land along the Ohio River. In 1803-04 Jesse and three other men made a trip to Missouri and 16 years later he moved his family to Montgomery County. Jesse died at the end of the first session of the Missouri General Assembly, December 22, 1820; Chloe died in 1821. WikiTree lists their burial places as Loutre Lick (Van Bibber) Cemetery near Mineola. MCHS records of gravestone inscriptions do not contain this information.
 
This article is one of a series commemorating the 200th anniversary of Missouri’s steps toward statehood. See the previous articles in County History, Misc. Articles.
 
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Famous County Residents

Admittedly, our County is not very well known, but we do have some past residents worth “crowing about.” See the section on Families, Bios, Records and learn about:
  • One of Missouri’s first State Supreme Court judges.
  • Children’s book author and illustrator.
  • Missouri pioneer who was a medical practitioner, writer and geologist.
  • Director of Legislative Service for the Missouri Farm Bureau.
  • Prohibition Party presidential candidate and college professor.
As always, we welcome any historical documents, etc. that you may wish to share!
 
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Online References

Older researchers (like your webmaster) remember sticking our heads into a microfilm box and serially scanning through reference material for hours, days and weeks for a mere tidbit of information. Today, many resources are available online with search capabilities that allow task completion in seconds. Many are even free!  See Online References for some sources we have found to be of value; including digitized books, maps and documents. Links to helpful websites are listed.
 
If you are aware of other useful sites, please send an email to webmaster@mchsmo.org and they will be added to the list. Thank you for taking the time to help your fellow researchers!                                                                            

September 26
MCHS Board Meeting
The MCHS Board meets monthly on the fourth Saturday at the Senior Center while under COVID restrictions.

October 13
Genealogy Society Monthly Meeting
Monthly meeting of Genealogy Society members.

October 24
MCHS Board Meeting
The MCHS Board meets monthly on the fourth Saturday at the Senior Center while under COVID restrictions.

November 10
Genealogy Society Monthly Meeting
Monthly meeting of Genealogy Society members.

November 11
Veterans Day
With respect, honor and gratitude ... Thank you for your service.