History of St. Charles County, Missouri (Chapter 4)

History of St. Charles County, Missouri

Chapter 4
Physical Features and Development of the County

Boundaries and Conformation -- Water Courses -- Geology -- Indigenous Growths -- Agricultural Products -- Fruits and Grape Culture -- Lands, Improved and Unimproved -- Number of Farms and Value of all Farm Products -- Live Stock -- Taxable Wealth -- Population -- Roads and Railroads -- Game, Fish, Etc., Etc.

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The county of St. Charles includes that portion of the State of Missouri which lies between the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, east of the fifth principal meridian and south of the Cuivre river.

The county is of irregular, wedge-like shape, owing to its water boundaries. It includes portions of Congressional township 44 north, in ranges 1 and 2 east, on its southern boundary, and a small part of township 49, range 5 east, on its most northern boundary, and extends eastwardly from the fifth principal meridian to the junction of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, in township 48, range 8 east, a distance of 42 miles. Its greatest breadth is on the western boundary line, about 24 miles. It contains, including islands in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, about 540 square miles, and its total surface in acres is about 345,600. The western boundary crosses a range of bluffs, or highlands, about two miles north of the Missouri river, running in a north-easterly direction with the river, diverging occasionally from the course of the river, with intervening bottom lands between the bluffs and the river, until it reaches a point 2 miles north of the city of St. Charles, where it makes an abrupt turn, running a little south of west, till it strikes the Dardenne creek, and from thence in a north-westerly direction till it strikes the Cuivre river, about a mile and a half east of the western boundary line of the county. Within this chain of bluffs, or highlands, is contained all the upland in the county, composed partly of timber and in part of prairie. The rest of the county is timbered bottom and bottom prairie.

From the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers to the Mamelles, a distance of more than 20 miles, the land is entirely of an alluvial formation. The point at which the bluffs of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers unite and make the abrupt turn above referred to, is about 2 miles north-west of the city of St. Charles, 6 miles south of the Mississippi river and 1 mile west of the Missouri. At this point, where the main body of the bluffs is covered with timber, two smooth mounds of regular surfaces, without trees or shrubs, but coated with grass, project out into the prairie some distance from the main bluffs. These were named by the early French pioneers La Mamelles, from their fancied resemblance to the human breasts. These mounds have an elevation of about 150 feet, and afford an extensive view of a most beautiful country, lying east, west and north. The northern side of the county is washed by the Mississippi and the southern side of the Missouri river. There is always sufficient water in these streams for the larger steamers, and navigation is only impeded by freezing over, an occurrence which does not take place every year, and lasts only a few weeks.

The Cuivre river, which empties into the Mississippi, also forms part of the northern boundary of the county, and is navigable for small steamboats in the spring season as far up as the mouth of Big creek, one of its tributaries. Indian Camp creek and McCoy's creek are tributaries of Big creek. Perruque creek rises in Warren county, and after running southward for some distance, makes a bend and empties into the Mississippi, about four miles below the mouth of Cuivre. Dardenne creek rises near the Warren county line. Its first course is eastward, and also making an elbow, discharges its waters into the Mississippi about seven miles below the mouth of the Perruque. The general course of all these streams is north-east. The Femme Osage, with its branches, is the only stream of any size which empties into the Missouri river within the county. Both branches rise in Warren county, and unite about 5 miles above the mouth of the creek, which is about 15 miles by water below the western line of the county.

The Femme Osage creek, its branches and tributaries, flowing south-eastwardly, drain about 110 square miles in the south-west part of the county. ALl the other streams of any size but the Cuivre, Perruque and Dardenne, and their branches, flow in a north-eastwardly direction, and drain the rest of the county, except the Point Prairie lands.

SPRINGS. -- Fine springs abound on McCoy's creek and Indian Camp creek. There are also good springs on Perruque, Dardenne and Femme Osage creek, along the Mississippi bluffs east of Dardenne, and in other parts of the county good springs are found. On the prairies and uplands wells and cisterns are mostly used for supplies of water. The Mississippi river affords for all those in its vicinity an abundant supply of the best water for drinking and all other purposes.

The geological formations of St. Charles county, beginning at the highest or most recent formations, are as follows: --

QUATERNARY. -- This system includes the Alluvium, Bottom Prairie, Bluff and Drift.

Alluvium. -- This comprises the soil and the deposits along the principal streams.

Bottom Prairie. -- This is best developed on the Mississippi bottoms, where it occurs as a dark clay, with beds of sand.

Bluff. -- The bluff underlies the soil, and is found on most of the hills; it is well developed on the Missouri bluffs, especially near the city of St. Charles, on the St. Louis, Kansas City & Northern Railway, and in the street excavations in the city, and also at the Mamelles.

Drift. -- Is not very well developed, but when seen is composed of clay and rounded pebbles, and underlies the bluffs.

Next come the rocks proper, which are geographically interesting, affording an interesting field of research to him who loves to investigate the records of ages past.

PALEOZOIC ROCKS -- Coal Measures. -- Coal of good quality is found near St. Charles, and may not be found in any other part of the county. The coal measures cover an area of about eight square miles. The coal bed ranges from 15 to 30 inches in thickness, and would probably average about 22 inches, or be equal to 408,808,000 cubic feet.

Ferruginous Sandstone. -- Is found only in limited quantities.

St. Louis Limestone. -- This rock, of good quality, is found only near St. Charles.

Archimedes Limestone. -- West of St. Charles this formation is seen cropping out from beneath the St. Louis limestone. It extends as far west as the west end of Green's Bottom, and thence northward and westward over that part of the county lying east of Cottleville and Wentzville.

Encrinital Limestone. -- West of the last, and as far west as range 1 east, this group occurs as the highest rock in the western prat of the county and north of the Boone's Lick road. The scenery afforded by it on the Missouri river is very fine, the bluffs below Hamburg rising to a height of 200 feet or more, and presenting at the top a castellated appearance, which is further beautified by the presence of cedars on the summit.

Chemung and Devonian Groups -- Are uplifted on Perruque creek, near the county line, and the Chemung occurs as the highest in township 45, and township 46, range 1 east, and also near the mouth of Femme Osage creek, on the Missouri.

Trenton Limestone -- Appears on Dardenne creek, in township 46, range 1 east, on Femme Osage beautiful perpendicular castellated cliffs, with rounded tower-like faces, and affording beautiful scenery.

Black River and Bird's-eye Limestone -- Is found on the Femme Osage creek, and south-west, near the Missouri river, it caps the highest hills.

First Magnesian Limestone, Saccharoidal Sandstone and Second Magnesium Limestone -- Appear in the Missouri bluffs, near Darst's Bottom, and westward, affording very picturesque scenery. Cedar hill, opposite Darst's Bottom, is composed of saccharoidal limestone, and the neighboring bluffs are capped with first magnesian limestone.

BUILDING MATERIALS. -- Good building rock is found almost everywhere.

The St. Louis Limestone -- Affords good building material, and there are good quarries west of St. Charles. It is fine grained, and a light drab color, with a somewhat spintory fracture.

The Archimedes Limestone -- Also affords much good building rock, and it is often found in remarkably thick beds. Excellent quarries of it are found in the bluffs at Green's Bottom, where it occurs in thick strata of both brown and gray limestone. Similar beds crop out in the Mississippi bluffs, a few miles east of Dardenne, where it is quarried for masonry on the North Missouri Railroad.

Trenton Limestone. -- The gray beds of the upper portion of the Trenton limestone found on Femme Osage creek would admit of a good polish, and make a handsome material for building.

Encrinital Limestone. -- Good beds, and of considerable thickness, outcrop in the Missouri bluffs, below Hamburg, and other good quarries are seen in the north-east part of the county. On Perruque creek, at the county line, are good quarries of Devonian limestone. The beds of Black river limestone found on the tops of many of the hills in Femme Osage township would admit of a polish, and make quite pretty marble.

The First Magnesian Limestone -- Found on Femme Osage and Missouri bluffs, affords one of the most valuable of building materials, being generally of a rich buff color. Missouri College, in Warren county, Mo., is built of this material, which is quarried near by. Similar rock used for building in St. Louis was brought from Joliet, Ill.

The next rock of importance is the Saccharoidal sandstone, found on Femme Osage and Missouri bluff and Darst's Bottom. This is useful as a fire rock, and the softer and whiter beds, which are as white and clear as the best crushed sugar, would be very suitable for the manufacture of glass.

MINERALS. -- Iron Pyrites -- Are found in some localities. Fragments of red and brown hematite have been discovered, but it is not thought they exist in sufficient quantities to pay for working.

Quartz Geodes -- Are found on Missouri bluffs, embedded in shales of Archimedes limestone. Calcareous spar in small quantities is sometimes found.

CLAY FOR PAINT. -- In section 35, township 47, range 1 east, is an extensive bed of variegated, purple, buff and drab clays, and near by is a bed of whitish clay, which has been successfully used for whitewash. Red clay had been found on Callaway's ford of the Femme Osage. In addition to the above, clays of different colors are found in other parts of the county suitable for paints and pigments. There are also to be fond various other valuable clays in the county, some of which are white and suitable for potters' ware.

Clay for Brick -- An abundance of the best red clay, free from flint and gravel, is found in and around the city of St. Charles, and in many other parts of the county. Brick made of this material are of a bright red color, and for beauty, solidity and durability are not excelled in any part of the country.

Limestone -- Suitable for burning, and producing the best quality of lime, is found in large quantities.

Sand -- For building, plastering and molding purposes can be readily obtained.

About three-fourths of the lands in this county were originally timbered, and although large quanities have been cut for lumber, fire wood, fencing, and for the purpose for clearing lands for cultivation, an abundance remains sufficient for generations to come. The following are some of the varieties: --

Oaks. -- Black jack, Spanish oak, red, oak, white oak, overcup, black oak, pin oak, chinquapin, burr oak, post oak.

Maples. -- Soft maple, sugar maple, box elder.

Ash. -- White ash, black ash, blue ash.

Hickory. -- Small shellbark hickory, pignut hickory, black hickory, butternut hickory, large shellbark hickory, pecan hickory.

Elm. -- White elm, slippery or red elm.

Walnut. -- Butternut, black walnut.

Wild Fruit Trees. -- Red mulberry, crab apple, persimmon, paw-paw, wild cherry, black haw, red haw, red plum (several varieties).

Locust. -- Honey locust, black locust (cultivated).

In addition to the above are the hackberry, buckeye, red cedar, cottonwood, sycamore, sassafras, linden, coffee nut, red birch, and many others.

Nut Trees. -- Black and white walnut; several varieties of hickory, above enumerated, and pecan. The hazel is the only nut-bearing shrub indigenous to the county. The chestnut has been successfully cultivated here.

Shrubs, Small Trees, Etc. -- Dogwood, sumach, elder, green brier, red bud, prickly ash, creeper, wild rose (several varieties), poison oak.

Small Fruits. -- Wild strawberry, dewberry, blackberry, black raspberry, wild gooseberry.

Grapes. -- Summer grapes, winter grapes, fox grapes (several varieties of each).

Medicinal Herbs, Plants, Etc. -- Boneset, pennyroyal, liverwort, hops, henbane, burdock, yellow dock, May apple, Jamestown weed, nightshade, peppermint, ladyslipper, catnip, dandelion, elder, lobelia, hoarhound, pokeroot, ginseng, bloodroot, Virginia snake root, yellow root, sarsaparilla, sweet flag, wormseed, mayweed, and a great many others.

The area of St. Charles county, as before stated, is about 540 miles, consisting of prairie and timber, the area covered by timber greatly predominating. The surface of the county is agreeably diversified by hill and dale. Between Femme Osage creek and the Missouri river the land is quite broken and the hills very high. Most of the county between range 1 east and south of the line between townships 45 and 46 is quite broken. Going eastward from the mouth of Femme Osage, the amount of broken land gradually diminishes, extending not over one or two miles from the river, and nearly ceases at the east end of Green's Bottom. Broken land occurs in other parts of the county, but it is limited to the hills immediately adjacent to a few of the streams, nor are the hills so high as those above mentioned, nor the slopes too steep to prevent cultivation. In other parts of the county the slopes are quite gentle. If we except the bottom lands, no portion can be said to be flat, but all is rolling, and with such slopes as to recommend it for every variety of farming. The county possesses a very large proportion of rich land. The prairie below St. Charles is unsurpassed in fertility by any land in the State; its horizon is considerably above that of high water, the soil for several feet is a rich and very dark loam, under which is a stratum of sand, and again below is dark clay, thus presenting a surface of the richest soil, with underlying natural drainage. The land produces from 25 to 40 bushels of wheat per acre, and is little affected by the seasons, wet or dry. Its fertility is not exceeded by the region of the Nile, producing luxuriant crops of every agricultural product known to this latitude. It is the very Egypt of Missouri. Some of the lands have been in cultivation for over eighty years without the aid of fertilizers, and have produced successive crops of wheat and corn, without any rotation whatever, for more than thirty years. Over 100 bushels of corn, 65 of oats, and 45 of wheat have been produced upon these lands per acre. These, however, were extraordinary crops. The average yield of wheat for the county may be safely set down at 20 bushels to the acre, and the annual yield for the county at 1,500,000 bushels. The average yield of corn is about 45 bushels per acre, and the annual yield for the county is estimated at 3,000,000 bushels. Hon. J. R. Dodge, statistician of the United States Department of Agriculture, in his report of the agricultural productions for the year 1871, estimates the amount of wheat produced in the State of Missouri at 12,825,000 bushels, and the number of bushels of corn at 87,300,000 bushels. It will therefore be seen that St. Charles county alone produces more than one-eighth part of the wheat grown in the 114 counties in the State, and about a twenty-eighth part of the corn, being largely over the average of the annual production of corn for ten counties -- the average yield per county being less than 77,000 bushels.

The price of improved farms range from $30 to $100 per acre, taking a point ten miles above St. Charles on the Missouri river, and drawing a circle around to the Mississippi river, including all the land from this circle to the mouth of the Missouri river. West of this ten-mile circle, farms will range at from $10 to $40 per acre. Unimproved lands may be put at from $3 to $10 per acre.

The leading agricultural productions of the county are wheat, corn, oats, barley; some seasons broom corn is raised largely. They export most of wheat, corn and oats. The yield of corn last year, is estimated at from 25 to 80 bushels per acre; of wheat, from 12 to 15 bushels; a chance field from 25 to 30 -- a falling off in the wheat crop of 1882; oats, from 30 to 35 bushels; hay 1 tons; potatoes, 80 bushels, per acre.

Hay and Grass -- Twenty years ago, when the prairies were mostly open, farmers and stock raisers depended more or less, sometimes entirely, on wild grasses, both for pasturage and hay. Thousands of acres were then in a state of nature are now covered by grain and corn fields, orchards and meadows, and wild pasturage has become much restricted in extent, in some places exceedingly so. This has forced farmers to make other provisions for stock, and this necessity has had the effect of turning attention to tame grasses. The principal crops are timothy and clover, which do not need renewing for years, and Hungarian grass, which is an annual product.

Blue and wild grasses are mostly depended upon for pastures. Clover does well. Blue grass is indigenous, will furnish a green sward unsurpassed for winter pasture of both cattle and horses.

In 1879 there were mown 8,132 acres of tame grass, which produced 6,497 tons; 67,241 bushels of Irish potatoes were raised, and 1,462 bushels of sweet potatoes. The value of orchard products were $46,608, and the amount of wood cut was 12,684 cords, whilst the value of wood consumed was $73,904. Of the wool clip of 1880, 6,046 fleeces made a total weight of 36,145 pounds. Of molasses from sorghum, 14,656 gallons were made.

Fruit. -- From the earliest settlement of the county, apples, pears and peaches have been raised. There are some fruit trees, scattered here and there through the county, generally but few, and, sometimes, but a single one in a place, which have borne fruit for almost as long a period as that covered by the memory of the "oldest inhabitant." But within twenty years last past, orchard planting has received a mighty impetus, so that, whereas heretofore those having fruit were the exceptions in the community, now the case is reversed, and those are the exceptions who have no orchards or trees. Almost all owners of the soil have some fruit trees, even though they have but a fifty feet lot in town. An apple tree, a pear tree, a peach tree, is planted -- more often several, and in a few years the owner has the great satisfaction (known only to those who have experienced it) of plucking his own fruit, and it tastes neither of silver nor greenbacks. Besides these small efforts, the results of which can scarcely be dignified with the name of orchards, there are many which are orchards. The production of fruit has been a success with them, so far as it has been tried, both in quantity and quality. We undertake to say that no country produces better Genitan apples than can be found here, and though we may not speak so unequivocally of other kinds, because we are not well enough acquainted with the facts, we hazard nothing in saying that this fruit generally will compare favorably with any other. It is almost entirely of superior kinds, grafted or budded from and on good stocks, and carefully cultivated.

St. Charles county is peculiarly adapted to the growth of all kinds of fruit known to this region. During late years much attention has been given to orchards, and fruit growers are well paid for their investments; apples especially being fine and selling at good prices. Peaches of large size and delicious flavor are produced in all parts of the county, apricots and nectarines, plums and cherries are not generally grown for market. The red and yellow Chickasaw plum and the German prune and Damson yield abundant crops, and seldom fail.

Small fruits. -- Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries and currents are grown successfully all over the county.

The most extensive orchard in the county is that of R. H. Parks, Esq., in the Point Prairie, consisting of 10,000 trees. The next in size is that of Julius Mallinckrodt, near Augusta, of 2,000 trees. There are many other fine orchards in the county. Among the proprietors are Judge Barwise, B. A. Alderson, Jos. H. Barwise, E. K. Barwise, Charles Manning, Dr. B. W. Rogers, Alfred Stonebraker, Herman Wilke, Francis and August Marten, Wm. T. Lindsay, J. W. Charlesworth, John Eastabrooks, Dr. D. W. Ferguson, Joseph Hay, John C. Orrick, D. A. Griffith, Geo. N. Gatty, N. Reid, S. S. Watson, John S. Shaw, W. H. Gallaher, E. C. Cunningham, John Lindsay, Adolph Mallinckrodt, Conrad Mallinckrodt, C. Meyer, C. Diehr, J. Sudbrock, Geo. W. Kinney, Judge Barton Bates, J. Linhoff, W. Keithley, F. Schulte, John Nahm, Charles Miller, F. Valentine, J. C. McElhany, Wm. C. Dyer, Mrs. John Lee, Dr. L. R. Ensor, R. B. Keeble's estate, Thos. Lewis' estate.

Most of the last named orchards were planted for market purposes, and contain from 300 to 1,500 trees.

Many small orchards return handsome profits, from the fact that their products are easily handled and well husbanded.

The following varieties of fruits are those most successfully grown in this county: --

APPLES. -- Summer: Early harvest, white June, red Carolina June, red Astrachan, maiden's blush, and sweet bough. Autumn: Rambo, Rome beauty, Pennsylvania red, streak, yellow, belle-flower. Winter: Rawles' Janet stands highest, Ben Davis, winesap, willow twig, sweet Janet, Michael Henry pippin, Newton Spitzenberg (Vandevere).

Many others, old and new, are grown, and of the latter many promise well, while those above rank highest as yet.

Peaches. -- Hale's early, Trogh's early, Crawford's early and late, large early York, George the Fourth, old Mixon free and cling, Heath cling and free, besides the whole family of yellow melocotones.

Pears. -- Bartlett, Seckel, Sheldon, Flemish beauty, Louise Bonne de Jersey, Duchess D'Angouleme, Vicar of Winkfield, white Doyenne, Tyson, Howell, Buffom, and several other varieties of the dwarf pear.

The fruits above named, with the exception of apples and peaches, are generally grown for amateur purposes only.

There are 400 acres of vineyards; 200 acres are in Femme Osage township, and near the town of Augusta; the other 200 acres are distributed around St. Charles, up to O'Fallon, Wentzville, New Melle, Hamburg, Cottleville, etc. Wine is made in considerable quantities, and meets with ready sale, as also the grape for table use, and each at remunerative prices. The most of the vineyards, planted prior to 1860, were of Catawba variety, which, after a few years of successful cropping, proved to be a failure. At the present time two-thirds of our vineyards consist of the Concord. The other principal varieties are Norton's Virginia and Herbemont. Connoisseurs here consider our white wines equal, if not superior to the best Rhine wines. The Concord will produce 500 gallons per acre. The annual production for the county in 1872 was about 100,000 gallons. New Melle has 8 wine cellars; total capacity, 50,000 gallons. Augusta, 20; total capacity, 100,000 gallons. Wentzville, 1; capacity, 20,000 gallons. St. Charles, 3; capacity, 60,000, besides several small cellars, with aggregate capacity of 100,000 gallons. Hamburg and Weldon Spring have a number of small cellars, with a capacity of about 30,000 gallons.

The principal kinds of grapes raised are the Catawba, Norton's Virginia Seedling, Concord, Cassady, Clinton, Taylor's Bullitt, Herbemont, Delaware and Hartford Prolific. Among these, for table use, the Delaware stands first and the Concord second. For wine, Norton's Virginia Seedlin is regarded as best, adn the Concord next. But when the Catawba secceeds it is the most profitable, and ordinarily, when it makes a full crop, it yields more than any other kind. The average yield of the whole is about 500 gallons per acre -- in a favorable season 800 gallons can be obtained -- the ordinary calculation being 18 pounds of grapes to the gallon of wine.

In 1880, according to the United States Census Report, there were 174,132 acres of improved lands in the county, which were divided into 2,114 farms. The total number of acres of all lands is 263,829, showing that about two-thirds of the lands of the county are improved. Nearly all of the unimproved lands is timbered land. The value of the farms of the county was $7,687,934, and the value of all the farm products was estimated at $1,816,778.

The number of bushels of corn raised in 1879 was 1,614,960, gathered from 47,219 acres. On 11,483 acres, 249,554 bushels of oats were raised, and on 61,099 acres, 1,124,518 bushels of oats were grown. There were also considerable quantities of barley, oats and rye produced. Tobacco culture is likewise a valuable agricultural interest. On 90 acres of land, in 1879, 52,452 pounds were produced. Grape culture is another important interest, but the statistics in regard to this, later than those given above, are not now before us.

Of live stock in St. Charles county, in 1880 there were 9,081 head of horse, mules, etc., 5,556 milk cows, besides 8,831 head of other cattle; and there were 6,045 sheep, and 39,661 head of hogs. Of wool there were sold 37,145 pounds; and of butter there were produced 207,941 pounds, besides 10,100 pounds of cheese. The above figures may be contrasted with the following, contained in a sketch of the agriculture of the county, published by Mr. Joseph H. Alexander, of St. Charles: --

I have made no little effort to obtain other statistics, showing the progress we have made in other particulars, but in that regard have been rather unfortunate. Either the statistics are not in existence, or, after diligent inquiry, I have not been able to reach them. I present, however, a few items, and some of my own calculations, based on them: --

In 1840 we had 3,509 horses and mules; in 1850, 4,772.

And at the same rate of increese we should now have 7,645 horses and mules.

In 1840 we had 4,606 sheep; in 1850, 10,425; in 1865 we should have 26,780. In 1840 we had 19,324 hogs; in 1850, 30,957; in 1865 we should have 64,390.

But I am afraid that an actual count would show that we have less of sheep and hogs than my calculations show we ought to have, and so of other things, some increasing in a more or less accelerating ratio, and some decreasing; there being an increase in cattle, wheat, corn, oats (largely in these), wool, potatoes, wine, hay, etc., and a decrease in hemp, barley and tobacco; but I am quite satisfied that in the last named article, notwithstanding the tables, there has been an increase.


From Mr. Alexander's report on the agriculture in the county, prepared in 1866, we learn that in 1809, when St. Charles district embraced an indefinite district of country between two rivers, extending as far as the population did, the valuation of taxable property was $23,895. In 1818, when the limits of the district were more circumscribed, but still extensive, the valuation of taxables (found by approximation and calculation) was $87,419; in 1836 it was $727,573; in 1840, $1,290,786; in 1851, $1,508,796; in 1856, $2,998,800; in 1865, $8,156,040.

From 1809 to 1818 the valuation nearly quadrupled; from 1818 to 1836, the increase was over 800 per cent; from 1836 to 1840, it was about 50 per cent; from 1840 to 1855, it was nearly 50 per cent; and in the last ten years, ending with the present year, it was about 265 per cent.

In the first 27 years the increase was uniform, being at the rate of something over 100 per cent; in the next 15 years it was again uniform, at about 50 per cent, and in the last 10 years it was about 26 per cent per annum. Although the rate per cent of increase has diminished, yet the actual increase has been large, having risen from $23,895, in 1809, to $8,156,040 in 1865.

In 1874, according to the official report in the county clerk's office, the assessed valuation of the county was $7,265,119; and in 1884, it is $7,616,859. It is given in the United States census report in 1880 at $7,033,593, of which $5,132,914 consisted of real estate, and the balance, $1,900,679, of personal property. The State tax was $28,135; the county tax, $35,168; and the city, school and other local taxes, $26,919; making a total of $90,222, or a sum considerably larger than the amount collected by the first sheriff, Mackey Warren, in 1805, namely, $501.80.


With the natural advantages St. Charles has for supporting an intelligent and thrifty population, it is known, as would naturally be expected, that the county has steadily increased the number of its inhabitants. Mr. Alexander has also given some figures in regard to this, which are here reproduced as he states them: --

The population of the county in 1830 was 4,320; in 1840 it was 7,911; in 1850 it was 11,454; in 1860 it was 14,313. Adding to the population of 1860 the same rate of increase as held good from 1850 to 1860 (and I am quite sure that this is not unreasonable, even taking into consideration any depletion which may have been caused by the war), the present number of inhabitants in the county is about 16,000.

The following are the figures from the tenth census report: In 1810, the population wsa 3,505; in 1820, it was 3,970; in 1830, 4,320; in 1840, 7,911; in 1850, 11,454; in 1860, 16,523; in 1870, 21,304; in 1880, 23,065.

The population by townships is as follows: Callawy township, 1,830; Cuivre, 3,820; Dardenne, 4,050; Femme Osage, 2,401; Portage des Sioux, 2,541; St. Charles, 8,417. The nativity of the people of the county is given as 16,113 born in Missouri; 4,286 born in foreign countries, and the balance, numbering over 2,600, born in different States of the Union, principally Illinois, Virginia and Kentucky.

The population of the county in 1880 is further classified as follows: Males, 12,100; females, 10,965; white persons, 20,642; colored, 2,411; native, 18,779; foreign, 4,286.

In population St. Charles county is the twentieth county in the State, and in valuation or wealth it is the fifth county, a remarkable and creditable showing for the intelligence and thrift of the people of this county, the productiveness of their lands and the success of their business and manufacturing enterprises. It is the sixteenth county in the amount of the State, county and local taxes it pays, and the first one among the counties whose population are not larger than the population of this county, being taxed a less sum annually than any of her sister counties of this class.


Boone's Lick Road -- Commencing at St. Charles, running thence west 10 miles to Cottleville, crossing Dardenne creek, thence to Dalhoff post-office at 20 miles (crossing Howell's Ferry road running northwardly to Wentzville); thence to Pauldingville, at the western boundary line of the county. Whole distance 26 miles.

Salt River Road -- Commencing on the Boone's Lick road, one mile west of St. Charles, running northwardly 4 miles to a point where the Mexico road branches off; from thence 4 miles to St. Peters, crossing Dardenne creek, following the bluff 4 miles, and thence westwardly, crossing Perruque creek, at Wellsburg, at 16 miles from said creek; from thence to Flint Hill, at 24 miles; thence north-west to Eagle fork of Cuivre river (county line), 4 miles. Whole distance 28 miles.

Mexico Road -- Branches off from Salt River road 4 miles west of St. Charles, running west to Howell's Ferry road, 20 miles from St. Charles, crossing Dardenne and Perruque creeks.

Marthasville Road -- Branches off from Boone's Lick road, 8 miles west of the city; thence in a south-westerly direction, passes Weldon Spring at 14 miles; thence to Hamburg at 18 miles; thence crossing Femme Osage creek at 20 miles; thence through Hancock's Bottom to Missouriton at 27 miles, and thence in a south-westerly direction to Augusta at 35 miles, and from thence to the county line. Whole distance about 40 miles.

Howell's Ferry Road -- Commencing at Flint Hill (24 miles north-west from the city), connecting with Salt River road; thence in a south-easterly direction at 2 miles, crossing Mexico road at 5 miles, crossing Perruque creek at 7 miles, Boone's Lick road at 9 miles, crossing Dardenne creek at 12 miles, crossing Marthasville road at 14 miles, to Missouri river at Howell's ferry.

The So-Called Ferry Road -- Turns off from Marthasville road 17 miles south-west of St. Charles, running west, at 3 miles, through Mechanicsville, at 9 miles, through New Melle, and from thence north-westerly to the county line. Whole distance 13 miles.

St. Charles Road -- From New Melle, a county road runs south-west, being called "St. Charles road," to Femme Osage post-office, 5 miles from New Melle; thence south to Tueque Prairie road, 2 miles, crossing Femme Osage creek; thence to Augusta on the Missouri river, 8 miles.

St. Charles and Alton Road -- Commencing at the city of St. Charles, thence north-east to Boschertown, 2 miles; thence on and along the Marias Croche; thence east through the bottom to Alton, 23 miles, to ferry on the Mississippi river, about 5 miles north-east from the city, a second road runs north north-east, passing on the north side of Marias Temps Clair lake; thence through the bottom, and afterwards along Mississippi slough to Alton ferry. Whole distance 22 miles. Another road leading to Alton, leaves the first described road 7 miles north of the city; thence running on north-west side of Marias Croche lake, thence through the bottom and along the western shore of Missouri river, at a distance of 18 miles, turning north to Alton ferry.

St. Charles and Portage Road -- Commencing at St. Charles and Alton road, about 8 miles from St. Charles, on the bank of the Marias Temps Clair, thence north-east 4 miles to Portage, thence from Portage 4 miles to St. Charles and Alton road on and along Mississippi river.

The facilities for the transportation of produce to market are unsurpassed by any county in the State. There is a good market at St. Charles for most of the farm products -- St. Louis, Alton, etc. There are the Missouri and Mississippi rivers hugging this territory more than half way around it, with 10 shipping points on the Missouri and 11 on the Mississippi, and the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railway through the center, and the Keokuk and North-western together with the St. Louis, Hannibal and Keokuk, all bringing the markets from almost every point of the compass practically at our doors. Furthermore, a good macadamized wagon road leads to St. Louis, only 20 miles distant.

Among the proposed roads is the Missouri River Railroad with connections from Fort Scott, in the State of Kansas, via Sedalia, Boonville, and down the north side of the Missouri river, passing St. Charles and continuing eastward, crossing the Mississippi river at or above Alton; thence connecting with the great eastern and northern lines of the road in the State of Illinois -- making it an air-line road east and west.

Another railroad is confidently spoken of, and its projectors are now moving in it, commencing at Kansas City and crossing the Missouri river at Arrow Rock; thence to Columbia, Boone county, and down the north side of the river to St. Charles and St. Louis.

The St. Louis and Western Railroad Company have, quite recently, filed articles of association at Jefferson City, with a capital of $3,000,000, for the purpose of building a narrow-guage road from St. Louis, passing by St. Charles, to Brunswick and the western part of the State. This will be an air line road from St. Charles west.

Again, the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Company, who have been operating their road in the interest of Chicago ever since its completion, now begin to feel the importance of a close connection with the city of St. Louis and intermediate points, and are now asking the Legislature of Missouri to grant them the privilege of constructing a road from their eastern terminus toward Hannibal -- perhaps from Monroe -- by St. Charles to the city of St. Louis; thus giving another great outlet from St. Charles, and making the necessity of another track between St. Peters and the cities of St. Louis and St. Charles more plainly apparent as each successive day comes and goes.

St. Louis, Jerseyville and Springfield (Illinois) Railroad. -- This road, of which the company is organized and surveys made, crosses the Mississippi river at Grafton, thence by St. Charles and onward to St. Louis, and its whole length traverses the finest agricultural regions of the West.

St. Louis and St. Charles Railroad. -- The company is organized and surveys made via St. Charles to St. Peters, on the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railroad. This roads will be necessitated by the great amount of railroad travel and traffic concentrating at St. Charles. The line is the shortest practicable route from St. Louis, and besides the great convenience it will afford the citizens along its line, it traverses a very fertile farming country.

We have said enough on these different subjects to satisfy the mind of any reasonable thinker that St. Charles is fast becoming a great central railroad point, to which the raw material may be brought from almost any particular locality in our State or country, manufactured, and shipped off to every point were trade exists.

It may be said, Why is this so? We will answer: Because St. Charles lies right in the line of our national highway of travel, and that the topographical conformation of our county places it there. The south side of the Missouri river is a broken, jagged, mountainous region, unfitted for cheap, direct lines of communication; while north of the river, roads may be run through the country at will, without encountering any permanent impeding obstacle. For example St. Louis, Jefferson City and Kansas City all lie on the south side of the Missouri river, and yet, in stage-coach times, the great route between these points was through St. Charles and on the north side of the river. Again, in this our day of railroads, if we wish to make the quickest time, for passengers or freight, to Kansas City, Atchison, Leavenworth, St. Joseph or Omaha, the route lies through St. Charles, and at St. Louis we take the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railroad.

In earlier times, 50 or 60 years ago, the United States engineers, in locating the great National Turnpike, understood this matter fully. From Maryland the route through the States pointed directly to the northern shores of the Missouri river, via St. Charles, to Jefferson City, its termination, as the cheapest and most direct route.

This county, although among the oldest settled counties in the State, still abounds in a great variety of game and fish, the large forests and prairies lying along the two great rivers and their numerous tributaries, affording shelter and cover for its game, and the rivers and tributaries, some of which are remarkably clear, with gravelly beds, affording spawning and breeding places for the innumerable schools of various fish which visit us on their annual migration from the Southern waters.

We have the usual varieties of game, quadrupeds and fur bearing animals found in the Central and Western States, such as deer, gray and fox squirrels and rabbits; and of the fur bearing animals we have the otter, mink, raccoon, muskrat, opossum, and at rare intervals an occasional visit is paid by a passing family of beaver to their old haunts. Large numbers of raccoon, mink and muskrat, and some otter, are caught every season along our streams for their peltry and fur. All the game animals mentioned are sufficiently abundant to furnish excellent amusement to the lover of woodland sports, with the exception of the deer; yet these may still be found in considerable numbers in the south-west part of the county, in the Femme Osage and Tueque creek hills, and in the adjacent hills of the Charrette, along the borders of St. Charles and Warren counties.

But it is in the feathered game that St. Charles county equals, if it does not surpass, almost every other part of the great valley. Besides wild turkey, pheasants, woodcock, prairie chicken or grouse and quail, which frequent its woods, prairies and grain fields in large numbers, we have, during the autumn and spring months, vast quantities of water fowl and game birds of passage. These, twice a year, pass up and down their great line of migration, which follows the course of the Mississippi leading north and south, on their way in leaving the lakes, rivers and plains of British America and the North, in the fall for the warm bayous, streams and marshes of the Gulf States, and again in returning North in the spring. We are located directly under the great aerial highway of the wild fowl, and in both apring and autumn they stop in vast numbers on our lakes, rivers and prairies. The water fowls consist of geese, swans, brants and ducks, and the migrating game birds consist of snipe, woodcock, sora, plover and wild pigeons. Of wild geese we have two varieties, the large and small gray goose, and of the brant, which is of the goose species, we have three varieties. Swans for a short time in the fall are quite numerous on the lakes of the Mississippi bottom. We have nearly every variety of duck known on the North American waters. Of these the principal are the mallard, blue and green-winged teal, wood duck, canvass-back, widgeon, redhead, black-jack or butter duck, pin-tail, spoon-bill, shell-drake, crested fisher, and numerous other unnamed varieties. Of these, the first eight named are excellent for the table. The snipe is considered next to the quail and woodcock the greatest delicacy of any of the feathered game. The plover, another of our migratory birds, consists of several varieties, some of which are the curlew, the kildee, the golden plover (an excellent bird) and the common gray plover.

The principal game fish frequenting our waters are, of strictly game fish, the pike, salmon-trout, green bass fo two varieties, white or striped bass, black bass, crappie, red-eyed perch, sun perch, small-mouthed lake perch, and some other unnamed varieties. The largest of these are the pike and salmon-trout, some of which weigh as much as twenty pounds. The pike is especially the king of fresh-water fish. The bass range in weight from 1 to 5 pounds, and the crappie from one qo 1 and 1 pounds. The perch are all smaller than the crappie. All of the above-named are among the very best of freshwater fish for the table or the purposes of sport.

The bass and perch spawn late in May, principally on the beds of the shallow, clear, rocky streams. Beside the game fish, we have numerous other fish in our waters, some of which are almost as good for the table. Among the best of these are the buffalo, red horse, red-finned sucker, silver carp and catfish. The four first named are of the sucker species, and excellent fish at their proper season. Every spring they seek the waters of this vicinity in vast numbers to deposit their spawn. They usually spawn early in May. The buffalo fish is especially abundant, and when the Mississippi overflows its low grassy bottoms, they pass out into the prairie grass in countless thousands and deposit their eggs upon the grass and weeds near the surface, when the spawn is hatched by the heat of the sun and carried back with the receding waters into the deep water. It is at this season that many thousand pounds of these fish are annually speared and trapped and caught in nets, to be salted down for use and sale. They are excellent when salted and cured. These fish weigh from 10 to 20 pounds. The red horse is next in size, weighing from 2 to 15 pounds, and is the best and most beautiful of the sucker species. They spawn early in May, on the shoals and rifles of clear, rocky creeks. The catfish is the largest of all our fish, sometimes weighing 200 pounds, but usually from 5 to 30. It is a good fish, and meets with ready sale in the markets. Besides these mentioned, we have various inferior fish, such as the white sucker, large black sucker or flatback, several varieties of the chub, the lamprey and ordinary blue-eel, sturgeon, drum or stone perch, shovel fish, the great alligator gar, the common gar, dog fish, hickory shad, stone carrier, and an innumerable variety of small fish, suitable only for bait. Some of our deep, clear lakes along the Mississippi river are well adapted for breeding and raising the finer varieties of fish, and no doubt will be preserved and used for that purpose.

They are easily accessible by rail, and might be made charming retreats for the eager sportsmen.

Transcribed June 2003 by Deborah Heimann -- Co-ordinator for the St. Charles County, Missouri USGenWeb pages.