Vernon Co, MO USGenWeb Project :: History




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The first major History of Vernon County Missouri was published in 1887 by Brown & Company, St. Louis. Check the card catalog for an area library near you with a copy. Although the book is out of print, it is available on CD from the Bushwhacker Museum.  An index to the 1887 History is available onlineBiographies from the 1887 History of Vernon County are at this link.

The History of Vernon County, Missouri, 1887:



The origin of the first settlement of Vernon county, and of the present Bates county, was the establishment, in the year 1821, of the Harmony Mission, on the Marais des Cygnes, six miles above its mouth, in what is now Bates county. This mission, or station, as it was sometimes called, was planted under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions, an organization composed of Presbyterians and Congregationalists. The first organization was effected in New York City, and was a home missionary society, having for its object the establishment of missions among the Indians, but in 1819 this was consolidated with the A.B.C.F.M., a Presbyterian organization, of Boston.



The first actual settlements of Vernon county, by individuals with the intent of making their future and permanent homes here, were made in the year 1829, by Jesse J. Summers, Moses Summers and Allen Summers, three brothers, and their location was on the Osage, in the northern part of this county, in what is now Metz township. Jesse and Moses came with their families in the spring, and located on the north side of the Osage, and their brother Allen came in the fall and settled on the south side (n. 1/2 se. 1/4 section 22, township 37, range 32), within 100 yards of where his son Moses now lives.


Excerpts from the historical marker erected by the State Historical Society of Missouri and State Highway Commission in 1955:




Historic Harmony Mission, a school for the Indians of Missouri, once stood east of Rich Hill, on the north bank of the Osage River, near the centuries-old camping sites of the Great and Little Osage tribes.


The mission was founded in 1821 by the United Foreign Missionary Society of N.Y., supported by Presbyterian, Congregational, and Dutch Reformed churches. Among the 41 members of the mission family were teachers, mechanics, and farmers, headed by minister Nathaniel B. Dodge. The Osage gave land and the U.S. provided a building fund.


With heroic effort, the missionaries soon built homes and a school. An Osage-English dictionary of some 2000 words was made with the help of "Bill" Williams, later famed as the "Mountain Man," but then serving as interpreter at a nearby U.S. trading post.


The school was only a moderate success, largely because the Osage ceded the last of their Missouri land to the U.S. in 1825 and began to move away. The mission was closed in 1836. The main building, moved to Papinsville, was burned in the Civil War.


Here in the Osage Valley of Bates and Vernon counties were the villages of the Wazhazhe Indians, called Osage by the French. In 1808, less than 100 years after they were first visited by a white man, Du Tisne, 1719, they ceded most for their Missouri land to the U.S. They ceded the rest, 1825. The first chief called Pahuska (White Hair) once lay buried in Blue Mound and for years they returned to honor him.

Researching Vernon County, Missouri

Where to look for Vernon County, Missouri in the U.S. Federal Census:


1830 - North of the Osage River: Jackson County, MO.

1830 - South of the Osage River: Crawford County, MO.


1840 - Van Buren County, MO, except for the southern 1/4th of the county which was enumerated as Newton County, MO.


1850 - Bates County, MO.


1860-present - Vernon County, MO.


Although the Vernon County courthouse was burned in the spring of 1863, the records were not lost because they had been removed from the area.  However, Deed Index Book B was lost.


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Vernon Co, MO County Coordinator

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