County Origins - Stoddard Co. MOGenWeb

History from LeAnn Kelley
The Territory of Missouri
Wilson's History of Stoddard Co.
The Organization of Stoddard County
The History of Bloomfield
The History of Dexter
The History of Puxico


From: R Kelley       [email protected]
To: Mary Hudson      [email protected] 
Subject: Stoddard Co. History
Date: Thursday, July 15, 1999 11:41 AM

Dear Mary,

Our county origins are confusing unless one knows the entire history of
this area.  Before 1803, control of what is now the state of Missouri
passed back and forth between France and Spain, but it was mostly accepted
that land south of New Madrid was regarded as Spanish, while land from Ste.
Genevieve north was French.  The land in between wasn't settled by white
people, and it's uncertain who actually had title to it.  Indians and a few
transitory frontiersmen were the only inhabitants.  By the late 1700s, New
Madrid was officially part of Spanish Territory  (hence the name, even
though it isn't pronounced the same way as the Spanish capital) but
ownership of the Cape Girardeau area (Girardeau was a French name) was
still in dispute.  Some of the French had moved south from their
settlements in Ste. Genevieve and areas north of there, into the disputed
area, and established a town on a point jutting into the Mississippi River,
and named it Cape Girardeau.  The Spanish weren't too happy, since they
considered that part of their territory, and one  of the Spanish territory
officials contacted Major George F. Bollinger, a man he knew who lived in
Lincoln Co. NC, and asked Major Bollinger to bring settlers into the land
west of Cape Girardeau and settle it under the Spanish government, in
exchange for free land.  Bollinger agreed, and his first wagon train left
NC in 1799, crossed the Mississippi River on 1 Jan 1800 at Ste. Genevieve,
picked up supplies there and turned south, settling on the Whitewater River
in what is now Burfordville, Bollinger County.  My ancestor, Peter Cryts,
was on that first wagon train.  Bollinger made three more trips bringing
mostly German settlers from NC.  The settlers were to receive Spanish land
grants which would be made permanent after five years if certain
specificied improvements were made to the land.  (Spain wanted to check the
spread of French settlers any further into what they considered their

Soon after the Bollinger settlers arrived from North Carolina,  Spain ceded
her claims to France, and France quickly sold the entire Louisiana
Territory to the U.S. in 1803.  That threw the Bollinger settlers into an
unusual situation, of having land titles issued by a territorial government
which no longer existed.  At first the U.S. government did not recognize
the Spanish land grants and most of the Bollinger settlers fought long
court battles before finally gaining legal title to their land.  My Peter
Cryts finally received legal title in the 1820s to his land along the
Whitewater River.  There are records of the court hearings that were held
in St. Charles.

Although this area was included in the Louisiana Purchase area of 1803,
government acts take time, and Missouri didn't officially became part of
the Louisiana Territory of the United States of America until 1805.

In 1812, the Missouri Territory was carved from Louisiana.  It included
most of present day Missouri and Arkansas, except for the Platte Purchase
area of Missouri in the northwest area of the state.  The original
districts of Missouri Territory of Upper Louisiana, formed in 1812, were
Cape Girardeau, New Madrid, Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis, and St. Charles. 
They stretched west across the state, although at that time, no one was
really certain where the western boundaries were.  The two districts of
Cape Girardeau and New Madrid encompassed all of southern Missouri at that
time.  New Madrid District, (or New Madrid County as it later became), also
contained the entire state of Arkansas.  When Missouri applied for
statehood in 1819, Congress created the Arkansas Territory and removed it
from Missouri.  What is now the state of Oklahoma was included in Arkansas
Territory at that time.  Missouri officially became a state in 1821, two
years after application.

A major block to settlement in the southern region was caused by the New
Madrid Earthquakes in 1811 and 1812.  Three quakes registering over 8
points on the Richter scale, hit New Madrid, and by the time of the third
quake, there was virtually no one left in that area.  According to one
account, Indians remained in the area who were encouraged by the British to
raid the frontier settlements, but a militia formed in Cape Girardeau
district forced the raiding bands of Indians out of the New Madrid
district.  That company of men is listed in records as soldiers in the War
of 1812.  There were peaceful Indians who remained in the area and their
descendants are still here today.  The state of Missouri recently granted
recognition to the Northern Tribe of the Cherokee who had members living in
the state soon after the Revolutionary War.  According to tribal
spokespersons, those Cherokee had an early settlement in what is now
Bollinger County.  The Shawnee were also present here.

Aftershocks from the great quakes were still being felt in the 1820s. 
Congress became afraid that if no white settlers returned to the area, the
Indians would return, so they created land grants under "New Madrid
Earthquake Claims" and supposedly anyone who had property damage from the
earthquakes qualified to claim land in the area.  According to one history
(if memory serves, it was Houck's history), my ancestor, Jacob Cryts, along
with others from the Whitewater settlements, moved into what is now
Stoddard Co. and took up land under the New Madrid Earthquake Claims in the
1820s.  (I have found only source for that information, in addition to
government records, and there is some controversy over whether those claims
were followed up on, but there are government records which mention the
earthquake claims.)  For whatever reasons, the Taylor, Cryts/Crites, and
Link families who were related by marriage, along with other families came
to what is now Stoddard Co. in about 1823.  The aftershocks subsided,
Indians were no longer a threat, and large numbers of people were here by
the late 1820s when they petitioned the state to form their own county.  

In Robert Forister's _History of Stoddard County_ on page nine, he states,
"The Missouri General Assembly passed an act in 1829 which defined the
boundaries of Stoddard County to be carved out of Wayne County, which had
been established in 1818.  Part of Stoddard was originally attached to Cape
Girardeau County.  The new county was to be named Stoddard in honor of
Captain Amos Stoddard, the U.S. agent who received the transfer of the
Louisiana Territory...Stoddard County was officially under Cape Girardeau
officials until January 2, 1835.  Then the legislature acted to organize a
county government."

Maps in Forister's book show that Stoddard was part of New Madrid County
(or District) in 1812, along with today's counties of Butler, Scott,
Mississippi, Dunklin and Pemiscott.  Wayne Co. was formed in 1818 from Cape
Co. and most of Stoddard was included within the boundaries of that new
county (which stretched at that time all the way across the state).  The
southeast section of Stoddard Co. (less than one fifth of the county's
total area)  stayed in New Madrid County.  In 1829 the remaining area of
Stoddard that had been included in Wayne County in 1818, was taken out of
Wayne Co. and became part of Cape Girardeau County.  The term "attached"
might be confusing.  It simply meant that Cape County's boundaries were
redrawn to include all of Stoddard County except that part still remaining
in New Madrid County.  At some point between 1829 and 1841, most of Dunklin
Co. was taken away from New Madrid County and was added within Stoddard
County's boundary.    

The Everton _Handy Book for Genealogists_ gives the following information:

Cape Girardeau County was an original district of Missouri Territory,
formed in 1812.
New Madrid County was an original district of MO Terr. formed in 1812.
Wayne Co. was carved out of Cape Girardeau Co. in 1818.
Scott Co. was carved out of New Madrid Co. in 1821.
Stoddard Co. was carved out of Cape Girardeau Co. in 1835.
Mississippi Co. was carved out of Scott Co. in 1845.
Dunklin Co. was carved out of Stoddard Co. in 1845.
Butler Co. was carved out of Wayne Co. in 1849.
Bollinger Co. was carved out of Wayne, Stoddard, and Cape Cos. in 1851. 
(Only the 	extreme southern portion of Bollinger Co. came from Stoddard.)
Pemiscott Co. was carved out of New Madrid Co. in 1851
(I haven't found the date when Stoddard's southeast portion was taken from
New Madrid Co., but Robert Forister states that Stoddard County's present
boundary dates from 1853.)

My sources for the above were Houck's _History of the Spanish Regime I and
II_, Houck's _History of Southeast Missouri_, Robert Forister's _History of
Stoddard County_, and Everton's _The Handy Book for Genealogists_.  (Louis
Houck was a prominent, well-educated man who actually lived here in
southeast Missouri.  He and members of his family practiced law, built
railroads, and participated in much of the development of the area.  The
Houck Fieldhouse on the SEMO University campus in Cape was named for his
family.  His brother, George, lived in Bloomfield. (I think George was his
brother -- he could have been a cousin.  This is all from memory so I may
have some details wrong.)  I had a great-uncle and a cousin on the Cryts
side who were both named Louis Houck Cryts.

In regards to Amos Stoddard, he may have been the Commandant of Upper
Louisiana in the early 1800s, but the naming of Stoddard County after Amos
Stoddard had nothing whatsoever to do with the Civil War.  Amos Stoddard
acted for the U.S. government in 1803, many years before the commencement
of the Civil War in 1861.

I realize this has been a long, but hopefully not too confusing account of
southeast Missouri counties, but unless you know the whole story it is
difficult to understand Stoddard County's prior connections with Cape
Girardeau and New Madrid Counties.  I encourage you to ask your librarian
to get a copy of Everton's "Handy Book for Genealogists".  My copy is the
sixth edition but I believe there have been several more editions printed
since mine, which dates from 1971.  Most libraries have at least one

Houck's histories are in local libraries but they are locked in the rare
books or old reference sections and cannot be checked out.  Most librarians
will make copies of specific pages, however, if the pages aren't too

Robert H. Forister has reprinted his History of Stoddard County and copies
may be obtained from him at 501 W. Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield, MO 
63825.  His phone number is 573-568-2134.  Permission needs to be granted
by him to use portions of his history on the internet.

LeAnn Kelley

© 2010 This page created
and placed here by
Mary A. Hudson
[email protected]
July 1999 for MOGenWeb
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