Authentic history of the occupation, settlement and colonization of this region which on February 10, 1851, became Stone County, Missouri, begins about 50 years before the creation of the county. During this period there were two distinct immigrations, one of which was by the Delaware Indians and the other by Anglo-Saxon colonizers.
The Delaware Indians immigrated to this region about 1800 to 1808 and remained until their evacuation under governmental compulsion in 1830 to the Kansas Territory. These were the progeny of the Delaware Indians which the European explorers, more than two centuries before, had found in the valley of the Delaware River. They were the traditional enemies of the Iroquois which finally conquered them after which the pressure of both the Iroquois and the whites forced them periodically and successively westward into Ohio, Indiana, and finally into Missouri.' They lived in portions of Southeast Missouri and finally in territory now included in Greene, Christian, Taney and Stone counties during which time they built and occupied the well-known Delaware town or village on James River in territory which afterwards became Christian County and at or near the point where Highway 14 now crosses that stream. They were peaceful Indians.
After their evacuation in 1830, they returned here annually until 1836 to hunt and fish, but when the whites misunderstood their innocent purpose and a military force was sent to investigate, they quietly left this region never to return. The first known white settler in this region was James Yocum (sometimes spelled Yoachum) of French origin who about 1790 located at the junction of James and White rivers. He carried on trading with the Indians and the white settlers who had furs and peltries to sell or to barter in exchange for such necessities as coffee, salt, blankets, cloth, shoes, rifles, bullets, pots, knives, hatchets, axes and other articles of primary importance to the settler's manner of life. At that time bear, deer, buffalo, elk, beaver, raccoon and other wild life were abundant.
A trade-coin, the Yocum Dollar, served the local necessities of commerce. This coin was stamped with two words, "Yocum Dollar," and was not intended to be a counterfeit. Its size and shape were identical to the American dollar, and it contained more pure silver.4 An important historical event in this region was the tour of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, a historian and explorer who, in 1818 and 1819 at the age of twenty-five, visited this region to study its features and its occupants. He wrote one of his books in 1853.-'Schoolcraft found these early white settlers, in the main, were not interested in agricultural pursuits. They cleared out and cultivated only an acre or so of land and grew corn for the family and the horses, and a few vegetables for family use, but hunting and trapping were their main interests. He said that when hunting season arrived, their ordinary labors even in the cornfield fell upon their wives and that "the inhabitants pursue a similar course of life to that of the savages whose love of ease the settlers generally embraced." Among other settlers, Schoolcraft and his party visited Yocum who fed them roast beaver tails. Any impression that all the white settlers in these times were interested only in a life of ease comparable to the Indians in this region would be erroneous. Many other whites, including other Yocums and Joseph Philibert, a Frenchman, went seriously into agricultural pursuits and the establishment of permanent homes, although in the process of doing so they were obligated to obtain much of their subsistence from the abundant wild life until their agricultural efforts were adequate for support. Such white settlers formed the nucleus of the permanent colonization next to be noticed.
What we can properly regard as the more permanent and enduring colonization of this region began about 1833 "when Kentucky and Tennessee sent their sons into the wilderness to open up the country near the confluence of the James and White rivers."these immigrants were the progeny of the proud Anglo-Saxon colonizers of our middle Atlantic coast about 200 years previously. They were neither explorers nor exploiters of the land. They sought no enrichment from mineral resources. They sought no higher privilege than to subvert the land to agricultural purposes and to build their permanent homes thereon, which always had been the distinct characteristic of the English colonizers. The Kentuckians generally were political adherents of Henry Clay and the Tennesseeans almost unanimously followed Andrew Jackson. In these early days, the colonists here and elsewhere in the Missouri religious groups were fundamentalists. They would not have thanked anyone for any allegorical explanation of some portions of the Holy Bible which is a stumbling block to some sinners, and possibly some saints. Divorces were frowned upon, no matter what the provocation, and a man who was sued at law, particularly upon his promissory note, was almost disgraced in the public mind.
These Anglo-Saxons needed and used the hunting and trapping predecessors as a means of subsistence until their agricultural pursuits improved their living conditions. It was a long and laborious process to reach their goal, for few if any in this hill country had slaves or any other independent means to augment their efforts, but all had large families. Their story is "the short and simple annals of the poor." These immigrations from Kentucky and Tennessee and, in time, from other states continued unabated to these two rivers and their tributaries and beyond until about all the low-cost Government lands which were desirable for agriculture had been taken. Immigrations were interrupted during the period of the Civil War, but were resumed thereafter when free lands also were obtainable under the Homestead Law of 1862. The Government would not sell land even for a church or a school site until its surveys were completed, for the reason that surveys afforded a definite description and a convenient means of conveying the land.
President Monroe on April 30, 1818, issued a proclamation authorizing
the sale of lands in Missouri after its survey. No doubt the delays in
making surveys tended to retard the settlement of this area; the extreme
northeastern portion of the area in this county, including the confluence
of Finley Creek and James River, was not surveyed until 1838. And the remainder
was not surveyed until between 1846 and 1849, or barely in advance of the
creation of Stone County, although long after the evacuation of the Delawares
and other Indians. The 16th General Assembly of Missouri convened on December
30, 1850. By its Act of February 10, 1851,Stone County was created and
was named "in honor of William Stone late of Taney County, Missouri."
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© 1996, 1997 Jo Dunne