St. Clair County Missouri
Churches

 

 

Harmony Mission Church 1821-1836
(Presbyterian)

History from St. Clair County Library Files

Missionaries were sent from the eastern part of the United States in 1821 to minister to the
Osage Indians. Living quarters for the missionaries were constructed first and as soon as the
mission building was completed the Indian children began their training. Language barriers
made this a slow project but the children were cooperative. Some were converted to Christianity.

In 1837 the Mission was closed and the Indians moved further west. The missionary people
broke up, some returning to their homes, some remaining and settling in the Midwest.

The Mission buildings were sold to a Mr. Scroggins. In 1838, Capt. William Waldo opened a
store and Freeman Barrows worked for him. Others living in the area when the Mission
was closed were: Col. Robert Allen, John Bloy, James Moore, a Shoemaker,
Miss Mary Etnis and others. Freeman Barrows would later become well known as he was appointed County Clerk, Recorder and Clerk of the Circuit Court when the county was organized.
Harmony Mission was selected in 1841 as the first county seat of Bates County.

Although Harmony Mission was located in Bates County, people from St. Clair County
traveled there to this mission.

**

Bates County History 1821-1900:

From the book "Our Religious Heritage" by Earl T.Sechler - The Kentucky Awakening
of 1801 revived the desire to carry the gospel to the Indians in the Ozarks.
They were the Osages, the Shawpaws, the Delawares, the Kickapoos and the Quapaws.

Presbyterians and Congregationalists led in this work and cooperated in their mission stations.
Their mission board established in 1820 and 1821, three missions in the Ozarks:
Harmony Mission on the Osage, the Neosho Mission and the Dwight Mission in Northwest Arkansas.

**

Kansas City and Jackson County, Missouri Biographical Record, 1896:

REV. JAMES GRIGSBY DALTON
A Memorial and Biographical Record of Kansas City and Jackson Co., Missouri
Rev. James Grigsby Dalton, the esteemed pastor of the Little Blue and Pleasant Prairie
Cumberland Presbyterian Churches, resides in Sniabar Township near the former place.
He was born in Greenbriar County, Virginia 7 June 1824, and in his 15th year came to
Missouri with his parents, William and Mary (Renick) Dalton.
His father was a native of Albemarle County, Virginia, and the mother of Rockingham County.
They made the journey to Missouri by wagon, being about two months on the road,
but at length arrived in Lexington. They were in limited circumstances, but the father succeeded
in purchasing two hundred acres of unimproved land in Jackson County,
twelve miles northwest of Warrensburg. His death occurred in 1842, at the age of
seventy-two years. He was noted for his power of endurance as a walker, and made the
journey on foot from the Old Dominion. At his death he left a family of five sons
and three daughters, of whom three are now living. His wife died in 1857.
Mr. Dalton, of this sketch, and his twin sister were next to the youngest of the family.
James G. remained at home until he had attained his majority and then engaged in school teaching.
In 1847 he had become a member of the church, and in his twenty-fifth year began
to preach, delivering his first sermon on the first Sunday in May 1848, in the little
church in Johnson County. He united with the presbytery about October 1, 1847,
was licensed in October 1849 and ordained on the 1st of April 1852 near Dover, La Fayette
County, by the Lexington presbytery, with which he has always been connected.
He spent five years on the circuit work in Johnson, Henry, St. Clair and La Fayette Counties,
with two appointments. The territory at that time was but sparsely settled and there were
few church organizations and no houses of worship in the circuit. He preached almost entirely
in private homes and occasionally in a school house or courthouse. During the summer from
July to October he was engaged in camp-meeting, and at each had from twenty-five to
one hundred conversions. At a meeting held in Johnson County, Missouri after an exhortation
made by Uncle Jake Crow, over one hundred penitents came forward. Uncle Jake,
who lived in the community, was undoubtedly one of the most powerful exhorters ever known.
A man of little education, he had no training for this work, “but out of the abundance of the
heart the mouth speaketh”, and he was a power in church work. He established the
Little Blue church, assisted only by Mrs. Lobb, who would do the singing. He had a brother
named Ben who was his exact counterpart in appearance and their own children could
scarcely tell them apart.
In the year 1842 there occurred the greatest revival that had ever been held in this locality,
resulting in the establishment of several flourishing churches. In the spring of 1854, Mr. Dalton
came to his present home and took charge of the Little Blue Cumberland Presbyterian church,
three miles north of Blue Springs. In the same year the congregation erected a frame house of worship, which was in use for forty years, with Mr. Dalton as pastor. It had a membership of fifty
when he assumed charge, but it continued to grow, and in 1860 its membership had reached
over two hundred. Again Mr. Dalton had successful revival services, receiving more than
fifty converts into the church, at two meetings. He seemed specially fitted for this department of religious work, and the influence that he has exerted on the higher life of western Missouri
has been immeasurable. Since the War he has also been the pastor of Pleasant Prairie church,
formerly the Union Church, at Bone Hill. It now stands on Pleasant Prairie in La Fayette County,
nine miles east of his home. He has been the regular pastor of the Little Blue church for forty one years, of Pleasant Prairie church for twenty eight years, and for about fifteen years was pastor
of the Chapel Hill church, from which service he retired two years since. He organized the
Cumberland Presbyterian church at Blue Springs, of which he remained in charge for two years.
The Little Blue church has now about one hundred members, but the churches at Blue Springs,
Lee’s Summit and Woods Chapel are all the outgrowth of Little Blue. The last named was
organized by Rev. William Horn about 1847, with five members, namely: Aquilla Lobb and
wife and Rev. Cornelius Yeager and wife, and a negro who belonged to Mr. Lobb.
There are still some members connected with the church who were there when Mr. Dalton
assumed the pastorate. These include Calvin and Andy Lowe, William N. Crenshaw,
J.A. Steele and Mrs. Daniel DeWitt.
Rev. Mr. Dalton was married on the 10th of November 1865 to Miss Lucy Jane Crump,
daughter of Samuel Crump, of Sniabar, who had been one of his pupils in the public schools
and whom he had baptized into the church at the age of fifteen years. Their family numbers
three children: Samuel Grigsby, who was born 12 June 1867 and aids in the cultivating of the
home farm; Mary Elizabeth, who is engaged in teaching; and Paulina Agnes, at home.
In 1871 Mr. Dalton moved upon the farm which he has since made his home.
He makes his ministerial work his chief duty in life but in his leisure hours engages in the
cultivation of his farm and the improvement of his land. In politics he is Independent,
supporting the man whom he thinks best qualified for the office. His career has been such
as to command him the regard of all, of both his own and other denominations, and the
most genuine respect is universally extended him.

**

Bates County History 1821-1900:

Old Settlers History – John Y. Thomas
The founders of Harmony Mission came from New York in 1821 as missionaries to the Indians.
The mission was abandoned in 1837, when the Indians were moved West. The government
paid $8,000 for the property and the money went to the Society which had
sent out the Missionaries. The first post office established in the county was at the Mission,
but was called Batesville. It was afterwards moved to Papinsville. Harmony Mission was
also the first county seat so established in 1841, but moved to Papinsville in 1848.
The first voting precinct in the county was at Harmony Mission and the first election
held there was in 1841.
Before the whites settled here, this section was set apart by the government as a
reservation for the Osage Indians. They were an exceptionally docile and quiet tribe,
and the government agent reported that they wanted the Missionaries to come and
teach and civilize them. They had been familiar with white men, as traders often came
among them to buy their furs. Missionaries came from the East and built houses and a
school and church house. They came in 1821, but they were not settlers in a true sense, as they
did not come to make homes for themselves. They all went away when the Mis8ion was
disbanded in 1837.

**

Missouri History Encyclopedia, 1901:

Harmony Mission
The first settlement of Bates County, Missouri by the whites is notable as having been
made by a religious society, upon invitation of the Indians occupying the land; in most
every other instance the original occupants were unwillingly dispossessed through sharp
dealing or force. About 1820 a number of Osage chiefs in Washington to transact business
expressed a desire that missionaries should be sent to their people, whereupon a party of
ministers and teachers, with their families, came from the East and settled at
Harmony Mission in 1821. There was little immigration until 1832, when settlements were
made in various parts of the county. The first school was that at Harmony Mission, where
during their stay the missionaries taught and provided homes for about 400 Indian children.
Most of these, on returning to their own people, soon forgot their teaching.

History on the town of Harmony Mission, Bates Co., Missouri - Harmony Mission,
an extinct town in Bates County, was three miles northwest of the present site of Papinsville,
and notable as the first white settlement in the county of Bates. About 1820 a number of Osage chiefs, while in Washington, expressed desire that missionaries should be sent to their people to establish schools and churches, and instruct them in the arts of civilization. The American Board of the
Foreign Missionary Society recognized the value of the field and organized a missionary party.
Meanwhile, White Hair, a most influential chief, assembled a council of Big and Little Osages,
to the number of 8,500 on the banks of the Marais des Cygnes (Osage River), and made a speech,
in which he explained the benefits to be derived from churches and schools, and gained
the consent of the tribes.
Reverend N.B. Dodge, a Vermont man, who had come to Missouri in 1820 as one of a band of missionaries to the Osage Indians, was stationed at Harmony Mission, in the southern part
of Bates County.
Schools were at once established, and religious services were held with regularity, but the
effort of the missionaries effected little good. The band of missionaries suffered at times at the
hands of the people whom they sought to benefit. Eight hundred militia came from
Jackson County, Missouri, but their support worked more of a hardship upon the
missionaries than did the forays of the Indians.
In 1837 the Indians were removed to the West. The United States paid $8,000 as
compensation for improvements, to the American Board, which that body received into
its treasury, allowing each mission family a quantity of provisions, clothing and stock, and the band separated. After disbandment, the Mission House, built by the missionaries for church
and school purposes, was used as a courthouse from 1841 when the seat of justice
was there established, until 1847 when Papinsville, located three miles northwest on the
Osage River, became the county seat. The town of Harmony Mission began to decay,
and soon passed out of existence.
In 1848 Thos. Scroghern purchased the old Harmony Mission building and removed it to
Papinsville, where it was destroyed by fire in 1861.

**

Bates County, Missouri History 1821-1900:

Harmony Mission was established in 1821, and was the only settlement in what is now
Bates County. In 1841 the first court was held in the church at Harmony Mission,
with Hon. Foster P. Wright as Presiding Judge. The courts were held at this place for
three or four years, then the county seat was located on the north bank of the river,
where Papinsville now stands.
There are very good theories advanced to support the claim that some of the old settlements
anti-date the establishment of Harmony Mission on the Osage, commonly accepted as
the first Settlement made by whites within the present limits of the county, as it most surely is
the first of which any authentic account can be given. For these reasons Harmony Mission is
taken as the starting point in the settlement of this section, although it was in no sense a
settlement in itself, but the fact that there was a little band of whites established there led to
others, who were to be permanent settlers, to rear homes near this Mission, thus forming a
nucleus, or foundation for more extensive developments, radiating from this common
center, and merely as such we shall treat it.

Harmony Misson – Up to the year 1837, the Osage Indians made their home in the
southern part of Bates County and northern part of Vernon, and about 1820, having some
business with the “Great Father” at Washington, they sent a delegation of Indians to that
place to make known to him their desires, and among other things, they preferred a request for Missionaries to be sent out to their tribe, for the purpose of teaching them Christianity
and interesting them in the arts of civilization. The American Board of Commissions
for foreign Missions having headquarters at Boston, Massachusetts, being informed of the
request of the Indians, immediately set about complying with it. Volunteers were not at all
scarce, and in the spring of 1821 a party was organized for this purpose. Rev. N.B. Dodge
 was chosen Superintendent, and some 12 or 15 persons of various occupations
agreed to meet at Pittsburg; ready with supplies, tools, etc. for the long and arduous
journey into the wilds of the West. They embarked in two keel-boats, without sail, or other
means of propulsion except than by oars, or “poling” as it was called. While their course
led them downstream they floated with the current, and when upstream they were
compelled to resort to the oars, or poles. The poling was done by the men taking a long
pole and, standing in the bow of the boat, they would stick one end of the pole in the mud,
holding the other and pushing, walk to the stern, then repeat the operation, thereby
slowly and laboriously working their way against the current. In this way they worked on
until finally, on the 9th day of August 1821, they reached a spot about three miles below the
present site of Papinsville – formerly spelled Papinville – and there found a few French traders, probably from St. Louis, who were camped there for the purpose of trading with the Indians
and not as permanent settlers. Here the missionaries determined to establish their mission
and pitched their camp near this place and named it Harmony Mission. Until they could
erect log cabins, they ere compelled to live in tents, and endure all the hardships incident to
this mode of life, and all this they were doing not for money or expectation of worldly gain,
but that that they might carry the blessings of Christianity to the ignorant child of the prairie,
for the organization which sent them out only paid their actual expenses and nothing more.
They soon had rude cabins erected and moved into them, established a school for the
Indian children and began their efforts for the betterment of these people. The Indians
generally were not so anxious for advancement in civilization as their delegates had been, and they even demanded pay from the Mission for the privilege of using their children as pupils.
For some time after their arrival here they were compelled to freight their goods from
Jefferson City, but later they got them at Independence. Although the Mission served
as a beginning for the settlement of what is Bates County, considered from the standpoint
of the Missionary Society it was a practical failure, for after many of the younger Indians
had embraced Christianity and received some degree of education, they would, as soon
as released from school, return to their tribes and instead of teaching them, they returned
to their old tribal customs and were as much savages as ever.
But notwithstanding this disappointment the Missionaries continued their labors until 1837,
when the Osages were removed farther west and, there being no longer occasion for
maintaining it, the mission was abandoned. The buildings where sold to the government
for $8,000 which went to the Society, and the Missionaries being left without support,
scattered to various parts of the country and with one exception were lost track of.
This exception was Dr. Jones, who settled on Deepwater near Montrose in Henry County,
and whose daughter, Mrs. Austin, who recently resided in Montrose, was born at the Mission,
being the first white child born in the county of which we have any knowledge.
The Requas, who lived for a time at the Mission, settled in Lone Oak Township, and many
of their descendants still reside there. There are also a number of people now living who
settled in the county while the Mission was in existence and who had some chance to observe its workings, and who are still able to give interesting accounts of its members. And, while the
work of this brave and unselfish little band produced but very little perceptible results in as
far as the Indians were concerned, we give them all honor for their untiring efforts for the
good of their fellow beings.
After the Mission was abandoned, a number of settlers remained and in 1841 a post
office was established here under the name of Batesville, the first post office in the county.
Before this, the nearest post office had been located at Independence, Missouri nearly one
hundred miles distant.
The Legislature of 1840-41, which had created the original county of Bates, also decreed
that the circuit and county courts should be held at Harmony Mission until such time as a
permanent county seat be selected, or the county court order otherwise. The courts held
their sessions in the school house as long as the county seat remained here.
Owing possibly to the removal of the Mission, and the fact that the new site of Papinsville
offered better facilities for conducting the limited commerce of those days by being better
suited for a boat-landing, a new town was laid out in 1847, about three miles from
Harmony Mission, on the Marais des Cygnes River, and named in honor of a Mr. Papin,
a French Indian trader. The town grew rapidly and showing evidence of attaining to
some importance, the county seat was located here in 1848, and Harmony Mission
rapidly became merely a memory of by-gone days.
During the time the county seat was located at Papinsville the town grew rapidly and was,
for some years, the metropolis of the county. Next to Harmony Mission, the history of the
early days of Bates County centers around this place, which in fact, was the offspring
of the old Mission, and is so regarded in the fond recollections of our old settlers.

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