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The first major History of Vernon County Missouri was published in 1887
by Brown & Company, St. Louis. Check the
worldcat.org 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 online. Biographies from
the 1887 History of Vernon County are at this link.
The History of Vernon County,
Page 144: HARMONY MISSION.
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.
Page 152: FIRST ACTUAL SETTLEMENTS.
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
1830 - South of the Osage River: Crawford
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 Record Book B was lost.