Boundary, Topography, etc.--Jefferson County, Mo., is bounded north by St. Louis County, east by the Mississippi River, south by Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois and Washington Counties, and west by Franklin. It contains an area of about 628 square miles. The surface is generally hilly. The highest ridge, which extends north and south through the center of the county and forms a watershed between Big River and the Mississippi, attains elevation above the latter of about 459 feet, and from 200 to 300 feet above the neighboring streams. In the northern and western townships the ridges are very narrow at their summits, and are separated from each other by deep ravines. The hills bounding the valleys of the larger streams are also frequently marked with deep declivities, but sometimes they rise by a succession-of gentle slopes or terraces to the general level of the table-lands. East of the central ridge, the county is drained by the Meramec River, Little Rock, Glaize, Sandy, Joachim, Muddy, Isle au Bois and other creeks, which flow into the Mississippi. The western part of the county is drained by Big River, which flows in a tortuous route from the southern to the northern boundary of the county, where it empties into the Meramec. The principal tributaries of Big River are Dry Fork, Belew, Head and Jones Creeks. A part of the northern portion of the county is drained by Saline, Sugar, Mill and Labarque Creeks, which also empty into the Meramec. Thus all parts of the county are well watered. Many springs, producing water unsurpassed in quality, abound, and some of them, especially at Kimmswick and Sulphur Springs, are considered valuable for their medicinal qualities. Water is also obtained from wells of moderate depth, but many people prefer and use cistern for family purposes.
The table lands of the county are moderately rolling, and possess a good soil composed of sand, clay and humus, supported by a red clay subsoil. The soil in the valleys is alluvial and exceedingly productive. The timber on the uplands consists principally of the oak in its several varieties and hickory while on the lowlands and along the streams it consists of sycamore, maple, hickory, walnut, oak, buckeye, cottonwood, etc.
Geology.--The following facts pertaining to the geology of the county, bordering on the Mississippi, are gleaned from the valuable report of Dr. Shumard in Prof. Swallow's State Reports. Below the mouth of the Meramec the hills recede from the Mississippi, and bottom land sets in which continues for two and a half miles, forming a bank from 10 to 20 feet high. The encrinital limestone is found for the first time below the mouth of the Missouri River, within half a mile of Rock Creek in Jefferson County. The hills at this place are about 170 feet high, and exhibit the following section in the ascending order:
No. Feet 1. Perpendicular wall of heavy bedded yellowish and reddish sub-crystalline limestone. . . . . . .50 2. Slope, covered by soil and debris. . . . . . . . . . . .15 3. Reddish argillaceous limestone, of a granular texture, with thin marly partings . . . . . . . . . . .15 4. Slope, with layers as above projecting from the surface.30 5. Encrinital limestone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60
The lower beds of this section are lower silurian, and probably represent the lead-bearing or galena limestone of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. Continuing down the Mississippi, just below Rock Creek is found the Trenton limestone, forming low ledges on the river shore from 10 to 20 feet high. The lower strata are quite cherty and contain but few fossils. Below this exposure the bank of the river is 20 feet high, and composed of ash-colored loam, with terrestrial shells embedded. The hills, removed a short distance from the river, are 100 feet high and exhibit near their summits perpendicular walls of encrinital limestone. At the Sulphur Springs, just above Glaize Creek, the following section occurs, counting from below upward:
No. Feet l. Crystallized Trenton limestone. . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 2. White and brown sandstone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 3. Yellow compact limestone, Chemung group . . . . . . . . .8 4. Red argillaceous and compact limestone, Chemung group . 25 5. Encrinital limestone, highly fossiliferous. . . . . . . 45
Between Glaize and Rattlesnake Creeks, the formation of the above section continues the whole way; the Trenton limestone forming perpendicular escarpments from the water level to the height of from 60 to 80 feet. The hills vary from 100 to 170 feet in height. Just below Rattlesnake Creek the Trenton limestone, overlaid by sandstone, is exposed to the height of 73 feet, indicating a rise in the strata of 28 feet in about a mile. It consists of heavy bedded white crystalline limestone, with soft, chalky-looking, calcareous matter, and containing numerous cavities, lined with this substance, disseminated. A stratum near the top of it furnishes the columns for the courthouse at St. Louis. This layer is six and a half feet thick, and is quarried quite easily. Beneath it is found an apparently solid bed of nearly similar rock, 20 feet thick. The whole of the Trenton limestone at this place would burn into a pure white lime. From this place a rapid rise in the strata takes place, and the Chemung group and encrinital limestone disappear from the tops of the hills. About a mile below Rattlesnake Creek the lower Trenton beds emerge from beneath the crystalline portion above described, and in less than a mile further they occupy the summits of the hills, which are elevated 150 feet above the bed of the Mississippi. At the old shot tower, just above the old site of Herculaneum, the bluffs are 170 feet high. The lower 20 feet consists of cellular limestone in thin layers, above which rises a perpendicular wall of heavy bedded limestone to the height of 110 feet. Below Herculaneum the same rock continues to escarp the river for upwards of a mile, and the first magnesian limestone and saccharoidal sandstone appear at the base of the bluffs. These strata are best exposed at Plattin Rock, where at the river margin is found about 15 feet of heavy bedded saccharoidal sandstone, colored with oxide of iron. On this repose 130 feet of buff ..magnesian limestone--the latter extending to the summits of the hills. This section indicates a rise in the strata of about 150 feet in the distance of a mile.
Below Plattin Rock the hills recede from the river, and do not approach it again for a mile and a half. At two miles from Plattin Rock their altitude is 368 feet, ascertained by barometrical measurements. At this place the section in the ascending order is:
No. Feet 1. Heavy bedded white saccharoidal sandstone. . . . . .15 2. Thick beds of buff magnesian limestone . . . . . . 152 3. Perpendicular bluff of compact brittle limestone . 141 4. Slope covered with soil and vegetation . . . . . . .60
From this point to Selma the general elevation of the hills does not vary much from 300 feet. At the upper end of Selma is an interesting section of silurian rocks, the elevation of which is 413 feet. The base consists of 70 feet of alternations of buff magnesian limestone, and compact, brittle, smooth-textured, gray limestone in layers from an inch to two feet thick. Then succeeds the limestones of Black River and Trenton age, presenting a thickness of more than 300 feet--the upper third being white crystalline limestone. Leaving Selma, a continuous line of bluffs extended to Rush Tower, the distance being about four miles. This portion of the river is remarkable for its picturesque scenery. At Rush Tower the bluffs leave the Mississippi, and an alluvium bottom sets in and continues six miles down the river, with a width of from one to three miles. This tract of bottom land extends into Ste. Genevieve County. The rock formations throughout the county, extending westward from the Mississippi, are similar to those given in the foregoing.
Stone for building purposes and the finest quality of sand for the manufacture of glass exist in inexhaustible quantities. Everywhere in Jefferson County the natural scenery is beautiful, and along the Mississippi and the Iron Mountain Railroad it is exceedingly picturesque.
Mineral Wealth.---The mineral resources of Jefferson County have only been partially developed. Iron and zinc exist in considerable quantities, and the deposits of lead are so extensive as to appear inexhaustible. The latter is the great mineral product of the county, and the only one that has been developed to any considerable extent. Schoolcraft's list of mines in Southeast Missouri made in 1818, mentions two mines that were then worked in what is now Jefferson County, viz.: Gray's mine, on Big River, and McKane's mine, on Dry Creek. This author says "The price of lead at that time was $4 per hundred at the mines, with $4.50 on the Mississippi at Ste. Genevieve or Herculaneum; the cost of transportation, 75 cents per hundred. The same mineral was then worth $7 per hundred at Philadelphia." In the Missouri geological report of Prof. Swallow, published in 1855, Dr. Litton, in his very full and able report of Missouri's Lead Mines, speaks of those in Jefferson County, as follows:
"Sandy Mines extend over a line nearly one mile in length, the course of which is a little east of north and west of south. The ground is covered with clay from fourteen to thirty feet deep. By one who was working for the present lessee I was informed that during the present year (1855) about 30,000 pounds of mineral had been obtained; and from Mr. Coolidge I learned that in 1842 and 1843 several thousand pounds of mineral were raised, and in 1846 and 1847 some 300,000 pounds. The ore is sulphuret, with small quantities of carbonate, and sometimes accompanied by yellow iron pyrites and zinc blende.
"Mammoth Mine.--This mine was discovered by Mr. Higgins in 1843, and, being on Government land, it was entered by Boldur & Higginbotham. It lies in a hill, the height of which is not over 150 feet, and the entrance to it is on the northwest side. The hill is covered with a reddish clay, varying in depth, having a thickness of nineteen feet in the main shaft. Below this is the magnesian limestone, and through which one shaft has been sunk sixty-two feet. The lead here was deposited in a series of irregular caves varying in size from four to nine feet in height, and in width from four to twelve feet. * * * The reported amount of mineral obtained here is almost incredible. From the best information obtainable from different parties engaged at different times in working this mine, I estimated, in 1852, the total amount obtained at 5,000,000 pounds of ore. In 1851 and 1852 Col. J. N. Reading, president of the former company, reported that 21,692 pounds had been obtained in tracing out some lateral arms from the caves. Belonging to the same company as the Mammoth, and six miles north of it, is the Eding lead. It is near a branch of Cedar Creek, and on the side of a hill that is covered with clay, the average depth of which is twelve feet, while below is the magnesian limestone. The lead is found here in vertical fissures, the course of which is nearly north and south, and the width usually varying from eighteen inches to two and a half feet.
"Tarpley Mines* are covered with a red, ferruginous clay, the average thickness being forty feet; beneath is a solid magnesian limestone, passing through which the mineral is found. The mineral obtained here is very pure, massive galena, and the mines have been quite productive. This mine yielded from 1845 to 1854 inclusive, 1,463,538 pounds."
*Vinegar Hill Mines in Section 11, 38, 4.
Dr. Litton also says that there were, in 1855, three lead furnaces in Jefferson County--one at Sandy, one at the Mammoth Mines and the other at the Valle Mines; and that the lead smelted at the latter furnace came principally from the Valle Mines across the line in St. Francois County. By the same author, the amount of lead shipped at Selma, Plattin Rock (Crystal City) and Rush Tower, in Jefferson County, from 1824 to October, 1854, is reported to have been 86,709,605 pounds. He further says: "If to this amount be added the 19,483,382 pounds made at Valle's Mine in St. Francois County, and all of which was sent to Ste. Genevieve, we would have the least total amount shipped from four points on the river, 106,193,382 pounds during this period, giving for the average annual amount 3,425,593 pounds." These amounts, of course, include the lead shipped from all mines then worked in the several counties, from which the product was hauled to the shipping points named.
No full report of the lead mines of Jefferson County has been made since 1855; meanwhile many others have been discovered, opened and worked. Among the number may be mentioned the Frumet Mines, seven miles west of De Soto, where for a number of years extensive machinery was used in raising, crushing and smelting the ore; the Plattin Mines, on Plattin Creek, east of De Soto, including a large scope of country that paid well for the labor and capital spent upon it; the Old Ditch Mines near the line of Washington County; Hart's Mines, near the Franklin and Washington line; Howe's Mine, east of the Plattin Mines before mentioned; the McCormack Zinc Mine, near Plattin; and a score or more of other mines. The whole southwestern portion of the county is dotted with mines, there being a line of them from near the Franklin County corner, in a south-easterly course, to the Ste. Genevieve County line, all of which have been successfully worked. A vast amount of wealth lies dormant in "the bowels of the earth" in Jefferson County, which will in the course of time be fully developed; but for the want of capital, the mines that have been opened are now mostly idle. The Valle Mines, which lie on the line between Jefferson and St. Francois Counties, extending into both, are being successfully worked.
Stone, etc.--Building stone of excellent quality exists in Jefferson County in an inexhaustible quantity, and lime is manufactured extensively at Glenwood, Kimmswick and other points, and shipped to the city markets. Immense quantities of potter's clay are shipped from this county to Pittsburgh, Penn., and to other cities. Fine sand, for the manufacture of glass, is also shipped in great quantities to the bottle works in St. Louis and to other glass works.
Iron and zinc are found in considerable quantities, while the supply of lead and sulphate of baryta seems inexhaustible in quantity. There is also an abundance of potter's and pipe clay of superior quality.
Indians and Wild Animals.--When the settlement of the territory composing Jefferson County took place the same tribes of Indians and the same kind of wild animals existed here as in the other counties mentioned in this work; and the incidents and encounters that the early settlers had with the Indians will be referred to in connection with the settlement of the county.