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EARLY INDIANS IN AUDRAIN COUNTY

Joe Lee Bomar, in the Mexico Evening Ledger, February 4, 1928.

    In the early part of the nineteenth century roving bands of Shawnees, Delawares, Missouris, Osages, and perhaps other tribes of Indians in≠habited northeast Missouri.

Bands roved and hunted all over this section, but began to move further west and southwest from the beginning of the War of 1812. Punished by the settlers and ranger forces, such as the Boones and Col. James Callaway, and other bold frontiersmen, tradition and other evidences from both whites and Indians demonstrate that they had a hunterís bivouac in what is now Audrain county. This was on Scattering Fork Creek, four miles south of where Mexico stands.

They also had a village of huts and wigwams at, or near, the two forks of Salt River, and a burying ground on the present Otto Schopp Dairy Farm. Their tribal and war dances were held on the ridge running north from the Schopp Dairy barn, and arrowheads, spearheads, flints, pottery, and other relics can be found there today.

At the extreme north end of this ridge on the yellow banks of Salt River is the burying ground, the resting place of Black Thunder and his tribe of red men.

The village and camp referred to were there in 1819, as my grandfather and others of Callaway county saw it on one of their hunting, trapping, and prospecting expeditions of that date. As late as 1831 there were many signs at both places, and rocks, shells, tent poles, skillets, camp kettles and other camp equipment could be seen, but before this date the Indians had departed toward the setting sun.

But there were occasional returns of visits to some of the old haunts and the burial place of their fathers. Black Thunder, a sub-chief, medicine man, preacher and prophet, was interred on Salt River, and the last pilgrimage I ever heard of was in 1867, when fifteen or twenty Osages, Missouris, Shawnees, Kaws, and two Delawares visited the old scenes.

They stopped for water and provisions at my grandmotherís, Nancy Bomar, four miles south of Mexico, where all their wants were supplied. In addition, they were given cider and honey. One wanted, and got the tin pitcher containing the honey, and hung it about her neck with thongs.

They were then on a pilgrimage to Washington, D. C., on tribal business to see Andrew Johnson, president of the United States.

The Osages had a reservation and mission in Van Buren county, now Bates county, near the old French town, Pappinsville. I grew to manhood within four miles of this Old Harmony Mission.

When I was ten or twelve years old many of the old apple trees and tumble down buildings, as well as other evidences of their having lived there, were to be seen.

The mission was conducted by the Presbyterians, in conjunction with the agency. Three forts were on the margin of the hunting grounds. Fort Osage, near where Sibley, Lafayette [Jackson] county now is, and Fort Scott, on the west, and Ball Town, on the Little Osage in what is now Vernon county.

Mrs. Sibley, the wife of Col. Sibley, who founded Lindenwood College at St. Charles, was at Fort Osage. Col. Emmette McDonald was at Ball Town. He was later killed at Hartsville, Mo., when in the Confederate army during the Civil War.