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HISTORY OF FRANKLIN COUNTY
A vast region of country in North America was claimed by France, on account of explorations made by Marquette and Joliet, in 1763, and by Hennepin and Dugay, from 1680 to 1683. Sparse French settlements were made in various parts of this vast region, extending from the lakes on the North to New Orleans on the South, and on both sides of the great rivers draining the Mississippi valley. In 1712 the territory of Louisiana was granted to Crozet, who resigned it in 1717. It remained a province of France till 1763, when all east of the Mississippi river, with the exception of certain reservations in the southeast, was ceded to the English, and all west of this river was given to Spain, inclusive of the territory reserved East of the Mississippi.
In 1800 it was ceded back to France, though not known to the world, the treaty of cession not being made public till a year later. Americans were forbidden the port, of New Orleans as a place of deposit, and as soon as it was ascertained that France had again come into possession of the territory, negotiations were at once begun for the purchase of New Orleans. Napoleon, however, wished to sell all in connection with the coveted part, and offered it for $15,000,000, which was accepted by the United States, the treaty being signed in Paris in 1803. Upon the delivery of the ceded territory, the southern part in 1803, and the northern part in 1804, congress divided it into two parts, the southern part being called the territory of New Orleans, and the northern part, Upper Louisiana, or the " Louisiana territory." Captain Stoddard was appointed governor of the latter, which then embraced the present states of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, a large portion of Minnesota, and all west to the Pacific Ocean, south of the forty-ninth degree of north latitude, not claimed by Spain. This region was subsequently divided into districts for the purposes of local government, viz : Girardeau, St. Genevieve, St. Louis and St. Charles.
Cape Girardeau district, embraced the country between the Tywappaty bottom and Apple creek. Its population in 1804 was 1,470 whites, and a few slaves.
St. Genevieve, extended from Apple creek to the Meramec river-population, 2,870.
St. Louis, included the territory lying between the Meramec and the Missouri-population 2,780.
St. Charles, embraced all the inhabited country between the Missouri and the Mississippi-population, 1,550-making in all a total population of whites in 1804, of 8,670.
In 1812, the name “Louisiana territory” was changed to that of Missouri. The next step towards regulating the affairs of a civil community into the proportions of a state was the dividing the territory into counties, defining their limits, and in establishing seats of justice, inclusive of appropriate officers. This was effected in 1813, when the counties of St. Charles, St. Louis, St. Genevieve, Washington, Cape Girardeau, New Madrid and Arkansas were formed. Next in course was Howard, then Jefferson, and next Franklin, the tenth in order, of the state.
Its boundaries were as follows, viz : " All that part of St. Louis, bounded as follows : beginning on the Missouri river at the second range line, east of the fifth principal meridian ; thence with mid range line to the corner of townships 42 and 43 in range 2, and townships 42 and 43 in range 3, east of the fifth principal meridian ; thence in a direct line to that point on the county line between the counties of St. Louis and Washington, where mid county line, running from the mouth of Mineral fork, changes its course to the southwest ; thence west to the middle of the river Meramec ; thence south twenty-two and a half degrees west to the Osage river ; thence down the middle of the O., river to the Missouri, and with the Missouri to the place of the beginning : provided, however, that if the said Washington county line, extended westward, shall not strike the Osage river, the said county line shall be the boundary of the proposed county, until the same strikes the Osage boundary line, and thence with said boundary line to the Osage river, and down the same to the place of beginning as afore-said, is hereby laid off into a separate and distinct county." Ter. Laws, p. 562 and 563.
Immediately after the passage of the act for the formation of the county, David Edwards, Philip Boulware, Wm. Laughlin, Daniel B. Moore and Wm. Harrison, were appointed commissioners to select a site suitable for the necessary county buildings. The old town of New Port, situated near the Missouri river in St. John’s township, was chosen as a favorable location, where a courthouse was duly erected, with other necessary buildings, and which remained the seat of justice till 1826, when Union became the county seat.
The old courthouse is still standing at New Port, now used as a private dwelling. Another courthouse was put up in Union in 1828, a log structure, at a cost of $844.79. It stood within the present courtyard, and was used up to 1849, when the original of the present house was completed. The present building is one that will compare favorably in appearance, material and arrangement, with any other of its kind in most counties of the state, and was erected at a reasonable cost, before the mania became common to lavish the people’s money in extravagant buildings.
In 1820 Gasconade was formed into a separate county, and the boundary line between it and Franklin county was established, leaving the western boundary line of Franklin pretty much as it is at the present. For boundaries, Franklin county has the Missouri river and the counties of St. Charles and Warren on the north, Gasconade on the west, Crawford and Washington on the south, and Jefferson and St. Louis on the east. Its area comprises fifteen entire and seventeen fractional congressional townships, equal in all to about 850 square mil.: It has a mean average north and south of about twenty-seven, and an average east and west of about thirty-three mil., ranking the third county in size in the state, and is also third in population, having according to the census of 1870, 30,113 souls.
As an agricultural county it ranks a little below some few counties in the northwest part of the state, taken as a whole, but certain parts are equal in fertility to any soil in the United States. Reference is made here to the bottom lands on the Missouri river and the adjoining bluffs. The river bottoms it is not necessary to describe, having such a formation as is common to the great streams of the Northwest, but an observation is due to the bluff region referred to. The surface is an alluvium, ranging from fifteen to twenty-four inches in thickness, which has a fertility equal to that of the bottom lands. The subsoil will average equal thickness, and is almost as productive as the surface soil. Beneath this is a third stratum, a kind of marl, which when thrown up and slacked, forms a splendid fertilizer ; and mixed with the subsoil, forms a new soil equal to the alluvium.
The writer examined one or two tracts from which the alluvium had been entirely washed away after long use, and where even a portion of the subsoil had disappeared. By deep plowing a portion of the third stratum bad been thrown up the previous fall, and wheat sown ; the crops harvested this season yielded twenty-seven bushels per acre. On the farm of Dr. S. P. Jones, of St. John’s township, is a tract that has been in cultivation since 1818, which still yields, under favorable conditions, from seventy to eighty bushels of corn to the acre. This particular formation extends the entire length of the county along the Missouri with an average breadth of some three miles, and is adapted to all the cereals, grasses, fruits, etc., and yields a superior quality of tobacco. Along the Bourbeuse and the Meramec rivers and principal creeks, good bottom lands are found ; also in the numerous valleys that everywhere abound.
Notwithstanding, however, that Franklin county furnishes the agriculturist and the horticulturist with inviting fields (for further descriptions of which we refer the reader to our township histories), its chief wealth consists in its mineral deposits, which, taken at the lowest figures, are simply immense, and among which lead may be classed as the chief mineral. Its territory embraces, at least, fully
TWO-THIRDS OF THE COUNTY.
Two true vertical fissure-veins have already been demonstrated by the most competent authorities in Europe and America, including the reports of Professors Vincent and Swallow. These veins possess great strength, but as yet have been but imperfectly worked. That known as the " Virginia lode" has been traced for a distance of eighteen miles, and has been worked at different points of the vein some nine miles, to a depth of from fifty to three hundred feet. It was first discovered by one of our old pioneer hunters, a man by the name of Wheeler. Fifteen years later the mines were opened, and have been worked, more or less ever since.
Among the most prominent subdivisions of this vein are the Virginia, Mount Hope, Caswell, Lost Hill, Cove, St. Clair, South Virginia, Giles Ford, Silver Lead Mine, and Evans. We have no exact data from which to compute the number of pounds of lead raised from these different subdivisions, but it is safe to estimate it from SEVENTY-FIVE TO ONE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS since 1834.
The principal subdivision alluded to is owned by the
VIRGINIA MINING COMPANY.
It 13 located about five miles southeast of St. Clair, a neat village on the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad. The two principal shafts are sunk to a relative depth of 190 and 195 feet, at which the lode runs from eighteen inches to three feet in thickness. Recently a number of capitalists of England have taken charge, and are now engaged in providing all the necessary facilities to properly develop and work these mines ; and knowing what we do of the work which has hitherto been put forth, we can say, in all good conscience, that THIS IS THE FIRST ORGANIZED .FORT THAT HAS YET BEEN MADE IN THE COUNTY TO SCIENTIFICALLY DETERMINE ITS WEALTH IN LEAD.
We notice among their improvements a fine corrugated iron building, containing three large Scotch ovens, a powerful steam engine, and other facilities for the working of the shafts and smelting ore.
The Skinner vein is also a " true fissure-vein" of great thickness, and promises to be as rich almost as that of Virginia, but has not been worked to the same extent.
The principal subdivisions on this vein are the Northumberland (formerly Ford), Piney, Skinner, the South Skinner, the Phillips, Usher and Craig mines, chief among which is the first mentioned, and to which we call especial attention.
THE NORTHUMBERLAND LEAD MINES AND SMELTING WORKS
are located about two and a half miles southeast of St. Clair, and rank second to the Virginia in the amount of mineral being raised. This lode, like the Virginia, runs north and south, from which it is about two miles west, and to which it is parallel. It is one and a half miles west of the famous group of mines running through Mt. Hope, of which it may be regarded as a subdivision. Lead was discovered on this property in 1876, and so far as developed has proven to be one of the richest vertical veins ever discovered in the state, the sheet of galena being from twelve to fourteen inches in thickness at a depth of thirty feet (and growing thicker as the shaft descends) below which the mines have not yet been worked, Every practical miner who has worked the true vertical veins in Europe, and every geologist who has examined this mine, has pronounced it a true fissure-vein, which will be found to descend beyond the reach of human skill to operate. This property belongs to Warren C. Ford, Esq., of St. Louis, on whose land the vein runs for a distance of one mile. He has already a number of miners at work, and expects to give employment to at least 100 by the first of January, of tha incoming year.
The Thomas mines are the oldest, and likely the first discovered lead of the county, being located in 1787, by Gabriel Cerie. In this group of veins we find the Clark & Appleton, Reed, Coe, Harrington, Silver Hollow, Read Hill, Gopher, Enloe' Darby, Woods & Christy and Gallagher (now Halligan) mines. North of this on the same range is found the Elliott, Hamilton, Patton, Jack, Bauer, Newell and the Peninsula mines. These different mines are all so far known as fiat openings, or horizontal sheets. The deposits being very strong; immense amounts of lead have been raised from these different subdivisions, of which the most prominent are the Harlington, Thomas, Hamilton, Patton, Elliott and Peninsula. This range, or series of subdivisions, extends north and south, and is some four miles west of the Skinner lode. In regard to the exact amount of lead ore raised at different times, from their discovery, an aggregate of
FORTY-FIVE MILLION POUNDS
will be found a fair estimate.
The Peninsula furnishes a fair example of the manner in which companies in the county have heretofore operated. The mines were discovered and opened in 1824 or ‘25 and large amounts of lead taken out by private enterprise. Afterwards a furnace and other works were erected by Alexander Chambers, who operated some time successfully. The mines then passed into the hands of the Peninsula Lead Mining Company. A large amount of money was expended in the purchase of mineral lands at exorbitant figures, and very little work was done underground, when embarrassments outside of the mines arose, which terminated the company’s operations. The mineral is found in clay openings and crevices, and is disseminated throughout a section of at least 400 acres, both in the clay and the rock.
THE GOLCONDA LEAD MINES
are located in section 18, township 43, range 1 east. They were formerly owned by North & Jeffries, who disposed of them to a party for $10,000. This party afterwards sold them to another party in New York (a widow lady) for $24,000. From these mines were raised before the last transfer, 300,000 pounds of ore, besides 63,280 pounds of “pig lead,” all of which was produced by surface work, no shaft having been sunk below a depth of forty feet.
The main lead of these mines has been traced for a distance of one mile, on each aide of which parallel veins or feeders are found in a number of places, and from which large quantities of galena have been raised. There can be but little doubt that at the same depth, these mines are equal in lode to the famous Virginia lead, which is second to none, not even excepting the world-renowned Cornwall lead. The principal reason of work being abandoned on these mines was, that the agent sent from New York to superintend the work of operating them, possessed neither the skill nor the honesty essential to his trust. After uselessly spending $35,000 of his employer’s means he was dismissed and the work ceased, with the reputation of the mines damaged.
A very promising mine belonging to C. S. Jeffries, yet only partly developed, is located in fractional section 35, township 42, range 1 east. It was discovered in 1840. The lode runs north and south, parallel with the Mt. Hope mine, from which it is about a mile and a half east. Mineral has been raised from this lode for a distance of two or three hundred yards. None of the shafts have been put down below thirty feet, at which the water has been the chief obstacle to the miner.
They have been leased out from time to time, to any and everybody who chose to prospect for mineral; generally to parties who would dig and raise what they could conveniently with little expense, sell out their mineral, and try other mines. Were it not for the water, the shafts already sunk would pay for their operation. From the bestInformation at hand, over one hundred thousand pounds have been raised by the small amount of work which has already been done. The lode has been traced south for a distance of a mile or more, to a point where it crops out at the foot of a ridge. There is little doubt that if this lead were fully developed it would prove as rich as the other vertical veins in other parts of the county. The proprietor now has arrangements perfected looking to the work of more fully developing their true character.
Another very fine prospect is found on the farms of Dr. Powers and that of the Martin estate, about a mile and a half south of Labadie station, a hamlet on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The writer traced the lead a distance of at least half a mile. It has all the appearances of a vertical vein, and the mineral crops out in some places to the earth’s surface. Several shafts have been sunk, but none more than twelve or fourteen feet in depth. About seventy-five thousand pounds of fine galena has been raised by the slight work done. We noticed also one, and saw indications of other lateral veins or feeders, and, from all the phenomena above ground, this will in time prove to be one of the richest veins of the country.
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