Pike County Missouri

The first settlers arrived in the early 1800's in the northeast part of the county and established trading with the Fox and Sauk Indians. Preceding the war of 1812, the Indians grew hostile
Early map of Pike County, Missouri including Bowling Green, Louisiana, Clarksville, Frankford, Curryville, Ashburn, Ashley, New Hartford, Eolia, Paynesville, Annada
Early map of Pike County, Missouri including Bowling Green, Louisiana, Clarksville, Frankford, Curryville, Ashburn, Ashley, New Hartford, Eolia, Paynesville, Annada
and the settlers began to build forts for their protection. However, there were massacres and for protection, the settlers fled by land and boat to St. Louis. After the war, the settlers returned and built the towns of Clarksville and Louisiana on the banks of the Mississippi.

Many schools and churches were established in Pike County in the early 1800's. The first Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church west of the Mississippi was organized in 1820 near Bowling Green. St. Johns Episcopal Church built near Eolia in 1854 is the oldest Episcopal Church west of the Mississippi. The church is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. When the county, named for explorer Zebulon Pike, was organized, it included all of Missouri's Upper Salt River country from which have come nine whole counties and parts of six others.

Farming and manufacturing developed.The wharfs along the river were filled with products. Warehouses and factories were built. River commerce grew,bringing wealth to the county. In 1816, James Hart Stark established his nursery business in Louisiana becoming the largest mail-order nursery in the world. The C&A later GM&O railroad was completed through Pike County in 1871. Burlington now B&N somewhat earlier. The St. Louis & Hannibal was completed through Bowling Green in 1876.

Cumberland Presbyterians organized in Pike county. They formed their first presbytery with four ministers. The denomination spread locally with such strength that Cumberland Presbyterianism was called by a historian "The established church of Pike county."

Good natured controversy as to "the first Protestant organization having continuous life west of the Mississippi" arose near the end of the Missouri's century of statehood. H. M. Blossom thought the First Presbyterian church of St. Louis held that record, dating from 1817. Rev. J. E. Dillard, however, called attention to the fact that Fee Fee Baptist church, in St. Louis county, had been in continuous existence since 1807, having been started in that year at what is now known as Pattonville, by Rev. Thomas R. Music, of Virginia.

The Millerites were the followers of the teachings of William Miller who, in 1833, first shared publicly his belief in the coming Second Advent of Jesus Christ in roughly the year 1843,and they had obtained quite a following in Missouri as early as 1844. They predicted the "last day" of the world with confident definiteness. A comet of that year was interpreted as heralding the end of the world. Captain F. M. Posegate told in the St. Joseph News-Press some years ago his recollections, as a boy in Boonville, of the deep impression made upon the people when the last day fixed by the Millerites came:

"One man concluded he would make an effort to forestall the flying chariot in which the elect were to ascend to the presence of the Judge, by using a flying machine, or bird machine as he styled it. He worked faithfully for weeks upon the contrivance and only a few days before the all-absorbing event was expected to materialize hauled it out onto a platform on top of his barn to give it a trial. At the first flop the machine fell to the ground, resulting in a broken neck for the man. To him the end of the world had come, the consolation to his relatives and friends being that he had at least escaped any possible suffering that the flames might inflict. At last the day upon which the prophecy was expected to culminate dawned—clear, soft, beautiful—typical of an oldfashioned Missouri 'Indian summer" day. (We do not seem to have such days now.) 'Old Sol' manifested no desire to hurry matters—the hours dragged slowly—the usual activities of everyday life seemed almost paralyzed, while a nervous uneasiness involving the entire community was apparent. As the sun, seemingly a glowing, flashing ball of fire, sank below the horizon and twilight began to shadow the earth, the suspense became almost unbearable, and it would be idle to say that a feeling of doubt, of uncertainty, of unspeakable awe did not pervade the whole community. The head of the comet soon made its appearance and before its fleecy tail disappeared behind the westernhorizon, the moon, nearly at its full, was shedding its soft, silvery, steady light, rendering all things visible for miles around. Only one hour—sixty short minutes—remained during which the prophecy must materialize, if at all. The main street of the village was thronged with humanity—the heliever, the unbeliever, the doubter and the scoffer. The elect, and there were many of them, arrayed in their ascension robes, stood joyously together all in readiness to be taken up. Suddenly, from out in the direction of Gibson's hill, a spear of light harsher than that emitted by the moon sprang up. As it grew, spread, flared, no mortal pen could have given a fair idea of the silence that prevailed. No mortal artist could have painted the various expressions shown upon the countenances of individuals. Just at the moment when hope, joy, doubt and fear were most strongly depicted a mounted messenger came clattering down Gibson hill. As he passed the Wyan residence, hat in hand, he yelled: 'It is only an old haystack in Gibson's outfield that is burning.' All along the Main street, from the brick house in which Todd and Loomis afterwards taught school to the Powell residence, overlooking the Missouri river, he proclaimed the message. With its close and the exhaustion of the fire from the haystack, the suspense ended; seemingly an audible sigh of relief rose from the souls of the overstrained throng of people who had so feverishly awaited the denouement. In the shortest time possible the streets were deserted and the little city was wrapped in a silence so profound as to be almost startling. It is a satisfaction to me now that I cannot recall a single instance where some thoughtless individual twitted a Millerite with the saying, old at that time, 'I told you so.' Neither do I remember to have heard any Millerite express any regret at the nonfulfillment of the prophecy."

Works Cited

(The first settlers.....Green in 1876) "Pike County Missouri ". 13 May 2010 <http://www.pikecountytourism.com>.

(Cumberland Presbyterians....of the prophecy.) Stevens , Walter Barlow . "Centennial history of Missouri: (the center state) one hundred ..., Volume 1 ". Google Books. 13 May 2010 <http://books.google.com>.