Location, Location, Location

By the time the ink was finally dry on the purchase of the Louisiana Territory in 1804, Saint Charles was a boom town.  Its’ location on the Missouri River as the oldest settlement on the north side of the Missouri River and west of the Mississippi River made it prime real estate. Major investors in east recognized the advantage quickly. “The Bryan and Morrison Company in Philadelphia was among the very first to invest in the western trade, influencing the waterfront world of business from Pittsburg to New Orleans to Kaskaskia during the 1790s, then the Missouri River settlements after the Louisiana Purchase[1]

In the late 1700s, Guy Bryan (1754-1829) in Philadelphia, would set up his nephew William Morrison in Kaskaskia to advance the western market. Salt was a necessary commodity for frontier garrisons, Indian trade and farmer’s river trade, and saline ownership and management was their specialty. Morrison, and two of his brothers controlled the market of salt at the “Boone’s Lick” from 1804 until 1834. William would bring his 13-year old brother, Jesse into the business in 1798. In 1803, 36-year old brother James would open a store in St. Charles, on Main Street, where Berthold Park is today. The brothers traded with the Osage Indians and outfitted the expeditions of Lewis and Clark and Lt. Zebulon Pike from this location as well. “On June 18, 1804, James transferred $4,900 in merchandise, such as, coffee, gunpowder, hats, textiles, and whiskey, to Robert Spencer for sales and distribution. A month later, July 12, 1804, James Morrison (1767-1848) addressed White Hair, Son of the Chief of the Osage Nation of Indians at Osage Village, that low water had prevented his delivery of goods and that Pierre Roy would deliver them soon.” Robert Spencer was the Chairman of the Town’s Board of Trustees that would later see that Saint Charles was incorporated in 1809. Pierre Roy had built the round stone tower that served the town during the War of 1812. The Morrison brothers had cemented their relationship with the Osage with James’ marriage to Emilie Saucier, and Jesse with Eleanor Saucier, both sisters to Pierre Chouteau’s wife, and daughters of Portage des Sioux founder Francois Saucier.

” By 1807, James and Jesse paid St. Charles taxes on twelve acres and four houses (likely includes warehouses) and all three Morrison brothers were already plaintiffs in St. Charles district court seeking commercial debts. From St. Louis, U.S. Indian agent, William Clark, dispatched a variety of administrative orders to contractor James Morrison, who implemented them for several tribes. Morrison performed such minor work as delivering flour “to the negro man of General Clark,” and major transactions in sending beef, candles, flour, pork, and salt on a barge to the Osage Indians.”[2] Their operations were a hub of primary importance for the town of Saint Charles’ commerce as the salt manufactured at the lick (near today’s Arrow Rock) was packed and shipped downriver and unloaded at the foot of what would become Clay Street (and today’s First Capitol). James Morrison’s partnership in the salt lick with Daniel Boone’s sons Nathan and Daniel Morgan, would essentially dissolve by 1811, however the attachment of the Boone name would remain forever. However, it was the business acumen of the Morrison family that would mark Saint Charles’ Main Street as the true beginning of the Boone’s Lick Road. As the eastern terminus for the road lay at Morrison’s mercantile, where the salt was sold, the location is definitely one of the most historic sites on Main Street. As the western terminus of the Boone’s Lick Road is the beginning of the Sante Fe Trail the location is just as important to our nation’s history as well. You know what they say “Its all in the location.”

Suggested reading: The website for the Boone’s Lick Road Association maintains a research library with a wealth of resources for the researcher or avid readers of the Boone family. See the Booneslick Historical Society Periodical, Vol. 13, Nos.3&4 – Fall -Winter 2014, Morrow, Lynn; Boone’s Lick in Westward Epansion: James Mackay, the Boones, and the Morrisons found under the link on  the left hand side that is Research Library [https://booneslickroad.org/detail/libraryRecordDetail.php?id=54] on the website https://booneslickroad.org/

[1] Booneslick Historical Society Periodical, Vol. 13, Nos.3&4 – Fall -Winter 2014, Morrow, Lynn; Boone’s Lick in Westward Epansion: James Mackay, the Boones, and the Morrisons

[2] ibid