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Outline Map of St. Charles County

Pond Fort on the Boone’s Lick Road

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Alongside Missouri State Highway N in St. Charles County is a red granite marker that was placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1913 to mark the 1800 site of Pond Fort on the Boone’s Lick road. This marker is about to be removed from this site by the Missouri Department of Transportation because of highway development. The marker is at 8780 Hwy N across from the entrance to the Manors of Glenbrook subdivision. You can locate this marker in Google Maps by putting N 38° 45.601 W 090° 48.818 in the search bar.One should be careful not to impose modern day judgment upon this history. It cannot be forgotten or changed, but hopefully we can learn from it. This is shared for educational purposes and greater understanding of this period of history.

In 1799, the Boone family resettled on Spanish Land Grants at the invitation of the Spanish government, who wanted to overtake the massive amount of Native American nations that had been pushed westward. Spain, who had signed treaties with the French back in 1769, had just signed treaties again. This was all land west of the great Mississippi, where foreign nations traded land, regardless of who lived and hunted here. With President Thomas Jefferson’s great desire to keep the great rivers open, his emissaries approached France, the current owners. And suddenly, the Boone family would once again find themselves citizens of the United States. And they would play a large role in the settling of the new Louisiana Territory.

When Jefferson sent Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark west to explore the new territory, it was with gifts and an introduction to the “Great White Father” in Washington, D.C. Trailblazer Daniel Boone’s sons Daniel Morgan and Nathan would share vantage points for the military to establish itself in the rapidly growing territory. Hundreds of settlers, many of which were relatives and friends of the Boone family had joined them, spreading out from the confluence of the two great rivers to the “Far west” of the American frontier. This western edge of what was then St. Charles Territory became known as the “Booneslick” because of the large successful salt lick, that was partly owned by the Boone sons, Daniel Morgan and Nathan.  In partnership with the Morrison family, Bryan and Morrison was shipping its’ much-needed product back to the village of San Carlos, or Saint Charles. There on its main street, known as the Rue Grande Royal, salt was sold and bartered.

All of this land would be the same land that the Sioux, Fox, Pottawatomie, and Osage had hunted and lived upon for centuries. In the previous century, this land had also seen the many Native American nations that had once called Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky home, pushed from those homes, to be resettled westward. As tensions rose, following the purchase of the Louisiana Territory completed in 1804, many settlers saw this land as nothing more than United States territory. Many of those living here, like the Boones, Baldridge, Hoffmann, Zumwalt, and Howells, knew this to be the home of many natives, some of whom they already knew.  In the east, Congress saw the British ambition to incite these people against the new arrivals, as an attempt to regain what had been lost in the Revolutionary War. But here, in the Missouri Territory, it was simply the Indian War.

Daniel Boone escorting settlers through the Cumberland Gap by George Caleb Bingham Public Domain

“The village of St. Charles and the Booneslick Road began at the same point, where Blanchette Creek runs into the Missouri. Two water-mills on that creek, one prior to 1789, another prior to 1796, and possibly as early as 1790, and a horse-mill in the vicinity before 1792, necessitated a road from the Upper Commons to the mills by way of the creek. A goodly settlement around the site of present day Cottleville in 1800 and 1801, and establishment of mill on the Dardenne by 1803, probably as early as 1801, widened the trail to a trace from the Upper Commons to the Dardenne. At any rate, by May 31, 1805, in a deed transferring land from Antoine Mareschal and wife to Edward Hempstead, it was enough of a road to be designated the Highway leading to Dardenne (St. Charles County, Record of Deeds,  Book A. p. 57) And settlers west of the first crossing of that stream – several in 1799 and 1800, and many before 1803 – had a well defined road as far as the site of Pond Fort by the last mentioned date.” (Gregg, “The Booneslick Road in St. Charles County,” Missouri Historical Rev. XXVII (July 1933)

Along the highest ridge of land, was an early overland route established by the Osage, from the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers confluence to their villages. This high ground allowed the traveler to avoid all of the watersheds, tributaries, and streams, except one small stream where the Cottle, Coonz [Kunze], and Pitman families had established themselves. This route was a “light horse trace” marked by three axe marks where the trees had been felled allowing travel by horseback. Bryan and Morrison would take their supplies and their enslaved workers up to the salt lick via this route. Nathan Boone would later take this same route to lead the military known as the dragoons to establish the military outpost known as Fort Osage. All of this would just lead to increasing tensions, and war.

Early Settlers

On April 12, 1809, the Missouri Gazette, a newspaper published in St., Louis, Missouri stated “Lewis ordered all volunteer companies of cavalry, riflemen, and infantry in Upper Louisiana to hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment’s warning, and appointed a committee—Colonel Timothy Kibby, Major Daniel Morgan Boone, and James Morrison – to superintend the building of blockhouses from the Mississippi to the Missouri.”

Gregg, “The Booneslick Road in St. Charles County,” Missouri Historical Rev. XXVII (July 1933)

Robert Baldridge (1737-1822) was one of the thousands of Scotch Irish Presbyterians who would emigrate from Ireland, and settle in Kentucky, which had been formed out of Virginia in 1792. One of the first settlers of what was to become St. Charles County, he’d married Hannah Beverly Fruit in Kentucky, and together they had James, Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Catherine, Malachi, Alexander, Grace, Nancy and Robert Junior. Their children would intermarry with several other of the earliest families; the Hoffmann, Zumwalt, Howell, Price, Scott, and Ryebolt families, among others.

Robert’s son Malachi and two of his companions, Price and Lewis, were killed while hunting on Loutre Prairie (today’s Montgomery County). Shortly after this event, Robert’s son Daniel, who wanted to avenge his brother’s death, tracked the party of Native Americans to their camp at night and attempted to shoot their Chief as he sat by the campfire. Daniel then concealed himself in the tall grass and watched while they searched for him; however, they failed to find him. Robert’s sons Robert Junior and John both served as rangers in Callaway’s company, during the War of 1812. The Baldridge family had established what was called Pond Fort, one in a series of private forts that formed a line of defense against the Native Americans by the settlers. The fort was built in the form of a hollow square and named for a pond, two hundred yards away.

In 1868 Historian Lyman Draper was talking with Major John Gibson who described the Ranger activities as follows: In 1811 Nathan Boone raised a Company of Rangers for 12 months we went into Building forts in Different places over the country to keep the Indians from murdering our helpless women and children. We built Fort Howard, 17 miles from St. Charles; then we Built Capogri; then we built Buffalo, then Fort Mason; then we built fort Madison 24 miles above the mouth of Desmoines [sic] river; then we built prarai Deshain [sic] and Built forts over the country. We built Stouts Fort; we built one at Troy, then crossed over on the Missouri River to Bellefountain Below St. Charles; then fortified at St. Charles; then came to Pinkney; then we built a fort at Charette Village; then came to Louter Island and built Fort Clemson: then up to Cote San Dessein, built a fort there; then thence to Boon’s Lick, and Built Coopers fort; then to the Council Bluffs; then we Returned back to St. Charles commenced building forts out in the country from the Missouri River we built Pond fort; then we built Kennedy’s fort on Peruke [sic] Creek; we finished all those garrisons in the year 1812 and had our women and children out of danger of the wild Savages.

Dan Rothwell’s book on the Boone’s Lick Road shares “Malachi Baldridge (Robert’s son) settled on Survey #931. It was upon this land that the Rangers built Pond Fort. Malachi was one of the leading Indian fighters in the area. He was killed and scalped by Indians in 1806, while on a bear hunt in Callaway County. After Malachi’s death, his estate came into his father’s hands. This is the reason why some historical accounts have Pond Fort erroneously placed on the concession of the elder Baldridge. Pond Fort was one of about eight forts built in St. Charles County and on the edge of Warren County during the 1800 -1812 period. The fort was built in the shape of a hollow square and named for the pond about 200 yards away. A single-family lived inside the fort, but it was available for all living in the area if needed.”

Years later author Hal Jackson “William Clark wrote of the pond here as he traveled west in 1808 “Encamped at a Pond at the out Skirts of the Settlement in a butifull Plain, near a few low trees” …” According to Captain John R. Bell, the official journalist for the Stephen Long expedition, he and Long visited the Fort in 1820. Bell wrote that the fort was “constructed of logs and a square, whose sides are about 200 feet, having block houses at each of the angels, in the interior, and joining to the sides are erected cabins for accommodations of families, whey the resort to the fort for safety.” He went on to commend Mr. Baily, who resided here and kept “excellent entertainment for travelers.” Bell also noted that three notches on the trees marked the way through the woods here. Hence, it was called the “Three notched road.”

Suggested Reading:

Gregg, “The Booneslick Road in St. Charles County,” Missouri Historical Rev. XXVII (July 1933)

Bell, The Journal of Captain John R. Bell: Official Journalist for the Stephen H Long Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, 64

Bryan, William S. and Robert Rose. A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri

Sapp, David P.; Mapping the Boone’s Lick Road, October 2018 Columbia, Missouri

Jackson, Hal; Boone’s Lick Road, 2012, [ISBN 978-0-9859098-0-2]

Rothwell, Dan A, Along the Boone’s Lick Road, 1999 [ISBN 0-9673187-0-X]

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