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Perry, Co Missouri


Perry County, Missouri

Submitted by Helen L. Smith Hoke Poster-#-45-

  • Just a little history of Perry County while I have the books, "The Settlement Patterns Of Perry County, Missouri, 1850-1900, " by Barber and "Church and Slave in Perry County, Missouri, 1818-1865, " by Poole and Slawson.

    Shaped like a camel's hump, Perry Co., MO consists of 471 square miles that fit neatly into a wedge created by the confluence of Apple Creek and the Mississippi River. Topographically, it is divided into lowlands and uplands. The lowlands comprise about 1/8 of the county and lie for the most part along the river. In the Northeast corner is the Bois Brule Bottom, meaning Burnt Wood, the most extensive tract of lowland, approximately 15 miles long and 3 to 5 miles wide. Its rich soil, coupled with its size, makes it the most productive farmland in the county. Smaller in size but still important, are the Brazeau Bottom on the Mississippi River below Cape Cinque Hommes and the bottom situated near the mouth of Apple Creek.

    The Uplands constitutes the largest part of the county and its topography varies greatly. The best parts of it are in the central area where the soil is generally good and the terrain nearly level or gently rolling. Rolling uplands surround this central section and are bounded by the Saline Hills to the West and the Mississippi River Hills and Buffs to the East and northeast.

    In the eighteenth century the Perry County area, like the rest of the future State of Missouri, was part of Louisiana. For most of the century the region was uninhabited, even by the French of nearby St. Genevieve. The later was the first permanent white settlement in the MO area. In 1764, when the terms of the Treaty of Paris were announced in Louisiana, the French settlers found themselves transferred to an alien domination, that of Spain. In general the French were unhappy with the change of rule and the Spanish governance of the territory was an uneasy one, occasionally punctuated by armed rebellion. In the St. Genevieve area, the Spaniards, making a virtue of necessity, tended to let the French govern themselves.

    The first inhabitants of what is now Perry County, were the Shawnee Indians. In the 1780s, they had crossed the Mississippi River from the East and spread throughout southeastern MO. Their largest village, a population of some 400, was located in the southern part of the county, just above Apple Creek, near present day Uniontown. Within a decade of the Indian immigration, Spanish authorities showed an interest in opening the area to colonization by Americans.

    The first white settlers arrived in the region during the latter half of the 1790s and claimed rich land in Bois Brule Bottom. These Americans organized the region's original Baptist Church in 1807. In the early 1800s, a second group of American settlers crossed the Mississippi to take advantage of Spanish land offers. These were Catholics of English stock, from north-central Kentucky. They had originally come from Maryland to escape religious discrimination and prided themselves on being descendants of Lord Baltimore's original colonists. The first of these to settle permanently in the future Perry County was Isidore Moore. He arrived in 1801 and became a patriarch of the area. Others soon followed whose family names predominated the decades: Tucker, Fenwick, Cissell, Hayton, Riney, Hamilton, Layton, Manning, and Ragan. Most of these settled in the uplands around Perryville in a place called the Barrens because of its open land.

New Bourbon: 1796 Census of North America Upper Louisiana

Free Blacks and Mulatto 8
Slaves 109
Whites 256
Total 373

New Bourbon: 1797 Census of North America* America
Creole 16
Delaware Indian 120
Shawnee Indian 70
Total 220

  • County: Perry Co MO
    Organized: Nov. 16, 1820
    Named after: Oliver Perry, naval hero of War of 1812
    County seat: Perryville
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