History of Harmony Mission, Part 1

              In the 92.1 Local News broadcasts we will feature the History of Harmony Mission. This year is the 200th birthday of the founding and completion of the buildings, the people of the mission, the closing of the mission and the establishment of Bates County.

The information has been written by Phyliss Stewart and shared with the public, through the broadcast on 92.1 and on the website at www.921news.com.

 Join us every Friday through October 1st as we share with you the history of Harmony Mission in Papinville.

The Papinville Board of Directors has made the decision to not hold a Papinville Picnic, activities or a 2021 celebration due to the increase of Covid-19 cases in the Bates County Area. 


The stories for the next few weeks will be on the completion of the buildings at Harmony Mission, people of the mission, closing of the mission and establishment of Bates County.

The journey from New York to Harmony Mission took four months. Missouri was not a state and it was still a territory governed by William Clark in St Louis. Clark had applied for statehood nearly two years earlier, but action in Washington was stalled over the slavery issue and the Missouri Compromise. Finally on Aug. 10, 1821, a week after the missionaries had arrived at Colin’s Ford on the Osage River, President Monroe signed the papers making Missouri a state of the Union.

In meeting with the Osage, to see where they could develop and build the mission, the Osage had about fifteen hundred acres they could look at to find a location. They found a perfect location about a half mile north of where Papinville is located on the Marais Des Cygnes River.  The area where the mission was built the Osage regarded this land as the heart of their homeland.

When they reached the mission site the building process started. Men had been cutting down trees and in October the storehouse was the first building and a cabin being built for the foreman of the mission was being built.  Many of the people were getting sick and progress was slow. Some travelers, on their way to St. Louis from Arkansas, stopped by briefly to help with cabin construction. At this time the people where living in tents and the weather was getting cold. The storehouse was 20 x 24 feet. This was a much needed building for the use of storing supplies out of the weather and keeping the thieves from getting their supplies. The building was close to the river.

The cabins were 16x16feet and there were 10 cabins built except for the foremans cabin which was 18×18 feet.) They faced the east and was built by the river. Each had a shed that was 5 feet square beside the cabin. The roof was with clapboards (boards from logs with a smoothed face) with one small window without glass. Beds were pole frame inserted into a hole in the logs and clapboards laid on the frames and then covered with prairie hay and blankets. The first cabin was finished in October and the last was finished in January of 1822.

A kitchen and dining hall was a much needed building.  It measured 24×28 feet and it was finished in February. It was such a big improvement from cooking outdoors or in their tents. A small school was built April 1822. There were eighteen children attending, mostly missionary children. As the Osage started bringing their children to the school they built a two story building and it was in use by March 1823. By 1824 there were fifty five students in attendents with thirty six being children from other tribes in the area along with the Osage children. The size of the building was 24×36 feet and was also used for their worship services and meetings. The first service and communion was held in March 1823 with a few of the Indians attending. The church was organized on the Presbyterian platform.

Next week the story will continue about the establishment of the mission and the teaching of the children.  It was a lot different two hundred years ago than what it is today.  You will get the rest of the story next week.

Information was taken from the book “The First Protestant Osage Missions” by William W Graves