Papinville History: Missionaries Journey Down the Ohio River

In today’s news we continue with third week of featuring Papinville and Harmony Missions history. The Papinville Historical Association will be hosting “Harmony Mission Day” at Papinville on June 12th. This is the 200th year since Harmony Mission was established.  They are celebrating this year by having a tour to the location where Harmony Mission was established by the missionaries. The mission was built about one mile northwest of Papinville on the Marais des Cygnes River.

This week they reflect on the “ MISSIONARIES JOURNEY DOWN THE OHIO RIVER” The following is from a diary.  

They had been embarked in Pittsburg after a 17 day trip by wagon. For a week they were busy loading the keel boats with supplies they had received from the people on the journey to Pittsburg. The people were very happy about the missionaries adventures to set up a mission in Missouri for the Osage.  They were given many supplies and money donations along their wagon journey.

The trip down the Ohio River was eventful. They were leaving friends and family homes in the most enlightened section of America to carry that enlightenment into what was, to them, a new and strange world. They enjoyed to the fullest the new scenery and nature’s wonders enroute. At every stop they were greeted warmly by  new friends who  gave  them cheer and praise as well as  contributions  and material welfare .

 The highlights of the trip  are taken from the journal kept by Revs. Dodge and Pixley )  Printed in the book “The First Protestant Osage Mission” Wm. W. Graves

April 16,1821 at Marietta, on the Ohio River, the people gave them a 800 lb. slaughtered oxen, sheep, quantity of cheese, a barrel of seed wheat, a small sum of money and variety of other articles.

The diary stated that on April 24th,  one  of brother Dodges little boys fell overboard. No one saw him fall into the river or knew he was in the river. Brother Austin, while passing from one boat to the other, saw a head sinking in the water and saved the boy.

On April 28 They arrived in Louisville, Ky. Received donations and various articles. Chillicothe, KY received  11 barrels of flour, some cloth, clothing and other articles. From Harrodsburg 3 barrels of flour, bacon and clothing.

April 29 was the Sabbath Day A public worship service was held. 20 to 30 inhabits united with them in the service.

On May 3 Mrs. Betsy Newton became the mother of a baby girl. John W. Patterson fell overboard. He was unable to swim and he drown. They had  another unexpected trial. Betsy Newton is very sick and the situation is quite alarming.

May 4  The Newton baby died this morning. The baby was buried in Mount Vernon, In.

May 6 Betsy Newman was buried and a funeral service was delivered by Brother Pixley.

May 9  They reached the Mississippi River


The journey up the Mississippi River was a little harder and dangerous. There were big drift piles floating down the river, the current and going into the wind would push them back. When the wind was unfavorable for their sails the boats had to be pushed with poles or be pulled by ropes from the shore.

May 9   The mosquitoes are terrible. This plaque of the flies is new and trying to most of them. They were only able to go 6 miles up-stream. It was very hard work to accomplish because of the wind.

May 10   They were only able to go 7 Miles today because of the current. Two of the men fell overboard today and one of them had a near escape.

May 11  Both boats were grounded on a sand bar. Were only able to make 10 miles

May  17  Made little progress today because of the wind.
they traveled about 9 miles. Brother Seeley fell overboard today and narrowly escaped.

May 24  The river which rose considerably last night looks good this morning. In the course of the afternoon the boats were repeatedly struck by floating logs and whirling around into the current. With this day of difficulty they were able to make 6 miles.

May 29   Having a favorable wind today, they proceeded about 15 miles. After the wind left, Brother Pixley, having his pole placed up on a rock under the water and pushing with all his strength, his pole slipped and he plunged head first into the water.

June 1  This morning, although the boats were fastened in a safe place, a tremendous raft of trees came down the river driving into our boats. The wind as well as the flood is very strong. Found it impossible to go forward.  Brothers Dodge and Pixley took the opportunity to walk to St Louis, about 12 miles, to make arrangements so that the families might not be detained there and get them to St Louis.

June 2   Pixley and Dodge met with Governor Clark and presented him with the government papers they had brought with them about the mission. Governor Clark was very favorable toward the mission and was willing to afford any assistance in his power.

June 5  They arrived at St. Louis with the boats about noon.  The families were invited on shore and were entertain by Christian friends.

Next week the Papinville, Harmony Mission story will be about the journey on the Missouri and Osage River, landing at Halleys Bluff, meeting with the Osage tribe.

The Papinville  tour to Harmony Mission will be on June 12. If you want to do the tour you need to call 417- 395-2594 or 417- 395-4288 and reserve a place on one of the tours. The tours are scheduled for 10:00, 1:00 and 3:00. If no answer leave a message with name and number and we will call back.  If you are interested in known where Bates County was established you need to go on the tour to learn the history.  It is the 200th celebration of this mission. Tour will start at the Papinville Museum.  Come and enjoy the journey.