Papinville History: Missionaries Journey up the Missouri and Osage Rivers

When the keelboats were embarked on at St. Louis, Missouri was not a state. At this time the capitol was located at St. Charles, which is where they met with the governor and picked up the women and children.

The following information was taken from the journal kept by Reverends Dodge and Pixley that was printed in the book “The First Protestant Osage Missions: 1820-1837” by Wm. W. Graves.

June 9: Missionaries that stayed back to get the keelboats in the Missouri River left to go to St. Charles which was a 10 mile trip down the Missouri River.

June 10: Attended a public worship near our boats. A number of inhabitants united with us in our worship service.

June 13: At 1 o’clock the mission family assembled at their boats and the Governor of Missouri along with a number of people from St. Charles convened on the bank of the river for the send off. The mission families sang a farewell hymn. They received donations from the Governor and from the people of St. Charles. They proceeded down the Missouri River.

June 19: Found difficulty in passing on some sand bars. Our second boat grounded on one of the sand bars and delayed us 3 hours.

June 20: Moved down the river very favorably and gained 14 miles.

June 25: We moved slowly at the mouth of the Gasconade River. In an attempt to cross the mouth of the Gasconade, the second boat just gained to the other side, but the first boat was taken by the current and carried nearly a mile before we could make shore.

June 30: This day we moved about 14 miles up the Osage River. We found that this was a beautiful stream.

July 2: This morning one of our hard hands went out and in a short time came back with a deer for our dinner. Two of the hard hands left us to return home.

July 4: Passed a cave where there were several men employed making saltpeter. The crystals are taken off of the cave walls and used for nitrogen, which was used in fertilizer, gunpowder, and fireworks.

July 14: The water rose during the night about 3 feet. It has come in the season to help us on the Grand Rapids. We are very glad that our families at this time are healthy and feeling good.

August 2: Passed the Little Osage River. We opened our eyes on a beautiful prairie. Came to the Chaiteau establishment where we found a number of families of Osage Indians. We had an interview with them and made known the object of our visit. They gathered around us a in a friendly manner, and they were brightened with gladness at our arrival. Most of the chiefs and warriors were out on a hunt. They especially showed the children lots of love and even gave them gifts of nuts and other things available on the land. Eight of the hands left to return to St. Louis. We are very appreciative for all the hard work they had done to help us reach our destination. It looks like the Osage are going to be very receptive to us and were filled with high hopes in helping us in living in this unknown wilderness. We moved on a little above Chaiteau to settle for the night.

The Harmony Mission Tour has been set for Saturday, June 12th to celebrate the 200th year since Harmony Mission was established. Tour participants are to meet at the Papinville Museum 30 minutes before their tour time, which are scheduled for 10AM, 1PM, and 3PM. While at the Papinville Museum, tourists will get their tickets and view the dioramas of the Osage Village and Harmony Mission before they wagon ride to the location of the mission, learn about the mission and where the buildings were located, eat lunch on the mission area, and return to the Papinville Museum for dessert and to hear the story about Sophia (Melicourt Papin’s wife) who was Osage presented by Beverly Sullins. Prices for the tour are as follows: adults are $12 and children (ages 12 and under) are $6.

To make reservations, please call 417-395-2594 or 417-395-4288. Please leave a message if there is no answer, and your call will be returned. If you want to know where Bates County was established, come join and enjoy the journey on the Harmony Mission Tour.

Next week’s story will be on the journey from the Osage, up the Marais des Cygnes River to Papinville and then to location of the mission. Hope to see you on our journey to Papinville to Harmony location.

Story Submitted by Phyllis Stewart