BATES COUNTY, situated on the westerly boundary of Missouri, and traversed by Osage river and tributaries. Area, 1,160 square miles. Seat of justice, Batesville. Pop. in 1850, 3,669. (Fanning's, 1853)
BATES COUNTY. This county is situated on the western border of the State, and its northern boundary is very near the middle of the State, on a north and south line. The county is bounded on the north by Cass, south by Vernon, and east by Henry and Sullivan, with an area of 1380 square miles. It was named in honor of Frederick Bates, a former Governor of the State. Population in 1850 was 3669; in 1856 it was 5702; and in 1860, 7250.
History.—The territory now embraced within this county was first settled by missionaries sent out by the American Board of Foreign Missions in 1818. They met with a band of the Big and Little Osage Indians, and told them they had come to do no harm, but to teach them many new things that they did not know, and that they wanted a piece of land to establish a school upon, where they would educate the Indian children. Much pleased with the proposition, the Indians soon called a council of their whole nation, numbering some 8500. They met upon the banks of the Marias des Cigne. White-hair, the old chief, made a great speech expressing his gratification that goodhearted pale-faces had come among them; and, assuring them peace and protection, he pointed out a piece of land embracing about ten miles square where they might make them a home. The missionaries told them they did not want so much—that they would be satisfied with much less. The treaty was ratified at St. Louis in 1821, securing to them two sections on the Marias des Cigne. They called the place "Harmony Mission," established a school, and set out 1300 fruit trees, (which, however, the woodman's axe and the prairie fires have reduced to 400.) Great good resulted from the establishment of this mission, and one secret of the peace and tranquillity of the Osages for a number of years may be attributed to the fact that wherever a band of Osages were met -by whites, afterward, one of their number was a mission pupil who could interpret between the whites and the Osages, and thus prevent misunderstanding and collision. The mission was afterward removed into the Osage nation.
The Harmony Mission was projected in the latter part of the year 1820. It was established August 2, 1821. The whole number of souls, including adults and children, was forty—twenty-two adults and eighteen children.
It required, by the mode of conveyance then available, near six months for the missionaries to reach their station, now in Bates County. The school was opened about the beginning of the year 1822. It was continued in operation near fifteen years. Some 400 children and youth were, during that time, received under a course of instruction, and boarded in the mission family.
The largest proportion of the pupils were from the Osage tribe, and made very commendable progress in the rudiments of an English education. Some few became quite advanced. The most of them are now dead. The adults seemed to profit but little from any of the efforts made for their improvement.
At the time the mission was established, twenty-five miles on the western border of the State had not been purchased by the Government. In 1828 this strip of country was treated for, and the Indians removed farther west. In this treaty a reserve of two sections was made for the use of the Mission. This still remains unsold.
The Mission was given up and the missionaries disbanded in 1831.
But few of the first missionaries remain in this part of the country; they are either dead or removed elsewhere. In 1821, when the Mission was first established, the nearest white settlements were in Lafayette County, near Lexington, about eighty-four miles. In 1825 the United States Government established a supply trading-post about two miles below the Mission, where Papinsville now stands, which was kept by a man named Gero. In 1835, the Osages having moved south, the missionary station was abandoned, and the school which had been in a flourishing condition for fifteen years, was broken up. They sold the property to the Government for $8500, which sum is now subject to tbe order of the American Board of Foreign Missions, for the benefit of the Osage Indians. Another section of land has been added by Congress, and the whole transferred to the War Department. The place is now held, we are informed, and governed by "squatter sovereignty."
Physical Features.—Bates County is situated upon the dividing ground between the waters of Grand River on the north, and Marias des Cigne on the south. The prairies are high, rich, and rolling. The only poor land in the county is that upon the high limestone ridges, which are covered with timber. In the northwest part of the county the prairies are large. The bottoms along the larger streams are very well timbered with the different varieties of oak, black walnut, hickory, maple, cottonwood, pecan, sycamore, elm, and mulberry. The Marias des Cigne is the same stream known in Kansas as the Weeping Water, and after it is joined by other tributaries in the next county south it takes the name of Osage River. This is a beautiful stream, and has a natural channel of from three to five feet deep. In spring seasons steamboats run up to Papinsville. During high water the low bottoms on each side of the stream are overflowed. There are several thousand acres of swamp land in the county of a good quality. Limestone and freestone are abundant, and indications of lead and iron ore are said to exist in some localities. Springs are abundant in many portions of the county.
Soil and Productions.—The soil is very fertile, producing a good yield of nearly all kinds of grain products. Corn is the staple product, and is a certain crop. Wheat is but little raised. Nothing produced in the county for market except stock. Sheep have proved the most healthy and profitable kind of stock to deal in, in this county. All the grasses grow well. As to the adaptation of the soil and climate to fruit culture, we need only state that the trees planted by the missionaries in 1820 have never been known to fail in their yield a single year since they commenced bearing. This county is remarkably healthy.
The Osage Valley and Southern Kansas Railroad is being built, and bids fair to be pushed forward rapidly to completion; and as it will be a direct line from Southern Kansas, passing through Bates County, it will be of great advantage to the citizens.
Business Statistics.—There are in the county-seat six lawyers, one newspaper, five physicians, five merchants, four grocers, one druggist, one silversmith, two tinners, two blacksmiths, two wagon-makers, one saddler, one tailor, one shoemaker, two cabinetmakers, twelve carpenters, one saw-mill, (steam,) one cooper, two hotels, three churches, (one each, Baptist, N. S. Presbyterian, and Methodist,) and one public school. The other towns have a fair average of business houses.
Natural Advantages.—Besides what has already been said of the county and its productions, we may add that labor is in good demand, and that this is an excellent location for stock growing. Uncultivated land is worth from $3 to $5 per acre; cultivated, from $5 to $20 per acre.
Churches and Schools.—There are but two church edifices in the county—one Baptist, and one Presbyterian. The school-houses are all used for religious meetings.
There are, in Bates County, twenty-five school townships, forty-five district schools, a majority of which have school-houses, (principally cabins,) 2500 school children, with an annual school fund of $8000.
BUTLER, the county-seat, is located near the Miami Creek, one of the head branches of the Osage, and twelve miles from the Kansas line. The location is elevated, commanding, and the surrounding country beautiful. The hill upon which the town is located occupies an area of about one and a half by two and a half miles, and the site possesses many attractions and natural advantages. Butler was first settled by John E. Morgan in 1851, and now contains about 500 inhabitants, a Christian Church, Odd Fellows and Masonic Lodges, academy, newspaper office, etc.
Papinsville, two miles below old Harmony Mission, has about 200 inhabitants. The road passing through it is a great thoroughfare. The river is bridged at this place, and all the streams on this road, both north and south, are also bridged, which speaks well for the enterprise of the citizens.
Johnstown, fifteen miles from Butler, on the Tipton road, contains 150 population, and was incorporated March 12, 1859.
West Point, 100 population.
Prairie City is a temperance town, three miles from Papinsville on the Oseola road. No spirituous liquors are sold as a beverage. Population 150.
Uniontown changed to Crescent Hill, March 12, 1859. (Parker's Missouri as it is in 1867..., 1867)