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History Early Settlers in Douglas County

Early Settlers in Douglas County

country roadIntroduction

These documents are accounts of the life of early settlers in Douglas County. In 1938, a writer paid by the U.S. Work Projects Administration asked 17 residents of Douglas County, some of them children of early settlers, for their memories of the early days. They were reprinted in the Douglas County Genealogical and Historical Society Journal, December 1984 and December 1985. Our thanks to the Douglas County Museum for making these documents available to us.

The Documents

Settler Origins
How the first settler, Owen Bell, encounters hostile Native Americans, then settles on Bryant Creek; names of other early settlers.

Defense and Housing
Life lived in fear of Native Americans; the lure of California gold; raising simple houses built for defense; what houses were like.

Early Furnishings, Cooking, & Daily Life
Bedding; dyes; lamps & candles; mops, chairs, one-post beds, chests, designs; tools; cooking utensils; foodstuffs; soap making; hominy grits; water mills; water supplies; large families.

Sports and Recreation
4-day dances, popular tunes, and other kinds of rough and ready fun - horse racing, fights, & shooting matches.

Law and Lawlessness
Stories of mean & violent people; how one family ran Douglas County; how law-abiding people finally prevailed.

Church, Trading, Etc.
Roughnecks make fun of preachers; how one "preacher" turned the tables; Trading, Clothing, Courting, Roads, Justice, Post Offices

Place Names
How post offices and streams got their names; early trading with Rolla and Springfield.

Except for corrections to obvious typographical errors, the text is as found in the Douglas County Genealogical and Historical Society Journal for December 1984 and December 1986. The text is from "First White Settlers," in the Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, U.S. Work Projects Administration, 1935-42, Missouri Historical Records Survey-Douglas County.

J. E. Curry, in his history of Douglas County, comments on this material: "The information presented in these interviews has not been analyzed and verified. In fact, there are several cases where the information does not bear up against documented facts. However, these candid local interviews often do give us another slant on Douglas County history." *

More on Early Settlers

Vist with a Pioneer Family

Pioneer Hog Butchering

Pioneer Log Building

Tom Brown

The 1800s: Early Travelers

Spinning & Weaving

Sources: The use of this material is courtesy of the Douglas County Historical Society and Museum.
* J. E. Curry, A Reminiscent History of Douglas County, 1857-1957, Page 17, Douglas County Herald, Ava, Missouri.