Missouri Genealogy - Important Dates in Missouri History for the Genealogist!


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Southeast Missouri Genealogy and History

Researching your family history in Missouri is often very challenging. Although this site focuses on Iron County, MO and Reynolds County, MO in Southeast Missouri, we are also providing early Missouri history and information in hopes of making things easier for anyone researching Missouri Genealogy.  Being aware of specific dates and timelines in Missouri history will enable you, the genealogist, to establish guidelines for your genealogy research, saving both time and effort.  

    Missouri Genealogy - Important Dates in Missouri History


It is believed by many historians
that De Soto explored our region while pursuing his dream to find a northern passageway to China back in 1541. After "discovering the Mississippi River", he crossed from Kaskaskia (Illinois) into our region, meeting five different tribes of Native Americans along his trek through what is now Southern Missouri continuing on into Arkansas.  If you are interested in reading more, please see this article:  Missouri Native American History

Missouri is "Discovered" in 1673

It was not until 1673, when Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet (who are most often credited with the discovery of Missouri) sailed down the Mississippi River in canoes along the area that would later become Missouri. The two established that the Mississippi River ran all the way to the sea.


Missouri becomes part of the "Upper Louisiana Territory in 1682

In 1682, Robert de LaSalle claimed the Louisiana Territory for France ("New France" or Louisiana, was named to honor Louis XIV). In addition to present day Missouri, the territory included all or part of present-day Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Idaho. Soon French settlers were establishing trading posts and forts in the new territory. During the early years of French occupation, trade with the Indians was the only major industry.

Missouri becomes part of the "Upper Louisiana Territory" in 1682
Louisiana Territory 1800-1804

Immigration and settlement begins in considerable numbers in 1720

As early as 1720, immigrants were settling in the region of "Upper Louisiana" in considerable numbers, both by way of the Great Lakes and the mouth of the Mississippi. In the same year, the Frenchman Phillippe François Renault brought the first black slaves (from Haiti) to Missouri to work in lead mining. William Henry Pulsifer, in his book "Notes for a History of Lead", published in 1888, indicated that the French, in search of silver, began lead mining as early as 1723 in Mine La Motte, and in Potosi shortly thereafter.

First white settlers found Ste. Genevieve in 1750

In 1750, the first white settlers founded nearby Ste. Genevieve as the first permanent white settlement in "upper Louisiana" (although there are some reports that Ste. Genevieve was founded as early as 1732-1734). It was a confusing time for these early settlers because in 1762, Spain gained control of the Louisiana Territory in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, but did not "officially assume control of the territory until 1770".

The Louisiana Territory is sold to the United States in 1803

Spain maintained control until 1800 when France was able to briefly regain some of their former possessions in North America from the Spanish. After a 20-day interlude of French control of Louisiana, Napoleon abandoned his dreams of creating a North American empire after his troops were defeated in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti).   The treaty between Spain and France was kept secret and Louisiana remained under Spanish control until a transfer of power to France in 1803.  Almost miraculously, the entire Louisiana territory was sold to the United States for $15,000,000 in May of 1803.

Lewis and Clark set out from St. Louis in 1804

One of Missouri’s nicknames is "Gateway to the West". In 1804 Lewis and Clark set out from St. Louis not only to map this new region, but to also evaluate the potential of westward expansion at the behest of President Thomas Jefferson, an advocate of western expansion. The expedition led all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The California Gold Rush began in 1848 and Missouri once again became the departure point for those heading to California, earning Missouri its first nickname.

Upper Louisiana Territory is renamed the Missouri Territory in 1812

After Louisiana became a state in 1812, the remaining Upper Louisiana Territory was renamed the Missouri Territory and was divided in to five original counties. Our present Iron and Reynolds counties were considered a part of the new county of Ste.Genevieve in the new Missouri Territory.

Missouri is admitted as the 24th state in the Union in 1821

In 1818 the first Missouri Constitution was drafted and in the same year, a request was made for admittance to the Union as a slave state. After a national controversy due to the delicate balance between free and slave states, Missouri was admitted as the 24th state in the Union in 1821.

Missouri becomes embroiled in the Civil War in 1861

The five slave-holding border states—Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, West Virginia and Delaware—belonged to the Union, but their citizens were divided in allegiance. Missouri was a friend to both sides, sending men and supplies to both the Confederate and Union forces, it had a star on both flags and state governments on each side as well.  More Civil War battles or engagements were fought in Missouri than in any other state besides Virginia and Tennessee. In 1861, the year the war started, 45 percent of all battles and all casualties were in Missouri.  More Civil War generals are buried at St. Louis than at Arlington or West Point

Learn much more about the Civil War in Missouri.
Next, information on Iron County Missouri Genealogy

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See footprints of the past left by the early settlers to our region and the beauty
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