Monday, March 13, 2017

{Originally published in the St. Charles Heritage (Vol 5. No 3.), July 1987}
                                                                      by Robert C. Schultz

The story of Femme Osage is really two stories. One of them concerns Daniel Boone, early settlements and the lower river valley. The other is about the small German settlement, its people and its church near the source of the creek.

The Femme Osage valley appears early in Missouri history. The name in French means "Osage Woman" and was given by early explorers who saw an Indian woman near the creek mouth. Daniel Boone arrived in the area from Kentucky late in the eighteenth century. He was invited to settle in the area, was given a large land grant and was made the "Syndic" for the area, the equivalent of a justice of the peace, by the Spaniards who still ruled the territory. They hoped that his presence would attract settlers from the east into the unpopulated area. Boone lost the large land grants he received when he failed to build on the land and get the necessary signatures on the grant documents. Daniel Boone died in the Femme Osage valley at the home of his son Nathan less than a year before Missouri statehood.

A small settled area grew near the mouth of the creek, populated mostly by Farmers from Kentucky and Tennessee, attracted by the good bottom land both on the Missouri and the Femme Osage. A mail route was established from St. Charles west along the Missouri to Franklin in Howard County (Boonslick Country) in l6l6. A post office was established near the mouth of the creek. It went by several names. In the post office records, it was called Femme Osage, while in the newspaper advertising for post routes, the office was called Missouri Crossing. At the same time, Daniel Morgan Boone advertised formation of a new town in the Missouri Gazette for February 20, 1818. It was to be called "Missouri."





The town of Missouri is situated on the north bank of the Missouri River, about twenty-five miles above St. Charles. It is surrounded by first rate lands which are covered by a heavy growth of valuable timber.

This town is in the heart of the Femme Osage Settlement, and is the most convenient point on the Missouri River for a great proportion of the inhabitants of St. Charles County to export their produce and to land and receive their importations. These and many other natural advantages point out this situation as a spot designed by Nature for the Merchant and Mechanic to follow their occupations and for the farmers to make their sales and purchases. In this town is now building a Horse Saw Mill, which will also carry a carding machine, both of which will soon be in operation. Several mechanicks have commenced and others will soon commence business in this place.

The situation of this town is high and dry and is laid off in squares which are separated by streets 66 feet wide, crossing at right angles, each square is divided into four equal lots of one hundred and thirty two feet square.

One hundred lots are offered for sale which are sold on accomodating terms, particularly to actual settlers.

For terms apply to the subscriber, or to Lindsey Lewis in the town of Missouri. Missouri, February 2nd, 1818."



This proposed town was located on Daniel M. Boone's land grant near today's Matson. However, the town never developed as hoped. Eventually, the town became Missouriton and received a post office. Early postmasters serving the area (before l850) were

Femme Osage/Missouri Crossings:
      John B. Callaway, appointed 1816
John M. Taylor, " 1823
      Thomas Hopkins, appointed 1833
Gordon Wallace, " 1835
Ira E. Tatum, " 1842
Peter H. Pulkerson, " 1845.

The second Femme Osage story begins in 1830 when a group of German immigrants settled in the upper reaches of the Femme Osage valley. Herman Garlichs, a university trained layman, began preaching to the settlers in 1831. Sensing a call to vocation, he returned to Germany for final training and ordination. He then returned tn Femme Osage as minister to his small congregation. He later organized congregations at Cappeln (St.Johns), Holstein (Emmanuel), Washington (St.Peters). Schluersberg (Bethany), St.Charles (Friedens) and one near Warrenton. The first Femme Osage church was a simple log building. In l84l, it was replaced by a stone church. In 1888, the congregation dedicated the church in use today. The stone church was torn down and some of the stone used to build the schoolhouse that stands today across the creek from the church.


The first Evangelical Church at Femme Osage back in 1834
SNUGGLED IN THE SNOW is the Evangelical
Church in the little town of Femme Osage in St.
Charles County

The Femme Osage Church was the first congregation in the "Kirchenverein des Westens"(Synod of the West) of the Evangelical Church. Other Firsts for the church were the publication of "Friedensbote" a church paper in the German language and the establishment of the first American seminary for the denomnation within the boundary of the parish of Emmaus. This seminary later moved to Webster Groves as the Eden Seminary.

The first postmaster was James R.McDearmon. He also ran a school for the area. He was followed by John S. Hyatt as postmaster in 1846 and in 1848 by Calvin H. Davison. In 1850, storekeeper Herman H. Knoppenberg began a 55 year tenure as postmaster. Walter L. Knippenberg became postmaster in l905. John H. Paul took over the job when he bought the Knippenberg store in 1907. The post office was closed on May 31, 1908, a victim of Rural Free Delivery Service from Augusta. The store remained for many more years, operated by Paul and Theodore Nienhuser. At the turn of the century, Femme Osage boasted of not only the general store and post office, but also a shoe shop, a blacksmith and a wagon maker. Today all of these are gone. But the beautiful Femme Osage valley, the Daniel Boone home and the town of Femme Osage and its church remain. lt is well worth the drive to savor the beauty and tranquility.