top of page

Civil War Room and Information

Cole County

Recap of the First 50 Years:  1820 - 1870

With Rosters of Veterans from the Civil War

Looking briefly through the years Cole County did not officially exist prior to 1820, although there were a handful of people here, including some veterans of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The area that would become Cole County was part of St. Louis County (1812) then Howard County (1815) then Cooper County (1818). When established, Cole included the eastern part of Moniteau County until 1845.

1820.  Our county was born by an act of the Missouri Legislature, at the same time as they established a Commission to decide where to locate the state capitol.

The county is named for Stephen Cole, an Indian fighter in the War of 1812, Justice of the Peace, builder of Cole.s Fort (Boonville), and killed by Indians along the Rio Grande in 1822. First houses built were in City of Jefferson or Marion, the only towns in the county.

Most of the early settlers were Scot or English, Etc., coming from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and Carolina. The Germans came in the 1840's.

1821. Circuit Court of Cole County established in Marion in the home of John Inglish. An early case, March 27, 1821, was the emancipation of the black slave .Joseph., age 30, by his owner, Abraham Collett. Most of this Court.s early cases concerned illegal gambling and selling liquor without a license.

There were four marriages this year in the county.

1822. Seven marriages took place this year. A divorce could be had only by an act of the Legislature, unless your partner was convicted of an   infamous crime. or very extreme cruelty could be proved. The new city for the state seat of government was named .City of Jefferson. on January 11, 1822.

1823. Two hundred lots sold in City of Jefferson on the first Monday in May 1823 for a total of $6,548, with the proceeds to go toward the building of the state capitol. Lots along the riverfront went for as high as $130 each, but the entire south side of High Street between Madison and Monroe Streets sold for a total of only $12.50.

1824. Ramsey, Jones and Lamkin are thought to be the first three families in the City of Jefferson and part of the earliest bunch throughout the county.

1825. City of Jefferson incorporated . Job Goodall has a tavern/grocery store on Madison Street . Gordon, Dunnica and 25 other families make the total population of these thirty-one families, including the three named above in 1824. The whole county included 1,300+ people at this time. Lieutenant William S. Harney, U. S. Army, visited Cole County on his way up the Missouri to engage the Sioux. (As a general in 1861, his actions to keep Missouri out of the WAR were sabotaged by Frank Blair, Captain Lyon and Abraham Lincoln.)

1826. First state capital completed.on Madison Street, where the Governor.s Mansion now stands.

1828. Revolutionary War veteran, Enoch Jobe, applies for a pension in the Circuit Court.

1829. County seat moved from Marion to the City of Jefferson. Circuit Court moved from Marion to the home of John Gordon in Jefferson City.

1830. School tuition in county was $3 to $5 per year, depending on type of course.

1831. Twenty-four tax delinquents in the county for the total of $14.67.

1833. Missouri Legislature approved $25,000 to build a penitentiary (160 convict capacity).Legislature passed act prohibiting Negroes from congregating in hotels or stores, or making noise during religious services. Andrew Jackson is now President (only person to have 2 counties in Missouri named after him). Jackson received a large majority of the votes in Cole County.bids sought for the Governor.s mansion.slave auction at tavern on Madison Street in Jefferson City.Missouri Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the enacting of divorce bills by the state legislature.

1834. Mail service weekly from Boonville and twice weekly from East and South.

1835. Court authorized construction of a road to Versailles.10 acre lots, one mile outside Jefferson City, going for $20.50 per acre or less.ongoing apprehension in Cole County about losing the state government to another town. Boonville at this time was much richer and more populous. Later the culprit would be Sedalia, and later still, other places. In fact this was a serious concern to us clear up through World War I when the new Capitol was dedicated.Jefferson City Jockey Club organized for racing.runaway slaves were in Cole County jail.Cole County no longer considered a .border county. as other counties further out are organized.

1836. Penitentiary completed with Louis Bolton as warden and Bill Eidson the prisoner.

1837. Capitol one completed in 1842 with additions in 1887/88.burned again in 1911.rebuilt in 1917, but not dedicated until 1921 and decorations (20% of total cost) not completed until 1925.

1838. Increasing troubles with Osage Indians in Missouri. but negligible effect in our county.

1839. Cole County loses out to Boone County to get the state university. German immigrants begin a steady influx, in part due to Duden.s book praising our area...Hickory Hill becomes the third community in Cole County.

1840. In Jefferson City, the stage line from the East operated out of Newman.s Hotel, the Southern and Western lines out of the City Hotel. Other hotels/pubs included the National, the White House, and the Rising Sun.Fruit trees sold for 12 1/2 each, population is 9,286.

1841. Twenty-six steamboats operated on the Missouri River between St. Louis and Glasgow.

1842. Fire Company organized in Jefferson City.

1843. Road work began in earnest in Jefferson City.not until later elsewhere in the county.

1845. A considerable number of people were employed in several locations throughout the county in lead mines.Jefferson City Seminary (public school for girls and boys) had 80 students paying annual tuition of $7.50 to $15.00. The University of Missouri also had 80 students (with a President and four professors) paying about $106 annually for tuition, books, room and board. Moniteau County formed, partly from Cole County.

1846. General Sterling Price and A. W. Doniphan were Missouri.s big names in the Mexican War (involving Texas, New Mexico, California, etc.), while in Cole County, Captain Mosby Parsons headed up the Cole County Dragoons, and Captain W. Z. Angney was C.O. of our infantry company. Our county had about 200 men participate, with around 30 killed.

1848. Russellville, Taos, and Look Out (later became Centertown) are the next three towns in the county, making the total now six.

1850. County population is 6,696; down from the 9,286 in 1840 when part of Moniteau County was included.Dueling in Missouri is now against the law.. Mail from St. Louis takes 10 to 12 days..Steam-boating on Missouri River and part way up Osage River is still profitable and will continue so for another 7 or 8 years.

1851. Stringtown (30 years later to be replaced by Lohman) becomes the next Cole County community.

1855. Saint Thomas is added to our county.Pacific Railroad completed form St. Louis to Jefferson City. Thirty-one people killed on the train.s first run to the capital city when the brand new Gasconade River Bridge collapsed.

1856. The next two towns are Osage City and Brazito.

1858. The last two towns are Osage Bluff and Elston (It would be many years after the WAR before we added Henley, Eugene, Wardsville, Etc.). The City of Jefferson now extends East to beyond the cemetery on McCarty Street, South to Dunklin and West to where the water tower will be.


1860. All counties in Missouri are now formed.From west to east, Cole County.s townships consist of Marion, Jefferson and Liberty on the north and Moreau, Clark and Osage across the south. Our towns: along the Missouri River are Marion, Jefferson City, and Osage City; on or close to the Osage River are Taos, Osage Bluff, and St. Thomas; inland from the two rivers are Look Out (Centertown) and Elston on the north, Russellville and Stringtown (Lohman) in the middle, and Brazito and Hickory Hill down south. Train passengers going west could not go beyond Jefferson City. To go further west they would travel up river, to go north or south they would board a stagecoach.

If they stayed in Jefferson City, there were six hotels at this time, several restaurants, drug stores, livery stables, clothing stores, taverns, grocery stores, hardware and general stores, newspaper, banks, doctors, land agents, attorneys, and the state and county governments. There were churches, but no Jewish Temple for several more years. If the visitor was looking for electricity, he would have to wait another 28 years and an additional ten years after that to cross the Missouri River on a bridge. Cole County was primarily agricultural in 1860, but there were factories (exploiting prison labor generally) breweries, coalmines and lead mines. Inmates at the penitentiary now numbered 551.

Claiborne Jackson, who married all three daughters of Dr. John Sappington, is elected Governor and Abraham Lincoln is elected President. Neither Jackson nor Lincoln was favored by the voters of Cole County.


1861. PRE-WAR ATMOSPHERE/ATTITUDES/POLITICS Cole County gave Lincoln less than one vote in ten in the presidential election of 1860, which was more support than he received in Miller, Moniteau, Boone and Callaway counties. In fact, Lincoln carried only Gasconade County and St. Louis in the whole state of Missouri.

Nevertheless, the majority of the folks in our county, and throughout Missouri, wanted Missouri to stay in the Union. This attitude prevailed primarily for business and economic reasons, as was clearly reflected by the vote of the 99 delegates (all Democrats) to the Missouri Convention in March 1861.

While we wanted to stay in the Union, we did not want to physically oppose any state that wanted its independence from the Union. This attitude too was clearly reflected by the electorate in their opposition to Frank Blair.s Republican Party and his German immigrant supporters that were largely in St. Louis.

Again, we wanted to support and stay in the Union, but we did not want to go to war on the issue. Although there were efforts at both extremes to get us to go to war for one side or the other, the majority sentiment in Cole County and in Missouri was to stay neutral, to compromise, to avoid confrontation.

To this end, and after the debacle at Camp Jackson in St. Louis in May of 1861, the Neutrality Agreement between the federal government and the State of Missouri was worked out and signed by both parties. Sterling Price, head of the State Guard, acted for Missouri and General William S. Harney, Commander of all Union troops in Missouri and Department of the West, acted for the Federal government. The gist of the agreement would keep Missouri neutral, hold the Federal troops in place, and disband Sterling Price.s State Guard. So much for good intentions!

Frank Blair opposed this agreement and wanted Missouri to provide troops to the Union army. Frank was a strong supporter of Lincoln and had a brother in Lincoln.s cabinet. He convinced Lincoln to fire General Harney, nullify the Neutrality Agreement, and promote his friend Captain Lyon to Brigadier General. (Special note on General Harney: He would be reinstated.too late for the 27,000 Missourians that lost their lives in the WAR.and resume his very distinguished career until 1874).


JUNE 1861. With the Harney Agreement destroyed, General Sterling Price and Governor Claiborne Jackson tried once again to get an agreement with the federal government. This time the two of them set up a meeting in St. Louis with Frank Blair and the newly promoted General Lyon. The meeting failed, along with Missouri.s objective of neutrality. General Lyon is quoted as saying, .This means war.., and three days later, June 15, 1861, Lyon is in the City of Jefferson with his troops, taking down the Missouri Flag at the capitol and hoisting the USA Flag in its place. The fat was in the fire now.

(Note: At this point the mood in Missouri and Cole County changed significantly for many of the citizens who saw these actions as acts of war perpetrated by the Federal government on a state that was as much a part of the Union as was Illinois or New York).

In a matter of days, the federally imposed state .provisional. government was established in Jefferson City and federal provost marshals were installed throughout the state to enforce martial law that Missouri would remain under until the end of the War. In 1865, martial law would be replaced by the Drake Constitution which would deny rights to a large portion of our citizens until partially repealed in 1870.


JULY 1861. In the next four years, Cole County would provide about 1,800 citizens (approximately two thirds Union and one third for Missouri and/or the Confederacy) to this terrible war. On the Union side, some volunteered, some were conscripts, some served for short periods, some for the duration, most were in the Home Guards, others in the Missouri State Militia, Enrolled Missouri State units and regular USA Army/Navy/Marines. Those in the latter-type outfits most likely fought outside of Missouri. The others stayed here for the most part.

On the other side, most joined the State Guard (many being against secession, but even more against the federal government.s illegal takeover of Missouri in their perception), and some signed up with Confederate units. The State Guard fought under the flag of Missouri, not the Confederate flag, until the spring of 1862, by which time General Price and most of the men transferred to Confederate Outfits. Most served for the duration, and in several states besides Missouri.

Numbers for all of Missouri indicate almost 110,000 and in the Union military and Navy (draftees and volunteers).actually less than 200 of these were in Navy/Marines. About 14,000 of these died during the War. Fighting for Missouri and/or the Confederacy were about 58,000: 35,000 in the State Guard (ultimately the CSA), 20,000 directly to CSA units, and 3,000 partisans (rangers/bushwhackers). Of this 58,000, about 7,000 did not make it through the War.

Missouri.s total deaths in the War of 27,000+ includes 6,000+ civilians.

AUGUST 1861. With General Lyon and the federal government taking de facto control of Missouri, Governor Jackson and some of the last elected members of both houses were also establishing a separate Missouri government as the 12th state in the Confederacy (as of October 1861). Were their actions legal? Were the federally imposed actions establishing the other state government legal? It depended of course on which side won the War. The winners write the history books and their viewpoint dominates.

Battle of Wilson.s Creek/Oak Hills . Lyon killed.

General Grant to Cole County . advising the Union troops to .subsist off the community..

Battle of Lexington

September 1861. General Fremont, USA, to Cole County to organize .Grand Army of the West..In City of Jefferson, setting up Camp Lilly to build force of 50,000 troops commandeering the workshops at the penitentiary, etc.


October, November, December 1861. 24% of the entire Union Army now posted in Missouri.General Fremont fired by President Lincoln (Frank Blair), replaced by General Hunter temporarily, then General Halleck. Battle of Belmont.and Warsaw.and Mount Zion Church.

1862. Both of Missouri.s elected Senators to the USA Senate, Polk and Johnson, are expelled on charges of .disloyalty..

Pea Ridge/Elkhorn Tavern Battle.Cole County men well represented. In addition to Camp Lilly in Jefferson City, Union fortifications were cropping up throughout the town and troops were garrisoned generally in the eastern and southern neighborhoods, while in the western part, along Weir.s Creek and vicinity, accommodations were made for .refugees., mainly German farmers fleeing from .bushwhackers. of Cole and adjoining counties.


1863. Emancipation legal effect anywhere, but strong public relations effect detrimental to CSA.s effort to get recognized in Europe.

Cole County men significantly involved in Battle of Helena, Arkansas in July. and Vicksburg, Mississippi at the same time. Guerilla warfare continues in Cole County; Miller, Osage, Callaway, Boone and Moniteau Counties also.

In September, General Joe Shelby, CSA, and his cavalry came to Cole County.then on to Moniteau, Cooper and counties west. 1864.Most of the fighting involving our men is outside Missouri now (Tennessee, Georgia and elsewhere), with the exception of guerilla activities. General Sterling Price, CSA, with Generals Marmaduke, Shelby and Fagan, make an attempt to get control of Missouri for the Confederacy late in the year, but .Price.s Raid. failed, Marmaduke was captured (in Westport) and Price with his men returns to Arkansas.

As part of Price.s campaign he fought in Cole County, losing about 30 men in skirmishes outside Jefferson City, but actually bypassed the town itself, taking his 9,000 men on to California, Boonville and Westport where they were defeated.

In hindsight, it was probably wise that they did not attack Jefferson City which was certainly prepared for them. General Rosecrans in St. Louis had on site then in Jefferson City, General Pleasanton, Smith, Winslow, Mowers, McNeil, Fisk and Brown with about 17,000 troops.


1865-1870. Absent firm figures at this writing, Cole County probably suffered about 400 casualties in the War with 250 deaths including civilians. More of the deaths resulted from disease than actual combat injuries. The Drake Constitution. replaced the federal government.s martial law in Missouri from 1865 to 1875, although the loyalty oath portion of this constitution was repealed in 1870 (by an 8 to 1 vote). A significant portion of Cole Countians were political outcasts then until 1870, for Confederate veterans and even those who had sympathy for them were not permitted to take the oath. Thus, they could not vote, hold office, etc. Some of these same folks had their lands and homes appropriated with little or no recourse.

At War.s end, there were several hundred thousand dead throughout the country, but only 58% could be identified. This was the impetus for .Dog Tags. that were used from then on. And since most of the dead were buried right there where they were killed, this led to the .national cemetery program. with Cole County selected as one of the sites. In our cemetery we have bodies dug up from the farms and fields of Cole County as well as from battles of Boonville, Centralia, Warrensburg, Sedalia, Brunswick, Glasgow, etc..653 total bodies: 331 known Union, 313 unknown Union, and 9 Confederate.

Lincoln Institute (later University) began with 2 students in 1866, created by Union soldiers of the US 62nd and 67th Colored Infantry. Jesse James, on at least two occasions, contributed funds to help them get started. Cost of living up dramatically in the years following the War-coal and lead mining increased in importance.St. Peter School opened in Jefferson City in 1868 with 30 German and 8 Irish children.

The son of General Sterling Price, Celsus, married Celeste, the daughter of perhaps the wealthiest man in Cole County, Thomas Lawson Price, a Major General in the Union army.

The name of Rooster Cogburn's cat is General Sterling Price.


As a percent of the population, Missouri had more men in the War than any other state.

With total casualties exceeding 50,000, Missouri had 27,000+ killed in the War, including 6,000 civilians.

After Virginia and Tennessee, more battles were fought in Missouri than anywhere else.

Missouri was the only state in the Union put under martial law by the federal government.

Missouri was one of only two states (Kentucky the other) to deny citizenship to Confederate veterans after the War was over.

Missouri was the only state that fought against the federal government under the state flag, and not the Confederate flag.


This is a work in progress. Please mail additions, corrections or just additional information on a veteran to:

Cole County Historical Society-Civil War Room
109 Madison Street
Jefferson City, MO 65109
Attn: Nancy Thompson
Robert E. Heidbreder/February 2005

bottom of page