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Cole County, Missouri

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  • Nancy Miller (1788 - aft.1852)
    The most concrete details of Nancy's life come from the 1850 Census in Dekalb, Missouri, when she was living with her daughter Margaret Jane : Her name is Nancy Miller, age 62. She was born in 1788 in ...
  • Hannah Kenny (c.1806 - bef.1860)
    Reference: FamilySearch Genealogy - SmartCopy : Sep 21 2020, 17:21:55 UTC
  • Nancy Leeper Miller (1801 - 1863)
  • John L Fulkerson (1814 - d.)
    When John Fulkerson was born on 14 June 1814, in Campbell, Tennessee, United States, his father, James Fulkerson, was 46 and his mother, Elizabeth McMillan, was 41. He married Barsheba Russell in 1840,...
  • James A. Fulkerson (1768 - 1847)
    Born in Colonial America before the civil war, James Fulkerson spent his early life in Virginia, where he and his wife raised a small army -- nine children in 22 years. The family seems to have felt th...

Cole county is located in the central part of the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2020 census, its population was 77,279. Its county seat and largest city is Jefferson City, the state capital. The county was organized November 16, 1820 and named after pioneer William Temple Cole who built Cole's Fort in Boonville.

Adjacent counties

Early pioneers: "The Tennessee Colony"

When did the first settlers arrive to this area? Several sources offer slight variations on the same story:

  • 1815: "In 1815 a group of Tennesseans with their families located in Missouri Territory near the present site of Sandy Hook ... the following year, 1816, saw the beginning of what was called the Kentucky Settlement." -- A history of Moniteau County, Missouri, 1936, page 4
  • 1815-1816: The first permanent settlement in the territory comprising the counties of Cole, Miller, and Moniteau was in 1815-1816, near the mouth of the Moniteau Creek, by settlers from Campbell county, Tennessee. -- The Goodspeed History of Missouri, page 212, published 1889
  • Spring, 1817: "Because John Harmon's Bible has been preserved, and it shows that a son, Lindsay Harmon was born in Tennessee on Oct. 23, 1816 and the next child a girl, Keziah Harmon, born April 4, 1818 in Missouri, I think most likely the arrival of what has been called the Tennessee Colony from Campbell County, Tenn. was the spring of 1817. From Article in Moniteau County Historical Society by Roger Lee Miller dated Nov/Dec. 1992: (copied from a John Inglish profile on MyHeritage.)
  • 1818: "The first immigration of permanent settlers to this county was in 1818 from Campbell county, East Tennessee. They settled on the Moniteau creek, west of what is now the town of Marion." -- The State Journal, Jefferson City, Missouri, Fri., July 7, 1876

So who's right? When did the first settlers really arrive?

  • Spring, 1817: Several key documents from the lives of these early pioneers reveal that Goodspeed set the date too early. John Harmon's Bible shows that a son was born in Tennessee on Oct. 23, 1816 and the next child born April 4, 1818 in Missouri. Tennessee court records peg James Miller to Campbell County on June 3, 1816. John Mulkey sold his land in Tennessee on Oct. 19, 1816, according to Rutherford county deed books. The trip would have taken weeks, and arriving in November -- without provisions and facing the prospect of winter -- feels unlikely.

Who were the first settlers of Cole county?

  • '"Among the members of the Moniteau party were John Inglish and his four sons (1, 2, 3, 4), Henry McKinney and three sons (1, 2, 3), James Miller and five sons (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), James Fulkerson and three sons (1, 2, 3), David Young and three sons (1, 2, 3), John Mulkey and two sons (1, 2), David Chambers and three sons (1, 2, 3), William Gooch and four sons (1, 2, 3, 4), Martin Gooch and two sons (1, 2), John Harmon and one son (1), and Joshua Chambers and two sons (1, 2), John Inglish, who built the first brick house in the county, located just west of the mouth of the Moniteau, and Henry McKenney, on the opposite side."
  • "In 1819 there came to this locality James Hunter, the first colonel of Cole County Militia; John Hensley, the first tavern-keeper and first senator of Cole County, and his two sons, who settled two miles north of Elston; John Colgan, Dr. John Brown and Andrew Reed, who settled on the south bank of the Missouri, nine miles west of Jeffesron City. In May of that year the steamboat Independence steamed up the river, and soon after came the United States surveyors." -- The Goodspeed History of Missouri, published 1889

Women were pioneers too! How many souls were part of that first wagon train in total?

  • John and Mary Ann Inglish (2) + 4 sons + 1 daughter = 7
  • Henry and Mary McKinney (2) + 3 sons + 6 daughters = 11
  • James and Elizabeth Miller (2) + 5 sons + 5 daughters = 12
  • James and Elizabeth Fulkerson (2) + 3 sons + 3 daughters = 8
  • David and Barbara Yount (2) + 3 sons = 5
  • John and Polly Mulkey (2) + 2 sons + 4 daughters = 8
  • David and Rebecca Chambers (2) + 2 sons = 4
  • Joshua and Elizabeth Chambers (2) + 2 sons = 4
  • William and Millie Gooch (2) + 4 sons + 3 daughters = 9
  • Martin and Elizabeth Gooch (2) + 2 sons + 1 daughter = 5
  • John and Mary Harmon (2) + 2 sons = 4
  • Total = 77

What brought these early settlers to Cole County?

  • In the southern US, the Creek Indian War (1813-1814) was a war within the War of 1812. The Creeks (also known as the Red Sticks), led by Chief Menawa, were supported by the British and Spain. In early 1814, about 1,000 Creeks established camp on the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River in what would become east-central Alabama. On 10 January 1814, in Jacksboro, the seat of Campbell County, Tennessee, Captain John Inglish enlisted volunteers into the 2nd Regiment of East Tennessee Militia, under the command of Colonel Samuel Bunch. Among the men that joined that day were 1st Lieutenant James English, Corporal William Fulkerson, Martin Gouge, and Private James McKinney. Captain English marched his men to Knoxville, Tennessee, where they remained about two weeks as other units joined them. From Knoxville, they marched to Camp Ross on Lookout Mountain, near the present-day site of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • Perhaps on cold nights during the war, Captain John English and his comrades from Campbell County sat about the fire talking about what they would do after the war. Perhaps one of their dreams was to pack up and move 600 miles to the western frontier of the United States, to a spot near the mouth of Lewis and Clark's Little Moniteau Creek -- because that's precisely what they did.

What do we know about the journey between Tennessee and Missouri?

  • The trip is about 600 miles, and must have taken several weeks

And what about the men? Were there any errors in the Goodspeed records?

What do we know about these early settlers? (Notes indicate discrepancies from Goodspeed)

Henry McKinney

Early American records are often maddeningly hard to come by. So it's difficult to say conclusively where Henry McKinney was born, fell in love, got married, and so on. Turn of the century tax records from Anderson county support the family's presence in Tennessee, and military records prove his son enlisted in the War of 1812 from Jacksboro in Campbell county.

James Miller

Born in Colonial Virginia, James Miller was the father of a great progeny and one of the earliest settlers of Missouri. After marrying Elizabeth Kincaid around 1783 the couple gave birth to 10 children in Virginia before moving West to Tennessee and, ultimately, Missouri.

James Fulkerson

Born in Colonial America before the civil war, James Fulkerson spent his early life in Virginia, where he and his wife raised a small army -- nine children in 22 years. The family seems to have felt the pul of the frontier, moving continually westward in their lives. After two decades in Lee county, Virginia, the famiy moved to Campbell county in Eastern Tennessee -- and eventually joined a wagon train of pioneers further east

NOTE: Fulkerson had several other sons. Either some remained behind, or the history book is inaccurate.

David Yount

NOTE: Goodspeed says "Young," but this pioneer's name was actually "Yount."

John Mulkey

When John MULKEY was born on December 25, 1768, in Asheville, North Carolina, his father, John, was 24 and his mother, Ann, was 28. He was married four times and had seven sons and seven daughters. He died on October 10, 1850, in Saline, Missouri, having lived a long life of 81 years, and was buried in Spring Garden, Missouri.

David Chambers

NOTE: Only two sons were born before the trip to Cole County: James (1814) and Alexander (1815).

William Gouge

The name Gouge -- or Gooch, or Gouch -- is prominent throughout colonial America, and piecing together the life of any one member of the clan is challenging. It's made especially so by the ravages of time, in which court houses are burned down, records lost, and time eats away at our memories of names, faces, and events. So it's dififcult to pin down one William Gouge, who was born (some say) in Virginia, married in North Carolina, raised a family in Tennessee, pioneered Missouri, and passed away ... somewhere.

Martin Gooch

Martin and his older brother William were two of a kind, moving across the early United States from North Carolina where Martin was born to Tennessee where he married to Missouri where he blazed a new frontier. Martin ought with Bunch's 2nd Regiment during The Creek Indian War, where he and his fellow volunteers likely hatched their plan to move to Missouri.

John Harmon

John Harmon his father, Jacob, and likely a brother named Paul, came to Anderson county, Tennessee at the turn of the century. The history books say John Harmon joined the Tennessee party bound for Missouri with one son, leaving behind Paul and his father's grave. In fact, he came with two sons: Washington Harmon, born 1815, and LIndsey Harmon, born 1816.

Joshua Chambers


The name Vivion is littered throughout early records of Cole county. Was this family among the Tennessee party too??

Early pioneers: "The Kentucky Settlement"

Who were the next settlers to arrive to this area?

  • 1816: "...1816 saw the beginning of what was called The Kentucky Settlement. A band of colonists led by Jeremiah Clay established homes in the territory adjacent to the present site of Lupus. Clay with his wife Nancy, and family, and Isaiah Vivion and his family then living in the settlement at St. Charles, Missouri, loaded their household effects into covered wagons and driving their livestock before them came west to establish homes in the freeland of the wilderness....with the Clay and Vivion households came young Matthew Pettigrew whose sweetheart was Cynthia Vivion. Their wedding in 1818 was the first in Moniteau County." -- A history of Moniteau County, Missouri, M.H. Crawford, 1936.
  • 1820: In 1820 the first townships were opened for entry, and then flocked thither the pioneers of the second period, who came to cultivate the land, or trade. -- The Goodspeed History of Missouri, published 1889









1900-1950: The Golden Age








1950-2000: The modern era

2000-: Cole County today


  1. Marriage records 1821-1865 vol A-B
  2. Marriage records 1865-1881 vol C-D