Thursday, November 20, 2014

George Champlin Sibley

Major George Champlain Sibley (1782-1863) = Factor of Fort Osage. Surveyor. George left Fort Bellefontaine near St. Louis and headed up the Missouri River to build Fort Osage. He kept a journal of his trip and noted on September 5, the boats were unloaded, tools laid-out, and a sketch of the fort's layout was drawn. Paint indicated which type of buildings went where – red for blockhouses, green, the factory and his home, and blue for the officer’s quarters. A trading post and a church was soon built close by. After signing a treaty with the Osage Indians, Fort Osage was christened on November 10, 1808.

The War of 1812 caused the evacuation of the Fort from 1813 to 1815 and when George returned, he brought back his bride of fifteen years, Mary Easton (1800-1878), born in Rome, New York, the daughter of Rufus Easton, St. Louis' first postmaster. They married in September of 1815. Fountain Green, a home he built for them outside of the fort, was filled with furniture, books and a piano. The Indians were fascinated by the piano and would gather outside whenever Mary played. They adopted three children, orphans of their long-time Osage friend, Sans Oreille.

When missionaries from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Boston, Massachusetts) arrived at Rapid de Kaw (Collen’s Ford) in 1821 to build Harmony Mission School at the request of some of the Osage Tribal Chiefs, Sibley was there to oversee the work on the construction of a government trading post near the mission. In 1825, Sibley, Ben, Alexander Majors' father, and others surveyed the Santa Fe Trail, a distance of about 775 miles.

After Sibley's retirement, George and Mary joined Old Blue First Presbyterian Church (f. 1818) in St. Charles. They are buried on the Lindenwood University campus.

Historical Note: Chester Harding painted a portrait of George Sibley sometime in the 1830s. Mr. Harding also painted a portrait of Daniel Boone.

More to Read:
1. Jackson County Pioneers. By Pearl Wilcox. 1975.
2. “Genealogy News Bytes” April 2008. (e-newsletter); "Letters Received by Agents from All of the Factories" (microfilm) and "Indian Trade Letters, January 19, 1822, Serial 60" (microfiche) at Midwest Genealogy Library, 3440 South Lee’s Summit Road, Independence, MO
3. Seeking a Newer World: The Fort Osage Journals & Letters of George Sibley. By Jeffery Smith. 2003
4. A Condensed History of the Kansas City Area: Its Mayors and Some V.I.P.s 1850-1950 ” Assembled by George Fuller Green. City Historian. The Lowell Press; Kansas City, MO. 1968.
5. Empires, Nations and Families: History of the North American West 1800-1860. Anne F. Hyde. University of Nebraska Press, 2011.
7. Santa Fe Trail Map, either obtained from the National Trails System Office or the Santa Fe Trail Association, Larned, KS
8. The Survey and Maps of the Sibley Expedition, 1825, 1826, & 1827. By Stephen Schmidt & Richard E. Hayden. Santa Fe Trail Association, August 2011. 
9. Kansas City, Missouri: Its History and Its People 1808-1908 By Carrie Westlake Whitney, S. J. Clarke, Chicago, IL, p. 28
Places to Visit in Mo. & KS:
1. Missouri River
2. DAR "Trail to Ft. Osage" marker, Main St, St. Charles, MO.  

3. First Presbyterian Church (est. 8/30/1818). Founded as the Old Blue Church by Rev. Salmon Gidding and Rev. M. Matthews. St. Charles. St. Charles County.
4. Lindenwood University (f. 1827), 209 S. Kings Highway, St. Charles
5. Fort Osage, 107 Osage Street, (formerly: Six Mile), present-day Sibley.
6. Fort Osage Historical Marker, put into place by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas City,
 7. Try to trace the old Mission Road. It began between Lexington and Fort Osage, running through Van Buren Township in Jackson County to the north bank of the Marais des Cygnes River in the extreme southern part of future Bates County, near Papinville above the point where it merges with the Osage River.
 7. National Trails Museum, 318 W. Pacific, Independence (across the street from the Bingham-Wagner home).
 9. Santa Fe Trail
 10. Papinville Historical Society Museum, Market Street,  Bates Co. and the Marais des Cygnes River
11. Sibley's Ridge, US 56, Larned, KS. (August 31, 1825, Sibley Survey Campsite)

The Trail to Fort Osage
Western Trailhead
Ca. 1808
The trail from St. Charles to Fort Osage was likely the earliest American Overland Trail across present-day Missouri. Its origins date to 1808. William Clark, then a Brigadier-General in Louisiana's Territorial Militia, accompanied the St. Charles Dragoons to this site for the purpose of Building a US Fort and Government-Trading House.
Under the Guidance of Daniel Boone's son, Nathan Boone, the expedition traveled through open prairies to Arrow Rock, and from there along a path parallel to the Missouri River, passing in the vicinity of the later towns of Marshall, Grand Pass, Waverly, Dover, Lexington, Wellington, Napoleon, Levasy and Sibley.
Dedicated October 31, 2010
Missouri State Society Daughters of the American Revolution-Fort Osage Chapter, NSDAR.

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