Missouri History and a Bridge to Our Nation's Past

Go on a History Vacation in Missouri!  Historical Trips in MO. 
Revisit the past! Come explore the fascinating history

of the Arcadia Valley Region & Black River Recreation Area of Missouri

Did You Know?

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.

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. In 1682, Robert de LaSalle claimed the Louisiana Territory for France.  Read much more here!

Native American History in Missouri & De Soto in 1541  
Missouri Native American history in the Arcadia Valley Region, Black River Recreation Area goes back to the Paleo-Indians, the ancient peoples of the Americas who were present at the end of the last ice age. They camped and hunted along Ozark rivers, perhaps as long as 12,000 to 14,000 years ago. Read more here.

Missouri Historic Towns -  To tour the historic towns in Iron and Reynolds County please click here.

Reynolds County Missouri - Reynolds County was organized in 1845, however long before this designation, many early pioneers braved the risk, hardship and sacrifice in search of their dream. . .a more productive and rewarding life in our Ozark Region.  In 1812 Henry Fry, who is said to have come from Kentucky as the first pioneer, settled on the Middle Fork of the Black River area in what is now Reynolds County.  After the Louisiana Purchase, there were ongoing discussions in established states east of the Mississippi, about when the new "Missouri Territory" would become a state of the Union. At the same time, land in our region was being offered to veterans of the War of 1812. Pioneer families from the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee began to slowly and steadily move to our region.  The civil war era presented tumultuous times for these early settlers, in some cases pitting brother against brother and fathers against sons.  Many notable historic landmarks are present in Reynolds County including Fort Barnesville, on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Notably, after the famous Gads Hill Train Holdup in 1874, Jesse James and his gang made their escape up the Black River along the Lesterville Road, seeking food and lodging from farmowners along the West Fork of the Black River in Reynolds County. According to news accounts, "in all instances they behaved very genteelly" and paid all their bills "lavishly."

By 1890, there were 6,803 people living in Reynolds County.   Please click here to tour and learn more about the historic towns and landmarks of these early settlers in Reynolds County, MO.  If you are planning a Family History Vacation to Reynolds County, the genealogy resources page of our website may be helpful in planning your trip.

Brand new Reynolds County Museum has been built!
They celebrated a grand re-opening in May, 2011!

Visit their new website.

Reynolds County Museum

233 South 2nd Street in Ellington.
Tuesday 10-7
Wednesday 10-5
Thursday/Friday/2nd Saturday of month 10-4
Call 573-663-3233

Join Reynolds County Genealogy on Facebook!
Be certain to explore all of the "favorite pages" listed on the page.
Reynolds County Genealogy on Facebook

Iron County Missouri - Europeans had been drawn to the early "Upper Louisiana" territory in the 1730s due to the prospect of mining lead.  Close by, the area which later became Iron County, was inhabited by Native Americans who used it as their hunting ground.  Known as "Lost Cove" by the Delaware Indians, William and Joseph Reed were the first settlers to arrive in 1798.  Ephraim Stout built a log house in the valley (as early as 1805-1807) along the creek which still bears his name. It was not until 1836 that the vast iron ore resources of Iron County were discovered.  Mining jobs brought many settlers to the region and in 1857 Iron County became a county in Missouri with its county seat in Ironton. It was also in 1857 that the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad was completed all the way to Pilot Knob, foreshadowing a series of events that led to one of the most important battles of the Civil War in Missouri - The Battle of Pilot Knob at Fort Davidson. Today, the hallowed ground of Fort Davidson State Historic Site honors the brave Union and Confederate soldiers who fought and died in battle. These Arcadia Valley Region communities became a popular nineteenth century summer resort for wealthy families from St. Louis. Visit the historic towns and villages of Iron County Missouri where history is preserved and graceful antebellum homes, historic churches and mercantile buildings are a reminder of days gone by. Visit Whistle Junction Visitors Center and Iron County Historical Society Museum while on your Missouri Vacation to our region.


Whistle Junction, Arcadia, MO
Whistle Junction Visitor Center & Museum, Hwy 21, Arcadia, MO

Join Iron/Reynolds County Connections on Facebook!
Join Iron-Reynolds County Connections on Facebook

The Civil War in Missouri  (Why and how it began.)    Since 1857, the nation had been deeply divided by the Dred Scott decision, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Lecompton Constitution, and John Brown's 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry. Read much more here. Learn about Fort Davidson and the Battle of Pilot Knob here. Or, see the full scale Reenactment of the Battle of Pilot Knob held every 3 years in the Arcadia Valley Region. 

Take our entire virtual tour of the Civil War in Missouri
References for history section of this website:
(Sources of De Soto information, from simple to detailed, by Conquistadors, DeSoto's Missouri Chronicles, by: Biedma, Rangel, Elvas as presented by Donald E. Sheppard)

Other references:  "A History of Missouri from the Earliest Explorations and Settlement until the Admission of the State into the Union", Volume II, 1908, by Louis Houck
Goodspeed's, A Reminiscent History of Missouri, 1894.

History of Early Reynolds County Missouri, 1986, by James E. Bell
Special thanks to Gerald Angel, Civil War Historian and Lee Sylcox, Reynolds County Hi
storian for their wealth of knowledge and assistance with this project. 
Iron County Historical Society Museum
Iron County Historical Society MuseumIron County Historical Society MuseumIron County Historical Society MuseumReynolds County History MuseumReynolds County History Museum
Read ouf Blog!
Places to stay in our Region.
For a directory of lodging, accommodations and campgrounds in our historic
region of Missouri, click here.

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