Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Before the late 1840's, no white men had settled the area of southwestern Iowa at the point where Harrison Country is now located. Moreover, only a few white men had cast eye upon its valleys, inhabited only by Indians and wild animals. Probably the first explorers to set foot in the area were Lewis and Clark, who, in 1804, ordered their men to pitch camp just below the mouth of the Soldier River in what is now Harrison County. Reports of rich fur resources soon brought a number of trappers and hunters who undoubtedly followed the streams of the area and took back to St. Louis and eastern cities news of the fertile valleys of the Boyer, Willow and Soldier Rivers which cross the land that became Harrison County. One such trapper and trader was Manuel Lisa who, after 1807, made annual trips up the Missouri River with supplies for Indians and trappers. There is no reason to doubt that he made regular stops in the Harrison County area and established trading posts at the mouths of the Boyer, Willow and Soldier Rivers. Explorations of the area were also made by Edwin James, a scientist with Stephen H. Long's expedition, and Captain Stephen W. Kearny, who was traveling in the company of Captain Mattew J. Magee in 1820. Both of these expeditions, while exploring the Boyer River valley which traverses modern Harrison County, found it to be teeming with elk, buffalo, and prairie wolves and covered by prairie grass that grew as high as the back of a horse.
Gard, John W., "The development of Missouri Valley, Iowa to 1931" (1968). Student Work. 527.
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