Lincoln County is located at the southern end of a geological formation known as the Lincoln
Hills. The great pressures within the
earth over hundreds of millions of
years ago have caused the bedrock to buckle into a series of hills about
60 miles long and 15 miles wide. The Lincoln Hills region was not
as much during the last ice age glaciers pushed down through northern
Missouri and flattened the landscape. Streams and rivers such as the two
branches of the Cuivre (French for copper) then cut deep valleys into the
hills to create the rugged the “Ozarklike” terrain evident today.
were many Sac and Fox settlements in the Cuivre river watershed prior to the
arrival of European settlers in what is now Lincoln County. These tribes are
related to the Algonquians and were forced to migrate south from their
traditional home by the French in the mid-1700s, displacing the Illinois
Confederation. The first Europeans in the area were French explorers who
claimed vast regions for France and were followed by the voyageurs,
the fur traders. France ceded its
territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain when it signed the Treaty
of Paris in 1763, which ended the French and Indian War. The area that is
now Missouri became part of the Province of Upper Louisiana.
settlers were attracted to Upper Louisiana by land grants offered by the
Spanish. Southeast of present day Troy in 1801, Christopher Clark erected a
cabin becoming the first permanent settler in Missouri north of the present
limits of St. Charles County. The next families of note were the families of
Zadock Woods and Deacon Joseph Cottle who settled near a spring in present
day Troy, 1802.
United States gained control of the territory with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
with the Sac and Fox were relatively peaceful until the beginning of the War
of 1812 although most rejected an 1804 treaty that ceded much of their land
west of the Mississippi River. The tribes sided with the British and they
saw the war as a means to evict the settlers from lands they considered
their hunting grounds. To defend against attacks the settlers built a series
of stockade forts including Woods' Fort, the largest, near the Woods/Cottle
settlement. The men of the area served in the volunteer Lincoln County
Rangers, led by Clark and Nathan (son of Daniel) Boone, among others. The
campaigns of the Lincoln County Rangers extended from the Missouri River to
past the Iowa line, principally in the vicinity of the Mississippi.
the war much of the Cuivre River watershed was organized into Lincoln
County. This occurred during a session of the Territorial Legislature in
December 1818. The name was chosen by Christopher Clark after the two
counties he lived in North Carolina and Kentucky, which had been named
after Benjamin Lincoln (1733-1810) of Massachusetts, a Revolutionary War
general, the Secretary of War (1781-1783) of the Continental Congress, and a
respected friend of George Washington, who was deputized by him to receive
the British surrender at Yorktown. The first county seat was Monroe, and
later moved to Alexandria, and finally to Troy in 1828.
the 1840s the county was beset by an organized band of counterfeiters and
horse and cattle thieves. In what became known as the "Slicker
War," a company of regulators was raised to combat the thieves. The term
"slicker" came from the form of punishment inflicted on the
suspects, which was to whip then with hickory withes, or “slicking.” The
regulators committed excesses when a few took the opportunity to settle
personal grudges. The regulators were disbanded when the thieves were driven
out but animosities remained by those who were unjustly their target.
the Civil War the sympathies of the citizens of Lincoln County were largely
with the Confederacy, having mostly been immigrants from southern states.
When the pro-Southern Governor Clairborn Jackson issued his proclamation
calling for volunteers to defend the State against Federal troops, no county
responded more enthusiastically than did Lincoln County. Despite its
sympathies fighting was limited in Lincoln County due to the almost
continuous presence of Union troops in Troy.
in Lincoln County changed throughout the 19th-century, from primitive trails
and roads to canals to railroads and to modern highways. The arrival in the
early 1880s of railroads at Troy, Elsberry, and Winfield gave farmers and
merchants access to outside markets. Rail access focused on depots, which in
turn fostered downtown development with stores, banks, shops, libraries, and
social institutions. Residential areas with both vernacular and high style
architecture grew out from the city centers to become neighborhoods dotted
with schools and parks.
1946 the Missouri Department of Natural Resources added Cuivre River State
Park to the park system. Located between Troy and Moscow Mills, the park is
one of the state’s largest and most rugged parks. Lake Lincoln offers
swimming, boating, fishing and the park’s two wild areas provide hiking,
backpacking, photography and wildlife observation activities.