Fort Pike Celebrates 190 Years

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 The former location of Fort Pike is now a recreation area along the Des Moines River at St. Francisville, Mo. (Brent Engel photo)

The brief, but colorful, history of Fort Pike

  By Brent Engel
An important, but long forgotten, piece of area history is observing its 190th anniversary.

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   The primitive outpost known as Fort Pike was at what is now St. Francisville along the Des Moines River in Clark County, Missouri.

   It was built in June 1832 by Pike County men who refused to cower to their Ralls County neighbors and were determined to keep warring Native Americans out of Missouri.

   Their leader was Adam Mase, a Kentucky-born tanner who lived at Frankford.

   In May 1832, warriors from three tribes under the command of Chiefs Black Hawk and Keokuk battled American troops near Dixon, Illinois. The proximity to Missouri caused Governor John Miller to mobilize troops.

   Despite a common goal, the men from Pike and Ralls counties could not get along. The dispute grew violent, and they soon went their separate ways.

   Mase and his men built a blockhouse and honed trees to serve as deterrents around Fort Pike. They almost came to mutiny, but a last-minute shipment of whiskey, beef and bacon helped them celebrate Independence Day in style.

   Black Hawk never invaded Missouri, and the chief surrendered in August 1832. Fort Pike was dismantled the following month.