Hannah Cole's Fort
Hannah Cole's Fort (1814-1815) - A War of 1812 settler Fort established in 1814 in present-day Boonville, Cooper County, Missouri. Named Hannah Cole's Fort after the property owner Hannah Cole widow of William Cole who was killed by Indians in 1810. Abandoned as a fortification in 1815.
At the outbreak of the War of 1812 the settlers around Boonesboro, Missouri began construction of forts as refuges from British sponsored hostile Indian attacks. The settlers were spread out in farms along a fertile plain on the north side of the Missouri River and in small settlements on the south side so many forts were required to provide safety for all. In all, some 500 to 600 persons gathered in these forts for protection.
At the west end of the plain was the economic engine of the area, the Boone's Lick salt works. Boone's Lick was named after the sons of Daniel Boone and was in fact a series of saltwater springs. The saltwater was boiled down to produce salt crystals which were packaged and shipped to St. Louis at a profit. The Indian attacks became so severe by 1814 that the salt works were shut down until 1815 when peace was made with the warring Indian tribes.
North Side of River
South Side of River
On the south side of the Missouri River near present-day Boonville the first fort erected was Stephen Cole's Fort (William Cole's brother), which was located about one and one-half miles east of the present site of Boonville. The last fort erected on the south side of the river was Hannah Cole's Fort, located on a bluff overlooking the river, at a point of rocks. Hannah Cole's Fort was not erected until 1814 and then in response to a horrific event, the killing of Samuel McMahan.
Samuel McMahan was killed on 14 Dec 1814 after he happened upon a band of hostile Indians who were attempting to ambush some other settlers. The hostiles severely wounded him and killed his horse. He was able to evade the Indians for a time but they caught and killed him with three spears in his back. They then cut off his head, scattered his entrails over the ground, and then disappeared into the forest.
The day after the killing of Samuel McMahan, the settlers living around present-day Boonville, assembled at the cabin of Hannah Cole which stood on a bluff overlooking the river. This was considered the most suitable and available place to build a strong fort. Work commenced immediately on the new fort which would become the largest in the area and within a week it was finished.
As soon as Hannah Cole's Fort was completed, Stephen Cole's Fort was abandoned and all the families were gathered into the new fort.
Coincidentally the treaty of Ghent ending the war between England and the United States was signed that same month on 24 Dec 1814. Although the war was over, the Indians continued their depredations into 1815 before a total peace was made.
No visible remains but a small marker identifies the site. Much of the actual site on the bluff was leveled to build the railroad through town. The site is located across the street from the Boonville Correctional Center, a minimum, Custody Level 1, state prison.
Visited: 20 Aug 2020