The area around Defiance, the Darst Bottom region, and the Femme Osage Creek district were early frontier regions, part of the Louisiana Territory. Some of the earliest non-native American settlers came to the area in the late 1700’s as part of land grants. In addition to the Osage tribe, those living in the region were French, and then a large number of Germans settled in the area.
Many famous names have passed through this region, some settling down to live out their lives in this beautiful area just off the banks of the Missouri river. Those that history has written about include Daniel Boone and his family as well as Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery; others to first settle in the area include David Darst, Richard Matson, John H. Schiermeier, William Koenig, Henry Schneider, Jim Zumwalt, Alexander McCourtney, Isaac Van Bibber, and Thomas Parsons, to name just a few.
While agriculture was a primary means of living, the area also included mills, quarries, stockyards, and numerous small businesses – grain elevator, general store, post office, bank, saloon, blacksmith, barber shop, cabinet maker, and livery stable. The railroad played a big part in the small towns in the area, and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad (MKT or ‘Katy’) was serving the area in the late 1800’s. Traditional lore has it that the town of Defiance derived its name in contemptuous opposition to the town of Matson while both towns were battling to be awarded the MKT depot.
One of the fates of being close to the river is that the area has been scoured by floods over the years. Floods and the passage of time have taken many of the original structures in the region, though some of the older homes remain.
Those within walking distance that can be seen are:
- The Boone Homestead on Highway F (open to the public)
- 2933 S. Hwy 94 (once called Missouri Avenue) was built in 1908 by Dr. Nichols.
- 2934 S. Hwy 94 was built in 1908.
- 2952 S. Hwy 94 was built in 1907 as a rental unit for railroad workers.
- 2959 S. Hwy 94 was built in 1905 on the foundation of the Parsons Barn. It now houses the Post Office.
- 2981 S. Hwy 94 is the home built by John H. Schiermeier in 1903
- 2987 S. Hwy 94 was built in 1911 by August Ruebeling and was a general store
- 2991 S. Hwy 94 was built in 1893 by August Ruebeling and was a general store and post office
- 2975 S. Hwy 94 was built in 1909 as a bank
- 2998 S. Hwy 94 was the J. H. Schiermeier and Son General Store, built in 1898
- 206 Second Street was built in the early 1900’s by Martin Thompson.
- 211 Lee Street was built in 1842 for Thomas & Phoebe Ward Parsons. The home was built by slaves with bricks made in a kiln on the site
- 405 Lee Street was the Walnut Grove School, moved to this site in the 1940’s from the bottoms.
- Parsons Cemetery between 405 and 415 Lee Street. Members of the Parsons Family are buried there along with Zachariah Moore, a Revolutionary War Soldier.
- 415 Lee Street is Pleasant Hill Memorial Methodist Church, started in 1841.
Many other old homes to the region can be found in the Matson Hill area. See our Tours and Landmarks
page for other information on seeing the area's history.