Daviess Countians today don’t often think of this area as being among the Old West areas threatened by Indian attack. History records, however, state that a fort was once built east of Gallatin for that very reason. Settlers here in 1832 constructed a blockhouse and palisade fort where the families could be protected in case of attack.

According to an account written by David L. Kost (a state representative from Daviess County in the 1870s), the fort was located on land once owned by the late John Merritt. It is almost directly east of Gallatin on high ground, overlooking a big bend in the Grand River (land farmed today by Tim Osborn). Kost writes the following:

“In the year 1832 occurred the Black Hawk War, having its chief field of operations in Illinois but extending its baleful influence through the entire northern part of our state. Black Hawk organized a strong band of Sacs, Fox, and Winnebagoes and asserted his determination to drive white settlers from the frontier.

“At first he was successful in battle, but at last was disastrously defeated and captured. Our county shared the general excitement. A blockhouse and palisade fort (walls made of upright logs) was built on the John Merritt farm to which settlers might repair in case of alarm; Theodore Peniston and a dozen more of the young men joined the volunteers who were scouring the countryside to prevent an invasion of Indians from Iowa.”

As far as this segment of history goes, there is no mention that the fort ever had to be used. No one recalls seeing the fort nor ever uncovering any traces of the days when Daviess County was a bona fide frontier, complete with Red men on the warpath.

— researched by David Stark of Gallatin, MO, for publication in the Gallatin North Missourian