Harmony Mission

Section 8, Prairie Township, Bates County, Missouri
Exact location unknown

Taken from:
History of Bates County
By W.O. Atkeson
Historical Pulbishing Co 1918, P72

Harmony Mission Cemetery

In 1918 was almost completely lost and known to few as “old Indian burying ground”.

The old Mission trail from Harmony north to Ft. Osage and other points on the Missouri river is still perfectly plain, and from the site of the cabins and school at Harmony it runs a little west of north for some distance.  The cemetery is situate about 50 yards to the west of this trail and about a quarter from the site of Harmony, on a rather high, dry roll of the land, now timber land, many of the trees being nearly a foot in diameter….Only one grave has any stone of monument at this time, though old settlers say there used to be more of them marked.  The head stond stands about 2 feet out of the ground and the one at the foot only about a foot high.  Both are just ordinary sand-stone slabs stuck in the ground and on the face and smoother side of the head stone three letters D A P are deeply cut, as if by a common chisel.  The depression of graves was marked and plain and they were in rows about six to eight feet apart, there being several rows north and south, …counted 38 depressions or graves.

Those Who Rest Here Whose Names Are Known

Mrs. William B.  Montgomery

Infant of Rev, and Mrs. William B. Montgomery

Infant of Doctor and Mrs. Belcher

Superintendent  - Rev. Nathaniel Dodge’s youngest son

John Seeley

Infant of Mr. and Mrs. John Seeley

These individuals names come from the Journal of the Harmony Mission and were buried before 1822.  The Mission continued for 10 more years but it is unknown the names of the rest who were buried there. 

In 1821 the same organization, under the superintendency of the Rev. Philip Milledoler, established a mission near Pappinsville, Bates county, Missouri, known as Harmony Mission. The superintendent was the Rev. Nathaniel Dodge. He was assisted by the Rev. Benton Pixley. The mission family numbered altogether forty-one persons, of which twenty-five were adults and sixteen were children. Among the members were the Rev. William B. Montgomery, Doctor Belcher, Daniel H. Austin, Samuel Newton, Samuel B. Bright, Otis Sprague, Amasa Jones, John Seeley, Susan Comstock, Mary Weller, Mary Etris, Elizabeth Howell and Harriet Woolley. All the men were married and were accompanied by their families. In the group were ministers, a physician, blacksmith, carpenter, millwright, shoemaker and two farmers. The women, many of whom had taught school in the East, were fitted to teach sewing, knitting, cooking and music to the Indians. Members of the missionary party traveled by wagon to Pittsburgh where two boats were built, on which, with their goods, they descended the Ohio river to the Mississippi and up this river to the Missouri. Thence they proceeded to the mouth of the Osage which was ascended to the place where the mission was to be built. The objective point was reached 112 days after leaving Pittsburgh.

From Historic Marker

Historic Harmony Mission, a school for the Indians of Missouri, once stood east of Rich Hill, on the north bank of the Osage River, near the centuries-old camping sites of the Great and Little Osage tribes. The mission was founded in 1821 by the United Foreign Missionary Society of N.Y., supported by Presbyterian, Congregational, and Dutch Reformed churches. Among the 41 members of the mission family were teachers, mechanics, and farmers, headed by minister Nathaniel B. Dodge. The Osage gave land and the U.S. provided a building fund. With heroic effort, the missionaries soon built homes and a school. An Osage-English dictionary of some 2000 words was made with the help of "Bill" Williams, later famed as the "Mountain Man," but then serving as interpreter at a nearby U.S. trading post. The school was only a moderate success, largely because the Osage ceded the last of their Missouri land to the U.S. in 1825 and began to move away. The mission was closed in 1836. The main building, moved to Papinsville, was burned in the Civil War. Harmony Mission, Missouri's first Indian mission school, was the first county seat and the first white settlement in Bates County, organized, 1841, named for Missouri Governor Frederick Bates. Later the once thriving Osage River town of Papinsville, named for a French trader, was county seat. In 1856 centrally located Butler, named for a Ky. congressman became county seat. During the Civil War, Bates was one of the counties depopulated by Union General Thomas Ewing's Order No. 11 of 1863. The next year only 390 persons were living in the county, but the post war years brought over 10,000 by 1868 to farm the fertile acres and mine the rich coal deposits. Here in the Osage Valley of Bates and Vernon counties were the villages of the Wazhazhe Indians, called Osage by the French. In 1808, less than 100 years after they were first visited by a white man, Du Tisne, 1719, they ceded most for their Missouri land to the U.S. They ceded the rest, 1825. The first chief called Pahuska (White Hair) once lay buried in Blue Mound and for years they returned to honor him.

Erected by the State Historical Society of Missouri and State Highway Commission, 1955, City park, Rich Hill, Bates County, Missouri

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