Hannah Cole arrived in Missouri in 1809 with her husband (William Temple Cole) and kids. The next year, the Indians killed her husband and she found herself alone in the wilderness with 9 kids to take care of. For whatever reason, she decided to stay in Missouri and soon built a house on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River (where the city of Boonville is now). Hannah & her family were among the very first white families to settle in the area. And I mean settle, not just row by like Lewis & Clark.
Hannah’s house was turned into a fort & used by settlers for defense during the war of 1812, where it provided a safe water source for settlers. The first County Circuit Court session was held there and she obtained the first business license to operate a ferry (in 1816) across the river. After Boonville was settled and established as the county seat, her fort was used as the first school, church and voting place in the county. Hannah eventually moved about 15 miles south of town where she died in 1843.
Boonville hasn’t shied away from their women’s history. If you search Monroe street you can find a plaque marking Hannah’s fort. There is also Hannah Cole Primary school and a statue of her in the Morgan Street Park, located just off Main Street.
The statue was erected during the Lewis and Clark anniversary in 2004. For that I suppose I can forgive them for surrounding her statue with busts of men.
You can also visit Hannah Cole Roadside Park next to the Briscoe Cemetery, where she is buried, 15 miles south of town on Highway 5.