Boonville's History

Boonville has a rich history dating back thousands of years. Native Americans, inhabited the area for 10,000 years. In the early 1800's Daniel Boone’s sons, Nathan and Daniel Morgan, came upon the salt lick in present day Howard County, just across the river. Recognizing the value of salt for pioneers, the Boone brothers settled and opened shop, thus the original Boone’s Lick or Boonslick name. In 1810 widow Hannah Cole and her nine children homesteaded the Boonslick area. The town was formally platted in 1817 and prospered in the late 1820’s. Throughout the 1820’s and 30’s the town was home to river trade and a jumping-off point for the Santa Fe Trail. On February 10, 1839, the city was officially incorporated.

The development of the railroad and the start of the Civil War dramatically changed Boonville. Because of its prime location on the river, Boonville was sought after by both the Confederates and the Union armies. Boonville saw two civil war battles, two occupations and is the intersection of south and north, east and west. Boonville is proud to preserve, celebrate, and recognize all of its history. With over 400 historic properties on the National Register in the city alone, here are a few places not to be missed:

  • Thespian Hall is the longest continually operated theater west of the Alleghany Mountains. Built in 1855, it served as a  hospital and morgue during the Civil War.
  • The Old Cooper County Jail and Hanging Barn was the longest used jail, from 1848-1979, and is open for tours. It was the location of the last public hanging in Missouri in 1930.
  • The Sumner School was an African American public school in Boonville and is currently used as a community center by the Concerned Citizens for the Black Community.
  • The Hain House and Memorial Garden is representative of 1819 architecture and is one of the oldest landmarks in town.
  • Roslyn Heights is the state headquarters for the Missouri State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This beautiful home is the last of the Main Street Mansions and was built in 1895. The home is available for tour and hosts special events throughout the year.


For more information about these sites and more, check out the following links:
         •   
The Missouri State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution
         •    Friends of Historic Boonville
         •    National Register of Historic Places