Boonville has a rich history dating back thousands of years; Native Americans inhabited the area for 10,000 years.

Establishing the City

history1In 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.

Caught in the Middle

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.

Historically Rich

Boonville saw two civil war battles and two occupations; it is the major intersection of south and north, east and west. Boonville is proud to preserve, celebrate, and recognize all of its history.

Boonville features multiple historic markers throughout the town pointing out various Civil War, Lewis and Clark, and Santa Fe Trail landmarks, as well as other significant points of interest.

Historic Markers to Explore

With over 400 historic properties on the National Register in the city alone, there are a several places not to be missed.


Hain House and Memorial Garden

is representative of 1819 architecture and is one of the oldest landmarks in town. It is currently used for local events and festivals.

1848 – 1979

Old Cooper County Jail and Hanging Barn

is 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.


First Civil War Battleground

Boonville was the site one of the First Civil War land battles on June 17, 1861 and would be the site of three more battles throughout the war. Boonville changed hands a couple of times, but it was after the Union won that first battle that claimed unbroken control of the Missouri river for the North throughout the remainder of the war.



Katy Depot

is the only remaining Spanish Mission style depot left, out of five that were built on the MKT Railroad. Built in 1911-1912, the depot is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been fully restored and is the offices of the Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce office and a bicycle shop serving the Katy trail bicyclists. In its glory days, Boonville was a popular stop and as many as 25-30 trains came through each day.

1844 – 2002

Kemper Military School

was the oldest military academy west of the Mississippi River, originally called Kemper’s Family School. The campus, now owned by the City of Boonville, is used in different parts for the Boonslick Heartland YMCA, State Fair Community College and the grounds are used for many local events and festivities, as well as soccer and baseball fields for local youth sports.

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.

Roslyn Heights

is the state headquarters for the Missouri State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The beautiful home is the last of the Main Street Mansions and was built in 1895. Tours and special events are available throughout the year.

Sumner School

was an African American public school in Boonville, built in 1939, and is currently used as a community center by the Concerned Citizens for a Better Community.

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