File submitted for USGenWeb/MOGenWeb Lincoln County page by June Groshong, 12 June 2007
Zumwalts Build Historic Fort
Messinger Tribune, Wednesday, July 16, 1980, Page 47. By Richard V. Stevens.
Transcribed by June Groshong.
Many residents of St. Charles County, both old and new, may be surprised to learn the great amount of lore and legend associated with the pioneering families the first to come to this region and established the first permanent Euro-American settlements north of the Missouri River.
In 1796 Jacob and Christopher Zumwalt brought their families into this region from Kentucky after accepting Spanish land grants in the territory that was then called Upper Louisiana.
The family accepted three land grants, one going to Peter, Christopher's oldest son. The three original grants totalled nearly 800 acres in the heart of what was to become St. Charles County.
Jacob's 380 acre tract lay on both sides of Belleau Creek, south of the site that became O'Fallon.
In the first year the families built one room wilderness cabins with mud and stick fireplaces and began clearing fields and selecting logs that would be used to construct their permanent home.
The pioneering Zumwalts faced a tremendous man power shortage. Christopher had brought four sons. Peter had his own land and divided his duties. Jacob was 21 and a good hand. Christopher Junior was 16 and young. David was 9. He also brought his wife and three daughters. At best, it is estimated that he could muster the work force of three men.
Jacob was in less fortunate situation. His eldest son Andrew was 17. His other son and three daughters were young children. He was able to muster the equivalent of two men and a boy as his working force.
The combined crew set about the task of building the large hewn log home that was to become known as Fort Zumwalt. The site is said to have been recommended by Daniel Boone, as close fiend and advisor of Zumwalts. Boone had a similar settlement on Femme Osage Creek about six miles above where it runs into the Missouri River.
The large house was built on the southern slope of a small hill in the middle of an imposing stand of white oak. There was a spring 50 years (must be yards jg) down the hill for water.The spring flows today.
In the spring of 1797 the Zumwalts assembled to construct Christopher's mill on Peruque Creek which ran through his land grant property.
As summer progressed Jacob took time to cut and prepare the large oak logs that would be used in his house. Stealing time from planting and plowing, lining the spring with stones and digging a cellar, Jacob and his sons steadily readied the logs by hewing two sides of the log with a broadax, leaving a rough planed surface. Shorter pieces of logs were split into shakes by the younger boys to be used for the roof of the building.
Work was begun on the big double fireplace , the last part of the structure that remains today at Fort Zumwalt Park. Stones were carted into the site and many hours of work went into shaping their mating surfaces and placing and mortaring them carefully together. With the help of Christopher and his sons the heavy joists were dragged into position, floor boards were laid and secured with wooden pegs. the walls were raised by A-frame and tackle and each hewn log was notched into place. Lighter floor planking was used for the second floor. At the eaveline rafters were set, the roof framing was placed and the shakes set in place.
Doors and windows and frames had been made during the winter and were set . Shutters were fitted over the windows for protection.
The completed house, occupied in the summer of 1798, was an imposing one for the frontier. The house was a symbol for the sturdy family that had set its roots down to stay.
Later a stockade was added around the building and wing rooms were added during the time of the Indian War of 1812.
Jacob Zumwalt sold his homestead in 1817 to Major Nathan Herald, a retired army officer who had been captured and disabled by an Indian attack at Fort Dearborn near what is today Chicago, ILL. Jacob, old and ailing, went to live with his son George on a farm near Louisiana , Mo. where he died in 1820.
Various members of the Herald family occupied the house until 1884 when Darius , the only son of Nathan herald, moved from it into the large brick home to the northeast which today serves as the Fort Zumwalt Park residence.
By 1926 both wings of the house had disappeared. The cellar had been filled in and all out buildings had vanished. The Fort ad 47 acres around it became a state parkin 1936 and a chapter of the DAR erected a monument 300 yeards away , along U.S. 40, as a memorial to the fort and early settlers.
Contributor Notes: Louisana, Mo is on the Mississippi River in Pike Co. Mo. and I am suspicious the Christopher, Nathan and other Zumwalt graves we found in Pike co. IL. as well as our Lincoln Co. Zumwalts are some of the descendants to this family as they md into the McCoys and other repeat families. There are many Zumwalts in the McCoy and Kroh families. We also found Lewis graves. My husband's grandmother Elizabeth Frances Groshong was a McCoy d/o John & Ellen LEWIS McCOY. I hope someday to have time to run this part of the family for genealogy. The children need this information for their schooling. -jg
File contributed for use on USGenWeb/MOGenWeb Lincoln County page by June Groshong, 12 June 2007.
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