The first settler of Mississippi
County was a John Johnson who arrived around 1800.
Edward Matthews with his sons, Edward N., Charles
and Joseph settled Matthews Prairie shortly afterward,
and were joined there in the next two or three years
by Charles Grey, Joseph Smith, John Weaver, George
Hecker, and Absolom McElmurry.
About 1802 Abraham Bird, founder of Cairo, crossed
the river and established himself on the land previously
held by John Johnson. He established a business there
and was an agent for some of the large shippers of
In 1812 Newman Beckwith came from Virginia and
located between Norfolk and Wolf Island. About 1800
James, John and Andrew Ramsey came from Cape Girardeau
district and settled in the neighborhood of Norfolk.
In 1813 William Rush settled on Rush Ridge and about
1800 James Lucas settled Lucas Bend.
John and Drakeford Grey and Thomas Phillips were
pioneers of Wolf Island Township and William B. Bush
of Long Prairie.
By 1805 six families had arrived on Matthews Prairie
just north of where Charleston, Missouri
now stands. By 1830 there were quite a few families
on the Matthews Prairie.
The Bird family, one of the very earliest to settle
in the County, developed a very lively mercantile
business at the junction of the two rivers, and were
receiving and forwarding agents for shippers breaking
their cargo at this point. Here boats on the New Orleans
- St. Louis runs unloaded goods destined for and picked
up consignments from the East for delivery at Mississippi
Records mention Abraham Bird in 1811 as agent
at Birds Point near the mouth of the Ohio, loading
and unloading Christian Welts' flatboats from St.
Louis or his keelboats that plied the Ohio River.
Welts was a leading merchant from St. Louis.
On November 12, 1834, Isaac Sheppard obtained
from the U.S. Government the SW half of section 3-26-16
containing 160 acres. On November 12, 1834 Isaac Sheppard
and Mary Sheppard sold to Thankful Randol 80 acres
of this land for a consideration of $100.
On May 13, 1837 Thankful Randol sold 22 1/2 acres
to Joseph Moore for $337 and Charleston
was immediately laid out. Its original boundary was
12 blocks - four north and south and three east and
The south border was what is now Marshall Street,
the north border what is now Commercial Street, the
east border is now First Street, and the west border
is now Franklin Street.