LIFE AND TIMES OF COLE CAMP SETTLERS
As the gray January dawn broke across the Ozark hill, I felt snug, and worm, as I listen to the crackling fire in the wood stove. Standing at the kitchen window, coffee cup in hand, I gazed in amazement at the simplistic beauty of the hills, and woods. They stood tall and graceful, with their silhouette, against the new morning sky. I sat myself at the kitchen table, my eyes still fixed on the view out the window. I felt an over whelming peace come over me, as I seem to blend in harmony with GOD and nature. As I sat there, my mind wander, spanning time, to a distance pasted. When this country was young. Before bulldozers, pollution, high-rises, and oil shortageís. When the woodlands, and rivers were a territory, part of the Louisiana Purchase. Back when the few white men that roamed these hill were of a different breed. They were more Indian like, in attitude toward nature. They were respectful of her bounty, and awe by her magnitude. Such was the man that settled COLE CAMP MO. Ezekiel Williams was the first white man in Benton Co. Mo. But didnít make it his home until the spring of 1831.
I have always felt empathy for our ancestor, who came by ox drawn wagons. The early settlers that came to Benton Co. were mostly from Kentucky, and Virginia. Traveling trails and roads through wilderness, fording rivers, and streams, climbing steep hills, as they made there way to a new home. Ever thing they owned was in their wagon. Crocks, wooden buckets, and barrels, held their staples, salt, flour, cornmeal, dried beans, peas, vinegar, coffee, lard and some dried meat. The wild game was plentiful. There was fish in the streams, wild berries, possum grapes, nuts, and honey. These hardy pioneers were well knowledge to live off the land, but the hardships were great. Children died, woman died, while birthing. There were hostile Indians, rain, wind, and disease. They traveled very slow and methodical. It was most likely that all members of a wagon train were members of the same family, and friends. They were bound by tradition, religion, and language. These early settlers didnít liking too many people around them. That created laws, and they felt they were very capable of making there own rules to live by, and didnít need out side governing. Land in the more populated states had become very expensive, and they went where land was cheap. Your, and my ancestors came to build a town where the Ozark hills meets the prairie. They came from the 1830s to the 1860s. The Welch, English, German, and Irish. Zeke Williams had built a Trading Post, and a home on the Osage River in 1831.In1839 he moved his Trading Post, and Post Office off the Osage, four miles, to a small settlement and named the town Cole Camp. The trading post must have been a buzz of activity. Not only could they get their mail when it came in. They could get a drink, chaw of tobacco, flour, sugar and coffee. All food items came in 50# and 100# muslin sacks. These sacks were prized; it meant that it was one less thing the woman had to weave. They made ever thing from bloomers to bed sheets.
The times were simple, so was the food. Today they call the food, comfort food. I call it good home cooking. Please, let me hear from you. With your favorite old time recipes or food you remember from your childhood. Any storyís that came from your family that has roots in Cole Camp and surrounding areas. Iím Look forward to hearing from you. With your permission I will add these to the web site. Thank you Darlene