BOLLINGERS TO LOUISIANA TERRITORY
The information presented below was sent to me as partial copies from the book entitled The Bollinger Connection
THE BOLLINGER MIGRATION TO THE LOUISIANA TERRITORY
George Frederick Bollinger, the eleventh (Mathias 10th) descendant of Heinrich (Henry) Bollinger and Elizabeth Wohlraber came to what is now the state of Missouri in 1797 with a neighbor, John Mussgenug, also called "Moose" a young hunting companion.
They owned good riding horses and being adventursome young men, traveled with their belongings strapped to their saddles. With the aid of their trusty rifles, they lived on the abundant game, as they made their way to the small Spanish outpost of Cape Girardeau located on the west bank of the Mississippi River in Upper Louisiana Territory.
George Frederick. soon became a friend of Louis Lorimier, the Commandant of the post. Lorimier was impressed by the big jovial North Carolinian whom he considered to be an intelligent, religious, peace loving and obviously bearing the earmarks of a born leader. Lorimier was anxious to bring more settlers to this area and after much discussion he made an offer of land concessions to new settlers and a large tract of land to George F. Bollinger provided he could persuade other colonists from North Carolina to settle in the Cape Girardeau area. Lorimier explained that according to Spanish rules, settlers could locate on as much as 800 arpen of land (about 640 acres) upon the payment of $41.00 about five cents an arpen, which was the cost of having the land surveyed. Improvements were required and settlers were expected to become permanent residents.
Lorimier’s enthusiasm aroused George’s interest and after some thought he agreed to accept the offer. Consequently, he returned to North Carolina and soon married Elizabeth Hunsucker, on her eighteenth birthday. George Frederick called his relatives and friends together and used eloquent persuasion to convince four brothers, John, Daniel, Philip, Mathias and two nephews, Mann Henry Bollinger and William Bollinger to return to Missouri with him. Other friends and neighbors were Peter and Conrad Statler, Joseph Nyswonger, George and Peter Grount (Grounds), Peter Crytes, John and Jacob Cotner, John and Isaac Miller, Frederick Limbaugh, Leonard Welker and Frederick Slinkard families also decided to join with him as their leader to the new land rich in fertile soil, virgin timber and abounding with wild fruits, nuts and game, to be had almost for the asking.
They harvested their abundant crops in North Carolina in the fall of 1799, stocked their ox-carts and covered wagons with their belongings and all the provisions and food for their livestock that their wagons would hold; started on their perilous journey westward. They faced the almost unknown territory with strong hearts and great courage, hoping to cross their largest obstacle, the Mississippi River, on the ice, frozen solid in mid-winter.
George Frederick’s wife, Elizabeth, was in poor health after giving birth to their only child, Sarah, in 1799. Elizabeth and Sarah were left behind with relatives that stayed in NC. Unfortunately, Elizabeth died and was buried in NC, never to see the land so glowingly described by her husband.
Many hardships were endured by the hardy little band of pioneers as they made their journey westward, moving forward a few miles each day, making and breaking camp each night, fording the small streams and floating across the larger ones on rafts which they made from the nearby trees, following roads that were barely trails through forests and valleys.
With the superb leadership of George F., they arrived on the east bank of the Mississippi River opposite St. Genevieve in late December and pitched camp to explore the river crossing possibility. Their expectations were better than they had hoped for as winter had come early to this area and the river was already covered with ice. Now to determine if the ice was thick enough to support their wagons,
The bitter cold continued while they had determined that the ice was not yet thick enough for a crossing. Some of the men hunted for wild game to supplement their food supply while others kept busy cutting huge piles of logs to keep a roaring fire burning day and night to provide heat for warmth and for cooking. The older boys took care of their live stock, doling out the feed that they had brought with them. Daily the thickness of the ice was examined and on Dec. 31, 1799, a chopped hole in the ice indicated thickness well over two feet. A few trips across were made on foot and horseback inspecting the condition of the ice and with the advice of the experienced men of St. Genevieve, a decision was made that the ice would support a loaded wagon. A wagon was chosen to be driven across with no one riding and the driver would walk ahead watching the ice and leading his team. The trip across and back to camp was made without the ice cracking and preparations were made for an early crossing New Years Day, Jan. 1, 1800.
It was imperative that they cross as soon as possible to replenish their supplies, which were becoming low, at the village across the river. Jan. 1, 1800, everyone was awakened early, and breakfast was prepared and hurriedly eaten before daybreak. The final preparations were made to break camp and all supplies were loaded. The weather was bitter cold with dark skies overhead and light snow was falling, but the decision had been made to cross and there was no turning back. The group was devout German Reformed Protestants and they gathered together in the early cold gray dawn to seek guidance from their God for a safe crossing of this obstacle to their destination.
The cracking of whips like pistol shots rang out over the heads of the oxen to coax them out upon the ice; the crossing had begun. All that were able, walked to lighten the loaded wagons, keeping a safe distance from the wagons, which were also spaced far apart to lessen the danger of breaking the ice. The crossing was made successfully with no mishaps, except extremely cold hands and feet.
The hardy townsfolk of St. Genevieve had built a large fire to warm and welcome the new pioneers. Safely across the Mississippi, they were relieved of their crossing fears and enjoyed the local hospitality. News from the East was exchanged for information of what they might expect ahead. Needed supplies were purchased and even the weather abated as the sun broke through the overhead clouds. Bidding their newfound friends adieu, they happily set forth on the last part of their journey to find their new land. They all settled along the Big White-water River as the rich soil was to their liking. They located in family groups spaced along the river according to their anticipated needs.
They lived in their wagons with cramped quarters,
but little complaining was done as they went about building corrals crudely
covered to confine and protect their animals. Straight oak trees were felled
to build each a cabin. The logs were expertly notched at the ends and fitted
together making the logs lie as close together as possible. Cracks were
chinked with mud and weeds or dried grass. Later floors were made of split
logs called puncheons, hewn as smooth as possible. Hides and blankets were
hung over openings for doors and windows. Fireplaces were constructed by
using native stone and mud. Clearing the land of trees along the river
was started and some land was covered only with tall weeds and grass. Spring
came early this year; garden seed was planted and the small cleared fields
were planted with grain….The fertile soil yielded bountiful crops and improvements
were made on their homes and barns were built and filled at harvest time.
The industrious band of pioneers continued to thrive and grow.