Providence, Boone Co., Missouri - 1844-1885

In 1819 a small town named Nashville (named after its founder Ira P. Nash) was founded just south of what would become Providence. It had several decades of growth; its proximity to the river making is a large shipping point. Its closeness to the river also proved to be its downfall, for in June of 1844 the Missouri River rose, inundating the town of Nashville under 8 feet of water1.

Shortly thereafter settlers from the the town (which had been swept away) moved to a higher elevation on a permanent rock bluff, located on a bend in the Missouri River in the southwest of Boone County. They called their new home Providence, "to symbolize both their acceptance of the loss and hope for the future."2

As with Nashville before it, Providence's placement made it a "a small shipping point on the river".3 The village became a bustling and prosperous place of commerce. A description of the village in its heyday may be found in a newspaper article from the 1850s; "Providence has been described as a charming southern community; picturesque walls and gardens, formal dances, fair women and a large slave population. In addition to John Parker's buildings, the largest of which were the hotel and a port house, Providence also contained four or five stores, and another hotel, a blacksmith shop, a cooperage, two or three drug stores, and a saloon."4

Providence saw only limited activity during the Civil War. In the spring and summer of 1862, many Missouri Confederate officers obtained leave to enlist recruits in Missouri. Colonel Joseph Chrisman Porter was one of these, becoming famous for eluding the pursuing Federal forces, while still managing to recruit thousands of men for the Confederate cause. He used Providence as a ferrying point to bring recruits across the Missouri River into Arkansas.5

Switzler's 1882 "History of Boone County, Missouri" gives the most detailed description of Providence available. "This village, which is situated on the Missouri, in section 20, of township 47, range 13, now contains several buildings, though, of course, is unincorporated. The first building erected there is the house now occupied by Dr. Riggs, and was built in 1844, by John Parker, who put it up for a residence. The next house was a store, built and occupied by Dr. Riggs, the same year, on the site now occupied by Tuttle & Connelly. It was destroyed by fire, and replaced by the present building. James Wood next erected a stone store, and then came a saloon, on the site of the present one. Other buildings soon followed, and Providence became a village and post-office. G.S. Tuttle served as postmaster many years, and doled out the mail to the good people of Providence. At this time the place boasts of two general merchandise (Tuttle & Conley and R.A. Roddy & Co.), one drug store (R.A.R. & Co.), and one grocery and liquor house (Frank Austeel). Bradford Lanham in the generalÊmechanic and undertaker, and robert Nivens plies the "art of Vulcan."1

The village was still in existence in 1917 (still showing on a 1917 plat map) but soon after it disappeared. The Missouri flooded in 1923, 1935, 1943, 1944 and 1947. Likely (as with its predecessor Nashville), the mighty Missouri river rose once again. When the waters subsided, the village was gone.

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Providence, Missouri

A plat map of Providence, c.1898