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Early settlement of a frontier community: The Platte Purchase, 1836–1850

H. Jason Combs, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The Platte Purchase region of northwest Missouri, comprising the present-day counties of Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Holt, Nodaway, and Platte, was not included in Missouri's present boundaries until 1837. Originally this area was a portion of the lands west of the Mississippi River reserved for Native American relocation. The acquisition of this territory by the state of Missouri in 1837 was primarily due to a change in the United States government's Indian policy, to Indian conflicts, and to the ever-present land hungry pioneer. The overall objective of this research is to analyze the historical geography of pioneer settlement in the Platte region from 1836–1850. Specifically, this dissertation examines the process of clearing Native American title to the Platte lands, revealing details of the treaties and the government's attitude toward Native Americans throughout the removal process. Next there is an evaluation of the origins and demographic characteristics of the earliest settlers in the Platte region. This will include mapping and explaining their settlement patterns, determining if a latitudinal pattern of migration and settlement was present, and if there is a relationship between the age and birthplace of the early pioneers. The impact of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 on the settlement of the Platte region is also examined. This political action not only influenced the settlement location of numerous whites, but also allowed a large African-American population to be established in the area. The analysis reveals the impact slavery had on the agricultural practices, economics, and the settlement patterns of the Platte Purchase region. Finally, there is a deeper analysis of the settlement pattern created by the earliest settlers in Atchison County, Missouri. The settlement pattern is explained by reference to the physical environment, settler background preferences, economic activities, and speculation, among other matters.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Combs, H. Jason, "Early settlement of a frontier community: The Platte Purchase, 1836–1850" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9967413.