presence of permanent
non-Native American residents in what is today O'Fallon can be
substantiated as far back as 1796 when Jacob Zumwalt accepted Spanish
land grant #55. The land grant consisted of 450
arpents (383.8 acres) and was located on both sides of Belleau
Creek. Today's Fort Zumwalt Park sits on a portion
of this original land grant.
The history of the Zumwalt family and their homestead fort is a microcosm of American westward expansion and a tribute to the early settlers who came to the area in order to create a better life for themselves and their families, a process which still continues to this day. Jacob and his brother, Christopher Zumwalt, moved their immediate families first and five additional Zumwalt brothers followed them later. Local legend has it that Daniel Boone helped his friend, Jacob, locate his homestead at the brink of a hill that had a fresh spring below.
Zumwalt's Fort and Family Facts:
has it that before the War of 1812, Black Hawk, a Sauk chief noted for
his dignified manner, regularly bought whiskey from Adam Zumwalt, who
lived about six miles from Zumwalt's Fort, and danced with his
daughters. During the War of 1812, Black Hawk and a
band of warriors fought U.S. Rangers to a draw at the Battle of the
Sinkhole in Lincoln County off present-day Highway 79 just north of Old
The War of 1812 ended with the Treaty of Ghent in 1814 and after the local treaties were signed with the Native Americans at Portage des Sioux, it opened the floodgates to a tide of immigration from the eastern states and Europe. For the next twenty years, virtually all westward migration funneled through St. Charles and passed through present-day O'Fallon. The settlers' homes were generally far apart and the mills and trading points were far apart as well.
Travel was tedious and a railroad had not yet entered the state. Since the wooded areas of Missouri contained only Indian trails in the 1820's, it is easy to understand why the settlers chose the path of least resistance - the river. Most of the Anglo-American immigrants from Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia traveled on a glorified raft called a flatboat to their new homes. The early German immigrants usually found their way to this area by way of either New York or New Orleans, through St. Louis and St. Charles in search of farmland in this fertile area between the two great rivers. The earliest of the well-traveled trails to reach what was to become O'Fallon was the Salt River Road. The road grew from animal paths to an Indian trail made by those who collected salt from the evaporation of the Salt River in north central Missouri. The original Salt River Road started on Boone's Lick Road, one mile west of St. Charles, and extended through present-day St. Peters, O'Fallon, St. Paul, and Flint Hill where it becomes present-day Highway 61.
The portion of the Salt River Road that passes through O'Fallon is today named Highway P. Virtually all westward migration passed through present-day O'Fallon via the Salt River Rd. and Dardenne Prairie over the Boones' Lick Road, now called Highway N. There was also Mexico Road, which branched off from the Salt Lick Road. Large parts of these early paths passed through areas that are today within the O'Fallon city limits. People are still using these basic routes today to travel within the county.
The Audrains, Wells and Heald Families:
As you trace the families that make up O'Fallon's history, you can see that many of them moved to this area in fairly large groups. Some may have traversed together; others came weeks or months apart giving the earliest arrivals time to set up camp.