Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
By Dr. William “Bill” Ambrose
Marvin Trask owned over half of the 640-acre township due west of the detachment’s six-day sickness camp at Silas Brickey’s spring and schoolhouse. As early as 1827, Marvin Trask owned a large acreage in and around Section 23 of T38-N, R3-W, 4 miles further down the Huzzah Creek. Trask was paid $0.10 per pound for “526 pounds of bacon for the subsistence of the teamsters belonging to a detachment of Cherokees” on Nov. 29, 1837. The community that had developed beginning in 1824 by Peter Brickey and in 1828 with James Sanders, was settled quickly by the large Brickey family. The rich riparian fields adjacent to the “Osage Fork of the Courtois,” as it was known then, and the fields comprising the second step up above the stream just out of the reach of frequent flooding, attracted these Scot-Irish settlers to farming after they found out that the mining opportunities would not support their families. The Trask brothers, Marvin, Josiah, and Putnam, had come to Missouri to engage in mining at Webster, a small mining town serving the mining interests on Hazel Creek. The brothers were at Webster by 1826; by 1827 all three had relocated to farming opportunities on the Huzzah Creek.
Crawford County was established in 1829 and until 1834, it included most of present-day Phelps and Dent Counties. On February 23, 1834, commissioners appointed to organize the new, smaller Crawford County, met at Liberty Hill on the Little Piney Creek to choose the new county seat. The town of Steeleville was selected, and in May of 1837 Marvin Trask was named superintendent of the building of a new courthouse. Trask submitted plans for a 26-feet by 30-feet story and a half building, but no action was taken even though funds had been appropriated. Finally in May of 1838, Trask’s plan for a 2-story 29-foot-square courthouse was approved and built. One has to wonder if the Cannon Detachment’s passage through the area in the winter of 1837-38 may have impacted the project.
Besides being a successful farmer and community leader of long-standing, Marvin was the Surveyor of Crawford County, and represented Crawford County in the Missouri State Legislature in 1844. He was the father of 18 children by 2 wives: Alice Steen was born in 1826 and died in 1852, Elizabeth Dawson survived Marvin’s passing in 1865, her death occurring in 1897.
Marvin Trask and Silas Brickey led the effort to establish the Steelville Academy, a general and liberal arts educational institution required to have no influence in favor of any religious denomination, but high moral discipline for all attendees. The institution was chartered by the Missouri Legislature in 1853.
Marvin’s bother Putnam Trask, with Putnam’s son, Andrew Trask, traveled overland to the gold fields in California in 1850. Mining continued into this second generation of the Trask family in Missouri also as Andrew bought land six miles up the Huzzah in T36-N, R2-W in 1856. The eastern half of Crawford County was certainly an important part of the Missouri mining region. Trask & Garrison’s Diggin’s, located near the middle of the west line of Section 5 in that township, yielded 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of lead over the course of its activity.
Undoubtedly the extended Trask Family supported additional detachments of Cherokees on their Trail of Tears through this most challenging region during 1838-39.
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