Fort Osage

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Description: Postcard of a George Fuller Green painting of Fort Osage.
Subject: Forts; Fort Osage
Date: n.d.
Location: SC58
Collection: Mrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)See finding aid:,36981
Historical Article: In this oil painting the late George Fuller Green pictures Ft. Osage as it was when it was in use, 1808-1825, with the Missouri River below the 70-foot cliff. The outpost was the first white settlement in this part of the continent. It was the first settlement established in the new lands acquired by the United States from France, in the Louisiana purchase. It was 300 river miles from the nearest white habitation. William Clark had noted the strategic site on his westward journey of exploration with Meriwether Lewis. He returned to build the fort two years after the expedition ended. President Thomas Jefferson ordered the construction of the fort to discourage trouble making by the Spaniards among the Indians and to prohibit the British from appearing westward of the Mississippi. George S. Sibley was the first factor or Indian agent and he and his bride were host to a steady stream of westward travelers. John Jacob Astor's Astorians stopped for three days in 1811 on the way to the mouth of the Columbia River to establish a fur post; the 81-year-old Daniel Boone with his Indian servant visited two weeks on the way to a spring hunt on the Platte River in April, 1816; in 1819 the Long expedition stayed 10 days at the fort on the way west. The fort is known to history primarily for the treaty concluded there in 1808 with the Osage Indians. This friendly tribe, unlike others, had welcomed U.S. sovereignty and had petitioned Washington for the fort and trading post. After the fort was built, as many as 5,000 Indians camped around the stockade at one time, waiting to buy blankets, traps, guns, ammunition and other needs. They traded or sold buffalo robes, deer skins (dressed and shaved) and bear, beaver, raccoon, wolf, fox, badger and muskrat furs. In 1822 all government trading posts were closed, and the Osage Indians moved west. Private traders never liked the idea of government competition in business. In 1825 Ft. Osage was dismantled. Battlements were left to decay. Gradually buildings disappeared as the timbers were taken away by settlers. The whole area was covered by a tangle of wild vines, shrubs and trees. In 1940 the 24 X 24 foundation of the factor's house was discovered by highway workmen removing a huge walnut stump. The Native Sons of Kansas City went to work on plans for a restoration. George Fuller Green and James Anderson, members of the organization, devoted almost full time to the project for more than eight years. Washington archives furnished maps, architectural plans and descriptive appraisals and inventories as filed annually by Sibley to the Indian department. Green, retired Kansas City architect and a former member of the park board, drew the plans for the restoration and supervised the execution of the plans. James Anderson, historian, did the research. He even had truck loads of bagged soil sent from the fort's old site to his home where he spent many hours sifting soil. He found artifacts pertinent to the activities of the fort. Such as military and clothes buttons, some with back marks, fragments of china, pottery and hand blown glass, handwrought nails, military uniform insignia, fragments of pipe stems, bowls and bridle parts. All are on display at the fort today. Purchase and development of the site and construction of the buildings and stockades were done by Jackson County; 113 acres of ground were purchased. Blockhouse No. 1 was the first of the reconstructed buildings. It was dedicated with a ceremony, Sept. 11, 1948. Then followed the Factory (Indian trading house), officers quarters and bit by bit the other blockhouses. Green's painting, as shown on the old post card, hangs today over the primitive stone fireplace in Blockhouse No. 1 with the pictures of Indian chiefs and an original cannon nearby. Kansas City Times, July 24, 1974.
Barcode: 20000298
Item Type: Postcard


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