Biddle, Bissell and Cooper

Elizabeth Davis

The Revolutionary War was over. Our nation was governed by the Constitution.The United States had more than doubled its size under the Thomas Jefferson administration’s Louisiana Purchase. Explorers, trappers, fur traders, pioneers and settlers were crossing the Mississippi River in great numbers seeking adventure, riches and a better life.

Who were some of these brave men who ventured forth to tame the unknown and ended up defending our nation against a second war with Great Britain in the War of 1812?

Thomas Biddle was born in Philadelphia in 1790, the son of a Revolutionary War officer. Two of his brothers had served in the US military with distinction. During the War of 1812, Captain Biddle became a war hero when he captured the only artillery piece at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. He also fought during the siege of Fort Eric. After the war, he was promoted to major and assigned to St. Louis as paymaster of the army.

Daniel Bissell was born in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1769. His father and brothers were solders and military leaders. Bissell was only twelve when he served during the Revolutionary War as a fifer with Connecticut’s troops. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1788 and moved to Missouri in 1804. He was appointed Commander of Fort Bellefontaine in 1808 when his brother Major Russell Bissell died. Bissell served with distinction during the War of 1812 and was promoted to brigadier general in 1814.

Another prominent family that eventually settled in the Boonslick area was Benjamin Abbott Cooper, Sr. Born in Virginia in 1756, he was a big man, a natural leader and he served as a ranger in a Virginia militia company during the Revolutionary War.

He fought Native Americans in Kentucky where he met Daniel Boone. Cooper and his family moved to St. Charles County in 1806. They tried to establish a settlement near Boone’s Salt Lick, but as Native American claims still were pending, the territorial governor ordered them back.

They returned in 1810. During the War of 1812, there were forts on both sides of the Missouri River, but most of the settlers joined forces on the north side of the river after the war. As in Virginia, Cooper served in the ranger militia during the war. On March 22, 1821, the same year Missouri became a state, Cooper’s daughter Nancy married into the Sappington family, which was yet another prominent family in central Missouri’s history.

Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News since April 2008, She has covered the War Between the States, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she syndicated her column statewide in September 2018 and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to