- In the spring of 1798, Isaac Hostetter, Polly and their daughter Betsy, along with two Keithly families left Kentucky in a homemade canoe. First they had been on the Licking River in Kentucky, where they made a pirogue 60 ft long out of a linwood tree, hollowed into a boat. The trip was dangerous and the craft crude. With stout hearts, a firm faith in the future, and all their earthly possessions, they started out for a country of which little was then known. The steered their frail and uncertain craft up that historical stream, from the mouth of the Licking River and then down the Ohio River to its confluence with the Mississippi River, then up that Great Father of Waters, landing a few miles north of the mouth of the Missouri River on the West bank of the MIssissippi RIver, at the mouth of a little creek, now called Hostetter Creek in St. Charles County and then turned upstream to settle at a place still called Hostetter's Spring. These families were among the first white settlers to settle in this part of the country.
From 1798 to 1804 they lived under Spanish rule, but did not become Catholic as required. They had family prayers and services in homes. They had been in no danger, since the authorities were lenient. In Pike County, the Hostetter home was opened to all preachers and those who wanted to gather for Gospel singing.
They experienced the New Madrid earthquake which began in December 1811 with recurring shocks for a year. Some cabins fell down, as far north as St. Charles County, and that in their home (too sturdily built to fall) the back logs rolled out of fireplaces into the rooms, and items placed on shelves and mantles rattled or fell to the floor.
MILITARY: Isaac Hostetter fought in the War of 1812. He was a LT. in Capt. Journey's Co.. of Riflemen of the Louisiana Terr. Militia in 1809. According to "Missouri Genealogical Records & Abstracts V3, by Sherica K. Eddlemon, Heritage Books, Inc. 1990, p 137; Isaac Hostetter, Lieutenant, 3rd Company, 1st Batallion, Missouri Terr. MLilitia. From ST Charles Co.. under Capt. Saml. Ginson. Maj Benj. Cooper, LT Col Daniel M. Boone 1814.
From their arrival in 1798 to 1817, they lived near Hostetter's Spring with related families who joined them. Isaac Hostetter and Mary (Polly) Keithly were parents of thirteen children. They helped build the fort with a stockade in St. Charles Co. and lived there during the (Femme Osage) Blackhawk War. The family had to stay in a fort; on one occasion they stayed 19 days on account of being surrounded by Indians during the War of 1812. Polly's brother Abraham Keithly was scalped while out hunting the horses.
Isaac, paid $6 for a dozen pewter plates for their Sunday dishes; most of the ware was made of lead. Once in a while a moulder came around and made all the metal ware in new designs. Every neighborhood had a potter who sold jars and crocks, but they lacked the smooth glaze of later crocks. Each member of the family was permitted to keep any money he or she had earned, for they were a family of "means."
John Mallory a wandering schoolmaster with an extensive education, was suspected of being one of the young Eastern men stranded in St. Louis when Aaron Burr's plot failed there. Isaac, schooled in the ways of the frontier, asked no questions and permitted no speculation about the past of persons he invited into their home. It was considered rude to probe into ancestry. The young man was hired to teach the Hostetter children to read, write, read music, and teach them anything considered honest and useful for frontier living. This education seems to explain the success of many of the family, for there were no schools at that time.
About 1817-19 Issac and his family moved up the River to Pike Co. They settled on a farm about 3.5 miles northeast of Frankford. He came seeking a home and found a genial climate and fertile soil and he began at once to clear the forest and prepare the virgin soil for cultivation. His tasks were herculean. But his strength and energy were equal to the undertaking. Very soon the clearing responded to his labors and abundant crops blessed his endeavors. There was but little danger of suffering for any of the necessities of life. These could all be produced from the earth or found in the forests or nearby streams. Game of every kind was abundant. Bears, panthers, and deer roamed the forests. Turkeys, quail and pheasants were plentiful.
Isaac Jr. died March 19, 1823 of pneumonia. He was only seven years old. At that time Isaac laid out a family cemetery on his farm. There are five generations of Hostetters buried there. Along with seven families of slaves. Isaac's grave is in the very center of the cemetery. Isaac and Polly's daughter Eunice was the first white child whose birth was recorded in Pike Co. Missouri. The Isaac Hostetter farm was the stopping off place for many eminent preachers of those days. The first Christian Church in the area was founded in his home in 1825. On November 5, 1836, Rev. Alexander Campbell, graduate of Duke Young, preached the gospel there. Those in attendance were Isaac Hostetter, William Fisher, Thomas Pitt, Thomas Cash, John Steele, Robert Brashears, Mary Hostetter, Martha Pitt, Nancy Pickett, Cynthia Ann Hostetter, William Pickett, W. Pitt, Joseph Pitt, Ammon Hostetter, John O'Rear, Joseph Shotwell, Elizabeth Fisher, Margaret Pitt, and Sally Shotwell. In 1853 Gabriel Hostetter, Son of Isaac, became a Deacon of this same church.
It is likely that Isaac knew Daniel Boone and his family in Missouri. He also must have been a competent frontiersman to have traveled so far and lived through the troubled times while becoming a successful farmer and militia officer. He was probably a slaveowner.
Isaac Hostetter died Christmas Eve December 24, 1844. He was buried in the family cemetery, behind his home on Christmas Day.
Mary Polly Keithly Hostetter died March 18, 1855. She was laid to rest next to her husband on the family farm.
from "Ralls County Missouri" by Goldena Roland Howard
1890, The Hostetter Family Reunion, Frankford Chronicle, September 19
"The living children of Isaac and Polly Hostetter, six in number, assembled at the residence of Gabriel Hostetter, 3 miles east of this place, on the 11th inst, this being the old homestead where some of the children were born and most of whom were raised. The following children were present: Mrs. Ann Roland, aged 85 years, Enoch Hostetter, aged 80 years, Mrs. Eliza Fisher, aged 76 years, Mrs. Eunice Fields, aged 72 years, Gabriel Hostetter, aged 66 years.
The day was one of unspeakable pleasure to these brothers and sisters assembling at the old home to once more view the scenery and old landmarks of the home of their childhood days. They found the same hills and hollows, the same brook, the same old spring surrounded by the same majestic old elms, that quenched the thirst and gave a shady retreat in their youthful days; but to meet and greet each other after an absence of long years, was a pleasure that would have to be felt and possibly then the pen would fail to describe. Notwithstanding the fact that they are all on the down-hill side of life, walking in the shades of the past; yet a merrier gathering around a festive board has seldom been witnessed. This family has a history that is worthy at least of a short sketch:
Isaac Hostetter was born in Baltimore, Md., Aug. 2nd, 1770; emigrated to Kentucky with his father in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and settled near the head waters of the Licking River, near the present site of Mt. Sterling, county seat of Montgomery county; about the year 1796 was married to Poly Keithley, who was four years younger than himself. In the Spring of 1799 he and three others on the banks of the Licking River, dug a canoe out of a poplar tree which was 60 feet in length with three feet beam, in which the four families, with all their household goods and supplies, started for a country of which but little was known at that time, the territory of Louisiana, then belonging to France; steering their frail and uncertain craft along the meanderings of that placid and historic stream, the Licking, to its mouth; thence down the Ohio to its confluence with the Mississippi, thence up that stream, landing about twelve miles above the mouth of the Missouri on the west bank of the Mississippi, at the mouth of a little creek called Barracke, in the now county of St. Charles, and settled about four miles west of the point of landing on what was afterwards known as Hostetter's Branch. These four families were the American pioneers of this part of the country; they were the first native Americans north of the Missouri and west of the Mississippi rivers. They procured a land-grant from the French government, and went to work with a will known only to those early pioneers, to carve a home out of a wilderness infested with mosquitos, reptiles, wild animals, and treacherous Indians. During the war of 1812 the four families were forted in Mr. Hostetter's dwelling house; building a stockade around it so as to take in the well and out-buildings. The government, through its extreme generosity, furnished them four militiamen; the little garrison commanded thirteen guns all told. During these hazardous and trying times this brave little colony struggled through the three long years of that eventful war, being surround and beseiged by the hostile redskins for weeks at a time; cut off from their source of supplies and communication with other colonies south of the Mississippi River, their hardships and deprivations were deplorable. But their bravery and fortitude were equal to the occasion. Two years after the close of the war, being in 1817, Mr. Hostetter sold out his possession and embarked in a keel boat for what was then known as the Salt River country. After a tedious trip of several days he reached the mouth of Salt River, proceeding up that stream landed at Kinney's ford, some five miles distant from the place where he settled and spent the remainder of his life. They had 13 children, seven girls and six boys; 12 of whom have lived to ripe old ages; eleven of them have raised families, and the most of them prolific, as may be attested by the fact that the eleven families number one hundred and five children, the youngest grandchild being just one hundred years younger than his grandfather. The descendants of the subjects of this sketch are supposed by some members of the family to exceed at the present time, five hundred, and are scattered from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean - surely they have not disobeyed the injunction to go forth and replenish the earth. But wherever found they are marked by those traits characteristic of the family, industry, sobriety, and thriftiness - it is the exception to find one with immoral propensities, or fails to pay a debt - mirthful and jolly; nearly to a fault, and would much prefer laughing to crying, even over dire misfortune."