The Missouri leg from St. Louis to Kansas City MO

This post is a stub entry, which is constantly being added to with raw research data. If a reader has further information or websites that may provide something, please leave a comment.

Several parts of my forebears resettled from eastern states to Kansas from about 1870 to 1885. One of them, the Robert Ohnsat family, produced a family anecdote that their journey was by "Conestoga wagon along the National Road" in 1877. This post follows the likely journey westward through Missouri.

Previous post

The National Road actually ended in Vandalia IL, and National Road travel was eclipsed by the railway system, beginning as early as the 1860s. The federal funding provided for a paved high road to the Mississippi River, though the dispute between the legislatures of Missouri and Illinois obstructed actual surveying and construction beyond Vandalia. Their dispute lasted nearly two decades, with one state desiring a terminus at Alton, just above the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. and the other state desiring a terminus at St. Louis.


In practical terms, with the engineered road end in Vandalia, travelers could take two options to continue into Missouri. Mississippi River crossings were available by (ferry ? / bridge ?) at Alton IL to West Alton MO—just above the confluence of the Missouri River and Mississippi—and by bridge from East St. Louis IL directly into St. Louis MO.

St. Louis County

If their route preference took the Ohnsat family through the city of St. Louis, they would continue into St. Louis County and pass through Florissant, prior to crossing the Missouri River. Though Florissant is now a suburban part of St. Louis, it was very separate from the city in 1877, and its population was only 817 in 1880. (Other named suburbs were founded after the Ohnsat family journey: Ferguson in 1893 and University City in 1903.)

So far, no information is available on possible wayhouses in Florissant.

Topic: crossing the Missouri River at Florissant to St. Charles, in St. Charles County.

St. Charles County

Perhaps the more likely route would have been through Alton and West Alton, since then only one river crossing would be necessary. The way from West Alton allows the two paths to join at St. Charles, about a dozen miles west-southwest. The route west from there would go through St. Peters, O'Fallon, Wentzville, and Foristell in St. Charles County.

Topic: crossing the Mississippi River at Alton to West Alton, in St. Charles County.

St. Charles

Topic: wayhouses in St. Charles.


Topic: wayhouses in O'Fallon.


Topic: wayhouses in Wentzville.

Topic: when the road became known as Boone's Lick Trail, and if the identity extended all the way to St. Charles.
Quote from correspondent: "The Boonslick Trail, aka the St. Charles Road, went from St. Louis to St. Joseph, MO. One stage/mail/lodging stop was Sexton's Station, located about six miles WNW of Columbia, MO, where I live. It seems the station wasn't used as such after the mid-1800s "

Warren County

Topic: Warren County topography, distances.

Wright City

Topic: wayhouses in Wright City.


Topic: wayhouses in Warrenton.

Montgomery County



Callaway County



Boone County



Sexton's Station, located about six miles WNW of Columbia, MO

Cooper County



Pettis County



Saline County


Sweet Springs

Lafayette County



Jackson County


Lee's Summit
Kansas City, Missouri

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  1. Vanette emailed this information about the Boone's Lick Trail:
    "The Boonslick Trail, aka the St. Charles Road, went from St. Louis to St. Joseph, MO. One stage/mail/lodging stop was Sexton's Station, located about six miles WNW of Columbia, MO, where I live. It seems the station wasn't used as such after the mid-1800s but I have very distant relatives who were listed as born there in the 1880s. This may be a wild goose chase but perhaps this is the route they took so it might give you a starting point."

  2. CHIVIS wrote on an Ancestry.com board:

    "Although emigrants are portrayed in films traveling in large Conestoga Wagons, these wagons were generally used by merchants, who also traveled in wagon trains on occasion. The preferred method of transportation for emigrant families was the lightweight Prairie Schooner. The Prairie Schooner required fewer draft animals and reduced the expense of travel. The Prairie Wagons were actually manufactured in Pittsburg, PA in the 1820's.

    "As you stated the National Road did end in Vandalia, and several other trails forked off of the road. This site: Historic American Roads, Trails, & Migration Routes might get you closer to the name of the route or possible routes your ancestors took. It is at:

    "You should be able to locate the Way-stations for that time period in Directories. Also maps often times had a list of businesses.

    "You might want to send the Kansas Historical Society an email asking if such records exist and where you might be able to obtain them. They should know or at least lead you in the right direction."