Before 1847, when Boone County was organized, its history was Iowa’s history. The first Europeans known to set foot in what later became Iowa were the French explorers Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette, who traveled down the Mississippi River in the summer of 1673 and visited Native American villages on the river’s western shore.
During the next 200 years, white settlers from the east and immigrants from Europe pushed into the Midwest, driving Native Americans westward. The US government encouraged the settling of western lands and tensions between various Native American tribes and white settlers increased as the government gained control over western territories. That control began with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, when Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory, of which Iowa was a part, from the French. Three years later, as a prelude to eventual settlement, Lewis and Clark explored the purchase lands, including what became the western boundary of Iowa.
Subsequently, Iowa became part of other western territories. In 1812, when Louisiana became a state, the Missouri Territory was formed out of the Louisiana Territory. Although the Michigan Territory was organized in 1805, Iowa did not become a part of that territory until 1833. Three years later, Iowa became part of the Wisconsin Territory in advance of Michigan’s 1837 statehood. In 1838, the Iowa Territory was broken off from the Wisconsin Territory. Iowa became a state in 1846.
A critical conflict between government forces and Native Americans occurred in 1832 when Sauk leader Black Hawk attempted to retake the Illinois village of Saukenauk setting off the Black Hawk War. Three months later, Black Hawk and his warriors were defeated at the Bad Axe River in Wisconsin. Following the war, the Black Hawk Purchase of 1833 helped to open up Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa for settlement.
In the wake of the Black Hawk Purchase, Lt Col. Colonel Stephen W. Kearney lead three companies of the First Regiment of the United States Dragoons, up the Des Moines River from Old Fort Des Moines into southern Minnesota. Their mission was to assess the Indian situation in Iowa and to explore the land for future settlement. On June 23, 1835, Capt. Nathan Boone, youngest son of Daniel Boone and commander of Company H, camped near Mineral Ridge in what is now Boone County.