The History of Missouri River at Nashville and Providence Bend
Cooper’s Landing is located on part of the Spanish land grant owned by Ira P. Nash, a settler from Tennessee who in 1820 founded the river town of Nashville. Then comprised of a tobacco warehouse kept by James Harris and Abraham J. Williams, a post office and several other buildings, Nashville promised to be one of the largest shipping points on the Missouri River.
The Great Flood of 1844
No event perhaps in the history of Boone County is more marked than the June freshet of the Missouri River in 1844. At no time before or since was the river ever so full. The town of Nashville was reportedly overtaken by eight feet of water. Warehouse inventories were shipped by steamboat to St. Louis, businesses were swept away, and every inhabitant fled.
Ira P. Nash died in November of 1844. A tombstone at Old Union Cemetery in rural Columbia, Missouri bears his name; however, the local newspaper reported in 2009 that Mr. Nash was rumored to have been buried on his property.
Other Historical Tidbits
Ira’s father, William Nash Jr., came to America from England. He settled in Virginia where he married a widow named Bradford whose maiden name was Mary Morgan. Mr. Nash subsequently moved to Tennessee. His children were Ira, Elizabeth and William. Ira married and settled in St. Charles County, Missouri. (1)
Ira P. Nash, one of the first white men who settled in Boone County, was a medical doctor, an accomplished surveyor and an eccentric. Born in Virginia, he was a graduate of the University of Virginia and came to Missouri from Tennessee. He first came to Boone County in 1804 as surveyor for the the Spanish government, and located his own grant–the only Spanish grant in Boone County–on the banks of the Missouri River where the Bonne Femme Creek empties into it. “The most beautiful spot in all creation” he claimed. He returned to live here some twelve years later. He planted the first apple orchard in Boone County, was a farmer, a livestock dealer, owner of a fine stallion and had an interest in a steamboat. The town of Nashville named for him was laid out on his lands and was an important shipping center until the great overflow of 1844 washed it away. Dr. Nash was married three times. Before he died in 1844, he requested that he be buried in a standing position on the highest bluff on the Missouri River on his land so he could look down on his farmer neighbors whom he disliked intensely. (2)
I often heard of a man who knew Nash in St. Louis laugh and talk about his being in jail there…. He said that any prisoner could break out of it if he chose. He said that Nash was put in it for not paying a debt, but that he had no difficulty coming out of it whenever he wished to do so. In fact, he said, his being in jail did not interfere with his getting his arrangements perfected to break jail, as he called it whenever he got ready to start up to the Bonne Femme bottom. It was generally known that he intended to go and no one seemed to care. And so when he had all his plans arranged and everything that he wanted to take with him on the keel boat and the time came for the boat to start, he left the jail and took passage upon the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and that was the last they ever saw of him in St. Louis. He took care to take along with him a large lot of apple trees, which, I suppose, were the first trees set out in now what is Boone County. He built his house near the bluff. I suppose it was not far from Rutland. His farm reached back into the river bottom, but I understand that the river since washed away all of that bottom, so that now the channel of the river is just where his farm was. If my recollection serves me right, it was more than a mile from his farm to the river. It was covered with big cottonwood trees.
I do not know how often he was married. It seems that it was his misfortune in every case when he took a wife to find out in some time the want of congeniality which he considered unbearable and he would apply to the courts or to the legislature to get unmarried, so that he could try it again. I believe there was an exception to this. One of his wives committed suicide by hanging herself with a hank of thread in the loom house, presumably before he had come to the conclusion that she was unfit to remain as his wife. (3)
Old Ira P. Nash was indeed an eccentric genius. He was quite wealthy and it was said did many a generous deed. He was pugnacious and would fight on small provocations. At an early day he was tried in Boone County Circuit Court for fighting a duel. He was fined $100. He was among the first slave owners in Boone County to manumit certain of his slaves. (4)
(1) Pioneer Families of Missouri, p 362
(2) A Boone County Album, 1820 to 1971
(4) The History of Boone County, p 639