Clay County Archives
and Historical Library
Preserving the Past for the Present
John Dougherty participated in every notable aspect of the western frontier from the return of Lewis and Clark to the first rumblings of the War Between the States. Dougherty made significant contributions in the fur trade of the upper Missouri alongside such notable individuals as John Colter and Andrew Henry. He was an interpreter and natural historian to the team of scientists and painters - notably Thomas Say, Samuel Seymour, and Titian Peale - accompanying Stephen H. Long on the first federally-sponsored scientific expedition to the interior of the continent. John Dougherty’s skills as interpreter and sub-Indian agent facilitated the reach of the U.S. Army up the Missouri River to establish the remote outposts of Martin’s Cantonment and Fort Atkinson. In the 1830s, Dougherty responsibly conducted the duties of his office as Indian agent on behalf of the tribes of the upper Missouri River during the rise of Jacksonian democracy, pleading all the while to remedy the discord wrought by Indian removal - the placement of too many tribes within an area possessing insufficient resources to accommodate the needs of the total. While he personally eschewed religious revivalism, John Dougherty endorsed and ably assisted the outreach of missionaries John Dunbar, Samuel Allis, and Moses Merrill to the Pawnee and Otoe Indians to forward the assimilation of those tribes. He platted and built his own jump-off town on the Missouri River to accommodate westward expansion and conducted emigrant trade on the Oregon and California roads in company with Robert Campbell, facilitating the successful trek of those later travelers bent on traversing the Great Plains to the western slopes of the continent. John Dougherty served Clay County in the Missouri legislature as a Whig congressman in 1840 - determined to negate the influence of the American Fur Company and to reduce the calamitous effects of illicit liquor trade with Indians as countenanced by that entity. He was appointed colonel of the Third Regiment of Missouri Volunteers mustered for service in the Mexican War. In the political arena, Dougherty sought to best his opponents amidst the rise of unrest over the expansion of slavery following the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Of lasting import, John Dougherty crafted arguably the grandest Little Dixie plantation in the state of Missouri - known and acclaimed as Multnomah.
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