Rural Missouri Magazine

Where history came to rest

by Jeff Joiner

There are few towns in Missouri which can boast a more colorful past than Potosi, originally established as Mine a Breton in 1773 when the territory which would eventually become Missouri, was still governed by the Spanish.

Moses Austin came to the area southwest of St. Louis in 1797 with Spanish land grants and acquired a lead mine there. He donated land in 1814 on the edge of Mine a Breton for the town of Potosi, soon to become the seat of Washington County.

Austin died in Potosi in 1821 after securing permission from the Mexican government for Americans to settle in Texas. Austin’s son, Stephen, became a key figure in Texas history and many Missourians can claim roles in the founding of the state.

Moses Austin is buried in the Potosi cemetery adjacent to the town’s old Presbyterian Church (cover photo), built in 1833, which is now home to the Washington County Historical Society Museum.

The cemetery features the graves of many of the region’s earliest and most prominent civic leaders and includes a monument to Austin.

Admission to the museum, which is open from March through December, is free. For more information about the museum or cemetery call the historical society at (636) 239-0280.

Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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