Cote Sans Dessein Township, Callaway County, Missouri

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Cote Sans Dessein Township
Map highlighting Cote Sans Dessein Township, Callaway County, Missouri.svg
Coordinates: 38°38′18″N 092°00′07″W / 38.63833°N 92.00194°W / 38.63833; -92.00194Coordinates: 38°38′18″N 092°00′07″W / 38.63833°N 92.00194°W / 38.63833; -92.00194
Country United States
State Missouri
County Callaway
 • Total 48.82 sq mi (126.43 km2)
 • Land 47.29 sq mi (122.49 km2)
 • Water 1.52 sq mi (3.95 km2)  3.12%
Elevation[1] 551 ft (168 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 1,122
 • Density 23/sq mi (8.9/km2)
FIPS code 29-16642[2]
GNIS feature ID 0766376

Cote Sans Dessein Township is one of eighteen townships in Callaway County, Missouri, USA. As of the 2010 census, its population was 1,122.[3]


Cote Sans Dessein Township covers an area of 48.82 square miles (126.4 km2) and contains no incorporated settlements. It contains six cemeteries: Farmer, High Hill, Middle River, Riverview, Thorp and Williams.

The streams of Cason Branch, Gallons Creek, Muddy Creek, Rivaux Creek, Rocky Branch and Sand Springs Branch run through this township.


The township is named after a town settled by the French before 1815 on land granted to Jean Baptiste Roy in 1808. By 1818 there was a horse mill, school, and a Methodist preacher began making regular visits.

The name "Cote Sans Dessein" means literally "hill without design". Translated, it could be "hill by itself", "isolated hill", or "accidental hill". This is in reference to the hill along the north bank of the Missouri River that appears to belong with the many hills on the south side. However, the river is between, thus leaving this hill alone and making its placement look somewhat accidental.

In a letter written in 1883, T. J. Ferguson wrote that the name was pronounced by the old French as "Cote Sans Dusaw".[4]

Cote Sans Dessein is a hill on the north bank of the Missouri River located just across from the confluence of the Osage River with the Missouri at latitude 38.588812, longitude -91.985099, about 12 miles (19 km) east of Jefferson City. The hill is a unique geologic formation in that it stands on the north bank of the river, nearly a mile across the river valley from the north bluff. It is referred to in the area as Cote Hill.

The east end of Cote Sans Dessein became the site for an early settlement, the second village to spring up west of St. Louis, settled approximately 1808, and a thriving riverboat landing and trading village. It was the site of several documented battles with Indians during the War of 1812 and was recommended as a site for the first capitol of the state of Missouri by Jonathan Ramsey, head of the Missouri Capitol Commission, before clouded land titles in the area made the current site of Jefferson City more acceptable due to a relative abundance of untitled lands more suitably situated.

An area approximately 200 to 400 yards (180 to 370 m) east of Cote sans Dessein hill became the site for the early settlement known as French Village of Cote sans Dessein. It is commonly accepted that the village of Cote sans Dessein was settled in 1808 by part of the residents of La Charette in concert with the fur trading Choteau family of St. Louis. The village of La Charette in today’s Warren County was noted as the last outpost of society west of St. Louis by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in their expedition of 1804-1806. The Cote sans Dessein village prospered and became the “jumping off point” for settlers coming into the Osage, Cole, and Callaway County area. The 1884 History of Callaway County documents over 80 individuals known to be present in Cote sans Dessein in 1817. As more settlers from Virginia, as well as Kentucky, flooded into the area, the village grew and prospered and became a significant trading village in the very early days of the steamboat era. It was at this time that Bennett's Landing and the Cannel Coal refining plant of Callaway Mining and Manufacturing were established at the east end of Cote Hill.

The momentous flood of June 1844, known as the record flood of the Missouri River until that of 1993, virtually destroyed the village of Cote sans Dessein. Following that flooding event approximately two-thirds of the residents moved to higher ground south of the river in Osage County. They named the village "French Village", which later became known as Dauphine, and which was changed a third and final time to Bonnot's Mill, as it is known today. The remaining one-third of the residents scattered up and down the river valley inland for several miles, with only a small number rebuilding with more permanent structures at the steamboat landing at the very east end of Cote sans Dessein hill.

Flooding of the 1880s and 1890s, particularly 1883, 1891 and 1892, wreaked havoc on the second village of Cote sans Dessein, and in this time period most of the village was again relocated to the low bluff line along the north side of what is now Highway 94, centered around its intersection with what is now Hwy AA. The store was moved and relocated to the west side of Hwy AA about 150 yards north of its intersection with Hwy 94. Only a few houses remained in the area of what once was the second village of Cote sans Dessein.

In 1895, the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad, commonly known as the KATY railroad, was completed and small communities at railroad stops along the line sprang up almost immediately. Residents of the area frequently displaced by flooding in the Missouri River bottoms began immediately to relocate to these railroad communities to take advantage of the commercial opportunities offered by the railroads in locations that were above the floodplain of the Missouri River. It was at this time that the third village of Cote sans Dessein relocated in its entirety to Tebbetts, approximately two miles to the east.

Descendants of those early settlers documented at Cote sans Dessein may be found scattered up and down both sides of the Missouri River valley and in the surrounding higher lands for dozens of miles.

Not as well known is that Cote Sans Dessein was the site of the first railroad in the state. Earlier incorporations of railroads in Missouri by the Missouri Legislature so it was not the first; but was very very early. The earliest incorporated railroad in Missouri was the Carondelet & St. Louis railroad on Feb. 06, 1837 and the Callaway Mining and Manufacturing railroad was incorporated by the Legislature on Feb. 16, 1847, with many others in between. It was the first instance of a very local railroad associated with business interests that could be found.


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