In the 1850 Federal census Missouri had a population of 682,044 people. Of those a little over 5,000 had been born in Maryland and moved to Missouri. There were also over 500 who had been born in Delaware and over 5.000 who had been born in Virginia.
One area of North Central Missouri was called “Little Dixie” due to the number of people from Virginia and other southern states that moved to it. The number of countries that make up “Little Dixie” varies with the source being referenced but from 13 to 17 countries spread across the north central part of Missouri. Little Dixie starts in the East at the Mississippi and the Salt River below Hannibal, Missouri and travels west from there.
Missouri came about by way of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Missouri was a slave state since its statehood in 1821. When the Southerners migrated to Missouri’s Little Dixie by way of the Mississippi river, they brought their cultural, social, agricultural, architectural, political and economic practices, including slavery. They grew hemp and tobacco and had large farms with 20 or more slaves. The area today is still well known for the antebellum houses and their political views.
One town, a large number of travelers passed through, was Hannibal, Missouri. The bulk of Hannibal is in Marion County and a small portion is in Ralls County. It is about 100 miles north of St. Louis. In 1830 the population was 30 and in 1850 the population was over 2,000. In 1850 Hannibal was a bustling river town. In 1859 the Hannibal St Joseph Railroad was completed. Many people migrating west would travel to Hannibal, then by train to St Joseph to be outfitted for the trip further west. Hannibal had 14 tobacco factories, mills, lumberyards, etc. At that time it was the third largest city in Missouri. With strong southern sympathy in Ralls and Marion County when the American Civil War broke out the Union sent large forces to those counties to ensure young men did not leave to join the southern forces and to ensure the Mississippi stayed in Union control. The Missouri government broke into two governments with the part that favored the south becoming a government in exile in Neosho, Missouri (located in the south west part of the state)
A number of families from Delmarva migrated to Little Dixie. One person who went there was George Bacon. George Bacon (1809-1874) was part of the Bacon family that lives just north of Delmar. George was the son of Henry and Mary Parker Bacon. Some members of the Parker family had gone to Missouri and settled on the Salt River around Shelbyville. Henry had served in the Delaware Militia during the War of 1812. George was involved in the Methodist church at an early age and continued that involvement throughout his life. While in his teens he was a clerk in a store in Laurel. He remained in Laurel until 1835 when a sense of adventure struck him and he headed west on horseback to Missouri. He investigated Palmyra, Missouri and found it his liking. He returned to Laurel Delaware and begged money from his father to help buy $2,000 worth of merchandise to be sent to Palmyra. $2,000 in today’s money would be about $62,000. He set up a retail store in Palmyra.
In 1837 he married, in Palmyra, Catherine Lakenan (1817-1904). They had children: Thomas H Bacon (1839-1908), Mary E. Bacon (1841- ), Robert L. Bacon (1844- ), and George Richardson Bacon (1846-1876). Since George was active in the Methodist church he donated land to build Bacon’s chapel on. He was also a trustee of the church when in 1844 the great split came to the Methodist church over slavery. He locked the doors of the church preventing the preacher from using the church until the church was placed on the side of Methodism George favored.
In 1847 he moved to Hannibal, Missouri, home of Mark Twain. There he had a very successful grocery business. He was active in the town.
In 1874 George Bacon died. He was buried in Mt. Olivet cemetery in Hannibal.
The Bacon family of Missouri was well aware of their relatives in Laurel. They visited some and during the American Civil War there was talk that the oldest son, Thomas, while in the Confederate Army had visited Laurel. George’s son, Robert was also in the Confederate Army.