Franklin Island – One Family’s Heritage Along the River

Presentation by Paul Davis, son and grandson of the founders of Davisdale Farms

Paul Davis shares stories from his family’s fifty-year history on these treasured public lands prior to their acquisition by MDC.

Published: January 23, 2024

Presentation by Paul Davis, son and grandson of the founders of Davisdale Farms

Original presentation took place January 23rd, 2024 in Columbia, MO

  • Click here to view or download Paul’s presentation as a PDF
  • Click here to view or download Paul’s presentation transcript
The Missouri River Commission maps of 1894 show a very different riverscape than our river today. This map portion shows Boonville, Franklin Island and a very different course of Bonne Femme Creek. This map was created before the Davis family moved to the area.

Hosted by Missouri River Relief

The Davis family has deep roots in Howard County, MO, and along the banks of the Missouri River. Today’s Franklin Island and Davisdale Conservation Areas, in the floodplain and river hills across the river from Boonville, were farmed by three generations of the Davis family before being acquired by the Missouri Department of Conservation 45 years ago. This history stretches back to the days when Franklin Island was still an island, before the river was channelized by the Corps of Engineers and before today’s strong levees protected much of the rich Howard County floodplain.

Paul Davis, son and grandson of the founders of Davisdale Farms, shared stories on the fifty-year history of these treasured public lands prior to their acquisition by MDC. He also described the impact of the “Design for Conservation”, MDC’s land acquisition and management program made possible by a Missouri 1/8 cent sales tax.

Davis also shares about the history of Interstate Marine Terminals, Inc. (IMT), the barge unloading facility located on the north bank of the Missouri River, just downstream from the Missouri River Bridge at Boonville, Missouri. IMT was also owned and operated  by the Davis family for over thirty-five years. Davis successfully rebuilt the facility following the “Great Missouri River Flood of 1993”.

Paul retired in 2016 after eight years as Cooper County Eastern District Commissioner. For the past seven years Paul has served as a volunteer campground host at Bennett Springs, Montauk and Table Rock State Parks, where he enjoys trout fishing on his days off. Paul and his wife Debby spend the summer months on the road in their camper, exploring the western US and visiting their children, Jennifer and Andrew in the Seattle, WA area.

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Special thanks to Les Bourgeois Vineyards for giving us the opportunity to use their beautiful space overlooking the Missouri River. All speakers are presenting for free! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us!

The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place in St. Charles.


The views and opinions expressed by our presenters do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of Missouri River Relief, the Big Muddy Speaker Series or any of the partners that support this public forum. The Big Muddy Speaker Series believes that hearing diverse perspectives is a crucial building block for an informed public.


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