Miller’s Landing Day- The Legend of John Colter

May 11, 2024
Activities Begin At High Noon

Event in Downtown New Haven, Missouri

Miller’s Landing Day- The Legend of John Colter

This coming May 11th, New Haven will celebrate Phillip Miller & John Colter who were key to our identity. We invite you to step back in time and celebrate with us. Stroll the streets of downtown New Haven. Take in live music. See craftsmen at work and partake of food and vendor booths. Tour the quilt and art exhibits. Catch a short film about Colter’s Run. Enjoy some family time with the children. Let them learn about history while interacting with historical re‐enactors and artisans. Who knows? You may even find John Colter himself. End the day with a first class fireworks display from the banks of the flowing Missouri River. The event begins Saturday, May 11th at noon, and ends with fireworks at dusk around 8pm. Come Discover New Haven!

2024 Miller’s Landing Day Sponsors

Thank You to our Friends at INSP Network and the Walt Theatre for allowing us to show the “Legend of John Colter at the Walt Theater during Miller’s Landing Day!

John Colter ” The Legend”

Platinum Sponsor

Citizens to Elect Overschmidt for Commissioner
Citizens Bank

Miller’s Landing Day

Gold Sponsor

  • Anders CPA & Advisors


Silver Sponsor

  • Innovative Building Concepts, Inc
  • Bockting Trucking Co

Corps of Discovery

Bronze Sponsor

  • Scott Schroepfer Insurance Agency
  • Marlen Textiles
  • Boeuf & Berger

11:45 Children’s Parade Line Up
12:00 Children’s Parade
12:00 Vendor Booths and Kids Activities Open
1-4 Steve Leslie- Live Music
2:00 The Legend of John Colter- Showing at the Walt Theatre

4-6 Just Us- Live Music
4:00 The Legend of John Colter- Showing at the Walt Theatre

6-8 Wildhorse Creek Band

8:15 Fireworks Begin

Miller’s Landing Day Facebook page
Contest Registration
Become a sponsor of this event
Link to Pay for booth

Kids Activities

  • Monkey Bus
  • Large Double Slide
  • Contests & Activities

Live Music

  • 1-4 Steve Leslie
  • 4-6 Just Us
  • 6-8 Wildhorse Creek Band



What is Miller’s Landing?

In 1799, five years before the Lewis and Clark expedition, Daniel Boone left his home in Kentucky and headed to Missouri, enticed by an 850 acre grant of land in what was then Spanish territory. Among the party who made the trek with the Boone family was one Philip Miller. Boone was 65 years old when he made the trek. Philip Miller, just 21. The Boone’s settled on the north side of the Missouri and young Miller thrived under the patronage of the elder Boone. A few years on, in 1802, he married Naomi Richardson with whom he had 12 children in eighteen years. When Naomi passed away, Philip married Lucy McIntyre who bore him another nine.

All indications are that he was both a shrewd and hard working man. In July of 1818 Miller purchased two quarter sections of land the newly established Franklin County and moved his growing family south of the river. Within a year, the Independence became the first steamboat to traverse the Missouri, traveling from St. Louis as far as the Chariton river confluence, near the current town of Glasgow. It was followed soon thereafter by the military steamer, Western Engineer. It became obvious that the Missouri, though treacherous, was open for travel. Soon people and goods were moving westward by boat. At first it was a trickle, then a flood. Philip Miller eyed a section of riverfront land where the stony bluffs receded, leaving a broad flat area ideal for boat landing. Sensing an opportunity, in 1838 he purchased a square mile of property and began servicing the steamboats with wood, which was plentiful. His venture proved a popular stop for steamers to resupply fuel. Soon it was known simply as “Miller’s Landing.” It’s reputation was known from New Orleans to the Dakota territories.

Philip Miller died January of 1845, a wealthy man. This is evidenced not just by his land holdings, but in paying for two sons to attend Bethany College in Virginia. The court required his executors, which included his widow Lucy, to present bond of $40,000 as security which is indicative of the value of his estate. With the death of his widow and the other executor leaving the area, it took another ten years to settle the Philip Miller estate. In the meantime, big changes were taking place. The Missouri Pacific Railroad had been chartered in 1849 and plans were made for a rail to parallel the river which would pass right through Miller’s Landing. One of Philip’s sons, Samuel Clark Washington Miller, succeeded his mother Lucy as executor. Plans were made to auction some of the Miller land in 1855, just months before the railway would be pushing through. Samuel Miller partnered with the high bidder on this prime property, Elijah Hammack, to plat a subdivision of the riverfront land, officially establishing Miller’s Landing as a town. It was quickly a bustling river port, with buildings being raised and businesses being established. Supplies for the railroad were brought in by riverboat, along with the men to do the work. In the next two years the town grew quickly. When a second subdivision was platted a decision was made to change the town’s name to “New Haven.” As the new identity replaced the old, the name of Miller’s Landing receded into memory.

So, who is John Colter?

Portrait of John Colter Millers Landing New Haven MO

Philip Miller accompanied Daniel Boone on his journeyed to Missouri to take up land offered by Spain, but within a year the land west of the Mississippi belonged to France. Thomas Jefferson, ascending to the presidency, was troubled by the prospect of a new French empire along the border of our growing country. He was able to negotiate the sale which became known as the Louisiana Purchase. Anxious to see what lay in the interior of the newly acquired territory, Jefferson considered an exploration and in 1803 the “Corps of Discovery” was commissioned under Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. As Lewis and Clark began their epic journey up the Missouri River from Saint Louis in 1804, they camped overnight at La Charrette. This small French village was the westernmost white settlement on the Missouri. The next day May 26, 1804 they passed the confluence where the Big Berger Creek (then called Shepherd’s Creek) flowed into the Missouri. This was the spot on which the town of New Haven would grow some decades later.

With the sojourners on the trip was a group of “nine young men from Kentucky.” Among this group, John Colter distinguished himself during the expedition as a hunter and woodsman, developing the skills which helped him and has companions survive in the wilderness. Fulfilling the original commission to trace the Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, Lewis and Clark turned their expedition around for their return trip. On the return trip in 1806, Colter asked for and received an early discharge to remain behind in the Dakota Territory trapping. The following year he opted to return to Saint Louis.

Just a week away from civilization, he encountered Manuel Lisa, and his Missouri Fur Trading Company, heading up river towards the Rocky Mountains. The lure of adventure and profit was too much for Colter and again he headed for the wilderness in their company. It was on this trip that the real legend of John Colter came into focus. In October of 1807, John Colter was sent to establish a trade relationship with the Crow Nation. In doing so he crossed the continental divide, traversed the Teton Pass, and became the first man of European descent to see the wonders of the Yellowstone territory. The following spring he returned to camp at Fort Raymond with fantastic tales of geysers, bubbling mud pots and steaming pools of water in the dead of winter. His tales were ridiculed at first, and the mysterious region was referred to as “Colter’s Hell”.

Once more, Colter went trapping up river, this time with John Potts, another member of Lewis and Clark’s Expedition. They traveled into what is now Montana, into the Blackfeet Nation, a tribe of which he had made enemies. While setting traps on the Jefferson River, the two were confronted by hundreds of Blackfeet braves who ordered them ashore. Colter complied but his partner, Potts, shot at the group instead and was instantly killed. As a lone captive, Colter was given a slight chance of survival. Stripped and unarmed, he was given a head start. Then he was pursued by a select group of young warriors. Running for his life, he outpaced his pursuers, except for one. Having put distance between himself and the pack he turned suddenly on the lead man. With the element of surprise he was able to kill him with his own weapon. Still being hunted, he took refuge in a beaver lodge. Traveling only at night, unshod and nearly naked, he made his way back to Manuel Lisa’s trading outpost some three hundred miles away. When he arrived his friends barely recognized him. The episode became known as “Colter’s Run.” As the tale spread, it was printed in newspapers back east and earned Colter renown as the extraordinary Mountain Man he was.

With this final adventure behind him, Colter had had enough. He returned to Saint Louis and collected his back pay for his time with the Corps. In 1810 he married a woman named Sallie and purchased land on the bluffs over his beloved Missouri River, near Beouf Creek. For awhile he lived a quiet life but when the War of 1812 began he enlisted in the Rangers, under Nathan Boone, the youngest son of Daniel Boone. Unfortunately, he succumbed to jaundice and died November 22, 1813. His body was shipped home and buried on his homestead. The exact location is unknown and unmarked. The town of New Haven erected a monument to John Colter, the town’s adopted son.