The history of Birdís Point dates back to 1798 when the Bird family,
headed by Abraham Bird, received a grant from the Spanish government for
land opposite the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The
Lewis and Clark expedition arrived at Bird's Point on November 16, 1803.
Meriwether Lewis wrote in his journal that they had "reached the huts of
some persons who had established themselves for the purpose of trading
with the Indians." This was an important day for Lewis and Clark as it
was the first time they set foot within the Louisiana Purchase, the area
they had been sent to explore. In 1805 Bird established a plantation to
take advantage of the trade from the two major rivers. Periodic flooding
forced Bird to abandon the site in 1815 but members of his family stayed
and ran various business ventures on both sides of the river and made
Bird's Point as an important steamboat landing.
Bird's Point was a strategic site during the Civil War. The Battle of
Charleston occurred in the vicinity on August 19, 1861. Union cavalry
guarded the region for the early part of the war, deterring Confederate
attempts to regain control of the vital supply routes. Once secure from
enemy threat, Bird's Point was transformed into an important supply and
repair site, training camp, and military post for the Union army and
navy. Following the war, many of the military buildings were converted
to civilian usage, including the boat yard.
the 1880s, the area was an important railroad and river terminus for
cotton distribution, and a series of ferries facilitated movement of
cargo and passengers from Birdís Point to the Illinois. Bird's Point was
at its peak during the 1890s as the population grew to approximately 400
and boasted two hotels and five general stores. Four major disasters - a
tornado in 1896, a flood in 1897, a fire in 1905, and another flood in
1908 - kept destroying large sections of the town. The 1908 flood
severely eroded the riverbank, sending most of the town site into the
water. Because the railroads were now able to redirect traffic to the
bridge at Thebes, Illinois they were able to discontinue the ferry
transfers. Bird's Point as town was effectively dead but remains today
as an unincorporated community.