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Taylor, Jacob N; Crooks, M. O. Sketch Book of St. Louis: Containing a Series of Sketches of the Early Settlement, Public Buildings, Hotels, Railroads, Steamboats, Foundry and Machine Shops, Mercantile Houses, Grocers, Manufacturing Houses, Etc . St. Louis: George Knapp and Co, 1858. [format: book], [genre: guidebook; narrative]. Permission: Tulane University
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Chapter VII. The St. Louis Agricultural and Mechanical Association.

Was chartered by an act of the General Assembly of Missouri, approved December 7th, 1855.

At a meeting of the corporators on the 4th day of February 1856, books were opened for the subscription to the capital stock.

The requisite amount of stock subscribed, the stockholders were called together for the election of the first board of Directors, on the 4th day of May, 1856.

The following gentlemen were elected: Andrew Harper, Thos. T. January, Henry C. Hart, John Withnell, Thornton Grimsley, Frederick Dings, James M. Hughes, Henry S. Turner, Charles L. Hunt, John M. Chambers, Henry T. Blow, Norman J. Coleman and J. R. Barret.

Upon the organization of the board on the 5th day of May, 1856, J. R. Barret was elected President; T. Grimsley, A. Harper, H. C. Hart, Vice Presidents; H. S. Turner, Treasurer; G. O. Kalb, General Agent and Recording Secretary, and O. W. Collet as Corresponding Secretary.

It was not until the 4th day of June that the board of Directors were able to agree upon the locality of the Fair Grounds. And although there were many pieces of ground under consideration, and naturally much diversity of sentiment in a board composed of as many as thirteen Directors, nearly all of whom

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were entirely inexperienced, still time has proved that the choice made was in every respect the very best.

They selected a piece of ground about three and a half miles north east of the Court House, situated upon Grand avenue, containing 56 arpens; bounded north by Kossuth street, east by Grand avenue, South by Natural Bridge plank road and west by Bryan avenue; the land rich, nearly square in shape, embracing a beautiful grove of native oaks, and about one mile and a quarter from the Reservoir of the city.

The purchase was made on or about the 10th day of June, 1856, from Col. John O'Fallon, for the sum of $50,000, on terms to suit the Association. Much is due to Col. O'Fallon for the liberality in his proposition to the Association. He has ever been intimately connected with the great interests of St. Louis, and his name should, and will, ever be mentioned in her history.

On or about the 25th day of July the plans of the amphitheatre and other buildings were matured, and not until then did active operations commence. The first fair was held on the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th days of October. The sum of $10,000 was offered in premiums.

The number of entries for competition, the splendid display both for competition and exhibition, the thousands of attendants from home and abroad, pronounced this the FIRST FAIR of the St. Louis Agricultural and Mechanical Association a SUCCESS.

The underbrush had been cleared away. Thus trimmed, a close fence built around the whole of the ground, nine feet high, 300 stalls ornamented tastefully had been erected, a pond five feet deep had been filled, and upon it stood a magnificent amphitheatre 300 feet in diameter, capable of seating 12,000 persons and of sheltering 36,000; with fourteen rows of seats ranging around the whole, one above the other, and reaching

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up to a promenade fifteen feet wide, overlooking the arena within and the beautiful grounds without, and with a promenade below of same width, encircling eighty-one booths, all under the same cover; the whole embracing in the centre a Pagoda forty-five feet high, of three stories, built around a pole one hundred and fifty feet in height. Nearest the amphitheatre a circular floral hall, eighty feet in diameter; next a mechanical hall, one hundred and twenty feet long by eighty in width; and, at a suitable distance, was a machine shop one hundred feet by forty, with shafting the full length for testing all kinds of machinery with steam power. The whole grounds were connected with the great Reservoir of the city by a nine inch pipe, and the water conducted to every part, furnishing seven fountains, one of which was drained into a fish pond — the others into a basin near the stalls for the accommodation of stock.

Contiguous to the amphitheatre, near the main entrance or grand gate, a beautiful Gothic cottage had been erected, containing four saloons for the reception and accommodation of the ladies.

The whole work had been accomplished in so short a time as to surprise the citizens of St. Louis no less than visitors from abroad.

The next annual fair took place in September, 1857, and lasted six days, from September 28th to October 3d. $16,000 were offered in premiums.

The experiment of the first year made manifest the necessity of other accommodations. The stalls were increased to the number of 375; the mechanical hall was made one fourth larger; the machine shop was made double the size. A fine art hall eighty-five feet long and forty-three feet wide was built, and a Galinarium, entirely of wire, three stories high, and containing ninety apartments, was erected.

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At the second fair, notwithstanding the increase in the size and number of buildings, there was not room enough. The amphitheatre would not hold more than one-fourth of the visitors, the stalls were full of stock, and the fine art and floral hall, and all other buildings, entirely inadequate.

Board of Directors for 1858. — J. R. Barret, A. Harper, T. Grimsley, Henry C. Hart, Henry T. Blow, T. T. January, Charles L. Hunt, John Withnell, Charles Todd, Thomas B. Hudson, Ben. O'Fallon, John Sappington, Henry S. Turner.

Officers. — J. R. Barret, President; A. Harper, T. Grimsley, Henry C. Hart, Vice Presidents; Henry S. Turner, Treasurer; G. O. Kalb, Recording Secretary and General Agent; N. J. Coleman, Corresponding Secretary.

The third annual fair of this association will commence on the 6th of September, continuing six days; and it promises to be superior to any of the previous displays.


St. Louis is well prepared with all the apparatus to preserve from destruction by fire all property within her limits. There are at present "two Richmonds in the field," the Independent Department and the Pay Department, both striving for the same end. On account of the


Having been organized for a number of years, we will give a sketch of it first, and it demands considerable attention. It is a useful and important organization, for at all hours, in all kinds of weather, soon as the tocsin sounds, they are to be seen hastening to the place of combat, ready to "conquer, and thus save."

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We have cause to feel considerable pride in the perseverance, diligence, industry, gentlemanly and proper deportment of those who constitute this wing of the fire deparment; their zeal is unquenchable, and seldom does a fire get so ahead as to become extensively destructive. Extraneous causes sometimes prevent their usefulness, and they are unable to perform with the alacrity they desire, the services expected of them; but, in the main, they are as prompt, as efficient, as useful, do as much good, and prevent as much evil and loss, as any similar body of men in any part of the country.

A Fire Department was early organized in this city — indeed, at a time when there were comparatively few houses. We find by the old "City Directory of 1821" there were two fire companies in St. Louis; when those ceased to exist we are unable to learn, but the present department had its organization in 1832, in the formation of the Central Fire Company.

The companies now belonging to the Independent Fire Department are:

Central Fire Company, No. 1; St. Louis Fire Company, No. 4; Missouri Fire Company, No. 5; Liberty Fire Company, No. 6; Phoenix Fire Company, No. 7; Laclede Fire Company, No. 10; Good Will Fire Company, No. 11; Lafayette Hook and Ladder Company, No. 1.

These companies own 12 hand fire engines, most of them first class suction and forcing engines, 10 four-wheeled hose carnages, 6 two-wheeled hose tenders, bringing into active service upwards of 3,000 feet of hose. The engines were built as follows: 4 in Philadelphia, 2 in New York, 2 in Boston, 3 in Baltimore, and 1 in St. Louis.

The companies have a total of, say 600 active members, who are exempt by law from serving on juries. They are composed of active, intelligent, sober citizens; they have taken a pride

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in maintaining for the department a reputable position; have precluded from membership those unworthy, who would be calculated to produce disturbance, and thus impair the confidence of the community in the efficiency, usefulness and respectability of the associations.

This department receives nothing from the city, and is maintained by its own exertions, and by voluntary contributions of our citizens.

The Independent Fire Department is governed by a delegated body, composed of three delegates, elected by each company, who elect their own President and Secretary, and make all rules for the general government of the companies. The "Firemen's Association," thus constituted, besides making necessary regulations, constitute also a Court for the trial of any misdemeanor, either by one or more companies, or individual members thereof; they inflict such punishment as the magnitude of the offence may warrant — either expulsion, suspension or fine.

This department is controlled at all fires, &c., by a chief engineer and three assistants, who are elected by the Firemen's Association. The present officers of the department are J. E. D. Couzens, Chief Engineer; A. C. Hull, A. Sprague and J. Gregory, Assistant Engineers.


A committee having been appointed by the City Council, in 1844, to visit Cincinnati and inspect the Steam Fire Engines, gave, upon their return, such glowing accounts of the efficiency of the "great squirts," and the beauties of the paid fire department, that many were for adopting the system in St. Louis. This new movement found many advocates, who used every endeavor to urge upon the City Council the passage of an ordinance establishing the paying system. About this time a

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number of half grown boys, who are always to be found hanging about the engine houses, having gotten up a couple of "musses," (we use this term because it expresses the meaning of the writer better than any other, for these bickerings can not be called riots,) the demands became loud and deep. Several of the papers began to advocate the reform, and kept the ball in motion, till finally an ordinance was passed, which took effect in June, 1857.

Several of the companies who had previously been ardent workers in the good cause sold their apparatus to the city and disbanded; among these latter we may mention the Washington, Franklin, and Mound.

The members of the Franklin Fire Company, after effecting a sale of their apparatus, &c., formed themselves into an association, and used the money obtained for the purchase of an extensive library, and have fitted up rooms, where the members meet and spend their leisure hours in endeavoring to improve their minds. This was a judicious movement upon the part of the members of this company, and they deserve credit for it.

Connected with this department is a Fire Alarm Telegraph, which has been recently finished. Lines from all parts of the city are attached to the bells situated in the various houses, &c., and a station is had in every block, so that an alarm can be sounded instantaneously in all parts of the city. This is a great advantage, and will prevent, in a great measure, the false alarms which have heretofore been so common.

This department have now in their possession one of Shauk's Steam Fire Engines and three of Latta's Patent. They are of immense advantage in the extinguishing of fires, and are growng more and more into the affections of the people. A proposition has been made by the underwriters to the City Council offering to purchase two of Latta's engines if the city will

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chase the third. This proposition will doubtless be acceded to, and increase the force to seven steam engines.

This arrangement will give St. Louis the best fire department in the United States. With seven steam engines, fifteen hand engines, besides hook and ladder companies, a fire will stand a poor prospect of doing much damage.

The entire management of the working affairs of this department is controlled by a chief engineer and his assistants. They are H. G. Sexton, Chief Engineer; John Wm. Bame, Richard Beggs, Assistants.

Steam Engines — Old Union No. 2, Washington Ave., bet. Seventh and Eighth, nine men and six horses; Geo. Kyler, Eleventh St., bet. Wash. ave. and Carr St., nine men and five horses; Davis Moore, Third St., bet. Elm and Myrtle, nine men and five horses; John M. Wimer, cor. Mound and Broadway, nine men and five horses.

Hand Engines — South St. Louis, twenty-six men and three horses; Jefferson, twenty-six men and three horses; North St. Louis, twenty-six men and three horses.

Total number of companies 7; of men employed 114; of horses 27.

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Taylor, Jacob N; Crooks, M. O. Sketch Book of St. Louis: Containing a Series of Sketches of the Early Settlement, Public Buildings, Hotels, Railroads, Steamboats, Foundry and Machine Shops, Mercantile Houses, Grocers, Manufacturing Houses, Etc . St. Louis: George Knapp and Co, 1858. [format: book], [genre: guidebook; narrative]. Permission: Tulane University
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