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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html


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Peter Lindell.

PETER LINDELL was born March 24, 1776, in Worcester county, Maryland. He is of English origin; for his grandfather who bore the same name, having obtained a grant of land located in Maryland, imigrated to the United States, and, locating himself on his grant, was many years engaged in rendering the soil suitable for agricultural purposes. He lived to an advanced age; and one of his sons, John Lindell, came by descent in possession of this tract of land, and was looked upon as the most skilful farmer in that portion of the country. He was the father of the subject of this memoir, and raised a large family of children. He died at the advanced age of seventy-six.

Peter Lindell spent — like most others who lived at that early time, and whose parents had good farms — his early years in work upon the farm. He went to school, to be sure; but the regular schoolmaster was not abroad in that portion of the country, and the people would often induce some itinerant clock peddler from Yankeedom, to forego his usual vocation, and adopt that of the pedagogue. It is not to be wondered at when schoolmasters were thus chosen, that the pupils would remain ignorant of the fundamental principles of their language. Between going to schools of this cast and working upon the farm of his father, he reached the age of twenty-one, and possessing a large share of self-reliance, he immediately commenced business for himself. He kept a little store in the country, believing that a commercial life, and that too with less of servitude, led more directly to affluence than the slow profits which had then to satisfy the industrious farmer. He remained four years engaged with his store, and seeing that the vast tide of emigration was flowing westward, he determined to follow the current, although his first efforts had been attended with vast success. He was not satisfied, for he did not see his locality filling up with a vigorous growth of new settlers, which alone could bring wealth to the neighborhood, and insure a fortune to those engaged in commercial pursuits. Drawing these logical conclusions, he wound up his business in Maryland, and stalled for the West.

Some time in 1808, Peter Lindell stopped at Pittsburgh, the only town west of the Alleghany Mountains that offered, at that time, any inducements for commercial enterprise. There he commenced the life of an itinerant merchant, trading on a boat at the various localities between that place and Louisville. Laying in an assortment of goods suitable to the wants of the people at the different locations at which he traded, he was soon doing a most thriving business. He received no money for his goods, that article in the western wilds being seldom seen, but he received in exchange, furs, peltries, hemp, and tobacco, with which he could purchase a new supply of merchandise, or sell for money, at his option.

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In two years, finding that his business throve, even beyond his most sanguine expectations, Peter Lindell sent for John Lindell, one of his brothers, that he might assist him in his labors, and whom he could instruct in a pursuit that had already proved so profitable. In due time, John arrived, and he was initiated in all the mysteries of a trader's life at that period, and the business soon reached a greater magnitude than ever, and yielded larger returns. The name of Lindell was well known on the Ohio River, and he was anxiously looked for by the pioneers who inhabited its rich banks for the purposes of trade.

After John had been with him some time — and fortune still continuing to smile upon his efforts — he sent for another brother by the name of Jesse, that he too might become a reaper in a field which yielded so plentiful a harvest. He extended his business with the assistance of his brothers, and in his trading voyages, hearing of the natural advantages of St. Louis, he determined to quit the life of a general trader on the river, and settle himself as a merchant in a town, whose brilliant prospects for the future, promised so much success to the early citizen who made judicious investments. In 1811 he came to St. Louis, and commenced keeping store on Main street.

The houses at that period, with but few exceptions, were little log cabins, the interstices being filled with lime and plastered within, making a warm but small and inconvenient dwelling; and Peter Lindell, a little while after his advent, astonished the inhabitants by building three brick houses, which, for a little while, were the wonder of the place, and the era of brick building in St. Louis. His business in the now and growing town, grew and increased yearly; and he was soon known as one of the most enterprising merchants of the place.

At that early day, not even a steamboat had floated on the "Father of Waters," and the merchant when he went East to purchase goods, had to perform the fatiguing journey of more than a thousand miles on horseback. In one of these expeditions, an event occurred which had nearly a tragical termination; and as it serves to illustrate the character of those early times, and gives an insight into the nature of the subject of this sketch, we will relate it. While journeying to one of the Eastern cities, Peter Lindell was accompanied by the late John Collier, and one night they stopped at a little cabin at Shawneetown, Illinois. There were several men who were in the house, and among them was a desperado, who pursued the vagabond life of hunting for a subsistence. When he was not employed in the chase, he was engaged in cursing, swearing, and fighting. Mr. Collier had had the misfortune to offend this fellow, and when he and Mr. Lindell entered the door, this man was seated in the cabin. Immediately that his eyes glanced upon Mr. Collier, they glared like those of a basilisk, and a dark scowl darkened his features, giving to them the expression of a demon. He told Mr. Collier with a horrid oath, that he would kill him, and sallied from the cabin to procure a gun, that he might put in execution his murderous purpose.

At that time, Peter Lindell was in the prime of a glorious manhood, with the strength of a buffalo, and the spirit to use it. He well knew the fiendish character of the ruffian, and he followed him from the cabin. When at a little distance, he upbraided him for his murderous purpose, and told him then and there to defend himself. He then commenced

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pouring upon him blows with the force of a sledge-hammer, and in less than two minutes the fellow was hors de combat, and pounded into a jelly. This drubbing operation completely satisfied him, and he no more threatened vengeance against Mr. Collier.

After becoming a resident of St. Louis, Mr. Lindell, in conjunction with his commercial business, became extensively engaged in the purchase of landed estate, which at that time brought but a nominal price in comparison to its present value. He bought land and held it, and it was in consequence of not again selling it, that he is so extensive an owner in real estate at the present time. By that magical power with which some men appear to be invested, whatever he has touched has turned to money; and so fortunate has he been in his efforts to amass a fortune that in 1826 he threw up his commercial pursuits, which had been his leading business. Since that time he has been out of the pale of the busy, bustling world, and dedicated himself to preserving that fortune which by industry he had garnered, when his body and spirit rejoiced in the exuberance incident to youth. The present generation know but little of him; for nearly all who lived when he made a part of the active sphere of life, and helped to guide and direct its business currents, have paid the debt of nature, and cannot speak of the events with which Peter Lindell has been connected.

From great wealth, which receives almost the universal homage of mankind, the name of Peter Lindell is almost as well known in the city of St. Louis as that of the great river which sweeps by its levee; but of his habits, and the natural gush of feeling which form his character and influence his actions, they know but little. They see his property in every part of the broad circumference of the Mound City; but of the owner, they cannot speak. We will relate an anecdote told us by one whom time has blanched, but not overthrown; who knew him before his frame was weakened, and when his whole time was devoted to business. The narrative is thus:

"There was a gentleman," says this narrator, "who during a money pressure was driven to great straits, and applied to me for counsel in his exigence. He had abundance of good paper in his possession, more than ten times the sum that was causing his disquietude, which was a note of some thousands of dollars held by the Bank of the State of Missouri, which would be due in a few days. Should he not be able to take up the note, his credit would be gone forever, and all his bright prospects for the future would be a wreck. I knew but one man who could furnish the amount he required, and, moved by his distress, I volunteered my services, as I was intimate with the person that I knew had always money by him. I took from his papers a note for five thousand dollars, drawn and endorsed by unexceptionable parties, to Peter Lindell, and told him the circumstances that induced me to call upon him. Mr. Lindell replied that he had the money but it was designed for another purpose; but on my again mentioning that without his interposition an honorable man would be effectually ruined, he drew me a check for the full amount, and when I signified my surprise, he told me, under no circumstances could he take from any individual more than ten per cent. interest. This is but one out of many instances," continued the gentleman who related to me the anecdote, "which I could point out, in which Peter Lindell has acted in the same manner."

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We have seen how well Peter Lindell has acted the part of a relative, when he sent for two of his brothers, that they might share with him the success which his judgment and industry had brought about; and when they were taken from their families by death, he at once assumed the duties of a father and protector. To him belongs the honor of starting the first packet to Pittsburgh; he was one of the corporators and directors of the old Missouri Insurance Company; and was one of the directors of the Branch Bank of the United States. He is the largest stockholder in the magnificent hotel known as the "Lindell Hotel," and his property is valued at many millions.

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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html
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