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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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John H. Gay.

JOHN H. GAY was born October 7th, 1787, in Staunton, Augusta county, Virginia. His parents were in moderate circumstances, owning the farm on which they resided, and were devoted to the welfare of their children. They sold out their property, and went into the state of South Carolina, where they lived but a short time; for they lost both health and property, and left their family in destitute circumstances. However, Henry Gay and his wife were well-beloved by their friends, and, immediately on their demise, they sent for the children, took them to their homes in Virginia, and properly cared for them.

John Gay was the eldest of this family of children, and, after receiving schooling sufficient to qualify him for business pursuits, commenced, at the age of twenty, to learn the tanning and currier business. From the very outset, he evinced that judgment and activity in business, which have always marked his career, and insured him success in every thing he undertook. It was but a short period before he purchased the concern of his employer, and carried on the business in a profitable manner on his own account. It was during this time that he united himself in wedlock to Miss Sophia Mitchell, daughter of the Rev. Edward Mitchell, their marriage bearing date August 7th, 1813.

After the expiration of two years, during which he carried on the tanning and currier business, Mr. Gay sold out, and went to Liberty, where he commenced trading in cattle. He was not engaged very long in this new vocation, which he carried on with great profit, before he resolved to leave Liberty, and enter upon a new pursuit. In 1819, he went to St. Clair county, Illinois, where he purchased a farm, and pursued the vocation of an agriculturist, for several years. The farm on which he then resided he still owns. In 1824, he gave up farming pursuits, and put into execution a design which he had formed some time previously, and came to St. Louis, where he commenced the life of a merchant; and, having associated with Mr. Estis, a firm called Gay and Estis sprung into existence, and they were soon known as growing men, and worthy of the confidence and support of the community.

Each year gave to the new firm increased strength and resources, and year by year the business extended, and soon became extensive in its magnitude. While on the full tide to fortune, the firm became extinct by the death of Mr. Estis, and then Mr. Gay took entire charge of the concern. This was in 1833, and so assiduously did he devote himself to his business, which, from its extent, required continual watchfulness, to keep all of its parts in a healthful condition, that his constitution failed, from its mass of care and labor, and, finding no remedy by which his health could be recruited, but a total abandonment of his business, he sold out to Messrs. Ridgely and Billon.

Mr. Gay has three children, two sons and a daughter. The eldest son, Edward J. Gay, was born February 3, 1816, and married Miss Maria Hines, daughter of Colonel Hines, of Nashville, Tennessee. The other

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son, William T. Gay, was born in St. Louis, October 15th, 1828, and married Miss Sallie Bass, daughter of Mr. Eli Bass, of Boone county. The daughter, Miss Eliza M. Gay, is the wife of Dr. Meredith of St. Louis. The two sons of John H. Gay, whose names we have just given, are members of the firm of Gay & Co., who carry on so successfully the wholesale grocery business in the city. There is no house in St. Louis whose character and credit are higher established, and who enjoy more fully the confidence of the public.

John H. Gay has been a citizen of St. Louis, and in all of the manifold operations connected with an extensive business, for thirty-five years, and there is no one who can say that he has done an action derogatory to the merchant, and unworthy of a man. For a score of years, he has been connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and is a member of the Centenary Church, and is also one of its trustees. He has been most fortunate in the utmost sense. He has won for himself an honored name, has gathered worldly goods sufficient to satisfy his utmost wishes, and the greatest feat he has accomplished, is raising his children to tread in his own footsteps, and who have not diverged from the track he instructed them to pursue, nor forsaken the precepts he early inculcated on them to practice.

When a branch of the old United States Bank was established in St. Louis, Mr. Gay was one of its directors, and, with his honorable compeers, so managed the institution, that, in the general rupture of the parent bank and all of its branches, the one in Missouri wound up with but the insignificant loss of one hundred and twenty-five dollars, whilst the failure of most of the other branches revealed a terrible deficit, and a system of fraud practised by their officers, which caused the wreck of many a fortune, and the distraction of many an intellect. He is director of the old Missouri Insurance Company, and is one of the pioneer merchants who so efficiently assisted in giving to St. Louis its brilliant business position.

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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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