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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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Colonel John O'Fallon.

The subject of this memoir was born on the 23d of November, 1791, near Louisville, Jefferson county, Kentucky; and is consequently sixty-eight years of age. His father, Dr. James O'Fallon, was an Irish gentleman of education, and lived in Roscommon county, Ireland, and immigrated to this country in the year 1774. He settled in Wilmington, North Carolina, and when his young adopted country, conscious of the justness of her cause, threw down the gage of battle to the most powerful nation on the globe, Dr. O'Fallon took a prominent part in the contest, which, after seven years' struggle, so fortunately accomplished our independence. He raised a troop of a hundred Irishmen in the state of Georgia, and, being appointed the captain, served in that capacity from 1775 to the Battle of Brandy wine, in 1777. His professional services after that period were called into requisition, and so accomplished was he in the art of surgery, that he received the appointment of principal surgeon of the General Hospital of the United States, which important position he occupied until the close of the Revolution in 1783.

While the elements which brewed the tempest of the Revolution were

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actively at work, Dr. O'Fallon, for having expressed his republican principles rather too freely in a little Journal called the Mosquito, was thrown into prison by an English governor, where he remained until rescued by General Ashe with eight hundred militia, and then he turned the tables upon his English excellency, forced him to take refuge in an English vessel in Cape Fear River, and so heartily was he frightened, that he never again ventured upon American soil.

After the close of the revolutionary war, Dr. O'Fallon married the youngest sister of General George Rogers Clark, and from that union sprung the subject of this biography. From his youth, the young O'Fallon was remarkable for his popularity among his companions for his judgment, generosity and a predisposition for military glory. At the age of nineteen, in the summer of 1811, he joined General Harrison's army at Vincennes, Indiana, and in the autumn of that year took a prominent part in the memorable battle of Tippecanoe, in which he was severely wounded.

After the battle of Tippecanoe, he received a subaltern's commission in the first regiment of United States infantry, and arrived in St. Louis in January, 1812. In the spring, he received from Governor Howard a captain's commission, and with his company of eighty proceeded with an expedition, commanded by Colonel Whiteside, of Illinois, against some bands of marauding Indians, who were invading with all the horrors of savage warfare the defenceless settlements in the northern part of the state of Illinois. He was then ordered to take charge of some government boats bound for Pittsburgh, which arrived at their place of destination July, 1812, and afterward he proceeded to Louisville for the purpose of equipping himself to join General Harrison, who was in Ohio. He joined General Harrison in October, at Franklinton, opposite Columbus, and was at once appointed to his staff. He had the entire confidence of his distinguished chief, and was with him at the siege of Fort Meigs, May, 1813, and afterward at the assault and capture of a British battery, on which occasion he was highly complimented for his chivalrous behavior by his commanding general. In the autumn of 1813 he was at the memorable battle of the river Thames, still serving as aide-de-camp, and performing the duties of deputy-adjutant general, and remained with General Harrison until that general's resignation in May, 1814. At the close of the war in 1815, Colonel O'Fallon was the commandant of Fort Maiden, in Canada, opposite the mouth of the Detroit River.

In August, 1818, Colonel John O'Fallon resigned his commission in the army, there being no field to invite his military aspirations, and since that time has turned his attention to the more solid business avocations of life, and always resided either in St. Louis or its vicinity. In 1821 he was engaged as contractor of the army, and traded extensively with the Indians. He was elected to the legislature in the same year, and served with honor and usefulness in that body for four years, the last two years being a member of the Senate. Whilst at Jefferson city, he took an active part in the passage of the celebrated Loan Bill.

In 1821, Colonel O'Fallon was married to Miss Stokes, sister of William Stokes, who owned nearly a million dollars of landed estate in St. Louis. He was again married March 15, 1827, to Miss Caroline Sheetz, who came with her parents from the state of Maryland in 1824. By this marriage

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there are five children, at present living, Caroline (now Mrs. Dr. Pope). James J. O'Fallon, married to Miss Nannie Harris, of Kentucky, grand-daughter of the late General Taylor, Benjamin O'Fallon, married to Miss Sallie Carter, daughter of Walker R. Carter, Esq., of St. Louis, Henry A. O'Fallon, and John J. O'Fallon.

Perhaps there is no man living as much identified with St. Louis as is Colonel O'Fallon — not on account of his immense wealth, but for the useful purposes which he has made it to subserve the city and adorn it. With a charity unparalleled in its munificence, he has already bestowed more than a million of dollars to advance the cause of education and science, and to relieve the wants of suffering humanity. He gave the ground where St. Louis University now stands, and also the site where the first Methodist church stood on Fourth Street, now occupied by Clarke's buildings. He gave the five acres of land on which the water-works of the city are erected, and endowed the O'Fallon Polytechnic Institute with property valued at $100,000. He gave most liberally to Washington University, and built the Dispensary and Medical College over which Dr. Pope so efficiently presides. He gave fifteen acres of land to the "Home of the Friendless," and his private charities are "legion."

Liberality, so rarely found in the possession of wealth, forms one of the dominant traits of Col. O'Fallon's character; and he once offered to make the city of St. Louis a present of a hundred acres of land, if Peter Lindell, Esq., would do the same; each one of the gifts to be laid out into two magnificent parks; but the condition of the offer was not acceded to.

Colonel O'Fallon was president of the Branch Bank of the United States Bank during its existence in St. Louis, and under his superior and honorable management it was wound up with the loss only of one hundred and twenty-five dollars, while tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands dollars were lost in the various places the branches were located, in consequence of the frauds committed by the unprincipled officers connected with them; and he was also agent for the United States Bank of Pennsylvania from 1836 to 1841.

The possession of unbounded wealth, the high and responsible positions which he has filled in the military, civic and business relations of life, have never generated pride and arrogance in his character, and made him forgetful of his duties to his Creator and his fellow beings. He was the first man who organized a Sabbath-school west of the Mississippi River, and is a regular attendant of the Episcopal church. Unostentatious in his bearing he can be approached by all, and his manner possesses much of that freedom and frankness which lend a charm to conversation, and is characteristic of the early settlement of the West.

When Colonel O'Fallon first saw St. Louis, it was but little more than village of log-houses, containing but a few thousand inhabitants. Its commerce consisted only of the furs and peltries which were brought by the hunter and trader from the Missouri, the Mississippi and the Illinois; and on their waters a few canoes and flatboats were sufficient to carry all of the required trade. Colonel O'Fallon has seen the Mound City through all of its progressive stages of advancement, from his first advent in 1812, to the present time, and has contributed more liberally to all public and private enterprise than any other man now living. He has won the

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respect and love of every class of society, and in 1849, when the great fire threatened to reduce the whole city to ashes, such was his popularity and such his claim on public gratitude, that the firemen, knowing that some property must be destroyed, encircled his, and saved it on many occasions from the devouring element.

Colonel O'Fallon has been identified with the great railroad enterprises of Missouri, which like a network will soon thread every portion of the state, and develop its vast resources. At the first meeting of some of the prominent citizens to create a company to form the plan of the Pacific Railroad, Colonel O'Fallon was chosen president, and after a charter was obtained from the assembly of Missouri, he was nominated as a candidate for the presidency, but declined, and at the same time nominated Mr. Thomas Allen, who was duly elected.

Colonel O'Fallon was the first president of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, and also of the North Missouri. He was a director of the State Bank of Missouri, and subscribed liberally to the building of the Planters' House, and more recently to the building of the Lindell Hotel, now in the course of erection. He is now in the autumn of his life, and the golden fruits of a clear head and good heart are around him. He has abundance beyond his most sanguine wish, the love and respect of zealous and admiring friends; and thousands of young hearts who are educated by his bounty breathe his name with gratitude.

Colonel O'Fallon has liberally dispensed his charities, and seen and enjoyed the fruits of them while living. His good works live around him, and he can enjoy them; and when the sands of his life are all spent and he will be gathered to his "narrow house," he will be mourned as a public benefactor, and his name will not be forgotten.

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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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