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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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Henry Von Phul.

HENRY VON PHUL, the senior partner of the well-known firm Von Phul, Waters and Co., is the oldest merchant now living in the city of St. Louis. He is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was born in that city August 14th, 1784. His father was a plain and respectable man, and his mother, whose maiden name was Graff, was the daughter of a well known merchant in the city of Lancaster, a town in Pennsylvania, composed at that time almost entirely of a German population.

All the advantages of education which Henry Von Phul enjoyed, he received from the common schools in the city of his nativity. At the early age of seventeen, he emigrated to Lexington, Kentucky, at that time a small village, and engaged as a clerk in a store (J. Jordon's), which in a country place always embraces in itself the different branches of grocery, drug shop, and dry goods business, and is not devoted to any particular subdivision.

During his residence in Lexington, Mr. Von Phul, by his business habits and integrity, won completely the confidence of his employer (Mr. Thomas Hart, jr., who was brother-in-law to Henry Clay, and after whose father the late Thomas H. Benton was named), and was sent South on a general trading tour. He visited the city of Natchez, and went a considerable distance up the Red River, bartering with the planters and Indians who dwelt upon its margin. There was no steam at this time, and Mr. Von Phul navigated the rivers in a keelboat, pushing it up the swift current with a long pole.

In this place he remained for ten years, and finding that Lexington was not advancing in population and business as rapidly as he wished, he started for St. Louis in 1811, having heard it favorably spoken of as a place of trade, and feeling confident, from the natural position which it occupied, that it must in time become a place of importance.

On the advent of Henry Von Phul in the city of St. Louis, it was a small town made up of log-houses and other inferior buildings, and containing some fifteen hundred inhabitants; almost all of whom were French, and principally devoted themselves to the trade of lead and peltries. All of the country west of St. Louis, and over the Illinois side of the Mississippi was in its primitive wild state and unreclaimed by the settler. Marauding Indians roamed over every part of the country, and murdered and mangled many a bold pioneer who had rashly advanced too far into the wilds from the assistance of his countrymen.

Less than a year after the arrival of Mr. Von Phul in St. Louis, there was a rumor that the settlers on the Missouri were attacked by the Indians, and immediately a large body of volunteers, commanded by Nat. Boone, son of the Kentucky pioneer Daniel Boone, hastened to their relief; among the number who enlisted was Henry Von Phul, then in the prime of his life, being twenty-eight years of age. He was always of a fearless disposition, and during the war of 1812, he made several trips on horseback between St. Louis and Louisville, and what was most remarkable, though the Indians were very troublesome at that time, and shuddering

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details of tragical scenes in which they were actors, were daily bruited through the country, he never saw a single Indian in his solitary pilgrimage.

In 1816, Henry Von Phul married Miss Saugrain, the daughter of Dr. Antoine F. Saugrain, and of this marriage have been born fifteen children; of which ten still survive, six sons and four daughters. He commenced his business career in a little store situated in Main-street, north block No. 8, and kept for sale dry goods in all their varieties, and also all the numerous other articles required in domestic life, and which country stores usually supply.

In 1831, Mr. Von Phul removed to the corner of Olive and Front streets, where he was largely engaged in the general commission business and steamboat agency. In some of the fine steamboats which float upon the Mississippi he has owned a large portion, and was one of the few now living who saw the arrival of the General Pike, the first steamboat that landed in St. Louis; this was in 1817. Steamboats at an early day were the speediest channels of communication, and were the making of the Western country and Western commerce; and soon Mr. Von Phul invested largely in those natural vehicles of commerce on the Western waters.

Always directing his conduct by principles based upon the soundest morality, Mr. Von Phul has deserved and gained the confidence of all classes of citizens, and has filled several important positions connected with the municipal government and welfare of St. Louis. He acted as one of the Board of City Commissioners for several years; he was an efficient officer of the School Board; he was connected with the Chamber of Commerce; was president of the Union Insurance Company; is a director in the Iron Mountain Railroad, and has in some manner been connected with most of our public and private institutions, both civil and charitable. He has already passed the age usually allotted to man, and in the course of an active life has been brought in connection with many men and many transactions. There is not a word of reproach against his character, nothing to sully his fair fame — nothing to dim the lustre of his life, now so near its setting. Among the merchants he is looked upon as a patriarch, being the oldest one now living in St. Louis, and his name has become a household word in the Great Metropolis, and invested with the attraction of all the moral attributes. In his sear of life hosts of friends are around him, and when his spirit will calmly and hopefully glide from earth, his honored 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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