NIU Libraries Digitization Projects
Lincoln/Net Prairie Fire Illinois During the Civil War Illinois During the Gilded Age Mark Twain's Mississippi Back to Digitization Projects Contact Us
BACK

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


Previous section

Next section

Colonel Thornton Grimsley.

COLONEL THORNTON GRIMSLEY was born on the 20th of August, 1798, in Bourbon county, Kentucky. His father, Nimrod Grimsley, was a resident of Fauquier county, Virginia, and having a large family removed to Kentucky at an early day, and helped to make up the number of that enterprising population who immigrated to what was considered the richest soil in America. His father and mother did not long live in the new homes which they had chosen, but died during the years 1805 and 1806, leaving a helpless family of eight children.

The subject of this memoir, by the dissolution of his parents, was left an orphan at seven years of age, and three years after losing his parents he was apprenticed to the saddlery business. He served his master faithfully for eleven years, and the only compensation which he received was three months of schooling; yet, by his diligent application to business, and a mind naturally of a superior order, he soon won the respect and confidence of his master, and in 1816 he was sent to St. Louis in charge of a valuable assortment of goods, at which place he completed his term of indenture; and on reaching twenty-one years of age, the first act he performed in his independent manhood, was to return to Kentucky and attend school for six months, from the proceeds of extra work which he had performed during the term of his apprenticeship.

After having exhausted his slender resources, in obedience to the invitation of his old master, Thornton Grimsley returned to St. Louis, and took charge of his business for about fourteen months, and then, feeling that he could succeed better untrammelled by the dictates of a superior, in 1822 he placed his name upon a sign-board, and boldly commenced his fortune.

St. Louis at that time was young in years and weak in business resources; and the gross amount done by the three little saddle and harness shops it contained, did not exceed twelve or fifteen thousand dollars per annum.

Thornton Grimsley had to encounter all of the obstacles incident to the lot of an aspiring young man commencing business on a small capital, and, joined with his pecuniary difficulties, his health for five years was in a precarious condition.

On commencing business for himself he married Miss Susan Stark, of Bourbon county, Kentucky, who was sister of the wife of the master under whom he learned his trade. Not long after commencing his business, and just as he was beginning to gather the fruits to which his industry entitled him, a fire destroyed the property which he had accumulated during three years of toil, and left him "poor indeed." When this misfortune occurred he was in ill health, but did not waste a moment in idle regrets, and set about immediately in repairing what accident had deprived him of, and in a little time he was again advancing in a prosperous career.

-- 109 --

From the frankness of his disposition and natural goodness of heart, Thornton Grimsley had always made himself hosts of friends, and in 1826 was elected an alderman, and introduced into that body the subject of grading the wharf in front of the city, and strongly advocated that the western edge should be raised three feet higher than its present grade. Had his proposition been acceded to, Front-street would not be inundated at every high flood of the river, and its property would be much more valuable.

In 1828 Colonel Grimsley was called to the legislature of the state, where he was a useful and efficient member. He used his efforts to have completed the national road to Jefferson City, and advocated other important measures. In 1835 he was again elected alderman, and did much for settling satisfactorily the important claim of the St. Louis Commons. From this tract was selected Lafayette Park, and the spacious avenues about it. From the liberal dimensions of this park, some of the shortsighted citizens, in derision, called it Grimsley's folly — now it is one of the chief ornaments of our large and growing city.

So useful was Colonel Grimsley in his political life, that in 1838 he was sent to the State Senate, and lent all of his influence for the passage of the bill for the construction of the Iron Mountain Railroad, and also for the establishment of a workhouse.

Though Colonel Grimsley was so liberally rewarded with civic honors he was not unmindful of military glory. He has filled all of the stations, from an orderly to division inspector; in 1832 he raised a volunteer company and tendered their services to the Governor of Illinois during the Black Hawk war, and in 1836 received from General Jackson a captain's commission in the dragoons of the United States army. He declined this honor as it was in time of peace, and wisely stuck to his business pursuits. He has now been engaged thirty-seven years in his only pursuit, and does now a business of three hundred thousand dollars per annum.

In 1846, in less than twenty days he enrolled a regiment of eight hundred men for the Mexican war, but being politically opposed to the Governor of Missouri, he was refused a commission and another appointed in his stead.

Colonel Grimsley has been the father of ten children, four of whom are now living and happily and prosperously settled in life. He has now amassed a competent fortune, and in the autumn of life is enjoying the fruits with which industry ever rewards the managing and persevering.

-- 110 --

Previous section

Next section


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
Powered by PhiloLogic