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Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Saint Louis City and County, From the Earliest Periods to the Present Day: Including Biographical Sketches of Representative Men. In Two Volumes, Illustrated. Volume II . Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts & Co., 1883. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; proceedings]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Fire, Marine, and Life Insurance. During the earlier portion of the city's history insurance was effected through the agency of foreign companies which had established branch offices in St. Louis, and it was not until 1831 that an effort was made to organize a home insurance company. One of the earliest insurance agents was Edward Tracy, of Tracy & Wahrendorff, who, on the 14th of June, 1824, announced that he would insure St. Louis property as the representative of the Fanners' Fire Insurance and Loan Company of New York. In February, 1826, announcement was made of the appointment of H. C. Simmons as agent of the Protection Fire Marine Insurance Company of Hartford, Conn., which authorized him "to insure against the hazards of fire and against the hazards of inland navigation the lowest terms." On the 15th of February of the following year, John Shackford informed the public that he would insure against fire and river risks. On the same day it was announced that Edward Tracy, of Tracy & Wahrendorff, would continue to act as the St. Louis agent of the Farmers' Fire Insurance and Loan Company of New York, and that Wilson P. Hunt, agent, would effect insurances in St. Louis on behalf of the Traders' Insurance Company of New York. Mr. Hunt's advertisement as agent of the Fire and Inland Navigation Insurance Company was renewed in September, 1828, as were also those of Edward Tracy, agent for the Farmers' Insurance and Loan Company of New York, and E. C. Simmons, agent for the Protection Insurance Company of Hartford, Conn. In March, 1829, Mr. Tracy and Charles Wahrendorff were still conducting a marine insurance business under the firm-name of Tracy & Wahrendorff. On the 8th of February, 1831, notice was published to the effect that those who wished to take stock in the Missouri Insurance Company of St. Louis were informed that books had been opened for that purpose under the supervision of a committee appointed by the Legislature. This committee was composed of George Collier, John Mullanphy, Peter Lindell, James Clemens, Jr., Thomas Biddle, Henry Von Phul, Edward Tracy, and William K. Rule. About five weeks later (March 15, 1831) it was announced that the company had gone into operation with very favorable prospects. The following were the directors for the year: John Mullanphy, Thomas Biddle, George Collier, P. Lindell, James
Clemens, Jr., Bernard Pratto, Henry Von Phul, and William Hill. George Collier was president of the company, and John Ford secretary.
In April following notice was issued that the capital, one hundred thousand dollars, having been secured, the company was prepared to insure steamboats and every other description of vessels against the dangers of sea or inland navigation; also stores, warehouses, dwelling-houses, mills, factories, and buildings in general, merchandise, household furniture, vessels building or in port, and their cargoes, and every description of personal property against damage by fire. The office of the company was situated on Main Street, near Vine, "in the south end of the late dwelling of P. Chouteau." The business hours were stated to be "from 9 until 1 P. M., and from 3 o'clock until sundown." In February, 1837, a meeting of the Missouri Life Insurance and Trust Company was held, at which Edward Tracy was unanimously elected president, and Martin Thomas vice-president and cashier. On the 13th of February, 1837, notice was given that the books of subscription to the capital stock of the St. Louis Insurance Company would be opened on the 20th of March, at the office of the Missouri Insurance Company, under the supervision of William G. Pettus.
The commissioners whose signatures were appended to this notice were Theodore Labeaume, Christopher Rhodes, John W. Johnson, Thomas S. Stewart, Hardage Lane, William G. Pettus, Thomas Andrews, John Ford, William L. Sublette, John Shade. On the same day the commissioners of the proposed "Union Insurance Company" announced that subscription books would be opened "at 10 A. M. on Monday next at the counting-room of Von Phul & McGill, "and would be kept open for ten days, or until the stock was subscribed for." The commissioners were Augustus Kerr, Theodore L. McGill, William Hempstead, J. G. Lindell, Daniel P. Page, and Edward Walsh. Similar notices with regard to the proposed formation of the Citizens' and Marine Insurance Companies were issued on the 16th and 20th of February respectively. At an election for trustees of the Missouri Life Insurance and Trust Company, held in December, 1837, the following were elected:
Edward Tracy, Pierre Chouteau, Martin Thomas, George Collier, Henry Von Phul, William Glasgow, Nathaniel Paschall, John Walsh, Joseph Charless, Daniel D. Page, Augustus Kerr, George K. McGunnegle, M. Lewis Clark, all of St. Louis; John M. White, of Selina, Mo.; John M. Derby, of Boston, Mass.; David B. Ogden, C. T. Catlin, J. D. Beers, of New York; George Hanly, of Philadelphia.
The subscribers to the stock of the St. Louis Floating-Dock and Insurance Company were notified on the 25th of August, 1838, that a meeting would be held at the counting-room of Messrs. Charless & Blow on the 6th of September for the purpose of electing thirteen directors. The commissioners who gave this notice were Robert Walsh, John D. Daggett, Thornton Grimsley, Hugh O'Neil, Joseph C. Laveille, Thomas Andrews, John Shannon, and James S. Thomas. In April, 1839, the Republican announced that the St. Louis Perpetual Insurance Company had purchased the lot then occupied by it for twenty thousand dollars. The company had a capital of three hundred thousand dollars, which, however, had not at that time been paid in full, although it was stated that the amount would be secured in a few months. The institution had already begun to receive money on deposit.
The Perpetual Insurance Company also transacted a savings-bank business, as appears from a brief newspaper mention of the fact in April, 1839. At the election of directors of this institution held Jan. 4, 1841, John B. Camden, William M. Tompkins, Kenneth McKenzie, John J. Anderson, S. J. Bacon, Joseph Stettinius, and H. A. Garstens were chosen. March 30, 1843, the public was informed that the St. Louis Perpetual Insurance Company had "fully resumed its insurance business."
In the Republican of July 19, 1849, mention is made of the fact that the St. Louis Floating-Dock and Insurance Company, "which was revived a short time previous to the late disastrous fire," met with a heavy loss on that occasion. Notwithstanding the fact, however, that the losses amounted to one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, it was able within sixty days to adjust every loss, with the exception of one which involved a legal doubt. The stockholders about this time increased the capital stock one hundred thousand dollars, and the company was reported to be "doing a handsome business."
At the election of the St. Louis Insurance Company held in September, 1852, J. E. Yeatman, Charles Miller, J. D. Osborne, E. Y. Ware, S. K. Wilson, J. C. Rust, J. B. S. Lemoine, J. D. Houseman, L. Levering, George Knapp, George K. McGunnegle, Abner Hood, and T. Grimsley were chosen directors for the year.
On the 14th of July, 1853, the directors of the Pacific Insurance Company organized at the office of Leffingwell & Elliot by the election of A. B. Chambers, president, and Walter B. Foster, secretary. It was announced that the company would be prepared to commence business "at an early day next week."
CITIZENS' INSURANCE COMPANY. On the 16th of February, 1837, a notice was published to the effect
that the Citizens' Insurance Company was about to be organized, the 27th being named as the day for opening the subscription books at the counting-room of Alfred Skinner. The commissioners were George W. Call, James Clemens, Jr., Alfred Skinner, H. L. Hoffman, John F. Darby, Henry Chouteau, David S. Hill, James S. Thomas, and John Shannon. The organization was duly effected, and the company, whose offices are located at the corner of Third and Chestnut Streets, has had a flourishing career of more than forty-five years' duration. Its actual cash capital is $200,000; surplus, $143,553.85; and its business, which amounts to about $80,000 per annum, is conducted on sound and conservative principles.
The company transacts a general fire insurance business, which is principally local, being confined almost exclusively to St. Louis County. The officers of the company 220 during 1882 were E. O. Stanard, president; H. D. McLean, vice-president; John P. Harrison, secretary; Directors, E. O. Stanard, George H. Plant, Theo. Bartholow, H. C. Haarstick, Craig Alexander, J. G. Chouteau, A. Nedderhut, H. D. McLean, George Bain, J. B. M. Kehlor, W. S. Humphreys, A. T. Harlow, W. P. Howard, A. O. Grubb, and Theo. Booth.
THE MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY, located at 212 North Third Street, was incorporated by the Legislature on the 25th of January, 1837, and books were opened for subscriptions to the stock on the 20th of February following at the counting-room of Von Phul & McGill. The commissioners were John W. Peel, Theodore McGill, George Sproule, William Hempstead, James C. Way, William Finney, Edward Walsh, Samuel S. Reyburn, Augustus Kerr, and Edward Tracy. On the 15th of March, John W. Reel was elected president, and Samuel Hough secretary, and the company speedily entered upon a prosperous career. The present capital stock of the company paid up is $150,000. Among the assets are real estate valued at $20,000; Kansas Pacific Railroad bonds, $120,000; Missouri Zinc Company's stock, $28,200. The company has a surplus, over all liabilities, amounting to $46,799.68. The business transacted by this company is a general fire, marine, and inland insurance. The officers for 1882 were Samuel M. Edgell, president; James A. Bartlett, vice-president; and S. G. Kennedy, secretary. Directors, S. M. Edgell, C. S. Greeley, R. P. Hanenkamp, Eben Richards, John H. Beach, R. B. Brown, D. Treadway, W. H. Chick, H. W. Hough, John T. Davis, Samuel Cupples, Abram Nave, John A. Bartlett, Hugh Rogers, C. Fath, A. O. Grubb.
THE HOME MUTUAL FIRE AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY was chartered in 1846, and the first annual meeting was held in May, 1847. It then had about nine hundred members. The directors chosen were B. F. Edwards, J. M. Krum, D. D. Page, J. A. Eddy, I. L. Garrison, W. A. Nelson, J. Kern, J. Whitehill, and Reuben Knox. The company continued in existence, doing a general fire and marine insurance business, until the 9th of March, 1880, when it was declared insolvent by decree of court, and its affairs placed in the hands of the superintendent of the Insurance Department of the State for settlement.
THE MISSOURI STATE MUTUAL FIRE AND MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY was incorporated in 1849. The first president was C. M. Valleau. The headquarters of the company are at 712 Chestnut Street. S. M. Edgell is president, and F. B. Holmes secretary. The present directors are W. A. Hargadine, S. M. Edgell, B. W. Alexander, J. B. C. Lucas, F. B. Holmes, C. S. Greeley, August Nedderhut, James E. Kaine, and Adolphus Meier. The original location of the company was on the southwest corner of Pine and Second Streets. Later they occupied an office in the old Exchange building, and in the Merchants' Exchange building. From the latter place they removed to their present quarters.
THE ST. LOUIS MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY was organized on the 22d of February, 1851, under the name of the St. Louis Mutual Fire and
Marine Insurance Company of St. Louis. The incorporates were John Kern, A. F. Hummitsch, E. F. Thuemmler, Jacob Rosenbaum, Peter Pelizarro, Adolph Kehr, Henry Kayser, Thomas Julius Meier, John C. Mueller, and Louis Bach. Originally its office was situated on the northeast corner of Second and Market Streets, but subsequently it was removed to the southeast corner of Seventh and Locust Streets. The building now occupied by the company was purchased in 1869. The company transacts a fire insurance business. Its first president was John Kern, who held office until August, 1856. 221 Its first secretary was George Weinhagen, and its first treasurer A. F. Hummitsch. The first board of directors was composed of John Kern, Adolph Kehr, A. F. Hummitsch, Henry Kayser, E. F. Thuemmler, Thomas J. Meier, Jacob Rosenbaum, and Louis Bach. The charter expired April 16, 1880, and the company was reorganized under the general insurance statutes, and received its charter for ninety-nine years, July 1, 1881, as the St. Louis Mutual Fire Insurance Company of St. Louis. The officers for 1882 were: President, John C. Vogel; Vice-President, John G. Haas; Secretary, John J. Sutler; Board of Directors, John C. Vogel, Michael Voeple, Caspar Stolle, Charles L. Stuever, John H. Mueller, John G. Haas, Charles Branahl, John P. W. Thul, and Henry G. Sachleben.
THE AMERICAN CENTRAL INSURANCE COMPANY was incorporated by an act of the Legislature approved Feb. 23, 1853, under the name of the Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company, the commissioners named in the act being Derick A. January, Phocian R. McCreery, John Cavender, Phillips Crow, and William T. Essex. In the following November the commissioners reported that they had secured sixty-four subscriptions, amounting to $126,000. A permanent organization was effected Jan. 10, 1854, the following persons being elected trustees: Wayman Crow, John Cavender, John F. Darby, Phillips Crow, D. A. January, P. R. McCreery, William H. Pitman, John S. Cavender, James Smith, Christopher Rhodes, George P. Doan, John B. Carson, Samuel Russell, Charles P. Chouteau, O. W. Child, Samuel G. Reed, James A. Jameson, George Partridge, George Robinson, D. J. Hancock, and John J. Mudd. John F. Darby was elected first president on the 13th of January; Samuel Russell, vice-president, and I. J. Welbourn, secretary.
In 1869 the capital stock was increased and the assets invested in United States securities. On the 22d of September of that year the name was changed to the American Central, and the business was subsequently extended to large proportions, agencies being established in other States. The losses of the company by the great Chicago fire destroyed its paid up capital, $275,000, but the corporation continued in business and soon regained its former prosperity. At the present time the American Central is one of the most flourishing institutions of its kind in St. Louis, a surplus of $255,295.49 having been accumulated. For a number of years the company occupied a portion of the St. Louis Life Insurance building at Sixth and Locust Streets, but it subsequently removed to 419 Olive Street, where it is now located. The officers for 1882 were George T. Cram, president; S. M. Dodd, vice-president; W. H. Pulsifer, treasurer; and James Newman, secretary; Directors, S. M. Dodd, John Wahl, George O. Carpenter, George A. Madill, James Newman, John L. Blair, W. M. Senter, W. H. Pulsifer, D. Rorick, George L. Joy, George T. Cram, and G. W. Chadbourne.
THE COVENANT MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY was organized in 1853, under the General Insurance Act of Missouri. Since its incorporation the company has under careful and judicious management grown steadily in popular favor, and now makes the following showing: Real estate owned, $112,760; loans on bonds and mortgages, $183,638; loans on stocks and bond collaterals, $1100; loans on company's policies, $14,530; premium notes, loans, or liens, $100,284.02; stocks and bonds owned, $41,925; cash, $25,173.87; uncollected premiums, $6552.93; all other property, $7813.38; making the total assets $494,277.20.
The officers for 1882 were E. Wilkerson, president; A. F. Shapleigh, vice-president; and Alfred Carr, secretary; and the board of directors was composed of the following: Nathan Cole, S. H. Laflin, Isaac M. Veitch, Herman Eisenhardt, E. Wilkerson, J. D. S. Dryden, A. F. Shapleigh, A. G. Braun, Theodore Betts, John W. Luke, M. L. Libby, G. A. Finkelnberg, Given Campbell, John Wahl, Joseph S. Nanson, and John C. Moore. The general office is located at No. 513 Olive Street.
THE MOUND CITY MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY was organized in May, 1855, under a charter granted by the Legislature during the preceding month. The original incorporators were Wyllys King, Asa Wilgus, J. C. Harns, D. C. Garrison, George S. Drake, R. J. Lockwood, James S. Watson, Rollins Clark, and Robert Holmes. The officers in
1855 were D. R. Garrison, president; R. J. Lockwood, vice-president; David H. Bishop, secretary; and John F. Darby, treasurer. The company transacts a general fire insurance business, and issues policies varying in duration from thirty days to six years. The general offices of the company are situated at the southwest corner of Sixth and Olive Streets. The present president, Ellis N. Leeds, was elected in 1867, and has served continuously ever since. He is regarded as being one of the ablest and most thoroughly posted insurance men in the West.
Ellis N. Leeds was born in Burlington County, N. J., Sept. 28, 1814. His father was a farmer in moderate circumstances, and the boy, after enjoying such school privileges as were to be obtained in the neighborhood, learned the trade of a brick-mason. In 1839, while yet quite a young man, he removed to St. Louis, and continued to work at his trade until 1848, when he engaged in the lumber business, in which he continued until 1869, when he retired. Since then he has not been actively employed in any business. Since 1862 he has been a director in the Merchants' Bank, and for some years was a director in the Vulcan Iron Company, the St. Louis Gas-Light Company, the St. Louis Railway Supplies Manufacturing Company, and the Cheltenham Fire-Brick Company. As a business man, Mr. Leeds has been signally and uniformly successful, and the bricklayer who came to St. Louis in 1839 now enjoys a handsome competence. Of Quaker descent, he avoids all publicity and show, but notwithstanding his unobtrusiveness, he has been associated with many important business enterprises, and has filled with credit a number of responsible positions. Mr. Leeds enjoys the respect of a very large circle of friends, and in his domestic and social relations is regarded as one of the most amiable and attractive of men.
C. H. Alexander, the present efficient secretary of the Mound City Mutual Fire Insurance Company, first entered the company as a clerk in 1862, and his close application, together with a thorough knowledge of the business, soon gained him the confidence of the stockholders. In 1875 he was promoted to his present position.
The directors of the company are Ellis N. Leeds, Daniel R. Garrison, William Booth, Matthias Dougherty, Francis L. Haydel, John Maguire, Charles Hofman, Preston Player, and Joseph T. Donovan.
The company is one of special prominence in St. Louis, from the fact that it has never faltered, its obligations having always been fulfilled to the letter. The total assets are $181,379.94, the total liabilities $116,285.06, and the surplus $65,094.88.
THE HOPE MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY was organized in 1857, and began to issue policies early in March of that year. The first office was at Main and Vine Streets, but it soon removed to the basement of the Boatmen's Savings Institution, at the northeast corner of Second and Pine Streets, incorporators and first board of directors were Thos. E. Tutt, A. F. Shapleigh, L. D. Baker, R. M. Renick, Gerard B. Allen, N. J. Eaton, Alexander Finley, Taylor Blow, Rufus J. Lackland, Edward A. Filley, R. M. Park, W. H. Pritchartt, John A. Brownlee, A. M. Waterman, Isaac S. Smith, W. H. Tillman.
From Second and Pine Streets the office was removed to 307 Olive Street, and thence to 419 Olive Street. Its first and subsequent presidents were Thomas E. Tutt, N. J. Eaton, C. S. Kintzing, and Isaac M. Veitch. The present officers are: President, Isaac M. Veitch; Secretary, Henry Schmitt; Directors, A. F. Shapleigh, T. E. Tutt, James M. Carpenter, Anthony Ittner, Francis Carter, G. H. Loker, William H. Thompson, W. C. Jamison, M. A. Wolff, and Isaac M. Veitch.
The company has had a very successful career since its organization, and furnishes exceptionally low insurance to its members on the mutual plan, its business being mainly restricted to dwelling-houses and furniture.
WASHINGTON FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY. This company was chartered on the 23d of November, 1857, under the name of the Washington Mutual Fire Insurance Company, the incorporators being C. F. Becker, I. Kurlbaum, William Siever, John H. Marquard, L. Roever, Herman H. Meier, William Seifried, P. Weber, E. Menche, Charles Altinger, Charles W. Gottschalk, John H. Burkhardt, Edward Eggers, and F. Roever. Its first president was Charles W. Gottschalk, who was succeeded by Arthur Olshausen, who continues to hold the office. Charles W. Horn was the first vice-president, and Arthur Olshausen the first secretary. The officers at present are: President, Arthur Olshausen; Vice-President, Philip Gruner, Jr.; Secretary and Treasurer, Edward Breitenstein; Assistant Secretary, Louis J. Behrens. The office is located at the corner of Market and Second Streets.
THE GERMAN MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, located at the northeast corner of Second and Market Streets, was organized in 1857, and chartered November 23d of that year. The incorporators were Edward Eggers, Frederick Bergesch, Francis Krenning, Adolph Kehr, F. A. H. Schneider, Frederick Hauck, Gottlieb Martin, Charles G. Stifel, Francis
Saler. T. Thuemmler, George Gehrke, and Charles W. Horn. 222
Its first and subsequent presidents wore Charles W. Horn, Theodore Plate, Arthur Olshausen. Its first secretary was Arthur Olshausen. The officers for 1882 were: President, Arthur Olshausen; Vice-President, Christian A. Stifel; Actuary, Isidor Bush; Secretary, Edward Breitenstein; Assistant Secretary, Louis J. Belirens; Medical Examiners, Drs. Charles F. Hauck and P. J. Lingenfelder; Agent, S. Kehrmann.
FRANKLIN INSURANCE COMPANY. One of the most successful institutions of its kind in the West is the Franklin Mutual Insurance Company of St. Louis, which was incorporated in March, 1859. Scarcely any other fiduciary institution of St. Louis is more closely identified with the interests of the community or has had a more uniformly successful career. Among its officers at the present time are a number of the prominent business men of the city. Its office is at No. 400 North Third Street, and the capital stock amounts to three hundred and twenty-two thousand dollars. Henry Meier is president of the company; John C. Nulsen, vice-president; Louis Ducstrow, secretary; and the directors are Charles F. Meyer, John C. H. D. Block, J. C. Nulsen, H. J. Spaunhorst, Henry Meier, C. Fink, D. J. Blanke, and L. J. Holthaus.
THE LACLEDE MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY was chartered on the 14th of January, 1860, under the name of the Laclede Mutual Fire and Marine Insurance Company of St. Louis, the incorporators being Isaac Walker, William T. Gay, Levin H. Baker, Joseph O'Neil, Charles H. Peck, Oliver Garrison, Dwight Durkee, Louis A. Labeaume, and Robert W. Powell. The office of the company was situated originally at No. 217 North Third Street, but was afterwards removed to 212 North Third Street, where it is still located. The business transacted is that of mutual fire insurance. R. W. Powell was the first president, William T. Gay the first vice-president, and John Baker the first secretary of the corporation. The officers of the company for 1882 were: President, R. W. Powell; Vice-President, Joseph O'Neil; Secretary, J. C. Bury, Jr.; Directors, Joseph O'Neil, Charles H. Turner, Trumbull G. Russell, R. W. Powell, Oliver Garrison, John M. Sellers, G. Conzelman, Thomas Slevin, and J. B. C. Lucas.
Robert W. Powell, the president of the Laclede Mutual Fire Insurance Company, arrived in St. Louis in October, 1843. He was a tailor by trade, and at once established himself in that business. In 1844 a building was erected for him on Fourth Street near Pine, where the Globe-Democrat is now printed, his residence being situated on Market Street near Fourth. He continued the business at Fourth and Pine Streets for some time, and then removed to a store on Second Street, where he remained until 1857, when he relinquished this occupation to engage in the produce and commission business at No. 4 South Levee. In 1860 he withdrew from this pursuit, and on January 14th of that year, in company with several wealthy and prominent citizens, obtained a charter for the Laclede Mutual Fire Insurance Company. He was elected its first president, and has been annually re-elected ever since. The "Laclede" has long ranked as one of the safest insurance companies in the city. Mr. Powell was also one of the incorporators of the Citizens' Savings-Bank, was elected a director, and is now a vice-president of that institution.
In the management of his business as a merchant tailor Mr. Powell was very successful. He systematically invested his surplus in real estate, and with such judgment that he soon acquired a generous competence. He is a large owner of valuable real estate in the central residence portion of the city, and has improved much of it in a substantial and elegant manner. He occupies a handsome residence at No. 2642 Locust Street.
In religion, Mr. Powell is an Episcopalian. He was present at the organization of St. George's Church, when Dr. E. Carter Hutchison preached his first sermon at the Benton School, on Sixth Street between Locust and St. Charles, and for a number of years was connected with St. George's congregation, which built a church on Locust Street near Seventh. Subsequently he became a member of Trinity Church, at Washington Avenue and Eleventh Street, and was vestryman. Having (later) removed to Stoddard's addition, he became one of the incorporators of the parish of the Holy Communion, and was chosen vestryman. When St. George's congregation sold its church on Locust Street and removed to the new church at Locust and Beaumont Streets, he rejoined it, and is still a member. To the various benevolent enterprises of the church he has always contributed his full share.
In private life Mr. Powell is retiring and amiable, but in business is outspoken and decided, and his success is mainly due to his prompt judgment and celerity of action. His career has been singularly quiet and uneventful, but it has been full of usefulness and marked by uniform success.
THE JEFFERSON INSURANCE COMPANY was organized May 1, 1861, with a capital of $300,000. The total assets are $313,484.71; surplus, $125,248.71; net cash received during the last fiscal year for premiums and assessments, $52,880.58; aggregate income for the year in cash, $55,457.07; net amount outstanding risks, $8,163,901.66. The officers are: President, Hermann Eisenhardt; Vice-President, Charles H. Teichmann; Secretary and Treasurer, C. R. Fritsch; Directors, H. Eisenhardt, F. W. Biebinger, Aug. C. Mueller, Charles Wulfing, Charles H. Teichmann, Adam Conrad, C. A. Stifel, George Schlosstein, G. H. Bokenkamp, Francis Cornet, F. E. Schmeiding, and Abraham Kramer. The general offices are located at No. 207 North Third Street.
EQUITABLE LIFE ASSURANCE SOCIETY. The St. Louis agency of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, one of the largest corporations of its kind in the world, was established in 1862, S. A. Ranlett, since deceased, being the agent. The present office is located in the "Equitable Building," at Sixth and Locust Streets, one of the finest structures in the city. Benjamin May is the manager, and J. S. Kenrick is the cashier for the Southwestern Department. James M. Brawner, deceased, was the agent for twelve years. The main office of the Equitable was originally at No. 92 Broadway, New York City, but was afterwards moved to the imposing building No. 120 Broadway. Branch offices, located in handsome edifices owned by the company, have been established in Paris (France), Boston, and Chicago, and flourishing agencies exist in all the cities and most of the important towns in the country. The first president of the society was William C. Alexander, and the officers for 1882 were: President, Henry B. Hyde; Vice-Presidents, James W. Alexander, Samuel Borrowe; Secretary, William Alexander; Actuaries, George W. Phillips, J. G. Van Cise; Medical Examiners, Dr. E. W. Lambert and Dr. Edward Curtis; Superintendent of Agencies, E. W. Scott. The company, which was organized on the 26th of July, 1859, ranked at the outset as No. 19 in the list of insurance societies as to magnitude, but such has been its growth that the outstanding policies on its books are claimed to largely exceed the amount of the outstanding insurances of any other company organized since 1832. It now holds the second place in size, but is said to have issued for many years past a larger amount of new insurance than any other company. The only other company whose transactions have approached those of the Equitable during recent years made a showing in 1881 of about $11,500,000 less than the Equitable.
THE NORTH ST. LOUIS MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY was incorporated in February, 1864, the incorporators being H. Overstolz, Theodore Koch, and others. Since its organization the office of the company has been situated at the corner of Broadway and Exchange Street. Henry Overstolz has been president of the company from the beginning. The officers during 1882 were: President, H. Overstolz; Vice-President, L. Espenschied; Secretary and Treasurer, Theodore Koch.
ST. LOUIS LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY The Mound City Life Insurance Company, which afterwards changed its name to that of the St. Louis Life, was organized on the 14th of May, 1868, and its first policy was issued June 10th of that year. Its first president was Capt. James B. Eads, and the offices were located at first at No. 318 North Third Street between Olive and Locust Streets. At the first annual election, held at the office, 319 North Third Street, on the 17th of May, 1869, the following officers were chosen: President, James J. O'Fallon; Vice-President, Alfred M. Britton; Secretary, Aylett H. Buckner; Assistant Secretary, S. W. Lomax; Directors, James J. O'Fallon, James H. Lucas, Alfred M. Britton, Samuel A. Hatch, William C. Sipple, Augustus McDowell, A. M. Wakerman, and A. B. Garrison. The first policy issued bore the date of June 12, 1868. In less than a year nine hundred and sixty-six policies had been issued, and one hundred and twenty thousand one hundred and seventy dollars and thirty-three cents received in premiums. In 1872 the capital was increased from one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to five hundred thousand dollars, and two years later, in January, 1874, it was again increased to one million dollars, and in February of that year the name was changed from Mound City to St. Louis. The company continued to transact a large and profitable business, and at the beginning of 1876 its assets amounted to seven million four hundred and six thousand eight hundred and fifty-two dollars and fifty-four cents. Subsequently the corporation went out of existence.
The old St. Louis Life Insurance building, at the northwest corner of Sixth and Locust Streets, is one of the handsomest business structures in the city. It is in the renaissance style, constructed after designs by George I. Barnett, architect, and the foundation is of
red Missouri granite, and the walls of cream-colored Missouri sandstone. The floors are constructed of brick arches supported by girders of iron, and the ceilings of the first floor and corridors are richly frescoed. The structure is fire-proof and supplied with all the modern conveniences.
THE GERMAN MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY was incorporated under the general insurance of Missouri, Oct. 9, 1868, with a capital of $300,000. Its surplus at the present time is $67,055.16, and the income for the past year was $22,381.19. The management from its inception has undergone comparatively few changes. Frederick Hill is president of the company, L. Ottenad is vice-president, and Henry Hiemenz is secretary. The board of directors is as follows: Jacob D. Hiemenz, F. Hill, Louis Ottenad, August Bohn, Jacob Gruen, August Gehner, Claude Juppier, Francis K. Krenning, Nicholas Berg, Christian Koeln, Henry Michel, and Charles Stumpf. The offices of the company are at the southeast corner of Market and Fifth Streets.
THE CARONDELET HOME MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY is located at 7005 South Main Street, and its officers during 1882 were John Krauss, president; R. J. Kilpatrick, vice-president; Charles W. Hoffmeister, secretary; and Bernard O'Reilly, treasurer; Directors, W. C. Plass, Venust Spindler, Daniel Paule, Abraham Herbel, John Krauss, R. J. Kilpatrick, and B. O'Reilly.
THE BOARD OF ST. LOUIS MARINE UNDERWRITERS, office 314 Chestnut Street, was organized Jan. 1, 1850, and was incorporated by act of Legislature on the 14th of January, 1860, the incorporators being James H. Hughes, George K. McGunnegle, John McNeil, W. W. Green, W. D. W. Barnard, B. M. Runyan. The object of the association is the "better preservation from loss or damage of property wrecked or stranded upon the navigable rivers of the State of Missouri." In the latter part of April, 1861, at the beginning of the civil war, George D. McGunnegle, "president of the Board of Underwriters," announced that the insurance companies of St. Louis had adopted a special clause to "cover all future shipments, and to be attached to all cargo policies, as follows:
"Warranted, by the assured, free from claim or loss or damage arising from civil commotion, or from piracy, seizure, sequestration or detention and overpowering thieves, or the consequences of tiny other hostile act of the government or people, person or persons of any State or States claiming to have seceded from this Union."
The companies also decided to cover the war clause by charging double rates net.
The officers of the board for 1882 were H. D. McLean, president; J. A. Waterworth, vice-president; James Barnard, secretary, adjuster, and agent; and Silas Adkins, inspector of hulls.
INSURANCE EXCHANGE. The Insurance Exchange building, situated at the southeast corner of Fifth and Olive Streets, was erected during 1869-70, after designs prepared by G. I. Barnett, architect. It is built of Chicago limestone in the Roman style of architecture, is five stories high, and is occupied by stores and offices.
ST. LOUIS BOARD OF FIRE UNDERWRITERS. The present St. Louis Board of Fire Underwriters was established in May, 1872, but previous to that time similar organizations had existed.
On the 28th of September, 1866, a meeting of insurance men was held at the office of the Marine Board of Underwriters for the purpose of organizing a Board of Fire Underwriters. All the agencies and local companies were represented, and a constitution and by-laws were adopted. A committee consisting of George K. McGunnegle, Samuel E. Mack, 223 and George D. Capen, appointed at a previous meeting, reported a tariff of rates which was a considerable advance over the rates previously in force. This action was taken in accordance with similar action on the part of the National Board of Underwriters, then recently organized in the city of New York, who asserted that "the experience of the past two years has demonstrated that there has been no profit in the aggregate business of fire underwriting throughout our country."
On the 6th of May, 1872, the present St. Louis Board of Fire Underwriters was organized, and by September of that year was in active operation. One of the first acts of the board was the selection of C. T. Aubin, civil engineer, for the purpose of surveying the buildings in the business section of the city, and obtaining the details of their construction, the thickness of the walls, height of parapet walls, etc. Mr. Aubin completed his work in 1874, and presented to the board "a system of fixing adequate rates upon each building according to construction, starting with a moderate basis for standard buildings, and making additional charges for deficiencies and all inflammable goods contained therein." 224 The system having received the approval of the St. Louis Board,
and subsequently of the National Board, went into effect on the 1st of July, 1875. The office of the board is at 508, Chamber of Commerce, and the officers for 1882 were J. A. Waterworth, president; A. C. Travis, vice-president; C. T. Aubin, secretary and surveyor; and William M. Lockwood, treasurer.
Notwithstanding the many impediments and embarrassments encountered by the projectors of the telegraph, its extension westward was wonderfully rapid. The first line in actual operation in the United States was established between Baltimore and Washington in 1844. It was completed and messages were transmitted on the 24th of May of that year, and a little over three and a half years later (Dec. 20, 1847) the lines connecting East St. Louis with the Eastern cities were finished. When we take into consideration the fact that telegraphy was as yet in its infancy, this feat deserves to be ranked with the great achievements of the age. The line between Baltimore and Washington was the creation of the general government; but the development of the telegraphic system in the West was due to the energy and unflagging zeal of one man, Henry O'Reilly, who after encountering many trials and discouragements succeeded in forming a stock company for the establishment of telegraphic communication between the great business centres of the East and Cincinnati, St. Louis, and other Western points. Mr. O'Reilly met with very little encouragement from the capitalists to whom he applied, finding it almost impossible to convince them that the telegraph would ever prove a paying investment; but, finally, having procured the necessary funds, he obtained control of the Morse patents from the Atlantic seaboard westward; Professor Samuel P. B. Morse, who owned them, having sought in vain to induce the general government to purchase them.
As early as 1837, Professor Morse petitioned Congress for assistance to enable him to demonstrate the value of his invention by constructing a telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore, but congressmen "ridiculed his invention as a mere chimera, and the bill was never called up." At the session of 1842, however, he renewed his application, and, mainly through the efforts of Hon. John P. Kennedy, of Baltimore, chairman of the House committee to whom the bill had been referred, Congress was induced on the 3d of March, the last day of the session, to pass an act appropriating thirty thousand dollars "to test the practicability of establishing a system of electro-magnetic telegraph in the United States." The expenditure of the appropriation was intrusted to the Secretary of the Treasury, who appointed Leonard D. Gale and James C. Fisher assistants to Professor Morse. The original intention had been to lay the wires under ground in leaden pipes along the line of the Washington Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, but the experiment proved a failure, and was abandoned after an expenditure of fifteen thousand dollars. Poles were then erected and a line of wire constructed mainly after the present method between the two cities. The first trial was made on the 9th of April, 1844. A message was sent a distance of six miles over the wire, which was of very indifferent construction, and an answer received "in two or three seconds." On the 7th of May the line was in full operation for a distance of twenty-two miles. "The fluid," we are told, "traversed the whole twenty-two miles and back again, making forty-four miles, in no perceptible part of a second of time. On Friday, the 24th of May, 1844, the line was completed, and the first telegraphic message was sent from Washington to Baltimore by Miss Annie Ellsworth, daughter of the commissioner of patents. This message was in these words: "WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT!" The first message of the President of the United States to Congress ever transmitted over the wires was sent to the Baltimore Sun, May 11, 1846. Of the thirty thousand dollars appropriated by Congress for making the experiment, three thousand five hundred dollars remained unexpended.
About July 10, 1844, Professor Morse, with I concurrence of the Secretary of the Treasury, appointed Henry J. Rogers, of Baltimore, "the inventor of the American telegraph," assistant superintendent "of the line of electro-magnetic telegraph between Washington and Baltimore," with his office in the latter city. Mr. Rogers made many improvements in the telegraphic system, and was the inventor of the Rogers commercial code of signals, afterwards adopted by the United States and British governments. On the 15th of March, 1845, the first telegraph company was formed, with the name of "The Magnetic Telegraph Company," the object of the incorporators being to construct a line from Washington to New York, and in a little over a year (June 6, 1846) it was informally opened. It was not, however, in regular operation until several days afterwards.
About this time the war with Mexico commenced, Gen. Taylor having crossed the Rio Grande in May, and there was intense anxiety throughout the country for prompt and trustworthy intelligence from the scene of hostilities. News was received at Washington
via the Southern mail, and telegraphed to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and intermediate points. A Baltimore newspaper (the Sun), in order to obtain the war news at the earliest possible moment, established a "pony express" from the steamboat wharf to the telegraph-office in Washington. The desire to procure the promptest intelligence from the seat of war naturally suggested the extension of the telegraph system in the Southwest. During the previous year (April 8, 1845) the first Southern contract had been signed by Amos Kendall, agent for Professor Morse, with H. H. O'Callaghan, of the New Orleans Crescent City, for the extension of the line from Washington to New Orleans, Mr. O'Callaghan having established during the winter an exclusive private express on a portion of the Southern route, by means of which he was enabled to beat the United States mail twenty-four hours in reaching New Orleans, but it was reserved for Henry O'Reilly, aided by Assistant Superintendent Rogers, to construct a complete line of telegraph between the seaboard and the Mississippi.
Mainly through the efforts of Mr. Rogers, a number of Baltimore capitalists were induced to subscribe, and on the 12th of January, 1848, the American Telegraph Company was formally organized, the incorporators being H. McKim, Zenus Barnum, Moor N. Falls, William McKim, D. Pain, Josiah Lee, Henry J. Rogers, and George C. Penniman. The manager of the new company was Mr. O'Reilly, and the office was in the depot of the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad. Some time previously, however, the construction of a line between Baltimore, York, Columbia, and Harrisburg, Pa., had been commenced. Another company, known as the Western Telegraph Company, was organized Nov. 11, 1848, with John F. Pickell, president; Thomas J. McKaig, treasurer; and Howard Kennedy, secretary and superintendent. The lines extended from Washington to Frederick, Md., and thence to Wheeling, Va., Pittsburgh, Pa., Louisville, Ky., Cleveland, Ohio, and from these points to the South and Southwest. Prior to the organization of the above companies the lines westward had been constructed, and the first telegraphic dispatch received in Baltimore from the West reached that city from Cincinnati on the 20th of August, 1847, by way of Philadelphia.
Henry O'Reilly, to whom the people of the West are primarily indebted for the extension of the telegraph, was a native of New York, and was a printer's apprentice about the time that Horace Greeley and Thurlow Weed were learning the rudiments of the craft. Subsequently he was employed in the editorial department of various newspapers printed in New York City, Albany, and different points in the western portion of the State. At that early day the mails were transported by canal, and Mr. O'Reilly often met the canal-boat, received his package of Eastern newspapers, and hurried back on his horse to give his readers "the latest intelligence." He subsequently removed to Rochester, where he established the Daily Advertiser, the first daily newspaper between the Hudson River and the Pacific coast, and while pursuing his vocation in Western New York strenuously urged the enlargement of the Erie Canal, and incidentally attacked the inefficient management of the State authorities with great force and vigor. The first call, issued by Murray Hoffman, for the State Constitutional Convention of 1846, was brought about by him. In company with one other gentleman, Mr. O'Reilly "held a meeting, organized, passed resolutions, and then waited upon Mr. Hoffman as a delegation, asking his acceptance of the post of leader." Mr. Hoffman consented and wrote the declaration of wants, "and so carefully was the matter conducted by Mr. O'Reilly, that the first intimation the ‘regency’ had of the uprising was the pouring in of the journals from all parts of the State filled with glowing articles on the new movement."
Mr. O'Reilly was keenly alive to every public improvement, and when the permanent success of the Morse telegraph was demonstrated, he was among the first to appreciate its wonderful possibilities. About this time, as previously stated, the Morse patentees were endeavoring to sell the exclusive right to that invention to the United States government, the price being fixed at one hundred thousand dollars. Congress, however, delayed action on the proposition, and in the mean time a contract was closed with Mr. O'Reilly and others, giving them the right to put in operation the Morse patents from the seaboard westward. The contract was general in its character, and the franchises conferred were extremely valuable. It covered not only the original patent to Morse, but all subsequent improvements. Mr. O'Reilly was not a practical electrician, but he went to work with an energy and determination which were finally crowned with success. He had been informed by experts that to cross rivers with the electric current it was only necessary to sink a copper plate on each bank. He followed their directions, but discovered that the copper plates were practically worthless, and substituted for them great poles or masts and stretched the wire from one to the other across the stream. The Morse patentees considered copper the best material for the wires, but finding that No. 16 copper wire was so
ductile that when wet it "sagged" down between the poles low enough to catch pedestrians under the chin, he replaced it with iron wire, and, in fact, was the first person to use iron for that purpose. He introduced many other improvements, and was not deterred by obstacles which must have disheartened a less resolute man. His experience with capitalists was anything but encouraging. "Jacob Little, then king of Wall Street, told the canvasser that the telegraph was a chimera, and put his name down for one hundred dollars as a matter of charity. Banks refused to lend a dollar on the security of ‘a bit of wire,’ and it was only by his personal enthusiasm that Mr. O'Reilly was able to get money enough to put his lines up." The first section was from Harrisburg to Lancaster, Pa., and when this line was at last in successful operation, capital became less coy and the necessary funds were soon obtained for completing the line to Pittsburgh. This was done during the winter of 1846-47, and the working parties suffered great hardships from cold and exposure during their passage over the Alleghenies. On the 1st of January, 1847, a message was flashed over the wires from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and on the 20th of August in the same year Cincinnati was placed in telegraphic communication with Philadelphia and other points in the East. On the 18th of September, 1847, the St. Louis Republican made the following announcement:
"An effort is now being made to test the practicability of connecting St. Louis with the Eastern cities and New Orleans by means of the magnetic telegraph. Mr. O'Reilly, who has recently constructed and put into operation the line from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati and Louisville, and is forming a connection with his lines along the lakes, and is also rapidly extending the line from Louisville via Nashville to New Orleans, proposes to give the citizens of St. Louis the benefit of this lightning speed by the first week in December, provided they will take from twenty thousand to twenty-five thousand dollars stock in that line, say from Louisville or Indianapolis to this city."
On the 11th of November following it said,
"We are informed on reliable authority that Mr. O'Reilly is rapidly progressing with the construction of the telegraph in this direction. It is now completed and in operation to Vincennes, and it is expected that the wires will be put up and the communication completed from Louisville to the east bank of the Mississippi in the month of December."
On the 26th of the same month a meeting in aid of the enterprise was held at Mechanics' Hall. "The attendance," remarks the Republican,
"was large, but not so large as we think the importance of the occasion should have called forth. We are really surprised at the apathy and indifference which a large portion of our merchants and men of business evince towards measures which are almost exclusively for their own benefit. Col. Robert Campbell was called to the chair, and John J. Anderson appointed secretary. Judge Ellis, of Vincennes, one of the trustees of the subscribers for the stock, made several explanations concerning the manner of taking the stock, how it was held, etc., after which Mr. O'Reilly addressed the meeting in explanation of his contracts, the extent to which he had carried his lines, their connection, their influence, and the purposes he had in view. A committee of five, consisting of Messrs. McGunnegle, Simonds, Rosier, Clarke, and Yeatman, was appointed to wait upon the citizens to procure subscriptions."
The President's message, delivered to Congress Dec. 6, 1847, was transmitted from Philadelphia to Vincennes by telegraph, and thence by "pony express" to St. Louis.
On the 8th of the same month announcement made that the subscriptions for stock in the "St. Louis and Louisville Telegraph Company" would be closed "until Thursday, at least until trustees are elected and they shall determine what further measures are necessary." Three days later (Dec. 11, 1847) the Republican congratulated Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Moore, agent of the mail contractor, on the speed and accuracy with which the President's message had been delivered at St. Louis. The time occupied in the transmission was three days. The message was sent to Congress on Tuesday, and the telegraphing from Philadelphia to Vincennes and intermediate cities commenced at seven o'clock on Tuesday evening and was concluded at a quarter before nine P. M. Wednesday. An interruption of several hours occurred, owing to derangement of the wires between Louisville and Cincinnati. When the operators were through with the message they were so exhausted that they refused to transmit any more telegrams.
The Republican pronounced the feat to be "one of the greatest triumphs of the age." From Vincennes to St. Louis, between which points there was as yet no telegraph line, the message was transmitted by a special express organized by Mr. Eastman, of Eastman's line of stages, and the "senior editor [of the Republican] went to Vincennes to receive the copy and bring it to St. Louis." Including stoppage and delays, the time of transmission by telegraph from Philadelphia to Vincennes was twenty-six hours and fifty minutes; the time actually employed, about nineteen hours. The "pony express" left Vincennes for St. Louis shortly after eight o'clock A. M., and reached Belleville, about one hundred and twenty-five miles, in twenty-four hours and fifty minutes. The message "was placed in the hands of our compositors, and in two hours and a half it was in type, and in a few minutes afterwards was delivered to thousands of people." The Republican was the only paper in St. Louis to receive the message by telegraph.
On the 18th of December the Republican announced
that the posts and wires had been erected as far as the east bank of the river, and that in a short time the connection with the city proper would be established. A trial of the wires from the point of completion on the Mississippi to Vincennes was made, and resulted satisfactorily. Two days later (Dec. 20, 1847) the same paper informed its readers that "the most extraordinary undertaking of the age, the completion of a line of communication by magnetic telegraph from the Atlantic cities to the east bank of the Mississippi," had been accomplished. The time consumed in the work of construction was less than eighteen months. The company's offices were located on the third and fourth floors of the St. Louis Insurance Office, at the corner of Olive and Main Streets, and it was announced that business would be transacted there as soon as the wires were extended across the river to the city. In the mean time an office was established in a house in the upper end of East St. Louis, and messages were transmitted thence to Eastern points. On the 20th of December the regular operation of the line commenced, and the Republican announced that in a day or two it would begin the publication of the proceedings of Congress and all important events transpiring in the East, "almost to the very moment of putting the paper to press." On the 22d the Republican published the following:
"LOUISVILLE, December 21st, 9 P. M.
"W. N. Haldeman's respects to the St. Louis press, and congratulates them on the crowning feat of Henry O'Reilly's enterprise, the instantaneous communication of the Mississippi with the Atlantic.
"The river here has fallen two feet. It came within eight inches of the flood of 1832. The weather is cold. No news this morning. Chancellor Kent died on the 13th inst.
"(This is the only dispatch from Louisville, and we have nothing from the Atlantic cities. The flood has deranged the wires between Madison and Cincinnati, and communication by telegraph is cut off; but still we ought to have later dates from New York and Philadelphia, if there was not some defect on a more distant part of the line. Nothing is said of the foreign news.)"
On the 10th of January, 1848, telegraphic communication was established between the cities of St. Louis and Alton by the indefatigable O'Reilly, who announced his intention, in view of the approaching completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, to extend the line to Galena and Chicago. About this time Mr. O'Reilly began what was destined to be a tedious and only partially successful series of attempts to introduce the telegraph into the city of St. Louis. He proposed to do this by erecting two lofty poles on either bank of the river and stretching the wire across from one pole to the other. One of these poles was erected in front of the St. Louis Insurance office, and a large lamp was placed on top of it to serve as a beacon for boats on the river and "for persons traveling by night." On the 24th of January the Republican stated that an unsuccessful attempt had been made to extend the wire from Bloody Island to the western shore. When near the shore the reel got fast and the wire broke.
On the 30th of January the citizens of St. Louis tendered Mr. O'Reilly a public dinner in testimony of the energy and skill with which he had prosecuted the construction of the telegraph from the East to St. Louis. The letter of invitation was as follows:
"TO HENRY O'REILLY, ESQ.:
"SIR, The undersigned, citizens of St. Louis, as a slight testimonial of their sense of obligation for the efficiency and perseverance displayed by you in the extension of the telegraphic line to this city, and for the very favorable estimate they have formed of you personally, beg leave to tender to you a public dinner at such a time as may suit your convenience.
"John O'Fallon, Helfenstein, Gore & Co., J. E. Yeatman, Berthold, Ewing & Co., John Simonds, William T. Reynolds & Co., G. K. McGunnegle, John J. Anderson & Co., Luther C. Clark, Kenneth, McKenzie & Co., G. K. Budd, Smith, Brothers & Co., T. H. Larkin, P. Chouteau, Jr., & Co., U. Rasiu & Conn, Wilson & Brothers, Keith, Ray & Co., Samuel Treat, G. Matthews & Brother, Houseman & Lowry, W. Barton, J. Lemon, Charles P. Chouteau, Thomas T. Gantt, T. B. Dutcher, S. M. Bay, King & Fisher, Bryan Mullanphy, Anderson & Conn, John M. Wimer, W. W. Greene, Bogy & Miltenberger, Chouteau & Vallé, John M. Krum, Carson & Voorhies, William Milburn, Roe & Kercheval, Kirtly & Ryland, Henry Von Phul, Keemle & Field, A. Miltenberger, Peake & Baker, James Bryan, John R. Hammond, Lawrason Riggs, M. L. Clark, Robert Campbell, D. D. Mitchell, B. B. Dayton, James B. Clendenin, Lyman Farwell, J. C. Tevis, L. A. Benoist & Co., Edward Tracy, H. S. Geyer, D. H. Armstrong, Thomas O'Flaherty, Henry M. Shreve, George Knapp, C. Ladew & Co., Jesse Woodruff, Ferd. Kennett, Wayman Crow, Leslie & Lord, John O. Agnew, N. E. Janney, H, MacShane, M. Blair, Sproule & Keys, Francis P. Blair, Jr., Patrick Gorman, A. P. Ladew & Co., Bermhoud & Son, James H. Lucas.
"ST. LOUIS, Jan. 30, 1848."
Mr. O'Reilly replied as follows:
"ST. LOUIS, Jan. 31, 1848.
"GENTLEMEN, I have already participated so largely in your hospitalities, and have been honored with such manifestations of your confidence in connection with the enterprise which has excited your attention, that no formal testimonial of your kindness, such as you now propose, could impress me more deeply with a sense of indebtedness for your favor, and while I would rejoice to participate in the festivities with which you propose to commemorate an event that you consider of public importance, circumstances compel me respectfully to decline your proffered invitation."
On the 8th of February the following notice was published in the St. Louis papers:
"TO THE PEOPLE OF MISSOURI, WISCONSIN, AND IOWA:
"I deem it my duty to give you notice that the claim of Henry O'Reilly to construct and use Morse's telegraph on any line in any direction beyond St. Louis is utterly fraudulent. He has no such right, and never had. Equally fraudulent are his pretences that he has other systems which he can use besides Morse's. They are either pure humbugs or direct violations of Morse's patents. His object is to fill his pockets with your money, and then leave you exposed to lawsuits and triple damages in the United States courts for violating Morse's patents. If any of your towns and villages want a telegraph, they can get it without the danger of lawsuits or damages by application to the undersigned at Washington City, or to William Tanner, Esq., Frankfort, Ky., or to Josiah Dent, Esq., St. Louis, Mo.
AMOS KENDALL, Agent for Proprietors.
"LOUISVILLE, Jan. 24, 1848."
Thus was inaugurated a contest which resulted in a long and expensive litigation. O'Reilly became involved in lawsuit after lawsuit with the Morse patentees, and after a stubborn resistance was forced to yield. His Western telegraph franchises were transferred to a combination of capitalists, who organized the Western Union Telegraph Company, which has since absorbed a number of similar enterprises, until now it has become one of the great telegraphic corporations of the world, its lines radiating in every direction throughout the United States. During his control of the Western franchises O'Reilly constructed about eight thousand miles of line. Comparatively little, if any, of the original line remains, as it was crudely and hastily built, and has long since been replaced by a more reliable system of wires. O'Reilly was impoverished by his lawsuits, and for a number of years held the position of store-keeper in the New York Custom-House, from which he retired in 1878 at the age of seventy years. His chief occupation in recent years, aside from his official duties, has been the revision and classification of his papers for the use of the future historian of telegraphy in the United States. His memoirs, exhibits, papers, and books, in print and manuscript, number one hundred and fifty volumes, and are now in the collection of the New York Historical Society. On one occasion, after his removal from the custom-house, Mr. O'Reilly, it is stated, said,
"I seek now only a quiet retirement, and would prefer to keep entirely out of the public view, but when the real history of the discovery and the development of the telegraph system of this country is written many misplaced honors will fall away from those who have won them."
On the 14th of March, 1848, the St. Louis Republican congratulated its readers on the fact that the wires would be brought across the river "this week." Two tall masts, it added, "have been erected, each about one hundred and seventy-five feet high, one on the bank of the river in the water-works lot, and the other on Bloody Island opposite. The span at this place is considerably less than where the original attempt was made to carry it over the river."
On the 20th and 21st of the same month meetings of the stockholders of the "Louisville, Vincennes and St. Louis Telegraph Company" were held for the purpose of organizing under a charter granted by the Indiana Legislature. A temporary organization was effected in order to enable Mr. O'Reilly to transfer the lines to the company previous to his contemplated departure from that section of the country. The following chosen temporary directors: Henry O'Reilly, William Bratch, George T. M. David, Samuel Wise, Sanford J. Smith, William R. McCord, John Ross, Thomas Bishop, A. T. Ellis.
The directors subsequently met and completed the organization of the "Ohio and Mississippi Telegraph Company" by electing the Hon. A. T. Ellis president, John Ross secretary, and Sanford J. Smith treasurer. The transfer of the line between St. Louis and Louisville, as also of the extension from Illinoistown to Alton, was then made by Mr. O'Reilly to the company. Steps were also taken for the engraving of appropriate certificates for stock.
During a heavy gale on the 4th of May, 1848, the tall mast near the shot-tower, upon which the telegraph wire was suspended, was blown down, and the operation of the telegraph interrupted. In consequence of this accident the company was forced to resort to the old system of sending the message across the river, and transmitting them from Illinoistown. On the 1st of June following it was announced that the line of O'Reilly's telegraph had been extended from St. Louis to Springfield, Ill., and that in a short time it would be completed to Peoria, Chicago, Galena, Quincy, Burlington, and other important towns on the Illinois and upper Mississippi. The announcement of the completion of the line to Springfield was accompanied by the following dispatch from the editors of the Springfield Register to the editors of the St. Louis Republican:
"SPRINGFIELD, ILL., May 31st,
"The editors of the State Register shake hands with the editors of the Republican, with a slight variation, as the preacher said about the creation of women. Strike out Whig candidates and insert Cass and Butler and we are with you, but whatever the result may be, we hope always to remain friends."
On the 12th of August, 1848, the telegraph was completed to Dubuque, Iowa, and on the 19th of January, 1849, notice was given that O'Reilly's line of telegraph had been opened through from Louisville to New Orleans "day before yesterday," i. e., on the
17th; that dispatches had been received at St. Louis from Baton Rouge, and that it was expected that dispatches would be received direct from New Orleans in a very few days. On the 21st of March, 1850, telegraphic communication was opened between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau. This was the last northern link on the St. Louis and New Orleans telegraph. On the 22d of the following month, April, 1850, Henry O'Reilly invited the attention of the people of St. Louis to a scheme for constructing a telegraph from St. Louis to San Francisco. Mr. O'Reilly declared that he would ask no aid from the government, except in building stockades at intervals along the line to serve as telegraph stations, and for the protection of immigrants and the property of the telegraph company. One of the arguments advanced in favor of the project was that the stockades would form the nucleus of settlements for the supply of persons traveling to and from California. On the 27th of July of the same year a telegraph line from St. Louis to New Orleans was completed under the direction of Mr. O'Reilly, and dispatches passed over the wires between the two cities. It was known as O'Reilly's or the "People's Line of Telegraph."
The use of masts for supporting the telegraph wires across the Mississippi River having proved unsatisfactory, it was determined on the 23d of September, 1850, to lay wires cased in gutta-percha at the bottom of the river from Bloody Island to the St. Louis shore. The work was completed by the 7th of October, and the telegraphic instruments were removed from East St. Louis to St. Louis. The submerged wire was found to be a marked improvement on the system previously in use. In the Republican of October 8th the announcement was made that the wire for Morse's Southern telegraph had been suspended across the Mississippi, and that "the ‘Bostona’ passed under it with the greatest ease." In the summer and fall of 1850 the work of extending the telegraph from St. Louis to St. Joseph, Mo., was actively prosecuted by T. P. Shaffner & Co., and on the 8th of October it was announced that the posts for the line had been put up to within thirty miles of Jefferson City. On the 4th of October, 1851, a telegraph-office was opened at Weston, and it was announced that the line would be completed to St. Joseph in the course of a week or two. Wade's telegraph line from Cincinnati to St. Louis, by way of Indianapolis, Terre Haute, and Alton, was completed during the same year to the east side of the Mississippi opposite St. Louis, and it was announced that "gutta-percha wire upon a new principle would be immediately laid across the river."
On the 6th of December, 1851, the Republican mentioned that the delay and inconvenience to which the Morse Telegraph Line had been subjected at Cape Girardeau had been remedied by the use of gutta-percha wire across the river at that place. "Messages can now be sent without interruption at that point to Nashville, and from thence to New Orleans by one line, and to Louisville and all the inland and Atlantic cities by other connected lines." In the same issue of the paper appears a notice of a "sumptuous supper" with which the O'Reilly Telegraphic Lines "celebrated their triumph last Thursday night in successfully crossing the river." This celebration marks the third attempt to solve the problem of safely transmitting telegrams across the Mississippi. Two wires belonging to the Northern and Eastern O'Reilly Telegraph Companies, as the corporations were styled, were successfully laid across the river above Bissell's Ferry landing, and the connection with the lines on either shore was soon perfected. For nearly four years the company had been experimenting in the hope of securing a permanent submarine telegraph. It never quite succeeded, but to St. Louis probably belongs the honor of having first utilized, with comparatively satisfactory results, the gutta-percha wire for laying telegraph cables below the surface of the water. The idea of a submarine telegraph was not a novel one, the electrician Salvá having, it is said, suggested as early as 1797 that a line be laid between Barcelona and Palma, in the island of Majorca.
On the 18th of October, 1842, Professor Morse laid a copper wire, insulated by means of a hempen strand coated with tar, pitch, and India rubber, from Governor's Island to the Battery, N. Y., and next morning was beginning to receive messages over it, when the wire became entangled in the anchor of a vessel and was hauled on board. In 1843, Samuel Colt laid a submarine cable from Coney and Fire Islands at the entrance of New York Harbor up to the city, which was operated with success. On the 28th of December, 1844, at Washington, D. C., Mr. Colt exhibited a submarine battery, of which he was the inventor, and succeeded in exploding several of his "combustible substances" at a considerable distance under water. He proposed to the government to permanently fortify any harbor by this means at a cost not exceeding that of a steamship of war. In 1845 gutta-percha became an article of commerce, but its insulating qualities had not then been discovered. In that year Professor Morse attempted to insulate a wire with a composition of beeswax, asphaltum, and cotton yarn, and failed. In 1848, Ezra Cornell and
Professor Morse endeavored to lay a cable across the Hudson River to Fort Lee, by the use of a mixture of asphalt and hemp, and afterwards strung the wire with glass beads and inclosed it in a lead pipe, but without success in either case. Professor Faraday first made public the insulating properties of gutta-percha in 1848, and the first submarine telegraph thus insulated was laid across the Rhine from Deutz to Cologne by Lieut. Siemens, of the Prussian Artillery. On the 22d of November, 1847, some months before Faraday's patent was granted in England, George B. Simpson drew up an application for a patent for the insulation of telegraph with gutta-percha. It was filed in the United States Patent Office in January, 1848, more than a month before Faraday's announcement. In November, 1848, Simpson exhibited his invention at the Washington Hall Fair in Baltimore, where it was tested and found successful, and received the unanimous commendation of the press of that city. As early as December, 1847, he had exhibited his invention to the late Amos Kendall and F. O. J. Smith, in Cincinnati. His patent was rejected by the Patent Office in 1850, and a long litigation ensued, which resulted in Simpson's favor in 1867, shortly before his death.
H. W. Cleveland, an assistant of Professor Morse in the Baltimore office, invented a submarine telegraph in April, 1847, which he tested across the bed of the stream at Gunpowder River drawbridge, between Baltimore and Havre de Grace, and it was eminently successful. In 1850 a copper wire covered with gutta-percha was laid from Dover to Calais by the electrician Brett. It was in the same year that the first submarine wire was laid across the Mississippi. 225
Early in November, 1852, the stockholders of the St. Louis and Missouri Telegraph Company elected the following officers:
Issac M. Veitch, president; John W. Morris, secretary; Directors, T. P. Shaffner, G. B. Allen, John How, S. H. Laflin, K. K. Woodward, St. Louis; E. B. Cordell, Jefferson City; William H. Trigg, Boonville; Robert Aull, Lexington; William McCoy, Independence; Hon. Sol. P. McCurdy, Weston; B. Livermore, St. Joseph.
In 1859 a new cable was laid across the Mississippi. "The Western Union Telegraph Company," says a St. Louis paper of August 22d of that year,
"some time since deputed Mr. Ed. Creighton to superintend the making and laying of a new electric cable across the Mississippi River at this point. The cable is now finished, and will be laid to-morrow....
"Formerly a wire was stretched from a very tall pole on the but there were frequent accidents, which rendered communication uncertain and irregular. The flood of 1852 washed down the giant mast on the island, and since that time suspension wires have been abandoned and subaquatic cables substituted. But here, too, were obstacles to be met, for the impulsive current of the Mississippi presented difficulties in the way of telegraphic intercourse between this city and the opposite shore which have never to this day been overcome successfully. A great many cables have failed from breaking, loss of insulation, etc., and this sometimes after but a few months' sometimes weeks' service. Mr. Creighton thinks he has made a cable which will now withstand the force of the rushing waters and endure for years.
"The cable to be paid out to-morrow is manufactured of four pieces of the Atlantic cable purchased of Tiffany, New York,...together with twenty-one strands of No. 9 iron wire, and all securely bound every six inches with the same (No. 9). Each piece of the Atlantic cable has fifty-six strands of wire, so that in the present cable there are two hundred and forty-five wires. Two miles of the Atlantic cable are used in the Mississippi ‘cord,’ and the whole length of the latter is two thousand six hundred and fifty feet. Its diameter is something over two inches. The total weight is five tons and a half, and the cost is about three thousand dollars. It is now coiled in an immense reel, and will be stretched by one of the Higgins ferry-boats, the termination on this side being near the foot of Biddle Street."
In the early part of 1859 a few gentlemen of St. Louis formed an association for the purpose of extending the then existing line running westward from St. Louis, and also for the purpose of building other lines with the view of inducing the California trunk lines to converge at St. Louis. This enterprise finally became of sufficient importance to justify the formation of an incorporated company. A charter was granted by the Legislature which was very liberal in its provisions. It had fifty years to run, and permitted a capital stock of a million dollars. The style of the company was the "Missouri and Western Telegraph Company," which was formed for the purpose of "building, buying, leasing, maintaining, and operating a telegraph line or lines west of the Mississippi River."
Messrs. S. H. Laflin, J. H. Lightner, A. C. Goddin, Charles M. Stebbins, J. H. Wade, Isaac R. Elwood, and Anson Stager, the persons named as the corporators of this company, met at the Planters' House in August, 1860, and perfected their organization by the election of Charles M. Stebbins, of St. Louis, president; Edward Creighton, of Omaha City, general agent; and R. C. Cloury, of St. Louis, secretary and superintendent.
This company absorbed the "Missouri River Telegraph Line," extending from St. Louis to Kansas City; the "Kansas Telegraph Line," extending from Kansas City through Leavenworth and Atchison to St. Joseph; and the "New Line," finished a short time before to Springfield, Mo. It had already raised nearly enough money to complete a line to Omaha City and Council Bluffs. It owned the exclusive right to use the Morse, Hughes, and House telegraph patents in all of Missouri south of the Missouri River, in all of Kansas Territory, and in all of Nebraska Territory south of the Platte River, with the right to extend to Sante Fé, Fort Smith, St. Joseph, Omaha City, and Council Bluffs.
On the 30th of May, 1865, the "United States Telegraph Line" commenced operating at the Merchants' Exchange.
In 1879 the American Union Telegraph Company was incorporated, and began operations in St. Louis as an auxiliary to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad telegraph system. In 1881 the corporation was absorbed by the Western Union Telegraph Company, since which time the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company has been conducting a telegraph business on its own account. It has a large number of offices at the principal business points of the city, and has lines
in successful operation running to all the leading cities of the world.
At the time of the transfer of Louisiana to the United States the mail facilities of the then French village of St. Louis and its modest neighbor, Vide Poche (or Carondelet), were quite inconsiderable. A weekly pair of saddle-bags from the East, that had run the gauntlet of the Indian tribes of the Northwest, brought New York and Philadelphia letters and papers from one to six months old. To the west of St. Louis the mail was mostly transported in the hats and breeches-pockets of hunters, trappers, courriers du bois, and occasional immigrants from Kentucky going into the central portions of Missouri. For many years the largest portion of the letters for people in central Missouri were brought by travelers or explorers, generally directed to some one in the "Boone's Lick country," and were stuck up in the bar-room or some log tavern to be called for by the owners. As the "Boone's Lick country" embraced a territory equal in size to some of the smaller States, it was esteemed a fortunate chance if a letter reached the person addressed. After remaining stuck up and uncalled for for a number of months they were considered "dead letters," and settlers in the neighborhood who were anxious to get news from their old homes in Kentucky would peruse them for the benefit of whom they might concern. The delays and disappointments occasioned by the lack of a regular mail system were naturally a source of much inconvenience, and long periods elapsed quite frequently many months before a reply could be obtained from any distant point. Such was the gay, contented character of the French residents, however, and such their happy, careless abandon, so thoroughly absorbed were they in the occupations, interests, and amusements of their comparatively isolated frontier life, that delays which in our day and generation would be considered altogether monotonous and unbearable were tolerated by them not always with patience, to be sure, but with a mild and good-humored resignation. The introduction of saddlebags as a means of transporting letters was a noteworthy innovation, and was hailed as a marked advance in providing facilities for postal communication. When the transfer to the United States, however, had been effected, the new government at once proceeded to establish a regular mail service for St. Louis and other important points in the newly acquired territory, and post-offices were speedily established at St. Louis, St. Charles, and Ste. Genevieve. From 1804 until about 1823 there was only one mail line from St. Louis to Philadelphia, running through Cahokia, Vincennes, New Albany, Louisville, Limestone (now Maysville), Wheeling, Pittsburgh, and Chambersburg, the two latter places in Pennsylvania. The distance traversed from St. Louis to Chambersburg was tea hundred and fifty miles, on which portion of the route the mail was carried on horseback, and from St. Louis to Philadelphia the distance was about twelve hundred miles. Between Chambersburg and Philadelphia there was a stage line making two trips a week.
There were two mails a week from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and one mail a week from Pittsburgh to the Western settlements. Letters from the East and from Europe were respectively six weeks and three months in reaching St. Louis. In 1804 a turnpike had been built between Philadelphia and Lancaster, Pa., a distance of sixty-five miles, and a few years later it was finished to Harrisburg. In 1819 it was extended to Pittsburgh, and for a long time was the only turnpike that crossed the Alleghenies. As the building of this and other great highways progressed there was of course a corresponding improvement in the transportation of the mails, which was still further accelerated by the introduction of steamboats on Western waters. At first steamers were six weeks in making the trip from Louisville to St. Louis, but as early as 1825, such had been the progress made in steam navigation that a letter could be sent from St. Louis to Philadelphia in twenty days. Subsequently the time was reduced to fifteen days. After the National road had been completed to Columbus, Ohio, and graded to Indianapolis, stages ran through from St. Louis to Philadelphia in ten days, and this was the most rapid transit prior to the introduction of railroads.
The first postmaster at St. Louis was Col. Rufus Easton, who was appointed Jan. 1, 1805, and held the office for ten years. Col. Easton was a prominent and influential citizen, and represented the Territory as a delegate in Congress from 1814 to 1816, succeeding Edward Hempstead. By the regulations of the postal department, Col. Easton was required to publish a quarterly statement of letters which remained unclaimed in the post-office, and until the establishment of the first newspaper in 1808 he posted a written notice, giving the quarterly list of unclaimed letters, on the post-office door. On the 2d of August, 1808, the following list was advertised:
"A list of letters remaining in the post-office at St. Louis, quarter ending June 30, 1808: James Ashley, Charles Applegate, William Bradley, William Bonham, James W. Coburn, John Chitwood, John Calaway, William McDaniel, John Davis, Samuel H. Dunn, Cornelius R. French, Samuel Gibson, Lieut. Daniel Hughs, Philip Leduc, Jacob Horine, John Mullanphy
Philip Miller, Robert Owens, Louis Pre Pillet, Joseph Perkins, William Rodgers, George G. Rooney, Hannah Radcliffe, Moses Riddle, Messrs. Raugh & Ermatinger, Antony Sanders, William Shay, George Smith, Solomon Townsend, Thomas Vinson, Simon Vanarsdale, Daniel Walker, James Ward, Robert Westcott, Anne Wolfort, William R. Willis, Hezekiah Warfield, John Zomwale.
"R. EASTON, P. M."
The irregularities, delays, and uncertainties of the mails about this time are set forth in the following from the Missouri Gazette of Aug. 10, 1808:
"The failure of the mail from Ste. Genevieve to Cahokia, and from Vincennes to the same place, has long since been a serious complaint, and more so to the inhabitants of this Territory since the establishment of a Gazette at the town of St. Louis, it being impossible for the printer to give to his patrons early and correct accounts, either of foreign or domestic news. The fault is certainly not to be imputed to the contractors yet there is a radical defect in the law which does not enable the postmaster-general to remedy the evil, the contractor only being liable to the forfeiture of five dollars for the loss of a trip, and the postmaster-general cannot annul the contract until there have been five failures. The carrier will make a speculation. Say, for instance, it costs fifteen dollars to make a trip between Vincennes and Cahokia; the carrier, by his failure, saves ten dollars on the loss of each trip, from the tenor of his contract; and after five forfeitures, and before the information can reach the proper department, the tenor of the contract will have nearly expired, and even in fact so before a new contractor could be had and he enter upon his duties."
The mails were transported in 1808 from Vincennes and Ste. Genevieve to Cahokia, from which place another rider brought them to St. Louis and St. Charles. These were then the only mail routes west of Indiana and Kentucky.
The list of letters remaining in the post-office at St. Louis for the quarter ending Dec. 21, 1808, was: Richard Bibb, Jr., John Brown, James Byrnside, John Carson, John Calaway, Vincent Calico, Isaac Darnielle, William Danis, care of M. Butcher, Peter Detchler, Robert Finfey, Jacob Faill, John Finley, John Gribum, William C. Greenup, Carrot Di Grinelimour, care of A. Chouteau, Jacob Harry, Benjamin Johnson, James Leonard, care of A. McNair, Mr. McKinsey, William Miller, James McFarlane, Uriah Musick, James Mackay, Hezekiah O'Neil, John Patterson, William Patterson, James Reid, Moses Riddle, Mr. F. Regnier, Esek Sterry, Paskell Sary, Abram Teter, Peyton Thomas, Robert Westcott, Thomas Welsh, Jacob Wagner, White Warner.
During the winter of 1809 there was another vexatious interruption of the mails, none being received for over nine weeks, and Mr. Charless did not fail to call attention to the fact and denounce it in his Gazette.
"We are compelled," he said, on the 4th of January, "to complain of the wretched state of the post-office department in this quarter; by especial grace we sometimes receive one mail in two or three weeks, and then perhaps receive only one or two papers. Where this pillage of papers exists we cannot learn; we sincerely wish that all the postmasters on the line from Washington to this place would only do their duty and send on such papers as are committed to their charge."
Again, on the 11th of January, he stated that there had been no mail from the East for more than two months. "Excessively cold weather, and no thermometer in the place to record the degree," he added.
On the 31st of May, 1809, an advertisement appeared inviting proposals for carrying the mails (the proposals to be received "at the general post-office in Washington City"), as follows:
"194. From Louisville, Ky., by Jeffersonville and Clarksville, to Vincennes, once a week. Leave Louisville every Sunday at 6 A. M., and arrive at Vincennes the next Wednesday by 10 A. M. Leave Vincennes every Wednesday at 2 P. M., and arrive at Louisville the next Saturday by 6 P. M.
"195. From Vincennes to Kaskaskia, once a week. Leave Vincennes every Wednesday at 2 P. M., and arrive at Kaskaskia on Saturday by 6 P. M. Leave Kaskaskia every Sunday at 6 A. M., and arrive at Vincennes the next Wednesday by 10 A. M.
"196. From Kaskaskia, by St. Philip, Prairie du Rocher, and St. Louis to St. Charles, once a week. Leave St. Charles every Thursday at 2 P. M., and arrive at Kaskaskia on Saturday by 6 P. M. Leave Kaskaskia every Sunday at 6 A. M., and arrive at St. Charles on Tuesday by 10 A. M.
"197. From Cape Girardeau to New Madrid, once in two weeks. Leave Cape Girardeau every other Tuesday at 6 A. M., and arrive at New Madrid on Friday by 10 A. M. Leave New Madrid same day at 2 P. M., and arrive at Cape Girardeau on Monday by 6 P. M.
"198. Kaskaskia, by Geneva, Cape Girardeau, Tywappety, and Wilkinsonville, to Fort Massac, once a week. Leave Kaskaskia every Sunday at 6 A. M., and arrive at Fort Massac on Wednesday by 10 A. M. Leave Fort Massae every Wednesday at 1 P. M., and arrive at Kaskaskia on Saturday by 6 P. M."
The mails announced on the 14th of November, 1810, were "from St. Louis to Cahokia east, once a week; to Herculaneum, Mine à Breton, and Ste. Genevieve, once in two weeks; to St. Charles, once a week."
The following extracts from the diary of Mr. Frederick L. Billon forcibly illustrate the vexatious delays which attended travel and the transportation of the mails in those early days:
"I came to St. Louis in the year 1818, and was just two months on my way from my native city, Philadelphia. I left that city Sunday morning early, August 30th, in the mail-stage for Pittsburgh, where I arrived at 4 P. M. on Friday, September 4th, the sixth day from Philadelphia. There being then no stages west of Pittsburgh, we remained there some four or five days, waiting for a keel-boat to descend the Ohio, keels and flat-boats (then called ‘broad-horns’) being the only conveyances by water west of that point. Meeting with a Capt. Fellows, then coming to the marine settlement in Illinois with his family in a keel-boat, we took passage with him, and left Pittsburgh on Wednesday, September 9th, and after several groundings on account of the low stage of water, reached Louisville on Monday, the 21st, being twelve days on our voyage to that point. We remained there four days while the boat was discharging her cargo, to be drayed around the Falls of the Ohio to Shipping-port below. The boat was then taken over the falls and reloaded, and we left again on Friday, September 25th. After six or seven days' run from the falls, we grounded on a bar at the head of Green River Island, and the water falling rapidly, soon left us
high and dry on the bar. We lay here seven or eight days, discharged the freight on the bar, cut skids on the island to slide the boat to the water, reloaded her, and started again on Thursday, October 8th, and in three days more reached Shawneetown. Here we left the boat, being persuaded that she would never reach St. Louis until the following spring, having yet over one hundred miles to reach the Mississippi, and two hundred more up that stream against a strong current. We were here several days seeking a conveyance for ourselves and trunks to Kaskaskia, one hundred and twenty miles from Shawnee, on the way to St. Louis. Finally we induced an old man who possessed the only wagon in the place, for the sum of fifty dollars (five dollars per day for ten days he would be in going and returning), to take our few trunks, and we to have the privilege of riding if we thought fit. There were then but some four or five houses between these two places. We left Shawnee on Thursday, October 15th, and arrived at Kaskaskia on Tuesday, the 20th; crossed the Mississippi to Ste. Genevieve in a large canoe on Wednesday, the 21st; remained here some five or six days; left for St. Louis on Tuesday morning early, the 27th; recrossed the Mississippi, and came up in a French cart that night to Waterloo, and on the following morning, Wednesday, the 28th of October, came through the heavy timber in sight of St. Louis at ten o'clock A. M.; crossed in a flat that landed us on a large bar extending out several hundred yards from the main shore, reaching St. Louis in just two months from Philadelphia."
Mr. Billon descended the Ohio at the season of the year when the water was lowest, and his journey was lengthened on that account some twelve or fifteen days.
The perils encountered by the mail-carriers of that early period are only suggested by the announcement made on the 6th of September, 1810, that the postmaster-general had offered a reward of five thousand dollars "for the apprehension and securing of the robber or robbers who murdered the post-rider between Vincennes and Kaskaskia and carried away the mail portmanteau with its contents; to be paid upon the conviction of the offender."
Such was the alleged mismanagement of the mail department, or that portion of it in which St. Louis was interested, that on the 28th of November, 1812, it was announced that the grand jury of the district had presented it as a nuisance. The postmaster at St. Louis at this time was Col. Rufus Easton, a capable officer and gentleman of high standing, and the fault lay not with him, but with the mail contractors or "post-riders," who, as we have already seen, were often lax and negligent in the discharge of their duties. Col. Easton was succeeded in the postmastership by his brother-in-law, Dr. Robert Simpson, who was appointed by President Madison Jan. 1, 1815, the vacancy having been created by Col. Easton's election to Congress. Dr. Simpson retained the position nearly four years, and in the autumn of 1818 was succeeded by Capt. A. T. Crane, of the United States army. After a brief and popular administration of less than twelve months Capt. Crane died, on the 26th of September, 1819. The next postmaster was Col. Elias Rector, who retained the office until his death in 1822. During Col. Easton's incumbency the post-office was located at his residence and law-office, on the southwest corner of Third and Elm Streets. Dr. Simpson established it at various points from time to time, first on the east side of Main Street above Elm, then on the east side of Main below Elm, then on the west side of Main Street, at the southwest corner of Elm Street. Under Capt. Crane it was situated in the back part of the old stone building occupied by the Bank of St. Louis, and under Col. Rector was removed to the old stone mansion of Mrs. Chouteau, at the southwest corner of Main and Chestnut Streets, and subsequently to the frame building on the south side of Chestnut Street below Second.
Proposals were invited Aug. 10, 1816, for carrying United States mails in Missouri, from St. Louis, by Potosi and Lawrence Court-House, to Arkansas, once in four weeks; to leave St. Louis every fourth Saturday, commencing on the first Saturday in November, and arrive at Arkansas in ten days, on Monday at six P. M.; leave Arkansas the next Wednesday at six A. M., and arrive at St. Louis in ten days, on Friday at six P. M.
Nathaniel Simonds made the following announcement to the public Nov. 20, 1818:
"The subscriber intends running a stage-coach between St. Louis and St. Charles three times in each week, to commerce on the first Monday in December, in the following order, viz.:
"Leave the ferry-house opposite St. Charles at ten o'clock A. M. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
"Leave Pitzer's brick livery-stable in St. Louis at ten A. M. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and pass the boarding-houses of Mr. Pitzer, Mr. Paddock, and Mrs. Snow."
"We understand," said the Missouri Gazette of March 17, 1819, "that it is contemplated to establish a regular line of stages between this town and Franklin, Howard Co. A stage runs regularly once a week to and from St. Louis to Kaskaskia another runs three times a week to St. Charles, another twice a week to Edwardsville, to which will, we hope, shortly be added the stage to Franklin. We have also understood that it has been in contemplation to establish a line from Edwardsville to Vincennes. It will only remain to have it continued from Vincennes to Louisville; a direct communication by stage will then be opened from the Atlantic States to Boon's Lick, on the Missouri. It is one of the most advantageous investments of money in the Eastern States, where the price of conveyance is much cheaper than it is west of the Allegheny. Seven cents to the mile is the usual price in the former, while ten cents, and sometimes 12½, are charged in the latter."
R. Smith announced, Dec. 15, 1819, that "the great Western stages start every morning from the door, and on the premises is one of the best livery-stables in the city, conducted by Mr. John Tomlinson, where travelers' horses will be faithfully attended to."
The following advertisement, under date of Dec.
27, 1827, shows the arrangements for transporting passengers and mails at that time:
"United States mail stage from St. Louis, Mo., to Louisville, Ky., passing through the States of Illinois and Indiana, via Vincennes. Through in five days; no night driving; twice a week each way. Arrangements: Leaves St. Louis every Tuesday and Saturday at four o'clock A. M. and arrives at Vincennes every Monday and Thursday at four o'clock P. M.; leaves Vincennes at four o'clock A. M. next morning, and arrives at Louisville by way of New Albany in two days; leaves Louisville every Sunday and Wednesday at four o'clock A. M., and in returning the same time is occupied; arrives at St. Louis every Sunday and Thursday at six o'clock P. M. All baggage at the risk of the owner. Fare, from St. Louis to Vincennes, one hundred and sixty miles, ten dollars; from Vincennes to Louisville, one hundred and twelve miles, seven dollars."
As late as 1835 the arrangements for distributing the mails were still of a primitive character, and our present carrier system was then of course unknown. Among the expedients resorted to the following (described in a local journal) is rather unique:
"In 1835, Mr. R. D. Watson was a merchant on Main Street, near Olive, and lived on his farm, about seven miles from the court-house. He generally came into town on Monday morning, bringing in with him a little black pony, and this pony was his letter-carrier. Any correspondence that might have arrived for Mrs. Watson or any member of the family was fastened to the pony's mane, and he was then turned loose on Olive Street, and would make straight tracks for home, where a servant would be waiting for him. In those days there were but few houses between St. Louis University and Mrs. Watson's residence, on the western part of Watson's Fruit Hill sub-division."
The question of expediting the mails between St. Louis and Baltimore, in accordance with the suggestion of the Baltimore Board of Trade, was the subject of a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce on the 17th of April, 1851. It was thought at the time that there was no reason why the mail should not be received in St. Louis in five days from Baltimore, and that it could be done if the merchants of the city would set themselves about it in earnest.
The first overland mail from California arrived in St. Louis Oct. 10, 1858, and the occasion was celebrated by a demonstration in honor of Mr. Butterfield, who had been mainly instrumental in putting it into successful operation. A procession was formed in front of the Planters' House about eight o'clock in the evening, and, headed by the St. Louis Silver Band in Arnot's band-wagon drawn by six horses, inarched to the Pacific Railroad depot. Mr. Butterfield was received with an address on behalf of the citizens and of the reception committee by Hon. John F. Darby, to which he responded.
Upon leaving the depot the carriages proceeded to their starting-point on Fourth Street, preceded by the band-chariot, and passing around Pine, did not draw up until they reached the post-office, when the mail was turned over to the proper officials. Some extra bags, containing the San Francisco Evening Bulletin, the special edition of the Alta California, and other papers, were retained and put out at the hotel. Here they were opened, and the papers handed around to the assembled spectators, who read them with great apparent interest. The Alta California was most in demand, as it displayed a fine special head of "By the Overland Mail," and an imposing picture of a mail-coach with four horses in full gallop. A journal, showing the route taken by the overland mail on its first trip from San Francisco to St. Louis, and also the distances between the different points and the time required for the performance of the trip, states that at least four days' time was lost on this trip. The record is as follows:
"Memorandum of distances between the stations on the overland route from San Francisco to St. Louis via Arizona, and of the time made on the first trip: San Francisco to Clark's, 12; Sun Water, 9; Redwood City, 9; Mountain View, 12; San José, 11; Seventeen-Mile House, 17; Gilroy, 13; Pacheco Pass, 18; St. Louis Ranch, 17; Lone Willow, 18; Temple's Ranch, 13; Firebaugh's Ferry, 15; Fresno City, 19; Elk Horn Spring, 22; Whitmote's Ferry, 17; Cross Creek, 12; Visalia, 12; Packwood, 12; Tule River, 14; Fountain Spring, 14; Mountain House, 12; Posey Creek, 15; Gordon's Ferry, 10; Kern River Slough, 12; Sink of Tejon, 14; Fort Tejon, 15; Reed's, 8; French John's, 14; Widow Smith's, 24; King's, 10; Hart's, 12; San Fernando Mission, 8; Canuengo, 12; Los Angeles, 12. Total, 462 miles. Time, 80 hours.
"Los Angeles to Monte, 13; San José, 12; Rancho del Chino, 12; Tymascal, 20; Laguna Grande, 10; Temecula, 21; Tejungo, 14; Oak Grove, 12; Warner's Ranch, 10; San Felipe, 16; Vallecito, 18; Palm Springs, 9; Carisso Creek, 9; Indian Wells (without water), 32; Alamo Mucho (without water), Cook's Wells (without water), 22; Pilot Knob, 18; Fort Yuma, 10. Total, 282 miles. Time, 72 hours and 20 minutes.
"Fort Yuma to Swiveler's, 20; Filibuster Camp, 18; Peterman's, 19; Griswell's, 12; Flap-Jack Ranch, 15; Catman Flat, 20; Murderer's Grave, 20; Gila Ranch, 17; Maricopa Wells, 40; Socatoon, 22; Pecacho, 37; Pointer Mountain, 22; Tucson, 18. Total, 280 miles. Time, 71 hours and 45 minutes.
"Tucson to Seneca Springs (without water), 35; San Pedro (without water), 24: Dragoon Springs (without water), 23; Apache Pass (without water), 40; Stein's Peak (without water), 35; Soldier's Farewell (without water), 42; Ojo de Vaca, 14; Miembre's River, 16; Cook's Springs, 18; Pecacho (without water), 52; Fort Fillmore, 14; Cottonwoods, 25; Franklin, 22. Total, 360 miles. Time, 82 hours.
"Franklin to Waco Tanks, 30; Canodrus, 36; Pinery (without water), 56; Delaware Springs, 24; Pope's Camp, 40; Emigrant Crossing, 65; Horse-Head Crossing, 55; Head of Concho (without water), 70; Grape Creek, 22; Fort Chadbourne, 30. Total, 428 miles. Time, 126 hours and 30 minutes.
"Fort Chadbourne to Station No. 1, 12; Mountain Pass, 16; Phantom Hill, 30; Smith's, 12; Clear Fork, 26; Francis', 13; Fort Belknap, 22; Murphy's, 16; Jackboro', 19; Earhart's, 16; Connolly's, 16; Davidson's, 24; Gainesville, 17; Diamond's, 15; Sherman, 15; Colbert's Ferry (Red River), 13½. Total, 282½. Time, 65 hours and 25 minutes.
"Colbert's to Fisher's, 13; Wail's, 14; Boggy Depot, 17; Gary's, 17; Waddell's, 15; Blackburn's, 16; Pusley's, 17; Riddell's, 17; Holloway's, 17; Trayon's, 17; Walker's, 17; Fort Smith, 15. Total, 192 miles. Time, 38 hours.
"Fort Smith to Woosley's, 16; Brodie's, 12; Park's, 20; Fayetteville, 15; 's Station, 12; Callaghan's, 22; Harburn's, 19; Conch's, 16; Smith's, 15; Ashmore, 20; Springfield, 13; Evan's, 9; Smith's, 11; Bolivar, 11½; Yost's, 16; Quincy, 16; Bailey's, 10; Warsaw, 11; Burns', 15; Mulholland, 20; Shackelford's, 13; Tipton, 7. Total, 318½. Time, 48 hours and 55 minutes. Tipton to St. Louis, 160 miles. Time, 11 hours and 40 minutes.
"24 days, 20 hours, and 35 minutes; 2 hours and 9 minutes allowed for difference in longitude, leaves 24 days, 18 hours, and 26 minutes."
The first effort to secure the erection of a building for a post-office, custom-house, land-office, etc., was made in 1838, a meeting being held at the court-house November 12th of that year, for the purpose of taking into consideration the propriety of memorializing Congress on the subject. The meeting was organized by calling William Renshaw to the chair, and appointing John H. Watson secretary, after which, Gen. N. Ranney having explained its object, the following resolutions were submitted by the secretary:
"Resolved, As the sense of this meeting, that a building for a custom-house and other public offices is highly necessary for the convenient transaction of the public business in this city, and that such measures as may be deemed essential to the furtherance of this object should be prosecuted without delay.
"Resolved, That a committee, to consist of five members, be appointed by the chair, for the purpose of drafting a memorial, to be addressed to Congress in behalf of the object contemplated in the foregoing resolution, and that an additional committee, to consist of ten members, be appointed in like manner, whose duty it shall be to present said memorial to the citizens for their signatures."
The resolutions were unanimously adopted, and the chairman, pursuant to their provisions, announced the appointment of the following committees: Committee to prepare a memorial, Messrs. N. Ranney, William Milburn, J. B. Bowlin, A. Wetmore, and A. J. Davis; committee to obtain signatures, Messrs. N. Ranney, John B. Sarpy, James Clemens, Augustus Kerr, Abner Hood, H. L. Hoffman, S. S. Rayburn, Edward Walsh, William Glasgow, C. Garvey, Robert Rankin, and Edward Tracy.
The latter committee was increased to twelve members, on motion of Maj. Wetmore that the chairman and secretary be added to the last-named committee.
In 1851 it was proposed to locate the post-office temporarily in the court-house buildings, and a local journal, under date of May 6th, referring to the project, said,
"In the course of the present year the construction of the eastern wing of the court-house will be commenced and probably finished. We stated some time since that it was contemplated to erect two other buildings separate from the courthouse building, one of which is to stand on the northeast and the other on the southeast corner of the lot, and both of which are to be used as offices or court rooms, or by persons in the employ of the county. It was designed that these buildings should be thirty-two feet front by sixty feet on Chestnut, and the same dimensions on Market Street. A proposition is now before the county court which may cause a change of these plans. Mr. Gamble, the postmaster, proposes that these additional buildings shall be constructed of sufficient capacity to be employed temporarily for post-office and custom-house purposes. For the post-office alone Mr. Gamble asks that out apartment be set aside, forty feet front by one hundred in depth."
On the 9th of October, 1851, it was announced that
"an association of gentlemen of this city have leased from Mr. D. D. Page a portion of the ground at the corner of Second and Chestnut Streets, with the intention of erecting thereon a building suited to the wants of the St. Louis post-office. For this purpose a front of sixty-five feet on Second by ninety-six on Chestnut has been obtained. It is contemplated to erect a building three stories high, and to appropriate the whole of the first floor for the uses of the post-office; the interior will be arranged with direct reference to the accommodation of the office and of its customers."
In the following year the old St. Louis Theatre property, at the corner of Third and Olive Streets, was purchased by the government, and the erection of a custom-house and post-office building commenced, after plans prepared by George I. Barnett, architect.
In addition to the custom-house and post-office, Mr. Barnett has prepared the plans for many other public buildings, and occupies a deservedly high place among the architects of the country. He is an Englishman by birth, and his father, who was a clergyman and a writer of some note on questions of political economy, gave him careful home training, supplemented by a course in the grammar school at Nottingham. Leaving this institution at the age of sixteen, young Barnett spent three years with a practical builder, and then studied architecture in some of the best schools in England and under the best preceptors <"page n="1435"> until he was twenty-four, when he determined to emigrate to America. After spending a few months in New York, he removed to St. Louis in the latter part of 1839. Here he opened an office, and soon obtained a most lucrative business. For nearly twenty years he was the only educated architect in the city, and his genius and enterprise naturally secured for him an extensive clientage. He was employed in nearly every great work of that period. In later years St. Louis has had highly accomplished architects, but Mr. Barnett still retains a leading position. It is a well-known fact that Mr. Barnett has erected a much larger number of buildings than any other architect in St. Louis, and to his skill and genius are due the architectural beauties of many of the public buildings, fine business houses, and elegant residences of the city. It would be impossible to enumerate all his achievements in this direction, but the following may be cited as prominent specimens of his work: The Southern and Lindell Hotels, the St. Louis Mutual Life Insurance building (Sixth and Locust Streets), the post-office (Third and Olive), the granite building Fourth and Market, Barr's building (Sixth and Olive), and the old Merchants' Exchange. In the competition with the most eminent architects of the country in designs for the new Merchants' Exchange, his drawing secured the first prize of fifteen hundred dollars. Mr. Barnett also enjoys a high reputation as a hotel architect, and in addition to the splendid fruits of his genius in this department in St. Louis, has built many famous structures throughout the West, notably the Maxwell House at Nashville, Tenn.
In 1850, Mr. Barnett made a professional tour of Europe, and examined with well-trained and cultivated faculties the monuments of art which the great masters left for the instruction of their followers. St. Louis gained much from the results of his observation and comparison at this period, and his career from that time forward was one of constantly-increasing honor and influence. While impressing his individuality on the most noted and beautiful of the structures of an ambitious and growing city, he has established a stainless record as an architect of incorruptible character. He is a kind-hearted, modest, and unpretentious gentleman, of genial nature and rare social qualities, and while honored as an artist he is also loved as a man.
Mr. Barnett has two sons, who have been bred to his profession. George (the younger) is associated with his father in business, and is a young man of extraordinary proficiency for his age, who in the judgment of those who have watched the development of his youthful powers, must ultimately take rank among the architects of the country.
"The removal of the post-office," it was stated in a newspaper of May 20, 1852, "has had the effect to turn the attention of certain classes of dealers to property in its present vicinity, and the consequence has been to increase materially its value."
The erection of the building proceeded until April, 1859, when the post-office, which occupied the whole of the main floor, was established in its new quarters.
The building is one hundred and thirty-nine feet three inches long, eighty feet nine inches wide, and sixty-six feet seven inches high on the west front, and seventy-seven feet seven inches high on the east front. It is of the Roman Corinthian order, and in all its details is in strict consonance with that style of architecture. The entire structure is faced with a peculiar stone known as the "Barrett stone," selected for the purpose by Capt. Bowman, United States supervisor of public buildings, and containing a large proportion of silex, rendering it almost time- and fire-proof. On the west or principal front are six massive rusticated stone piers, connected by large arches the height of the first story, and forming a sub-base, which supports the six fluted columns of the portico, which is two stories high.
The building has been used for the post-office,
custom-house, United States courts, and government offices generally, but for a number of years has been inadequate for those purposes, and in 1872 the government determined to erect a new building for the custom-house, post-office, etc., which should not only provide ample space and facilities, but should be an ornament to St. Louis commensurate with the dignity and importance of the city. A site was accordingly determined upon, comprising what was known as the Crow block, bounded by Olive and Locust, Eighth and Ninth Streets, which was condemned and purchased in the autumn of 1872, and plans were prepared by A. B. Mullett, United States supervising architect.
The structure, which is now in course of completion, has a frontage on Olive and Locust Streets of two hundred and thirty-two feet, by a depth on Eighth and Ninth Streets of one hundred and seventy-seven feet. It is three stories in height with an attic, and the central compartment of four stories is crowned by an immense convex dome, the distance from the ground to the apex of the dome being one hundred and eighty-four feet. The height of the cornice of the wing building is ninety-six feet. Each facade of the building is divided into three parts, each central division being crowned by pitched pediments, over which are ornamented windows of corresponding style. The main front on Olive Street is surmounted by the immense dome, and so decorated as to produce a grand and imposing effect.
This floor is but two feet higher than the sidewalk on Olive Street, and is easy of access, a decided improvement on the present post-office building in that particular. The whole of the first story will be used for post-office purposes, and is lighted not only from the four fronts of the building, but from the interior court or quadrangle, thus avoiding the necessity of burning gas during the day, as is the costly and unhealthy experience with the old building.
The facilities for the reception of mail matter are to be made a chief feature. They will be unequaled by any building, either in this or any other country, from the fact that the mail-cars will be carried across the St. Louis bridge into the tunnel, and so on until they are switched off in front of the basement of the post-office. For this purpose the tunnel will be widened opposite the post-office so as to afford a broad platform between the two tracks for the delivery and receipt of all mail matter, and from every direction. The mail matter is then to be placed on elevators and run up into the distributing-room, and there classified. The same course is to be pursued with reference to all bonded goods, and all this immense business is made easy of transaction without the distraction or disturbance in the slightest degree of the ordinary business of the railroad through the tunnel, or the business above or on the streets.
The height of the basement from its flooring to the sidewalk is twenty-eight and one-half feet, divided into two stories, to be known as and sub-basement. The foundation of the sub-basement extends eight feet below the floor, which makes the entire depth from Olive Street to the bottom of the foundation thirty-six and one-half feet.
Over the first story or post-office floor will be arranged the United States District Courts, with suitable apartments for associate judges, clerks, district attorneys, marshals, and deputies, grand and petit juries, etc., with ample room for all other government offices demanding accommodation. These offices are approachable from the main Olive Street front, as well as from others, affording spacious stairway to even part of the building. The main staircase is colossal in its proportions, and elaborate and beautiful in its design, with return flights, continued from floor to floor to the upper story. Exclusive of this principle stairway are two of the largest passenger elevators, placed one on either side of the staircase, and accessible from the same vestibule as the Grand or Olive Street stairway.
The imposing edifice has already influenced the erection of handsome business houses in its immediate vicinity and for blocks around. The basement of the building is of red granite blocks with a plain finish. The color of the stone is a pale, delicate red, not unusually employed in buildings in St. Louis. The material employed above the basement is Maine granite throughout. The principal stone-work was done on Hurricane Island, the lower story being rusticated and having orders above, in style of composition so frequently employed by the Venetian school during the renaissance period, and which owes its origin to San Micheli. The second and third stories, of the Corinthian order, have pilasters resting on moulded bases, the intercolumniations being filled in with square-headed windows, having arched pediments in the second story and in the third triangular ones. Of the triple divisions and facades, the central one on either side, which forms a projection, is adorned by porticoes and crowned with a pediment. Two porticoes, one above the other, over the grand entrances have very elegant proportions and details wrought with extraordinary care. The porticoes are formed by a couple of granite columns resting on massive plinths and having Corinthian capitals. In each portico are four fluted columns, with balustrades between the couples.
Piers supporting statuary stand at the base corners of the lower portico, which is that of the second story. Over the upper portico the fourth-story windows are circular headed, have finely-moulded cornices, and are surmounted by a massive pediment enriched with sculptures. A finely-wrought entablature is surmounted by a balustrade, and above this appears the quadrangular dome, having its windows encased with red and coupled pilasters, and their richly-designed cornices furnishing support for statuary.
The building when completed will be one of the most elegant and perfect in its interior arrangements in the country, and although not as complicated in architectural design as other post-offices, notably those of New York and Boston, it will undoubtedly exceed them all in the simple grandeur of its architectural proportions and the quiet beauty of its general details.
The following statistics were returned by the St. Louis post-office in 1881:
Annual cash receipts from sale of stamps, stamped envelopes, etc., $730,539; letters delivered at general delivery, 124,465; letters delivered at daily call, 21,514; mail letters delivered by carriers, 13,119,988; mail postal cards delivered by carriers, 3,008,926; drop letters delivered by carriers, 2,366,852; letters and postal cards delivered from boxes, 1,852,375; letters advertised, 32,515; total number registered letters received for distribution, 213,311; total number registered letters handled, 350,175; total number of packages made up and forwarded, 66,042; number packages received in transit, 566,430; total number of registered packages forwarded, 632,472; through registered pouches made up and dispatched, 19,775; registered packages in pouches made up and dispatched, 540,949; total number of registered packages in pouches received and dispatched, 1,019,638; total amount money orders issued, $852,771.68; total amount money orders paid, $4,520,090.58; amount received from depository offices, $6,240,986.22; remitted to New York, $2,489,000. The total number of packages handled during the year ending Dec. 31, 1881, containing letters, was 78,578, amounting to 47,797 pounds. During the same time there were 13,941 sacks of papers handled.
The following is a list of the postmasters of St. Louis, with the dates of their appointment, from the establishment of the office in 1805:
St. Louis Gas-Light Company. In 1837 the Legislature of Missouri granted a charter to the St. Louis Gas-Light Company, vesting in it the power to erect works and necessary apparatus for lighting St. Louis and its suburbs with gas. This charter was amended in 1839 and again in 1845. Under the original charter and the acts of Assembly amendatory thereof the company had the exclusive right to manufacture and vend gas in the city of St. Louis, and was also authorized "to receive on deposit or loan, and upon such terms as the parties interested may agree upon, any funds, the temporary or permanent use of which may be offered them, and the use of which may be beneficial to the company." By these acts it was also provided that the city of St. Louis should have the right, at the expiration of a period of either twenty or twenty-five years after the 1st of January, 1840, if it should so resolve, to purchase the gas-works from the St. Louis Gas-Light Company, upon the terms and conditions and by the means (the appointment of arbitrators, etc.) mentioned in these acts, and that the charter should continue in force for twenty-five years from Jan. 1, 1840, unless the company should convey to the city its property, etc., but should the city not determine to purchase at either of the times provided for, then the charter was to remain in force another twenty-five years. In 1839, after the first amendment to the charter was passed, an office was opened on Chestnut Street near Main for the purpose of engaging in the business of a general deposit and savings institution. At this time the officers and directors of the company were: President, N. Paschall; Secretary, A. Chadwick; and Directors, Theodore L. McGill, John D. Daggett, R. S. Tilden, J. T. Swearingen, N. E. Janney, M. L. Clark, L. B. Shaw, and P. B. McCreery. In 1840 negotiations were entered into between the company and the city with reference to lighting the streets with gas, and a bill authorizing the city to subscribe to the stock of the company to the amount of fifty thousand dollars passed the City Council and was approved by the mayor. In 1841 the construction of the works was commenced on ground between Second Street and the river, nearly opposite the bridge. Only a beginning was made, however, the banking branch of the business continuing to engage the entire attention of the directory.
This soon proved unsuccessful, and it was not until 1846 that the company bent its energies to the construction of its works and the business of making and selling gas. At this time it found itself, with impaired capital, unable, unless extraordinary efforts were made, to complete its undertaking. Looking to this end, and for the common benefit of the contracting parties, an agreement was entered into between the city and the company Jan. 9, 1846, in which the comply engaged to furnish gas, etc., at a stipulated price, and the city agreed to relinquish its right to purchase the gas-works, etc., at either twenty or twenty-five years from Jan. 1, 1840, provided it should have the right to purchase at a period of thirty years after Jan. 1, 1840, and at the period of every five years thereafter. On June 17th, G. F. Lee, of Philadelphia, entered into a contract with the company to build the needed works and furnish the city with gas. The whole cost was to be $130,000, the contractor agreeing to take the bonds of the company, payable three years after the completion of the contract, for $50,000, and to subscribe for and pay $40,000 of the capital stock, leaving $40,000 to be raised by subscription, the real estate and personal effects of the company being valued at $40,000. The old stock was scaled down and new stock to the amount of $40,000 issued, making a total capital of $170,000. The work was pushed rapidly forward, and the city was lighted with gas for the first time on Nov. 4, 1847. During 1848 about 6,600,000 cubic feet of gas was consumed, and in 1868 the consumption had increased to 247,480,000 cubic feet. The success of the company was assured. The city, through its counsel, notified the company on Feb. 27, 1869, that it had resolved to purchase the gas-works on the 1st of January, 1870, under their agreement of 1846. The city appointed arbitrators, etc., as required by the company's charter, but the company made no move in the matter, and failed to appoint arbitrators to agree upon the price, etc. The city instituted action against the company in May, 1870, in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, to compel the company to comply with the terms of the agreement.
Pending the litigation, in 1873 a compromise was effected between the city of St. Louis, the St. Louis Gas-Light Company, and the Laclede Gas-Light Company (then recently organized), in which it was agreed that the Laclede Company should furnish gas to all that part of the city lying north of Washington Avenue, and that all litigation between the city and
the St. Louis Company should cease. This compromise, however, failed to put an end to the litigation, which was renewed in 1875, and in 1876, under a decree of court, the company's property was placed in the hands of a receiver, Socrates Newman, and the company was restrained and enjoined from manufacturing or selling gas. Prom this decree an appeal was taken to the Missouri Supreme Court. While awaiting the decision of the court, the affairs of the company prospered greatly in the hands of the receiver. In November, 1879, the opinion of the Supreme Court was delivered adverse to the claim of the city and completely overruling the decisions of the lower courts. On Dec. 24, 1879, Mr. Newman, under an order of the court, delivered the entire property of the company to R. J. Lackland, its president. Later in the month, at the election for directors, the following gentlemen were chosen: Gerard B. Allen, E. N. Leeds, Rufus J. Lackland, and John R. Lionberger, who with Oliver A. Hart, Charles H. Peck, B. A. Manny, George S. Drake, and W. F. Ferguson, who held over, constituted the board.
The capital stock of the company is six hundred thousand dollars, divided into twelve thousand shares of fifty dollars each. The present board of directors is composed of R. J. Lackland, president; G. B. Allen, vice-president; George A. Madill, Samuel Hays, E. A. Manny, W. H. Ferguson, Dwight Durkee, and Charles H. Peck. George M. Paschall is secretary, and Socrates Newman assistant manager.
The boundaries of the company are from Washington Avenue to Keokuk Street and from the river to the city limits.
On Sunday afternoon, Dec. 13, 1874, Thomas Pratt, chief engineer of the St. Louis Gas-Works, was killed in an explosion. He had gone into one of the purifier-rooms to examine a purifier tank, when an explosion was heard; and the employés, rushing in, found him lying on the floor, having been thrown some twenty feet with such violence against one of the tanks that his chest was crushed in, and he was then quite dead.
Mr. Pratt was one of the oldest and best-known gas experts in the country, and one of the most popular citizens St. Louis ever had. He was born at Longborough, county of Leicester, England, in 1802; was of humble parentage, and had to rely entirely on his own resources in waging the battle of life. In 1827 he came to America, but during the same year returned to Europe, settling at Calais, France, where he remained five years. He then went to London, where he resided nearly two years, working in both places at gas-fitting.
In November, 1834, he again came to America, and having spent some time in New York, removed, in 1837, to Pittsburgh, where he worked for the gas company. In 1842 he went to Cincinnati, and became superintendent and chief engineer of the gasworks there. He arrived at St. Louis in 1848 to accept a similar position, which he held until his violent and sudden death.
Mr. Pratt was a prominent builder of gas-works, having planned and constructed the works at Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Quincy, St. Louis, Peoria, Bloomington, Denver, and Kansas City, and was a large stockholder in the gas companies in several of these cities. He possessed business talents of a high order, and although on coming to this country he had practically nothing, his ability enabled him to command the highest salaries, and his management was such that at the time of his death his fortune had reached a handsome sum. Although nearly seventy-three years of age, he was to the last a youth in energy, and had in contemplation several schemes of great interest to his profession. One of his projects of a public nature was the revival and working of the Chihuahua silver-mines of Mexico.
Mr. Pratt was a deacon in the Second Baptist Church, and for many years was classed, with the honored McPherson and Gale, as one of the pillars of that society. He loved his church, and cheerfully and generously contributed to her support, he and his wife being among the largest subscribers to the beautiful edifice which the Second Baptist Church now occupies. He also gave liberally to various charities. In church work he was one of the most aggressive of men, and while old in years was youthful to the last in ideas, fervor, energy, and zeal. In the funeral discourse his pastor, the Rev. Dr. Burlingham, summed up his character as, that of a "well-balanced, conscientious, considerate, and devout member and officer of the church." After his death the board of directors of the gas company adopted resolutions eulogizing his integrity and other estimable qualities, and declaring that his capacity and efficiency in the economical management of the gas-works made his loss severely felt.
The Laclede Gas-Light Company was chartered under an act of the Legislature in 1858, and reorganized in 1871. The works, situated on Main, between Mullanphy and Mound Streets, were erected in 1872-73, and gas was first supplied in June, 1873. The original incorporators were S. L. Husted, H. Y. Attrill, Frederick Cromwell, J. H. Porter, Henry Fitzhugh, S. B. Chittenden, and Charles Gibson. The first board of officers was composed of S. L. Husted, president;
Frederick Cromwell, vice-president; and J. F. Magoreen, secretary. The territory occupied comprises all that portion of St. Louis north of Washington Avenue. The company has about one hundred miles of pipe laid, and supplies light for over four thousand public lamps. The works have a capacity for making one million feet per day. The officers at the present time are Erastus Wells, president; John H. Maxon, vice-president; and J. D. Thompson, secretary. The directors are Erastus Wells, John H. Maxon, Charles Gibson, John J. Mitchell, Samuel Simmons, Frederick Cromwell, and J. H. Porter.
The present capital stock is one million two hundred thousand dollars. The offices of the company from 1873 to 1881 were located at No. 701 Washington Avenue, but during the latter year they were removed to the present commodious quarters at No. 1100 Washington Avenue.
Carondelet Gas Company. On March 3, 1857, a charter was granted to the Carondelet Gas-Light Company, the object of which was to light that city with gas, but for some reason the provisions of the charter were not complied with. In April of 1874 the company was reorganized with John M. Krum as president, T. C. Hogan secretary, and A. C. Judge superintendent, with a capital stock of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The incorporators were Frederick Hill, Henry T. Blow, Louis C. Picot, Madison Miller, William Taussig, Francis Kellerman, Joseph Taussig, Michael Conrad, Delphy Carlin, Bernard Poepping, August Blumenthal, Jacob Stein, and Michael Jod.
Its presidents have been, in order, Frederick Hill, John M. Krum, John H. Terry, Charles H. Thornton, Frank Erskine, and John R. Lionberger. Its first officers were Frederick Hill, president; William Taussig, treasurer; and Madison Miller, secretary. After the extension of the city limits so as to include Carondelet, the latter grew quite rapidly, and the desire of the people to have their streets and dwellings lighted with gas was of such a character as to induce the company to erect works to supply that want. Ground for this purpose was broken June 17, 1874, and on December 31st gas was lighted for the first time in Carondelet.
The present officers and board of directors are John R. Lionberger, president; Charles Green, vice-president; Nelson F. Constant, superintendent; Henry C. Scott, secretary; Directors, John R. Lionberger, Charles Green, George A. Madill, John Scullin, Erastus Wells, Thomas E. Tutt, and J. H. Lionberger.
In the matter of hotels St. Louis enjoys facilities not surpassed by any city in the West, and from the old Missouri of half a century ago, within its many historical traditions and reminiscences, down, to the celebrated Lindell, Southern, Planters', and others of to-day, its fame for conveniences and hospitable entertainment to the traveler has been justly proverbial. In the earlier days of the city, when it was but a little town, some of its best citizens were tavern-keepers, but the term tavern-keeper had a different meaning then from that which attaches to it at the present time. The ancient tavern-keeper was in some sense a public benefactor, and often occupied a most honorable position in the community. 226
Among the earliest notices of taverns is that of the Missouri Hotel, in the old government mansion, southeast corner of Main and Walnut Streets, kept by Maj. William Christy for several years prior to 1808. In the latter year he engaged in farming and grazing, and was succeeded in his hotel business by Maj. Richard Webster, who changed the name of the house to the Eagle Tavern. In 1810, tiring of farming, Maj. Christy assumed, charge of his tavern again, and renamed it the Missouri Hotel. He continued to operate it until 1816, when Thomas Pechels (or Poebles) bought it and called it Union Hall. In September, 1809, James H. Audrian opened the Grove Tavern at the upper end of Main Street, nearly opposite P. Chouteau. In 1810, Joseph Charless kept a "boarding-house" on North Main Street. In 1811, Frederick Weber, baker, notified the public that he had commenced keeping a house of entertainment. In 1811, Maj. Delauney kept a boarding-house in St. Louis, and in the following year Horace Austin opened a tavern "in the house lately occupied by Madame Robidoux." In July, 1816, Hugh C. Davis opened the Green Tree Tavern on Second Street. The Green Tree was taken in 1820 by John Simonds, Jr. About this time the Mansion House was also started, and at the beginning of 1823 became the property of George S. Greene, who changed its name to the City Hotel. In 1829 it passed into the hands of Ephraim Town, and in 1840, Col. Theron Barnum, who had just reached St. Louis, bought it. Col. Barnum kept it for twelve
years, and then disposed of it to William R. McClure. Subsequently A. S. Merritt, formerly of the Pacific Hotel, operated it.
The first hotel of any prominence in St. Louis was the old Missouri, which stood on the southwest corner of Main and Morgan Streets. It was built in 1819 by John McKnight and Thomas Brady, and subsequently became the property of the latter, who retained it until his death in 1822. It was a two-story stone structure, built in the old French style, its side fronting on Main Street, and its steep roof studded with dormer-windows. After Mr. Brady's death, Maj. Thomas Biddle bought it, and owned it until he was killed in a duel with Spencer Pettis, in October, 1831. Maj. Biddle built an addition to the hotel by which the accommodations were greatly increased. He sent to the East and procured a hotel-keeper, who opened the house with conveniences never before known west of the Mississippi River. After the death of Maj. Biddle, the hotel was sold to John F. Darby, who in the year 1835 sold it to Isaac Walker. Subsequently the following persons kept it as tavern and hotel: Abijah Hull, Ephraim Town, and Messrs. Mitchell, Johnson, Louis Oldenburg, Scudder, Hubbard, Seymour, and others. In 1873 the building was torn down, and gave place to the tobacco-factory of Christian Peper.
The old Missouri Hotel was the scene of many historical incidents. The first Legislature that met under the State Constitution convened there in the year 1820. There also the first Governor and Lieutenant-Governor of the State were sworn into office and delivered their inaugural addresses, and there the two first United States senators ever elected in Missouri, David Barton and Thomas H. Benton, were chosen. It was also a favorite place for the arrangement of duels, trials by courts-martial, and rendezvous for army officers. Gen. Scott, Gen. William Henry Harrison, Gen. Zachary Taylor, Gen. Leavenworth, and the celebrated Indian-fighter and soldier, Gen, Henry Dodge, and many other eminent and distinguished men made it their stopping-place.
St. Clair Hotel. In 1829 the growing wants of St. Louis seemed to demand a more commodious and pretentious hotel than the Missouri, and accordingly Col. Thornton Grimsley purchased the Baptist Church property on the southwest corner of Market and Third Streets, and remodeled it into a neat four-story hotel, which he called the National, placing his brother William G. in charge of it. The National at once became the principal hotel of St. Louis. Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Gen. Zachary Taylor, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and others who were then or have since become prominent, made it their stopping-place when visiting St. Louis. In 1837, Messrs. Stickney & McKnight leased the house from Grimsley, and fully maintained its popularity until 1841, when they retired to take charge of the Planters', then just built. They were succeeded by Col. Scott, and a close rivalry existed for some time between the National and Planters'. In 1846 or 1847 a fire partly destroyed the National, and bad luck seemed to hang about the house for some time thereafter. A number of changes occurred. Mr. Scott leased and ran it a few years as Scott's Hotel, and was followed by William Chesley, who changed its name to the St. Clair. By this name it has been known since that time, with one or two brief intervals. From 1860 to 1877 the following persons have managed the St. Clair: Col. Gannett, Jeremiah Wood, George C. Wales, Jonathan Chesley, Valentine Gerber, William Baird, M. W. Quinn, Trumbull B. Raymond, and McDonald & Rochester. In 1877 the house was closed, but was afterwards leased by Judge George Williams, who remodeled and newly furnished it, since which time it has been managed successfully on the moderate price plan.
Planters' Hotel, In November, 1817, Evarist Maury announced to the public that he had opened the Planters' Hotel on Second Street, opposite Maj. Douglass' office, where a few boarders could be accommodated. He proposed to go into the business on an extensive scale, and announced that he would enlarge the capacity of his house and erect additional buildings. This was not, however, the forerunner of the present hotel known as the Planters'. In 1836 a number of prominent citizens thought that it would be advisable to erect a larger and more commodious hotel than any the city then contained. To consider this proposition a meeting was called in October, at which Judge J. B. C. Lucas presided and Bernard Pratte acted as secretary. A committee consisting of Messrs. McGunnegle, Morton, Kerr, and Brant was appointed to select a suitable site and report to an adjourned meeting. The committee reported a week afterward, and the location immediately north of the courthouse, having a front on Fourth Street and bounded by Chestnut and Vine, was almost unanimously selected, and a committee was appointed to obtain the subscription of the necessary amount of stock. The liberal offer of Judge Lucas, who owned the site selected, unquestionably had much to do with bringing about this result. At a meeting of the shareholders on Dec. 6, 1836, Messrs. Alexander R. Simpson, D. D. Page, D. Lamont, J. C. Laveille, E. Tracy, J. Charless, and G. W. Call were elected directors of
the company for the first year. Application was made to the Legislature of 1836-37, and a charter with a capital of one hundred thousand dollars was obtained. In March, 1837, ground was broken, but owing to the embarrassments of the times the work was not completed until March, 1841. 227
The following announcement, made upon the eve of its opening, will explain why an intended compliment was not conferred: "We would briefly observe, further, that the title of the house is that given in the charter. After the house had been taken by the present enterprising proprietors, Messrs. Stickney & McKnight, and after they had ordered their furniture, part of which, the porcelain, cutlery, etc., was manufactured in England, and the name of the establishment impressed or otherwise fixed on every piece, the board of managers altered the title to that of ‘The Lucas House,’ in honor of the liberal patron of the same, the Hon. Judge Lucas, but on account of the above previous arrangement of the proprietors they have felt themselves bound to open under the title of ‘The Planters' House.’" On the 1st of April, 1841, the hotel went into operation. Stickney & McKnight, the lessees, had previously conducted the National Hotel, and were experienced hotel-keepers. Mr. Stickney subsequently bought out Mr. McKnight's interest, and afterwards associated with him Leonard Scolly. The latter died in the fall of 1860, and Mr. Stickney kept the house until April, 1864, when he retired with a competency. Benjamin Stickney was one of the leading citizens of St. Louis, and filled the positions of director in the St. Louis Gas-Light Company, the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and the St. Louis National Bank. He died on the 14th of November, 1876. After his retirement the house was reopened by J. Fogg & Co., Mr. Fogg having previously been associated with Theron Barnum in Barnum's Hotel.
Glasgow House. On the 3d of March, 1843, the Glasgow House was opened at the corner of Olive and Second Streets.
Barnum's Hotel was erected in 1854 by George R. Taylor. The building stands at the corner of Walnut and Second Streets, and extends ninety-two feet on Second Street and one hundred and sixty feet on Walnut, with an interior court one hundred by sixteen feet. The building is six stories above the pavement and one story below, and its extreme height from pavement to cornice is ninety feet six inches. The architectural style of the exterior facades is modern Italian. The first or basement story supporting the structure is composed entirely of finely-wrought St. Louis limestone. "Barnum's" was unquestionably the finest hotel then in St. Louis, and was built by Mr. Taylor expressly for Theron Barnum. On the 28th of September, 1854, the hotel was opened under the proprietorship of Barnum & Fogg, and at once gained a wide reputation. In April, 1864, Mr. Barnum retired, and the hotel was continued under the management of Fogg, Miles & Co.
Theron Barnum, the senior member of the firm was born April 23, 1803, in Addison County, Vt., and in 1808 moved with his father to Susquehanna County, Pa. There he worked on the farm, also getting such instruction as could be obtained in a country school. At the age of seventeen he began to teach school, and pursued that avocation for several years, in the mean time cultivating his mind in the advanced branches of English education. In 1824 he went to Wilkesbarre, Pa., and filled the position of clerk in a store until 1827, when he removed to Baltimore at the request of his uncle, David Barnum, and became associated with him in the management of Barnum's Hotel, then enjoying a well-deserved fame as one of the best hotels in the United States. He remained with his uncle in the capacity of confidential clerk, and became under his able instruction well versed in the art of conducting a first-class hotel. He then opened the Patapsco Hotel at Ellicott's Mills, fifteen miles from Baltimore, and the terminus of the first fifteen miles of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. While there, in 1832, he married Mary Lay Chadwick, daughter of Capt. Chadwick, of Lime, Conn., and captain of one of the large packets between New York and Liverpool. The fruit of this marriage was two sons, Freeman and Robert. In 1835 he removed to Philadelphia, and bought the Philadelphia Hotel on Arch Street, but having long thought of going to the West, he sold out in 1838, and determined to settle in St. Louis. On his way he was induced to stop at Terre Haute, Ind., where
he opened the new Prairie House. He remained here only until 1840, becoming satisfied in the mean time that Terre Haute could never support the kind of hotel which he was desirous of establishing. In March, 1840, he removed to St. Louis, and rented the City Hotel, at Third and Vine Streets. This hotel was for a long time the favorite house of the public, and became the headquarters of the army officers residing in or visiting St. Louis. Among the distinguished officers who made the City Hotel their home were Gen. Gaines and Col. Croghan. Mr. Benton also stopped here. Mr. Barnum managed the hotel for thirteen years, and in September, 1852, sold out. After a short retirement the present Barnum's Hotel was built for him by George R. Taylor, and for many years he had charge of it. During his supervision the Prince of Wales, George Peabody, William H. Seward, Abraham Lincoln, and many other distinguished persons stopped at it. In 1877 he took the Beaumont House, which he put in successful operation. He died there on the 17th of March, 1878, of pneumonia. Mr. Barnum was a cousin of P. T. Barnum, and seems, with the other prominent members of that family, to have followed his peculiar bent with a pertinacity and energy that deserved if it did not always achieve success. He filled at different times responsible positions, and was a director in the Home Mutual Insurance Company for thirty years.
Lindell Hotel. On the 5th of March, 1855, the Governor of Missouri approved an act of the Legislature chartering the "Laclede Hotel Company of St. Louis." Directors were elected by the corporators, and a practical organization was effected in 1857, and work commenced on the lot bounded by Washington Avenue and Green Street and Sixth and Seventh Streets, part of which had been selected for a site. Jesse G. and Peter Lindell, brothers, contributed the ground and took in exchange for it eighty thousand dollars in the company's stock; they also subscribed ten thousand dollars in money. The monetary panic in 1857 obstructed the progress of the work. In 1859 an act was obtained revising the charter, and permitting the erection of a larger and finer structure, and the expenditure of more than five hundred thousand dollars, the limit in the original act. The name was also changed to "Lindell Hotel," in compliment to the brothers who had so largely interested themselves in the enterprise. In 1863 the hotel was completed and leased to Messrs. Sparr & Parks, who had recently been the proprietors of the Olive Street House. The board of directors at this time were Levin H. Baker, president, J. T. Swearingen, Charles H. Peck, Gerard B. Allen, S. H. Laflin, D. K. Ferguson, and Derrick A. January. Thomas Walsh and James Smith were the architects. The design was Italian of the Venetian school. The hotel consisted of two parallel buildings, extending east and west the length of the whole front, with a space of forty-five feet between them, and connected only in the centre and both extremes by wing buildings running north and south, leaving between them two courts. The Lindell was six stories high exclusive of basement and attic. The height from sidewalk to basement was one hundred and twelve feet. The stone used was a rich cream-colored magnesian limestone from the Grafton quarries. The east and south fronts were of this stone, and showed much elaborate carving. The north and west fronts were faced with the finest stock brick, ornamented by cut-stone window-trimmings. In every respect the hotel was a model one. On the 25th of November the formal opening was marked by an immense ball and banquet, which was attended by about four thousand guests. On December 17th the hotel was sold at trustees' sale to Henry Ames & Co., for one hundred and fifty-three thousand dollars, subject to first mortgage bonds and accrued interest amounting to two hundred and twenty thousand dollars, but Sparr & Parks were not disturbed in their lease.
About half-past eight o'clock on the night of the 30th of March, 1867, fire was discovered in the upper story of the hotel, and in a short time the flames burst through the roof and spread on all sides with great rapidity. The alarm was conveyed to the fire department, and the engines arrived without much delay. They were powerless, however, to stay the progress of the flames, the great height of the building rendering it impossible to throw water on the roof. In a short time the entire top of the hotel was on fire; the flames gradually worked downward, and it was soon evident that the magnificent structure was doomed. Fortunately, owing to the earliness of the hour, very few of the guests, of whom there were about four hundred, had retired. Those who were sick were carried out and conveyed to places of safety. As soon as it was known that the building could not be saved efforts were made to secure the stock in the different stores and the furniture and portable property of the hotel, much of which was saved. Within three hours the fire was at its height, the heat being so intense that water thrown upon the flames flew upward in sheets of steam. The firemen desisted from their fruitless efforts and devoted their attention to saving the surrounding buildings. About twelve o'clock the walls fell, and all that remained of one of the finest hotels in the world was a shapeless
mass of ruins. The loss on the building was about nine hundred thousand dollars, and on the furniture between two hundred thousand and three hundred thousand dollars.
The destruction of the Lindell was regarded as a public calamity. Impromptu meetings of the citizens were held almost before the smoke had ceased ascending from the ruins to take measures for the erection of a new building, but it was not until five years had elapsed that these efforts were crooned with success. It became frequently, during this time, a question whether the new Lindell should be erected on the old site or at a point farther west on the same thoroughfare. The matter was finally determined by Mrs. Vincent Marmaduke (formerly Mrs. Henry Ames), who resolved to build on the spot made historical by the old Lindell. A company was formed consisting of Messrs. William Scudder, Levin H. Baker, and Charles Parsons, who engaged the well-known architect George I. Barnett to design the proposed building. About the 1st of September, 1872, the work was commenced by removing the rubbish from the old foundations for the purpose of constructing the new. The work was pushed forward without intermission through the untiring efforts of Messrs. Scudder and Barnett and the numerous contractors, and within two years from the breaking of ground the structure was completed. For two months more the process of fitting and furnishing went on, and on the 28th of September, 1874, the whole establishment in complete running order was thrown open to the public.
The exterior of the new building presents a very different aspect from the old one, being less ornate but much handsomer.
The first story is flush with the sidewalk, instead of having a basement elevating it several feet above the pavement. The principal front, as in the old building, is on Washington Avenue, with a frontage of one hundred and eighty-two feet, and a depth of two hundred and twenty-seven feet to Christy Avenue. The height of the building is one hundred and five feet, and the architecture is of the modern Italian school, the first story being of the Tuscan order and constructed of iron. The five upper stories of the facades on Washington Avenue and Sixth Street are composed of Warrensburg gray sandstone that hardens with age until it becomes almost as capable of resisting the elements as granite. The second story is composed in the principal compartments of Corinthian columns supporting semi-circular arches over the windows.
The intermediate windows have semi-circular arches with caps, supported by carved trusses. This story is surmounted by a fine cornice, and the four upper stories are divided by five moulded water-tables. All the angles of the building are finished with heavy quoin-stones. There are three capacious stores on each side of the main entrance, and six equally so on Sixth Street. A striking feature of the front is a massive two-story portico immediately in front of the main entrance, forty-five feet wide, and projecting fifteen feet from the building, with six Tuscan columns below and six Corinthian columns above. Massive iron railings of unique designs inclose each floor. The ladies' entrance on Sixth Street has also an elegant but smaller portico, one story high, with six columns. The whole building is crowned with a massive iron cornice eight feet high. On the first floor is a splendid hall or exchange, one hundred and fifty-five feet long, forty-one feet wide, and eighteen feet high. The ceiling is elegantly frescoed in intricate and tasteful designs and harmonious colors. The floor is laid in tessellated marble, and the walls are pleasantly tinted. On the west side of the exchange is the office, elegantly fitted up with all the modern appliances. Immediately west of the office is a spacious reading-room, comfortable and well lighted. Opposite the office is the grand staircase, an elaborate and stately structure. The walls and ceilings are elegantly frescoed, and a view upwards presents a most pleasing effect.
There is not a dark room in the hotel, and the ventilation is excellent. There are two hundred and seventy guests' rooms, which is about a score less than the old building had, but there are many more rooms devoted to public use, and the floor-room is much greater. Everything that forethought could devise for the comfort of the guest and the facilitating of business has been provided, and that, too, in the best possible manner. The proprietors of the Lindell were Messrs. Felt, Griswold, Clemmens & Co., being W. W. Felt, of the old Lindell; J. L. Griswold, formerly superintendent of the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad; H. H. Clemmens, formerly one of the proprietors of Congress Hall, Saratoga; and Charles Scudder. The chief architect was George I. Barnett; assistant architects, Furlong & Taylor; general carpenter and builder, Charles H. Birch.
The present proprietors of the Lindell Hotel are the members of the Lindell Hotel Association; Charles Scudder, president; Henry Ames, vice-president; William F. Haines, secretary. Mr. Scudder is a brother of Capt. John A. Scudder (of whom a full biographical sketch is given elsewhere), and, like his brother, is one of the most active and influential citizens of St. Louis. Maj. William F. Haines was born at Buffalo, N. Y., Nov. 5, 1829. He was the son of Samuel Haines, of Lancaster County, Pa., and his mother was formerly Miss Anna Lengeker, of the same county. At the age of sixteen William F. Haines served as ordinary seaman on the brig "Odd Fellow." After nearly a year "before the mast" he was employed in Robinson's banking-house, and at the age of seventeen was cashier of the Merchants' National Bank of Erie County, N. Y. Subsequently young Haines returned to school until September, 1849, when he removed to St. Louis, where his first occupation was that of book-keeper in the commission house of David Tatum. In the spring of 1851 he accepted the position of chief clerk on the steamer "Josiah Lawrence," plying between St. Louis and New Orleans, and was identified with various river steamers as chief clerk and master until the opening of the civil war, when he entered the Confederate service as private in Capt. James Pritchard's company, First Missouri Regiment. He was afterwards appointed quartermaster of the regiment, with the rank of captain, and after the promotion of Col. Bowen, of the First Missouri, to brigadier-general, Capt. Haines was made brigade quartermaster on his staff, with the rank of major. He participated in all of the engagements in which Gen. Bowen's several commands took part, and was in Vicksburg during the siege.
On being exchanged, Maj. Haines was sent to serve with Gen. L. S. Baker, in North Carolina, where he remained until the close of the war. Gen. Baker's command being cut off from the main army of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Maj. Haines was sent to Raleigh to arrange terms of surrender with Gen. W. T. Sherman. Having previously known Gen. Sherman in St. Louis, Maj. Haines secured the same terms given to Gen. Lee, and was designated as paroling officer of Gen. Baker's command. After the war closed, Maj. Haines returned to St. Louis and resumed his river occupation, becoming captain of the steamer "Stonewall," plying between St. Louis and New Orleans. In December, 1865, he married Miss Abbie Kennerly, youngest daughter of Capt. George H. Kennerly, formerly of the United States army, and whose mother is a daughter of the late Col. Pierre Menard, of Kaskaskia, Ill. The fruits of this marriage were four daughters and three sons. Maj. Haines was for twelve years general freight agent of the Mississippi Valley Transportation Company, which position he held until February, 1882, when he became one of the proprietors of the Lindell, and of the Hotel St. Louis, at Lake Minnetonka, Minn.
The Pacific Hotel was completed in January, 1857. It was located at the corner of Poplar and Seventh Streets, was three stories high, and had a front on Seventh Street of more than eighty feet. The ground-floor was divided into stores; the second floor contained the office, dining-room, and some sleeping apartments; and the third floor was divided into small rooms separated by lath and plaster partitions. The capacity of the house was about one hundred guests. George B. Field, who was the owner, leased the hotel to Daniel W. Strader, who opened it in June following, with Jacob Lyons as his partner. Its career was destined to be a short one, and to terminate with the most appalling catastrophe that had ever befallen St. Louis. On the morning of Saturday, Feb. 20, 1858, between three and four o'clock, the building was discovered to be on fire, and before the lodgers on the third floor could be aroused the flames had cut off all means of egress by the stairways. The terrified guests, finding no safety except in leaping to the ground, did so in many instances and escaped more or less injured. So rapid was the spread of the flames, owing to the combustible nature of the building, that many were unable to escape from their rooms. There were about seventy-five persons in the hotel at the time the fire broke out. Of these forty-four escaped uninjured. The killed numbered nineteen, of whom only ten were identified, as follows: Henry A. Rochester and T. Hart Strong, of Rochester, N. Y.; infant child of J. Jones, Bruce McNitt, Paul Steinestel, and Miss H. Hunter, of St. Louis; Evans J. Watkins, Columbus, Ohio; Ephraim Doane, Chicago; Mrs. H. Hubbard, Boston; and J. Wagoner.
James Francis Geary, local reporter of the Leader, and Elihu Hays died on February 24th from injuries received at the fire, making the entire number of deaths twenty-one. A meeting of citizens to provide for the burial of the dead and the relief of the wounded was immediately called. Col. Thornton Grimsley presided, and committees were appointed to provide for the interments and to obtain subscriptions for the survivors. Twelve of the dead were buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, their remains being followed to the grave by the largest procession ever seen in St. Louis. The survivors, so far as they could be discovered, were handsomely cared for and assisted.
The Southern Hotel. Early in 1857 efforts were made by public-spirited citizens to erect a finer and larger hotel than any that St. Louis could then boast of. Meetings were held, propositions submitted, a company formed, a charter obtained, and subscription books opened. A site was purchased and the cellar walls built, but the scheme languished, and in 1859 it was seriously proposed to divide the property into lots and sell it. This was not done, however, and in the early part of 1860 the company obtained from the Legislature an act exempting its property from city and county taxation for ten years. New life was infused into the project, and Thornton Grimsley, John A. Brownlee, George Knapp & Co., Henry T. Blow, John J. Anderson, Charles McClaren, Robert K. Woods, B. M. Runyan, Belt & Priest, and Taylor Blow associated themselves together to finish the hotel. The work was resumed, and continued with long and frequent intervals of delay until 1865. The hotel fronted on Walnut, Fourth, Fifth, and Elm Streets, on Walnut Street, two hundred and seventy feet; Fourth and Fifth Streets, one hundred and thirteen feet six inches each; and on Elm Street, sixty feet, and was six stories high, in the Italian style of architecture. On Dec. 6, 1865, it was opened with a ball, with Messrs. Theodore Laveille, Charles P. Warner, and George W. Ford as proprietors. It was sold in August, 1866, to Col. Robert Campbell.
The hotel was destroyed by fire early on the morning of April 11, 1877. The fire was discovered at twenty minutes past one o'clock in the basement of the hotel. The inmates were aroused as far as possible, and an alarm was sounded through the agency of the district telegraph. This brought out the salvage department, but the key of the fire-alarm telegraph-box having been lost or mislaid, it was ten minutes before the city fire department could be notified. On the first call six engines and two hook-and-ladder companies responded, but, the fire gaining rapid headway, two subsequent alarms were sent in, calling out the entire department. To the natural progress of the flames was added the flood of gas from the large pipe used in supplying the hotel, and it was soon found impossible to save the building, which totally destroyed. When the department reached the scene the flames had gained such headway that efforts of the firemen were directed particularly to saving the lives of the inmates. Of these there were several hundred, including a number of female domestics, who slept on the sixth floor of the hotel. The fire was first discovered in the store-room, which was in the basement near the passenger elevator, and the flames, ascending through the elevator shaft, spread immediately over the two upper floors, and filled all of the halls and corridors above the ground-floor with dense smoke, which rendered escape a matter of the greatest difficulty. The loss of life was exclusively among the occupants of the fourth, fifth, and sixth floors, who, their means of escape being cut off
by the fire, either fell or jumped into the streets and were killed. Many, however, were saved through the agency of the fire department and citizens by means of ladders, and there were scores of rare instances of heroism on the part of rescuers, whose efforts were rendered peculiarly dangerous owing to the height of the burning building and the inaccessibility of the upper floors.
The conflagration was made the subject of an investigation by the proper authorities, the jury consisting of John McNeil (foreman), Sylvester H. Laflin, Walter C. Carr, Jacob Tamm, Charles W. Irwin, and George Bain. Ninety-two witnesses were examined, and in rendering their verdict the jury said, "As to the cause of the fire, we have no testimony sufficient to base an opinion on, but from the dryness of the woodwork and the inflammable material in the storeroom, wine-room, and carpenter-shop, all situated in the basement of the hotel, it would have required only the slightest spark in a very few minutes, if not discovered, to have caused a fire of such magnitude as to be beyond ordinary control."
The victims of the fire were George F. Gouley, of St. Louis, secretary of the Grand Lodge A. F. and A. M. of Missouri, who was killed by falling from a fourth-story window on the Walnut Street side.
Henry Hazen, of New Castle, Pa., assistant engineer Missouri Pacific Railroad, killed by falling from a third-story window.
Mrs. Abbie Moran, Mary Dolan, and Kate Reilly, all domestics employed in the hotel, killed by falling from a fifth-story window of the south wing.
Rev. A. R. Adams, vicar of the parish of Stockross, Berkshire, England, killed by falling from a fourth-story window on the Fourth Street side.
Mrs. Jennie Stewart, wife of W. S. Stewart, of St. Louis, killed by the breaking of an improvised rope while being lowered by her husband from a fifth-story window.
Charles A. Tiernan, a well-known St. Louis sporting man, killed while forcing his way into the burning hotel to rescue the inmates.
Andrew Einstman, of Teichmann & Co., St. Louis, killed by falling from an improvised rope while descending from the fifth floor at Fifth and Elm Streets.
H. J. Clark, formerly of North Adams, Mass., an ex-railway conductor, found in the ruins after the fire.
Mrs. Abbie E. Clark, wife of H. J. Clark, and child, found in the ruins after the fire.
In addition to the above, the body of an unknown man was found in the ruins, and William F. Munster, of England, committed suicide a few hours after escaping in safety from the hotel.
Two policemen reported that during the earlier progress of the fire, while engaged in rescuing people from the burning building, they heard two pistol-shots, and on entering the room where the reports came from saw the dead bodies of a man and woman. There were also several persons missing who were never successfully traced, but whose death at the time of the fire has never been clearly demonstrated.
The hotel building was owned by Robert Campbell, who estimated his loss at three hundred and seventy thousand four hundred and twenty dollars, which was ninety-two thousand dollars above the total insurance.
The blackened ruins and the crumbling walls remained a ghastly memento of this awful disaster for two years, when, through the untiring energy and perseverance of the prominent members of the Merchants' Exchange and other leading business men and citizens, chief among whom was George Knapp, senior proprietor of the Missouri Republican, a project for rebuilding the hotel took definite shape, and was speedily urged to a successful termination. Hon. Thomas Allen assumed the leading part in the movement, and to him more than to any other person was due the erection of the present magnificent building. For the construction of the hotel building, Mr. Allen engaged Messrs. George I. Barnett and Isaac Taylor, architects, to carry out his plans, and selected his son George W. Allen as general superintendent of the whole work. The Southern Hotel occupies the block between Walnut and Elm, two hundred and twenty-six feet, and Fourth and Fifth Streets, two hundred and seventy-five feet, has three fronts of stone on Walnut, Fourth, and Fifth Streets, and is six stories high, with an additional basement as highly finished as any floor of the house.
Mr. Allen obtained possession of the block on the 21st of May, 1879, when the preliminary work was commenced, and the building was begun in August, 1879. Mr. Allen's first and most solicitous object was to erect a thorough fire-proof house from basement to roof. To this end he bent all his energies, and enlisted the ingenuity of the architects and builders. On the principle that a building is only as strong as its weakest part, he resolved that there should be no weak place, and was constantly on his guard against a flaw. Enough of the heaviest railroad iron to lay seven miles of track was used as support for the floors, which are laid on solid cement. Besides the interior brick walls necessary to give strength to the structure, the apartment partitions are of gypsum, sand, cement, and pulverized coke, with, no particle of wood in them. The doors, window-frames,
and other necessary wood-work are of gum, cypress, and ash, hard wood, and of the finest finish. Should fire occur in any of the rooms it would necessarily stop with the furniture and upholstery of the one room, as there is no chance of its eating through or crawling out. There is no exception to this thorough fire-proofing in any part of the building. The builders pronounce the Southern the most thoroughly fire-proof hotel structure in the world.
Among the additional features of special interest are two engines, basement fixtures, running machinery for elevators, electric light, and the latest improved smoke-consuming furnaces in the basement and kitchen, which also make drafts for carrying off all impure air. There are three hundred and fifty rooms for guests, connected with the office by a system of electric bells, and there is hot and cold water throughout the house. The building is heated with steam, and, besides, there are fireplaces and grates in every room for coal- or wood-fires. The public parlors are also thus supplied.
There are three main stairways of iron and slate, extending from the ground-floor to the upper story, for the use of guests, and two iron stairways for servants. Besides these there are five hydraulic elevators, two for passengers and three for freight and other purposes. It will thus be seen the means for ingress and egress are abundant.
The rotunda hall, extending from Walnut to Elm Streets, is two hundred and twenty-six feet long and sixty feet wide; the cross hall, from Fourth to Fifth Street, is two hundred and seventy-five feet long and twenty-six and a half feet wide, and the rotunda terminates in a skylight at the roof, the several floors being guarded by balusters. A terrace-garden on the roof over the grand dining-hall is ninety-eight by fifty-eight feet in extent, and safely guarded by an iron railing. The garden is laid out with paths and promenades, and flowers and shrubbery watered by fountains. The furniture was ordered and selected wholly by James H. Breslin and Robert M. Taylor, and the entire outfit, including carpets, drapery, silverware, etc., cost two hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. On May 11, 1881, the Southern Hotel was formally opened with a ball and banquet. Hon. E. O. Stanard, chairman of the committee of arrangements, introduced Hon. Thomas T. Crittenden, Governor of Missouri, who made a brief address. On the following day the new "Southern" began to receive guests. The first non-residents to register were Governor and
Mrs. Crittenden. The entire block was owned by Thomas Allen.
The Southern is managed by the Southern Hotel Company, as follows: James H. Breslin, president; George W. Allen, secretary and treasurer; Charles P. Warner, W. R. Allen, Thomas Breslin. Of these, James H. Breslin and Charles P. Warner were identified with the management of the old "Southern," and have a wide public acquaintance. The various departments are in charge of the following persons: W. M. Bates, general manager; John E. Mulford, private office and head book-keeper; E. V. Williams, cashier, late of Tift House, Buffalo, N. Y.; M. W. Quinn, chief room clerk; Charles E. Myers, room clerk, Tift House, Buffalo; F. W. Lee, key clerk; William A. Gilbert, key clerk; William Patton, night clerk; Horace M. Clark, steward. W. M. Bates, general manager, was placed in 1859 in a responsible position in the office of the famous St. Nicholas, New York, where he remained for years. Then he connected himself with the Ocean House, Newport, R. I., when he subsequently became a partner in the business. In 1877 he leased Congress Hall, Saratoga Springs, under the firm-name of Bates, Rogers & Farnsworth, and since has been connected with the Fifth Avenue, New York, and the Ocean House, Newport, R. I.
Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Saint Louis City and County, From the Earliest Periods to the Present Day: Including Biographical Sketches of Representative Men. In Two Volumes, Illustrated. Volume II . Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts & Co., 1883. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; proceedings]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=scharf2.html