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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
St. Louis being located in the heart of the Mississippi valley, in which are produced immense supplies of breadstuffs, meats, fruits, and vegetables, accessible by fifteen thousand miles of navigable rivers, with her grand network of railroads penetrating all portions of this vast valley, furnishing quick and cheap transportation for all the products of the soil, it must be apparent that at no other place in the world where labor is remunerative can staple provisions of the same quality be furnished cheaper than at St. Louis.
Next to provisions in the cost of family expenses is that of house-rent, or, differently stated, the expense of living in one's own house. The house represents capital, and it costs the owner as much to live in it as it does the lessee, in either case the net rental being measured by the net interest the money would produce. In furnishing cheap, comfortable, and healthy houses St. Louis offers rare inducements. There was a time when this was not the case, and rival cities offering greater inducements in this regard were largely benefited thereby. When the heavy business was transacted chiefly on the Levee and Main Street, the choice residence property was drawn within narrow bounds and held at high prices; and before sewerage and drainage had transformed vast acres into choice building sites, before railroad transportation, steam and horse, had equalized values at remote points from business centres by furnishing cheap conveyance to and from all points within the city limits, cheap homes were not easily obtained in St. Louis. But a new and brighter era has dawned upon her. Cheap homes can now be furnished within easy access of business, shop, and foundry, on finished streets, with gas and water, on or convenient to street cars. Building lots thus situated can be bought and comfortable dwellings erected thereon cheaper in St. Louis than in any city in the United States having a population of one hundred and fifty thousand.
To this fact more than any other may be attributed the rapid growth of St. Louis during the last few years, and it is also the best guarantee of her future prosperity. Cheap homes are the want of the million; they not only reduce the expenses of living, but the people become owners of their own homesteads, and once having an interest in the soil their local and business interests become more closely identified with the city's welfare, making her population more permanent and at the same time contributing to her revenue.
Persons of limited means, mechanics and laborers of industrious and saving habits, can by small monthly or quarterly payments in a comparatively short period become owners of their own homes without waiting to provide all the money before purchasing. The making of debts is not generally to be commended; but to a moderate extent in the purchase of a home, where full consideration is received, they are not only commendable but tend to stimulate energy, and the money thus paid is better secured against loss than if invested in any other manner. In addressing the Social Science Association of Philadelphia, Mr. Cochran truthfully said, "People who own the soil naturally feel that they have a greater interest in the community, in its welfare, peace, and good order, and they are fixed more permanently to it as a place of abode; and the laborer or mechanic who is working to secure or pay for a home is inspired with more ambition than one whose abode is in tenement-houses, which can have no attraction to any man or his family. The system of separate dwelling-houses for every family is in itself promotive of greater morality and comfort, but the opportunity
of poor men to secure the ownership is an honorable incentive to industry and frugality."
The means of locomotion within the city, the accommodations for visitors, the capital of banks, and the transportation facilities other than rail and river, as collected in 1882 for the board of equalization, present the St. Louis of to-day as being in the following condition:
The territory of which St. Louis is recognized as the natural commercial and business metropolis is indicated in the following table, with the miles of railroad they had in the years 1870 and 1879, respectively:
In the ten years from 1870 to 1879 there was constructed in the territory we have set down as tributary to St. Louis six thousand four hundred and thirteen miles of railroad.
The increase of population in the territory of which St. Louis is the natural commercial metropolis in the ten years from 1870 to 1880 was as follows, the figures in all instances being from the United States census:
All this territory, with New Mexico and Indian Territory still farther south, constitute a part of the vast back country of St. Louis. When it is considered, therefore, that this city has such surroundings as have been here described; that she is the very centre of the most productive agricultural region of the whole earth; that she is in immediate proximity and of convenient access to an inexhaustible deposit of the purest iron ore in the world; that she is at the head of navigation from the south, and at the foot of navigation from the north; that she is sustained and impelled forward by the immense, illimitable trade of the great Father of Waters and his tributaries; that she has the material around her for building up the most extensive and most profitable manufacturing establishments that the world has ever known; that all the necessaries of life, the cereal grains and pork particularly, are produced in all the region roundabout in such profusion that living must be always cheap, and that consequently she can support her population though it should increase to almost indefinite limits, when all these facts are considered, who can feel disposed to set boundaries to her future progress?
It will be seen in view of the territory thus tributary to St. Louis that she draws from a greater variety of resources, from a greater extent of country, that she is the centre of more mineral wealth, more agricultural resources, and that she has the opportunity and is fast endowing herself with the instrumentalities for obtaining a vaster internal commerce than any other city in the Union. Her manufactures are varied in kind and character, and conducted with less expense than those of any of her sister cities. Her population has been steadily swelled by the influx of emigration; her wares and merchandise find their market in every hamlet of the country, and compete in Europe with those of older countries. Her credit, whether municipal, individual, or corporate, is unimpeached and treasured as the most valuable of her jewels. It should be borne in mind in estimating St. Louis' position among the great centres of trade in this country that the territory strictly belonging to the system of rivers which empty into the Gulf of Mexico has an area of 1,683,000 square miles, including eighteen States and two Territories, with a population of 22,000,000, which is increasing at the rate of about thirty-two per cent, every ten years; and that this great region produced 300,000,000 out of the 450,000,000 bushels of wheat grown in the whole country in 1880, besides 1,200,000,000 bushels of corn out of a total produce for the same year of 1,500,000,000 bushels. The collection of this grain into the granaries of St. Louis is being carried on by the energetic men who have banded together to accomplish the great object of improving the trade and importance of their city. Elsewhere the transportation facilities and the storage capacity of the city have been fully described. This business, for which rail and river are competing, is vast enough for the capacity of both, and must in a short time be greatly in excess of the terminal facilities afforded by existing lines of communication. But St. Louis has also determined to become the leading cotton market, and in view of the railroad development ministering directly to her, it is certainly no vain assertion to say that her position
is now first among the cotton markets of the world. The opening of Northern Texas and the whole of Arkansas to immediate connection by rail with the Missouri commercial metropolis, and the probable increase of cotton culture in the Indian Territory, will give a back country capable of producing millions of bales annually for St. Louis to draw upon. She has already become the successful competitor with Houston, Galveston, and New Orleans for the distribution of the crop of the Southwest, and the encouragement received has justified her enterprising citizens in constructing the most complete and extensive warehouses for cotton storage in the world. The trade of St. Louis now controls the cotton trade in certain sections of Arkansas and the southern portion of Missouri, and has made such seductive bids for the crop of Texas that many counties in that State regard St. Louis as their most remunerative market.
It was said of St. Louis in 1849 that "her commercial prosperity is founded very largely, if not chiefly, upon what is called the ‘produce trade,’" and the territorial limits of this trade were Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri.  Thirty years afterwards St. Louis competed, as we have seen, sharply with Chicago for the trade of Northern Missouri, Kansas, Southern Nebraska, Colorado, the Territories tributary to the traffic of the Union and Central Pacific Railroads, and for the transcontinental trade towards the Southwest, embraced in the southern and central portions of Missouri, the State of Arkansas, the larger part of the State of Texas, and the northwestern section of Louisiana, with the Indian Territory, and with California by the Southern Pacific Railroad. New Orleans finds in St. Louis a rival for the trade of Western and Northern Louisiana. The trade of the States east of the Mississippi and south of the Ohio finds competition at St. Louis with New Orleans, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Chicago, as well as the principal cities of the Atlantic seaboard. The trade limits of St. Louis east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio cover Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, and include the through traffic with the States of the Atlantic seaboard and with foreign countries. It is within these vast territorial limits that St. Louis gathers the surplus products of the people, and distributes to them the supplies and general merchandise of her energetic tradesmen, merchants, and manufacturers.
The railroads which converge upon and centre at St. Louis are the following:
Chicago, Alton and St. Louis Railroad (Missouri Division).
St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad.
Ohio and Mississippi Railroad.
St. Louis, Wabash and Pacific Railroad (Iowa Division).
The variations of the receipts and shipments of the commerce of St. Louis with the north are shown in the following table:
Turning to the east, we find a larger commerce even than that with the north. The total receipts from and shipments to the east were for the last decade:
From the south St. Louis received as well as shipped the following commerce:
The western commerce of St. Louis is exhibited for ten years in the following table:
For the better comparison of the extraordinary growth of the commerce of St. Louis during the last decade, the following table groups the tonnage of all the sections:
In these ten years the commerce of St. Louis increased northward from 391,522 tons in 1871 to 761,976 tons in 1880; towards the east from 1,764,881 tons in 1871 to 3,833,708 tons in 1880; towards the south from 1,805,332 tons in 1871 to 3,345,793 tons in 1880; towards the west from 951,367 tons in 1871 to 2,842,112 tons in 1880; and the total grew from 4,913,102 tons in 1871 to 10,783,589 tons in 1880.
The rapidity of the growth of this commerce will be more easily comprehended by considering the proportion of tonnage for the years 1880, 1879, and 1878:
It will be observed from these tables that the commerce of St. Louis towards the east was larger in 1880 than in any other direction, and a much larger traffic passes over the great bridge than is transported on the river. In direct trade with foreign countries in 1880, the value of eastward shipments by rail via Atlantic ports was seventy per cent. greater than the value of the shipments southward via the Mississippi River, the values standing for eastward or via Atlantic ports at $17,000,000, and southward or via New Orleans at $10,000,000.
As illustrating the course of the internal commerce from St. Louis, the following movements of cotton, grain, flour, provisions, and live-stock will be found instructive:
The percentage of the shipments of cotton towards the south in 1880 was 1.13, and towards the east 97.65, and 1.22 in other directions; of wheat, 54.82 per cent. went south, and 43.55 per cent. went east, 1.63 per cent. in other directions; of corn, 73.77 per cent. went south, 26.13 per cent. went east, 0.10 per cent. in other directions; of flour, 41.01 per cent. went south, 58.07 per cent. east, and 0.92 per cent. in other directions; of grain, etc., 58.45 per cent. went south, 40.47 east, and 1.08 in other directions; of hog products, 75.38 per cent. went south, 22.67 per cent. east, and 1.95 per cent. in other directions; of cattle, 0.77 per cent. went south, 95.84 per cent. east, and 3.39 per cent. in other directions; of sheep, 6.38 per cent. went south, 77.40 east, and 16.22 in other directions; of hogs, 0.56 per cent. went south, 98.52 per cent. east, and 0.92 in other directions.
The steady expansion of the commerce of St. Louis is shown by the increase during 1880 over 1879 of the shipments of flour and grain from St. Louis to the east and to the south, the former of which increased 1,602,976 bushels, or 8.9 per cent., and the latter 13,243,108 bushels, or 87.05 per cent.; in 1879 the shipments to the east exceeded those to
the south by 2,818,836 bushels, but in 1880 the shipments to the south exceeded those to the east by 8,821,296 bushels; in 1879 about 53 per cent. of the shipments was to the east, but in 1880 nearly 59 per cent. of the total shipments was to the south; the total shipments for 1880 exceeded those for 1879 by 14,645,559 bushels. The receipts of flour at St. Louis in 1880 exceeded those for 1879 by 100,000 barrels; those of wheat increased 4,000,000 bushels; of corn, 9,000,000 bushels; of oats, 600,000 bushels; and of barley, 730,000 bushels; while the receipts of rye decreased 250,000 bushels as compared with 1879.
There is a wide disparity of opinion in regard to the limits of the territory actually tributary to St. Louis, and consequently the extent of the products controlled by that city. We wish to present both views, that which is less favorable to the pretensions of St. Louis and that which is more favorable. We will state in advance that we incline to accept the claim for the wider horizon and the broader destiny. No city has a grander geographical site, and none a more generous and nobler population. If these two, working together in steadfast co-operation, intelligence reverently and diligently utilizing and applying the gifts and largess of nature, the stored-up forces and conservated energies of immemorial ages, cannot make a great city and a great centre of trade, then nothing can. Anyhow, it is proper that a city should have implicit confidence in its resources. As Col. George E. Leighton, president of the Missouri Historical Society, said, in his very intelligent and thoughtful address at the last annual meeting, Jan. 16, 1883, "A living interest and belief in the real greatness of a city will alone make it great. Such a feeling is contagious, and if we but do our part, we can impress ourselves and others with the belief that we have in St. Louis a city worthy of our interest, and of our labors to make it attractive in all those directions which ennoble, dignify, and refine our lives, as well as in those which minister to its material progress."
Mr. Joseph Nimmo, Jr., chief of the Bureau of Statistics of the Treasury Department, Washington, in his very comprehensive and suggestive report on the "Internal Commerce of the United States," submitted to Secretary of the Treasury Windom, July 1, 1881, attempts to define the "territorial limits of the commerce of St. Louis." What he says is as follows:
"It is deemed proper in this connection to present a general description of the range of the commercial activities of St. Louis, such as was presented in a preceding report on the internal commerce of the United States, with such modifications as the changed conditions of trade and of transportation have rendered necessary.
"The limits of the trade of St. Louis cannot be precisely defined, nor can the limits of the trade of any other great commercial city, as each city is either directly or indirectly the competitor of every other commercial city. St. Louis has direct trade with San Francisco, with St. Paul, Minn., with Chicago, with New Orleans, with the principal Atlantic seaports, and with many of the principal ports of Europe. This is also true of other great commercial cities, both at the West and on the seaboard. But in the sense of being the principal market for the sale of general merchandise, and for the purchase of surplus agricultural products of the surrounding country, the territorial extent of the commerce of St. Louis may be described as follows:
"The commerce of St. Louis west of the Mississippi River and north of the State of Missouri is quite small, the city of Chicago having secured the principal control of that trade by means of the system of east and west roads centring in that city.
"St. Louis competes sharply with Chicago for the trade of Northern Missouri, Kansas, Southern Nebraska, Colorado, the Territories tributary to the traffic of the Union and Central Pacific Railroads, and for the transcontinental trade with the States of the Pacific coast, and mainly controls so much of the trade towards the Southwest as is embraced in the southern and central portion of Missouri, the State of Arkansas, the larger part of the State of Texas, and the northwestern section of Louisiana. For the trade of Kansas, the northern part of Texas, and the Indian Territory, St. Louis meets an active competition in the commercial enterprises of Chicago.
"The advent of railroads as highways of commerce has led to many changes, not only in the limits of the commerce of cities, but also in their relation to each other. This fact is strikingly illustrated with respect to the commerce of St. Louis and of New Orleans. Twenty years ago almost all the commercial interests of these two cities were mutual and reciprocal, but to-day, with respect to the large and rapidly-growing southwestern commerce, St. Louis is a formidable rival of New Orleans. This new condition of affairs has resulted mainly from the construction of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad and connections, and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. These lines, by their extension into Arkansas, Western and Northern Louisiana, and Texas, have not only invaded a section formerly embraced within the trade limits of New Orleans, but they have been the instrumentalities through which a very large commercial development has taken place within this highly productive section. The railroads referred to have invited a large immigration into these States, and trade and industry have thus been greatly promoted. Not only are the surplus products of a large part of the State of Arkansas, as well as of parts of Louisiana and Texas, shipped to St. Louis and other northern cities for a market, but, in return, general merchandise is shipped to those States.
"By the completion of the railroad line from New Orleans to Houston, the former city has become a direct competitor with St. Louis for a large part of the traffic of the railroads of Texas. The competition of New Orleans for the trade of Texas will undoubtedly become sharper upon the completion of the railway line designed to connect that city with Shreveport, La., at which point connection will be made with the Texas Pacific Railroad and its connecting lines.
"For the trade of the States east of the Mississippi River and south of the Ohio River, St. Louis meets the active competition of the trade of New Orleans, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Chicago, and of the principal cities on the Atlantic seaboard.
"The trade of St. Louis with those States has exhibited no material increase for several years.
"The trade limits of St. Louis east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River, not including the through traffic with the States of the Atlantic seaboard and with foreign countries, embrace a considerable portion of the State of Illinois and extend into Indiana and Ohio. This is a commerce almost entirely by rail, only a very small percentage of it being carried on by means of boats plying on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. All this trade, with the exception of that in the immediate vicinity of St. Louis, is highly competitive as between Chicago, Toledo, and St. Louis. This applies both to the purchase of agricultural products and to the sale of supplies and general merchandise. The state of the markets at these rival cities determines the course of trade of this section at all times.
"The commerce of St. Louis with the States and Territories already referred to has as its distinguishing characteristics the purchase of the surplus products of those States and Territories and the sale of merchandise for consumption within such territorial limits. But the commerce of St. Louis with the Atlantic seaboard States and with foreign countries presents itself under an entirely different aspect."
Mr. Nimmo at this point speaks of the railroads which centre at St. Louis and the sharp competition of the east-bound trunk lines, a matter which it is not necessary to discuss now or here. There are two reasons for this: in the first place, the rates of competition are so fluctuating and uncertain that there is no standard, as there is also neither good policy, established policy, honor nor honesty in the competition for freight from the west to the Atlantic seaboard cities. These things will finally adjust themselves, and in the final adjustment it will be "devil take the hindmost." But in the mean time, so long as "pooling" corrects distance, no scale of rates can be permanently laid down. We have nothing but expedients, and very temporary ones at that, and St. Louis can afford to wait until time, which adjusts everything else, has adjusted this also. In the second place, St. Louis possesses a regulator of freight rates to eastern seaports which, she is fain to believe, will finally reconstruct everything, and especially readjust the "differential rates" entirely in her favor. This regulator is the Mississippi River, which, no matter what railroad managers may say, intends to have a potential voice in the final adjustment of freight rates from western trade centres to European markets, and will not be ignored, belittled, or frightened by any of their "statements."
The area of country really and actually tributary to St. Louis, the more sanguine friends of its commerce in the future claim, is as follows:
Cotton and other products are given in other tables. The above table is supposed to represent the States which send or are to send their products to St. Louis. The States and Territories which St. Louis supplies more or less with goods, either of her own manufacture or through the jobbing trade, are exemplified in a statement of Mr. E. C. Simmons, president of the Simmons Hardware Company of St. Louis:
"We purchase goods at many points throughout the Northern as well as Eastern States, from the Mississippi River east to Providence and Boston. There are also many manufacturers of goods in our line here in St. Louis from whom we draw supplies. We have goods manufactured at several of the principal penitentiaries of the country. We also still import largely of certain lines of goods chiefly from England and Germany, and some from France and Switzerland. All of our goods, both domestic and foreign, are shipped to us direct on through bills of lading.
"The range of our sales is very wide indeed. We sell goods as far east as Indiana, north as far as Wisconsin and Minnesota, Dakota, Idaho, and Wyoming, west as far as Colorado, Utah, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and California, and south to the Gulf of Mexico. We also have trade in Alabama and Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky, with some scattering trade in North Carolina and Virginia, Ohio and Michigan.
"This widely extended business is chiefly done through commercial travelers or agents employed by our house. The whole territory is divided up into districts, each district being in the particular charge of one of our commercial travelers, who is held responsible for the maintenance and extension of trade within his district. He is also expected to keep the house informed in
regard to the competition which he meets from every point, from other business houses in this city and in other cities, also as to crops and facts of interest touching the influence of competing rail rates. The limits of our trade depend very largely upon the rates for transportation which we have to meet from competing business houses in other cities.
"At present we have thirty-one commercial agents employed.
"Nineteen-twentieths of our trade is by rail. The great advantage afforded by rail transportation is the readiness and quickness with which goods can be distributed. All we have to do is to ship goods by rail on a through bill of lading to a remote point. They may pass over three or four different railroads, but the railroad companies attend to transshipment from the line of one company to that of another.
"Insurance is a thing that bears heavily against water shipments. Merchants will buy goods from points where they will reach them quickest. Take, for instance, Corsicana, Texas. The all-rail rate from St. Louis is $1.25 to $1.50 per one hundred pounds, and from New York by Morgan line it is but fifty to seventy-five cents per one hundred pounds; still, on account of the quicker transportation, the merchants buy most of their goods in St. Louis, and ship by rail. In our trade east of this point we find a very sharp competition from Chicago, but we do not meet much competition from Chicago in Missouri south of this point, or in the Indian Territory, Arkansas, or Texas. All that we regard as especially our territory.
"Throughout the States south of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi River, viz.: Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana, and some little in North Carolina, we meet the competition of Louisville and Cincinnati merchants, and also a very vigorous competition from New York. Our best trade may be said to be in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas."
The foregoing statement in regard to the range of the business of a single house, both in its territorial extent and in the degree to which its management involves the exercise of executive and administrative ability, affords a striking illustration of the manner in which the wholesale or jobbing trade is carried on at the present time. In the range of its activities and in the methods employed, the commerce of the present day is widely at variance with all ideas of trade which prevailed even thirty years ago. At all the points where purchases are made by the business house above referred to, purchases are also made by merchants doing business in a hundred rival towns and cities. Throughout almost the entire area in which the sales of this business house are made, competition is also met from business houses in Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and many other towns of lesser magnitude.
St. Louis competes with Louisville and other cities in the manufacture of tobacco, selling all the Missouri product. In the sale of dry-goods, clothing, and groceries, she competes, on their own territory, with Galveston, New Orleans, Mobile, Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Chicago; New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore sometimes invading her territory. In the distribution of corn whiskey, as well as in its manufacture, she competes with Cincinnati and Louisville, Indianapolis and Peoria. In the manufacture and distribution of malt liquors, St. Louis controls the whole Southern and Western trade, in conjunction with Cincinnati and Milwaukee. The drug trade of the lower Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, etc., is controlled by St. Louis. In wood and willow-ware, St. Louis has all the South and West, even Tennessee. One house in this city is known to be the largest distributing house in the United States. In queensware, St. Louis supplies the Southwest. In stoves its only rivals are Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
It is thus apparent that St. Louis has a productive commerce as well as a distributive one. This is greatly in her favor, as the productive trade is more profitable as well as more durable and certain. Properly defined, distributive commerce includes all trade which is accompanied by a movement to or from the city, considered of commodities that are neither altered nor produced within its limits. With relation to this form of commerce a city is a point of exchange. Productive commerce includes all trade which exists or arises between a city and its markets as a result of manufacturing or altering commodities within its boundaries. With relation to this form of commerce a city becomes a manufacturing centre.
Now, since the influences which are favorable to the distributive trade of a city form only one set of advantages necessary to make that city a desirable manufacturing centre, and since it is possible that a city may be very desirable as a point of production without having any of the elements to make it a successful point of exchange, it follows that a city may have at least two well-defined areas of trade, one for its productive and the other for its distributive commerce. And it will, therefore, be desirable to learn the position occupied by each of these elements in order to arrive at the commercial situation and prospects of the city under consideration.
In a given area the relations of commerce to avenues of transportation are so intimate and so reciprocal, either capable of acting towards the other as cause or effect, that an understanding of the one not only involves a knowledge of the other, but an intelligent consideration of either is best promoted by making it an exponent of the other, and dividing the former into such areas or epochs as naturally pertain to its correlative.
The history of railroad progress in the territory south of the Ohio River and south of the State of Missouri shows that prior to the latter part of the year 1860 there were no through rail trunk lines running north and south in any part of said territory.
The trunk lines of transportation in this section were water highways, and while the railroad interests of the whole country were rapidly developing during the twenty years previous to that date, yet they had not become the leading commercial highways. Hence in the following remarks on commercial influences we designate the period prior to 1860 as the era of water transportation, or the era of western development.
For a like reason, since the year 1860, as the tendency of railroads in this southern territory has been so largely towards the formation of through trunk lines, both by the construction of missing links and by the consolidation of local roads, and as the movements of commerce since that date have taken place so essentially over railroad highways that water avenues have assumed a secondary position and influence, the period covered by the last twenty years may be commercially termed an era of railway transportation. During the era of western development the commerce of the entire United States followed essentially an east and west movement, and this movement still, as applied to the total commerce of our country, is probably the largest one.
During the era of railroad transportation, most of the changes in the commercial highways of the interior have tended to foster a north and south movement of commerce, and the development of that movement has been so rapid that it promises to become a formidable rival to the ancient monopoly.
It is a universal accompaniment of distributive commerce that as railroads extend facilities for its movement, they are liable at the same time to give like facilities to smaller as well as larger centres. Hence the very instrument which tends to develop a city's distributing powers places the means at the disposal of its tributaries to make of themselves active competitors. In other words, an extension of railway facilities in a country tends to increase the number and decrease or rather equalize the size of distributive centres. This tendency is mostly a subordinate one, but it is not on that account to be lost sight of.
Furthermore, in a distributive commerce avenues of transportation are always the elements of primary importance in marking out its course and defining its limits, while with productive commerce transportation avenues may be secondary considerations.
A town may be a very active distributing centre, and all of the elements of its prosperity appear to be permanent, but every change in its railway outlets and avenues must vitally affect its welfare for better or worse, according to the nature of the change.
Examples of towns almost annihilated by changes in transportation facilities are frequently to be found in the South, because in the South commerce has been almost wholly distributive. The town of Jefferson, Texas, furnishes a notable example. From 1865 to 1870, when she formed the terminus of navigation on Red River, and supplied with merchandise a section through Texas, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory, extending northwest, west, and southwest for two or three hundred miles, she had ten thousand people, and every prospect seemed to promise her lasting prosperity. The Texas and Pacific Railroad with its through connections was formed, passing through the town itself, while already to the west the Houston and Texas Central, with its supplementary connection, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad, had cut off its far western trade, so that to-day Jefferson is a way station, with deserted wharves, and her population of barely two thousand people are selling whole blocks (whose stores used to rent for one hundred and fifty and two hundred dollars per month) for the bare bricks which their walls contain.
It is true, therefore, that centres of distributive commerce are built upon foundations of sand, whilst a city grown great through a productive commerce will always possess a material element of prosperity; also that the trade limits of a distributing centre more nearly correspond with the area whose crops it markets than do such limits of a productive commerce, the latter being almost wholly independent of that area as defining its extent and location.
Again, the distributive commerce of the interior consists most largely of an east and west movement, i. e., exchanges between points east of the western boundary of Pennsylvania and north of Mason and Dixon's line, and points west of the western boundary of Pennsylvania and south of the Ohio River and State of Missouri.
The era of railway transportation has been also one essentially of the building up in the West of manufacturing industries, giving to small towns a commercial significance which makes them important competitors for trade in the South.
A single accompaniment of productive commerce may here be mentioned, which will show how largely the fostering of such commerce adds to the wealth of a city. The figures given are underestimates rather than overestimates, and they embody the principle:
The factor of profit which is thus under proper circumstances capable of converting thirty-five dollars' worth of cast iron into one hundred thousand dollars' worth of watch-springs is LABOR; and it is evident that, if these operations were carried on in a single town, the added wealth which would result to that town from the entering of a single ton of metal into its productive commerce would be many thousand per cent, of the original value of the material. The mere handling of this ton of metal, or the result of its entering into the distributive commerce of the city interested, could hardly under any circumstances amount to twenty-five per cent, of its original value.
And while the above may be, and undoubtedly is, an extreme case, it is nevertheless a possible and an actual case in some localities; and the principle embodied in this single instance is true of by far the largest proportion of manufactured articles, viz.: that the labor entering into their production bears a larger ratio to their value than the actual cost of material.
This is the sort of trade which has made Boston and Philadelphia so rich, and contributes annually such vast sums to the grand resources of Great Britain. It is the sort of trade which St. Louis expects to control when her resources are more fully in play.
In the mean time, the actual movements of produce and merchandise at St. Louis, as distinguished from the possible and prospective, have been as follows, taking the census year for convenience of comparison:
In addition to the receipts of 1880 by upper Mississippi River by boats, there was received 198,315 tons of lumber, logs, and shingles by rafts.
In addition to the receipts of 1881 by upper Mississippi River by boats, there was received 356,020 tons of lumber, logs, and shingles by rafts.
In addition to the receipts of 1882 by upper Mississippi River by boats, there was received 271,490 tons of lumber, logs, and shingles by rafts.
The total tonnage of freights received at and shipped from St. Louis each year from 1871 to 1880, inclusive, is indicated in the following table:
But St. Louis is not content with these results, gigantic as they are, and rapid as has been the growth and development of the trade of which they are the indices. Dr. Samuel Johnson, when he was witnessing the sale of the plant and effects of Thrale's brewery, was asked what he could find in such a scene to interest him. "I see all around me, sir," he answered, "the potentiality of great riches." That is what St. Louis beholds in her exceptionally great resources and favorable site, and her people will never rest while these things, possessions and promises, remain undeveloped and unutilized.
All the cotton received at St. Louis, no matter what its destination, and no matter how consigned, breaks bulk there, is handled, compressed, and re-shipped. Thus St. Louis makes some profit out of every bale received. Before Chicago, by means of her railroad, lake, and canal facilities, secured the lion's share of the east-bound carrying trade in breadstuffs and provisions, and so had her fortune made, every pound of Western produce and Western merchandise, destined no matter where, up the river or down, broke bulk at St. Louis, and that city made a profit in it. This trade, this control of trade, St. Louis seeks once more to restore by renewing the supremacy of what was its source and medium, the Mississippi River.
This is not a dream. It is not one of Governor Allen's "barren idealities." On the contrary, it is a legitimate trade expectation, which may be realized at almost any moment. St. Louis had this control of trade once through superior facilities and unrivaled cheapness of transportation. The same facilities exist now in a much greater degree, and the cheapness also. The opportunity to make full use of them has not quite arrived, on account of various causes and obstructions.
But in the mean time certain facts stand out in alto relievo, and none of the commercial rivals and competitors of St. Louis can deny them.
1st. Chicago and New York dread the completion of the Welland Canal, because by that route grain from the former city can be delivered in Liverpool via the Strait of Belle Isle at rates with which New York cannot compete. In other words, Chicago, to maintain her grain trade, must transfer it from New York to Montreal.
2d. But that route is closed five months in every year by ice.
3d. St. Louis is not afraid of the competition of Montreal and the Welland Canal, because she can deliver grain in Liverpool cheaper by the Mississippi River route than it can possibly be delivered by any other route. This has been proved, and will be
demonstrated again still more conclusively. At present all that need be shown in this connection is results, accomplished facts.
Mr. Joseph Nimmo, Jr., in his notable report of 1881 on the internal commerce of the country, says that
"The regulating influence of the interior water lines is limited and conditioned by the fact that it is operative with respect to the internal commerce of the country mainly through the great interior markets, and notably those of Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis, Peoria, Toledo, Detroit, Louisville, and Cincinnati. This results from the fact that the movements of commerce are directed by the trade forces rather than by the transportation forces of the country. In the transportation of the surplus products of the Western and Northwestern States to the seaboard and to foreign countries, the regulating influence of the Mississippi River is rendered effective mainly through the markets of St. Louis, and the regulating influence of the northern water line is rendered effective mainly through the markets of Milwaukee and Chicago, but also to a considerable extent through the markets of Duluth, Detroit, and Toledo.
"The competition of commercial forces exerts an important influence in determining the relative magnitude of the various trade currents of the country. The constituent elements of the trade forces of cities are, first, a large community of intelligent and enterprising merchants having an extensive knowledge of commercial affairs; and, second, the requisite capital in the hands of these men available in the pursuits of trade. These forces at Chicago, at Milwaukee, at St. Louis, and at other commercial cities of the interior arrest the surplus products of the West in their eastward or southward movement, such products usually reaching those cities by rail. At these points the option is first presented of transportation by water or by rail. A thousand trains a day may pass through towns situated on the lakes or on the rivers where these agencies and facilities for carrying on a large commerce do not exist, and yet the water lines will exercise no perceptible influence over the rates charged on the railroads. This is strikingly illustrated in the case of the railroads which cross the Mississippi River over bridges at thirteen different points between St. Paul and St. Louis. The river rates exert no marked influence over the rail rates from the fact that at very few of those points is there the controlling influence of a market for Western products with its constituent elements, viz., a body of men educated in the mercantile profession and controlling the requisite amount of capital actually employed in trade or invested in warehouses and other instrumentalities for the successful prosecution of trade. The railroads are not at those points, in a commercial sense, tributary to the river, but, on the other hand, to the extent to which the river towns are local markets for the purchase of surplus products of the trans-Mississippi States, the river becomes tributary to the railroads.
"It is only at Chicago, Milwaukee, and a few other lake ports, and at St. Louis that direct competition between rail and water transportation presents itself to any considerable extent, in so far as relates to the regulating influence exerted by the two great water lines over the rates which may be charged on railroads. The extent to which the regulating influence of the two great interior water lines is rendered operative through the principal primary grain markets of the country is illustrated by the fact that of the total eastern and southern movement of grain, amounting during the year 1880 to 400,000,000 bushels, about 320,000,000 bushels, or 80 per cent., was marketed at the seven primary markets of the West, viz., Milwaukee, Chicago, Duluth, St. Louis, Peoria, Toledo, and Detroit; and that only about 80,000,000 bushels were shipped direct from the Western and Northwestern States to the Atlantic seaboard.
"Of the total grain receipts at St. Louis during the year 1880, amounting to 47,697,066 bushels, 40,121,783 bushels, or 84 per cent., was received by railroads, and only 7,575,283 bushels, or 16 per cent., by river; and of the total grain receipts at Chicago during the year 1880, amounting to 165,855,370 bushels, it appears that 159,129,984 bushels, or 96 per cent., was received by railroads, and that 6,725,386 bushels, or only 4 per cent., was received by lake and the Illinois Canal.
"About 90 per cent, of the grain, 85 per cent, of the provisions, and 8 per cent, of the cattle which reached Chicago during the year 1880 were actually marketed at that point; and of the shipment of those commodities from Chicago, 61 per cent, of the flour and grain and only 10 per cent, of the provisions were shipped by lake. No live-stock was shipped by lake.
"About 95 per cent. of the grain, 97½ per cent. of the provisions, and all of the live-stock which reached St. Louis during the year 1880 were actually marketed at that point; and of the shipments of those commodities from that city, 49 per cent. of the flour and grain, 38 per cent. of the provisions, and 1.28 per cent, of the cattle were shipped by river.
"The foregoing facts indicate that almost the entire work of gathering up the surplus products of the Western and Northwestern States is done by railroads, and that the option of transportation by water or by rail is almost entirely confined to shipments from Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis.
"The following table serves to illustrate the comparative magnitude of the grain traffic of St. Louis which is diverted to the Mississippi River from the railroads extending east from that city:
Shipments of grain and flour during the year 1880 at
Mr. Nimmo adds that,
"From the time of the first settlement of St. Louis until about the year 1855, that city was entirely dependent upon the Mississippi River and its navigable tributaries for the means of transportation. During that period it had no competitor for the trade of the States and Territories west of the Mississippi River. A large part of the States of Illinois and Wisconsin was also embraced within the area of the commercial supremacy of St. Louis. But during the last twenty-five years a great change has taken place in the conditions governing the commercial situation and relations of that city, as the result of the extension westward of the railroad system of the country. By means of this extension of railroads all the Western and Northwestern States and Territories have been brought into intimate commercial relationships with the lake ports, with the Atlantic seaports, and with hundreds of interior manufacturing and trading points throughout the States both east and west of the Allegheny Mountains. This development of traffic over the east and west trunk railroads is unparalleled in the history of commerce.
"For several years the traffic passing over each one of the thirteen railroad bridges across the Mississippi River between St. Paul and St. Louis has greatly exceeded in magnitude and in value the traffic upon the river beneath them. Through these facilities of transportation tributary to Chicago and other lake ports, and also to Atlantic seaports, St. Louis was for several years practically cut off, even from the trade of important surplus grain and provision producing areas nearer to her markets than to those of the lake ports. It was clearly foreseen, therefore, that the growth of St. Louis, as a market for the purchase of grain and other products of the Western and Northwestern States, was dependent upon the securing of direct and independent railroad connections with all parts of those States; for since railroads had become the chief instrument of transportation in the gathering up of these products, it was evident that only a very small proportion of such products could find their way to the St. Louis markets by river. Such facilities for transportation by rail have within the last ten years been secured, a fact clearly developed by the statistics showing the rapid growth of the commerce of that city.
"The merchants of St. Louis, and her citizens generally, never lost faith in the possibility of developing a large commerce by river via New Orleans, especially in the exportation to foreign countries of the surplus products of the Western and Northwestern States. It has always been believed that the river route not only afforded a cheaper avenue of transportation for such traffic than the east and west trunk railroad lines, but that the increase of traffic upon the river would so much reduce the cost of transportation as greatly to increase the regulating influence exerted by the river rates over rail rates. Results already attained seem to prove the correctness of this view."
In regard to the transportation facts upon which some of these great expectations have been founded, we have the following:
"ST. LOUIS AND
"DEAR SIR, As requested in your note of 24th instant, I make reply to the two inquiries propounded by Mr. Nimmo, of the Bureau of Statistics (in letter of January 20th), as follows:
"2d. I say without hesitation, that with a rate of five cents per bushel on grain from St. Louis to New Orleans via river, there being at the same time an average difference of four cents in ocean freights against New Orleans as compared with the North Atlantic ports, there would be a most decided diversion of grain in the direction of New Orleans.
"Let me add, however, that in the uncertain condition of the river (as regards depth of water) during the period of navigation, the lowness of the rate of five cents per bushel cannot always be depended on, but with the depth of water which the contemplated improvements between Cairo and St. Louis will undoubtedly give, the time is not far distant when the rate named, five cents per bushel, may be continuously counted on.
"Very truly yours, H. LOUREY, President.
"GEORGE H. MORGAN, ESQ., "Secretary Merchants' Exchange."
"St. Louis, Mo., Jan. 26, 1881.
"DEAR SIR, Referring to letter to you from chief of Bureau of Statistics, dated Washington, D. C., Jan. 20, 1881, which letter you refer to me, I give it as my opinion that a tariff of 15 cents per 100 pounds on grain from St. Louis to the Atlantic seaboard could not be maintained by railway without loss to the companies carrying at such rate.
"The cost per ton per mile for movement of freight over the Pennsylvania Railroad and its connecting lines in the year 1879 was as follows, viz.: Over the Pennsylvania Railroad proper, 4.27 mills per ton per mile; over the New Jersey Division, 1.012 cents per ton per mile; over its lines west of Pittsburgh, 4.48 mills per ton per mile. Taking the average distances on the different divisions gives 4.89 mills per ton per mile, or $5.20 per ton, or 26 cents per 100 pounds from East St. Louis to New York, reckoning by the shortest route, say 1063 miles.
"These figures, I am sure, are lower than the cost per mile of any other line between St. Louis and the seaboard, saying nothing about the longer distance to New York or Philadelphia by every other line. It is evident, therefore, that if it costs 26 cents per 100 pounds to transport property any given distance, a tariff of 15 cents for the same distance would be a losing one, as Bardwell Slote would say, ‘by a large majority;’ or if it costs 4.89 mills to transport one ton one mile, a tariff of 2.8 mills will be a losing one.
"As to the other question, viz., whether a tariff by river of five cents per bushel, St. Louis to New Orleans, and an average difference of four cents in ocean rates against New Orleans, any tariff above 15 cents per 100 pounds from St. Louis to the Atlantic cities will turn grain in the direction of New Orleans, I do not feel competent to answer. I should say, all other things being equal, it would. If the same time can be made or nearly so, the same regularity in delivery be guaranteed, the condition of grain on delivery be as absolutely depended upon, and the facilities for handling, transferring, etc., be equally good by river as by rail, I do not see why, at a greatly reduced tariff, the river should not command the business.
These facts were first fully brought to the front in 1872 by the investigations of the Senate Committee on Transportation Routes to the Seaboard, of which Senator (afterwards Secretary) Windom was chairman. It was shown to this committee that, with a properly regulated and normal commerce, it was simply impossible for railroads, or a combination of lakes, canals, and railroads, to compete in cheap transportation with the Mississippi River and the ocean navigation from its mouth. It was shown that the actual cost of moving a bushel of wheat from St. Louis to New Orleans, twelve hundred and fifty miles, was only five and a quarter mills, .00525 of one cent.
It was also shown that in the final analysis freights by rail could never compete with water-borne freights. The following tables illustrate this conclusively. Rates vary and have changed materially, but ratios remain the same, or very nearly the same:
If the cost of transportation be thus proportioned, 17.90 by rail to 2.26 by river and 1.26 by ocean, she is confident that she controls the lowest rates by the surest routes. With a perfected barge system, the forwarding of the Mississippi River improvements, and the construction of the Florida ship canal, the great trade centre on the Father of Waters will return to its old-time supremacy in transportation and deliver grain and other produce in Liverpool five cents per bushel, forty cents per quarter, cheaper than it can be done from any other centre of distribution.
The consequence will be all grain and provisions will go to St. Louis for shipment. But another effect will be that the United States will succeed in driving all other competitors out of the grain and provision markets, and our sales on foreign account will be enhanced to that extent. Already, as the following table shows, we supply Great Britain with 65.4 per cent. of her total purchases of wheat and flour, against only 3.4 per cent, in 1866. With this new channel of trade adequately developed, we will supply the remaining 34.6 per cent., and all that will be an increment of the trade of St. Louis:
We are free to admit that there are serious drawbacks to the immediate realization of all these pleasant prospects, but none of them seem to belong to the class of any but the preventable diseases. Prudence, forethought, wise management in respect of legislation, economy of resources, careful selection of representatives, and liberal expenditure when great ends are to be accomplished will bring to pass every desirable result for a city possessing already such incomparable resources. But it will be wisest to consider these drawbacks and obstructions first, as the presentation of them may suggest the remedies which should be applied. The construction of the Eads jetties has already taken away one of these hindrances to commerce. The cutting of the Florida ship canal and the construction of the Tehuantepec ship canal or railway will remove others. The benefits derived from the jetties are very conspicuous. It was difficult to get sixteen feet of water on the bar in any of the passes in the mouth of the Mississippi. Now there is twenty-six feet regularly maintained. The charge for towage has in consequence been reduced from a dollar and a half per ton to one-third that figure, and there is a material reduction on account of insurance.
But there are other hindrances and obstructions not yet removed. The ice is often troublesome, not below Cairo, but between that city and St. Louis. The interruption to navigation from this cause, which at Chicago gives the railroads a monopoly of traffic for a hundred and forty days in each year, occurs nearly every winter. During the last seventeen years navigation has been suspended at St. Louis on account of ice as follows:
During the winters of 1868-69, 1873-74, 1875-76, and 1877-78, the river was open, and navigation was not suspended.
The navigation of the Mississippi River is at times affected also by low water, especially in that part of the river between St. Louis and Cairo. The enjoyment to the full extent of the advantages afforded by the Mississippi River requires the employment of steamboats and barges of large size and drawing when loaded about eight feet of water. At times, however, the river falls so as to admit only of the employment of boats and barges loaded to draw not more than four feet. This greatly increases the cost of transportation. The actual cost of transportation in vessels drawing only four feet is said to be nearly twice as great as when loaded to eight feet.
This subject was carefully considered by a select Committee of the Senate on Transportation Routes to the Seaboard in their report submitted April 24, 1874.
It was found that during the nine years from 1865 to 1873 the condition of river navigation below the city of St. Louis was as follows:
It appears from the foregoing table that during nearly one-half of the year the commerce of St. Louis was more or less affected by low water.
The average stage of the river below St. Louis during the years from 1874 to 1880, inclusive, was as follows:
The interruption to the navigation of the Mississippi River at St. Louis on account of ice and low water is of course detrimental to commerce. The average annual duration of the efficient commercial usefulness of the Mississippi River is, however, considerably greater than is that of the northern water line. The average time during which navigation is suspended by ice each year on the Erie Canal and on the Canadian canal is about five months. The average time each year during which navigation has been entirely suspended on the Mississippi River at St. Louis in consequence of ice during the last ten seasons was only thirty-five days, and the average time each year during which steamboats and barges could
not be loaded to eight feet, in consequence of ice and low water, during the seven years from 1874 to 1880, inclusive, was only about one hundred and twenty-six days, or about three and one-fifth mouths.
The suspension of navigation at St. Louis does not, however, at any time cause an entire suspension of the river traffic, as during such periods shipments are made by rail from St. Louis to Cairo, Ill., and to Belmont, Mo., at which points merchandise is transshipped to steamers and to barges. Navigation is seldom, if ever, obstructed below Cairo or Belmont, either on account of ice or low water.
The supposed injury to grain from the heat and humidity of the tropical belt between New Orleans and the Florida capes has been proved to be a fallacy, and prices are not affected by it. But the existence of yellow fever more or less nearly every season in the lower Mississippi is an admitted hindrance.
Improvements in sanitary measures and precautions are necessary to remove these obstructions. They are necessary equally to the commercial existence of the towns and cities which are exposed to these assaults of pestilence, and within two years very great improvements have been effected, especially in sewerage and drainage, at New Orleans and Memphis. Much still remains to be done, of course, but a good beginning has been made, and the work will go on.
The improvement of the Mississippi River has also been undertaken upon an expensive and comprehensive system, which, when it is completed, is expected to make this noble river safely and easily navigable at nearly all seasons. If that should be accomplished, it is hoped that a reciprocity treaty with Mexico, and an equitable trade treaty with Spain, in respect of our commodities in the ports of Cuba and Porto Rico, will give St. Louis, through her combinations of railroads and water routes, a most extensive and valuable trade in tropical products. Hon. W. M. Burwell, of New Orleans, in a communication made to the Windom Congressional Committee on Transportation Routes in 1873, said,
"The subject upon which I am specially requested to report is in regard to the state of commerce between the valley of the Mississippi and the Spanish-American States. There are many of us who believe that the trade lines of latitude cross above us, and that a very large proportion of the western productions will move directly to Atlantic ports for exportation, as they will and have received the foreign importations through the same ports. I would say that in the estimation of many in this city, merchants and others, the most important object of improving the Mississippi River will be to establish a direct line of communication between the immense productive interior of the West and the consuming markets of and beyond the tropics. There is a physical impediment in the way which we ask Congress to remove; but there are diplomatic impediments also, which are even greater, as far as that line of trade is concerned, than the physical impediments to which I referred. The diplomatic impediments consist in the want of reciprocal trade-treaties between the United States and the Spanish-American States that are adjacent to or lie south of us. Gentlemen know and especially members of the Senate of the United States, better than we do, the precise state of the treaties between the United States and the Spanish-American powers, and they will remember that, with the exception of a few special conventions, there have been scarcely any changes made in the treaty relations of those two great interests since almost the origin of the government. Almost all our trade-treaties, as I understand, are based on the phrase of ‘the most favored nations;’ and while such are the terms of our commercial treaties with Spain, and while it is true that we can carry American provisions or American manufactures into Spanish possessions on the same terms with any other power, yet when the fact is that we are the only people producing corn and grain and hog products, that we do send to the Spanish-American possessions, it is perfectly plain that that which is a tax on the trade of the most favored nations is practically an oppressive tax upon the trade of the United States. The Spanish tax in Cuba is 40 cents on the bushel of corn, which is altogether equivalent to the entire cost of transportation from Iowa to New York. The tax there is $55 on an American horse, $19 on a mule, $8 on a barrel of flour, and 3½ cents on lard; and it is plain that a tax of 80 per cent., which is the average upon the products almost exclusively marketed by Americans, is an excessive tax when contrasted with the American tax upon the products of Cuba. We, as I understand, only tax two of the principal products of Cuba. We admit her coffee duty free, and we impose a tax of something upwards of two cents on sugar, and a tax of some 75 per cent. on tobacco manufactured and not manufactured."
Ex-President Grant has some very "advanced" and decided views upon this subject, and it is believed that, with a reciprocity treaty with Mexico and the navigation of the Mississippi properly improved, St. Louis could control the entire grocery trade of the Mississippi valley, and refine all the sugar consumed by thirty million people. The vessels taking corn, cotton, and grain and provisions to Europe could return via Trinidad and the Caribbean Sea, picking up cargoes of raw sugar on their way around the Gulf, and thus freight would be saved on both outward and inward cargoes. These countries, together with South America, have a commerce the total annual value of which exceeds eight hundred million dollars.
But it is imperative to improve the channel of the river before this commerce can be invited in. The general plan of the improvements which are now in process was succinctly sketched in a letter from Col. J. H. Simpson, United States engineer, to Hon. E. O. Stanard, of the Union Merchants' Exchange, St. Louis, on Oct. 29, 1873.
But a much more comprehensive plan is under consideration, involving the expenditure, probably, of more than a hundred millions before the improvements
are completed for the whole river upon a scale commensurate with the commerce involved.
"No adequate estimate can be formed of the value of the commerce on the Mississippi River, nor of the value of the total commerce of the towns situated upon it. An idea of the magnitude of this commerce may, however, be formed when it is considered that the value of the commerce of the cities and towns on the Ohio River amounted to the enormous sum of one billion six hundred and twenty-three million dollars in 1873. The national government has provided no means of arriving at a knowledge of such important facts as this in regard to the internal commerce of the country. The collection of the necessary data from private sources, and from data prepared by boards of trade, State and city governments, would alone require the constant labor of one person for a year.
"Not only has the commerce of the Mississippi River been crippled by the existence of the bar at its mouth, but the value of the river above is greatly depreciated by obstructions which may be overcome very readily by engineering skill, and at an expense quite insignificant in comparison either with the present value of its commerce, or with the increase of trade which may be expected as the natural result of such improvements. Hitherto the improvement of the Mississippi has been carried on merely by sporadic efforts. Appropriations have from time to time been made and money expended, without any general plan as to the ultimate results which were to be attained. The committee recommend that the necessary surveys and estimates be made at the earliest practicable moment, in order to mature a plan for the radical improvement of the river, and of all its navigable tributaries.
"Such a plan should comprehend the establishment of a given depth of water on the Mississippi River in some such manner as the following:
"1st. Improvements designed to secure a depth of from eight to ten feet from St. Louis to New Orleans at the lowest stages of the river.
"2d. Improvements designed to secure a depth of five feet at the lowest stages between St. Louis and St. Paul.
"3d. Improvements designed to secure a depth of four and one-half feet in the river above St. Anthony's Falls.
"Having adopted a plan of this kind for the radical improvement of the river, all works should be carried out with this general object in view.
"It is much more practicable to establish such a plan now than it was a few years ago, for the reasons that the successes and failures of past efforts have enabled engineers to discover the nature of the difficulties which will be met, and to adopt the best methods of improvement. Diverse opinions still exist among some of our ablest engineers as to the best means to be adopted in specific cases, but it is believed that sufficient practical knowledge has already been gained to determine a general plan of future operations, both in regard to the Mississippi River and its principal navigable tributaries. The time has arrived for thorough measures, and the necessary plans and estimates upon which such measures must be based should be prepared at once.
"It is impossible to overestimate the commercial results likely to follow such improvements. With the well-established facts before us in regard to the much greater cheapness of transport by navigable rivers than by railways, it cannot be doubted that such improvements would increase the commerce of the Mississippi very greatly, and at the same time afford relief to a large area in the Western States now fettered in its growth and prosperity by the cost of transporting agricultural products to both home and foreign markets." 
Such is the noble perspective of the aspirations of St. Louis for the commerce of the future: the centre of a valley of magnificent, continental proportions, gathering up the products of hundreds of millions of intelligent people, cultivating the soil of the most fertile of regions, supplying the world with their products, and supplying the producers in return with all the merchandise which enters into their consumption. These hundreds of millions of people will be brain-workers and machine-workers, and the volume of their products will be stimulated and augmented in proportion to the grand culmination of their intelligence, until human force will find itself the conductor of a grand and perfected mechanism of subsidiary forces such as the world never before saw at play.
Confidence of the Citizens of St. Louis in the Natural Advantages and Future Destiny of their City. We may now proceed to consider how and how greatly the several constituents of a great and permanent volume of trade, production, conversion, and exchange have each in their turn, by the force of natural and acquired advantages, contributed to make St. Louis a trade centre. It is first to be noted, however, that from the very beginning the people of St. Louis have been conscious of its transcendent natural advantages and confident of its destinies as the trade centre of the America of the future. This has been the case from the time of Henry M. Brackenridge's first remarkable horoscope of the infant town's destiny down to the day of the abortive "convention" to make St. Louis the capital of the United States. 
We could produce, if it were necessary and we had the space, a long chain of testimony from the earliest period down to the present day to show how confident the thinking people of St. Louis have always been in the city's future and its destinies. This has made them calm even to the appearance of apathy, equally in times of high tide and times of low, when prosperity was at its flush and when evil fortune and disaster were being drained down to the very dregs. They have never been in a fever nor in a collapse, because they have always felt secure. A few examples,
taken hap-hazard, will suffice to illustrate this equanimity and this unvarying confidence in their own resources.
From the Missouri Gazette, June 20, 1811:
"We are happy to find that a spirit of enterprise and industry is every day manifesting itself among the people of this Territory. They begin to be convinced that the peltry and fur trade is diminishing in value, and that it is necessary to give up in part the old staple, and turn their attention to the more important one of lead. During the last two weeks several boats have left this place in order to enlarge the mineral establishments made many years ago by Julien Dubuque at a place called the ‘Spanish Mines,’ on the Mississippi.
"The present adventurers have become the purchasers of a part of these mines under an order of the General Court of this Territory, and have taken with them near one hundred hands, provided with all the implements necessary for mining and carrying on the lead business."
The same, March 1, 1809:
"The culture of hemp has occupied the attention of our farmers, and a rope-walk will shortly be erected in this town. Thus we have commenced the manufacturing of such articles as will attract thousands of dollars to our Territory; thus we will progress in freeing John Bull or Jack Ass of the trouble of manufacturing for us."
The same, July 17, 1813:
"In despite of the savages, Indians and British, this country is progressing in improvements. A red and white lead manufactory has been established in this place by a citizen of Philadelphia by the name of Hartshog. This enterprising citizen has caused extensive works to be erected, to which he has added a handsome brick house in our principal street for retailing merchandise. We understand that his agents here have already sent several thousand dollars' worth of manufactured lead to the Atlantic States."
In 1816 a bank was found to be necessary. The citizens at once subscribed the stock and started one. It fell soon into financial straits. The citizens renewed its capital, doubled it, and started another bank with three times as much capital. The confidence with which J. B. C. Lucas and Auguste Chouteau kept themselves poor, almost penniless, by investing all their money in lands and never selling was matched by the composure of Manuel Lisa in risking all the profits of his fur-trade adventure in a waterfront merchant's mill, an experiment as yet untried. We have elsewhere quoted from Paxton's first St. Louis directory, 1821. In concluding his summary of beings and havings Paxton said, "St. Louis has grown very rapidly. There is not, however, so much improvement going on at this time, owing to the check caused by the general and universal pressure that pervades the country. This state of things can only be temporary here, for it possesses such permanent advantages from its local and geographical situation that it must ere some distant day become a place of great importance, being more central with regard to the whole territory of the United States than any other considerable town, and uniting the advantage of the three great rivers, Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois, of the trade of which it is the emporium." In 1831 the press said the same thing. The city was growing rapidly. Fine, substantial houses were being built. The arts and useful manufactures were multiplying and improving; "mills, breweries, mechanical establishments, all seem to be advancing successfully for the good of the country, and, we hope, for the great profit of our enterprising and industrious fellow-citizens. The trade and navigation of this port are becoming immense. Steamboats are daily arriving and departing from east, west, north, and south, and as this place has decided advantages over all the ports on the Ohio River for laying up and repairing, we have no doubt that in a few years the building and repairing of steam-engines and boats will become one of the most important branches of St. Louis business. We have all the materials, wood and metal, in abundance and of the best quality. Already we have a foundry, which, it is hoped, will soon rival the best in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, and many skilled and enterprising mechanics. A bright prospect is before us, and we look confidently to the day, and that a not distant one, when no town on the western waters will rank above St. Louis for industry, wealth, and enterprise." In 1835 again: "The prosperity of our city is laid broad and deep. Much as we repudiate the lavish praises which teem from the press, and little as we have heretofore said, we cannot suffer the occasion to pass without a few remarks on the changes which are going on around us. A tract of land was purchased by a gentleman now living, as we have understood, for two barrels of whiskey, which is now worth half a million of dollars. No one who consults the map can fail to perceive the foresight which induced the selection of the site on which the city is founded. She already commands the trade of a larger section of territory, with a few exceptions, than any other city in the Union. With a steamboat navigation more than equal to the whole Atlantic seaboard, with internal improvements projected and in progress, with thousands of immigrants spreading their habitations over the fertile plains which everywhere meet the eye, who can deny that we are fast verging to the time when it will be admitted that this city is the ‘Lion of the West’"
In 1839, Rev. Dr. Humphrey wrote some "Letters by the Way," in one of which we find St. Louis described and its future once more prognosticated. Says the learned divine,
"St. Louis is larger than I had supposed, and appears to be advancing more rapidly than any other town that I have seen in the West. The city proper now contains about fifteen thousand inhabitants, and there are nearly as many more without the limits in the immediate neighborhood. Many hundreds of houses were built last year, notwithstanding the pressure of the times, and many more are going up this year. Rents are enormously high, higher than in any eastern city, not excepting New York itself, and I believe higher than anywhere else on the continent of America. For a handsome two-story brick house, with one parlor in front, you would have to pay seven or eight hundred dollars per annum. St. Louis must, from its position, become a very large commercial city, and there is no prospect that any other town on the Mississippi above New Orleans will be able to compete with it. Already the landing, covered with iron and lead and all kinds of heavy goods, reminds you of one of the front streets of New York or Philadelphia. But why don't they build wharves here?
"In the lower and much the oldest part of the town, where the French chiefly reside, the streets are narrow and filthy. The buildings are for the most part small, and constructed with the least possible regard either to elegance or comfort. Hogs and dogs seemed, the morning I passed through it, to have undisputed possession of the ground, and the latter had many a comfortable wallowing-place in front of the houses.
"St. Louis," says the reverend doctor, "like most of our young and rising towns, especially where there are oceans of territory, is without any public parks or promenades. A vacant square, however, was pointed out to me, in the heart of the city, which may be had at a fair price, though it will now cost much more that it was offered for two years ago. Surely nothing should prevent the corporation from purchasing it. Let it be handsomely laid out in graveled walks, and planted with shade-trees and shrubbery, and it would be worth more to St. Louis than if it were all covered over with gold. But even this would be inadequate to the rapid extension and growing wants of the place. It is a bad maxim, ‘Let posterity take care of themselves.’ Now is the time to secure fifty or a hundred acres for a grand park, as a place of common resort for relaxation, health, and pleasure. This might now be done within two miles of the heart of the city for a small sum. In riding out with a friend I saw three or four fine locations, covered with a thrifty growth of young trees, offering the city the strongest inducements to be beforehand with private purchasers. It would not be necessary to lay out a dollar in preparing and ornamenting the grounds for the present. But I repeat it, at the hazard of being set down as an enthusiast in matters of this sort, the purchase ought forthwith be made, and whatever the present generation of utilitarians may think, I pledge the little credit I have for forecast that a hundred years hence St. Louis will be prouder of her great park than of any thing else she will have to boast of."
What would the learned gentleman say to-day if he could visit St. Louis, and learn that the city has well-nigh on to an acre of park for each head of a family? Dr. Humphrey adds,
"As a proof of the rapid increase of business and population in St. Louis, I may mention that one of the largest hotels I have ever seen is now going up. It appears to me to be quite as large as the Astor House in New York, and although it will cost a very large sum, I believe everybody regards it as a good investment. Certainly such a ‘strangers' home’ in this great thoroughfare of western travel will be highly appreciated by thousands. But where is St. Louis, in the west or the east or somewhere near the centre of the United States? I confess I do not know. But my impression is that, making an allowance of one or two thousand miles, which cannot be of much consequence one way or the other, St. Louis will be found somewhere in the great West.
"Let St. Louis go on and lay all her foundations broad and deep. She has most unquestionably a high destiny before her, and who can tell how much the present generation may do in making it?"
In 1846 the St. Louis Prices Current thus estimated the general progress of the community:
"St. Louis seems to continue to be a favorite point for the location of the merchant, the tradesman, and others who, having left the home of their fathers, resolve to settle at some point in the ‘Great West,’ if we may judge from the great influx of inhabitants which pour into it and fix their residence here from year to year. The official statistics, in part reported to the City Council during the past year, warrant us in saying that the number of houses, factories, etc., which have been erected during the past year within the corporate limits is not less than seventeen hundred, and that its population has augmented full four thousand. We estimate its present population to exceed forty thousand, and augmenting with a rapidity unexampled in the annals of any city either east or west; and its trade and commerce keep pace with its influx of population, as will be shown by some few statistics annexed.
"The assumed value of real estate the past year is more than thirteen million dollars, being an increase over the value in 1830 of more than twelve millions; and the current city revenue of 1845 is estimated, per official data, at two hundred and twenty-seven thousand dollars, twenty thousand of which are received from our steamboat tonnage, and seventeen thousand from water revenues. These are some data on which the reflecting mind may estimate our progress and prosperity.
"During the past year the mercantile and trading interests have had no cause to complain. The merchant has found ready sale for his goods, the tradesman and mechanic have been fully employed, and the laboring classes who were not indisposed to work have had the opportunity to lay up ample stores to serve them during the inclement season now upon us. Our city has enjoyed during the past year its usual health, and while we acknowledge our dependence upon the Author of all our blessings, we should not be unmindful of the debt of gratitude we owe to Him from whom cometh every blessing."
In 1848 it was said that "the natural advantages of St. Louis, in a commercial and manufacturing point of view, are greater than those of any city in the West; and it is only necessary for the general government to pursue a liberal and equitable course towards her, and for her citizens to strengthen these advantages by their enterprise and public spirit, to make her (and that, too, in a very short time) the largest and most important inland city in the Union. Her immense resources are being daily developed and turned to advantage; her population and business are increasing beyond a precedent in the history of this country; her wealth and prosperity are exciting wonder and admiration, and commanding respect and attention from every portion of the United States, and wherever else her commerce and name has extended. Situated as she is, on the great Mississippi, in the centre of a fertile and healthy region of country, with the waters of four navigable streams sweeping her shores, and bearing the mineral and agricultural products of four large and populous States, which must necessarily pass through the hands of her merchants, in direct communication with all the important towns and cities in the West, enjoying also manufacturing facilities of the highest order, and holding in her natural grasp the commercial operations of several millions
of people, these are resources of which but few cities in the Union, or perhaps in the world, can boast.
"Our city is rapidly improving in wealth and importance, even beyond the expectations of the most sanguine. Manufactories and machine-shops are daily springing up in our midst, and many articles hitherto imported for domestic purposes have now become important items of export. The value and quantity of manufactured articles annually imported from the Ohio are rapidly diminishing, and we look forward with a great degree of certainty to the time, and that at no very distant day, when St. Louis will not only prove the great commercial emporium of the Mississippi valley, but also the machine-shop of the entire West. Her facilities for the manufacture of many imported articles are even now greater than the cities from whence they come, and it is only necessary for our manufacturing resources to be properly developed to bring capitalists and mechanics hither, where their money and labor can be employed with certainty and profit.
"In 1840, with the exception of several flouring and sawmills of inconsiderable note, we were entirely destitute of manufactories, and even at a later date our establishments in this respect were scarcely worthy of attention. Since, however, cotton, woolen, soap, candle, starch, and various other manufactories have sprung into existence, and are now driving a lucrative and extensive business, to say nothing of the foundries (about eighteen in number), flouring-mills, machine-shops, etc., with which the city abounds. Our population in 1830 was estimated at six thousand six hundred and ninety-four, in 1840 at sixteen thousand four hundred and sixty-nine, and by the late State census at fifty-six thousand, showing that it has more than trebled in eight years."
In 1849, the year of cholera and fire and financial depression, the voice of trade was as follows:
"We have repeatedly spoken of the great manufacturing and commercial facilities of St. Louis, and notwithstanding the misfortunes and afflictions of the past season, all that has been said of her wealth and constantly increasing commerce is being daily confirmed. Not a year passes but we are called upon to note new discoveries of mineral deposits, the increase or extension of manufactures, or marked changes in her extensive intercourse with different portions of the country; and by means of a wide-spread navigation, distant points, hitherto inaccessible, are being brought within the boundaries of her trade, and new commodities, either for consumption or export, are constantly arriving at her wharf. Her manufacturing interests, too, are not neglected, and there is a steady and uninterrupted increase of mills, foundries, machine-shops, and various minor mechanical works, for the consumption of coal, iron, lead, grain, etc., which bid fair to become permanent and profitable investments. As a commercial city, St. Louis ranks second in the West, a distinction attained within the past ten years, and if her progress is onward, as is generally conceded, ten years more will scarcely transpire before, in many of the most important branches of commerce and manufactures, she will be classed as the first. With a population of seventy thousand, she has continued to increase in strength and improve in size down to the present period, and in commencing the last half of the present century it may not be thought visionary to predict that before it expires she will be in direct communication with the lakes, the Eastern seaboard, and the Pacific, and thus become the central depot for the vast commerce of the two hemispheres."
In 1858, upon occasion of the establishment of the overland mail to California, we read the following in the current news notes of the day:
"Arrival of the Overland Mail. What has hitherto been regarded as a visionary and speculative enterprise has been established beyond all doubt, and St. Louis and San Francisco have been brought within twenty-four days' travel of each other, on a stage line, and a route which will admit of easier and safer travel than did the trip from St. Louis to Philadelphia thirty years ago.
"When the Atlantic cable was laid it was hoped that daily communication had thus been established between Europe and America. In our opinion a greater enterprise has been accomplished in the establishment of an overland mail connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific, passing over our own soil, and affording a semi-weekly, soon to be converted into a daily, communication between the extremes of the republic. Nine years ago, when the discovery of gold in California led to the immense emigration to that State, it was regarded as an expeditious trip if made from the Mississippi to the Pacific in eighty to one hundred days. Thousands were occupied a much longer time, and hundreds perished by the wayside. The establishment of this mail route, and of the route from St. Joseph to Utah, and thence to Sacramento, has changed the whole current of things; and it is now demonstrated, on a first trial and under adverse circumstances, that it is practicable to carry the mail to San Francisco in twenty-four days, and this will be reduced, if necessary, below twenty days."
In 1854 the city's condition and prospects were described as follows:
"Here stands a city, enjoying far beyond any other city of the same magnitude or pretensions the advantages of that inland navigation, compared with which even our vast foreign commerce is sinking into insignificance. It has five thousand miles of that navigation belonging peculiarly to its own waters, with ten thousand miles of coast, yielding up the products of an immense and fertile region, for which it furnishes a thousand outlets. To these may be added the forty thousand miles more of navigable rivers which connect with St. Louis. Soon the vast means of communication furnished in this way to our city will be enlarged by the completion of twelve hundred miles of railroad already begun or projected within the borders of the State, and connected with a network of similar roads stretching to every point of the Union, in one direction to the Gulf of Mexico, in another to the head-waters of the Mississippi, and in a third to Labrador in the far east and to San Francisco in the far west. Through her gates will pour the commerce of the Pacific, of India, and of the isles of the ocean on the one hand, and the commerce of the Atlantic and of Europe on the other. Stripping from her all which may be considered as accidental or adventitious, all of which jealous and more fortunate rivals may by possibility deprive her, still she is left the commercial centre, the natural mart of seven hundred thousand square miles of territory, full of mineral and agricultural resources, and capable of sustaining in vigorous life a population of a hundred millions. . . .What shall forbid an accumulation here of inhabitants beyond anything of which we have authentic records, millions upon millions, until there shall have sprung up here a city containing hundreds of square miles, with an area even then affording but reasonable accommodations for the vast multitudes collected within it, a city with quays and warehouses stretching interminably in lines which, still unbroken, fade out of sight in the dim distance? Of course, such visions relate to the future; but that future, midst the growth of such a nation as ours, cannot be long postponed. Meanwhile the present generation will witness a progress with which it may well be content. That progress, it is true, will depend much upon the
enterprise and energies of our citizens. We are fully aware of this truth, while we repeat the expressions of our confidence in that progress. For we fully rely on it that its citizens will be true to their city and themselves, alike the thousands who are now here and the hundreds of thousands still to come hither. That may be no idle dream which conceives for St. Louis the most exalted destiny, which, with a just, prophetic forecast, transforms the humble hamlet of Laclede into the future metropolis of the New World."
In 1857 one of the "manifest destiny" writers of St. Louis (the greater part of them are of that order) wrote as follows:
"This city is beginning to receive the attention from abroad which her rapid growth, her extraordinary natural advantages, and her approaching destiny demand.
"Her present commercial importance, which is unsurpassed by any city in the valley of the Mississippi, is derived from river navigation alone; and her commerce from this source is drawn from the most extensive and the richest agricultural and mineral region in the world, scarcely one-tenth of whose wealth and latent resources are yet developed.
"There is nothing problematical therefore in this statement, the geographical fact speaks for itself. The commerce of St. Louis will be increased ten times its magnitude in less than twenty-five years from the one source which has made her now all that she is, from river navigation alone.
"To this advantage of river navigation, which is unequaled by any city in the world, and which must ever continue to be her most important and cherished source of wealth, is now being superadded that of railroad facilities. The commercial importance given to St. Louis by her river navigation will eventually insure to her an equal supremacy as the emporium of railroad intercommunication. The great lines of railway from the Atlantic border are all pointing to this city as a common centre, and she is sending out and receiving branches from the rich agricultural and mineral regions of the ‘Great West.’
"St. Louis, from her unrivaled facilities for trade and manufactures, will occupy in the Mississippi valley as decided a preeminence in commercial importance as the city of New York now commands on the Atlantic seaboard. The main current of trade on this continent must forever set in the direction of east and west. St. Louis is the heart of this great current, while commanding a controlling point on the grand highway of commerce between the upper Mississippi and the great lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. She is in the latitude of thirty-eight and a half, the most beautiful climate of the temperate zone, and her navigable waters are open to the commerce of the world during many weeks, and not unfrequently months, while more northern marts are bound in fetters of ice.
"To her well-known and pre-eminent advantages as the centre of commerce for the Mississippi valley, which is forever assured by geographical position, St. Louis is the emporium of one of the best agricultural and mineral regions in the world, which immediately surrounds her. Southern and Central Illinois and the rich mineral region of Missouri pour their undivided wealth of trade upon this city.
"There are other cities in the Mississippi valley which are distinguished by a commanding position for extended and lucrative commerce, and by the indomitable energy and admirable enterprise of their inhabitants. St. Louis, from her central position and extraordinary facilities of approach, is especially aided and strengthened by the prosperity of each one and all of these cities, while imparting to them a reciprocal benefit in the general increase of commercial facilities."
Yet, in 1881, Mr. Nimmo, of the Bureau of Statistics, while fully admitting the transcendent past, present, and future importance of the river navigation to the trade of St. Louis, could show that the railroads, for the time being at least, had carried off nine-tenths of this vaunted inalienable possession, the river trade. Note his figures: "A radical change," he remarks, "has taken place in the conditions governing the movements of commerce at St. Louis. Twenty-five years ago that commerce was almost exclusively confined to the Mississippi River and its tributaries, but at the present time railroads extend from the city in all directions. Each one of these railroads has become an important avenue of commerce." In proof of this, we find that of the total tonnage transferred during I 1880 there was moved by river 1,981,385 tons; moved by rail, 8,852,204 tons.
These facts, as Mr. Nimmo truly says, indicate that the commerce of St. Louis has largely accommodated itself to the facilities afforded by railroad transportation. This he shows by the following table:
It appears that the tonnage to and from the north by river fell from 315,854 tons in 1871 to 281,355 tons in 1880, and that the tonnage by rail increased from 75,668 in 1871 to 480,621 tons in 1880. The river traffic constituted about 37 per cent, of the total northern traffic during the year 1880.
The following table illustrates the point still further:
And the summary completes the illustration and emphasizes it:
And yet the river is ten times more valuable and more important to the trade of St. Louis, and especially to the city's position as a trade centre, than it was in 1857. It is needless to pursue this branch of the subject any further. The people of St. Louis have a perfect confidence in their resources and in their ability to develop them. As they contend, in speaking of their ability to utilize their stores of fuel, for example: The output of coal in England to-day will load a railroad train sixty miles long. The coal basins of
the British Isles, when compared to the basins of this valley, are as one to twenty, or even fifty. The output here daily in the coming times will be simply enormous. The same remarks apply to the iron mountains and iron fields, lead, zinc, and copper fields. They are as fifty to one, compared to the mineral fields of the British Isles. The agricultural resources of this basin hold the same position. The railroad system of the British Isles has about reached its culminating point, as have all the developments of the mineral and agricultural resources of the island.
England has heretofore manufactured all the hardware and heavy goods for the nations of the world. Now, as these people will be large consumers in the future, and the great supplies of raw material, as cotton, iron, lead, zinc, copper, and other elements, are in this basin, it does not require the vision of a prophet to foresee that in the coming times the iron industries, tanneries, potteries, smelting works, and a hundred other industries will grow up here and supply these foreign markets, and that St. Louis will be the importing, exporting, wholesale mart, general distributing point, and railroad centre of this great valley of the Mississippi, or basin of the continent.
And they meet the suspicion of indifference and lack of energy in this wise, to quote from a St. Louis newspaper of the day after Christmas, 1878,
"Are St. Louis men unprogressive? Some of our contemporaries out West are disposed to ‘poke fun’ at St. Louis because of the apparently unprogressive and unenterprising character of those who are rulers in her marts of trade and banks. Well, perhaps it is a truth that St. Louis is provokingly slow, but it would be well to remember that St. Louis is exceedingly sure, that she does not act for to-day only, but for all time. The truth is St. Louis is a very solid city, that the actual financial condition of her business men is a little too good for a very aggressive campaign for traffic. We do not say that the city is in danger of permanent injury from the too prosperous condition of her citizens engaged in the business of merchandising, manufacturing, banking, building, and other industries. St. Louis is a conservative city, that we readily admit, but the conservatism of our citizens does not lead them to neglect the great interests which centre here, and which have thus far led to a great and substantial development. It is true, and we readily admit it, that the rather ultra-conservatism which prevails here sometimes delays the consummation of designs necessary to the continued prosperity of the city, and, to the extent of such delays, retards and injures its commerce. But the good people of St. Louis are neither blind nor destitute of ordinary intelligence. They know their interests, and will be very certain to guard them with jealous care."
We have spoken of the population of St. Louis, and the people and natives who compose it, more than once in the course of these volumes, but the subject will admit of further discussion. The figures of the census representing the city's growth have been given above, but a word or two of explanation is needed to make them clear in their full exponential value. The returns of the census of 1880 were a source of disappointment approaching dismay. But this was because the census of 1870 was a fraud and delusion. This fact is now conceded upon all hands, and indeed has I been conclusively demonstrated. There is no reason to doubt or question the substantial fidelity of the census of 1880. As Mr. Charles W. Knapp says, in the paper elsewhere quoted,
"Look where you may for disproof of the census figures, you will find nothing to indicate St. Louis had much more than the 350,000 the census gives it. Inquire of the postal business and you will find that the Chicago office collected 9,000,000 pounds of mail matter and sold $1,114,000 worth of stamps, while the St. Louis figures were only 4,250,000 pounds of mail matter and $600,000 worth of stamps in the year ending with June, 1880. Count the names in the Chicago directory of 1880 and you will find 170,388, while the St. Louis directory had only 120,517. The Chicago directory contained 33.87 per cent, of its whole population, and the St. Louis directory would indicate, according to that percentage, a population of 355,822 for this city. Come nearer to the present and you will find that a school census taken in Chicago last July showed a population of 562,693, while the directory of this year shows 192,567 names, or 33.78 of the whole number reported by the school census, while the St. Louis directory contains only 139,151 names, indicating a population of 412,000 on the basis of the Chicago percentage. Doubtless this is a larger population than Boston can show, but it is not enough to advance St. Louis above the fifth place, nor are there any other collateral statistics that can be depended on which indicate that the Chicago figures are too high or the St. Louis too low. The relative number of pupils enrolled in the public schools of the two cities may seem to indicate a small difference in population, when it is found that the enrollment reported in Chicago in June, 1880, was 59,562, or 11.84 per cent, of its reported population, while the St. Louis enrollment was 51,241, which, on the basis of the Chicago percentage, would indicate a population of 431,934 for St. Louis. I warn you that only the most short-lived joy is to he got of such a calculation, however, for in June, 1882, Chicago had 68,266, or 12.21 per cent. of the population reported by the school census, while St. Louis had only 53,050, indicating only 437,820 population on the Chicago basis. It is so absurd to say that St. Louis has only increased 5886 in the past two years that you must see there are reasons why the school statistics are unavailable as an index to population. I was told at the office of the superintendent of schools that there is really no class of statistics more inaccurate, because of the manifest carelessness of the principals in their preparation, while, aside from that fact, the adequacy of the school accommodation influences the school enrollment even more than the increase of population, which cannot swell the school attendance if the schools are already filled to their full capacity. It is of no avail, therefore, to appeal to the school statistics to impeach the census, and we must let the figures of 1880 stand."
In spite, however, of the fact that St. Louis falls one hundred and fifty-three thousand below Chicago in population, and still more in manufactures and some branches of trade, as pork-packing. and grain shipments, St. Louis shows more wealth, by nearly ninety millions of dollars, than the rival
city. This may be, and is in great part, from lower assessments, but that lower assessment simply means that people in St. Louis own their property while Chicago is owned by money-lenders in New York, Boston, and elsewhere in the East, who have mortgages upon all the land and improvements, railroads, mills, stocks, and bonds in Chicago, and get their percentage out of every man's earnings and income. St. Louis, moreover, is a larger produce market than Chicago, as the following table shows:
It is the largest wheat market in the country, and the largest flour market in the world. It is, moreover, as already shown, the largest interior cotton market in the country. These are consolations for the less accelerated growth of population; but, the fraud of 1870 eliminated, Mr. Knapp believes St. Louis to have grown more rapidly during the past decade than ever before. Thus, while St. Louis in 1800 had 957 people, in 1820 only 4598, in 1830 5852, the range with Chicago from that time forward was as follows:
On this basis the relative percentages of growth were as follows:
In other words, it took the population of St. Louis ten years to recover from the effects of the civil war, during all which period Chicago was expanding and developing with acceleration. Nevertheless, St. Louis has entirely recovered from that period of bouleversement as respects population, and in another decade will have completely recovered as respects industrial growth and development of transportation facilities.
Mr. Knapp, however, who is as frank and candid in his statements as he is keen and searching in his analyses, warns his fellow-citizens that there are still some hindrances to progress, which must be removed if they desire to see the city of their hopes grow and expand vigorously and equably. Prices are too high, he says.
"It is the same unvarying story, from the bootblacks and newsboys up to the merchant princes and millionaire bankers. We are overloaded with high taxes, high money, high freights, and high labor. Rents are higher, food is higher, clothing is higher, and even fuel is higher than in either Chicago or Cincinnati, and so handicapped we cannot make a fair race. I know your eyes are tired of figures, but pardon me just once more, for I think in the following table there is the suggestion of one of the first of the dead weights we must strive to remove.
Interest rates are too high also, he says, higher than in any other city of the first class; and where interest is high, either the security is not good or money is not plenty.
"High freights we must also make war against, and the railways be forced to remove the onerous and unjust bridge arbitrary charge, which, ranging from two to five cents per one hundred pounds, adds fifty-five to one hundred and twenty-nine miles to the actual mileage distance of St. Louis from eastern points. It may be we shall get relief from this only when a new bridge is built, but that may come at no distant day, for the Indiana, Bloomington and Western Railway, which is now locating an extension line to St. Louis, has under contemplation the construction of a bridge at Chain of Rocks, with a view to making its terminus on this side of the river, and billing freight to and from St. Louis, instead of East St. Louis, as all the other roads do. There is equally as much need for competition on the river; the barge rates especially having been maintained during the past summer at a mark which made the river route steadily more expensive than the lake and canal route from Chicago.
"I must stop here," says Mr. Knapp, in conclusion, "for, though I have named but a few of the forces operating to retard and limit the city's growth, these are fair examples. Such hindering obstructions as we may not hope to remove are, after all, of the kind that all other cities find in their way; and we must remember that the struggle for commercial supremacy is always a hot contest, in which victory belongs where energy and enterprise are most vigorously developed, so we need not despond because we cannot find an exclusive and easy path to metropolitan greatness devoted to our sole use. All progress is a battle with adverse influences, and we have the encouragement of past successes to persevere, bearing constantly in mind that the struggle will cease only when progress ends. Let, therefore, no faint-hearted yearnings for peace and quiet tempt us from the strife, but let us build up a sensible self-respect, encourage reasonable and intelligent confidence in our future, and stimulate a bold and aggressive policy, forcing competition at every point, with a fearless determination to grasp all that is possible. Remember that we have one great advantage in that there is no rival market as near to St. Louis as there is to every other leading city, Milwaukee sitting almost in the doorway of Chicago, and Louisville in the back yard of Cincinnati, while New York, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Baltimore crowd under each other's noses. Chance having thus kindly seconded the favors of nature in our geographical situation, we have a better opportunity to combat the opposing
forces than most other cities, and it is only for us to make the most of it, to keep a sleepless watch ahead, and attack with united earnestness every impediment rising in the city's path."
The Growth and Population of St. Louis.
"It is a work yet to do, to analyze the operating causes of our development. How the French trading post became the village; why the settlement of Laclede at St. Louis was more prosperous than that of Blanchette Chasseur at St. Charles, of Beaurosier Dunegant at Florissant, or that of Delor de Tregette at Carondelet, or that of George Morgan at New Madrid; how the village was socially and politically affected by the successive dominion of France, Spain, and the United States, or by the personal influence of the successive Governors of Upper Louisiana; how the first couriers from the Eastern States, like Easton and Bent and Clark, weak in numbers but strong in individuality, sowed the seeds of American manners and methods, and awakened the spirit of commercial life: how the succeeding emigration from the States, of which Benton, Hempstead, Barton, Riddick, Bates, and Charless were the representatives, impressed its social and political character; how the later emigration from New England, with its exalted appreciation of the value of educational and associated benevolent work, affected its development; how the German emigration, following the revolutionary movement of 1848, full of grand ideas of political and religious freedom, impressed its influence upon it; how this city affected and was affected by the civil war; the history of the development of our public works; the effect of the institution of slavery on the growth and development of the city, and many others which might be stated, are questions for exhaustive study, not to be solved by the mere compilation of commercial and manufacturing statistics or the mere narrative of concrete events.
"The colonists were represented by such names as the Chouteaus, Gratiots, Soulards, Vallés, Sarpy, Chenies; later, the Morrisons, who came from the French settlements; still later Irish enterprise was represented by the Mullanphys, Rankens, Dillon, the Campbells, the Walshes, Whittaker; Scotch thrift by McKenzie and Nicholson; German intelligence and mercantile sagacity by Palm, Kayser, Barth, Kim, Steitz, Angelrodt, Anheuser, Lemp; the Southern States by Benton, Gamble, Geyer, Polk, Charless, the Blows, Kennetts, and Blairs, Harrison, Lucas, Beverly, Allen, Hunt, McPherson, the Carrs, Von Phuls, Chambers, Paschal, Farrar; the Northern States by Bent, Easton, Carr Lane, Filley, Smith, Cavender, Rhodes, Blood, Field, Spaulding, Collier, Bridge, Dickson, Gale, Davis, the Lindells, Ames, Thomas Allen.
"Other names will readily occur to you, and if it were proper to allude to living men, the list could be indefinitely extended. Some men count for nothing in human progress; some men count for one, some for ten, some for one hundred. There will be no dissent when I say that each of those I have named, and many others that could be named, counted for more than one in the forces which mark the progress and development of our commercial, industrial, and intellectual interests. Is it to be said of us that we will allow the record made by these men to pass into oblivion as those who knew them pass away? An hundred men fill their places to-day, themselves to pass, by the same neglect, into the same oblivion. Is it of no importance to us that some permanent record should be made of their place in our local history? It is no record of such men that they lived and died. Municipal history, or State history, or national history is in its last analysis but the record of the men who have conceived and executed projects that lift the city, or State, or nation over the years and push it forward in the march of civilization."
All this is profoundly true, and it is the sort of truth which we should welcome, for it bears fruit when we act upon it as a guiding principle. Men are the authors of institutions, and these again reflect men. Growth, decay, birth, death, prosperity, and decline of cities, all are summed up in the character and qualities of the men who inhabit countries and the institutions they construct. St. Louis, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, all were inhabited by other races before the white man came to occupy them. But scarcely a trace remains of that former inhabitancy. Nature and natural forces were the same, climate and advantages of site were the same, man only was different. We must not forget this when we hasten to ascribe all things to nature, and are willing to leave all things with nature.
The population of St. Louis, as has been shown elsewhere, has always been curiously mixed. In 1800, French was the predominant, Spanish the official language, and French was still the common speech in 1818. In 1883, German is taught in all the schools alongside English, and in some quarters of the city it is the most familiar tongue and the one heard most often.
The following are the first American censuses of St. Louis:
1810. Third United States Census, Missouri Territory. District of St. Charles, 3505; St. Louis, 5667; Ste. Genevieve, 4620; Cape Girardeau, 3888; New Madrid, 2103; Hope and St. Francis, 188; Arkansas, 874; total in Territory, 20,845.
1815. December 9th, by John W. Thompson, Sheriff. Town of St. Louis, 2000; whole county, 7395; gain in two years, 1200.
1820. August 1st, United States Census. Town, about 4000; whole county, 9732.
White male population in Missouri as reported to the Governor under the acts of Assembly of Jan. 18, 1814, and Feb. 1, 1817; also showing number of votes taken for members of the State Convention from the counties from which returns were received in May, 1820:
Of the character of the immigration about this period, the Missouri Gazette remarks under date of Oct. 26, 1816,
"Missouri and Illinois exhibit an interesting spectacle at this time. A stranger to witness the scene would imagine that Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Carolinas had made an agreement to introduce us as soon as possible to the bosom of the American family. Every ferry on the river is daily occupied jn passing families, carriages, wagons, negroes, carts, etc. Respectable people, apparently able to purchase large tracts of land, come on. We have millions of acres to occupy, provisions are cheap and in abundance."
In 1819 the Irish were strong enough in St. Louis to meet in October of that year, organize a Hibernian or Erin Benevolent Society, and make arrangements for celebrating the next St. Patrick's day. The organization of that society was as follows: Jeremiah Connor, president; Thomas Hanly, vice-president; Hugh Rankin, treasurer; Lawrence Ryan, secretary; Robert H. Catherwood, Thomas English, Hugh O'Neal, Joseph Charless, Sr., and Thomas Forsythe, standing committee.
In 1828 there was another State census, with the results stated below, as given in a contemporary account:
"According to the returns made to the secretary's office by the sheriffs of the different counties, the whole number of inhabitants in the State on the 1st of November amounted to one hundred and twelve thousand four hundred and nine. Under the next general census, even should the ratio of representation be increased to sixty thousand, the State will then be entitled to two representatives in Congress. We give below the aggregate number in each county of the State:
A newspaper of that day, commenting upon the rate of growth exhibited by the above figures, said,
"After the cession of Louisiana to the United States, that part of the ceded territory north of the Missouri River was designated and known as the St. Charles district. This appellation it retained for several years, the body of country now the most flourishing part of the State forming but one county. Among the papers of the sheriff of 1805 is found a census of the inhabitants of the county, taken in that year, from which it appears that the total number then in that district was fifteen hundred and sixty-four whites, fourteen slaves, and seven free blacks. We have had the curiosity to contrast this census with that taken in 1828, and find that the same district of country now embraces seventeen counties, and is inhabited by a population of near seventy thousand persons."
In 1836 the sheriff took a county census, and the population returned was,
The preliminary report upon the census of 1840 was the following:
"Gravois, St. Louis Co., Oct. 30, 1840.
"A. B. Chambers, Esq.:
"Dear Sir Agreeable to request, I herewith furnish you with a copy of schedule of mines, agriculture, commerce, manufactures, etc., exhibiting a full view of the pursuits, industry, and resources of the county of St. Louis, excluding the city and township of St. Louis, taken by me for the United States, as deputy, under the marshal of the Missouri district. I found but little difficulty in exacting answers to the many inquiries enjoined upon me by law to propound during the course of my avocations. You may, therefore, depend upon this statement being as near correct as was in my power to arrive at.
"The population of the county, excluding the city of St. Louis and township, is 11,380.
"Your obedient servant,
"John C. Dent."
These figures caused some dissatisfaction, and led to the following in a contemporary journal:
"There are many causes that retard the growth and prosperity of towns and cities which might be removed by the judicious management of its citizens. One great barrier to the rapid growth of St. Louis and many other towns is the fact that many fine squares and lots of ground lie unimproved and unproductive. By reason of this much of the real capital of our citizens lies dead, and contributes nothing to the general prosperity of the community. Within the corporate limits of St. Louis there are unimproved lots and squares worth several millions of dollars, and which would sell for that money. This is so much dead capita], so far as the business of the community is concerned."
In 1845 another census was taken by the assessors of the wards. From this census it appears that the total number of inhabitants fell a fraction short of thirty-six thousand, divided among the several wards as follows:
It was about this time that James Gordon Bennett, in the flippant vein which he so much affected, and which he seems to have mistaken for wit, wrote the following sketch of his visit to St. Louis:
"St. Louis, Nov. 20, 1846.
"St. Louis, regarded as a business place, may present inducements almost unparalleled to business men. Its advantages and its situation render it so. Planted on a rocky foundation, the Mississippi passes by it quietly, while above and below this strange stream cuts a channel where it pleases. It is a city destined to command an influential place in the mercantile and manufacturing interest, while its growing morality will give if a high rank in the religious world. But of what a mixture is its population composed! And to what growth do mushrooms attain! I have spent much time in Gotham, in Philadelphia, and in Washington, where this vegetable is to be found of a pretty good quality, but I must confess, with all my Eastern predilections, that I am forced to give this Western city the credit of producing it in perfection. There are forty thousand people living here, and about four-fifths of them are descendants of the best families, and can trace their ancestry back to Adam!
"Korponay is here, endeavoring to impress the public mind with the importance of the polka, bolero, mazourka, and other fancy dances. And he takes wonderfully, for I am told he had a juvenile pupil the other evening, learning the first principles of the former, and she was only turned five-and-forty. Her agility was regarded as something extraordinary, even here.
"The taste for literature is increasing vastly. The first of a series of lectures before the Mercantile Library Association was to be delivered a few evenings since. Present, twenty-five persons. It was postponed. Two squares below some sable minstrels were giving a concert to an audience of several hundreds of the élite. Serenades are popular, and in Fourth Street sojourners are greeted nightly with heavenly strains from violins and flutes.
"On the score of economy the fathers of the city cannot be excelled. Such a thing as lighting the streets at night, except by the moon, is considered a work of supererogation. And then it helps trade, for each citizen is provided with a lantern to thread the streets when the ‘moon's in her shroud.’ There was a man killed a night or two ago by falling into a quarry in the upper end of the city. That's nothing, however: he was a stranger, and might have made inquiry. The city authorities are old residents, what need have they for light? Street crossings are too much of a novelty, and none but old persons and crippled ones get more than ankle-deep in mud when that commodity abounds, as it does always after a little rain.
"The summer season, as elsewhere, is the best time, in the surrounding country, to see and appreciate the beauties of nature. Naturalists have a great field for research. Mosquitoes, ranging in size from a pin's head to a large pea, can be taken in coveys without difficulty. Their music at night is a most excellent imitation of the sounds produced by pumping an accordeon without touching the keys, and if one is unprovided with a bar an article of bed-furniture indigenous to the West there is little work left for ‘cuppers, leechers, and bleeders’ in the morning. Another of the ‘beauties’ is that pendulum of nature, vibrating between heat and cold, the ague. But, as in other cases, its familiarity has bred contempt, and it is considered beneath the notice of the people. In my travels, a short time ago, I stopped to refresh at a public-house. The landlord was sitting over the fire with a blanket over his shoulders. ‘How are you?’ ‘Very well, sir.’ ‘Is it sickly about here?’ ‘Oh, no, nothing of the kind.’ ‘What ails you?’ ‘I have a touch of the ague.’ ‘How long have you had it?’ ‘Thirteen months.’ ‘Can I get something to eat?’ ‘Not now, stranger; this is shake day, and the whole family is taking turns.’ I mounted my horse and departed."
The corporation census of 1847 was a very gratifying one,
This was a visible growth. It could be felt as well as seen, and a journal of the day said,
"In a city like St. Louis, where the community is composed of the most heterogeneous materials, gathered literally from the four quarters of the globe, it takes some little time for people to find out ‘who's who’ and ‘what's what.’ The man born in St. Louis, perhaps when it was a small town of a few hundred inhabitants, now finds himself in the midst of a great city, surrounded by thousands of strangers, and knows not whence they came, what their character may be, or whither they are going. And the people from other countries, other States, and other cities, who now mostly compose this vast community, are alike strangers to each other. It follows, therefore, as a necessary consequence, that society here is somewhat mixed, that it is in a sort of chrysalis state, that an elevated standard of morals and customs is yet to be formed."
This shows that the great immediate increase of population was apparent to the people themselves, and that the ancient ease and familiar acquaintanceship were disturbed by the great and sudden influx of strangers and aliens. The Republican of Nov. 30, 1848, says of the enumeration of the people made that year that,
"according to the census recently taken by the sheriff of the county, the total number of free white males it contains is 37,045; free white females, 31,222; number of free white persons who have been taught to read and write, 42,469, deaf and dumb persons, 23; blind, 18; free persons of color, males, 382; females, 486; slaves, males, 1981; females, 2346; and the grand total is 73,364.
"The city of St. Louis contains a population of 55,952, of whom 28,779 are free white males, and 24,490 free white females; there are 10,435 male children under eighteen years of age, and 10,434 females under the same age; of free negroes there are 367 males and 472 females, and of slaves, 698 males and 1146 females.
"Carondelet contains a population of 523, Bridgeton 405, and Florissant 423 souls.
"The State census was taken in 1844 by the sheriff, and the county then contained a population of 47,668 souls. Of this number the city of St. Louis had 34,140, leaving for the remainder of the county 13,528 souls, the balance of the increase in the four years being all in the city of St. Louis. The total increase in the four years is 25,696, of which 21,812 is the increase in the city of St. Louis.
"We observe, on a comparison of the census of 1844 with that of 1848, that the number of free negroes has increased, while that of the slaves has diminished. In 1844 there were 673 free negroes, while the census now completed makes the number 868. In 1844 the number of slaves was 4512, now there are 4327, a decrease in the slave population of nearly 200.
"There is a slight increase of population in the several incorporated towns outside of St. Louis. In 1844 Carondelet contained 468 souls; now it has 529."
In this year of 1848 the great German immigration began to flow into St. Louis. The revolution begun in Paris with the dethronement of Louis Philippe, and continued in Italy by Garibaldi, in Germany by all the forces of society except the nobles, the army, and the bureaucracy, and broken in Hungary by the active interposition of Russian armies, had failed also in Germany, but not until it had shaken the thrones of the Hapsburgs and the Hohenzollerns. The revolutionists were forced to fly and expatriate themselves; Illinois was enriched with men like Gustav Koerner, and St. Louis reinforced by a Schurz and a Sigel.
The German immigration to the State began sooner than that to the city. Flint mentions a German colony to which he preached in the interior of Missouri between 1812 and 1820. Indeed, there was a very large plantation of Germans on the Red River, in Arkansas, in the first half of the eighteenth century, under the auspices of the Regent Duke of Orleans, and the descendants of some of these must have penetrated into Upper Louisiana. The first vineyards at Hermann, in Gasconade County, according to Michael Poeschal, were begun in 1841. In 1845, fifty thousand vines were planted; in 1849 there were over seven hundred thousand.
In St. Louis there were many intelligent and enterprising Germans prior to the great influx which began in 1848. The greater part of these were in trade, though many prosecuted intellectual pursuits with characteristic vigor and success. Charles Muegge's oil-cloth factory was started in 1841; Thomas J. Meier's cotton-factory a pioneer enterprise of great value and importance in 1839. But 1848 is the year in which the tide set in. The soil and climate of Missouri suited the Germans, always inhabitants of the interior; they found themselves heartily welcome, protected and befriended, and abundant labor waiting for them. They did not fear the competition of slavery, and the "peculiar institution" never interfered with them, reduced the value of their work, or traversed their opinions. The arrivals of Germans at the port of St. Louis were:
Of these about two-thirds found employment in St. Louis. In 1851 this city was counted as the principal port for the debarkation of Germans to the valley of the Mississippi, great numbers coming by way of New Orleans. It was at this time that the well-known and most useful German Society of St. Louis
was incorporated, its objects being to protect and defend the immigrants from Germany, provide them employment when needed, and care for the sick and destitute. Nobly has it done its work, burying the dead, finding homes for the orphan, and securing medical attendance, medicine, and hospital room for indigent invalids. The trustees named in the original act of incorporation of this society were John Wolff, Adolph Abeles, Thomas J. Meier, Edward Eggers, Henry W. Grempp, Andrew Krug, Charles Muegge, Louis Speck, and John C. Meyer; J. Keichard, secretary and agent. The Germans in St. Louis to-day, forming a large proportion of the population, and including many of the best and most wealthy citizens, do not need an association of this sort to protect them. They constitute a potent and fully recognized industrial, mercantile, social, and intellectual force in the community. They are leaders in opinion and leaders of men. The German press of St. Louis is a power throughout the country. It has contributed statesmen, soldiers, and scholars to reinforce the national wealth. A German of St. Louis has been mayor of the city, another senator in Congress, ambassador to foreign lands, member of the cabinet, moulder of parties, and leader of men. The St. Louis Journal of Speculative Science, the only periodical in the country devoted exclusively to the exploitation of metaphysics, is a direct product of German thought and German culture, and it is claimed that St. Louis is the only place on this continent where the philosophy and the comprehensive philosophical system of George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel is read, understood, and appreciated.
At the same time as this German immigration, St. Louis received an accession of population from the French West Indies, as is told in a paper read before the Missouri Historical Society in 1878 by Mr. Collet, the author being Mr. Edward De Laureal. This paper is in substance as follows:
"Guadeloupe had scarcely recovered from a terrible disaster which had covered the entire colony with ruins.
"On Feb. 8, 1843, about ten o'clock in the morning, Pointe-à-Pître, the capital of the colony, was destroyed by an earthquake more violent than previously known. What the reeling earth spared the fire seized upon. The number of dead crushed beneath the ruins or calcined by the flames was so great that there were not sufficient persons to bury them, and as a matter of necessity the remains were transported to the open sea and entombed in the deep.
"Their wounds scarcely healed, they began to breathe, when of a sudden they found themselves menaced with ruin from another cause. A political upheaving threatened to destroy in their hands the very instruments of all prosperity.
"In the month of March, 1848, a sinister rumor spread like a pall over the country, and caused a thrill of terror through-out. A war-vessel appeared on the horizon. It came to announce to the country momentous news. A revolution had broken out in France, the king, Louis Philippe, driven from his throne, and been obliged to take refuge in England. Tin people, sovereign by revolt, had proclaimed the republic, and constituted a republican government in the Hotel de Ville at Paris. The authorities of Guadeloupe, as well as those of all the other French colonies, were enjoined for the future to obey no other orders than such as emanated from the republic, one and indivisible.
"These news, however we may look at them at a distance and after a lapse of twenty-nine years, when received in the colony were of a nature to trouble the country and to excite theft population to deplorable excesses.
"Many colonists yet living who had passed through the ordeal of the first French republic felt the presentiment of what was to be dreaded from another, the outcome of the barricades. If the colony were not as completely upturned during the short duration of the second essay at republicanism, it was not the fault of those who made it their business to persuade the blacks that the supreme object of liberty was not only enfranchisement from all labor, but to trample in the dust that which they had heretofore respected.
"The new agents of power in the colony, doubtless to give proof of their zeal, casting aside every precaution so indispensable nevertheless in such grave circumstances, suddenly proclaimed the abolition of slavery. This precipitation was most ruinous to the country. Of a sudden the master and the slave found themselves face to face in a position embarrassing to both parties, impossible yet to define distinctly, and which created real social peril.
"After the first moments of astonishment at their new respective situation there were compromises between the newly enfranchised and the proprietors, who had at heart the continuation of work, compromises which, without satisfying the laborers, were initiative to the ruin of the proprietors.
"In presence of this state of things, which could not last long, in presence of the alarming rumors which night and day kept the population on the alert, a common thought came at the same time to the heads of families, who, without exchanging views, felt the urgency to fly from a coming danger.
"This unanimous thought had America for its object. By a singular chance St. Louis, in Missouri, was the converging, point of all projects of emigration. Consequently, in the month of July, 1848, there were seen disembarking on the Levee of St. Louis the first families wandering in search of a security which their native country no longer offered them.
"Soon these families were followed by a great number of other emigrants, so that in 1849 an agglomeration of French from Guadeloupe formed almost a little colony. They had just reason to congratulate themselves on their reception on American soil.
"But almost immediately after their arrival the emigrant were doomed to undergo a rude trial. The cholera, which during the spring and the summer of 1849 desolated the city of St. Louis, did not spare them. Their numbers were sadly diminished.
"But this time again courage was not wanting in the colonists from Guadeloupe. Then were these people, accustomed to the elegance of luxury, the comforts of an easy life, seen to make courageously the sacrifice of their past in burying the souvenir in the depths of their hearts, to begin a life of fatigues, of rude occupation to which they were far from having been accustomed. More than one mother of a family, thrown entirely upon her own efforts, by a prodigy of economy and courageous patience, was enabled to bring up her family and to place her
children in a position to contract alliances with honorable families of her adopted city.
"To-day the fusion is complete, and the descendants of the French colonists coming from the West Indies, strangers to their maternal tongue, no longer make use of any other language than that of the country of which they are citizens, or are in any respect distinguishable from those around them."
The numbers of this immigration have been left to conjecture or the imagination. The allusion to the cholera year of 1849, however, recalls a period of great suffering to St. Louis, and great afflictions, under which its people bore up as if conscious of their destiny. The pestilence was followed by the most destructive fire which ever raged in St. Louis, and the press of the period, in commenting upon it, said, "Emerging as we are from two calamities which have no parallel in this country, suffering alike in the destruction of property and the still greater destruction of life, having lost in a single night houses and goods enough to constitute a town of very considerable size and commerce, and in two months buried five or six thousand human beings, it may be pardoned those who have so far survived these calamities to look around and ahead at their condition."
That condition was not pleasant to contemplate. Just before the outbreak of cholera a corporation census had been taken, yielding the following statistics of the population in February, 1849:
In 1850 the regular government census showed a falling off of 6668, chiefly in consequence of the epidemic. The figures are,
"Suppose the number of males between twenty and twenty-one to be equal to one-tenth of the number between twenty and thirty, and that number will be 1718, which taken from the whole male population over twenty-one will leave 34,088 over twenty-one.
"Assuming that there were 34,088 over twenty-one years of age, calculate from census returns of 1850 the number under that age, so as to get a proportion upon which to proceed in the calculation at this time.
"These figures include foreigners not naturalized, but as the census referred to is that of 1850, all not naturalized at that time have since taken out their papers."
The excess of males over females revealed the recency of a large proportion of the city's population. In spite of losses by the cholera, however, the St. Louis press was not afraid to make comparisons, and this is the way it was done:
"A like ratio of increase between 1850 and 1860 as there was between 1840 and 1850 would produce the following results in 1860:
"It is hardly right to suppose that the ratio of increase will continue as large as the cities grow in size, but it is altogether reasonable to believe that their relative ratio will be nearly preserved, which is sufficient to show that St. Louis is destined to be the largest city in the valley of the Mississippi in 1860, if she be not now, upon two years' increase.
"It is to be remembered that in the census of 1850, St. Louis lost some eight or nine thousand population from the fact of her outgrowing her chartered limits. All north of Rocky Branch, including Bremen and Lowell additions, were left, out, and on the west all beyond Eighteenth Street and Second Ca-rondelet Avenue, which, if included, would swell her population more than a tenth, and also her percentage of increase.
"It is also well to remember that her census was taken the year immediately following the two greatest calamities that ever befell her, the cholera and the great fire of 1849, and before she had time to recover from their effects.
"If her chartered limits embraced the whole city, she is now probably the largest city in the great valley.
"This is no sudden or impulsive start in her growth, for she held nearly the same relative position towards her sister cities of the valley between 1830 and 1840, as the following will show:
The city census of 1851 is very interesting as showing the nationality of the inhabitants and the rapid accession of immigrants from foreign countries.
"The population of the city proper is 77,716. We now give the divisions of that population as ascertained by the census. It will be seen by the following summary that more than one-half of the population is of foreign extraction:
"The whole number of foreigners is 40,471; the number of free negroes, 1259. It appears from the records of the county courts that the whole number of free negroes licensed to remain in this county from September, 1841, to December, 1850, amounts to 575, leaving 684 in the city and county without license and in violation of law."
To the 77,716 people in the city proper were to be added the residents of "Bremen" and other suburbs, 5028, making a total population for the city of 82,744, and yielding an aggregate for city and county of 104,834.
Sheriff Wilrner's census, completed on Dec. 17, 1852, resulted in:
Comparative tables showing the increase from the month of June, 1850, when the United States census was taken:
At that time the California gold fever was raging and diverting population from all its ancient channels, but it did not long affect Missouri and St. Louis. In April, 1855, the newspapers of the day reported the subsidence of the wave and the beginning of a reaction. Said they,
"The first effect of the gold discoveries in California seven years since was to attract a large emigration from the Western States. For some years previously we had lost many citizens, who thought they could see in the wilds of Oregon better opportunities to improve their condition than they could find on our own teeming soil. But the Oregon emigrants comprised among their numbers a good many whose exit from among us was not a very serious loss, thriftless men, who did well if they produced as much as they consumed, and whose reluctant labor yielded but little for export. A large proportion of the emigration to California was of a different character. Men of substance, activity, industry, and energy, some of our best farmers, our best mechanics, our ablest merchants, sought the land of gold. This drain on the population of the West could not but be seriously felt in many localities, and though many went intending to return, and though many have since gotten home again, it is unquestionable that the population of Missouri did not increase so rapidly from 1848 to 1854 as it would have done had gold never been discovered in California.
"We are happy to record, however, that this great exodus seems to be over almost if not entirely. We hear no more the notes of preparation for the great journey over the plains, of caravans of hundreds and thousands leaving homes and friends for new and untried scenes. On the contrary, we find that emigrants to Western Missouri and Kansas and Nebraska are coming in, as they used to do in the days of the ‘Platte Purchase,’ fifteen years ago, and our western borders are now fast making up the losses incurred by the ‘California fever.’"
In 1860 the Federal census was as follows for St. Louis County:
The falsification of returns in 1870 makes that census worthless, except for classes of comparison and ratios. Its results are given herewith:
The above exhibition of nationalities was thus commented upon and analyzed by an intelligent journalist at the time the statistics were made public,
"St. Louis is indeed a cosmopolitan city, if there is any on earth. There is still a preponderance of about 85,000 natives over those born in other countries, of whom, however, 22,000 are negroes; but if the children born in St. Louis of foreign parents and who still speak foreign idioms were counted among the foreigners, the two categories would stand in a much closer proportion. At the time the last census was taken there were 198,615 natives and 112,249 foreigners in this city, the census-takers having, with propriety, classed as foreigners only those who were born abroad.
"Now, according to nativity, there are 176,570 whites and 22,045 colored Americans against 59,040 Germans, 32,239 Irish, and 6568 English and Scotch, the balance hailing from almost all countries on earth, even Australia, the Sandwich Islands, and China not excluded. A glance over the statistics of our school population proves the fallacy of these figures, so far as the ethnological character of the city is concerned. Of the 24,347 pupils enrolled in 1870 in our public schools, 10,600, or a little over two-fifths of the whole number, were children of German parents, while only 512, or one out of forty-eight, were born in Germany. Doubtless, therefore, the new arrivals are mostly adults; but inasmuch as the first generation born of foreign parents in this country retain more of the peculiarities of their ancestors than they get from the people into which they will be fused in the end, the ethnological character of St. Louis at present is not exactly determined by the statics of the places of nativity.
"Considering, therefore, the above-stated school statistics, and taking into account the fact that about twice as many of the children in the city of German parentage attend no school at all, or are enrolled in the various parochial schools, the German population, according to the standard of language and habits, amounts at least to 90,000.
"It is evidently more difficult to find the elements for a similar calculation in regard to the immigrant Irish, English, and Scotch population, and those smaller numbers from various other countries. A large majority of these speak English, which enables them to amalgamate sooner with the American nationality. But even of these a sufficient number retain their native peculiarities in such a degree as to warrant the belief that, ethnologically speaking, the population of St. Louis is very nearly equally divided between natives and foreigners.
"No doubt this proportion will increase somewhat in favor of the foreign population during the next ten years, the amalgamating power of the native inhabitants notwithstanding. Not only that the native population has no means to make up for the regular influx from abroad, even if, as it is supposed, it will be smaller than previously, but during the first generation the foreigners increased in a larger ratio by births than the natives.
"The increase of our population, however, has its rational limit, and the moment the limit is approached, the ethnological character of St. Louis will become more stationary and uniform.
"After the second generation people of every extraction acquire many of the physical and moral characteristics of the predominant race. The ratio of births gets to an equilibrium; the large proportion of German children visiting the public schools gives predominance to the English language; the accumulation of wealth in the hands of families of foreign extraction makes them build larger houses and in a style which is more in harmony with the tastes and wants of the older inhabitants.
"The increase of the colored population from about 5000, which it was previous to the war, to upwards of 22,000 went on without much disturbance in regard to the economical features of our population as a whole. The growth of the city has been so wonderful during the last ten years that this great influx of colored people, which otherwise might have been source of annoyance, remained almost entirely unobserved. It is probable that if the statistics had not authoritatively given the number of negroes in St. Louis at 22,045, very few of out citizens would have believed that more than about one-half of that number were living among us. The cosmopolitan character of St. Louis is evidently a source of much good to the country. It shows in a microcosmos the manner in which people, composed of every nationality, may profit from each other's peculiarities, bear their idiosyncrasies, and bring them down to a common level upon which all may safely stand and mutually support themselves. People learn to respect the qualities and honest habits of others, and to emulate each other in energy and in their desire to promote the welfare of the whole. The native learn how to embellish their family life by the introduction of fine arts, and the foreigners how to give up personal and national whims for the public good and mutual good understanding."
The census of 1880 yielded the figures given below:
In 1876 formed as a separate municipality and increased by parts of Carondelet and Central and all of St. Louis townships, St. Louis Co.
When added, items marked a make 4382, which is the number born in German Empire.
Those marked b make 116, the number born in British America.
Those marked c make 1325, the number born in Great Britain and Ireland.
When added, items marked a make 54,901, which is the number born in German Empire.
Those marked b make 2091, the number born in British America.
Those marked c make 36,309, the number born in Great Britain and Ireland.
Increase in the Value of Real Estate. The history of the rapid increase of values of real estate in St. Louis is worth writing, for two reasons. In the first place, it is almost as full of wonders as the tale of
the building of Aladdin's palace, in respect to the sudden and almost miraculously rapid advances in values. In the second place, it helps to prove the point we have been contending for throughout this entire chapter, that the people of St. Louis have from the beginning almost been conscious of the city's great destinies. Mrs. Hunt, the daughter of Judge J. B. C. Lucas, was fond of telling how her father used to point to a piece of real estate at Pittsburgh which he could have bought for a song, and which sold for over a million. The incident simply illustrates that confident belief entertained by Judge Lucas in the future of St. Louis which kept him a poor man all his life, and reduced him, while the owner of millions in land, to an income of less than two thousand dollars a year even at the day of his death. Henry W. Williams, who knows as much, probably, about real estate as any single person in St. Louis, prepared a very curious paper in 1860 for Mr. Edwards' "Great West" about "the advance of real estate in St. Louis," an article from which we borrow largely. Mr. Williams says,
"The rise of real estate in St. Louis has been so fabulous that it has become a theme of wonder and interest. We could not make this history complete did we not give some account of the progressions, and to make the relation more varied, more extensive, more authentic and interesting, we have solicited the aid of those gentlemen that are known to the community as most conversant with all of its features, and, without comment or alteration, we give to our readers the communications which have been addressed to us relative to our inquiries."
And here is one of his examples,
"ST. LOUIS, March 24, 1860.
"DEAR SIR, In compliance with your request, I have tried to bring to mind as far as I could the value of real estate in this city during the past forty-two years. I have not been a speculator in lands, but have bought for my own use. In the year 1822 I purchased a lot on Third Street, between Plum and Cedar Street, 75 feet front by 150 in depth, for the sum of $225 the lot. In the year 1846 I sold the same lot for $3000, and it is now held at a bid of $17,000. In 1834 I bought a lot on Main Street, between Spruce and Myrtle Streets, 40 feet front, running to the river-bank, for $350, and in 1852 I sold it, with a two-story house on it, for $10,000. The same property is now worth $35,000. In 1845 I bought a lot on Second Street, between Lombard and Hazel Streets, 150 feet front, running to the river, for $800, and in 1855 I sold one-third of it for $42,000, and held the balance at $100,000. In 1849 I bought a house and lot on Walnut Street, between Sixth and Seventh Streets, for $6000. In 1856 I was offered $15,000 for it. I have known similar sales.
"Yours truly, W. RISLEY."
Here follows another,
"ST. LOUIS GAS-LIGHT COMPANY, "ST. LOUIS, Feb. 9, 1860.
"DEAR SIR, At your request I refresh my memory to give you, as far as I can in my opinion, the value of property in St. Louis for some twenty-five to thirty-five years back. The first sale which I can recollect was made by grandmother Dubruil, of a lot on the corner of Second and Pine Streets, 70 feet front by 150 deep, to M. Papin, for $700. This was, I think, in 1822 or 1823. My mother bought, in 1822 or 1823, a lot 70 feet front by 150 in depth, corner of Second and Olive Streets, southwest corner, with good stone house, log kitchen, barn, and good fences, all for $1500. The above are now worth from $1500 to $2000 per foot.
"In 1826 my grandmother's property on Second Street, block 61, I believe between Chestnut and Pine Streets, was sold by the administrator, 50 feet, corner Second and Chestnut, by 150, for $10 per foot. The remainder, about 18 feet, with a first-rate stone house and kitchen, was bought in by my mother for benefit of estate for $3000, and sold by her to Mr. Gay in 1830 or 1831 for the same price, so that property had not risen in that locality from 1826 to 1831. Property even in the business parts of the city had but a nominal value till about 1832 to 1833. It may have commenced rising a little in 1831, but so slightly that it was not noticeable, and did not really seem to rise till 1835. From this period it went up in the business parts of the town pretty rapidly till 1838 or 1839, the commencement of bank disasters. From that period to 1842-43, though there may have been no fall, there was no demand, and, to my knowledge, no sales.
"In 1836 or 1837 I heard Mr. Lucas offer land about Lucas Place for two hundred dollars an acre. He sold lots to Benoist, Bogy, and others on Eighth Street, between Pine and Locust Streets, for ten dollars per foot.
"After the crash of the banks, from 1837 to 1841, property had but a nominal value; it commenced rising about 1842 or 1843, and went up gradually till 1845, from which time it improved more rapidly till the great fire in 1849. From the latter date it rose very fast to the present time, and still continues rising, notwithstanding the cry of croakers to the contrary, and, in my humble judgment, will continue onward till the great valley of the Mississippi is filled up and densely populated. Country property rose but little until the building of plank and macadamized roads, but went up magically after the commencement of our railroads.
"To resume, in my opinion there was but an imperceptible, if any, rise in property in the city till 1834 or 1835, when it continued to rise slowly till the great crash in 1838 or 1839. It went up again about 1842 or 1843, slowly till 1849, and from that period to date very rapidly.
"Hoping the above may add a little light to your valuable researches, I remain, dear sir, yours truly and respectfully, "LOUIS A. LABAUME."
"ST. LOUIS, March 9, 1860.
"DEAR SIR, I will try to comply with your request in relation to the relative value of property in St. Louis during the last few years.
"I will give you the facts of a few prominent points, by which you will be able to judge of intermediate points.
"Early in 1840 property on the corner of Fifth and Market Streets sold for $100 per foot; the same will now readily sell for $1000 per foot.
"In 1840 I bought lots on Olive Street, between Seventh and Eighth Streets, at $40 per foot, which would now sell for $350 per foot. About this time I could have bought of Judge J. B. C. Lucas property on Olive Street, between Eleventh and
Twelfth Streets, for $10 per foot, which is now worth $300 per foot. And on the same street, between Fifteenth and Sixteenth Streets, $5 per foot is now worth $200 per foot.
"In 1842-43 property sold in Christy's addition, west of the St. Louis University, between Twelfth and Sixteenth Streets and Christy Avenue, at from $4 to $10 per foot. The same would sell to-day for from $125 to $200 per foot.
"In 1843-44, on Franklin Avenue, and south of it, in Mills' addition, property sold about Twenty-third Street at from $3 to $5 per foot is now worth from $50 to $75 per foot.
"In the neighborhood of the market on Seventh Street property could have been bought in 1844 at from $10 to $20 per foot. The same will now sell for from $250 to $300 per foot. Looking southwardly, property sold about this time at a very low figure, but has rapidly risen to figures quite as high as in any other direction.
"From 1840 to 1850 the tendency was north. About 1850 a very rapid advance took place to the south and southwest. From about 1854 to 1860 a great rush took place to the northwest, in the direction of fair grounds.
"North St. Louis, about Bremen, toward 1850 began to make rapid strides.
"In 1849 Lowell was first offered. It had been bought only one year before for about $200 per acre. In May, 1849, it sold for from $5 to $10 per foot on Bellefontaine road. It is now selling at from $20 to $30 per foot, or about $4000 to $5000 per acre.
"Thus if you take a stand-point about the court-house you will find the progress resulting about the same, though something in favor of the northward. Westwardly you will find quite an equal advance.
"In Stoddard's addition, which is only about ten years old, property sold at from $5 to $20 per foot. It will now sell at from $50 to $125 per foot.
"As you will observe, the wave of progress has fluctuated in every direction, first in one and then in another, but finally it gains an equilibrium, as things have become established.
"Thus you will see that those who invest money in St. Louis have only to wait a little and a short time brings about vast results. And the only way to judge of the future is to look at the past; according to this rule, the destiny of St. Louis is bound to be the great central city of the United States.
"Truly yours, "W. HALL."
"Many other instances might be cited," Mr. Williams adds, "showing an increase in the value of the real estate of the city of from thirty to fifty per cent. per annum; but I have already wearied your patience, and close, regretting that the pressure of business has prevented my giving you a more connected and coherent statement of my recollections."
The history of real estate movements and operations, in the early periods of the city especially, has been given pretty fully in preceding chapters, and there is no occasion to do more than supplement these facts in the present chapter with illustrative cases. The system of bringing land into market under advantageous and attractive bids, matured by Chouteau and Lucas, was speedily copied by their enterprising rivals in business. The following is from an advertisement of Louis Labaume's in 1812, 15th of June:
"L. Labaume, Real Estate Agent. To the Public: The subscriber has laid off in town lots part of the plantation on which he resides, situated on the banks of the Mississippi, about a mile north of St. Louis; each square is three hundred and sixty feet in front by three hundred feet back, being sub-divided into six lots, each of one hundred and twenty in front by one hundred and fifty in back. The streets running parallel with the Mississippi are sixty feet wide, and the cross streets forty-five. One square is reserved for public use, and another for schools, etc. He will dispose of the rest on the most reasonable terms for cash and property, and will give some credit on giving good security. The beauty and conveniences of the place is inferior to none in the country. Those inclined to purchase will please apply to L. LABAUME."
This is cleverly done, and proves that Mr. Labaume was an apt pupil in the methods for disposing of real estate at good figures. His heirs, however, will scarcely forgive him for selling when he did. A corner lot of that estate will now sell for three times as much as Mr. Labaume was offered for the entire property.
Auguste Chouteau, unlike Judge Lucas, was always ready to sell his lots in St. Louis at an advance, and when he saw the chance to buy others. He liked to turn over property frequently, "to realize on it" now and then, as the phrase goes, showing that he was a person of less faith than John B. C. Lucas, but perhaps a more useful man to have about a growing and ambitious town; for, much as such places need buyers, they need sellers still more, people who are willing to let their real property change hands at reasonable current figures, and without nursing it for their grandchildren. Chouteau built, traded, developed industries, turned his money over and over again, and was not afraid of taxes. For years he was the largest taxpayer in St. Louis. Lucas, on the contrary, was always on the lookout for cheap lots, bought to hold, and did not improve. Cheap lots could be got without much trouble. The Missouri Gazette, of Oct. 9, 1819, says,
"At the March sale of public lands in this district, one hundred and seven thousand acres were disposed of at the average price of two dollars and ninety-one cents per acre."
At this time the values of land everywhere in Missouri, and not excepting St. Louis, were greatly unsettled by frauds and fraudulent claims and the long and costly processes of litigation. The liberal land grants under the Spanish régime in its last year had opened the way to this, and the trouble was aggravated by speculators who were seeking to locate New Madrid lots (land granted by the United States in cases where property was injured by the earthquakes of 1811-13) even upon the very boundaries of St. Louis. The landshark of that day, rapacious monster, stopped at nothing to insure his claim. Theft, perjury, forgery, murder, all the crimes in the statute-book were committed
to get property for nothing, and to dispossess rightful owners of their estates and improvements. The simple French habitans, the land commissioners, and the courts were no match for these confederated thieves, with their wholesale forgeries and their gangs of hirelings ready to swear to anything. Bryan and Rose, in their interesting "Pioneer Families of Missouri," have preserved the affidavit of one of these suborned perjurers, given at Kaskaskia in August, 1807:
"I, Simon Toiton, being in my sober senses, having taken no drink, and after mature deliberation, having been apprised that I had given a great number of depositions relating to land titles, as well those derived from donations as from improvements; that by means of these depositions great quantities of land have been confirmed to different persons in whose favor I have given these depositions, I do consequently declare, as I have already declared to several persons, that I am ignorant of the number I may have given, since I was drunk when I gave them, a failing to which I am unfortunately addicted; and that when I am in that state any one, by complying with my demands, may do what they please with me. If this work had been proposed to me when in my senses [hiatus in manuscript]. I declare that I recollect that on the last day of November, 1806, I was sent for. Before setting out I drank a quart of liquor; and that there might be no want of it, I took it again on my arrival; before beginning the certificates I took another quart, and this continued until midnight nearly. I recollect at that time to have given twenty-two or twenty-three depositions; that is to say, I copied them from models, to which I made them conform, observing to these persons that what I did could have no validity. They told me not to mind that, that it would be of service to those for whom I made them, and that I ought not to fear anything or make myself uneasy. I declare solemnly that all these last depositions are false, as well as those I had given previously to that time, no matter in whose favor I may have given them; because, to my knowledge, I have never given any except when I was in liquor, and not in my sober senses. I furthermore declare that I am not acquainted with any improvements in this country."
It was by this sort of fraud and villany that land titles were confused in Missouri, and many honest and deserving proprietors swindled out of their property. Here is an instance in point:
"In the year 1785 the government of Spain granted to Angelica Chauvin a concession of forty by forty arpens of land near the then post of St. Louis, bounded by land granted to one Louis Robert on one side, and the king's domain lengthwise the river Des Peres. The concession was sold by the grantee to Jean F. Perry, a meritorious citizen. The government of the United States came, under treaty obligations to the Spanish government, to respect all concessions of land similar to the one to Madame Chauvin, and to fully and faithfully discharge that obligation Congress in 1805 created a board of commissioners charged with that duty. This board of commissioners was composed of eminent men of the highest integrity, but they were by law restricted to the consideration only of concessions accompanied by specific and authentic plats showing the corners and locations of grants presented for confirmation.
"In the year 1811 the board met and confirmed to Jean F. Perry, assignee of Angelica Chauvin, forty by forty arpens of land, the concession being first presented and then the plat, and ordered the same surveyed according to possession (the possession of the grantee). In the year 1812, being one year after the confirmation of the claim, Perry died, leaving four orphan children, all girls; and in the language of Mr. Griswold, ‘here the monster slept!’ Yes, slept for twenty years, until the children grew up to be women and were married. During this lapse of time the cormorants were busy with their New Madrid ‘floats,’ and before the children grew to be women had succeeded in spreading them all over their land, although that land never belonged to the United States."
This piece of property was so long in dispute that immense values and interests became, involved in its settlement; the interposition of Congress was sought, and finally the claimants were thrown out in favor of the possessors. This instance is not adduced by way of pointing an injustice or a grievance, we have nothing to do with the merits of any particular claim, but to show how delays and litigation affected the titles and values of property. No one buys a lawsuit if he can help it, and when he does buy one he always insists upon its cost being counted in the bill. It is beyond a doubt that disputed and defective titles had a very depressing effect on the values of real estate in St. Louis for many years, and interfered materially with the extent and rapidity of transfers. 
The holder of a New Madrid certificate having got an act of Congress passed authorizing him to locate it, actually attempted for that purpose to take possession under this warrant of Duncan's Island and the water-front of St. Louis. Much of the city property and school property was squatted upon in the same way, with a network of claims and a regiment of claimants, so that in most cases, after years of costly litigation and delay, the authorities found it cheaper to compromise than to make good their complete title. The schools in this way, as fully described elsewhere, lost a great amount of valuable property.
Another thing which had an injurious effect on the value of property was the unsettled condition of the city's estate in the commons and common fields. It would be mere repetition to state here what has been so fully set forth in other chapters about these tracts of land and the disposition made of them. But the fact that the city held all this land, and would of course some day sell it, put St. Louis in the position of a powerful and favored competitor with every dealer in real estate in the community. The city could sell on terms which, no ordinary operator was able to offer. It could hold on as long as it pleased, sell all or as much as it pleased, give what times of payment it pleased, in short, could bull or bear the market at its option. No operator in real estate was either able or willing to lock horns with such a gigantic and powerful opponent, and as long as the city held the commons it had the speculation in real property at its mercy.
The commons embraced under various surveys about three thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven acres of land, lying (as described in 1859)
"south and southwest of the city, and embraces such localities as the House of Refuge, the Lafayette Park, etc., but a more accurate recital of its boundary lines may not be without interest. The southeastern boundary, then, begins on the river-bank, about a half-mile below the ‘Sugar Loaf,’ or, to be more precise, at a point three to four hundred feet below the residence of Charles L. Tucker, Esq.; thence it follows the river-bank to a point nearly opposite the Workhouse; thence, leaving the river, and being bounded on the east by lands of Messrs. Kay-ser, Kennett, and others, it proceeds northerly into the present First Ward of the city, following a straight line, through the property of Thomas Allen, Esq., Henry G, Soulard, Esq., and others, between Eighth and Ninth Streets, to its intersection with Hickory Street; thence westwardly along Hickory Street to a point between Morton Street and St. Ange Avenue, about opposite the terminus of Fourteenth Street; thence northwardly again to Chouteau Avenue; thence westwardly with Chouteau Avenue to its intersection with Grand Avenue; thence with Grand Avenue southwardly to the Stringtown road, and with the Stringtown road southwardly again to the vicinity of tracts held by Messrs. Chartrand and Delore, a little below the house formerly kept by Peter Delore; and thence finally in an easterly direction to the point of beginning on the river. These limits, it will be perceived, embrace many of the most elevated plateaus, and withal one of the most charming districts in the suburbs of the city proper."
The common fields are described at the same date:
"There were a number of these common fields about St. Louis, the Prairie des Noyer fields in the south, beginning at or near the present Grand Avenue, running westwardly for depth, and (by way of some sort of definite location) intersecting what are now the suburban grounds of Henry Shaw, Esq.; the Cul de Sac common fields, a little north of Prairie des Noyer, and embracing and extending north and south of the grounds of John S. McCune, Esq., Dr. Barret, the Rock Spring Cemetery, etc.; then the St. Louis common fields, beginning eastwardly at Third Street, and extending from say the St. Charles road to a distance below Olive Street; and finally the Grand Prairie fields still farther west."
Successive acts of Congress of June 13, 1812, and May, 1824, and of the Missouri Assembly in March, 1835, authorized their sale, with reservations for schools. It was put to vote at the latter date whether the commons should be sold, and whether a half, Fourth, or tenth of the proceeds should go to schools. The ballot decided in favor of sale, and of appropriating one-tenth to the school fund.
The act provided a sub-division of the common into parcels of not less than one nor more than forty acres, besides which the buyers of common lots were not to pay the amounts which they had bid on the respective lots, but to pay an interest or rent of five per cent, a year on the amount of purchase-money for the period of ten years, after which, on paying the full amount bid, the purchasers were to receive their deeds. Buyers who preferred it were permitted to continue
the payment of such rent for the space of fifty years, after which, and every fifty years thereafter, their lots would be revalued, and a rent of five per centum per annum paid on these revaluations. It will be conceded that the terms of payment under this rule were liberal and accommodating enough to the speculators in common grounds. Accordingly, under these terms, the common was advertised for sale in 1836, and very nearly all, if not quite all, the lots sold. It appears that the affair went off spiritedly, and the prices ranged from fifty to one hundred and fifty dollars per acre, the average being about one hundred dollars. On reflection, the buyers, with few exceptions, seemed to unite in the opinion that these prices were excessive, and that their common purchases were a common grand "take in." From the date of sale the Board of Aldermen was flooded with the petitions of the buyers for release from their purchases, and for a long while, and until the city had again secured the title to nearly the entire common, the authorities were engaged in forfeiting these first sales of 1836.
The question of selling the common was then allowed to sleep until about 1842, when only a few of the forfeited lots were resold. In 1854 the City Council, under further authority of the Legislature, passed another ordinance making new and different arrangements for the sale of the common. The ordinance appointed a "Board of City Common," with authority to sub-divide the common into lots twenty-five feet front by one hundred and twenty-five feet deep; to intersect it with streets and avenues of no less width than sixty feet, and alleys of twenty feet, and with power to sell from time to time at auction sale, on terms of one-sixth cash and the remainder in equal annual installments of one, two, three, four, and five years, the interest on the deferred payments to be six per centum per annum. Under this ordinance five sales took place, the first being in June, 1854, and the last in July, 1859. The amounts realized in these sales sum up as follows:
First sale, June, 1854, aggregate proceeds, $210,000
making a total of $670,000. Of this amount one-tenth, or $67,000, was paid to the public schools, who in some instances took land instead of money, and from what remained, $453,000 went to the sinking fund, and $150,000 to the purchase or the improvement of public parks; this disposition of the proceeds being directed by the ordinance which authorized the sales. To show how "circumstances alter cases," and how opinions and values change with time, in these latter sales of 1854, 1856, and 1858 there were sums paid for the purchase of single lots 25 feet front by 125 feet in depth which at the first sale of 1836 would have purchased twenty-seven and a half acres, or more than one acre to every foot front. Or, to change the comparison, if the sum of $1375 invested in 1856 for a single lot of 25 feet front had been judiciously invested at the sale of 1836, as it might have been in numerous parts of the common, it would in 1859 have been worth to the party investing from $144,000 to $150,000, but it was the good fortune of the city, and the evil fortune of the buyers, that, as stated above, the original sales were nearly all forfeited.
The last sale took place Oct. 4, 1859, and a contemporary report of it said that,
"The sale of common lots by the city, effected by Messrs. Papin & Brother last Tuesday, was a complete success. The lots advertised were all, or nearly all, sold, and the prices realized were satisfactory. Lots on Maramec Street, opposite Mr. John Withnell's, brought from $14 to $21 per foot, averaging over $17 per foot. On Kansas, Michigan, and other avenues which intersect block 80 the average was about $10 per foot. Block 80 itself realized about $48,000. Afterwards on Carondelet road the lots brought from $12 to $16.50 per foot, on Michigan Avenue $8 to $15 per foot, and on the various other thoroughfares from $5 to $16 per foot. In all 306 lots were sold. The attendance was large, numbering from 250 to 300 bidders. The sale was prolonged until eight o'clock in the night, at which hour three lots were sold on Lafayette Avenue, opposite Chris. Stechlin's brewery, for $77.50 per foot. The aggregate amount of sales was 7684 feet front, producing $80,601."
It was after these sales had gotten under way that real estate values in St. Louis began to "jump," as will be seen by the following table:
We do not, however, by any means wish to imply that the real estate interest was stagnant previous to this. On the contrary, there had been, as has already been shown, a steady and rapid rise in values all along It has been satisfactory as regards St. Louis; it would be enormous in respect to any other community, Chicago excepted. A few salient facts culled from various sources will illustrate this.
Augustin Langlois conveyed to Albert Tison, Nov. 29, 1804, in the Carondelet portion of St. Louis, two
hundred arpens, "just as it is from top to bottom," for fifty-five dollars.
The first recorded conveyance of a lot within the limits of the old French village of St. Louis under the jurisdiction of the United States government was on Jan. 15, 1805, when Francis Liberge, Jr., sold to Dominick Huge a lot two hundred and forty feet front on Second Street, between Market and Chestnut Streets, and one hundred and fifty feet deep westward. The price for this piece was stated in the deed to be four hundred dollars.
A tract of fifteen or sixteen acres a little northwest of the old City Hotel, corner of Third and Vine Streets, was bought at an early day by a Mr. Earl, of Baltimore, for one hundred and fifty dollars. He did not consider it worth the taxes, and let it go.
In 1805, Joseph Lacroix sold to Louis Lemonde, for forty dollars, forty arpens, or nearly thirty-five acres, situated in the vicinity of the present Lindell and Laclede Hotels.
The first acquirement of the well-known Lucas estate was recorded on Dec. 14, 1807. The deed shows that Pre. Duchouquette sold "to John B. C. Lucas, first judge of the Territory of Louisiana, residing in this town of St. Louis, a house built of logs stuck into ground, a barn built of cedar wood, the house being underwalled and covered with shingles, the whole lying and being situated on two sites of the ordinary size and dimensions in this town." The deed further recites the location, which was on the north side of Chestnut Street, from Second to Third Street. The sale was "in consideration of six hundred dollars' worth of peltry, that is to say, two pounds and a half of shaved deerskin and marketable per dollar." Judge Lucas paid one-third of the six hundred dollars in cash, and gave a note for the balance. Judge Lucas died in 1843, owning, according to inventory in the Probate Court, $57,688 of personal estate, five lots in the old town of St. Louis, all that portion of the then city from Fourth to Eighth Street, between Walnut and Market, fifty acres from Eleventh to Seventeenth Street, between Market and St. Charles Streets, and four hundred and eighty-eight acres in other parts of St. Louis County. The assessed value of the entire real estate in 1842 was $136,890 for city and 8150,000 for country property.
The first assessment of property for taxation in the town of St. Louis of which there is any record was in 1811. The total assessed value of real and personal property was $134,516; the rate of taxation was one-half of one per cent., and the amount of taxes paid was $672.58. The heaviest tax-payer within the town was Auguste Chouteau, and his property was valued at $15,664. This Chouteau also owned about $61,000 worth of property in the county outside of the then town, but which in latter years became a part of the present city. Other large property-owners of that time, whose estates were not then in the city, but subsequently added, were Judge J. B. C. Lucas, valued at $10,555; John O'Fallon, $2450; William Clark, $19,930; William Christy, $16,000; and Henry Von Phul, $8175.
In 1816 a lot sixty-five feet front on Main Street, between Locust and Vine, and running through to Second Street, was bought for $1200. In December, 1850, a little more than one-third of the same lot sold for $56,000. Prior to this time it had yielded an immense rent for many years.
In other parts of the town of St. Louis at that time (1816) property was sold at merely a nominal figure, by the arpent or lot. There was scarcely any enhancement in the value of property from that time until the years 1829 and 1830.
In the year 1829 we find that a lot on the corner of Morgan and Fifth was sold for three dollars and fifty cents per foot. In the year 1832 property on the corner of Fifth and Cerre Streets was sold for two dollars and fifty cents per foot. In the same year ninety-five feet on the northeast corner of Seventh and Spruce Streets was sold for one dollar and eighty cents per foot. It was worth from three hundred to four hundred dollars per foot in 1859. In the same year (1832) property on the corner of Fifth and Gratiot Streets was sold for two dollars per foot.
In the year 1835 property on the corner of Wash and Sixth Streets was sold for the sum of seven dollars and fifty cents per foot. In the same year a lot at the corner of Hickory and Seventh Streets was sold for one dollar per foot, and the whole of block 157 was sold for the sum of three hundred dollars. In the same year the lot on Broadway opposite Franklin Avenue, upon which Wimer's new building is now situated, was sold for ten dollars per foot.
In the year 1836 property on Seventh Street, between Wash and Carr, was sold for six dollars per foot.
In the same year, property on Green Street, between Tenth and Eleventh, sold for three dollars per foot; on Eleventh, between Green and Morgan Streets, for three dollars per foot; on Austin Street, between Twelfth and Fourteenth, for about sixty cents average per foot; on Market Street, between Third and Fourth Streets, at twenty dollars per foot; and on the corner of Clark Avenue and Seventh Street, for six dollars per foot.
In 1837 property on Twelfth Street, between
Brooklyn and Howard Streets, was sold for five dollars per foot.
In 1841, at the northwest corner of Broadway and Jefferson Streets, at eight dollars per foot.
In the same year, on the corner of Chambers and Ninth Streets, for five dollars per foot.
Property on Olive Street, in the vicinity of Twelfth and Thirteenth Streets, sold as late as 1844 for from twelve to thirteen dollars per foot.
Take Stoddard's addition, for instance, which was sold in the fall of 1851. Property on the corner of Locust and Beaumont Streets was then sold for fifteen dollars per foot; on the corner of Washington Avenue and Garrison Avenue for five dollars and seventy-four cents per foot; on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Ewing Avenue for fifteen dollars per foot; on the corner of Lucas Avenue and Ewing Avenue for ten dollars; on the corner of Lucas and Leffingwell Avenues for the same price, and at the same ratio throughout the whole addition.
Eight years later this property was held at sixty to one hundred dollars per foot. On Chouteau Avenue land worth twenty dollars in 1851 was held at above one hundred and fifty dollars in 1859. It was noted this latter year that there was a regular and systematic ratio of property value enhancement, and the reason assigned for this undoubtedly the true reason, too was that, unlike many cities, St. Louis had not grown to her proud position in a day or a year. Nor will she, like many of them, cease to enlarge and prosper at the option of speculators. Manufactories and business of every kind and character have steadily increased and kept pace with this immense enhancement in the value of property. Buildings have been constantly going up, yet not fast enough to accommodate the immense emigration constantly swelling the population. In fact, the city has never been so prosperous, and the future is even more promising than the past has been satisfactory. There is to-day more foreign capital in the city and State seeking investment in real estate, business, and manufactories than there has ever been in any previous three years together. There is a larger margin for speculation in real property in St. Louis than there has ever been.
Real estate is enhancing in value more and more rapidly every year, and it must continue to do so until the vast territory stretching as far west as the Rocky Mountains shall be densely populated and pours its immense harvests annually into our markets. It is true that it requires more money to invest largely than it did a few years ago, but the profits are greater in proportion to the investment than they ever were. There is not a single city in the Union where rents yield such a percentage on the value of the property and yet any number of houses in any locality could readily be rented, if they were finished, at the same profits.
Continuing these illustrations, we find it noted that "when Mr. Cozens made the survey, property on Lindell Avenue, west of Grand, could have been bought at from three to five dollars per front foot; it is now worth in many places one hundred and fifty dollars. He has seen property on Fifth Street sell for two dollars and fifty cents and three dollars per foot, two hundred and two hundred and fifty dollars a lot were high prices; now the same property is valued at over fifteen hundred dollars per front foot. In the early '40's Henry Chouteau sold at auction two hundred feet front on Seventh Street, corner of Spruce, at fifty cents per front foot. In Stoddard's addition, along in the middle '50's, property sold at six and twelve dollars per front foot; to-day the same property is worth from one hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars. Mr. Cozens laid out in 1861-62 the Camp Jackson tract, which took in from Garrison Avenue, or Thirtieth Street to King's Highway, south of Olive, through which Pine and Chestnut Streets were projected. At the first sale, about 1863, property in that tract brought from ten to fifteen dollars per front foot; to-day it is worth from one hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars.
"In 1841, with Mr. Brown, Mr. Cozens laid out William Christy's western addition, from Fourteenth Street west to Jefferson Avenue, and between St. Charles Street and Cass Avenue; John Mullanphy's estate, north of Cass Avenue, from Broadway west to Jefferson Avenue; a sub-division for L. A. Benoist, W. G. and G. W. Ewing, on the south side of Cass and east of Jefferson Avenue, property in which sold for from one to five dollars per front foot."
Here follow some newspaper clippings:
1843. "The value of the real and personal property in the city of St. Louis reported by the late assessment is $11,721,425.91. The reports from the treasurer say it will be necessary to levy a tax of one per cent. on the assessment to meet the demands of the current year."
1844. "The total value of the taxable property of this city as assessed during the present year, and just approved by the board of aldermen, is $14,843,700. Last year the assessed value was about $11,000,000.
"It will be seen by an advertisement in this paper that Mr. Lucas designs to offer at public sale a large number of his lots, situated in the rear of the Planters' House, and in what must be the most fashionable and agreeable part of the city. The location is between Market and Olive Streets, and extending from Thirteenth to Sixteenth Streets."
1845. "Add the three districts together, and the total number of houses erected in 1844 in the corporate limits of St. Louis
may be set down at eleven hundred and forty-six. Of these many were churches, public edifices, and costly private residences. But great as the improvement was in 1844, unless some very unexpected reverse comes upon us, the amount to be expended in building in 1845 will quite equal it.
"Mr. Lucas intends, we understand, this season to make an improvement which will add greatly to the value of the property in that quarter, and increase the population west of the proposed improvement.
"We understand that he will open Twelfth Street, one hundred and forty or sixty feet wide, from Market to St. Charles Street, the breadth of five blocks. Fifty feet or so in the centre of the street will be reserved for a market-house which he will erect this season at his own cost, leaving a wide street on each side of the market."
1849. "The assessment of the real estate in the city of St. Louis for the year 1849, as appears from the assessor's books, is as follows:
1850. "We have said that we reckon the buildings erected this year by the thousand. By reference to the published tables it will be seen that their number reaches two thousand four hundred and fifty. The money expended on their construction amounts to the sum of $7,173,155."
1851. "Large Sale of Land. The large sale of land which has been going on for two days past in the ‘Union Addition’ to St. Louis, or ‘Capitol Hill,’ was closed yesterday. One hundred and sixty lots were sold, and the aggregate of the sales is $88,063.44. This addition is situated near the new reservoir of the city water-works, in the most elevated part of the city, and full two miles from the court-house.
"The Stoddard sale, conducted by Leffingwell & Elliott, was closed yesterday, the gross amount being $701,676. The whole tract is now disposed of, and we learn that many persons who had gone to the ground to bid failed to secure any lots. So great an amount of property has never been offered or sold in this city at one time, and the aggregate returns of purchasers evince the confidence of strangers as well as our own citizens in the stability and prospects of our city."
1855. "The sale of the Centre Market property, owned by the city, took place yesterday, and was attended by a great number of persons. The whole property produced over $174,000."
It was about this period that the citizens of St. Louis began to turn their attention to suburban properties and the construction of suburban villas and cottages. The country in the vicinity of the city has long been noted for its beauty and its adaptedness to the elegant ease of country-seats owned by the wealthy and the luxurious.
The whole territory environing St. Louis is very elevated, undulating gently and gracefully, in such ] manner that there is no road leading from the city which does not for many miles reveal an innumerable succession of beautiful building eminences. The valleys which intervene, the vigorous and stately oak groves decking the hill-tops occasionally or lining the margin of chance brooks, the rich rolling meadows, the extensive and trim gardens, atoning by their careful cultivation and their freshness for the disorder of the gardener's hut attached to them, with here and there at rare intervals the elegant cottage and finely-embellished grounds of some wealthy merchant from the city, all combine to make a picturesque and attractive landscape. An afternoon ride over the Bellefontaine road, the Carondelet road, the Manchester road, or over Grand Avenue sustains the assumption that there is no city of the West, at any rate, whose suburbs reveal greater natural beauties than those of St. Louis.
But until the periods referred to, these beauties had been lost upon the wealthy, since they had developed no fondness for suburban or country life. Now, however, this began, and elegant mansions and villas began to spring up about Compton Hill, Côte Brilliante, and the Carondelet road, and later along the railroads leading into the city.
About this time, also, the people began to take note of the pace at which real estate values were being accelerated, and to look upon holdings of city lots as about as rapid a means of getting rich as any one need employ. They recalled, for example, that
"in the year 1840, St. Louis, although a place of importance, evinced nothing foreshadowing her present prosperity. Manufactories of all kinds were few, her mercantile operations limited, and real estate was held at merely a nominal figure. She was, in fact, dependent entirely upon other places for almost every article for home consumption. In 1836, only four years previous to the time of which we speak, property was offered on the corner of Eighth and Pine Streets for ten dollars per foot, and could not be sold from the fact that every one regarded the price as enormously fictitious. The whole western part of the city, say from Eighth Street westwardly, was then a common, and few imagined that it would ever be used for anything else. In 1839 the eastern half of the block where the Planters' House is now was sold for the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars per foot. Every one regarded the purchaser as ‘done for’ in that speculation. The property would to-day (the year 1859) sell for fifteen hundred dollars per foot. The best property on Main Street would not sell for more than three hundred dollars prior to the great fire of 1849.
"In the years 1839 and 1840 property on Lucas Place could not have been sold for three dollars per foot, and a sale was effected by Messrs. Belt & Priest a few days since at the round sum of two hundred and fifty-one dollars per foot. But we are asked the question, How do you account for this rapid enhancement in the value of real estate? Is it permanent, and will not this state of things terminate in total bankruptcy if it continues? They who propound such questions know little of the illimitable and inexhaustible resources of our great city. St. Louis, although in its infancy, possesses the power of a giant. The history of the world fails to present a single example of a city growing to such greatness when fostered by its commercial position alone. It cannot be claimed that the country back of St.
Louis has aided her much, for by far the greatest portion of it is an unbroken wilderness.
"The maximum value of real estate in St. Louis has not been attained. There is to-day a larger margin for speculation and an inevitable certainty of a more rapid increase than there was ten or twenty years ago. We are gratified that Eastern capitalists have become awake to this fact, and are investing largely in real estate in our city. We invite more capital; there is room for immense amounts to be lucratively invested. We invite emigration; we invite labor. Come one, come all, there is bread and work for us all."
And all this is just as true of 1883 as it was of 1859. The maximum value of real estate in St. Louis is still to be attained, and the increase to-day is more rapid than it was twenty-five years ago.
The civil war set things back a whole lustrum, but did not destroy nor even injure the roots of progress and development. These, indeed, seemed to strengthen and pierce deeper and take firmer grip of the soil during the period when they were prevented from sending shoots upwards. By 1870 all activities had been resumed, as the following record of building in that year shows:
The total number of building permits granted during the year was 1228. From this amount there should be deducted 200 for small additions not properly classed as buildings. This leaves 1028 buildings. To this add 500 buildings erected aside from permits granted, and also including cases where permits cover more than one building, and there is an approximate number of buildings erected during the year of 1528. The total estimated building outlay was equivalent to $5,687,710, expended in buildings during the year.
Operations so extensive and so costly as this required, of course, great economy in the regulation of expenditures and the selection of materials. Fortunately, St. Louis is very rich in cheap and handsome building materials of every sort. Nowhere can better lime, sand, and bricks be found, taken right out of the soil on which the city is built. As early as 1839, Samuel Head began to quarry and manufacture marble from a quarry under the city, as is recounted in the following letter from Mr. Garesché:
"On my arrival in this city, I was struck with the marble appearance of the stone, but was unable to procure a person who understood polishing it; in the mean time, Mr. Samuel Head, a young man lately come to this place, whose business it was, worked this stone, and demonstrated to the inhabitants of St. Louis how useless it was to send to the eastward for mantelpieces or other marble monuments when they were treading over a soil so rich in that species of mineral. This marble vies with the most beautiful for the fineness of its polish, nor are its variegated accidents or color inferior to any. It contains abundance of calcareous spar, and some, probably, oxide of iron, which shows itself in scarlet spots of the most gaudy hue. This ledge, about four feet in thickness, stands between two strata of limestone. The undermost has been used to this day as a fine building material. It is that of which our curbstones are made and our streets are macadamized. It receives also a very fine polish it is then of a cream color, with light gray veins. Under this stratum is one of silex. Mr. Head has also discovered in the same quarry another kind of marble of a nankeen hue, with black veins running through, pretty much in imitation of scales of a fish. The last specimen has, however, been found in but small detached pieces. There is scarcely any doubt when the subject is further investigated but what some new discoveries will be made. The banks of the river for some considerable distance appear to be of the same nature, and must contain the same or some other mineral wealth, which may become a source of profitable exportation to the community at large."
St. Louis possesses the advantage of being built in a location and upon ground where the best of bricks are easily attainable at low prices. It is worthy of note that the appearance presented by the walls of the many thousands of fine residences and business houses attracts the attention of every visitor to the city. To build up a city like St. Louis, almost entirely of brick, requires a large supply of suitable clay for their manufacture, but, as great as the draft has been, the supply is as yet comparatively untouched, and as demands are made and investigations prosecuted, the quality increases in value and importance, and foreign markets, that but a few years ago furnished clay for crucibles used in smelting furnaces, fire-brick, etc., now use that of St. Louis for their supplies, thereby acknowledging the superiority of the clay found in St. Louis over that of other sections. So important is this branch of trade becoming, that several firms make this traffic an especial business, and are almost daily filling orders for Cincinnati, Louisville, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and other large manufacturing cities in our own country, while orders have also come from Stourbridge, England, from whence clay used to be shipped to different cities of this country.
The manufacture of brick enters very largely into the active use of capital, and, like every other branch of industrial manufacture, has undergone many changes and has been attended with many improvements within the period of time that has passed since the St. Louis trading-post began to give way before
the march of progress, and the manufacturers of the rude pieces of tempered earthen mortar they called brick some of which may still be seen in some of the pioneer brick houses of St. Louis would look with wonder upon the almost scientific nicety and difference in shape of the brick now made as compared with those they fashioned, if it were possible for them to be raised from their sleep of death and shown through some of the St. Louis brick-yards. But, notwithstanding the many different kinds of brick-making machines that have been invented, the old hand process seems to be regarded with a very great degree of partiality, as affording a better and more perfect brick for building purposes than any machine ever yet introduced, although some of the machines turn out an excellent quality. With machinery, brick can be made much faster than by hand, but it is maintained by many builders and owners of houses that the rapidity with which they are made renders it impossible for them to be made perfect and solid in every respect, and particularly so with those made from dry clay. A smooth, even surface and solid formation are the qualities requisite to a good brick, and in many localities clay from which such bricks can be made is scarcely attainable. Its absence accounts for the rough, cracked, and almost shale-like appearance of many of the walls of brick houses to be seen in many sections of the country.
In some places it is impossible to find a clay that will not crack either in sun-drying or burning, however well-tempered the mortar may have been, and instances have been known where kilns, in which a hundred thousand had been set, would not turn out more than twenty-five to fifty thousand merchantable brick. In such cases heavy pecuniary loss was unavoidable, and hence the importance to brick-moulders of finding clay that would withstand the action of the sun when turned out in the yard to dry, or of the fire while kiln-burning. In the earlier times slop brick that is, brick made by rolling the mortar in water and casting it in wet moulds were more generally made than any other kind, but the difficulty of obtaining a smooth surface, a very desirable consideration, was a great objection to that style of brick, and it gradually gave way to other methods, as did also the old way of preparing the mortar by tramping it with horses, oxen, or even, in some instances, by men and horses. But these methods of brick-making gave way to sand brick. These are made by rolling the mortar in sand on the moulding-table and casting it into moulds, which are also well sanded by being dipped in a box of sand by the off-bearers after every turning out on the yard. It is very justly maintained that this process secures more smoothly-surfaced, nicely-cornered, and more solid brick than those moulded in slop or water, and that it also secures a brighter, better color in burning. This process of brick-moulding is universally followed by the different hand brickyards of St. Louis.
White Brick. A great part of this brick formerly used was brought from other sections, Milwaukee, Wis., being the most noted place of the manufacture of that variety. Within the last twenty years, however, it has been satisfactorily settled that in St. Louis there is even a better quality of clay for their manufacture than that used at Milwaukee, and their manufacture has begun on a large scale. The bed of clay from which they are made is supposed to be inexhaustible.
This clay burns to a beautiful white, producing a brick every way equal to, and in certain respects superior to, those made at Milwaukee. Their color when properly made is lighter and more uniform, while the shrinkage is uniform, far more so than in the Milwaukee brick. From tests made by the engineers of the water-works and others, their tenacity is shown to be equal to any in government reports, sustaining flatways two thousand pounds on supports six inches apart with a fulcrum in the centre. Their manufacture was attempted before the late war, and about one hundred thousand made and burnt, but on account of the war the enterprise was abandoned until 1867. Pressed white brick, it is said, are much less expensive than stone fronts and look nearly as well, and it is therefore a source of congratulation that they are manufactured in St. Louis instead of imported from Milwaukee.
Fire-Clay. The increase in the establishment of furnaces requiring the use of fire-brick, crucibles, retorts, etc., has necessarily increased the demand for these articles. In the earlier periods of the manufacturing interests of our country, clay for the manufacture of crucibles, retorts, etc., as well as some of the manufactured articles, were brought from Stourbridge, England, and Germany. The cost of either the clay or the manufactured article was a matter of no little moment, and hence the discovery of fire-clay in this country became a matter of congratulation to manufacturers, and as investigations and discoveries have been extended, beds of the purest and best of this material have been found, and now, instead of importing it either from Germany or England, it is exported from America to all the manufacturing points of Europe; but while it is found in many sections of our country, none rank higher among manufacturers than that found at
Cheltenham and vicinity, four miles from St. Louis. The properties of the best pot- and fire-clay consists of the following percentage of component parts:
An analysis of the Stourbridge clay (for a long period of years regarded as the most nearly perfect of any offered to the trade), made by Willis (see Watt's Diet. Chem., Eng. Ed., vol. ii. p. 653), showed the following proportion of ingredients:
An analysis of the Cheltenham clay, by Professor A. Litton, shows that it is much nearer a perfect article, taking the analysis of the best pot-clay, as submitted by Richardson, as authority, than that known as Homer's best pot-clay from Stourbridge, England. The analysis of both the crude and washed clay is as follows:
Of the exact date of the finding of the clay at Cheltenham we are not fully advised, but Paul M. Gratiot engaged in the manufacture of fire-brick in a small way as early as 1837-38. His works were situated on what is now known as the Glassby heirs' farm, on King's Highway, and near the residence of Hon. John S. McClure. Since then, however, the discovery of immense beds of the clay have been made, and several large fire-brick manufactories erected, employing a large capital and several hundred mechanics, laborers, etc.
No substance has ever been found anywhere that approaches the Cheltenham clay. This clay on being first brought to the surface and exposed to the light has an appearance similar to that of stone, but after being exposed to the weather for a few days it disintegrates and falls to pieces. One-third of the material thus unearthed is preserved from exposure to the weather, and this portion of it is burned or calcined, this process being necessary to the proper working up of the material. After being burned it is passed through a process of grinding or reduction from its large lumps to a certain degree of pulverization necessary to the manufacture of fire-brick or whatever else may be intended, and from the Iron Age we extract the following description of the process to which the clay is submitted. This description relates to other works, but embraces the same principles and machinery as that used in St. Louis. It says,
"Much care has to be exercised in the selection of the clay and its combinations in proper proportions. The brick are to resist the intense heat of the puddling furnace, the iron cupola, the locomotive and boiler grate, as well as the continuous heat in other places where the action of fire is to be resisted. The brick made directly from the clay is found to be too solid and too liable to fracture from the heat. To remedy this and secure a porous article the pure and best fire-clays are calcined, then it is taken and crushed by means of large iron rollers. By this process it is reduced to a mass of small particles ready for mixing with the pure clays. When the proper ingredients are thus combined, the mixture is put into a large box or vat and let soak about a day. Then it goes through the pug-mill, by which it is ground fine. It is then ready to be modeled into any of the required shapes, and they are legion. After this has been done the bricks are placed on the drying floor, where they remain from six to ten hours. They are then pressed, to give them their regular shape. After pressing they are again placed upon a drying floor, where they remain until dry enough to be set in the kilns for burning. The brick from the modelers will have to be handled five times before they are ready for use. The two defects that have heretofore existed in pressing blocks flatwise and by hand are said to be, 1st, the blocks were not pressed hard enough; 2d, they came out of the mould of an uneven thickness. To remedy these evils machinery has been invented within a few years for pressing the blocks edgewise, so that they come out fully pressed and with a perfect uniform thickness. This make of blocks, therefore, has the advantage that they require no chipping or dressing in laying them up. This saves a great amount of labor in lining or relining furnace It also makes a much better job than when laid with uneven blocks.
"Next comes the baking process. Here the round kilns are used, which is the form preferred by the English and other foreign makers. These improved, circular, high-coned kilns are fired with anthracite coal, and have a large number of fire-chambers around, and the heat is drawn to the centre of the kiln. This arrangement makes the heat equal throughout the whole kiln, burning top and bottom brick alike. Between the fire-chambers and the bricks, after they are set in the kiln, are protection-walls that prevent the heat from striking them, carry it up to the top of the kiln, and then down through its centre, enabling it to escape through a flue or pipe leading
from the bottom underground to the smokestack of the manufacturing machinery. It makes heat fast and very intense, burning all the brick thoroughly and equally. Thirty-six hours of full heat are generally required to burn the brick, and about twenty-four hours are required to attain this heat. The time required for cooling, of course, varies with the season.
"A large number of the fire-bricks manufactured here are sent to the manufacturing establishments of the Lake Superior regions, while a great many are shipped to the South, and almost all other points where manufactories requiring intense heating apparatuses are established; and so superior are the manufactures of the St. Louis and Cheltenham works that wherever they have been introduced they have been awarded the premium, both as to the quality of the clay and superiority of manufacture. The clay is becoming an article of commerce in itself, and is sought after from the various manufacturing cities of our own country, while some orders have come from Europe. One or two firms exist in this city that engage exclusively in its traffic. It is usually put up in barrels, and is worth in this market sixteen dollars per ton. Fire-bricks made at the Cheltenham and Oak Hill Works have been submitted to the severest tests known to the business, and pronounced by experienced men to be of the very best quality. For retorts and crucibles, and everything else designed to be exposed to the action of a great heat, the fire-clay found in St. Louis County is unsurpassed, and is a source of wealth little dreamed of by the pioneer settlers of this part of the Mississippi valley. As yet it is not fully developed or worked to any extent by other than the establishments already named; but it is not saying too much to predict that the time is not far in the future when the establishments to be built up here to shape and convert into articles of usefulness will be equal to those of any part of the Old World, to which America looked for many years for her supply of clay for crucibles, retorts, etc., and thus add millions of money to our home capital, and increase our population by thousands."
According to the tax assessor's report for 1882, the valuation of the real estate in the city of St. Louis is as follows: In the old limits, or within the limits before 1877, there are 63,652 lots, valued at $143,585,820, and 1417 acres, valued at $3,440,270; total, $147,026,090. In the area between the old and present limits there are 18,367 lots, valued at $7,233,070, and 19,056 acres, valued at $7,917,850; total, $15,151,520. The grand total for the entire city for the 82,019 lots and 20,473 acres is $162,177,610.
St. Louis now has about one-third of its area covered with building and park improvements. There are about three hundred and thirty miles of improved streets, two hundred and fifteen miles of public and district sewers, two hundred and thirty miles of water-pipe, eighteen street railroads, having nearly one hundred and thirty miles of route through the city, and sixteen steam railroads centering at Union Depot.
The United States government now owns property in real estate and buildings in St. Louis to the value of $5,787,800, and the St. Louis school board owns property valued at $2,382,342. The valuation of property owned by private schools and convents is $1,418,465, and by church corporations, $3,610,586. The total amount of real estate exempt from taxation in the city is about $35,000,000.
The increase in the assessed value of real estate in St. Louis in 1882 was about fifteen per cent. as to the entire city. In the central part of the city twenty and twenty-five per cent. increase was made, while in the suburban sections five to ten per cent. additional value was placed on real estate. But few owners made petitions appealing from these additional valuations.
Below are given samples of the assessments on Washington Avenue and Olive Street for the past two years, from which some idea may be obtained of the increased values.
Between Fourth and Fifth Streets:
Ames' estate, 90 feet front, valued at $187,500 in 1881, and $190,000 in 1882.
William G. Clark, owner, 112 feet front; increased from $155,750 to $174,500.
Mercantile Block, 18 feet front; increased from $17,720 to $26,520.
Between Fifth and Sixth Streets:
Mary P. Barrett, 71 feet front; increased from $82,140 to $94,860.
John H. Beach, 23 feet front; from $20,570 to $23,180.
Alford Bradford, 70 feet; increased from $94,800 to $105,800.
Charles Bradford, 30 feet; from $43,200 to $48,200.
State Savings Association, 27 feet; from $19,280 to $21,000.
Between Sixth and Seventh Streets:
Ames' estate, 90 feet; from $87,200 to $100,000.
New Lindell Hotel Company, 182 feet; from $474,150 to $587,000.
Between Seventh and Eighth Streets:
Gerard B. Allen, 235 feet; from $94,580 to $138,080.
George W. Bull, 22 feet; from $17,930 to $22,240.
Between Eighth and Ninth Streets:
First Methodist Church, 94 feet; from $35,880 to $38,000.
Between Ninth and Tenth Streets:
Esther Collins, 24 feet; from $32,330 to $37,500.
Between Fourth and Fifth Streets:
Third National Bank, 37 feet; from $97,000 to $103,750.
Between Sixth and Seventh Streets:
Provident Savings-Bank, 25 feet; from $39,500 to $44,500.
John B. Sarpy, 50 feet; from $46,330 to $52,900.
Between Sixth and Seventh Streets:
Alice Bacon, 25 feet; from $13,870 to $15,200.
Between Seventh and Eighth Streets:
T. Benoist, 44 feet; from $33,040 to $40,000.
Between Eighth and Ninth Streets:
Laura A. Blossom, 25 feet: from $12,290 to $15,450.
Odd-Fellows' Hall Association, 127 feet; from $54,000 to $60,000.
Between Ninth and Tenth Streets:
Gerard B. Allen, 100 feet; from $70,500 to $92,500.
Pelagie Berthold, 50 feet; from $23,500 to $26,500.
Between Tenth and Eleventh Streets:
Mary A. Calhoun, 24 feet; from $8250 to $12,250.
Between Eleventh and Twelfth Streets:
Daniel Catlin, 24 feet; from $8720 to $9720.
Nathan Cole, 29 feet; from $11,410 to $12,800.
John Byrne, Jr., the pioneer, perhaps, in what has grown to be the colossal real estate business of St. Louis, was born in New York City, Aug. 3, 1805. His parents were John Byrne and Margaret O'Donnell, both natives of County Donegal, Ireland. Little is recorded of his boyhood, except that he was educated at Georgetown, D. C., leaving school in 1819 and removing with his parents to Mobile, Ala., where, although a mere boy, he was immediately associated with his father in mercantile pursuits, for which he early exhibited a special aptitude.
On the 5th of March, 1832, he was married to Sarah M. Fitzimmons, a native of Asheville, N. C., and of Irish parentage. This union has proved a long and happy one, and on the 5th of March, 1882, the couple had the pleasure of celebrating their golden wedding, amid the congratulations of a large company of their friends in St. Louis.
The ruin wrought by the panic of 1837 compelled Mr. Byrne to seek a new location. Accordingly he removed to St. Louis, where he established a modest dry goods house on Market Street. Few of those then engaged in business in St. Louis are now living, but one of the few is Eugene Kelly, who kept a store within a few doors of his, and who is now a wealthy banker of New York.
In 1840, Mr. Byrne opened a real estate office in a little building on Chestnut Street, near Fourth. Although the honor has been claimed for others, he was perhaps the pioneer in this business, and H. W. Leffingwell appears to have been the next person to engage in this as yet untried field.
Mr. Byrne's industry and fidelity to the interests of his patrons were speedily recognized, and he soon had the satisfaction of seeing his business established on a substantial basis. Its increase has been singularly uniform, a result due perhaps to his conservatism, which prevented his engaging in the wild speculations that proved so ruinous to others in the real estate trade. This caution begot confidence in him and gained him custom, and some of the largest estates in St. Louis have passed through his hands. It is now forty-two years since the business was inaugurated, and the generous competence which Mr. Byrne is now enjoying in the evening of his days is the fitting reward for years of watchful and incessant industry.
Although not a politician, Mr. Byrne has not declined to serve the public when called upon. At one time he was a member of the Board of Education, serving with Chancellor Eliot, and proved himself a progressive friend of the public school system.
He is a devoted member of the Catholic Church, and was one of the founders of the St. Vincent de Paul Association. When he arrived in St. Louis he says the population was only eighteen thousand. The court-house was the only public building, and that was unfinished. The only Catholic Churches were the cathedral and the chapel of the St. Louis University, and the only two Catholic institutions were the St. Louis University, under Father Ellet, and the Convent of the Sacred Heart.
Mr. Byrne was a director in the Central Savings-Bank, and when it failed he lost his investments and the deposits of his house. He is now a director in the Safe Deposit Company.
Mr. Byrne has had two children. Mary Elizabeth was born in New York in 1833, and in 1856 was married in St. Louis to Dr. F. L. Haydel, of St. James Parish, La. Dr. Haydel has been associated with his father-in-law for many years as superintendent of his business.
The fate of James Fitzsimmons Byrne was a tragic one. He was born in St. Louis, May 27, 1842; attended school at Antwerp, Belgium, for four years, and on June 8, 1864, was drowned in the Rhine at Bonn, Prussia. He was a young man of exceptional promise, and his sudden death fell with crushing weight upon his parents.
Although now considerably beyond the Scriptural limit of "threescore years and ten," Mr. Byrne has not until lately exhibited any marked decay of body or mind. He appears occasionally at his business, and attends to many details, and still manifests considerable interest in affairs. Of a retiring nature, he has always shunned publicity, and would prefer, if judged at all, to be judged by his deeds. According to such a standard, there are few of the business men of St. Louis who have accomplished more, not merely in winning success in business, but in demonstrating the fact that enduring success is the natural result of patient, painstaking, and unostentatious labor.
Marcus A. Wolff, another prominent real estate agent, was born in Louisville, Ky., May 14, 1831. His father was born in London, England, of Polish parents, and came to this country when only nineteen years old. He was a mechanic in moderate circumstances. Eventually he married Miss Susan Franklin, of Kentucky. The elder Wolff was a man of sound common sense, and, so far as he was able, gave his son a good common-school education. When the boy was only ten years of age, however, necessity compelled him to leave school, in order to contribute
to his own support and to that of the other and younger members of the family.
Hoping to better his condition, his father removed to St. Louis, and Marcus found employment as a newsboy and in various capacities in the newspaper offices. The papers of the city then were the Missouri Republican, the Evening Gazette, the Missourian, and the Reveille. For several years he was a carrier on the Evening Gazette and the Reveille, and in 1847 he went on the Republican, working at the press and carrying papers. The chief incidents of the latter engagement were the fire that destroyed the office of the paper and the cholera epidemic of 1849. While the malady was raging young Wolff gave a signal display of energy: three of the carriers of the paper were stricken down, and he insisted upon delivering the papers on their routes in addition to his own, and for some time did the work of four men, beginning at one o'clock A. M. and walking continuously until noon. Such service won the gratitude and respect of his employers and the admiration of his acquaintances. In this eminently practical school Mr. Wolff completed his business education.
In December, 1852, he married Miss Eliza J. Curtis, of St. Louis, and about the same time obtained a position as teller and clerk in a private banking-house, in which position he soon acquired the reputation of being the best judge of bank-notes in the city, a distinction to be proud of, for in those days there were it twelve hundred banks throughout the country issuing notes of differing denomination. By judicious investment of his savings he was enabled in 1859 to establish himself in business as junior member of the real estate firm of Porter & Wolff. The house soon became known as one of the most successful in St. Louis. In 1868, Mr. Porter retired, and Mr. Wolff continued the business, having purchased his partner's interest. In 1872 the firm of M. A. Wolff & Co. established. Under Mr. Wolff's energetic management the business grew rapidly, and has long been perhaps the largest and most prosperous of its kind in St. Louis.
Pre-eminently a business man, Mr. Wolff has never held office, although a stanch Democrat, and often solicited to allow his name to be used. But recognizing the fact that his own prosperity depended on that of the city, he has always taken a deep interest in whatever promised to advance her progress. He was of the original stockholders in the Boatmen's Savings Institution, and holds or has held an interest (mostly as director) in the following institutions: Second National Bank, East St. Louis Elevator Company, Hope Mutual Insurance Company, St. Louis Distillery Company, Rapid Transit Company, South St. Louis Street Railroad Company, and Real Estate Exchange. Generally, it may be said that no legitimate enterprise promising the advancement of the city and State has yet been inaugurated in which he has not manifested a deep interest.
Mr. Wolff is of a social nature, and is a Mason, Knight Templar, Knight of St. Patrick, and a member of the St. Louis Legion of Honor and other societies. Throughout his life he has been industrious, prudent, and saving, and as a consequence has amassed a handsome competency. His residence at Côte Brilliante is one of the most attractive in the city.
Still in the prime of life, Mr. Wolff has lost none of the spirit and dash that characterized his early career, and appears good for many years to come.
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