St. Joseph, Missouri


The impetus given St. Joseph by the overland emigration and freighting caused the town to make rapid strides up to 1861, at which time a population of 11,000 was claimed and many substantial public improvements were shown. The streets were paved with macadam, bridges had been built across the different creeks that coursed through the city and considerable grading had been done in the hills.  Besides being a supply point for overland freighters, St. Joseph was a hemp and grain market of prominence, and pork packing had become an important industry.

When the Hannibal & St. Joseph road became a fact business, which had heretofore closely hugged the river and market square began to look to the southeast.  John Patee was one of the foremost citizens of the place.  He had platted his land in an early day, and when the Hannibal & St. Joseph road was projected had donated a strip of forty acres for terminal and depot purposes.  This land stretches from Olive street south to Mitchell Avenue, west of Eighth street. In the firm belief that the future St. Joseph would build up around the railroad terminals, and with the assurance that the depot would be located at Penn street, Mr. Patee built a magnificent hotel, which cost him about $180,000, and which was then the second largest and best appointed hostelry in the United States. However, he was somewhat disappointed, for the depot was located at Eighth and Olive streets.

“Pateetown,” as that section of the city was nick-named, grew rapidly after the completion of the railroad in 1859.  A market house was built at Tenth and Lafayette streets, which still stands; business houses and hotels sprang up on Eighth and Tenth streets, south of Olive, and there was lively traffic.  But the people uptown were not idle either, for prosperity was ruling there too. Many brick business houses were built; among them the Pacific House, the Odd Fellow building at Fifth and Felix streets.  Turner Hall, and several blocks on Felix, Edmond, Francis and Fourth streets. The town was spreading out. Graders were busy leveling the hills and filling up the valleys, and the residence portion was being beautified with good homes.

Public improvements were confined mostly to grading the streets and to building bridges over the crooked creeks that coursed through the city.  Smith’s branch, which headed near the upper end of Frederick Avenue, came down that street, crossed lots to and followed the course of Buchanan Avenue, touched Faraon and Jule streets and flowed southwest to Eighth near Edmond street, thence across lots between the Kuechle brewery and Turner Hall to Sixth and Messanie streets, thence south to where the gas plant is located, below Olive street, and thence west to the river.  Though there was not much water ordinarily, there was a deep ravine which was often filled with a wild torrent v/hen the rains were heavy.  This creek was bridged wherever the travel demanded, and so likewise were Blacksnake and Liniment creeks.

St. Joseph had progressive men at the head of affairs in those days.  The people responded to every call, both from their private resources and with the public funds, and bonds were voted with a recklessness that is astonishing in these conservative days.  Any project that knocked for admittance was welcomed heartily and led at once to the open purse.  Some of this liberty is still being atoned for by the innocent taxpayer.

The Daily news’ history of Buchanan County and St. Joseph, Mo.