St Joseph

St. Joseph was founded as a trading post on the east bank of the Missouri River in 1826. By the 1840s emigrants to the West used it as an outfitting town on their way to Oregon and California.

In April 1860 St. Joseph became the eastern terminus of the Pony Express from Sacramento in California. The town continued to grow and in 1880 it had a population of 20,000 people.

Primary Sources

(1) Joaquin Miller and his family joined a wagon train to Oregon in the 1860s. He wrote about it in his autobiography, Overland in a Covered Wagon (1930)

We found St. Joseph after nearly two months' steady tramp and solid tread of the honest old oxen, a sea of tents. For miles and miles up the Missouri and down were to be seen the white tents, white covered wagons and busy people passing and surging to and fro. It was now the middle of May. The weather was warm and we could sleep in the tents instead of the covered wagons. So we rested here for several days while papa purchased food and other things that we needed.

We had two big heavily laden wagons, with eight yoke of oxen to each, a carriage and two horses for mother and baby sister, and a single horse for the three boys to ride. This was particularly convenient, especially at the crossing of the swollen streams, when all three could climb on together and get lots of fun and often times a little wetting; for we all had learned to swim in the dear old Tippecanoe, and we did not mind a bit if we all rolled off together in the middle of the stream.