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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L2 - Jacob Weston's Family Lived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1820s

Updated on April 6, 2018
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Blacksmith at work on a horseshoe

Blacksmith making a horseshoe
Blacksmith making a horseshoe

Jacob grew his family and his business interests in southwest St. Louis

Jacob and Dinah Weston, along with their baby son, Levi, arrived in the St. Louis area in the summer of 1823. They were in the company of her brother, Hiram Parks and a number of his business associates. Parks Wagon Works became the core business in the several blocks of development that came from the group that all arrived on this hill just outside the southwest area of the St. Louis area. They were far enough out that they were not heavily impacted by the city, yet close enough to be able to effectively market their goods and services to the city residents. As the years went by, in addition, the city grew around them.

Jacob worked as part of the larger group, but at the same time, he worked to establish his own, independent operations as well, in his areas of specialty. Several others also took that approach with their own skill sets that complemented the productivity of the overall group. Jacob was a skilled farrier and had good blacksmithing skills in addition to the skills he had developed in woodworking with the wagon building firm over the years of his association with them. Jacob had kept his core set of Morgan Horses and worked immediately to systematically grow his herd in his early years in the St. Louis area, as well.

Levi had his 4th birthday in March of 1827 and was joined by a sister, named Ruth, born in April of 1827. It was about this time that Jacob and Dinah began to believe that their future laid further west. With the support of her brother and his colleagues, Jacob began a short-haul wagon-based freight line from their base location to an area several miles to the west, now being called Eureka. At the wagon works, Jacob had developed a good eye for hiring new young men, and now he used that skill to hire drivers for his freight wagons.

A blacksmith shop

A fully stocked blacksmith shop
A fully stocked blacksmith shop | Source

Jacob gradually expanded his freight line to the capital city, Jefferson City

Working closely with persons in each local community, Jacob soon expanded his freight line business to not only Eureka, but on to Union, then to Gerald, then Drake, than Mount Sterling and Linn and finally, in the summer of 1832, into Jefferson City. He had contracted persons operating individual stations in each town, where he kept relief horses and where drivers could stay overnight, as their route schedules required along the now 100-mile line. Also, in March of 1832, Jacob and Dinah expanded their family with the addition of the birth of a second son, Ezra. Levi was now 9 and Ruth was 5.

On Levi's 12th birthday, he began his formal farrier training, with his father. Jacob was not surprised that Levi was a fast learner. For the past two years, he had spent several hours a week with one of the cabinet makers in his shop near their home. He had shown a fascination with wood working. By the time of his 12th birthday, Levi had already been creating quality small projects with his mentor. That continued as he added the farrier apprenticeship to his schedule. Levi was also a voracious reader, which pleased his parents a great deal. He had been very proficient in his school work, as well.

Levi looked forward to the first Shabbat following his 13th birthday in March of 1836, when the family would celebrate his Bar Mitzvah, his "coming of age" in their faith. The Shabbat, the seventh day of the week, in Jewish families, was observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night.

Jefferson City, MO, on the Mississippi River

Sketch of Jefferson City, Missouri from the 1860s
Sketch of Jefferson City, Missouri from the 1860s | Source

Levi reached more milestones and Jacob decided to move the family to the Jefferson City area

With his fourteenth birthday in March, 1837, Levi received his first two Morgan horse mares, as was the family tradition. He had worked closely with his father over several months to choose the proper mares for his use. At this time, he also began to learn additional blacksmithing skills. He chose to learn the skills necessary to built carriages, which had become a special interest to him. He had several persons in their group from whom he was able to learn very specialized skills well. Later that same month, Hiram, another brother was born. He was named for his mother's brother, of course, Hiram Parks, who had led them to their lives in the St. Louis area.

During that summer, Jacob began to make plans to move his family to the state capital, in Jefferson City. He believed living at the other end of his current Weston Freight Lines route would be beneficial, partly by living near offices of the state at the capital where certain freight contracts might be available. Jacob was also planning to extend the freight line to the west, and possibly the south, as well, from Jefferson City. He felt he needed to be at that location to be most effective in his management of the growth of the firm. He had good people working for him on both ends of the current Line. Jacob wanted to personally be involved in the growth to be had in Jefferson City. They made the move in the summer of 1838.

Jacob had located an acreage about five miles south of the Mississippi River and about a mile to the east of directly south of the center of Jefferson City that had all the attributes he sought for his ongoing farrier operations, his horse breeding business, and the new headquarters for his Weston Freight Lines. He and Dinah were also able to build a beautiful home on a rise at the back of the property that had a magnificent view of the capital city and the gorgeous river running past it, west to east. A lumber mill was near by where Levi could easily obtain the materials he needed for the wagon and carriage making business he foresaw in his future, as well. He worked hard with his father to bring this all about for the mutual benefit of all the family members.

Historical note by the author

As noted in Episode L1 of this series of historical fiction family saga stories, all of the characters in this episode are fictional. Activities and events in both locations are consistent with known historical facts, but are entirely fictitious. The Jacob and Levi Weston characters were first created as a part of The Homeplace Saga stories collectively identified as The Founding - during their later lives in Missouri. This current Lx series fills in the early years of their lives.

Some of the stories of the forthcoming "American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1875)" collection of historical fiction family saga short stories are being published on "The Homeplace Saga" blog, found at the link, below, including those including Levi and Jacob Weston.

“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”


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