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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L1 - Jacob Weston moved his family to St. Louis, Missouri in 1823

Updated on March 9, 2015
DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

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

A Wagon Wheel Shop

Re-enactment of an early 1800's Wheel Wright shop
Re-enactment of an early 1800's Wheel Wright shop | Source

Jacob decided to specialize in wagon building

In the fall of 1814, when Jacob, with his father's approval, decided he really wanted to specialize his career in wagon building, his father Fred arranged for him to begin spending quality time with Guy Tryon. Tryon had arrived in Picqua from Pennsylvania two years earlier with a well-earned reputation as a wagon builder. He was working at his trade in Picqua in partnership with the merchant, Jeremiah Parks. Parks, along with his son, Hiram, in his firm, took care of the business side of taking orders, ordering supplies, and dealing with customers on financial details so that Tryon could concentrate on building the wagons the customers wanted. This including supervision of the two or three assistants he needed to keep up with the growing orders he was receiving. Fred felt very fortunate that Tryon had agreed to take on Jacob as a protégé.

Although Fred died a few months later, having become ill during a winter bitter snowstorm from which he did not recover, he would have been very proud of the way Jacob took to his work under Guy Tryon. Tryon quickly realized that Jacob had both a special talent for and passion toward excellent wagon building skills. It was not a set of skills just anyone was capable of acquiring. As his brother, Charles, took over most of the existing family business (with Truman in the early years), Jacob was able to truly specialize in wagon building. By 1819, Jacob was working full-time with the wagon builder.

A side benefit for Jacob as he became more involved with the Tryon-Parks business operations was meeting Dinah Parks, daughter of Jeremiah Parks. She assisted her father, part-time, in the office of the wagon building side of the business. Over three or four years, they had a number of opportunities to be assigned to work on common projects and became a good working team, and, in time, close friends. Being the same age, Jacob and Dinah found themselves invited to the same social events, frequently, on weekends. They did not see themselves as a couple, just good friends who worked well and hard together, but others began to see that they were a couple before they did.

Wheeled Carriages come in many forms

More than just friends

One day, Jacob asked Dinah where her name came from, adding he had not heard it before. She giggled, nervously, but smiled, as she replied, "It is a common Hebrew name, meaning 'judgment.' Dinah appears in the Bible as the daughter of Jacob and Leah, in Genesis. Do you read the bible?"

Jacob replied, "I have read the Bible as one of the available books in the house, but I've not read from it in recent years."

"My family is Jewish," Dinah replied. "We read the Bible every day. And, names of children, in our family, are selected very carefully." From that day, they talked about personal beliefs and religion quite a bit in the following days, weeks and months.

Jacob shared that he, and his family, felt that spiritual and religious matters were an important personal belief. They respected the beliefs of others and hoped and expected that others respected theirs. It had worked well for him and his family. "We serve and work with all people," he added.

Dinah mentioned that person's of the Jewish faith were few on the frontier, but they were there. If there were not enough people to form a congregation, each family worshiped in their own home, privately, but they did observe all the elements of their faith.

As the relationship between Jacob and DInah became more personal, romantic thoughts still did not seem to "cross their minds" until a New Year's Eve party, as 1819 became 1820. The party included some mistletoe hung from an archway in the host's home. Their friends insisted they were permitted to kiss, under the mistletoe, on New Year's Eve, without any "further meaning" - it was just for "good luck" for the New Year. So, they kissed.

Happy New Years!

Mistletoe played a key role in Jacob and Dinah's life.
Mistletoe played a key role in Jacob and Dinah's life. | Source

Lives were changed forever

As all their friends expected, the kiss did change the relationship between Jacob and Dinah. They were still close friends, but romantic issues became involved, and they realized they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. They were married in a Jewish ceremony at her families home in June of 1820. They had agreed that any children they might have would be raised in the Jewish faith.

Other events in the family and community were changing, as well, as they planned their wedding and looked forward to having a family. Led by Dinah's older brother, Hiram, several members of the Parks family and their associates had begun to talk about moving to St. Louis, where they believed prospects for business growth were going to be exceptional.

As the months went by, planning continued, and Jacob and Dinah made the commitment to move to St. Louis with Hiram's group, at his invitation, when the correct time arrived. Jacob received the blessing of his mother and brothers in making the move. They knew his level of commitment to his marriage, and expected family, as well as his work. They were each doing fine, in their own lives, and they wished Jacob and Dinah well. The State of Missouri, including St. Louis, was admitted to the United States as the 24th state on August 10, 1821.

Visit St. Louis on its 250th Anniversary in 2014

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The Westons took their Wagon West

This wagon looks a lot like the one our Weston family took to St. Louis, Missouri
This wagon looks a lot like the one our Weston family took to St. Louis, Missouri | Source

The family expanded and moved to their new location

In March of 1823, a son, named Levi, was born to Jacob and Dinah. Jacob was pleased that his mother was able to hold her grandson a few times before their planned departure to St. Louis, in July. For this move, they were able to use a wagon he had built as well as horses he had raised. The new family was healthy and happy as they loaded up the wagon for the journey to the west. They were very pleased to be making the trip in the company of about 30 other people and five other wagons, along with their animals. The journey as far as the Mississippi River went well.

After a two day delay, awaiting their turn to get on the ferry crossing the Mississippi River, Jacob, Dinah, Levi and the rest of their company arrived in St. Louis, in the southwest corner of the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers. Hiram and the other leaders of the company had arranged to have the use of several empty lots on the far southwest edge of the bustling town. The six wagons, the animals and people of the company found this "landing spot" very satisfactory. Their location on relatively high ground providing them the opportunity to overlook much of the town as well as the rivers. This piece of land had good run-off during expected rainy spells following the mild drought they were in upon their arrival. A water well did provide ample water for the newcomers, and they all felt their advance planning had paid strong dividends right from the start.

Within days of arrival, Hiram and the other men concluded that this location would be the perfect place to establish their businesses, as well, and arranged to exercise a purchase option they had negotiated on the land on which they were already located. They felt secure in their assessment that the nearby town would be growing in their direction in very short order. And, they could build their facilities as they wished, in this place. These were decisions that also paid great dividends over their time in the St. Louis area.

Learn more about early St. Louis, Missouri

Historical note by the author

Unlike prior episodes of this series of historical fiction family saga stories, all 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.

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    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Shyron. It is always a joy to get positive feedback from a reader. Much appreciated!! ;-)

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      2 years ago from Texas

      An interesting episode in the travels and the beginning of the family of Jacob asked Dinah.

      Blessings Dr. Bill

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Larry. This one special to me. Enjoy reading them... ;-)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      An interesting series. I look forward to reading more.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Claudia. I hope you will come back and at least read the Levi Weston (Lx) series... it is probably my favorite! Although the others are fun, as well. Thank you, again, for your visit and comment! I love to get comments! ;-)

    • Claudia Mathews profile image

      Claudia Mathews 

      3 years ago

      What a collection of writing you have here. I will have to come back and read more of these. There are so many great writers on HP's, with interesting topics. How will I ever find time to read everything! Great Hub

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I've been through Thayer, a few times. The railroads did that to many communities... Thanks for the comment! You are welcome back, any time. Also, see my Homeplace Series of stories...here on HubPages... all set in the southern Missouri Ozarks. ;-)

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 

      4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Hi Dr. Bill!

      You know I had to read this story! I used to live down near Thomasville which was one of the first white settlements in the Ozarks. Up until the railroad bypassed Thomasville to go through West Plains and Thayer, Thomasville was a thriving town. It was the last place that one could pull a canoe out of the Eleven Point River before it got too shallow.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Great! Your comments keep me working at them! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Another fascinating chapter. It's like picking up a great history book and having it come alive. Well done my friend.

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