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History of St. Joseph, Missouri, Jesse James, pony express ride

Updated on September 9, 2015

Pony Express

Pony Express Rider Statue in St Joseph. Creative Commons Wikimedia. Share Alike 2.5 licens.
Pony Express Rider Statue in St Joseph. Creative Commons Wikimedia. Share Alike 2.5 licens.

Trading Post

In 1826 Joseph Robidoux started a trading post, which he called Blacksnake Hills trading Post in an area controlled by the Sac and Fox tribes. He traded with the Indians and built a trading empire that stretched to the Rocky Mountains.

In 1837 the tribes sold two million acres to the federal government. This led to Missouri becoming a state and the trading post getting a post office. Robidoux hired Simeon Kemper and Frederick Smith to make city designs for him. Kemper presented a plan for the town with parks and wide streets. Robidoux preferred a design by Smith with narrow streets that left more lots he could sell.

The trader named the town St. Joseph, who I assume, would be his patron saint. This was official in 1843.

St. Joseph

In every corner of this world they boast of men so bold.

From Captain Blood and Mister Mud to England’s kings of old.

Why, every place I’ve ever been, they think their man’s the best.

But listen while I introduce a bold man from the West.


A thunderbolt bust and then a big cloud of dust

And out rides Cody of the Pony Express.

Totin’ the mail beside him, he knows the trail to guide him,

Cody of the Pony Express.

Cody of the Pony Express written by Bob Nolan and sung by Riders in the Sky


In the 1960’s I lived in Kansa City, Mo. For about a year. Although I didn’t really get to know the area we did find a few interesting places of historical interest. One of these is St. Joseph, about 30 miles from Kansas City. St. Joseph’s city motto is “Where the Pony Express stated and Jesse James ended.” St. Joseph seems to be sort of a historical hub where a panorama of western history and characters touched bases.

In 1804 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark camped on the banks of the Missouri River near the present day St. Joseph downtown.

Jesse James home


Murder of Jesse James

In 1881, Jesse James alias Tom Howard moved to town.

By that time most of the James gang had been killed, wounded or captured after the attempted bank robbery in Northfield, Minnesota. Frank and Jesses wives were getting pressure from their wives to settle down to a more conventional life.  Robert and Charlie Ford were recruited to help him rob a bank. While they were planning the robbery the Ford brothers fired at Jesse while he was hanging a picture in his home. Robert took credit for the killing. To his regret he was charged with murder rather than granted the reward.

Pony Express

In 1860, before the James brothers, the Pony Express was established.

St. Joseph became the launching point and headquarters for the Pony express. It was a short but romantic episode in American history as it lasted on 19 months. Its founders went bankrupt and more modern things like the railroad and telegraph replaced the Pony Express.

The Pony Express required young, lightweight and daring riders. Somewhat like jockeys. Many Pony express Riders became famous. Such as Buffalo Bill Cody.

When gold was discovered in California St. Joseph also became he last supply stop on the way West.

St. Joseph, MO

A markerSt Joseph,Mo -
St Joseph, MO, USA
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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I'm glad you liked it. Missouri does have an interesting history.

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Very interesting. Thanks for putting it all together. I enjoyed this very much.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for reading it.

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 8 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      Thanks for the history lesson,

      Keep on Hubbing!