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Saint Joseph, Missouri

SAINT JOSEPH, MISSOURI, a city and the county-seat of Buchanan county, Missouri, U.S.A., and a port of entry, situated in the north-western corner of the state on the E. bank of the Missouri river. It is the third in size among the cities of the state. Pop. (1880) 32,431; (1890) 52,324; (1900) 102,979, of whom 8424 were foreign-born and 6260 were negroes; (1910 census) 77,403. St Joseph is a transportation centre of great importance. It is served by six railways, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, the Chicago Great Western, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Missouri Pacific, and the St Joseph & Grand Island; in addition there are two terminal railways. A steel bridge across the Missouri (built in 1872; rebuilt in 1906) connects the city with Elwood, Kansas (pop. 1910, 636), and is used by two railways. The city is laid out on hills above the bluffs of the river. The site was completely remade, however (especially in 1866-1873), and the entire business portion has been much graded down. The principal public buildings are the Federal building, the court house, an auditorium seating 7000, a Union Station and a ST JUNIEN SAINT-JUST public library. There are six city parks, of which the largest are Krug Park (30 acres) and Bartlett Park (20 acres). The State Hospital (No. 2) for the Insane(opened 1874) is immediately E. of St Joseph; in the city are the Ensworth, St Joseph and Woodson hospitals, a Memorial Home for needy old people and the Home for Little Wanderers. South St Joseph, a manufacturing suburb, has a library and so has the northern part of the city. The great stock-yards of South St Joseph are sights of great interest. In 1909 the state legislature provided for a commission form of government which took effect in April 1910; a council of five, elected by the city at large, has only legislative powers; the mayor appoints members of a utilities commission, a park commission and a board of public works, and all officers except the city auditor and treasurer; and the charter provides for the initiative, the referendum and the recall. The city maintains a workhouse (1882), also two market houses, and owns and manages an electric-lighting plant. Natural gas is also furnished to the city from oil-fields in Kansas. A private company owns the water-works, first built in 1879 and since greatly improved. The water is drawn from the Missouri, 3 m. above the city, and is pumped thence into reservoirs and settling basins. Beside the local trade of a rich surrounding farming country, the railway facilities of St Joseph have enabled it to build up a great jobbing trade (especially in dry goods), and this is still the greatest economic interest of the city. Commerce and transport were the only distinctive basis of the city's growth and wealth until after 1890, when there was a great increase in manufacturing, especially, in South St Joseph, of the slaughtering and meat-packing industry in the last three years of the decade. In 1900 the manufactured product of the city and its immediate suburbs was valued at $31,690,736, of which $19,009,332 were credited to slaughtering and packing. In the decade of 1890-1900 the increase in the value of manufactures (165-9%) was almost five times as great in St Joseph as in any other of the largest four cities of the state, and this was due almost entirely to the growth of the slaughtering and meat-packing business, which is for the most part located outside the municipal limits. In 1905 the census reports did not include manufactures outside the actual city limits; the total value of the factory product of the city proper in 1905 was $11,573,720; besides slaughtering and packing the other manufactures in 1905 included men's factory-made clothing (valued at $1,556,655) flour and grist-mill products (valued at $683 ,464) ,saddlery and harness (valued at $524,918), confectionery ($437,096), malt liquors ($407,054), boots and shoes ($350,384) and farm implements.

In 1826 Joseph Robidoux, a French half-breed trader, established a trading post on the site of St Joseph. Following the purchase from the Indians of the country, now known as the Platte Purchase, in 1836, a settlement grew up about this trading post, and in 1843 Robidoux laid out a town here and named it St Joseph in honour of his patron saint. St Joseph became the county-seat in 1846, and in 1851 was first chartered as a city. It early became a trading centre of importance, well known as an outfitting point for miners and other emigrants to the Rocky Mountain region and the Pacific coast. During the Civil War it was held continuously by the Unionists, but local sentiment was bitterly divided. After the war a rapid development began. In 1885 St Joseph became a city of the second class. Under the state constitution of 1875 it has had the right, since attaining a population of 100,000, to form a charter for itself. In September 1909, at a special election, it adopted the commission charter described above.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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