The period of time between 1843 and 1860 was significant for our community. When the city was founded in 1843, the population stood at 800. When the migration was largely over in 1860, the population was 8,932.
By the 1860's, the stream of people heading west had slowed and things were beginning to settle down for St. Joseph. Rumblings back east over the issue of slavery were beginning and soon the Civil War would be waged involving St. Joseph and dividing loyalties, even in families.
Because of the need to communicate pending events, getting news to people on the West Coast became evident. The need was filled with the beginning of the Pony Express in St. Joseph. The Pony Express had a brief but glorious run of eighteen months, then was replaced with the advent of the telegraph.
Effects of the Civil War
After the Civil War, some ruffians who refused to accept the war's outcome banded together and harassed bordering states, robbing banks and wreaking havoc. Their leader was Jesse James. James eventually met his fate in St. Joseph at the hands of Bob Ford.
In recent years, the story of the Pony Express and the end of Jesse James has captured the hearts and minds of the public and provided a unique way to market St. Joseph to the public. Their story is an important part of the uniqueness of our community.
Commemorating Westward Expansion
The passage of hundreds of thousands of pioneers who passed through St. Joseph and the businesses that outfitted them is a compelling story. This great exodus of people, the largest movement of humanity the world has seen before or since, is called Westward Expansion. Gateway Park was created at Third and Edmond and a monument was placed there to commemorate this seminal event.