Smith’s father and his rescuer, Judge Myers, remained best friends despite their conflicting views on slavery, but the two ended up fighting on opposite sides in the Civil War. Missouri was the westernmost state in the Union until Texas was granted statehood in 1845. St. Louis, located at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in the southeastern part of the state, was called the “Gateway to the West” because it served as a staging area for wagon trains in the nineteenth century. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the city captured the world’s attention while hosting the much celebrated Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis World’s Fair) of 1904. The Louisiana Purchase Exposition is etched in the minds of many Americans because of the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland and directed by Vincente Minnelli. Less fanciful, yet authentic to the fair, are a number of items in the Library’s digital collections. Read a pamphlet, distributed at the fair by Bell Telephone Companies, which declared the telephone was becoming “as necessary as the mowing machine.” Examine maps of the fairgrounds. Zoom in on the latter to find fountains, pavilions, walkways, the fair’s intramural-railway, the ferris wheel, and other fine details.
I can remember as well as if it happened yesterday, one of the men spread his arms out and said, “stand back men I’ll kill the rascal” and raised his gun to shoot when we heard a shout and looked up the road to see what it was and saw Judge Myers coming as fast as his horse could run, shouting as loud as he could. The man dropped his gun to his side, when Judge Myers rode up be was shaking his head and his eyes were blazing fire. He turned around in his saddle and pointed back toward town and said you men get out from here and do it…quick…All the Jayhawkers turned around and sulked off like a whipped dog.
“J. F. Smith,” William E. Smith, interviewer, ca. 1936-40. American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940
- Search across the digital collections on the keyword Missouri to learn more about Missouri. Find, for example, an audio recording of the song Walked All the Way from Missouri and sheet music such as Belle Missouri my Missouri.
- Search on the keyword Missouri for panoramic maps of various cities and towns. See, for example, Sedalia, Columbia, or Hannibal in 1869.
- Compare panoramic maps of Missouri with panoramic photographs from around the state. See, for example, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri in 1913, or Joplin in 1910.
- Read the Today in History presentations concerning two of Missouri’s most famous native sons, Mark Twain and Anheuser Busch Jr.