Visit St. Joe with Susan Mires

Susan Mires (2)I am Susan Mires and I am delighted to share a guest post here on Petticoats and Pistols.

My adopted hometown where I’ve lived for the past dozen years or so is St. Joseph, Missouri, which has the slogan “Where the West officially started getting wild.”





OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOutlaw Jesse James gets credit for that.

Jesse and his gang were hiding out in St. Joseph when Bob Ford, that dirty little coward, laid Jesse in his grave. The bullet hole created by the fatal bullet is framed in a wall of Jesse’s house that is now a museum.

St. Joe (it’s an informal place, feel free to use its nickname) attracted all kinds of characters back in the day. Located on the banks of the Missouri River, the city was a transportation hub. During the gold rush of 1849, prospectors waited in line for days to get a ride on the ferry to cross the river. Those who tried to cut in line were often cut down. Hundreds of wagon trains loaded supplies in the city – among them the ill-fated Donner Party.

St. Joe was the last point of civilization before reaching the vast untamed wilderness. Or as we call it, Kansas.

Pony Express RerideTeasing between the two states is (mostly) good natured today, but the “Border War” between Kansas and Missouri was intense and deadly during the Civil War. The University of Kansas mascot Jayhawk draws its name from wartime raids. Jesse James got his start riding with a renegade Confederate general.

St. Joe’s history may seem a bit slanted toward the “pistol” side, but there’s plenty here for romantics, as well. The Pony Express is probably the romanticized of all. The mail delivery service only lasted for 18 months, yet 150 years later, it sill inspires an annual re-ride by devoted fans.

The Patee House was a hotel during the Pony Express period and now it’s a treasure trove of a museum, including the ball room that conjures up images of ladies in gorgeous gowns.

Pony Express officeOne of the city’s greatest treasures is its architecture. The old buildings have a sense about them that says St. Joe. The race is on to preserve these historic structures while the elements and the cost of restoration make it a challenge. But if you’ve always dreamed of owning an 1884 grocery store, you could be in business for $5,000.

It’s been a pleasure for me to show you around my hometown. I hope you have enjoyed it and now have a taste of St. Joe’s Western flavor and maybe even decide to come for a visit and officially get wild.

Now let’s chat! What’s your favorite historic site to visit? What puts your hometown on the map?


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15 thoughts on “Visit St. Joe with Susan Mires”

  1. Thanks for a great post, Susan. The old west is fasicinating and St. Joe sounds like a place my husband and I need to visit. Thank you for what you do!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! When we travel, we love to visit places rich in history. We have been to countless such treasure troves! I can’t wait to add St. Joe to our list!!

  3. I was so happy to see this post today! This is my hometown! I was born and raised here. Not many people know the true history of this little old place I call home. We are also the home of Stetson Hats, Cherry Mash candy bars and Joseph Robidoux. Thank you for letting others learn about this great place I call home! :~)

  4. The town I lived in was home to Col. John McCrea who in WW1, wrote In Flanders Fields. His home and gardens are national monument.

  5. Susan, what a terrific post, and the pictures are wonderful. I feel I am there. I have used Jesse James references in some of my books and blogged on Annie Ralston, Frank’s wife and can now better visualize some of that research. Welcome to Petticoats and Pistols today!

    I love visiting Lake Tahoe and yes, the Donner party historic sites. One recent place I visited that stole my heart is Gettysburg.

    There is a lot of local history around here…a big rancho with an unusual two-story adobe house supplied beef and hides to gold miners and one of Father Serra’s missions. Although the adobe house has been preserved and is now a museum, the ranch land is now a golf course.

    Hope you can come back and see us again!

  6. Lisa G., thanks for adding your memories! You’re making me hungry for a cherry mash.
    Kathleen and Tanya, your hometowns sounds like neat places to visit. I would like to visit Gettysburg someday, I have heard it is very moving.

  7. Hi, Susan – enjoyed learning about your hometown, St. Joseph!

    I live in Kentucky, but my son & family live in that untamed wilderness – Kansas. I live near Louisville – which is known for the Kentucky Derby. Thomas Edison & a number of other famous people from the pages of history have lived here, there are lots of beautiful historical homes & buildings here also.

    By the way – that 1884 grocery store sounds like a steal!

    Bonnie R.

  8. Bonnie, I’ll admit that Kansas is a little more settled today. But when you drive through, it’s easy to imagine what the pioneers experienced.
    Melody, I am sad about the Precious Moments chapel. It was so neat to visit.

  9. My hometown of Las Animas, Colorado was the birthplace of Ken Curtis otherwise known as the actor who played Festus. on the long running Gunsmoke.

  10. Great post! We have a St. Joe (Joseph) here in Michigan, too, but nothing of that importance surrounds it. My hometown has nothing to proclaim either – except it is the birthplace of ME. 🙂

  11. Thanks for the tour of St. Joe. It sounds like the type of place my husband and I enjoy visiting. We look forward to retirement in the near future so we can just take off when we feel like it and visit more places like St. Joe.

    I grew up in Northern New York on the banks of Lake Champlain. There is a lot of history in the area dating to the French and Indian War, The Revolution, and the War of 1812. The area was settled earliest by the french fur trappers.

    We now live in NE TN outside the oldest town in the state. It has the oldest school in the state and the first college in the state is nearby. It has a history going back to Davey Crockett (his birthplace is 7 miles away), Andrew Jackson (he was a lawyer here), and Andrew Johnson (his home is about 15 miles away), and there is a stockade fort that dates to the Revolutionary War from which the Overmountain Men left to fight the Battle of Kings Mountain, NC which was a pivotal battle in the Revolutionary War.

    When I was growing up, we didn’t really have a feeling for the history of where we lived. It is nice to see people more aware of the past of their area and to take pride in it. There is a lot of preservation going on and I hope that continues and expands.

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