Walking West With Robert Campbell

Mile 156 — Jefferson City

Walk­ing West Homepage

Jef­fer­son City
Edward Sachse

Jef­fer­son City was cre­at­ed by the Mis­souri State Leg­is­la­ture in 1821 with the spe­cif­ic pur­pose of serv­ing as the new state cap­i­tal, which was pre­vi­ous­ly housed in St. Charles. Daniel Mor­gan Boone, the son of the famous fron­tiers­man was the one who laid out the town. Jef­fer­son City was named for Pres­i­dent Thomas Jef­fer­son, who served from 1801–1809. In 1825 the town was incor­po­rat­ed, hav­ing 31 fam­i­lies, and a few build­ings includ­ing a gen­er­al store, and hotel.

Fol­low­ing along the south bank of the Mis­souri Riv­er, Robert Campbell’s par­ty would have trav­eled right through Jef­fer­son City. In 1825, hav­ing been just recent­ly incor­po­rat­ed, Jef­fer­son City would have still been a small riv­er front town, the state leg­is­la­ture did not make the move to Jef­fer­son City until 1826. Robert’s nar­ra­tive is brief and was writ­ten near­ly 50 years lat­er. He does not make any men­tion of pass­ing through Jef­fer­son City. How­ev­er, Robert states “We trav­elled on the south side of the Mis­souri Riv­er… we found lit­tle set­tle­ments all along our route…” Jef­fer­son City sits right on the south­ern bank of the Mis­souri, so this would have been one of the lit­tle set­tle­ments that Robert and com­pa­ny would have passed through in 1825, short­ly after the town was incorporated.

There are no known depic­tions of 1820s Jef­fer­son City, the ear­li­est exam­ple that was found is the 1844 draw­ing seen above. Below are a few lat­er depic­tions of the town, but these were many years after Robert passed through on his first jour­ney to the West, and after Jef­fer­son City became well estab­lished as Mis­souri’s cap­i­tal city.

Bird’s eye view of Jef­fer­son City, the capi­tol of Mis­souri
Ruger, A.
Jef­fer­son City Mis­souri
Orlan­do C. Richard­son