The January 11, 1900, issue of The North Missourian, a newspaper edited by C.M. Harrison, published a front page story offering this brief sketch of the founding and early days of Gallatin, MO
Gallatin Now 62 Years Old
The eighth day of January is a historic date in the annals of our country. General Jackson with his hardy southerners on that day in 1815, defeated the flower of the British army and forever ended the English dream of territorial possession between the Gulf and the Great Lakes. This day was for years celebrated by the people of this section with all the zest that July 4th is now observed.
Consequently when the settlers of this portion of Daviess County planned to lay out a town, plat and sell lots on the present site of Gallatin, January 8th was selected as the date with the object of attracting a larger crowd of buyers. In December of 1837 the town site was surveyed and lots laid out by Madders Vanderpool, and the following 8th of January occurred the first sale of lots.
The first building was a log dwelling house built on the site of the red brick Brown residence on East North Street. The first business house was one built by Jacob Stollings on the spot where Knauer’s tailoring house now is. It was used for what was called a “country store” where was handled every sort of merchandise including a liberal stock of whiskey.
During that same season two other buildings were erected — one on the corner where the Irving-Richardson Hardware now is, the other, a log house where J.W. Meade’s new residence stands. The former of these two was occupied by Maj. Joseph McGee as a tailor shop.
These four buildings were destroyed by the Mormons during the fall of that year. Maj. McGee, to whom we are indebted for the historical data of this sketch, tells us that the Mormons robbed him of all his cloths and clothing and took him prisoner; and when they raided the “country store,” they rolled barrel after barrel of liquor from the store, broke in the heads and by the use of tin cups they consumed all the whiskey, getting on a glorious religious drunk. John A. Williams was Gallatin’s first grocery man.
When the time came for naming streets, after calling one Main Street and the one crossing it in the center of the town Grand Street (because it extended toward Grand River), the projectors of the town began to appropriate names of illustrious people. Just north of Grand was Jackson Street, named in honor of the great general; east of Main the first street was named Adams; farther east is Clay; south of Grand the first street was named Van Buren, who was then president; and farther south, Johnson Street, named for Van Buren’s vice president.
A parallel to this disposition to use celebrated names is found in the names of the townships. We have Lincoln, Salem, Marion, Colfax, Benton, Harrison, Sheridan, Monroe, and between Jefferson and Jackson are appropriately placed Liberty and Union.
Daviess County was named for Joe Daviess, an old soldier of Kentucky; Gallatin was so called in honor of Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under President Jefferson.
Last Monday Gallatin was 62 years old — in reality still in her babyhood. By reason of some illustrious citizens, whose names have become known throughout the nation, Gallatin’s fame has become widely spread. And the name she bears is an honorable one.
Internally, the resident citizens are proud of the town. Her clean streets, well laid in macadam, her numerous comfortable homes, her modern churches, her exceptional educational facilities, all are far in advance of the remotest dream of the good men who projected the city.
In February, 1851, the town of Gallatin was incorporated as a city but it did not last. In 1857 the town was re-incorporated as a city by a special act of the legislature approved November 21 of the same year, and Gallatin became a city. From a burg of 400 people she has grown to a city of over 2,000 and supplied with every up-to-date equipment of a first-class metropolis.
The anniversary of the birth of Gallatin passed quietly; there was no demonstration.
A sketch of this sort about Gallatin would be incomplete without prominent mention of Maj. Joseph McGee. He has been identified with every portion of Gallatin’s history. It was he and Judge Richardson who in an early day thwarted an attempt to cut off six miles from the south border of Daviess County and a proposed removal of the county seat to Jameson.
The scheme was to add six miles to the north border of Daviess by cutting off that amount from Harrison. Major McGee and Judge Richardson spent three weeks at Jefferson City, working against the proposed enactment and thwarted the scheme.
The prospect for the future of Gallatin is flattering. The bright pages of her history are yet to be written. Some of her citizens are to mount higher pinnacles of success than have ever yet been reached by any of them.
The attractions of the city will attract more people to our borders. Before a century of Gallatin’s existence has rolled around, the changes will be more marked than the growth of the past sixty years. All Gallatin needs is a united effort on the part of all good citizens to advance the material interests of the city and to elevate the standard of morals of her people.
— researched and presented by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin, MO