Glasgow Missouri History

Thirty-two years after Lewis & Clark passed through on their way west, the town of Glasgow was established in 1836 and named for one of its thirteen original founders. Its early economy was reminiscent of the Deep South, with slaves working hemp and tobacco plantations. The town grew rapidly as a center for commerce and river trade. Glasgow was the site of a Civil War battle in 1864 when Confederate troops bombarded the Union forces holding the town. The Union force was outnumbered and eventually forced to surrender. The Union forces were under the command of COL Chester Harding. The Confederates were commanded by BG John Bullock Clark.

At the end of the battle, the Union forces were holding defensive positions at Hereford Hill. The large home there is now the rectory of St. Mary's Church. Just a week after the battle, Bloody Bill Anderson, one of the most notorious Bushwhackers of the time, came to Glasgow. He had recently killed 23 unarmed Union soldiers in Centralia, Missouri, about thirty-five miles to the east. Col. Benjamin Lewis was a Union Man, who had made his fortune in tobacco. He offered a $6,000 reward for Anderson. Anderson and his men broke into Glen Eden, Lewis' mansion, and demanded the reward for himself. They beat and tortured Lewis until the money was collected. One of the founders of the city, William Dunica, provided the money to save Lewis. Dunica's impressive home, with its' tall porch columns, still stands.

Two years later Lewis died as a result of the beating. His will included a $10,000 endowment for books and the establishment of a library and college in Glasgow. The two-story building featured a library on the second floor and a lecture hall on the first floor. The building still serves as Glasgow's public library and is the oldest library building in continuous use west of the Mississippi. There were two colleges in Glasgow; Lewis and Pritchett.

With trains replacing steamboats and the original settlers long since gone to their reward, progress in Glasgow slowed by the end of the 1800s. Both colleges failed. However, the world's first all-steel bridge was constructed over the Missouri River in Glasgow in 1879, allowing Chicago and Kansas City to be linked by rail. This bridge was demolished twenty years later. The span built in 1899 still stands today. In the early years, a ferry provided river crossing for vehicles. Eventually a highway bridge was built. It was the first non-toll highway bridge over the Missouri River. Glasgow now enjoys a new highway bridge.

Glasgow also boasts the oldest single family owned drugstore in the United States.

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