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John O'Fallon Papers, 1780-1925

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Identifier: A1151

Title: John O'Fallon Papers, 1780-1925


John O'Fallon was born 17 November 1791, near Louisville, Kentucky, to Dr. James O'Fallon and Frances (Fanny) Clark O'Fallon. His uncle, William Clark, supported John financially during his secondary education at an academy in Danville, Kentucky. John studied law, but before he began to practice, he joined the U.S. Army in 1811. He fought in the War of 1812 and was badly wounded in the battle of Tippecanoe. In September 1812 he was made an ensign and was stationed in the Old Northwest under Gen. William Henry Harrison. He participated in the siege of Fort Miegs and in Gen. Harrison's attack on Detroit. In 1813, he was made a second lieutenant, and in March 1814, he was promoted again. By that time he was based in St. Louis. He worked for the Missouri Fur Company from 1812 until its dissolution in 1818. He then shipped dry goods down the Missouri on steamboats from 1818 until 1823. He married his first wife, an Englishwoman named Harriet Stokes, around 1820, with whom he had at least one child. After giving up the river trade, he became a lawyer and often dealt with real estate. After the death of his first wife, he married Caroline Sheets in 1827 with whom he had at least four children. He was named the first president of the St. Louis branch of the Bank of the United States in 1828. He also invested in hotels and railroads. In 1838, he began to correspond with people in Ireland to find his father's family. He was an active participant in the Whig party's campaign to elect Gen. Harrison to the presidency in 1840. His business ventures were generally quite successful, and John O'Fallon became a very respected and wealthy citizen who supported the city's benevolent and civic efforts. He died December 17, 1865, in St. Louis.

This collection consists chiefly of letters John O'Fallon received from his family and friends. The letters range from his school and army days to Gen. Harrison's campaign for the presidency. Altogether, these documents give a rather superficial but well-rounded sketch of his activities from the time he left school around 1810 up through the 1840s. There are almost no papers from later in his life. Besides all of the papers pertaining to John O'Fallon, there are a few other family documents in this collection belonging to his brother Benjamin to John O'Fallon's estate, and to his wives and sons John J. and Ben.

Finding aid available.

1 box

Cite as: John O'Fallon Papers, Missouri History Museum Archives, St. Louis.

Rights: UND


Dates: 1780-1925

Type(s): Documentary Artifacts




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