History & Heroes: Five Fast Facts- Joseph W. McClurg

Pulaski County Missouri History and Heroes

Joseph W. McClurg, 19th Governor of Missouri, was the namesake of McClurg Street at Richland, Missouri in Pulaski County.


Joseph Washington McClurg. Image by Mathew Brady, retrieved via Wikipedia.com.

1. McClurg once served as deputy Sheriff in Saint Louis County.

2. An 1893 Shelbina Democrat news article describes McClurg as “an Ozark pioneer” and “The Prince of Merchants.”

3. To curb the rising costs of salt to his customers, McClurg, then a merchant at Hazelwood, Missouri, rode on horseback to Jacksonport, Arkansas where he boarded a steamer to New Orleans. At the Crescent City he purchased 1,000 sacks of salt. He loaded the commodity on a northbound steamship returning to Jacksonport. The country between Jacksonport and Hazelwood was “wild and traversed only by tortuous trails, which could hardly be called roads.” Undaunted, McClurg cut and partly graded a hundreds mile long wagon road through the rugged region. In 1893 this road, known as McClurg’s Old Salt Road, was “one of the most noted highways of the Ozarks.”

4. In 1871, Joseph Washington McClurg returned to Linn Creek to resume his business enterprises. Along with his sons-in-law Charles Draper and Marshall Johnson, McClurg founded Draper, McClurg and Company. Merchandising profits funded surface mining on lead and iron in the Central Lead District near the Osage River. The firm operated steamboats on the Missouri and Osage Rivers and their landings became trade centers for the shipment of railroad ties. The company gained government contracts for the removal of sandbars on the Osage River. By 1885, falling profits lead to the seizure of one of the steamboats by creditors and within a year, McClurg sold his Camden County properties.

5. McClurg resided in Lebanon, Missouri at the time of his death December 2, 1900. He was laid to rest at Lebanon City Cemetery. On December 7th, 1904 Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) members alongside their Confederate counterparts paid tribute to the former Governor at the unveiling of a monument erected by the State of Missouri at McClurg’s gravesite. The monument stands 22 feet high and is made of granite from Barre, Vermont. It rests on a bottom base 6 feet square, surmounted by a second base 4 feet, 5 inches square, which is surrounded by a die 3 feet 4 inches square upon which rests the shaft 16 feet long. The monument was featured on tourist maps produced during the WPA era.

Shelbina Democrat (Shelbina, Missouri)25 October 1893
Gasconade County Republican (Owensville, Missouri) 9 December 1904

History & Heroes: Five Fast Facts is an occasional series of interesting facts regarding namesakes and historical figures in Pulaski County, Missouri.

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