“It was once in the saddle, I used to go dashing.”*
I recently bought a little book entitled St. Louis Day By Day by Frances Hurd Stadler at an estate sale.
It is a treasure trove of interesting information about our fair flyover city. For instance, I did not know that the famous American artist Charles Marion Russell was born on Olive Street in St. Louis on March 19, 1865. Furthermore, he was the great-grandson of Silas Bent, Missouri territorial judge, and of James Russell, a Missouri legislator and judge of the St. Louis County Court. Who knew?
Silas Bent, you will recall, was the father of Charles, the famous fur trader who was appointed as the first territorial governor of New Mexico. His other sons, William, George and Robert, were also in business with Charles and built Bent’s Fort and other outposts of trade in the southwest. One of his daughters, Juliannah, became the first wife of Lilburn Boggs, who later became governor of Missouri. Their son Thomas O. Boggs, an Indian trader and cattle dealer (who married 14-year-old Rumalda Luna Bent, the stepdaughter of Charles Bent, who was an heiress to land grants in Colorado) built an adobe house on the 2,040 acres grant and established Boggsville, Colorado where our ancestor John Wesley Prowers built a two-story 14-room house at that functioned as a house, a school, a stagecoach station and after 1870 as the Bent County seat.
Anyway, back to Charles Russell. He grew up in St. Louis County, and in 1876 a wax figure he sculpted won the blue ribbon at the St. Louis County Fair. In 1880 he moved to Montana, where he wrangled horses and herded cattle and began sketching western life.
Russell produced about 4,000 works of art, including oil and watercolor paintings, drawings and sculptures in wax, clay, plaster and other materials, some of which were also cast in bronze.
How did I not know he was from St. Louis?
P.S. The C.M. Russell Museum (including the artist’s log cabin studio and gallery) is located in Great Falls, Montana. Add that to the list.
*Streets of Laredo