More History of Mexico
57.5 in. (8oo alt., 9,053 pop.),
seat of Audrain County, combines brick manufacturing and saddle horse
breeding, and modernity and tradition. The business district, dominated by
the cylindrical clock tower of the courthouse, is the center of town.
Radiating from it are the residential streets, with older homes of Classic
and ginger-bread design close in, and modern bungalows and Georgian houses
majority of the city’s workers find employment in the clay refractories
plants or with the railroads, three of which—the Wabash, the Chicago
& Alton, and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy—maintain division
shops here. A large number of women are employed in a shoe factory.
upland prairies of Audrain County were not settled early because of the
danger of prairie fires, the difficulty of obtaining wood and water, and
the presence of green-head flies. At certain times of the year, the flies
made day travel impossible, and even plowing and other farm work had to be
done at night. The county was organized in December of 1836, and named for
Colonel James H. Audrain (1782-1831), a State legislator from St. Charles
County. The present site of Mexico was selected for the county seat in
March 1837; it lay in the midst of the so-called Salt River settlement,
whose inhabitants were known as Salt River Tigers. The love of fine horses
was a tradition among these people; race tracks about 6 feet wide and 6oo
yards long were laid out on the prairie for regular Saturday afternoon
races. When Mexico was platted, Doan’s Race Track, which was about two
miles north of the town site, was abandoned, and a new track was laid out
at the edge of the town.
time of the Civil War Mexico had grown into a sprawling county-seat town.
Most of the residents wished to preserve the Union, but when forced to
choose sides, they supported the Confederacy. Two or three regiments of
Federal troops were quartered in the town in the early summer of 1861. The
soldiers were badly disciplined and indulged in thievery and vandalism
against the residents, until Colonel
S. Grant was put in command of the district. Grant came to Mexico
in July of i86i, and immediately ordered the protection of property
rights. He also introduced more flexible drill tactics, having found the
regulation forms unsatisfactory. It was while he was in Mexico that Grant
first learned, through a newspaper, that his name had been recommended for
promotion to Brigadier General. Soon after, the promotion was confirmed,
and Grant was ordered to Ironton.
war, the town resumed its quiet life. By the 1890’s, the Lee brothers
and other Mexico horsemen had established well-equipped stables. In 1908
the first $1,000 trotting- and pacing-race stakes and the first $1,000 and
$1,000 show rings ever offered were inaugurated as a part of the Mexico
Fair. Today the great spring and fall saddle-horse auction sales held by
the stables attract buyers from all parts of the Nation.
after 1900, an important deposit of fire clay was discovered directly
under the town. Clay refractories were established, and today Mexico is
the center of one of the most important fire-clay manufacturing areas in
the world. The vein of clay owned by one plant alone has been estimated by
the government to be great enough to supply this plant for more than 200 years.
Much of the 30.000,000 pounds of freight handled each month in Mexico is
composed of fire-clay products.
BROTHERS STABLE (open), northwest
corner of Webster St. and West Blvd., an extensive, fully equipped
establishment for breeding, training, and exhibiting saddle horses, is
operated by George and William D. Lee, two of Missouri’s most noted
horsemen. Beginning with the saddle gelding, Mascot, winner of gelding
classes at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, the stable has developed
many champions, including Nancy Beloved, which sold for $22,000 at a
The JOHN T. HOOK STABLES (open), northeast corner of Muldrow St. and West Blvd., is another extensive establishment. Prior to opening these stables in 1935, Hook spent 30 years managing his stables in Paris, Missouri, and the Longview Stables near Kansas City.
Missouri MILITARY ACADEMY, eastern end of E. Jackson St., is an accredited
institution for boys between the ages of 6 and 21. The square,
barrack-type brick buildings with white stone trim are centered by the
more elaborate administration building—distinguished by a white portico
with four white columns and a great dome. The academy was established in
1889 under the direction of Charles H. Hardin, governor of Missouri
The KING’S DAUGHTERS HOME, southeast corner of Webster St. and West Blvd., a two-and-a-half-story, yellow-brick structure, is the home of aged members of the King’s Daughters, an international charitable organization established in i886. The Missouri circle, founded in i888, is one of the oldest chapters in the United States.
Grouped in a semi-quadrangle beneath large oak trees are the deserted HARDIN COLLEGE BUILDINGS, 1000 S. Jefferson St., where more than 5,000 girls received their education in the period between its founding as the Audrain County Female Seminary in 1858 and the closing of its doors in 1930. The school was renamed in 1873, when Governor Hardin re-endowed it.
THE A. P.
GREEN FIRE BRICK COMPANY PLANT (open
3-4 workdays; guides), east end of E. Breckenridge St., is one of
the largest units of its type in the world. The plant is an extensive
group of steel and corrugated-iron buildings, kilns, and sheds. In front
of the group, approached by. a landscaped drive, is a white-brick office
building of Classic design. In the rear are the clay pits and a small
lake. The clay, of excellent quality, is scooped from the open pits by
steam shovels and hauled to the crusher house in small railway cars. It
then passes through an amazingly elaborate system of processing until it
reaches the molds and the modern tunnel kilns. Practically every
operation, from the digging of the day to the measuring of “grain size,
aging, and testing of finished products, is in charge of engineers. The
company maintains a modern laboratory equipped with a self-contained model
brick plant. Three types of refractories are made: dry press, stiff mud,
and handmade, the last molded in thousands of intricate forms. The molders
are men of long experience and have an artisan’s pride in their work.
Each product is stamped with the name of the molder as well as that of the
company. This custom dates back to the days of the guilds; it gives the
molders a feeling of responsibility and a pride in workmanship that people
who operate machines cannot experience. The A. P. Green Brick Company,
founded by A. P. Green in 1910, and employing approximately 500 persons,
has what amounts to a world monopoly on many types of fire-clay products.
The Mexico Refractories plant is a similar establishment.
The HAMILTON BLUEGRASS FARMS is one of the outstanding saddle-horse breeding and training stables in the State. A group of long white frame barns, enclosed by corrals and surrounded by rolling bluegrass pastures, are the center of the farm’s activity. Here Jim Hamilton and his sons have bred and trained more champions than has any other saddle stable in the vicinity. Among the outstanding stallions have been Lord Highland, Mexico Admire, and Roxy Highland; the last sold for $27,500. On the front of the sales pavilion is a large portrait in colors of Sweetheart on Parade. Within the pavilion are a show ring and seats for buyers and spectators. Here the farm holds its spring and fall auction sales.