Thomas L. Price was born on January 19, 1809, near Danville, Virginia. He moved to Missouri in 1831 with the aim to establish himself in St. Louis. However, the cholera epidemic forced Price to move further west, and he settled in Jefferson City.
After his arrival, Price purchased two hotels and a large amount of central Missouri land. He made his fortune selling real estate to people that followed the legislature to Jefferson City. He also aided the development of the capital by establishing a mail coach line between St. Louis and Jefferson City, founded a bank and a savings and loan company, and invested heavily in the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
When Jefferson City was officially incorporated as a city in Missouri in 1839, Price was elected the town’s first mayor. This was just the beginning of his political career. He served as Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor 1849-1853, in the state House of Representatives from 1860 to 1862, and in the United States Congress for a year after John C. Reid was expelled.
Despite the fact that Price was one of the largest slaveowners in mid-Missouri (he owned approximately 70 people, while most slaveowners had 4), Price was staunchly pro-Union. President Lincoln commissioned him as brigadier general during the Civil War, but the title was symbolic; he never saw battle.
The only thing larger than Price’s reputation was that of his home. The mansion, which once stood where the Missouri Supreme Court is today, was the most ostentatious building in Jefferson City. Its grandeur was so great that the first ladies often asked to host their gatherings, parties, and even inaugural balls at Price’s mansion instead of the governor’s.
In 1830, Price married Lydia Bolton, and the couple had one daughter, Celeste. She later married Celuso Price, the son of General Sterling Price, who had no relation to Thomas L. Price.← Baxter, Annie White Winter, Edward Henry →