Fact or Fiction: Author Series presents Christopher A. Gordon

St. Louis was a rapidly growing frontier town in 1849. That year, the city experienced a great fire that destroyed the city’s business district, an epidemic of cholera that decimated the population, and a steady influx of would-be miners on their way to the California hills. Also, there was a sensational murder and an equally sensational trial.

Christopher Allen Gorden, author of Fire, Pestilence, and Death: St. Louis 1849, is this episode’s special guest. Listen and learn more about St. Louis in the pivotal year of 1849. Of course, since the show is called Fact or Fiction, Christopher will include one fictional detail in the story. Will I guess the fiction? Will you?

Listen carefully because it’s tricky to know if something is fact or fiction. Ready to play?

Man in a military-style coat and hat carrying paraphernalia that would be useless for a miner.
Satirical image of an independent gold hunter on his way to California. Wikimedia Commons.
The ruins of the Great St. Louis Fire, 17-18 May 1849. A man stands within the wreckage and a church steeple towers over it.
This daguerreotype created by Thomas Easterly in 1849 shows the devastation of the St. Louis riverfront after the Great Fire of 1849. Image courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society Collections.
This 1960 watercolor by George Conroy depicts John Finn digging graves on Arsenol Island during the cholera pandemic of 1849. Image courtesy of Missouri Historical Society Collections.
A sepia image of a multistory hotel with a fire escape prominently shown on the side.
1940 image of the National Hotel in St. Louis where the Montesque brothers shot multiple people. Image courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society Collections.
Book cover with the title written over a sepia image of an old building.
Select the image to purchase your own copy of the book and learn about St. Louis in the pivotal year of 1849.

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