Pictorial and Genealogical Record
of Greene County, Missouri

Together with Bibliographies of Prominent Men of Other Portions of the State, Both Living and Dead


GEN. STERLING PRICE. This noted Confederate general was born in Prince Edward County, Va., September 14, 1809, and came of Welsh ancestors, who took up their residence on Virginia soil at a very early day. The father of Sterling Price, Hugh W. Price, was the youngest of a family of twenty-five children and was a posthumous child of the second wife of his father. Hugh W. Price had a brother named Hugh, two brothers named John and two named Daniel. After his twenty-four brothers and sisters had been duly appointed and settled in life he inherited as his share in the landed patrimony 1,400 acres of land in Prince Edward County, and some slaves. Gen. Sterling Price was the third of four sons and a daughter who lived to maturity. At a suitable age he was sent to Hampden-Sydney College, where, after completing his education, he, at the age of twenty years, entered the clerk's office at Prince Edward Court-house, with a view of' being bred to the bar. In the fall of 1831 he went to Missouri with his father and spent the winter in Fayette, Howard County, settling the following year near Keytesville, in which neighborhood he remained for a number of, years, engaged in keeping a hotel, in merchandising and in agricultural pursuits, after which he removed some five or six miles south and settled on a farm on Bowling Green Prairie, on which he remained until the war opened. In 1840 he was first elected to the lower house of the Missouri legislature, at which session he was elected speaker of the same. He was elected to both positions in 1842, and four years later to a seat in Congress, on the general ticket system. Soon after taking his seat in Congress the War with Mexico broke out and he resigned his seat in Congress and was commissioned by President Polk to raise a regiment of Missouri volunteers, and for this purpose be returned to Missouri and organized his command, and as its colonel marched into northern Mexico, For gallant and meritorious conduct he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in 1847, and was assigned to command in New Mexico, where he remained until the war closed. He fought in the battle of Santa Cruz, but after it became known that peace had been previously declared everything that had been captured was returned to the Mexicans. Gen. Price then returned to his farm in Chariton County, which had been managed with great prudence and skill by his wife during his absence, and he once more devoted himself to agricultural pursuits and the genial and elegant hospitalities of that time. From this delightful retreat he was called in 1852, upon receiving the nomination for governor, and upon his election he entered upon his duties. Railroads at that time were beginning to become formidable and sufficient encouragement had been given them during the administration of Gov. King to embolden them in the most extravagant demands, and although they were vetoed by the Governor, accompanied by the strong logic of his master mind and the prophetic warning that has since been so fearfully fulfilled, the bills were passed against his earnest protestations. . Finding the salary of the Governor inadequate to support that officer in a manner suitable to the dignity of the office, he called the Legislature's attention to the fact, recommending an increase for the benefit of his successor, and two years before the expiration of his term a law was passed in accordance with the recommendation, but to take effect from and after its passage, and for himself he persistently refused to take a dollar more salary than he was to receive at the time of his inauguration, consequently there is a large balance still due him from the State. In 1856 he returned to his farm, and was there engaged in agricultural pursuits and the breeding of fine stock until the nomination of Claiborne F. Jackson for governor, when Gen. Price was induced to take the office of bank commissioner, vacated by Mr. Jackson. He was also instrumental in securing a railroad through his county, which is now a part of the St. Louis, Kansas City & Northern Railroad, in 1857. In the contest for the Presidency, in 18601 Gen. Price espoused the cause of Stephen A. Douglas, and when the result of the election was known and the tremendous excitement consequent thereon caused the State legislature to call a convention of ninety-nine members, to consider the relations of Missouri to the Federal Government, Gen. Price, with others, was elected to represent his district, and upon the assembling of the convention, in February, Gen. Price was elected president of the body. The people of Missouri decided to occupy a position of "armed neutrality" and for this they were denounced as traitors and as such treated by the Federal authorities and their armies. Gov. Jackson tendered to Gen. Price the command of the State forces, with the rank of major general, which be accepted, and thereafter, when all hopes of averting a conflict were crushed by the capture of Camp Jackson, where Gen. Price's eldest son was, his energies were expended in the interests of the South. It is impossible to enter into a detailed description of his military career in these pages, suffice it to say that either from ignorance of his merits or from jealousy by the Richmond authorities he was subordinated to those who were greatly his inferiors and denied the prominence to which his talents and abilities entitled him, for which the Confederate cause was the loser. He endured all these slights so patiently, and exhibited such brilliant qualities whenever the occasion presented itself, that he became greatly endeared to the people of the South, and with the exception of Lee, and possibly of Jackson, no name among their cherished heroes is remembered with more ardent and sincere affection. After the surrender Gen. Price made his way to the city of Montezuma, with a party of exiles, with the view to forming a colony at Cordova, but the unsettled condition of the country, the waning fortunes of the empire and the unfavorable action of the climate upon his shattered constitution, rendered his return to Missouri a necessity. In the winter of 1866 they returned to St. Louis, where the General suffered with a chronic disease of the bowels, contracted while in the service of his country in Mexico, during the war with that country, but he engaged in business, as a commission merchant, and established a prosperous house. His health, however, continued to decline, and September 29, 1867, he paid the last debt of nature. Thousands took their farewell look at their beloved chieftain while his body laid in state in the church at the corner of Eighth Street and Washington Avenue, and on October 3 he was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, on the anniversary of one of his greatest battles. He was a natural soldier, was endowed with rare graces of mind and person, and was full of dignity, but was always the soul of kindness. He had the faculty of holding his troops under fire and inspiring them with his own high courage, and the love he inspired in the hearts of his followers was almost unbounded. In him were combined all the virtues of his sex, with none of its vices, and he was the chivalrous leader of a gallant and adoring people. May l4, 1833, he was married to Martha, daughter of Capt. John Head, of Randolph County, Mo., who had come to Missouri at about the same time that the Prices came. Four children were born to them: Gen. Edwin W. Price; Col. Celsus Price, of St. Louis; Martha Sterling Price, the wife of Peter J. Willis, and Quintus, a resident of St. Louis.

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