Joseph Robidoux III (1783-1868) – A fur trader who established the Blacksnake Hills Trading Post that eventually became St. Joseph, Missouri. He was born to Joseph Robidoux II and Catherine Rollet Robidoux — one of seven children and spent most of his childhood in St. Louis, Missouri, where his father introduced him to the fur trade. At the age of 20, his father sent him to organize a trading post at Fort Dearborn, Illinois, site of present-day Chicago. He was very successful in this endeavor, so much so, that his competition hired local Indians to harass him and drive him from the area. He then established a trading post near the site of present-day Omaha, Nebraska in 1813, where he remained until 1822, when the American Fur Company bought him out and offered him $1,000 a year not to compete with them.
Returning to St. Louis, he worked as a baker until 1826, when he was hired by the American Fur Company to establish a trading post at the Blacksnake Hills, near the site of present day St. Joseph, Missouri. After four years, he returned to independent trading and prospered, hiring as many as 20 men. In 1843, he hired to men to design a town for him and began selling lots. The new city was called St. Joseph and prospered quickly, growing from just 800 people in 1846 to nearly 9,000 by 1860. He continued to live there until his death at the age of 85, in 1868.
By Kathy Weiser-Alexander, August, 2017.