) is the largest city in Northwest Missouri, serving as the county seat for Buchanan County. With a 2007 estimated population of 73,912, Saint Joseph is the eighth largest city in the state. The St. Joseph Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Buchanan, Andrew, and DeKalb counties in Missouri and Doniphan County, Kansas, had an estimated population of 122,306 in 2006. Saint Joseph is also home to Missouri Western State University.
Saint Joseph was founded by Joseph Robidoux, a local fur trader, and officially incorporated in 1843. In its early days, it was a bustling outpost and rough frontier town, serving as a last supply point and jumping-off point over the Missouri River toward the "Wild West", this due largely to the fact that it was the westernmost point in the United States accessible by rail until after the American Civil War.
The main east west downtown streets were named for Robidoux's children: Faraon, Julius (Jules St); Francis; Felix; Edmund, Charles; Sylvanie; and Messanie. The street between Sylvanie and Messanie was named for his second wife, Angelique.
Several events of particular historical note occurred in Saint Joseph. Between April 3, 1860, and late October 1861, Saint Joseph was one of the two endpoints of the Pony Express. In 1882, also on April 3, the notorious Jesse James was killed at his home, originally located at 1318 Lafayette, now sited next to The Patee House, a hotel that had formerly served as the home of both Patee Female College and St. Joseph Female College. James was living under the alias of Mr. Howard. An excerpt from a popular poem of the time is: "...that dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard has laid poor Jesse in his grave."
The Heaton-Bowman-Smith Funeral Home maintains a small museum about Jesse James. Their predecessors conducted the funeral. The museum is open to the public. His home, which has been relocated at least three times, is now maintained as a tourist attraction that features the bullet hole from that fateful shot. These two events lend Saint Joseph the slogan, "Where the Pony Express started and Jesse James ended."
Saint Joseph peaked as an expansionist city in 1900, with a census population of 102,979. At the time, it was the home to one of the largest wholesale companies in the Midwest, the Nave & McCord Mercantile Company, as well as the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad, and the C.D. Smith & Company, which would become C.D. Smith Healthcare.
In 1997, Saint Joseph was named an "All-America City" by the National Civic League. Saint Joseph was voted the top true western town of 2007 by the True West Magazine, in the January/February 2008 issue.
St. Joseph is also the home of Rosecrans Memorial Airport and 139th Airlift wing of the Missouri National Guard.