Amos Bargdoll

According to his headstone, Amos Bargdoll was born on 6 September 1816 in Virginia.[1] This date is consistent with the census records that exist pertaining to Bargdoll, although the exact date is never expressly given therein.[2] His parents were Solomon and Christina (Peterson) Bargdoll. His father was a blacksmith and gunsmith who brought the family to Livingston County, Missouri, in 1841, where Amos took up and practiced the same trade as his father.[3] Because of this early arrival, Amos and his siblings were considered "pioneer settlers" of Chillicothe, MO.[4] On 14 January 1846 Amos was appointed Postmaster of Chillicothe, Livingston, MO, and held that position until 1850 when he resigned to leave for California.[5]

While the trek to California took several months and was hard-fought through perils unforeseen, Bargdoll only remained in California for a year and a half before returning to Missouri. Having settled on Mathenias Creek, El Dorado, California, Bargdoll found so little gold that he wrote back to his father-in-law that "a person might work a whole day and not collect more than 25 or 30 cents worth."[6]

Bargdoll took what was known as "The Panama Route" to get home, which involved taking a ship from California down to Panama, trekking across the jut of land, boarding another ship from Panama to New Orleans, and proceeding up the Mississippi River. Once he arrived back in Missouri, Bargdoll purchased a steam saw mill, brought the first engine to his city, and continued operating these machines until losing health in 1856. At that time he was elected clerk of the county, and served in that function for ten years until 1866 when he retired from public life to reside on his 200 acre farm. He would remain there until his death on 6 February 1898.[3][1]

Take a look at the hand-written diary of Amos Bargdoll that has been courteously digitized by the EKU Special Collections and Archive!



1. Amos Bargdoll. Memorial ID# 144511414. 

2. Amos Bargdoll appears in the 1850 United States Census twice. He first appears in the Livingston, Missouri, census with his wife Nancy and children Mary and Claude. However, this census was taken on August 12, 1850 - almost three full months after Bargdoll would have departed for California. The census record of Mathenias Creek, El Dorado, California, also accounts of Amos' residence. This record was taken on September 26, 1850, more than two weeks after he would have arrived in California. Years later, Amos appears again in the 1870 census of Chillicothe, Livingston, Missouri, with his second wife, Sarah Jane West, and their children.

3. A History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missourii. (St. Louis, MO: National Historical Company, 1886), 1069-1070.

4. L.T. Collier. "Livingston County Pioneer Settlers and Subsequent Events," in Missouri Historical Review, vol. vi (Columbia, MO: State Historical Society, 1912), 204.

5. Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832 - 1971. NARA Microfilm Publication, M841, vol. 18. Range 1845-1855.

6. This letter, dated 5 January 1851, serves as the only surviving correspondence between Bargdoll and his family during his trip. It tells of difficulties in driving out Native Americans in supposedly gold-rich areas, as well as the moral climate of those in the West in terms of their respect for religious practices and forebearances. The letter gives some detail about the price of goods, the location of other locals from Livingston County, and closes with a desire for his father-in-law to try to plant some enclosed flax seeds in Missouri to see if they would grow there. This indicates the intent that Bargdoll already had to return to Missouri and attempt to continue his life there. A transcription of the letter can be found in the EKU Special Collections and Archives Amos Bargdoll Papers or online via EKU's SCA Omeka exhibit.

7. This County Land Ownership map dates to 1878, and details the property lines of Livingston, Missouri. Amos Bargdoll's property can be found in the lower-central portion of the image, lot #137. (Courtesy of