Thirteen men purchased land that was high on a hillside sloping down to the banks of the Missouri River. The land was considered a healthy site safe from flooding and convenient to river traffic. They began selling lots, naming the settlement after one of the founders, James Glasgow
Because of its prime location on the Missouri River, the City of Glasgow was destined to become the next great riverport on the Missouri, second only to St. Louis.
With an economy based on hemp and tobacco, Antebellum Glasgow flourished as a shipping and trading center. The thriving city had everything - 2 drug stores, 5 churches, a law office, a bank, a barber shop, 2 hotels, a shoe factory, a newspaper and 6 saloons.
The tranquil period ended when the Civil war split the town into Northern and Southern sympathizers.
In 1864, Glasgow became the scene of a bloody Civil War battle. To gain supplies, Confederate forces bombarded Union troops occupying the town. After heavy fighting, the outnumbered Union soldiers surrendered, but only after burning City Hall where munitions were stored. The fire destroyed half a block of Glasgow's buildings. Union casualties were 11 dead, 32 wounded; Confederate losses were nearly twice that.
When the war ended, prosperity returned. Huge mansions, lavish hotels and bathing spas were constructed. To promote culture and education, affluent citizens funded Lewis Library, Lewis College, Pritchett College and Morrison Observatory.
Of course, not everyone was wealthy. The one-third to one-half of Glasgow's residents who were black faced social, economic, and educational barriers. Black people developed a separate culture symbolized by the three churches built by blacks in the 19th century.
After 1860, Irish immigrants (who settled in town) and Germans (who became farmers) introduced other cultures and a different religion -- Catholicism. Glasgow's first Catholic church was built in 1869.
By the end of the century the original settlers had died, and the character of the town had changed. Both colleges failed. Trains replaced steamboats.
The founders' descendants welcomed technological advances. In 1879, the world's first all-steel bridge spanned the Missouri River at Glasgow. The bridge linked Chicago and Kansas City and marked Glasgow's proud entry into the modern world.