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Wimer, John M.

Born: 1810-05-10 Amherst County, Virginia

Died: 1863-01-11 Missouri

Flourished: Saint Louis, Missouri

Alternate name: Weimer

At the age of eighteen, Wimer moved from his native state to St. Louis, where he found work as a blacksmith. In 1834, he married Abigail S. Wise, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. He eventually established his own blacksmith shop, and helped establish several other St. Louis businesses, becoming president of both the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company and the Commercial Insurance Company. He also became involved in city politics. He became the dominate political figure of the Fifth Ward, and held numerous local offices, compiling an admirable record as constable, alderman, sheriff, county judge, and superintendent of the waterworks. Firefighting was of particular interest to him, and he was among the founders of the Liberty Fire Company of the St. Louis Fire Department. In 1843, he won election as mayor. He spent his term improving fire-control regulations and standardizing the duties and salaries of city officials. After his term ended in 1844, President James K. Polk appointed him postmaster of St. Louis, a position he held until 1850. In 1857, Wimer won a second term as mayor. The major accomplishment of his second term was the creation and organization of a paid city fire department. In 1860, he was a real estate agent and owned $80,000 in real property and had a personal estate of $5,000. When the Civil War broke out, Wimer supported Virginia and the Confederacy. In the spring of 1862, the Union Army arrested and imprisoned him. In December, however, he escaped and fled to southwestern Missouri, where he joined Confederate forces under Emmett McDonald. Wimer was killed in battle near Hartsville, Missouri.

Gravestone, Block 83, Lot 284, Bellefontaine Cemetery, Saint Louis, MO; Missouri Marriage Records, Saint Louis City, 24 April 1834, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, MO; Jeanette C. Lauer, "Wimer, John M." Biographical Dictionary of American Mayors, 1820-1920: Big City Mayors, ed. by Melvin G. Holli and Peter d' A. Jones (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1981), 397-98; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1847 (Washington, DC: J. & G. S. Gideon, 1847), 440; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1849 (Washington, DC: Gideon, 1849), 505; Register of all Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the Thirtieth September, 1851 (Washington, DC: Gideon, 1851), 570; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Ward 10, Saint Louis, Saint Louis County, MO, 152.