Immigrants often formed societies that acknowledge their ethnic heritage. In Sedalia’s early years, the Irish, the Scandinavians, Jews, and the Germans had such clubs that hosted entertainment, raised money for the poor in their native lands, and created bonds with those of similar backgrounds.
Many people of German background settled in Missouri during the 19th century. Not all of these settlers were born in Germany, but they still claimed and celebrated their German heritage.
The 1882 History of Pettis County provides a few details about Charles Yost, one of the people of German descent who lived in Sedalia. The federal censuses of 1870 and 1880 provide other details.
Charles Yost, according to the 1870 census, was born in Nassau, as was his wife Elizabeth. Charles, 33, and Elizabeth, 26, had three children — Henrietta, 9, Mary 6, and Christopher, 4. The census also lists William Yost, an 18-year-old man, living with the family “at home,” probably indicating he was not employed, and 20-year-old Annie Yost, who worked as a domestic servant. The census does not identify the relationship of William and Annie to Charles; they could have been siblings, cousins, or niece and nephew to Charles.
Yost was a successful businessman who overcame difficulties and became even more successful. He owned and ran a saloon on the north side of West Main Street between Ohio Avenue and Osage Avenue. In November 1867, a fire started in C.P. Childs’ grocery store and rapidly spread through the fame buildings to the west. Yost’s saloon and its stock, valued at $3,000, was destroyed. Yost carried $1,300 worth of insurance on the building, but this was not enough to cover the loss fully.
Yost, however, quickly rebuilt. A December 1868 list of “principal business houses” built during the year includes Yost’s two-story brick building costing $10,000.
The 1870 census notes that Yost and his wife owned $9,500 worth of real estate and $600 worth of personal property. The 1870 census does not provide an address, but the 1880 census shows the family living on West Seventh Street. The family then augmented its income by taking in two boarders, Charles Simon and Fred Simon, both of whom were firemen.
By 1879, Charles had quit the saloon business and owned a grocery store. He is mentioned in a Sedalia Democrat article about a proposed cheese factory as a grocer who carried cheese to accommodate his customers but who only sold between 60 and 75 pounds of cheese per year.
In addition to being a successful businessman, Charles was active in two German societies — the Germania Club and the Deutsche Ordern der Harigari.
The Germania Club, founded in 1876, had 50 members in 1882. It was a “social organization” that in its early years met in “large and elegantly furnished rooms.” For two years, they performed plays on the stage at their meeting hall. They also held entertainments such as “fine balls” and picnics. In 1882, Yost served as the group’s president.
The Deuschte Ordern der Harigari was organized in 1869, and by 1882, had 65 members. Yost served as a principal officer, the “O.B.” The 1882 History describes this organization as “useful” and notes its prosperity and surplus funds.