Home of Missouri's Second Governor


The Thornhill farm includes the home and utility buildings of Frederick Bates and shows how his family lived on the frontier in the early 1800s. Frederick Bates was more than just a farmer; he played a pivotal role in bringing the Louisiana Territory under the control of the United States government. The site includes his 1820s home, barn, reconstructed summer kitchen, ice and smoke house, orchard and herb garden, blacksmith shop and family cemetery. The home has been restored and partially furnished to look as it did when Governor Bates would set off on a one day trek to St. Charles, Missouri, then the first capital of the state.


Frederick Bates

Frederick Bates' contributions to this growing area began when he came to St. Louis in 1807, just one year after the return of Lewis and Clark's "Tour of Discovery" opened the west. He began as the Secretary, Recorder of Land Titles and a member of the Board of Land Commissioners in the new territory. In these posts he helped determine whether Spanish, French or American claims and customs would predominate. As Secretary, he served as acting Territorial Governor for much of the time due to the absence of the Territorial Governor Meriwether Lewis. He was also responsible for codification of territorial laws and compiled the first book published in Missouri. On November 17, 1824, in St. Charles, Bates was sworn in as second governor of Missouri, succeeding Alexander McNair. On August 4 the following year, however, he died of pleurisy. He is buried in the family cemetery near his house with his wife, Nancy and two of his four children.

Tours and Free Open Dates

On select weekend dates in the spring and summer, the Thornhill Estate will offer free open houses from 1 to 5 pm. Period dress staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions. Please call 314-615-8328 or find us on Facebook for more information.

Guided tours are available by appointment during the week for groups up to 25 people. Cost is $4 per adult and $2 per child with a minimum fee of $30. Educational programs focusing on children’s life on the frontier are available with hands-on activities. For more information about this programs please see our education brochure.

The house is wheelchair assessable and assist animals are permitted. No pets are allowed within the historic site.