Or My Baby, He Wrote Me A Letter
(apologies to the Box Tops). All right. Maybe you’ve been thinking, he’s carrying this a bit too far with all of these posts from his own family’s history. I do have some more posts about the history of Maplewood in mind. Previously unpublished, as well. I know of several, large archival deposits that I have yet to tap. The problem is sunshine and 80+ degrees wins every time over the conditioned air spaces that the archives inhabit. The longer days don’t help, either. I rarely head indoors while it is still light out. Anyway, take a look at this post and then tell me, “Is this cool or what?”
This is an undated photograph of my grandfather, Lowell Hobart, my mother, Dolores Jane and my grandmother, Ora Marguerite Jackson. They are standing in front of their home at 6329 Elm in Wellston, Missouri. My mother was born on November 20, 1921. I have no skill in guessing how old she was when this picture was taken. But I include it because I think it is as close as I can get to how their family looked around the time the letter was written in 1928. This is the fourth post of images from my own family archive. The other three can be liked here.
My mother was 27 years old when she married my father in 1948. He was 22. They both were intelligent, sensitive, articulate, kind, caring, artistic, friendly, outdoorsy, non judgemental, unpretentious, tool users with well developed senses of humor. Of course, they were much, much more than what I have just written. How could I possibly sum them up in just a few sentences or paragraphs? Mama was 5 years older than Pop. We lost them both at the end of 2020. She lived one month longer than he did. My brother, sisters and I were truly fortunate to have had the parents that we did. To try and write about them now is to start grieving once again. I just couldn’t get this post out on Mother’s Day. Mama would understand. This is Mama’s own handwriting. Her beautiful penmanship would last nearly her whole life. From memory, I think she was 18 months old when this image was made.
Ora Marguerite Layman and Lowell Hobart Jackson, my maternal grandparents
If you missed the first post of my historic family photos you can find it here. Also, I made a late addition of our family tree to that post that you may find interesting. This image is on a postcard. This is my mother’s handwriting. There is no record of what year the image was made. The back of the previous photo. My grandmother Ora Layman is on the far left in this image also from 1918. I don’t know what to make of this. Does anyone know what these young ladies were up to?
I began putting historic photographs and documents concerning Maplewood online around 2010. ‘Til now the focus has been on families that once lived in Maplewood. I haven’t said much about my own family even though I have many interesting documents and photographs which this audience may appreciate. I am aware of the danger of allowing this site to deteriorate into the blog of Doug Houser as one reader put it upon exiting my email list. Even though I wasn’t born here, I’ve been here for a pretty long time. Our founding pioneer, James Sutton, moved out here from the city in 1825 then died in 1877 – 52 years later. I’m working on my 48th year here. Hopefully that gives me a pass to do what I’m about to do. What follows are some of our most important historic images from the collection of my family. We’ll start on my mother’s side – the Jacksons. My great grandparents: Mary Stella Bundren (1881-1908) and John Lee Jackson (1872-1935). Great grandmother’s name is also recorded as Estella. Some of my Jackson ancestors came from Kentucky and settled around Golconda, IL where John Lee was born. They moved to Stonefort, IL when he started school. Here they are again. Both of the images are undated. Mary Stella Bundren had a sister, Ida, who died when she was 12. She also had a brother, James Boyd. She is buried in Zion Cemetery, 3 or 4 miles outside of Stonefort, Il.
Well, if you live in Maplewood, that is. Our historic Maplewood Pool/Library building is in need of some attention. It won’t take a lot to ensure that generations to come can enjoy this building just as many past generations have. So please, Maplewoodians, make it a point to head to our city hall tomorrow and vote Yes On Prop L! Swimming is such a wonderful pastime. Just look at the crowd it used to attract. In the summer, the windows could be removed to allow the upper level to be used as a pavilion complete with a fireplace. The lower level held the changing rooms. The men’s was on the left and women’s on the right. This image was made in the Summer of 1943.
Now this is confusing so you’ll have to pay attention. I’m going to repeat some of the material that I published not too long ago to refresh your memory. One of the daughters of James Compton and Ann Wells Sutton, Miss Sarah Wilgus married Charles S. Humphreys on March 30, 1864. They lived in a small house at 7478 Manchester which was right across the road from the Sutton mansion at 7453. They had two children, Mary Isabel (married Samuel Silence) and Charles F. (married Lucretia Hazard of Clayton). Charles, the father, died in 1869. Sarah married again. Her second husband was Johnson Harrison. They had four children. Sarah (who married William Ryder Holmes), Joseph (who married Miss Ollien), James (unmarried) and Edna (Schaffer). Sarah Harrison the younger and William Ryder Holmes had two children, Russell William and Mary E.
Laura Varilek wrote that Russell was her grandfather and her mother was Julie Ann Holmes. Laura’s uncle is also named William Holmes. I reported on their visit here in a recent blog post. To my knowledge, they are the first instance of out-of-state tourists to Maplewood attracted by the information in my blog. I greatly enjoyed their visit.
Dear Readers, Recently, I received this letter from the folks that are working to improve our library. The original Maplewood Pool building, now home to our library, is one of the most important historic buildings in our town. March 1, 2023
On behalf of the Maplewood Library Preservation campaign, we’re asking you to vote Yes on Proposition L in the April 4th election. The Maplewood Public Library’s home was originally built in 1938 by the WPA to be the changing facility for the Maplewood Pool. This beautiful, historic building became the library’s home in 2007.
In the beginning… This loading dock was on the Big Bend side. This attractive addition was on the south end. As the sign indicates, the building would soon become the home of The Saint Louis Closet Company. Here is a better look at the addition without the chain link fence in the way. This free standing structure was even further to the south on the property.
Ernie B——t was one of the first fellows that I got to know when I began working at the Chrysler truck plant in Fenton in 1968. His real last name was Bullock and maybe still is if he’s around. I was 18. He was 33. He’d be 88 today. Ernie grew up in south St. Louis. I have always been fascinated with the city. All of my grandparents lived there or had at one time or another. Grandma Amy lived on Virginia near Marquette Park. Grandad and Grandmother Jackson lived on Potomac near Hampton and Chippewa. To a boy from the country, they lived in another world. They had something in St.
This small booklet was among the many interesting objects, images and documents that Laura Varilek was kind enough to share with us. I don’t know anything about it. By 1919, Maplewood was set up pretty well schoolwise having just constructed a new, large high school a couple of years earlier. I don’t know what purpose this small book served. Any guesses? If you would like to have a look at much of what Laura has contributed to our historic record, here are the links. https://40southnews.com/maplewood-history-rarer-than-rare-a-third-image-of-james-compton-sutton-found/
Another very rare bit of Maplewoodiana has come to light. Attached to an email from my former neighbor, Bill Smothers, was this wonderful image of an early Kroger Super Market. I have seen only one other image of a Kroger store in Maplewood. It is in the collection of our library and not of very good quality. When I first looked at the image that Bill sent, I couldn’t recognize that building as ever having been at that address. So I pulled up my photographs of the current building and was surprised. Not only is the part that housed the Kroger store still there but little has actually changed since then. Note the diamond shaped anchor heads. They’re still there. The windows and doors have changed. The part of the building that the Kroger store occupied was in the western end of the much altered Reller Chevrolet building. Another interesting detail in Bill’s image is the automobile that is parked on the left side of the image with just the front end visible. It is an Airflow made by Chrysler under various badges beginning in 1934 and ending in ‘37. The Airflow was one of the most advanced automobiles ever made. There is a good article about them here. This is an interesting part of the history of the company where I worked for 34 years. According to the website linked above, Hagerty.com, a fully restored Airflow today might cost you from 110,000 to 140,000 dollars. Way to go, Chrysler! This is a composite image of the Reller Chevrolet building that I worked up for a recent exhibit. This huge building once had ten bays.
Today is the day of the annual auction to support our Chamber of Commerce. Instead of the usual fall date, this year the nice folks at the C of C have combined the auction with their Trivia nite. You can find all of the details on their website. Mid-County Chamber of Commerce
As has been my habit for the last decade or so, I created a composite image of Maplewood historic photos to be sold at the auction. It might take a hundred years but I have to think that eventually these images will be very valuable. For one thing, hard copies are rare. Usually there haven’t been more than two print copies made of these images that I donate. Most of them are just one. They are printed by Diversified Labs, top notch, professional printers here in town. They are printed on high quality paper. These prints will be around long after we’re gone. Once again, Mark from Frame of Mind Framing has done a terrific job of making one of my composite photos really stand out. Tonight all you have to do is bid high and you can take it home with you.
Before there were cars, that is. I had been thinking about running this post again for quite a while. I had forgotten that there were three separate posts about the horses. I think we are very lucky to have found so much information. This one will start you off. https://40southnews.com/maplewood-history-first-there-were-horses/
You can link to the other two through this first one. Enjoy. Doug Houser January 31, 2023
Relax. This didn’t just happen. It happened quite a while ago and I’m just now writing about it. This is not Maplewood history. I’m running it under that banner anyway to connect with my usual audience. Ask any Maplewoodian and they will tell you that our location is ideal. There are many reasons why. Access to highways, hospitals ,universities and downtown Maplewood are just a few. Access to Forest Park is another. It is only 3 miles away. From just about any location in our town, one can make their way to the park on a bicycle by cutting through residential neighborhoods and avoiding the busy streets with the exception of crossing them. For the past 47 years, I have done this hundreds of times. Usually at some point I’ll connect with Bellevue, take it over Hwy 40 and across Clayton Road. From there it is just a few blocks through the DeMun neighborhood to the light at Rosebury and then into the park. Sometimes I’ll ride through the campus of the Concordia Seminary. This is exactly what I was doing one day a little over 21 years ago when I chanced upon a scene of destruction. I was very unhappy to see that the smokestack at Concordia Seminary was being demolished. I hadn’t even heard that it was endangered. The stack and the power plant building were an interesting architectural ensemble, nicely done and built to last. Originally coal was burned to fire the boilers that provided heat to the seminary buildings. At one time there were many of these anywhere one had large buildings but as the coal-fired heating became obsolete most were demolished.
Quite a while ago, ( I have forgotten the year), a thatched roof was added to a fairly plain commercial building on Big Bend (next to Mr. Wizard’s Ice Cream Place). It was added by the owner of the building who, as far as I know, was a woman with a shop there that sold high quality things from Ireland. I imagine that she added the thatched roof to make her nondescript building more charming for her customers. One day, attracted by the novelty of this, I stopped by with my camera to take a few photos and find out just what the heck was going on. This was in the pre-internet days. I really had nowhere to go with the photographs. This is just the sort of thing I liked to do so I did. The thatcher was a cheerful fellow from New Zealand. The thatch (reeds, I think he called them), were from Turkey. He said they could be found growing in many parts of the world but somewhere in Turkey they grew in such abundance that they were regularly harvested and shipped apparently all over the world. We didn’t get much farther than that in conversation when the woman, who I assume owned the building/shop, came out and made it clear to both of us that the thatcher had a job he needed to concentrate on and that my conversation with him was keeping that from happening. I forget exactly how she put it but that is what she meant. We both got the message. At that time I had not retired yet.
January is already two thirds over. I have a couple of ideas for upcoming blog posts but the circumstances of everyday living keep getting in the way of working on them. Fortunately, fellow Maplewood history aficionado Luke Havel mentioned in an email that he occasionally sees matchbook covers from businesses now long gone that once thrived (or didn’t) in our fair town available on eBay. Wonderful! I had been planning a rerun of my earlier post on just that particular bit of ephemera. This was a fun post to make. I hope those who remember it will enjoy seeing it again. If this is your first viewing, consider how much history of our community is contained in these small cardboard squares of which the overwhelming majority of have been discarded. Enjoy. http://40southnews.com/maplewood-history-a-hunk-a-hunk-of-burning-hobby/
Luke, thank you for reminding me of this. In the future if any of those covers from Ed’s Tavern show up, you might want to give me a buzz. Doug Houser January 19, 2023
Most of you are probably unaware of the value of an original watercolor by Stan Masters. For about the past 16 years Stan’s paintings have been ably marketed by the local fine art and antiques dealer Robert Morrissey. With Robert’s help and marketing skills, Stan’s widow and my friend and former neighbor, Carlene, has done far better than she could on her own. Today, one of Stan’s fine paintings is likely to cost you several thousand dollars and higher. Stan would be very pleased. Why is it that we never appreciate these guys until they’re gone? How would you like to own a quality reproduced version of one of Stan’s paintings? How would you like to have your choice of any of 100 of the paintings he produced? If that’s not enough, how would you like to have your favorite/s of Stan’s paintings available on a very wide assortment of media? So wide you won’t believe it until you take a look. After my last post about Stan Masters and the fabulous watercolors he created, I received an email from Robert Morrissey. He has made high resolution digital images of 100 of Stan’s finest paintings to be reproduced on a wide variety of traditional and non traditional media and objects. You won’t believe this until you see it right here.
Over the twelve or thirteen years since I began this adventure, this site has gained many new readers as one might expect. While most of what I have posted can still be found, it is not easy. For one thing you have to know what to search for. There exists a plethora of interesting articles that a lot of the newer readers have never seen. This is a look back. It has been nearly nine years since I first made the following two posts about Maplewood’s own Stan Masters. They deserve another look. Stan Masters First Post
Stan Masters Second Post
Since these posts were made, Robert Morrissey has moved. You can find him now located at 704 Hanley Industrial Court, Brentwood, MO 63144. 314-644-7066
John Baptiste Bruno once had a farm adjacent to and just north of James Sutton’s. Lucky for us area historian, Esley Hamilton had done his homework on this one. NOTES ON THE BRUNO HOUSE
7310 BRUNO AVENUE, RICHMOND HEIGHTS
It has been suggested that the house at 7310 Bruno Avenue is the original pioneer Bruno family home, and it is definitely sitting on part of the original Bruno property. An investigation of the history of the property, and an analysis of the style of the house, suggest that this is a later building, probably built by Alfred J. Bruno as late as 1922. The Bruno farm of 52.25 acres was a small part of the vast Gratiot League Square, of which Big Bend Boulevard forms the western edge, in part. This piece was part of a larger tract in the west end of the Gratiot tract that was acquired by pioneer explorer William L. Sublette in 1831 from Pratte, Chouteau and others (St.
In 2008, I produced a book for the 100th anniversary of the founding of our town called The First 100 Years, Maplewood, MO. It was a fundraiser for the Maplewood Community Betterment Foundation. Still is. If you would like a copy of that book, you can pick one up at Scheidt Hardware (True Value to those of you recently arrived) at 7320 Manchester. I don’t know what they get for one nowadays.
Shortly after the first book came out I began what would become my longtime interest – blogging about Maplewood history. After several years nameless, I hit on a perfect name for my blog – Maplewood History. And so it has been for the past nine years. Around 2014, I realized that I had already written the equivalent of a couple of books with what was contained in my blog posts. All I needed to do was select some of the best posts, put them all together and I’d have another book. This took five years. I called the book, Maplewood History – Volume Two – Selections From the Popular Blog. The first book is all black and white. My second book is full color. It is printed on high quality paper. My intent was to create a collector’s item. I think I have. Anyhow, it won’t cost you anything to look. There is a sample copy at Scheidt Hardware. Of course, you can pick up your own copy there too. The only other place to get one is from me. They make wonderful gifts just in time for…well, whatever.