Maplewood History: Sterling P. Davison, Jr. Was A Mayor. Who Was Spencer Davis?

For the past few nights I’ve been staring at the computer screen, scrolling through my archive of historic Maplewood documents and photographs waiting for something to jump out and suggest itself for my next blog post.  Nothing has been jumping. It’s not like I’m running out of material.  I have plenty. The love letters of William Lyman Thomas alone are huge.  But every time I sit down to try and coax a blog out of them I get overwhelmed.  There are far too many to put on this blog. Reading them and trying to decide what will interest the readers is taxing.  I think my brain is shutting down on that subject. There is also a family story in Jim Fischer’s box that I have been meaning to sort out ever since he gave it to Luke Havel and myself several years ago.  I need to just sit down and do that.

Maplewood History: The Love Song of W. Lyman Thomas

I have no evidence that Thomas was aware of T.S. Eliot and his poetry. Their lives overlapped a bit.  Thomas 1846-1918 and Eliot 1888-1965. Hopefully the spirit of Eliot will forgive me for parodying the title of one of his most famous poems, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Prufrock as it is commonly called (I am told by Wikipedia) was first published in 1915.  The Thomases by then had just about lived their entire lives. Kate would pass in 1917, William in 1918.  I suppose the love letters of William Lyman Thomas to his intended, Catherine (Kate) Compton Sutton, could also be called a love song.

Maplewood History: On A Roll – A House, That Is.

Or more accurately “That Was.”  A comment from reader and county historian Esley Hamilton in my last post started me thinking that I could generate another post with a minimum of struggle by elaborating on his comment some. 

Esley said, “I have seen pictures of the twin-gabled house now at 7430 Flora being moved, but never one of its original location. The postcard showing the house in its original spot on Oakview Terrace is the kind of evidence that historians rarely find.”  I agree Esley. I got lucky on that one. I photographed the event that Mr. Hamilton is referring to.  I even had a couple of pages on it in my first book, Our First One Hundred Years, Maplewood, MO, which was published for our centennial in 2008.  I believe the second printing of that book has sold out once again. Michelle at the Book House may still have some copies but Scheidt Hardware (True Value to you newcomers) was down to two copies when I was in a few days ago.  The Chamber has none.   I am in the process of getting quotes from a couple of printers so hopefully we’ll have some more copies in the future.

Maplewood History: On the Rediscovery of Random Bits of Unrelated Information

I’m sure no one would be surprised to hear that the rediscovery of the history of our small inner ring suburb involves keeping track of very many different bits of info gotten from a wide variety of sources.  Roughly three times a month I attempt to gather in a single post many of these randomly acquired bits that are somehow related to one another. In my mind, and in my computer, these bits are floating around waiting to be drawn together by some common theme.  My computer is much better at keeping track of these things than my mind is. Truth is this blog would not be possible without the record storing abilities of the computer.  I was terrible at keeping track of pages of information back in the analog days of filing cabinets. I can’t tell you how many times I searched for that certain piece of paper that I just saw a moment ago but now is nowhere to be found. These days I often am looking for information online.  The bits I find, first, go into my Documents folder – the plan being to file them in separate more specific folders later.  Some are cross filed in a few different folders.

Maplewood History: A Bill Jones Double Header

Maplewood’s premier memoirist, Bill Jones, is at it again. What better way to kick off the New Year than with a couple of Bill’s latest recollections.  Remember they are typed by his wife, Barb. MISSOURI ADULT DRIVER’S LICENSE – 25 CENTS

On February 6, 1943, my dad had his driver’s license but my mom did not and I, on my 16th birthday, needed a driver’s license.  My mother was reading the information for obtaining a driver’s license.  They took our ID”s and my dad and I sailed right through. Then came Mom!  The man at the counter was leaning over and whispering to my mom. We suddenly realized Mom had taken the man’s face in her hands and said “Sonny boy, I see you at Maplewood Baptist Church and I think you may be a Christian, too.  I have been a Christian all my life.

Maplewood History: From the Fennell Trove – Sam Bland’s Journal – Part 2

Although the response to the first installment of Sam Bland‘s Journal was somewhat less than enthusiastic, I’m going to post the second part anyhow.  In my opinion it contains much of interest, but I know how it is when one has a lot of emails and limited time to spend on them. I skim some of the more complicated ones intending to get back to them later.  If you’re doing that too, you’re forgiven. Maybe I didn’t point out enough of the interesting things Sam recorded?  Much of it is about gardening – planting things. That is not one of my interests.  But I know there are many gardeners out there. Is there nothing of interest to a gardener in Sam’s journal?  We’ll try it again.

Maplewood History: From the Fennell Trove – Sam Bland’s Journal

Included amongst the large assortment of interesting artifacts that make up the Fennell Trove is a journal that is the feature of this post.  At first I just gave it a cursory flip through. I assumed it was a workman’s record of his jobs, bids and expenses, etc. Not that those aren’t interesting, they are.  But if that were all it was, it might play to a very limited audience. I would be in that audience, don’t get me wrong. But as part of this job I have to decide just how much time should I spend deciphering and translating an artifact such as this.

Maplewood History: Links to Sutton / Thomas Posts

For convenience I have decided to include all of this family of blog posts in one place.  Below are links to the 28 blog posts that I made regarding the stunning collection of material that was made available to me by the descendants of James C. Sutton and Ann Wells Sutton and also William Lyman Thomas and Kate Sutton Thomas.  I can’t thank these folks enough. Their names appear in each of the posts created from their material.

Maplewood History: Scrapbooking – One Hundred and Forty-One Years Ago

Maplewood History: The Death of James C. Sutton… Again

Maplewood History: James C. Sutton’s Mansion with a Surprise Ending

Maplewood History: A Bill of Sale… For Human Beings

Maplewood History: William Lyman Thomas and Catherine Kate Sutton – Part 1

Maplewood History: Behind the Scenes

Maplewood History: Will the Real James C. Sutton…

Maplewood History: Close Examination of Historic Thomas Photos Leads to Some Surprising Discoveries

Maplewood History: Close Examination of Historic Thomas Photos Leads to Some Surprising Discoveries – Part 2

Maplewood History: A Bio of William Lyman Thomas in his Own Words

Maplewood History: Ellendale Home Place

Maplewood History: William Lyman Thomas’ School and Home Magazine

Maplewood History: William Lyman Thomas’ School and Home Magazine (continued)

Maplewood History: The Mostly Happy Life of Kittie Thomas

Maplewood History: Emma Thomas Grumley

Maplewood History: Emma Thomas Grumley continued

Maplewood History: William Lyman Thomas – On Slavery

William Lyman Thomas and his 1911 History of St. Louis County, Missouri

William Lyman Thomas and his 1911 History of St. Louis County, Missouri (continued)

Still More Images from William Lyman Thomas’ 1911 History of St. Louis County, Missouri

Still More Yet – Images from William Lyman Thomas’ 1911 History of St. Louis County, Missouri

The Troubling Legacy of our Pioneer Families

Even More Images from William Lyman Thomas’ 1911 History of St. Louis County

Maplewood History: The Last Bunch of Images from WLT’s History of St. Louis County

Maplewood History: William Lyman Thomas – Found Amongst his Personal Effects

William Lyman Thomas – Found Amongst his Personal Effects – Part Two

William Lyman Thomas – Found Amongst his Personal Effects – Part Three

Doug Houser  December 4, 2019

Maplewood History: Fennell Trove Contains Some Extraordinary Images – Addenda

Addenda is a word that I don’t often use.  At least, I don’t remember the last time I used it.  I knew the word I wanted for the title of this post was either addenda or addendum but I admit I didn’t know which was correct.  I now know that addenda is the plural of addendum. It is not the feminine form of addendo as some of you might suspect. I’m talking to you, Antonia and Antonio. If this post had only contained a single image or a single document then I would have used addendum, I think.  It contains much more than that as you’ll see. Thanks to the vast amount of space the internet allows for this sort of thing, I am able to post many more images of the historic items that these many kind folks have let me copy.  Much thanks to Nancy Fennell Hawkins for sharing her trove of Fennell memorabilia with all of us.

Maplewood History: Fennell Trove Contains Some Extraordinary Images – Part Four

The Fennell Trove of historic images and documents has been providing us with a very interesting glimpse into the past of our community.  Nancy Fennell Hawkins left Maplewood in 1954. Yet still she feels connected to this small plot of turf. Just what is it that makes some folks feel most connected to the planet when they are within the city boundaries? I’ve thought about this.  I don’t know the answer. I’m one of the connected, I suppose.  I have been 44 years in the same house.

Maplewood History: Fennell Trove Contains Some Extraordinary Images – Part Three

Parts One and Two of the Fennell trove are both loaded with terrific images.  Many folks have taken the time to express their appreciation for having been able to view them.  I, too, am grateful to Nancy Fennell Hawkins for having had the opportunity to present them. But we’re not done yet.  When I wrote the title and included the word “extraordinary” I was thinking of a couple of images that the reader will see in this post.  These images are very rare. They truly are treasures. It is immensely rewarding to discover images like these. Rediscover in this case.

Maplewood History: Fennell Trove Contains Some Extraordinary Images – Part Two

Just a few of our fellow Maplewoodians ever hit the big time.  Regular followers of this space will recall my series on famous Maplewoodians that wrapped up last July. 

Aided by a powerful search engine driven by computers with speeds that were unimaginable just a few years ago, I was able to offer nearly incontrovertible evidence that Pee Wee Russell, the jazz clarinet virtuoso, was the most famous citizen of our fair town.  He was followed closely by Paul Christman, a mere football god. Christman lived on Anna. I haven’t figured out Pee Wee’s address yet but I’m still trying. Why bring this up now while we’re taking a look at the Fennell family trove graciously provided by Nancy Fennell Hawkins?  These images of Nancy’s are just as important as the ones of Russell and Christman. Look closely.

Maplewood History: Fennell Trove Contains Some Extraordinary Images – Part One

Yep. You read that right.  Another trove of Maplewoodiana has come to light.  This time it is made available by the kindness, generosity and patience (waiting on me) of Nancy Fennell Hawkins. For many decades Fennell family members lived in Maplewood. Nancy has done her family and us a great favor by producing her 224 page, hardbound book, I Remember When – Memories of Growing Up in Maplewood, Missouri 1936 – 1954. 

And, boy, remember she does.  This book is absolutely loaded with details and anecdotes from the lives of her family and friends. I have just finished reading it.  You can too because she is donating a copy to the Maplewood Public Library.

Maplewood History: For Sale – Our Earliest Settlers

Not our actual earliest settlers, of course. They’re happy right where they’re at, we hope.  What I am referring to is my annual limited edition photographic print. This year’s offering, titled Our Earliest Settlers, will go home with the highest bidder at the Mid County Chamber’s Awards Gala and Auction.  Their event happens this Friday evening, October the 11th. Click here for the details. The generous folks at the Frame of Mind picture framing shop at 2900 Big Bend have once again agreed to donate an example of the fine work they do.  If you haven’t used their service, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Maplewood History: George Shields and his Maplewood Subdivision

The age we live in is simultaneously fascinating and terrifying.  There is no clear indicator as to whether our technological advances will save or sink us.  Wonderful tool that it can be, the internet is both a boon and a curse. There is plenty written every day about the curse side of it.  This post is about the boon. The boon in this instance is my internet subscription to  From this I was able to learn some very interesting details about my neighborhood.  It is identified as Shields Subdivision on the Maplewood map in the 1909 Plat book of St. Louis county. That is all I knew about it.  The boundaries are Big Bend on the west, Sutton on the east, Elm on the north and the railroad tracks on the south.

Maplewood History: A Look at Downtown Shortly Before the Demolitions Began

The photographs of Maplewood’s business district that I have been running for the last four or five blogs have generated a lot of interest and a few requests. This post is what amounts to a file dump. Due to the difficulty most readers would have searching my old posts, I am posting some images that I have used before and some that I haven’t. To be honest, I’m not absolutely sure which is which. And I found the text below in the same file with the photographs.

Maplewood History: Startling Pre-debacle Images of Buildings on Manchester

Man. What I won’t stoop to in order to have an eye catching headline?  As you may suspect the images in this post shot by Glenn Haley and submitted by Mike Jones aren’t exactly startling.  Well, maybe. You let me know if they are. I have looked at these and others like them so many times that I’m numb. I don’t know how those of you unfamiliar with them will react.

Maplewood History Live at the Library Tonight!

Beginning promptly at 6:30 at the Maplewood Public Library and continuing for no longer than the average audience is willing to tolerate (an hour or maybe an hour and a half)  I intend to present a digital projected version of my new book, “Maplewood History – Volume Two”. The presentation will be digital because I still have not received a sample hard bound copy from the printer. I will have with me an unbound proof copy.  As you will be able to see, the quality of the printing is very high.  I assume this is one reason why my printer is so busy. It is also a reason why I am waiting patiently. Begun over five years ago, I am very happy to see this project coming to an end.  One reason why the book took this long to create is because I am a night owl.

Maplewood History: From Up In The Air – Part 3

Everyone seems to enjoy looking at these aerial photographs so here are a few more in this post.  If you still have questions after you have looked at these, go ahead – ask away. We all learn from the comments of the readers. If you are just joining us you may want to take a look at the previous two posts in this series.  Part One.  Part Two.  Or if you’ve never heard of the Maplewood History blog before now, you might want to take a look at some of the previous 300+ on the subject that have been drifting in the ether for the past decade.   Just Google “Maplewood History”. My wife tells me that there are other cities named Maplewood in the United States.  That may be true but I bet none of the others have 300+ blog posts out there about the history of their virtually unknown small burgs.

Maplewood History: From Up In The Air – Part 2

Perhaps the title of this post should be, “1970’s Era Redevelopment Plan Blasted A Huge Crater in the Middle of a Lovely, First-Quarter-of the-Twentieth-Century, Shopping District.”  It’s more complicated than that, I know, but I’ve written about this a couple of times and I’ve got a limited amount of space here to get your attention. The aerial image featured in this post was taken at the same time as the image in my previous post.  It was made by Joseph Granich as well. He worked for the St. Louis County Observer newspaper which was located in Maplewood. In the meantime, Thank you, Joe, wherever you are.  Taking an aerial photo in the mid 1950’s must have been an expensive operation.  I imagine you were in a small airplane rather than a helicopter.