If you are a regular follower of this space you should definitely recognize Mary Piles’ name by now. I should not have to tell you she is the in-house curator of the historic images and documents at our town’s Citizens’ National Bank of Maplewood and St. Louis (6 locations). Recently Mary shared with us the fascinating images within Gerry Vazis’ Red Album of Photographs, (Parts I and Part 2) stored these many years in the bank vault.
All the while Mary has been working on a history of her bank. There was an epic flood in 1915, the same year that the bank was founded. Mary was curious if the flood had any connection with the beginning of the bank. I am not sure what her thinking is on this at present. She can give us an update in the comments section below. She has been kind enough to share with me the results of her research as she has progressed. Here is some of what she has found.
Mary has shared much more with us than is contained in this article. I’m sorry to report that I am still having great difficulty loading images. Editor Miner had our interface updated but something is still wrong. I’m going to try a program my grandson has sent and see if it will help. Keep your fingers crossed. Hope you all are enjoying this weather. Missouri is a hot spot for Covid as you all probably know. So wear your masks.
Just when you think you know everything, one like this comes along. Quite a while ago I did a series of posts about the Bank of Maplewood. Matter of fact here are the links if you’d like to take a look at them again. Bank of Maplewood – Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Three (continued). If you didn’t look at any of those links at least look at Part Three, will ya? In Part Three an image from the 1915 Maplewood Directory and a letterhead are shown that make it clear the bank was not still in its original location at the NE corner of Oakview Terrace and Manchester. This story is actually about the Citizens Bank of Maplewood. Notice that the name is almost the same as the Bank of Maplewood. Just one word was added. Just why was this new bank formed is a question that one of the banks longest serving members, Mary Piles, is trying to solve. I’m curious, too. Why did these folks feel like they needed another bank only one block away from the one they already had? What about the Swinks? John was the president of the Bank of Maplewood and the owner of the building in 1904. Robert was involved in the start up of Citizens Bank. Were those guys brothers? Were the banks competitors? Those are a few of the unknowns to us. Perhaps some of my readers will be able to shed some light on this?
Walter Notter lived in what would one day be Maplewood as early as 1892. He lived with his parents at 7516 (or possibly 7511) Woodland. His WWI draft induction notice says Woodlawn but other records show Woodland. In 1930, Walter and Lillian bought a house at 7237 Bruno for ten dollars. A handwritten deed seems to attest to this fact. They raised four sons, Charles, Edward, Joseph and Donald, all of whom served in the military. Charles, the oldest, served during WWII. (Correction: Should read, He served immediately after WWII.) His son, Edward, has very kindly shared these images with us. I would like to thank Ed Notter and the Notter family for sharing these items with us. It is very hard to imagine what it must have been like to live in our community in the past. These images make it a bit easier. We are in to September already. This fact causes this summer person to worry. Soon we’ll again be inflicted with the annoying coolness. I know, I know, a lot of you claim to enjoy it including one very close member of my own family. Just keep it to yourself and wear your masks.
Most of us in this area are very used to hearing the three words – Laclede Station Road – always together. How many of you ever stopped to think just what and where was this Laclede Station? Laclede was an early property development in what is now the western part of Maplewood. The Laclede Station appears to have been one of the original stops on the Pacific Railroad (later called MoPac) which was completed through what would become Maplewood in 1853. The search for a photograph of the Laclede Station is another Holy Grail of Maplewood history that I’ve been searching for. From my research thus far I know that Laclede Station was in existence as early as 1855. This is no doubt why images of it are hard to come by. Photographs were extremely scarce that long ago. I suspect that all evidence of the original location was wiped out when Hanley Road was extended south of Manchester and joined to Laclede Station Road just north of Cousin Hugo’s.
The words in the title of this post are familiar to many of us boomers who had parents who lived through WWII. It was the slogan on a war era (1942-45) poster cautioning the Americans at home not to discuss things related to the ongoing battles in Europe and in the Pacific with anyone. The enemy has ears everywhere was the message. I suppose if I thought about this at all, I thought that sure you’d have to be careful in big cities, on the coasts, if you lived near any military installations or factories that supplied the military or especially if you had family members serving in different parts of the world that you communicated with. If anything I suspect I thought that the government overemphasized this threat in order to impress it on the few people who might be in a position to make this mistake. There was a rumor of Nazi spies here in Maplewood that I had heard from several folks, notably Tom Bakersmith. I hadn’t found any evidence of this kind of activity but I had made a post about it and it occupies a short chapter in my new book, Maplewood History – Volume Two. What follows is the first page from that chapter.
I wanted a few examples of posters that had carried warnings of situations like this one for this post. I was surprised at how many of them could be easily found. The National Archives has a huge collection.
The occasionally unruly crowd that follows this space has reacted very positively to the first installment of Gerry Vazis’ images from her red album. There are many more to take a look at so let’s try it again. I don’t need to remind my regular readers that we are seeing these images courtesy of Mary Piles, who curates a large collection of historic images for her employer, Citizens National Bank of Maplewood and Greater St. Louis (6 locations). Thank you, Mary. I have about nine more images of this 1936 fire but I’m getting off the subject which is the Vazis Red Album. I think I’ve run all of these images of this frozen disaster in the past but I’m not exactly sure under what title. If I find it later, I’ll link to it here. There is just one more image from the Red Album that you haven’t seen. Here it is.
Gerry’s Red Album survived the conflagration that destroyed the Golde’s department store and the Citizens Bank in 1966. It had been stored in the bank vault. It contains 21 images spanning from 1949 until 1962. All of the images are dated. That’s handy. Nearly all of them have some information with them such as the location or a title. Once you have seen these images, perhaps you can tell me why this album was kept in the vault.
Gerry’s last name was Vazis. Maybe the title should read “Vazis’s?” And I said “was” because I am assuming she (see comment below) is no longer with us but I don’t know that for sure. We are indebted to Mary Piles, the curator of the historic images at Citizens National Bank in Maplewood and Greater St. Louis (6 locations), for allowing me to copy this album. Thanks, Mary!
The mission of the State Historical Society of Missouri is to collect, preserve, publish, exhibit, and make available material related to all aspects and periods of Missouri history. SHSMO also seeks to generate interest in and appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of the state and its people through education and outreach. The main archives and storage facility of SHSMO is located in Columbia. In addition SHSMO has an office on every state university campus. Persons interested in items in the collection can request that they be brought to the campus office most convenient for them. This courier service is an important feature that is not offered by other libraries or historical societies. This is why I recommend SHSMO over the Mercantile Library which is also on the campus of UMSL. The SHSMO office, called the St.
This post and my earlier post (titled, A Startling Glimpse of a Stertzing Past) are both a response to a particular vintage photograph. Two buildings are visible in this image. The Stertzing building can be partially seen on the far right. But the main subject of the photograph is the Shearer Hudson dealership. A quick search on Newspapers.com revealed an interesting story that concerns this dealership. First, let’s take a look at the image again.
There are a few folks in high places today who don’t want their tax returns examined. One fellow who would not wonder why is F.W. Shearer. This is another sad story. History is full of them. I ordinarily choose not to post stories that are depressing or would open old wounds. With that in mind I apologize to any family and descendants of F.W. who might someday read this. But there are several lessons one can take away from this. The obvious, the bigger they are…
Mary Piles, who has seen a lot in her 43 years of employment at the Citizens National Bank, recounted this story while commenting on the relationship between Waldemar Stertzing and his newly adopted daughter, Gertrude Madden. I started to include it in one of the posts about Stertzing but then thought that this is such a great story that it deserves its own post.
Adult adoption must have been a kind of common thing to do, to adopt a person no longer a child. Many did it through unconsummated marriage. We had a customer who was a maid in a home as a teenager. She cared for the mother of the family during the diphtheria epidemic. The mother eventually succumbed to the diphtheria as did their 20 year old son.
After the son’s death she remained in the father’s employ.
If you are today as I once was, which is nearly totally ignorant of things Stertzing, then this post is for you. Six-and-a-half years ago, I created a post titled, Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Stertzing and the Building They Left Behind. If you read the comments, I think you’d say it was well received. Of course, we couldn’t have known then how much more there is to this story. There are mainly two reasons we didn’t know more about this story. One is I hadn’t yet subscribed to Newspapers.com. The other is that Mary Piles, generous curator of the historic images at the Citizens National Bank of Maplewood and Greater St. Louis (6 locations), had not yet provided us with what is, without a doubt, so far, the most mind blowing (and the oldest known) vintage image of the Stertzing building to come to light.
The Saga continues. That poor family. What nonsense that they had to put up with. Keep in mind that even with as many posts as I have made of this event, there were many more articles that I am not posting. So far I have only posted articles from two of the St. Louis papers – The Star and the Post-Dispatch. This story was carried in newspapers all over the country. The Clamorgans must have suffered through a nonstop barrage of reporters and who knows what other offenses for at least several months. In their Sunday edition on June 25th (nine days after the above article ran) the Post-Dispatch ran a full page which except for a small article in the lower right corner was entirely devoted to this story. It is so chopped up with graphics I’m not sure how it will look on your device. Bear with me and I’ll try to post the most important parts of it. Let’s hope that the baby Virginia Blanche did have a rosy path before her. I wonder how much of this story did she know in adulthood.
My first six posts of the regrettable troubles that Cora Clamorgan and her family endured all occurred within one week, June the 9th through June the 16th of 1911. There were so many articles published on this story and they were of such length that I must act as an editor and try to present only the most interesting and important parts of these stories from hereon. So if I only post parts of an article and you are interested in obtaining the full article, just let me know and I’ll email it to you. As we saw in the last post, rampant speculation that Cora was adopted created a sensational story that was revealed almost the next day to be false. This Clamorgan family was not only a good family they were exemplary in many ways. The father had been a highly regarded assistant to a mayor of St. Louis. Several of the children had excelled in school or sports. That they had to suffer through this sort of insanity is truly sad. Backing up a bit, the following was run on June 11 in the Post-Dispatch.
This interface that we use has just malfunctioned. Not sure what’s going on but I’ll let it rest a bit.
Just when you thought you had it all figured out. My apologies, I could not find the end of this article but it doesn’t matter much. Read on. Crazy, ain’t it? But crazy as it seems, there is still more to come. Stay tuned. Doug Houser June 21, 2020
There is still a lot of nonsense going on in the world today. At least we can be grateful that we have transcended the sort of nonsense described in this article. What these folks had to go through is sad. There are still more Cora Clamorgan articles to come. If you have missed one or all of them, here is the link to Cora Clamorgan – Part Four. From there you can link to the first three. Stunning weather out there today. Things are starting to reopen. I truly believe we are not out of the woods yet. Please be careful and wear your mask when you go out in the world. There is new evidence that shows that wearing a mask is the most effective way to avoid being infected. Doug Houser June 15, 2020
The Clamorgan family was one of the oldest in St. Louis. The author Julie Winch has done a magnificent job of telling their tale in her book, The Clamorgans – One Family’s History of Race in America. I am very glad that I read this book. I would highly recommend it.
Perhaps this post should be titled something like Just Over the Border of Maplewood… History. I think the intersection of Manchester and McCausland is where the Maplewood business district truly begins. No matter that it is a block east of our actual border. It was either within the survey of the farm of our pioneer settler, James Sutton, or right on the edge of it. This image I discovered while looking through the posts by Joe Sonderman on his Facebook page, Vintage St. Louis and Route 66. It is a fascinating collection that he has assembled. This is not the first time I’ve found an historic image related to Maplewood there. This particular image stopped me in my tracks.
We lived in Maplewood and this was 1936. Our Observer (local paper) had a memo and mother read, “Maplewood Police will this year fine any and all Maplewood residents $5.00 for exploding any firecrackers in the city limits” One of my Dad’s employees had sent me a box of “cannon crackers” as a gift. My grandmother had a large house and my aunt and her family lived at 1800 Lafayette in St. Louis. Dad drove us to Grandma Price’s on the holiday and we had lots of hot dogs, marshmallows and treats for little kids. When sundown came, sky rockets and sparklers were all brought out. I gave the older kids my “cannon crackers”. I picked up all unexploded cannon crackers and my cousin shared a warning too late. My little hand was badly burned. All of our family worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad so I was taken to their hospital by my dad. My little hand had a big splint and big bandages. When I was carried out of the doctor’s office in my Dad’s arms, the whole lobby was filled
with my family! Daddy sat me down on a bench. A pleasant young man sat beside me and said, “Sorry about your firecracker.” I asked him, “Did all the relatives come out because of my accident?” He put his hand on my “well” hand and said, “No, youngster. My uncle Lemuel Price is having a serious heart attack.” I said, “Lemuel Price is my Grandpa.” He shook my good little hand and said, “My name is Vinnie and I guess we are cousins. Vinnie carried me around and introduced me to his family and Washington University classmates. I asked Vinnie, “Did Grandpa Price give you a $20 gold piece when he moved back from Colorado? Vinnie replied, “He sure did!” I said, “I think I lost mine. Will the marshals put me in jail if I don’t find it?” He laughed and told his friends about my concerns. They all laughed.
As the reader may or may not recall my first two posts about this unfortunate but important tale of the Clamorgan family were copies of the articles carried in two St. Louis newspapers the day the story broke, June 9, 1911. This post is a copy of the article that appeared the next day in the St. Louis Star. It contains one of the only rays of light I’ve found in this dark tale.