Maplewood History: Our Most Famous Maplewoodians

Who are our most famous Maplewoodians?  Who are the folks that have resided in our lovely village and then gone out and done well for themselves in the wider world?  I have a few names in mind but I am going to keep them to myself until the readers of this space have had a chance to respond. Let there be no misunderstanding, George Clooney made a movie here but that doesn’t count.  He never lived here.

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

Among the many items in this fabulous trove of Maplewoodiana that once belonged to William Lyman Thomas are these images that I have put into a file called “People” because I don’t know anything about most of them.  Hopefully someone out there will see someone familiar and enlighten the rest of us. There is much to be learned from the comments on Maplewood History, as the readers of this space have seen time and time again. If you are just tuning in, we all have been given the gift of being allowed to closely scrutinize a large and very important collection of Maplewoodiana that once belonged to the very active and  mentally nimble William Lyman Thomas. Since there is no sense in writing just to be writing, I’ll stop now.

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

Those of you who follow this space understand what that headline means. But if you’re just tuning in, I’ll explain.  Maplewoodian William Lyman Thomas created his terrific two volume set titled, “History of St. Louis County – Missouri” in 1911.  In order to do so it was necessary for him to solicit photographic images of many different things and from many different parts of the county.

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

This is the fifth post displaying images that William Lyman Thomas collected around 1911 for his landmark two volume set.  For those who may not have been following this blog, these images are from the collection of a direct descendant of WLT and his wife, Kate Compton Sutton Thomas.  Many of these images have never been shown in public before. As has been my habit, I’ll include scans of the backs of most of the photos as well.  Thomas’ notations and instructions to the printer allow us a look at part of his construction process that we’d otherwise never see.

The Troubling Legacy of our Pioneer Families

James Compton Sutton (later Sr.) and his wife Ann Wells Sutton might have been the earliest settlers of European ancestry of the area known today as Maplewood, Missouri. At least I don’t know of anyone here earlier.  Ann West Evans McElderry didn’t buy her 320 acres (west of Big Bend, north of Manchester, sold to Charles Rannells in 1848) until 1839. Henry Bartold didn’t build his stone roadhouse (at Hanley and Manchester) until 1840.  John Baptiste Bruno, whose farm was just north of Sutton’s, got here early but I don’t know how early.

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

This is the fourth post of original images that William Lyman Thomas collected and used in his magnificent “History of St. Louis County, Missouri”.  We have a rare opportunity to examine these images that he assembled into his final two volume set in 1911. I am again including images made of the backs of these photographs.  I think it is especially interesting to see his notations and instructions to the printer.

Maplewood History: Pale Blue Porch Ceilings

“The boys sat in a circle on the porch of Doug and Tom’s house. The pale blue painted ceiling mirrored the blue of the October sky.” So begins Chapter Fifteen of Ray Bradbury’s “Farewell Summer”. I don’t know when I first became aware of blue porch ceilings. There were no porch ceilings on the house where I was raised. I built the porch ceilings on the house I have lived in for the last 43 years.

Maplewood History: The Heaviest Piece of Maplewoodiana Returns

What must be the heaviest piece of Maplewoodiana in existence is being exhibited at an area museum.  Would you have any idea what that might be? It might help if you knew that the museum is the very popular and fascinating National Museum of Transportation on Barrett Station Road.  Recently I got an email from Mary Kennedy who works there asking me for permission to use some of our historic photos on their social media. They have had an item in their collection since 1961 that was probably seen by many people who were in Maplewood between 1925 and 1961.

Maplewood History: The Thrill Is Not Gone

Sometime in early 2002 I attended a meeting of people interested in creating an historical society.  The call had been put out by our now Mayor Barry Greenberg. Back then he was, correct me if I’m wrong, Mayor, the Chairman of our Historic Preservation Commission. The meeting was held in a building owned by the Sunnen Corp. where the Chamber of Commerce/Maplewood Community Betterment Foundation met in those days.

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

This is the third post of original images that William Lyman Thomas collected and used in his magnificent “History of St. Louis County, Missouri”.  We have a rare opportunity to examine these pieces that he assembled into his final two volume set in 1911. I am again including images made of the backs of some of these photographs and documents.  I think it is especially interesting to see his notations and instructions to the printer.

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

With my last post I began presenting some of the photographs and material that survives from William Lyman Thomas’ construction process of his well known “History of St. Louis County”. I’ll begin this post with what remains among his artifacts about a man named John Baxter and his family.  I think it’s interesting because it seems to be one of only a few complete submissions that we still have. John Baxter’s son, Hartley Sappington Baxter, lived in Maplewood when he passed away in 1909, two years before the publication of Thomas’ set.

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

One of the great privileges I have had in my role as historian of our small town is that of having been allowed to closely examine many of the documents and artifacts preserved by the descendants of past members of our community.  The families of our very earliest settlers, the Suttons and the Rannells, have trusted me with many of their rarest items. I am humbled by that. I take the responsibility very seriously. Followers of my blog know that recently I have been reconstructing a very small part of the lives of some members of the Sutton family.  One man in particular is a standout.

Maplewood History: Memoirists Are Made of This – More Bill Jones

Forget stopping, he’s not even slowing down. Just in time for what is left of Valentine’s Day, here is not one but two new historic sketches from the life of Maplewood’s premier memoirist, Bill Jones. A doubleheader!  And keep in mind…they’re typed by Barb. WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY – 4th Grade,

Lyndover Grade School – Maplewood

Our 4th grade was invited to write a tribute to George Washington for his birthday at a program on February 22nd.  KFUO was our Lutheran radio station and the manager’s little daughter, my classmate.

Maplewood History: William Lyman Thomas – On Slavery

In his landmark 1911 History of Saint Louis County –  Missouri, WLT devoted Chapter IX to The Civil War Period in St. Louis County.  On page 105 in a section titled, “Slavery in the County”, he wrote, “Many families owned slaves; a great many did not.  So far as our personal knowledge extends we never knew or heard of ill-treatment of slaves in the part of the county that was outside the city.  The white boys played with the black ones, went a fishing with them in numerous instances, pulled weeds, hoed potatoes and shared in their tasks.

Maplewood History: From Blind Date to Fifth Generation by Bill Jones

Five generations began with a blind date on Friday in early 1945.  My two buddies at Maplewood High invited me to a Friday supper at the Candle Light Supper Club at Clayton and Hanley.  I said, “I work Fridays on my dispatcher job at Missouri Pacific and am not dating because of school and my 40-hour evening job.”  My buddies said “BLIND DATE, pretty lady, top student at Rosati Kane Catholic High”. I was a bit shy but couldn’t resist. I called my fellow dispatcher and traded shifts.

Maplewood History: Emma Thomas Grumley continued

Last post we learned from a newspaper clipping that Emma B. Thomas had married William H. Grumley on the lawn (“one of the prettiest in Ellendale”) in front of the family home, Ellendale Home Place.  The article goes on to say that “The old mansion covered with the moss and vines of many years growth can be seen from Manchester avenue.” That ceremony was on June 28, 1899.  The “old” mansion was eighteen years old. We begin this post with a birth announcement that her father, William Lyman Thomas had written in his 1901 scrapbook on August 18, 1901.  The new baby is named after Emma’s deceased sister and called by the same nickname, Kittie, right from the beginning.

Maplewood History: Emma Thomas Grumley

William Lyman Thomas married Catherine “Kate” Compton Sutton on March 25, 1869.  While I have none of his daughters birthdates in front of me, I know that Ella T. was the oldest, born, say about, 1870.  Sarah W. was second born about 1872. Emma B. was third, born roughly in 1874. Catherine A. “Kittie” was born sometime very close to the beginning of July 1876, the centennial year of our country.

Maplewood History: New Old Stuff That You Haven’t Seen Before

The Ratkowski Foundation has been at it again.  Their agents have scoured the online bazaars for any items that even faintly smell like Maplewood.  The mixed bag they have turned up this time holds some interesting stuff. These fascinating pieces of flotsam that have been orbiting Maplewood in cyberspace are like satellites that have just returned to the their launch pad. As always, these items will be gifted to the Maplewood Public Library for inclusion in their stellar collection of historic Maplewood artifacts.

Maplewood History: The Mostly Happy Life of Kittie Thomas

Named after her mother, Catherine (Kate) C. Sutton Thomas, Catherine A. Thomas was born in the middle of the summer in the centennial year of our nation, 1876.  Catherine was the youngest of the four Thomas girls and the last child to be born. At some point in her early life she was nicknamed Kittie. She would be called that for the rest of her life. There is not a lot of evidence to go on but she definitely was a treasured part of the family as this post will show.

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

My previous post was about Mr. Thomas’ School and Home magazine and the resemblance that I thought it bore to Die Gartenlaube, a very popular German magazine begun in the mid 19th century.  

By 1878, when the first owner died, the magazine was at the height of its readership and influence. Die Gartenlaube became increasingly nationalistic and antisemitic following the creation of the German Empire in 1871 and especially in the buildup to World War I. After a couple changes of owners it was bought by the Nazi publishing house, Eher-Verlag in 1938. Not surprisingly it ceased publication in 1944. From my examination of many items that were personal to William Lyman Thomas, there is nothing to suggest that he modeled his own magazine after anything other than the finest features of the early Die Gartenlaube which was created to be “a people’s encyclopedia …committed to …an enlightened population.”  See the Wikipedia article for the rest of that story.