William Lyman Thomas’ The History of St. Louis County contains an unknown but large number of very interesting details about this area we live in. By accident I discovered another one while looking for something else. Interesting that this article should pop up right after the last post about the painting of the Bartold Inn that Larry Giles has been kind enough to give us. Wow. How about that? A very old oil painting of a two-and-a-half story house on Broadway with clothing in the south end, groceries in the north end, a barbershop and a saloon kept by Frederick Bartold. Sounds like a commercial building with maybe four storefronts. The painting also depicts a newspaper carrier and a two horse omnibus driven by Erastus Wells. What a cool painting. My first thought was to wonder if the History Museum has this painting in their collection? I would love to see it. Wouldn’t you? Often when you read of something like this, the object of interest has completely disappeared. No one has any idea of where it might be or what could have happened to it.
Stories of events and happenings at the once very popular Bartold’s Grove could easily furnish enough material for a few books if we could only recover them somehow. I have made a few blog posts about this historic inn in the past. The most recent two were posted in 2016. If you care to refresh your memory, here are the links. Bartold’s Grove
Bartold’s Grove continued
Recently Clark Hickman, a former Maplewoodian whose name many of you may recognize, found an interesting article while scrolling through copies of The News-Champion newspaper that are on microfilm at the Headquarters Branch of the St. Louis County Library. He kindly passed it along. The News-Champion was published in Maplewood. The article originally appeared in the May 3, 1931 edition of the Globe Democrat which had allowed the Champion to reprint it. It is a very interesting article. I encourage you to read it. I’m going to attempt to reproduce the original article here. This is always an iffy proposition so bear with me.
First day in the 1st Grade, Valley School, Maplewood. Our teacher asked a simple question, “What do you know that qualifies you to be a 1st Grade student instead of in Kindergarten?
The little girl sitting next to me said, “I know my colors.” The teacher said, “Take the pointer and tell me the colors you’re pointing to.” She got all but one right. The teacher said, “Now, Billy, I want you to tell me what you know that qualifies you to be a 1st grader.” I said, “I know 9×9 is 81.” She wrote It on the blackboard. The teacher asked, “How do you know that, Billy?” “My mother is a bookkeeper. A year ago she said ‘I’m teaching you the multiplication tables.’ I had never heard this word before. Mother made a game out of it. Every day I learned a little more. My mother showed great pride in my memory from day to day.
“PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE ARE THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD”
We moved to Maplewood from St. Louis city for clean air. The county offices put a big yellow sign beside our door on Zephyr Place. The sign said “Caution. Resident is a TB patient.” My mother lived in her own bedroom at our house and we had 5-days-a-week home visits from our doctor that cost $3.00 per visit. In 1932, my daddy woke me up. “You don’t have to get dressed for kindergarten. Just put on your knickers and your shirt.” I got dressed and daddy said “You’re going with me today to work.” Suddenly my mother was getting dressed and drove daddy and me to the Maplewood train station. (Mother was still allowed to drive.) The conductor lifted me up and sat me on the walkway to the seats.
Here are a few more images of the results of the disastrous fire that spelled the end of 7396 Flora Avenue. You can link to the first post here. What is the takeaway from all of these pictures of destruction? I suppose it is don’t take the threat of a fire lightly. Proper fire safety precautions should be adopted by us all. There was no coming back for 7396 Flora after this conflagration. Be thankful for and protective of our historic buildings. As always thanks to everyone who has commented on the posts and sent tips, suggestions, etc.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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. http://40southnews.com/maplewood-history-a-holy-grail-of-maplewoodiana-comes-to-light/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.