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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Garden Arbor – Illustrated Family Journal or Die Gartenlaube – Illustriertes Familienblatt according to Wikipedia was “the first successful mass-circulation German newspaper and a forerunner of all modern magazines.” Die Gartenlaube was founded in 1853 in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony with an objective to enlighten the entire family. The founders intended to accomplish this “with a mixture of current events, essays on the natural sciences, biographical sketches, short stories, poetry, and full-page illustrations.”
Die Gartenlaube became widely read across the German speaking world. With an estimated two to five million readers, the publisher at one time claimed to have the largest circulation of any publication in the world. There is, of course, much more to this story. Those interested should definitely read the article in Wikipedia.
William Lyman Thomas married Catherine “Kate” Compton Sutton, daughter of James C. Sutton, in 1869. J.C. Sutton passed away in 1877. At some point after that William and Kate subdivided and began to sell lots from Kate’s inherited portion of land from her father’s estate. They named their subdivision, Ellendale, after their oldest daughter, Ella. I know.
Where have all the spectres gone? No new ghost stories or paranormal events have been reported for quite awhile. That’s a shame for quite a few readers seem to enjoy reading about them. I know I do. As I have said before had I been there with the witnesses of these apparitions or events I don’t know if my experience would have been the same as theirs.
The following is excerpted and condensed from the 1911 History of St. Louis County by Mr. Thomas, pages 476 through 478 of Volume II. Keep in mind as you read this that WLT wrote this about himself. Due to space limitations I have left many interesting details out. DH
William Lyman Thomas
William Lyman Thomas was born on Dec. 6, 1846 in a house owned by a well known shoemaker named Liebig, near the corner of Sixth and Elm streets, St.
As has been my habit for the last, I don’t know, decade or so, I have printed a limited edition photograph of historic Maplewood images that will be available for purchase at the Mid County Chamber’s annual auction happening this Friday night (October 12) from 6 to 10. This one is a composite of photographs of our early firefighters and policemen. This is the same image that I submitted 5 years ago but I liked it and thought maybe someone else would like to have one too. And there is still only two of them. (Seems like I could use is or are in that last sentence.
From the feedback I get some of you in the audience seem to be enjoying the forensic examination of these Thomas family artifacts. I am too. It might be safe to say there is no one who is enjoying this more than me. I am learning a lot, about our community, about what life was like here in the past and I am learning a lot about the artifacts themselves. I’ve been doing this sort of thing for a long time. First with old houses and old furniture and then with antique woodworking tools.
For a little over a month I have been enjoying copying and learning about the historic documents, photographs and artifacts of the William Lyman Thomas family. There are six framed photographs that I have been allowed to examine minutely. I have removed all of them from their frames, cleaned everything thoroughly and fixed whatever minor things I found they were wanting. The whole process has been fascinating and enlightening. I am happy to soon be returning these items to their owner, a Thomas family descendant, some of them in an improved condition.