Maplewood History: Our Second Train Depot and James Sutton’s Cabin in the Woods

What in the world could our second train depot have to do with our pioneer settler, James C. Sutton’s cabin in the woods? Thanks to a couple of old maps and Luke Havel’s newly discovered photograph we now know almost exactly where the second depot was located. (See my previous post).

I imagine by now you’re beginning to think that Luke’s photograph was from 1906 and James Sutton bought his property and built a cabin on it in 1826. 80 years apart. Of course you know (from the book I produced for the 100th anniversary of our fair city and although the first 1,000 copies have sold out, it still can be checked out of the Maplewood Public Library and I believe the Chamber has had a few more copies printed) that Sutton didn’t live in his rude cabin for very long. According to folks who were there, he built a very fine mansion of brick and stone on Manchester in 1832.

Anyhow a gap of 80 years or so separates his cabin from our second depot. So what’s the connection? Well, it has to do with Sutton’s son-in-law, William Lyman Thomas, who married his daughter, Kate on Mar 25, 1869. Mr. Thomas wrote “The 1911 History of St. Louis County.” In it he has some very interesting things to say about the Sutton family and Maplewood. He devotes a good bit of ink in appreciation of his father-in-law, James who died in 1877. “Invincible determination, insuperable repugnance to being placed under obligation…No law or writing was necessary to bind him”..and so on. You’d think the old man was still alive.

Here is the connection to our second depot. William uses the location of the depot to inform his readers as to the location of Sutton’s cabin. Specifically he writes, “The first house on the old farm was put up at a point on the (since built) Missouri Pacific as was usual in those days, near a spring, (if,indeed, it has not been covered up by the aforesaid hand of progress) about two hundred feet southeast of Maplewood station, down at the rear of Mrs. Poertner’s lot.”

Two hundred feet! That’s awfully close. Sutton’s cabin by my reckoning must have been very close to the present day intersection of Commonwealth and Greenwood. Sutton came in 1826, MoPac in 1853 (I think). The location of the spring is beneath the apartments at Greenwood and Canterbury. The son of the builder told me of the difficulty they faced constructing the apartments because of the spring. I believe he said there was a small pond there as well.

There are many interesting stories connected to the history of our little burg. We’ve just scratched the surface.

This is a detail from an 1881 survey of Sutton’s farm. It appears to be a note that was added in 1925 by Jas. Sutton Harrison who wanted to send this message down to us. Thanks Jas. The survey is courtesy of Martin Fischer and has been added to our library’s collection.

Good friend Sherman Shewmaker has done a lot of calculating and was kind enough to forward the results. These could be useful as Jeff Todisman thinks we should rebuild it and use it to house a historical society.

More of Sherman’s calculations. Please comment, Sherman, if I’m leaving too much out.

You folks with small screens may not be able to read this.

Hopefully you will recall the discussion about the Laclede Station from the last post. Luke Havel was kind enough to send this list. It appears that the Lake Junction Station was called Laclede at some not exactly known point of time.

The Laclede subdivision is clearly shown in this excerpt from the 1909 Plat Book of St. Louis County.

From the same map it is easy to see that the Lake Station was not in Maplewood. It was called Lake because another line connected there to transport passengers to Creve Coeur Lake.  Edgebrook Station was located directly across the tracks from Deer Creek Park.  The location of the Edgebrook bridge to Webster Groves was there as well although the bridge was only used by streetcars.

A 1965 article about the end of our second depot. From the collection of the Maplewood Public Library.

While we’re on the subject, here’s my photo of the steam train when it came through awhile back. One of the beautifully restored buildings in the Greenwood Historic District is seen in the background. The handiwork of Maplewood’s own Patrick Jugo.

And finally one of the Maplewood Library’s finest and our partner in preserving the history of our community, Dawn Yourtee. Dawn is holding a recent contribution from Yours Truly and others. The photos she’s holding are a gift from the Ratkowski-Houser Foundation. In the box are selected items from our recently closed American Legion Hall.



2 thoughts on “Maplewood History: Our Second Train Depot and James Sutton’s Cabin in the Woods

  1. My wife said the same thing, that we should build another one here in town. While it would be nice to build it in the same location I see issues with parking and folks crossing the tracks to get to the thing. My thought was something more like at Sutton where there is currently a pretty flat area that gets used for parking and is next to the tracks. Or even tho it would not be totally correct, why not build it in the Sutton Bus Loop Park. Nice flat area, some parking spots and still close enough to the main parts of Maplewood that it could be another attraction to the area. Some nice displays and it could be done well to showcase the area.

  2. Is it still possible to get a copy of the original history of Maplewood book?

    I know we talked on a few occasions years ago. I would love to find out if you would have any luck finding anything about our house on Comfort, which was originally built in 1894 (before Maplewood). It’s my understanding it was a farmhouse originally, and that possibly a former commissioner of Forest Park lived here. Feel free to drop me a note via email.

    I always enjoy your historic posts on Maplewood.

    Thanks for contributing!