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