Maplewood History: The Barry and Johnston Caves – Part Two

This is the second half of an article about the Barry and Johnston caves that appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on July 27, 1890.  I will include the last paragraph of what was previously published.  If you need to take another look at the first post, here is a link.  The Barry and Johnston Cave – Part One.

That is a great story, don’t you think?  It is made even better by the fact that this cave is very close to Maplewood even if it is beyond our western border. We need to find out what property was once the farm of Dr. Barry.  It was situated on the Manchester Road midway between the Rock Hill and North and South roads about 9 miles from the city.  What street today was called the North and South Road in 1890?  Rock Hill still exists.  No problem there.

The boys entered the Barry cave and hoped to come out of the Johnston cave some 600 yards away.  Also the Johnston homestead was once owned by Judge Molton whose home was the first in the county according to this article.  Surely someone knows where that home was.

I had a similar experience while exploring a cave when I was a teenager.  It was not nearly as harrowing as this tale but scary enough.  Myself and two friends got into a cave we shouldn’t have been in.  We had only a carbide light and a Coleman lantern.  We were crawling in a tunnel that was very low so we left the lantern burning behind us.  We crawled and climbed what seemed like quite a way with just the carbide light.  We arrived at a fairly large, fascinating room with many thin stalactites that hadn’t been disturbed.  While we were admiring this the carbide light went out.  Talk about dark.

Carbide lights, long used by miners, contain calcium carbide and water which produces acetylene gas.  Our lamp had run out of water.  Ray, my quick thinking friend and the lamp’s owner, urinated into the lamp.  That worked.  We relit the lamp and got back out.  I still shudder when I think of this.  I no longer have any desire at all to explore caves, commercial or otherwise nor do I recommend anyone else to do so.

It is unusual for me to make two post this close together.  I was feeling guilty for leaving everyone hanging in the middle of this story.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Doug Houser      January 4, 2021

Below are some articles found after this post had been made.  I was trying to identify which  of our streets had been called North and South road in 1890 using

This article threw me off. The way it is written I would have sworn that Hanley was once called North and South. It turned out not to be true.  My friend, Esley Hamilton thought that it was Brentwood Blvd.  As the next two articles show, he was correct.

With this knowledge we know the location of the caves (entrances) must have been somewhere close to the Trainwreck Saloon but on which side of Manchester?




11 thoughts on “Maplewood History: The Barry and Johnston Caves – Part Two

  1. December 4, 1869- Robert DeYong was born in Missouri to Adrain DeYong of Holland and Elanor McGowan of Canada.
    August 4th, 1870- Robert DeYong, 8 months old, was living in St. Louis City with father Adrian DeYong age 30 of Holland, mother Ellen age 28 of Canada, and four siblings. His father manufactured Tobacco.
    June 19 or 21, 1880- Robert DeYong, age 10, was living in the Central Township of St. Louis County with his parents and 8 siblings. His dad was a Tobacco dealer.
    Late July 1890- Robert DeYong and two friends got stuck in a cave in St. Louis County.
    about 1893- Robert DeYong married Margaret E. Sutton.
    Febuary 1, 1894- Son Wallace LeGrande born in Maplewood, Missouri.
    July 18, 1897- Daughter Laura born in Maplewood, Missouri.
    June 27 or 28, 1900- Robert DeYong, age 32,was living in the Central Township of St. Louis County with wife “Margurette” E., age 29, and two children Walley and Laura. Robert’s occupation was listed as Miner Store? They were all living in the household of Margaret’s father, John L. Sutton.
    October 31,1900- Daughter Laura died of intestinal abstruction in Maplewood. Resident Physician was B.J. Bristol of Webster Groves.
    August 10, 1901- Son Adrian is born in Maplewood, Missouri.
    1904- Robert’s wife “Madge” nee. Sutton DeYong died, about age 34.
    April 22, 1910- Robert, 38 years old, was living in his parents house with two siblings, and his two sons at 321 North Gore Drive, Webster Groves. Robert is listed as a Biscuit Salesman.
    June 18, 1911- Robert’s dad, Adrian, died at age 71.
    between 1911 to 1919- Robert DeYong married Mary Hill.
    January 12, 1920- Robert was living with wife Mary, son Adrian, and mother-in-law Anna Hill at 204 Simmons Ave., Webster Groves. Robert was a salesman at a biscuit company.
    April 18, 1930- Robert is living with wife Mary and mother-in-law Anna Hill at 204 Simmons Ave., Webster Groves. Robert was a salesman at a biscuit company.
    September 13, 1932- Robert’s second wife, Mary nee. Hill DeYong died at age 53.
    December 5, 1934- Robert DeYong died age 65, en route to hospital. He was working the day of his death at his job of 30 over years, salesman for the Union Biscuit Company. He was living at 913 N. Rock Hill Road, Rock Hill.

    • Dave, there is much about your research that I find interesting. You really put flesh on the bones. Of course, it is very interesting to us Maplewoodians that the stuck-in-a-cave boy married a Sutton and then went to live in the Sutton mansion about which we know quite a bit. Also I wonder about the area being called Maplewood by 1894 when their son was born. That’s 14 years before Maplewood officially became a town. It is also a lot earlier than almost all of the buildings that now exist in our town. There had to be only a handful of homes in the Maplewood subdivision. I don’t think any of our commercial buildings are that old. There just wasn’t much out here. As usual, you’ve done an amazing job, Dave. Thank you.

    • Wow, Great work, I’m impressed with all you have shared. also glad that he went on to live such a full life , after the cave exploration. Thanks I really enjoyed it.

  2. The answer to the cliff hanger from Part 1. So glad to hear the rest of the story. When I first starting reading the story I said “who goes into a cave with a candle”” And only one? Well I think back to some of the stunts that I was involved in as a youngster. Somedays I am surprised that there are so many of us still alive with some of the things we did as a kid never considering the possible dangers.

    I suppose that by now all the geography has been changed enough that there would be no way to see those caves again. Not that I am going in them but just to know they are there is interesting.

    • I’m not interested in seeing them either, Mark. I am trying to pin down the general location just out of curiosity. Esley Hamilton said he thought that Brentwood Boulevard was once called North and South. I checked on (see above) and found out, he’s right. That means the caves (or entrances?) were about half way between Rock Hill and Brentwood Blvd. That would be about where the Trainwreck Saloon is located. Now we’ll have to try and determine which side of Manchester Road they were on. More later.

      A while ago you asked about posts about Greenwood and corner grocery stores. I’m working on an upcoming post about Greenwood. Here is a link to one about two of the corner groceries including the building you mentioned at Greenwood and Commonwealth.

      • Doug, I am too old to go crawling around on my hands and knees, stooping over to get in the low spots. However, when I was a teenager I would have probably thought what a neat thing to do.
        I worked on the Fairfax House which was located at the Manchester and Rock Hill intersection. I know the person who was in charge of the restoration I worked with and will contact her to see if she knows anything about a cave in the area. The Fairfax house had a lot of property and there is a large creek at the bottom of Manchester just east of Rock Hill. I am not sure it that is the same creek or ties into the creek at Manchester and Hanley but the hills and such might hold a cave or two. Both creeks are subject to flooding from time to time.

  3. Missouri truly is a cave state, someone told me the multiple steep hills of Carondelet Park are formed by caves that have fallen in. What a great story, Can’t thank you enough for the adventure.