Maplewood History: The Last Bunch of Images from WLT’s History of St. Louis County

Those of you who follow this space understand what that headline means. But if you’re just tuning in, I’ll explain.  Maplewoodian William Lyman Thomas created his terrific two volume set titled, “History of St. Louis County – Missouri” in 1911.  In order to do so it was necessary for him to solicit photographic images of many different things and from many different parts of the county.

A very generous direct descendant of his and family have been the caretakers of a very large treasure trove of personal items that once belonged mostly to William Lyman Thomas but also to other members of his family. Just one small part of that trove are a couple of folders that contained the images (and documents) mentioned in the title of this post.  I should be able to post the last of them here today but it has taken six posts to do it.

This is the 25th post featuring items from their collection and we’re not done yet.  There are many, many more. So thanks again to the Thomas family descendants. Your great, great, great grandfather’s things have been wonderfully enlightening to us all.

Well here is what St. Ferdinand’s looks like. We were wondering that just a few posts ago.

As you’ll recall, I like to post the backs of the photos. WLT’s notations and instructions to the printer can be interesting.

I wonder if this building is still around? Anyone recognize it?

How about this one? It still around?

We all know where this one is.

This one must be gone.

Has anyone ever seen this?

A friend of mine said he likes this image because the people in it are actually doing something. He makes a good point.

I saved the best for last. The Ubiquitous Missourians. This one didn’t make the cut. It’s not in the book.  Wait until you see the back.

The back of The Ubiquitous Missourians. What do you make of this? Do we bring it all to you here at Maplewood History or what?


All right.  That finishes up the last of the images that WLT collected for his history set.  These descendants of his are the best.  Much thanks to them.  As I have said there is still much more to be shown.  Thanks to all who comment, email, etc.  Your feedback is very much fun.  Keep it up.

21 thoughts on “Maplewood History: The Last Bunch of Images from WLT’s History of St. Louis County

  1. Nobody’s mentioned the final image with the four stages of—who is he? Is he Mr. W.L.T. himself? I suppose the photo’s were X’d out in order plainly to show the printer that this was not the side to be used in the book. It would be too bad if this was the single known appearance of any of the photographs gathered here into this one.

    • It is a curious photograph, isn’t it, Tom? I would like to know who all of these folks are too. I bet that if it is not already being done it won’t be long before we’ll be able to use facial recognition to identify some of the people captured in these old images. The old man in the last two images is not WLT. But that’s all I’m sure of.

      • I took it that the four photos were all portraits of the same fellow, Doug, at ages 18, 25, 50, and 71. So the photos might have dates something like 1858, 1865, 1890, and 1911—just roughly, mind you—maybe a little older. Is there somebody in the WLT circle who might fit that?

        • Tom, It hadn’t occurred to me that these were all images of the same man but you’re probably right. I hadn’t looked closely at the images of the older man, #50 & #71. I can see where there could be 20 years difference between the age of this obviously same man in those two photos. WLT had contact with so many folks I guess we’d be able to figure out who this is if we had that sort of information. Or possibly the photographer just used this mount for the “Ubiquitous Missourians” on the other side and this man had no connection with WLT at all. Forensic facial recognition may be our only option. As always thanks for your keen analytical skills.

  2. Thank you to Esley Hamilton for the fascinating information. It is so unfortunate when buildings are demolished. To me it is like erasing history.

  3. I tried to post this before but apparently failed. The Sisters of St. Joseph School was in Lemay between S. Broadway and Gentry facing Hoffmeister. It was built about 1855 by Samuel and Adeline Russell as a retirement home they called “Longwood.” He was a wholesale grocer and commission merchant, with a house on South 4th near Walnut. Their daughter Almira married Winfield Scott Hancock in 1850, and the Hancocks used Longwood as a retreat whenever possible. Hancock was popular but lost the 1880 race for president to Garfield. If he had won, St. Louis County would have two presidential homes. As it was, the Sisters bought the estate in 1892 and sold it to a developer in 1911. The house was replaced by a subdivision shortly after this picture was taken.

  4. The attractive Trust Company of St. Louis building was erected in 1906 at the northeast corner of Central & Carondelet in Clayton. It was torn down in 1976, and the site is now a parking lot.

  5. The Italianate house marked “St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf” was located in Lemay, between South Broadway and Gentry, facing Hoffmeister. It was originally the country home of Samuel and Adeline Russell, built about 1855 and called “Longwood.” Russell and his partner William Bennett were wholesale grocers and commission merchants on 2nd Street. The Russells were involved in the effort to free Dred Scott and his wife Harriet and hired them from their owner Irene Emerson to work in their town house on South 4th near Walnut. Samuel Russell testified in the first Dred Scott trial and Adeline in the second. Their daughter Almira married Winfield Scott Hancock in 1850, and the Hancocks used the Longwood estate as a retreat whenever possible. General Hancock played a vital role at Gettysburg and eventually rose to head the whole Department of the East. Although popular, he was defeated for president by Garfield in 1880. If he had won, we would have two presidential homes in St. Louis County. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet bought the property in 1892 and installed the statue in the niche you see in the picture. They sold the property to a developer in 1911, and the house was demolished shortly after this picture was taken.

  6. Long ago Lower Bottom Rd off of Hog Hollow was one of my favorite parking and necking spots in the 50s.

  7. The Valley Park Hotel looks very elegant. I seem to recall that there were several resorts along the river out west. That was the country where you could escape the heat and pollution of the city. Seems there were social clubs, resorts, private clubs out there where you could go. I wonder if that was part of that era.

    My other thought is you have to remember the time and how slowly you traveled even when you had a car and could hit 15 MPH. That might have been a nice place to stop on your way to St Louis when you realized you had another 4 or so hours to get there. Stay there and drive in tomorrow.

    • I agree with you, Mark. I think the Valley Park Hotel was part of that escape the city era. You are correct in pointing out the fact that travel by car was pretty slow in 1911. Visitors could take a train. Perhaps that is how the majority of them made their way between the city ad the hotel. I appreciate your comments.

  8. The water works is where I grew up. River Valley drive and Hog Hollow dr. The Missouri River bottoms which is now chesterfield/creve coeur. Olive st. Rd west of Woods mill rd. North and not too far from Creve Coeur Lake.

    • The area is almost totally unfamiliar to me, Mike. I’ll have to take a drive up that way and have a look. Thanks for your comment.

    • Yes they are, aren’t they, Brenna? I’m glad you liked them. I always appreciate your enthusiasm.

  9. Fascinating stuff, Doug! Particularly the Valley Park Hotel. I knew there was a resort out there some 115(?) years ago but have never seen any of the hotels.

    • I agree, Peter. The Valley Park Hotel is a nice looking place. That huge veranda looks like a good place to spend a hot afternoon in the company of a few nice cool beers.