Maplewood History: William Lyman Thomas – Found Amongst his Personal Effects

Among the many items in this fabulous trove of Maplewoodiana that once belonged to William Lyman Thomas are these images that I have put into a file called “People” because I don’t know anything about most of them.  Hopefully someone out there will see someone familiar and enlighten the rest of us. There is much to be learned from the comments on Maplewood History, as the readers of this space have seen time and time again.

If you are just tuning in, we all have been given the gift of being allowed to closely scrutinize a large and very important collection of Maplewoodiana that once belonged to the very active and  mentally nimble William Lyman Thomas.

Since there is no sense in writing just to be writing, I’ll stop now.  As usual the Sutton/Thomas family descendants are to be thanked for allowing us all this wonderful examination of their historic family artifacts.

We’ll look at the images in just a second, but first a note on this column for the detail oriented.  Did you notice I used “amongst” in the title and “among” in the first sentence? I had no idea which was correct.  Turns out they both are. I favor “amongst” but if you don’t, “among” is there for you. If you caught that one did you also notice the “since” and “sense” in the first sentence of the third paragraph?  English. I’m so glad I was born into an English speaking country. Otherwise I would never figure it out.

Now for the images.

There are two tintype photographs among the artifacts in WLT’s collection. I assume they are of members of his or his wife’s (Catherine “Kate” Compton Sutton Thomas) family. I don’t know which. They are of a woman and a man. One might assume they were married but there is no evidence to support that. The woman’s image is a little larger than the man’s.

The case holding the image of the woman.

The reader will note that the man’s image is smaller than the woman’s. What does this mean?  Could the images have been made at different times?

One half of the man’s case is missing.

I lightened the images so we could see them more clearly.  The woman has a very wide nose.  Pardon me, Ma’am.  I mean nothing by it.  This is in the name of science or rather, history.

The unknown man lightened. Now we’ll compare them to our recently discovered image of James and Ann Sutton.

James Compton Sutton Sr. and his wife Ann L. Wells Sutton. The image of the man could be Sutton, I suppose, but I can’t be sure.  The woman seems  to not look much like Ann.  What do you think?  More research is needed.  Thanks to Dan Shelton for this image.

In alphabetical order, this gentleman is known as 4a for what is written on the back.  I suspect J.S.Lay is the photographer, don’t you?

I believe the 4a is a code of WLT’s that he used in identifying images for his “History of St. Louis County”. Perhaps this gentleman is contained within? I haven’t looked.

She’s identified. All we have to do is figure out whose Aunt Lizzie is she?

Aunt Lizzie’s back.

This charming young woman is known as Brown’s Gallery.  Don’t you want to know why?

Here’s why.

Charles Samuel Humphreys. There was a Humphreys married to one of JC Sutton’s daughters. Sarah, I’m fairly certain. Then he died and she remarried a Harrison. This is from memory. I’ll have to check it out. A very interesting part of Sarah’s home survives now in the midst of the modernized J.B. Smith funeral parlor.  J.B. Smith, under the able management of the Hardy family, is a Maplewood institution.  These folks are seriously nice.  If you need that sort of service, you cannot do better than them.

Notice another example of WLT’s code, 1H.

H.D. Meduna (Medina?). Sorry the image of the back is blurry. I must have jerked the camera.

J.A. Burke (Bunk, Burk?).

J.A.Burke back. Ah New Orleans.  What a fascinating place.  What were you doing down there, J. A.?

J.K. Coffman.

J.K. Coffman back.

John Lowry.

John Thomas. I don’t know if this fellow is a relative of WLT’s. I don’t think he’s a brother.

John Thomas back.

Just old “Buzz”. George V. McGee?

Just old “Buzz” back.

Sunlight Gallery.

Sunlight Gallery back. There’s another one of WLT’s code numbers. “6H”

Saved the best for last again. “Your faded, Shoot! Warranted to never work.” I have absolutely no idea what this image is about.

I switched it to black & white so you can make out the fellows a little better. Anybody got any ideas on this one?


Whew!  That’s 29 images in this post.  That is easily the most I’ve ever posted at one time.  Much thanks to the Sutton, Thomas, Hayes, McConnell and Shelton families for sharing these images with us.  I can’t wait to hear what you readers can tell us about them.

Thanks to everyone who contributes in whatever way.  I truly appreciate it.


5 thoughts on “Maplewood History: William Lyman Thomas – Found Amongst his Personal Effects

  1. Hey Mark, I grew up with the same situation. Only I knew my Aunt Betty and Uncle Lester, who lived just across the road, weren’t really related to me. Their four children weren’t really my cousins. But I felt more kin to them and still do than I do to some of my “real” aunts, uncles, and cousins who I never saw and never knew. But you make a good point. Aunt Lizzie may not be an actual relative of the Thomas family. Thanks for your observation.

  2. Amazing collection! I wonder who that midget is in the last photo? Interesting how serious everybody looks in these old photos – nobody seems to be smiling. I guess life was so hard back then…

  3. Seeing these photos of people that we have no idea of who they are it has reminded me that I have the same thing going on in my life. I have photos that we have taken over the years and some of the people in them or what was going on I barely remember. Guess it is time to start doing some labeling of what I have taken.

    Too bad my folks have passed away because I have inherited a bunch of photos of theirs and have no idea who some of the people are. Nor do any of my family so we are just at a loss as to why Mom and Dad kept them around.

    • Hey Mark, I think it’s a really great idea to identify all of the folks in those photos that you can…within reason. My mother was very good about this and she took a lot of photos herself. She also preserved a fairly large number of her family photos even though her stepmother had discarded quite a few. I digitized most of those images with Mom identifying the people and locations as we went. Amongst her things I found a very old photograph of a small boy. It turns out she found it at a yard sale and like it so much she bought it. Sad that most of the old images have little or no value if the people in them or the location where they were captured are unknown. Thanks for your comment.

      • We had a photo. I say had because I have not seen it for a while, that was labeled Aunt Josie. I grew up seeing Aunt Josie at birthday parties, at family gatherings. As a kid I always assumed she was a relative. Later on in life, maybe at age 14 or so I found out that she was really just a good friend of the family who had no children and became an “aunt” to us kids, buying us gifts and taking us for ice cream from time to time. That photo alone would have given me a new relative if someone had not questioned Mom and Dad about this person and photo.