Included in my previous post, Cora Clamorgan – Part One, was a copy of one of the earliest articles I was able to find on this unfortunate subject which is the Clamorgan family having been found to have some negro blood and the repercussions thereafter. That article appeared in the Seventh Edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on June 9, 1911. This post is a copy of an article that appeared in the Night Edition of the St. Louis Star on that same day. I have much more information yet to post on this particular incident from the Clamorgan family history. Again, I would encourage everyone interested to read Julie Winch’s well-researched and well-written book, The Clamorgans – One Family’s History of Race in America. It truly is a great book.
Those of you who were in the audience for one of the performances of the Maplewood-themed, Shakespearean mashup, “Remember Me”, experienced a rare and delightful event. If you haven’t heard anything about this play, let me say, my wife and I were stunned by the very high quality of the production. It was wonderful…everything from the 10 foot high puppets to the live music. Put together by the very talented theater department of St. Louis U, it was a three-of-a-kind event that took place over three nights of one weekend in September 2016 and is unlikely to be repeated ever. The playwright, Nancy Bell, and I met several times while she was assembling her material. A couple of times she asked me what did I know about the Clamorgan family and their connection to Maplewood. Easy question for me to answer. Nothing. The large puppets represented Maplewood “ghosts”. One was Charles Rannells who you’ve read about here. Another of the ghosts told the story of Cora Clamorgan (Called Clara in the play).
Charlie Bartold might not have considered himself to be one tough hombre. But if he didn’t it was only because the spaghetti westerns wouldn’t be invented for another 60 something years. That he was pretty confident of his capabilities will be apparent to you after you read the following article. But one detail we can’t be sure of is if anyone ever called him Charlie.
Searching for an image from a spaghetti western to use to illustrate my story made me realize it has been a long time since I actually watched one of them. Like about 50 years. I found one site that looked particularly appealing. 10 Great Spaghetti Westerns. I think I may have to take a look at a couple of these. Being quarantined is a bummer. Social distancing – no fun. No swimming pool. No gym. No restaurants. These are trying times. At least it’s getting warmer. Doug Houser April 19, 2020
Included amongst the large assortment of interesting artifacts that make up the Fennell Trove is a journal that is the feature of this post. At first I just gave it a cursory flip through. I assumed it was a workman’s record of his jobs, bids and expenses, etc. Not that those aren’t interesting, they are. But if that were all it was, it might play to a very limited audience. I would be in that audience, don’t get me wrong. But as part of this job I have to decide just how much time should I spend deciphering and translating an artifact such as this.
Yep. You read that right. Another trove of Maplewoodiana has come to light. This time it is made available by the kindness, generosity and patience (waiting on me) of Nancy Fennell Hawkins. For many decades Fennell family members lived in Maplewood. Nancy has done her family and us a great favor by producing her 224 page, hardbound book, I Remember When – Memories of Growing Up in Maplewood, Missouri 1936 – 1954.
And, boy, remember she does. This book is absolutely loaded with details and anecdotes from the lives of her family and friends. I have just finished reading it. You can too because she is donating a copy to the Maplewood Public Library.
Perhaps the title of this post should be, “1970’s Era Redevelopment Plan Blasted A Huge Crater in the Middle of a Lovely, First-Quarter-of the-Twentieth-Century, Shopping District.” It’s more complicated than that, I know, but I’ve written about this a couple of times and I’ve got a limited amount of space here to get your attention. The aerial image featured in this post was taken at the same time as the image in my previous post. It was made by Joseph Granich as well. He worked for the St. Louis County Observer newspaper which was located in Maplewood. In the meantime, Thank you, Joe, wherever you are. Taking an aerial photo in the mid 1950’s must have been an expensive operation. I imagine you were in a small airplane rather than a helicopter.
The dog walks my wife and I took in the spring of 2009 had the potential to be a bit more exciting than usual. Probably our most favorite route took us past the Sutton Loop park, often down Hazel to Maple. Then turning right on Arbor, we’d head back home along either Flora or Elm. That spring we favored Flora for the simple reason that there was a chance – a small one – that we’d run into George Clooney. We never did but many of our neighbors saw him. If you lived in Maplewood then you couldn’t not be aware that they were filming the movie, “Up In The Air” where much of the action occurred at Sutton and Flora. I think most of the film shot in Maplewood was in (or just outside of) the Methodist church located there. By doing a minimal bit of research, I was surprised to discover that it has been ten years since that film was made. I was also surprised to see how many actors were in the film that were unknown to me then but are familiar now.
A subject that deserves its own book would be the sports of Maplewood particularly football. Bob Broeg in his book, “Ol’ Mizzou, A Century of Tiger Football”, refers to a time in the 1930’s when “Maplewood and Cleveland High School in St. Louis supplied more talent to MU than any other prep schools”. The 1936 and the 1939 teams were the two best teams ever to come out of Maplewood High according to George Smith who was there. There have been a multitude of fine players from the Maplewood program but the team of 1936 was a standout.
In 1878, Mr. William Lyman Thomas became a member of the Missouri Press Association. In 1880, he was elected treasurer and held that position for twenty four consecutive years. At the end of his service he was made a life member. The only other life member, since the death of Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain, d. 1910), was J. West Goodwin of the Sedalia Bazoo newspaper, whose slogan was, “Whoso tooteth not his own Bazoo, the same it shall not be tooted”. John Stillwell Stark knew J.West Goodwin and definitely learned to toot his own Bazoo along with the Bazoos of many other folks as well.
Any lineup of famous Maplewoodians would have to include Willard McGregor. I have to include him even though I posted every single piece of information that I have about him last year on March the 19th. Even so he truly is worth taking another look at. Like Ray and Tom Kennedy, he became known in his spheres of interest, painting and music, in a far wider community than our small one here. All three hobnobbed with other artists who were also widely known. Is that part of the definition of being famous?
In 1934, Ray and Tom Kennedy opened the Kennedy Conservatory of Music in downtown Maplewood. They sold musical instruments and taught students how to play them. They and their instructors gave singing and dancing lessons. They also taught dramatics. Tom Kennedy took an interest in photography and opened his own studio.
Who are our most famous Maplewoodians? Who are the folks that have resided in our lovely village and then gone out and done well for themselves in the wider world? I have a few names in mind but I am going to keep them to myself until the readers of this space have had a chance to respond. Let there be no misunderstanding, George Clooney made a movie here but that doesn’t count. He never lived here.
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.
“The boys sat in a circle on the porch of Doug and Tom’s house. The pale blue painted ceiling mirrored the blue of the October sky.” So begins Chapter Fifteen of Ray Bradbury’s “Farewell Summer”. I don’t know when I first became aware of blue porch ceilings. There were no porch ceilings on the house where I was raised. I built the porch ceilings on the house I have lived in for the last 43 years.
One of the great privileges I have had in my role as historian of our small town is that of having been allowed to closely examine many of the documents and artifacts preserved by the descendants of past members of our community. The families of our very earliest settlers, the Suttons and the Rannells, have trusted me with many of their rarest items. I am humbled by that. I take the responsibility very seriously. Followers of my blog know that recently I have been reconstructing a very small part of the lives of some members of the Sutton family. One man in particular is a standout.
Forget stopping, he’s not even slowing down. Just in time for what is left of Valentine’s Day, here is not one but two new historic sketches from the life of Maplewood’s premier memoirist, Bill Jones. A doubleheader! And keep in mind…they’re typed by Barb. WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY – 4th Grade,
Lyndover Grade School – Maplewood
Our 4th grade was invited to write a tribute to George Washington for his birthday at a program on February 22nd. KFUO was our Lutheran radio station and the manager’s little daughter, my classmate.
In his landmark 1911 History of Saint Louis County – Missouri, WLT devoted Chapter IX to The Civil War Period in St. Louis County. On page 105 in a section titled, “Slavery in the County”, he wrote, “Many families owned slaves; a great many did not. So far as our personal knowledge extends we never knew or heard of ill-treatment of slaves in the part of the county that was outside the city. The white boys played with the black ones, went a fishing with them in numerous instances, pulled weeds, hoed potatoes and shared in their tasks.
Five generations began with a blind date on Friday in early 1945. My two buddies at Maplewood High invited me to a Friday supper at the Candle Light Supper Club at Clayton and Hanley. I said, “I work Fridays on my dispatcher job at Missouri Pacific and am not dating because of school and my 40-hour evening job.” My buddies said “BLIND DATE, pretty lady, top student at Rosati Kane Catholic High”. I was a bit shy but couldn’t resist. I called my fellow dispatcher and traded shifts.
Last post we learned from a newspaper clipping that Emma B. Thomas had married William H. Grumley on the lawn (“one of the prettiest in Ellendale”) in front of the family home, Ellendale Home Place. The article goes on to say that “The old mansion covered with the moss and vines of many years growth can be seen from Manchester avenue.” That ceremony was on June 28, 1899. The “old” mansion was eighteen years old. We begin this post with a birth announcement that her father, William Lyman Thomas had written in his 1901 scrapbook on August 18, 1901. The new baby is named after Emma’s deceased sister and called by the same nickname, Kittie, right from the beginning.
William Lyman Thomas married Catherine “Kate” Compton Sutton on March 25, 1869. While I have none of his daughters birthdates in front of me, I know that Ella T. was the oldest, born, say about, 1870. Sarah W. was second born about 1872. Emma B. was third, born roughly in 1874. Catherine A. “Kittie” was born sometime very close to the beginning of July 1876, the centennial year of our country.