Still More Images from William Lyman Thomas’ 1911 History of St. Louis County, Missouri

This is the third post of original images that William Lyman Thomas collected and used in his magnificent “History of St. Louis County, Missouri”.  We have a rare opportunity to examine these pieces that he assembled into his final two volume set in 1911. I am again including images made of the backs of some of these photographs and documents.  I think it is especially interesting to see his notations and instructions to the printer.

If you may have missed my first post and my second post on this fascinating subject, those two links will take you there.

As I have been doing quite a bit here lately, I want to again thank the descendants of the Sutton and Thomas families for sharing this great wealth of material with us.

We’ll begin with an image of one of the oldest buildings that he collected, the 1791 Presley Cordell house.

I adjusted the writing on the back of this image with Photoshop in order to help in deciphering it.  I can get most of it.  “Built in 1791 on ? No. 2?7  ? 1/2 south of ?ake  P.O.  Bonhomme Township. (Should be Presley Cordell. See Esley Hamilton’s comment below. DH 3/21/19)

This one has nothing written on the back.

Nothing on the back of this one either.

Probably most of us in this area will recognize this building. For all of our entire lives it has been located on Gravois Road on the property of the Busch family known as Grant’s Farm.

But I had never seen this photograph.

How about this … the birthplace of Grant’s wife, Julia Dent. Now better know as Whitehaven (even though it’s green) it is a dynamite National Park Historic site. If you haven’t been out there since they’ve restored it, you really have to go. I’m not kidding . It will blow your mind.

As promised here is the back of it.

While we’re on the subject of Grant, this newspaper clipping is included in Thomas’ collection. It appears in Volume One on page 96 along with Grant’s famous ultimatum letter to “Gen. S.B. Buckner of the Confed. Army, … No terms except an immediate and unconditional surrender can be accepted.”

There is something written on the back of this one but I can’t make it out.

This is the back of the image of the Rock Hill Presbyterian Church. I can make out what looks like “C.J or T. Marshal” and $12.00 below that but this is open to interpretation.

This sure looks to me like it is the old Mason mansion again but this time from the opposite direction.

But you can’t tell from the other side. Remember you’ve got to label your photos if you want any one in the future to know what, who or where they are of. I haven’t done it either.


Well that should be enough to get the conversation started again.  I still have quite a few more of these images to post.  They are fascinating to me.  I hope y’all think the same.

9 thoughts on “Still More Images from William Lyman Thomas’ 1911 History of St. Louis County, Missouri

  1. The Cordell of the picture is Presley, not Wesley. You can see a penciled-in correction. His son Hiram (1785-1854) kept a diary of their journey to Missouri from Kentucky (I think), and it has been transcribed at the Missouri Historical Society. Their property was across Olive from Faust Park, and the two-story log house now in the village there was later built on that property. Some of the later Cordell descendants were quite prominent in St. Louis, such as Cordell Stevens, a Historical Society trustee. According to the Society’s longtime archivist, Frances Hurd Stadler, when Thomas published this picture, they were highly mortified to think that their ancestor had lived in such squalor. They concluded that the house must have been a slave quarters. In a way I hope that it was, because we have so few images that relate to slave life in this area.

    The Mason House is still standing just off Weidman Road south of the entrance to Queeny Park. I agree that the second picture shows the north side of the house. It was not included in the book, as most of these others were, so this is one of most exciting finds in your Thomas trove. I believe that one of Mason’s daughters married one of the Suttons, and they later owned some of the Mason property out there.

    • Dear Readers, If it is not obvious by now, I get by with a little help from my friends …

  2. The photo of the 1791 Cordell house is amazing. My question is when was the photo taken, around 1911? Wish that was on the back…

    All of the other questions raised so far are answered by Mr. Thomas himself. See page 251 of Volume 1 beginning with the paragraph about “The Fitzgerald Family”. Here are links to both volumes (Doug notice the circa 1911 photoshop job on the black blob in the original photo compared to the one in the book!).

    Volume 1:

    Volume 2:

    In 1797, Survey 207 represented a large land grant just south of Lake Creve Coeur to John Cordell. Of the 3000 plus land grants from the French and Spanish in StL County 710 were surveyed by Antoine Pierre Soulard. Below is Soulard’s survey for John Cordell (in french):

    After John Cordell died in 1799 the land went into his wife Judith’s name. They were married in Fauquier County, Virginia on 18 Jun 1779.

    John Cordell was a patriot and served in the Revolutionary War; present for numerous roll calls in Virginia from Feb 1776 through 13 Oct 1777. He was a Chaplain, earned the rank of Captain, and is recognized as a patriot by the Daughters of the Revolutionary War (DAR). Being a Chaplain his name appears repeatedly on a large number of Revolutionary War documents.

    Here is a photo of John Cordell’s grave in Creve Coeur:

      • Believe it or not I was looking for it at the very moment you posted this. As usual, good job, Dave. That early Photoshopper did a good job of removing that shadow, I guess. It went all the way to the chimney in the original. In the published version it is gone without a trace. Thanks so much. Dave. You hit that one out of the park.

  3. I think I see

    Wesley Cordell Old House

    Built in 1791 on Survey 2–7

    1 ½ south of Lake P.O.

    Bonhomie Township

    but geez.

  4. It just may be Lake, Mike. I wonder if anyone has heard of Lake P.O. in Bonhomme Township? Thank you for your comment.