Maplewood History: Fennell Trove Contains Some Extraordinary Images – Part Three

This is the first of the extraordinary images I advertised. Floyd Alonzo Fennell, his family and employess with the Fennell home in the background.

Parts One and Two of the Fennell trove are both loaded with terrific images.  Many folks have taken the time to express their appreciation for having been able to view them.  I, too, am grateful to Nancy Fennell Hawkins for having had the opportunity to present them.

But we’re not done yet.  When I wrote the title and included the word “extraordinary” I was thinking of a couple of images that the reader will see in this post.  These images are very rare. They truly are treasures. It is immensely rewarding to discover images like these. Rediscover in this case.

The images about which I speak are in my first Maplewood history book. They were volunteered by Katie Wolf Schuch and Evelyn Wolf Callaway. These ladies were neighbors of Nancy Fennell Hawkins.  Correction: Evelyn is no longer with us but Katie is going strong I am happy to report.  Nancy says, “She is the only daughter of my Aunt Jane and Uncle Jule; Jane was the oldest of the Fennell children.”

I was delighted when the images showed up again in this collection.  You’ll see what I mean. Have a look.

Floyd Alonzo Fennell, grandfather of our benefactor, Nancy Fennell Hawkins in 1918. Nancy has his WWI draft registration dated Sept. 12 of that year.
Floyd with an unidentified gentleman.  Unless the chevrons meant something different then, I’d say Floyd was a sergeant and his friend, a corporal.
Floyd and Kate Fennell’s home once located on the NE corner of Rannells Ave. and Laclede Station Road. Apartment buildings are on that location today.
There’s nothing written on the back of this one. This is Kate and their children in front of the home.  The children’s names were Jane, Floyd (Bud), Robert W., Kate and Evelyn.  I have no idea who is who.
Here is a good view of the home and family.
I believe this is the same home only now the dormer with the two windows has been made much wider.
Now here we go. This image and the next ones are priceless.  On the left is Floyd Alonzo Fennell. On the right is Julian “Juke” Carpenter. Apparently they were partners in a landscaping business. According to Nancy this was in their stable yard at the SE corner of Rannells and Laclede Station Road.
You don’t need to know anything about horses to see that these are two very beautiful animals.
It is great to have this image of their sign as well.
The return address on a blank envelope in Nancy’s collection. It’s hard to say what year this envelope is from.  Since it doesn’t show Floyd Fennell as a partner, it might date from either prior to their partnership or possibly from after Floyd’s untimely death in 1923 in a motorcycle accident. A third possibility, as the following images will show, is that they split up at some point.
This is the first of the extraordinary images I advertised. Floyd Alonzo Fennell, his family and employees with the Fennell home in the background.  African-Americans who contributed much to the construction of our country in nearly every way imaginable are sorely underrepresented in period photographs.  That’s what makes these so important.  As I mentioned I included this and the next image (following three closeups) in my first Maplewood history book.  They came from a different source.  From these I can put single names to the men.  They were Speck, Jock and Bishop.  According to Nancy in her book, I Remember When, Floyd said they were nice guys.
Here is the first of three closeups. I’d like to give these folks their due.  Looks like Floyd’s son is becoming a teamster.
Notice that Juke Carpenter’s name is not on the wagons.
The genealogy of African-American families is thriving. I hope that I’ll be able discover more about these gentlemen using their names, Speck, Jock and Bishop, as a starting point.
This is the second of the most extraordinary images in a nice collection of them. Can’t thank you enough, Nancy.  Three closeups follow.
I have deliberately loaded larger resolution images than usual so hopefully you’ll be able to see a lot of this incredible detail.  Without these images we would drive by the apartments at Rannells and Laclede Station Road and never know what went on right there not really all that long ago.
F.A. Fennell Landscaping Company, Maplewood Mo.  Gone but now remembered.
In addition to running his landscaping business, Floyd worked as a deputy sheriff for St. Louis County.
Floyd’s badge, carefully preserved by his granddaughter.
A quick look at the old reliable 1909 Plat Book of St. Louis County shows nothing on the NE or the SE corners of Laclede Station Road and Rannells Ave. From the photographs in Nancy’s collection, I’d have to speculate that the Fennell home was built a short time later. The fifth image in Part One shows the family in front of the home. Nancy dates that image at 1912 or 13. Her father was born in 1909. With that bit of information we can probably get an idea, within a year or two, of the dates of the photos in which he appears.

Detail of the Fennell home showing the decorative curved boards attached to the porch posts.
Being a car guy myself, I totally understand why Floyd switched early from horse drawn vehicles to the horseless ones.

In the many years I have been taking a look at the history of our community, I have been fortunate to have been given access to many of our most important families most important historic images, documents and artifacts. I have seen treasures from the Rannells, the Suttons, the Bloods, the Winds, the McGregors, the Thomases, now the Fennells and many more.

It is endlessly fascinating to me and especially rewarding to be able to share these discoveries via this blog, my first book and soon my second (If I can find a printer). The days are shorter and colder so I should be able to resist the attraction of the outdoors for awhile.  Who know what might turn up?

I will have one more post from Nancy Fennell Hawkins’ wonderful collection.  Then I’m going to revisit the Thomas family collection and should have another post or two out of that.

Take care.  Stay warm.

Doug Houser     November 7, 2019


    • Good deal, Luke. It will be interesting to see what changes it has gone through if you can identify it. It is nice to hear from you.

  1. Couple of things that strike me about these photos. One is the house. Not an ornate house but it strikes me for the location. Up on that hill it would have caught the summer and winter winds and anyone driving by would have been able to look up at it and seen it. I love the braces under the front porches, a really nice detail.

    Another thing that strikes me is the family photos with all the employees. To show the African American workers with the family does seem rare to me. I am not so sure it is but it seems like at that time of the century that they would not be included in pictures but maybe so. It looks to me more like a family photo than a photo that shows the workers with the family. I also am reminded that today I go and hop into my work van. These guys had to go feed the horses, grab the harness, hook them up to the wagons and then they could head off to work. When they came in at the end of the day it was not just park but again care for the animals, unhook the harness, etc.

    • Hey Mark, As usual you bring up some interesting points. The curved boards caught my eye as well. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an ornamental detail quite like those anywhere else. Like you, my mind read them as curved brackets or supports that I assumed may have been made by a local woodworking mill…perhaps the Maplewood Mill. Searching for vintage or antique curved porch roof brackets, I did find some modern ones that looked very much like these. Then I went back to my scan of the original image and magnified it. I don’t know if you can make it out on the low resolution image I posted but on the left side against the basement wall there is a single curved board. I can tell that it is only about an inch wide. These are simply decorative curved boards they attached to the bottom of the posts supporting the porch. Nancy’s family story says that the carpenter Carpenters in her family built this home. They may have cut those boards themselves.
      Also you are right on about the horses. My sisters both have had horses for as long as I can remember. I think taking care of that many horses is a job in itself. Horses are a lot like people. They have to eat…a lot. That food has to get to them somehow. They get sick. They get injured. They have to eat whether you are working or not. I doubt that the wagons were maintenance free either. We are very lucky today to have vehicles that are relatively cheap and reliable. I’ll post a couple of images above that you may be interested in.

  2. Doug,
    I so appreciate your dedication to the history of our city. To have those photos shared is a great blessing to all of us.
    I live in the Greenwood subdivision. As someone said before nothing preserves old building like poverty. Right now we are fortunate to still have our old building intact. I look at surrounding cities and shudder at the way nice family homes are being torn down for ugly modern homes.

    • Thank you for the kind words, Margaret. I agree with you. We continue to lose very good buildings for no good reasons. Extremely sad are some of the parts of north St. Louis where whole neighborhoods have been lost very recently. Contrast this with Lafayette Square and Soulard where property values are unbelievably high due to stringent regulation in their historic districts. There are encouraging signs that the situation may be changing. I just hope it changes fast so we lose as few of these historic buildings as possible. Thank you for your comment.

  3. Hi Doug, In a comment above, Gary wondered when the house was built. I’m so sorry I don’t have that information. My grandparents, Floyd Alonzo and Kate Evelyn were married 12 March 1904 and I know the house was built prior to that. In the 1900 census Floyd was listed as “a boarder” and “Garden Laborer” at the home. I was told that my Grandmothers (Kate) brothers (the Carpenter boys) built the home on Laclede. Uncle Jule and Aunt Jane, and their daughter Katie, lived in the home with Gramma. I don’t know when they sold the home and property and after that the house was torn down. We were all very disappointed when the house was gone.

  4. I admired the house. Anyone know when it was built and when/why it was torn down? What a loss. I looked at one of those apartments in the early 1990s. It was dumpy and moldy. I hope they’ve been fixed up since.

    • Hey Gary, I added two images to this post from the 1909 Plat Book of St. Louis County. It suggests the home was built sometime after 1909. Good to hear from you.

  5. Hi Doug, WOW, I really appreciate what you have done. Some of the images you posted I had never seen before. I knew you already had some of the photos I sent since I have the Maplewood book that was published earlier. I remember when Evelyn Wolf Callaway gave it to me – such a treat! One note though, even though we have lost my dear friend Ev, Katie Wolf Schuch is still going strong. She is the only daughter of my Aunt Jane and Uncle Jule; Jane was the oldest of the Fennell children.

    • Hey, Nancy, I am very happy that you like how this is going. I am glad to hear that Katie is still around and doing well. I made the correction to my text above. Thanks for setting me straight on this.

  6. Wonderful, wonderful photos! I love (and feel sad) when driving around here, wishing I knew what historic gems have been lost to strip malls, apartment buildings and Quik-E-Marts.

    • They are wonderful, catmum. Who can imagine what it would have been like to have lived when those photos were taken? They afford us just a very narrow look into the past. You are correct about many historic gems being lost. The important buildings are most at risk if their neighborhood is prosperous. Nothing like poverty to keep the older buildings around for awhile. I hope that folks will be more enlightened about historic preservation in the future but I know many of them will not.

  7. Thanks for publishing these photos. When I got out of the Army in 1965, we lived on Jerome until summer and then bought a house at 7750 Rannells. It was before the apartments were built and I think it was just open space. I wish I had taken a picture before they built the eyesores.
    Also went to school with two Fennells there in M-RH.

  8. I grew up on Rannells and never had heard of this family and knew nothing of the Rannells. Thanks for sharing this fascinating information.


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