Maplewood History: From the Fennell Trove – Sam Bland’s Journal – Part 2

The advertising pages in the back of Sam's journal featuring the ad placed by the Maplewood Mill and the listing on the facing page.

Although the response to the first installment of Sam Bland‘s Journal was somewhat less than enthusiastic, I’m going to post the second part anyhow.  In my opinion it contains much of interest, but I know how it is when one has a lot of emails and limited time to spend on them. I skim some of the more complicated ones intending to get back to them later.  If you’re doing that too, you’re forgiven.

Maybe I didn’t point out enough of the interesting things Sam recorded?  Much of it is about gardening – planting things. That is not one of my interests.  But I know there are many gardeners out there. Is there nothing of interest to a gardener in Sam’s journal?  We’ll try it again.

These are Sam’s entries for January 1920.  The cold weather kept him inside.  During the first 11 days he records, “Stick indoors, Cold nothin doin, Slippy – Loaf, Do, Do, Do, Nix outside”.  Then on the 13th, “Letter from Percy – re sale of house”.  followed by on the 14th, “Write Mottaz re payment on land.” I speculate that is payment on their farm at Bismarck.  On the 15th,” Sign deed to Maplewood lot.”  On the 19th, “Percy sends check for $675 for Maplewood lot.”  The story unfolds.
February 1920. Sam must have gotten sick for the first couple of days. On the 6th, “Will Grave digging.” On the 8th, “Mietje – stricken with flu.”  On the 12th and 13th, ” Send Mottaz $10.00.” Temperature is 5 degrees.  On the 23rd, “Nessie down.” From Maplewood, I think.  On the 24th – 26th, ” All froze up. Loaf indoors – Damn it.”  On the 27th, “Nessie washes under extreme conditions.” I believe he is talking about the laundry.  I can’t imagine what that must have been like in frigid weather.  The good ol’ days.
This clipping was stuck between the February pages.  Not hard to understand.
Beginning in March, Sam’s notes on planting nearly fill every page. This one is from July. On the 19th is the first time he has used the word “Telephone.”
On the 7th of August 1920 is Sam’s first mention of the word, “Auto” used as a verb, “Floyd & Kate Auto down.”  Sam records their activities for the next week.  Being driven around in an automobile must have been a novelty for many folks.  I imagine a trip from Maplewood to Bismarck in 1920 would be grueling.
October 23, 1920, “Floyd & Kate motor down.” On the 24th, “Floyd & Kate return with Mietje.”  On the 30th, they bring her back.
December 8, 1920, “Fix up chemical closet.” Sam must have followed through on the ad from the newspaper. That chemical closet must have come in handy especially on the 27th when it was 5 degrees outside.
Sam gets off to a rough start in February 1921.  From the 3rd to the 5th, “Lay up in bed. Asthma – Bronchitis.”  He mentions these health issues many times in his journal.  In addition he has a bad leg.  At the bottom he reminds himself, “Say up – Take Doc Kerlagon’s stuff.”  Doc Kerlagon makes numerous visits to their home.
On the 16th of April 1921, the temperature plummets from 68 degrees to 27. The next day Sam records, “Ice 1/4 thick.” Then one week later, it was 80 degrees.  On the 23rd, “Word came of Ed Clark’s death.” You can find a photograph of Ed and his brass era automobile here.  Many images of the family can be found here.
January 1922. The new year finds Sam, “Laid by Broncho.”On the 4th, “Will kills sow.”  I believe hogs are the only animals that Sam mentioned in his journal.  There must have been a horse or two because he mentioned painting a wagon.  He never mentions having to feed any animals or take care of them in any way.
March and April are very busy months.  March 4th, “Mum laid up. Doc visits.”
May & June 1922. June 13-17, “Cloudy bluffs. All buggered up. Nought to do but hoe weeds in field corn-beans-cabbage & sunflowers-Drought affecting the brain with 90 to 100 degrees continuously- Damn it!!!” On the 18th, Read-cuss & sleep.”
In July, Sam began to record his weekly bath on Sundays. On the 16th, “Bathe and Loaf all day.”
December the 17th, “Rip cypress for sashes.” On the 29th, “Mortising sashes.” On the 30th, “Sashes-part time.” Sam was more than an ordinary house carpenter. Here he was making the window sashes by hand. This is highly skilled woodworking and hard to do.  He ends the year, 1922, with this summation, “Day by day I’m getting fatter and fatter. Eat well & sleep good-Right leg bum-Nettie rheumatic but very active and cheerful-Mietje in pink of condition but overworked-“
January 7, 1923, “Paint sashes.” February 16, “Laid by throat & leg-” On the 17th, a Saturday,”Will took my job fitting & glazing sashes-” As I’m sure most of you know, glazing is the installation of the glass in the wooden window sash.
This is the last page with Sam’s writing on it. It is sad that almost the last entry on the 31st is, “Nettie & Ju go to Maplewood-on hearing of Floyd Fennell’s death.”  You may recall from an earlier post that Floyd lost his life in a motorcycle accident.  You can find a photograph of Floyd and his family on that motorcycle here.
The advertising pages in the back of Sam’s journal featuring the ad placed by the Maplewood Mill and the listing on the facing page.
I don’t know anything about this ad placed by Sam in the STL Post-Dispatch in 1918.
Sam was a victim of Alfred Syrett, the swindler who had been involved with the sale of property in Greenwood.

There you have it.  We’ve run the book on Sam Bland.  This is the last post I will make from the Fennell trove that Nancy Fennell Hawkins has so kindly allowed us to view.  The last post for now, I should say.  Who knows what will turn up in the future?

Next I’m going to take a look at a collection of letters from William Lyman Thomas to his future wife, Kate Sutton.  The collection includes every letter he wrote to her following their first meeting in June 1867 until they married in March of 1869.  These are lent to us by Thomas’ great-granddaughter Christina Hayes McConnell.

As I write this the weather person is predicting a warm Christmas.  This is fine by me.  We’ve had enough of the white already!

Merry Christmas everyone.

Doug Houser     December 20, 2019.


  1. Nancy, love your Maplewood family history and look forward to seeing your book. The family is so well documented. I think one of the best documents is the 1861 English census showing Jeannette Hakes at age 11 living in a school in Sunninghill.

    I have looked into some of the various early homes of the family and unfortunately I believe most are now gone. In 1900, Samuel Bland’s household is renting a home in what appears to be in the vicinity of the Maplewood area. The only location I found for Samuel Bland in the Maplewood area was on Laclede Station Rd. in 1910. His house photo with the address 3220 is probably this Laclede Station Rd. location. This address and census information would put the house just south of the Missouri Pacific Railway. This house is now gone and probably was across the street from what is now Cousin Hugo’s Bar and Grill just north of Edgebrook Rd.?

    Edwin and Agnes (nee Carpenter) Clark were renting their home in 1900, with a two year old William and Agne’s sister Jeannette Carpenter living in the household. The specific location of this home is unknown but was listed as dwelling 228 which is relatively near dwelling 264, the Bartold household, that would have been at what is now the intersection of Hanley and Manchester. So they were almost certainly in or near what would be Maplewood.

    By 1910 Edwin and Agnes Clark own a home on Laclede Station Rd. and their nextdoor neighbors are Leo and Jeannette (nee Carpenter) Moore, which also own their home. I didn’t find the address of either of these homes. But according to the 1910 census after the census enumerator, John Oellien, recorded these two houses he visited homes on Luda Ave., more homes on Laclede, a household on “Rail Road Tracks”, and then a few more households on Laclede including Samuel Bland’s. This would be consistent with the Clark and Moore homes being on or near the 3100 block of Laclede Station Rd. and would mean they are now demolished. The site is currently apart of the Maplewood Mini Cooper Dealership.

    Robert William and Daisy (nee Hall) Carpenter, with 2 year old daughter Daisy, are found living in Kirkwood at 614 Simmons Ave. (incorrectly recorded as Cleveland Ave. in the 1910 census). This home still exists.

    Floyd Alonzo and Kate (nee Carpenter) Fennell are living on Weaver Ave. in Maplewood in 1910 with three children. Floyd’s widowed father W.P. Fennell is living nextdoor with 4 children. These two houses possibly still exist and would have been built in 1909, such as 7747 Weaver Ave.

    The only family member unaccounted for in 1910 is Percy Carpenter. His wife Amelia (nee Traub) can be found living in her father’s household at 5644 Cote Brilliante Ave. in St. Louis City, this home is now demolished.

    By 1920, we see almost the entire family has moved out of the Edgebrook neighborhood to either Bismark or Webster Groves. The only exceptions are Percy and Amelia Carpenter living at 3105 Laclede Station Rd. (demolished), and Floyd and Kate Fennell living at 2400 Laclede Station Rd. (demolished). The answer to why they all left Edgebrook is possibly the new open pit stone quarry in their backyard ?

    Edwin and Agnes Clark moved to 686 Oakwood Ave. in Webster Groves (home still exists), while Leo and Jeannette Moore moved to 540 Oakwood Ave (home still exists). After Edwin’s death (recorded in Sam Bland’s diary) Agnes would move in with Leo and Jeannette at 540 Oakwood. The home at 540 Oakwood is impressive and shows some similar architectural details to the other homes in the family photos believed to be built by the family.

    Percy and Amelia Carpenter lived at 3105 Laclede Station Rd. in 1920 and then are found living at 3125 Laclede Station Rd. in 1930 and 1940. It is possible these two locations are the same just with an address change or an error in the census. It is also possible these two locations are either or both the old Moore and Clark homes? Regardless, these homes are now demolished.

    Floyd A. and Kate Fennell’s home at 2400 Laclede Station Rd. would turn into 2416 Laclede Station Rd. some time after 1940, and the property lot is now 2408 Laclede Station Rd. Kate was still living in the home at the time of her death in May 1963. The house was still present in the STL County 1966 Aerial Photography Parcel viewer but gone and replaced with the current apartment buildings by the 1970_72 Aerials.

  2. Doug. I got an entire truckload of reclaimed Cypress 1×6 rough floor from a job in U-City two years ago. I think it was about 1200 ft. You can have some if you’d like to see how it works with those planes?. I’m planing it to 3/4 and building cabinet faces with it. This is really dry stuff and should take a finish very well.

    • Hey Jeff, For many years I collected antique woodworking tools. I tried often to understand how they were used. Big difference between that and actually using them as they were meant to be used. I did make some window parts with those sash planes. I didn’t use cypress though. I used clear ponderosa pine so it would be as trouble free as possible. It still was no picnic as I recall. The planes cut muntins with a gothic profile. I never figured out a good way to sharpen those irons. Thanks for the offer though.

  3. Webster Door and Window has Lowen windows made of hard wood. Last windows you will ever buy.. and other options, I’m a past customer and had 4 houses.. good stuff…

    • I took a look at the Loewen windows website, Joe. I hadn’t heard of them. It is a Canadian company that makes a wide array of very nice windows. Forgive me for offering these observations. Some are clad on the exterior with aluminum with the interior wood portion being clear Douglas fir (which is a ‘hard’ wood but technically is a soft wood. If that makes sense.) I replaced most of the windows in my home years ago with a similar product from Marvin. Thanks for your report, Joe.

  4. When I saw the mention of ripping cypress for sashes it made me wonder when cypress fell out of favor for window work. So many seem to be pine unless I just don’t know my species very well. And where did they get cypress to do that work. And when he says ripping was that on some sort of table saw, band saw, how was it powered. So many questions come to mind that I have that are not answered there. Oh for the answers….

    • Hey Mark, I certainly don’t have all the answers but I’ve a bit more information. I replaced some exterior trim around my windows on my 1910 house. I had a sample of it analyzed by the (from memory) US Forest Products Laboratory. (You can too – no charge.) They said it was bald cypress. None-the-less I replaced it with cedar. The cypress would be better but is harder to get. Additionally I’ve learned that the cypress one would buy today is not as durable as the cypress one might buy in the past. Reason being it is the old growth cypress that is the most durable because the growth rings are closer together. This means more resin content which is the part of the wood that resists the weather. They are still hauling old growth cypress logs up from the bottoms of rivers and milling them into lumber but it is incredibly expensive. Environmentalists decry the practice as well. It is upsetting to the marine environment that has developed around these logs since whenever it was they sank. Many of the logs have been underwater since the 1800’s. The wood is still good.
      Sam was ripping the cypress for sashes on Dec. 17, 1922. I can almost say for certain that he was doing this by hand. 1922 is too early for home power tools. Most windows by that time were being made by woodworking mills like ours in Maplewood. A few old timers, such as Sam, may have been making a few windows by hand but it would have been an extremely small number. The only craftsman made window I have ever seen around here was in our oldest home, Woodside, ca. 1848-50. And there was only one – on the third floor at the top of the stairs on the west end. Some of the original windows still survived in Woodside when I was involved with that project. I decided they were all mill run save the one I mention.
      Another fact to consider is that Sam was born in England. The traditional building trades survived in England much longer than they did in the United States. If you recall, in my first post on the Fennell family, Nancy Hawkins mentions, “several of the married Carpenters built homes in Maplewood and possibly other places for their families.” The Carpenter boys were Sam Bland’s step sons. It seems reasonable to assume that members of this talented family, Sam included, may have built Sam and Jeanette’s home in Bismarck. According to Nancy, “When Evelyn Wolf Callaway was living she drove us around and showed us homes in Maplewood that were built by the Carpenter boys. Unfortunately I didn’t get the addresses.” This was a family of builders and (at least) the father may have received his training in England. It is not unreasonable to assume they may have also made some of the windows. Making windows by hand is a lot of work. I have the English hand planes to do it with. I have experimented making some of the pieces. I ought to photograph those tools if there is enough interest in it. I’m sure you can find videos of folks making windows on You Tube. As always, I appreciate your comments and questions.


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