Maplewood History: Inside the Sutton Mansion


In this post I would like to feature just one very interesting photograph.  It is of John L. Sutton, son of James and his wife, Margaret in the parlor of the Sutton Mansion that once sat on the site of todays, Dobb’s Tire service.

In my mind this photo perfectly illustrates the problem facing those of us interested in history.  There is just so darn much of it.

I was kindly allowed to copy this photo for our collection by the State of Missouri Historical Society-Research Center-St. Louis on the campus at UMSL, adjacent to the Mercantile Library, Zelli Fischetti presiding.

I have copied the writing at the bottom of the photograph and will post it immediately below the photograph space permitting.  Keep in mind this is from just one photo.

Sutton interior 7453 Manchester w description sm

Sutton Parlor photo inscription

This photograph Number (580) was photographed by J.Siler of St. Louis, Mo,; U.S.A., of whom copies may be obtained.  Descriptive cirs. (?) of historic, noted places, & c., sent for a 2-ct. stamp.

What follows was written in longhand:

Father and Mother Alone as seen at May 3, 1893. 11.38 (A)M.  Looking NW from the SE cor. of the Sutton Mansion Parlor in Maplewood, Mo. 7m.w. of St. Louis, Mo. There is no family event hoped (?) for and better remembered in after years than the marriage.  It is the greatest responsibility which man and woman can assume-for love, health, and prosperity are the elements of Hope upon which the future happiness and success depends not only of the present but the future generations.  This fact has been practically demonstrated for twelve marriage ceremonies have been solemnized in this parlor.  These presant (sic) the strongest commentary of the abiding Affection, Honor, and Success of this family.  As the earthly (early?) pleasant associations and the spot where discovered never die-so will the beauties and pleasant sundries of this parlor ever live. Mr. John L. Sutton has been present at every one of the twelve weddings in this parlor.  His boy-taste for cake aids his memory to recall the happy events distinctly. 2 Mrs. Margaret L. Sutton has personally attended to many of these important ceremonies-the last-and her last daughter’s wedding occurred the evening of April 5, 1893.  Rev. Geo. Sterling officiating- when 180-200 guests attended the festivities ‘til the rosy twilight announced the dawn of a new day.  Marriages: (Illegible) A. Taylor to Enoch Berry,–1836.  2 Miss Eliza C. Wilgus to John L. Lay, Oct. 5”1848. 3 Miss Mary C. Sutton to Merritt H. Marshall, May 12, 1853.  4 Miss Sarah W. Sutton to Charles S. Humphreys, Mar. 30”,1864. 5 Miss Catherine C. Sutton to W. Lyman Thomas, Mar. 25”, 1869.  6 Miss Mary E. Taylor to (possibly L.) Frederick Handler, Feb. 21, 1871.  7 Miss Jane D. Wells to Edward Lyons, Nov. 18, 1874. 8 Miss Cora B. Marshall to Thomas R. Pullis, Feb. 1”, 1877.  9 Miss Annie S. Marshall to John M. Berry, Mar. 28, 1878.  10 Miss Annie(?) C. Sutton to Wallace L. Sappington, Nov. 1, 1883.  11 Miss Sarah W. Sutton to William Wilson, June 19, 1889.  12 Miss Margaret E. Sutton to Robert DeYoung, April 5”, 1893.

I have added this photograph of a newspaper clipping in response to the comment below by St. Louis Co. historian, Esley Hamilton.
I have added this photograph of a newspaper clipping in response to the comment below by St. Louis Co. historian, Esley Hamilton.


  1. Mr. Houser, I have been following your historic information of Maplewood for the past couple of years. Your efforts and details are both wonderful and appreciated.

    James C. Sutton was my great-great grandfather, making John L. Sutton my great-great uncle. His brother, Henry L. Sutton, was my great grandfather.

    For many years, my parents tried to get the mansion designated a historic site, in order to have it preserved and renovated. Unfortunately, the home was too severely decayed and we did not have ownership.

    Regardless, a historic marker would be a nice addition to the location.

    Several years ago, Mother and I presented her painting of the Sutton mansion to St. Louis County. Gene McNary was the county supervisor.

    The painting depicted the Sutton home as the original county administration building, where great-grandfather Henry L. Sutton was the presiding judge.

    Mom’s painting was displayed in the current County Administration building for several years. When some renovations were done, it was returned to the family.

    Thank you for all that you have been doing. I have learned a great deal about my family and the prospering city of Maplewood.


    John Sutton

    • All very interesting information, John. I agree with you that the site should be marked by a historic marker. I would really like to get a photograph of that painting. Is there any way that could be arranged. Thank you very much for the kind words. I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

      • Will do, Doug. The painting is currently in my possession. I’ll send a photo as soon as possible.


      • Mr. Houser, I finally photographed the aforementioned painting. Unfortunately, I am computer illiterate. Therefore, I cannot attach it to this message. Would you please send an email to me, with additional contact information?

        Thank you.

  2. I was surprised to see Catherine C. Sutton marrying W. Lyman Thomas. He is better known as William L. Thomas, the publisher who wrote the recently reprinted History of St. Louis County in 1911. Their home was 2637 Roseland Terrace, which is still standing. The subdivision there is called Ellenwood Home Place, and other sources give Mrs. Thomas’s name as Ellen, which apparently is not right. This source also shows why historians should not refer to historical figures by first names, diminutives, or nicknames unless they have a primary source for doing so. It would be easy to talk about Bill Thomas, but who would guess that he was called Lyman by those who knew him?
    Esley Hamilton

    • Good point, Esley. A newspaper clipping from the archives of the Maplewood Library identifies her as Kate and her husband as Wm. L.Thomas. This was done while they were still alive and one would assume with their approval. The photograph of the house in this article is the exact same one that can be found in the rear of the 1909 Plat Book of St. Louis Co. that identifies the house as Ellendale Home Place. One would assume that the name also met with their approval. And note that it is Ellendale rather than Ellenwood. Thanks for your comment.

  3. I thought it was great that the person who wrote the text included not only the time and date but even the direction of the photograph. It seems so long ago and completely vanished to us but I bet they thought they had all the time in the world. Thanks for your comment, Pat.

  4. It must have been so difficult to take a photograph in those days. I can see the man standing behind his camera, on a tripod, with the cloth over his head. I wonder if they had to sit very still in the same position for a certain length of time, in order for it not to be blurred. What makes me wonder, was my Grandfather was a photographer in the early part of the century…He was born in 1898….and I have a lot of family photos from the 20’s, 30’s, and later…. It’s fun to put yourself in that time, and wonder what it was like.

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