Maplewood History: Mammy’s Crazy Quilt, Mary Rannells Left Us A Treasure


Hi Folks,

Editor Miner and I are still stumbling in the dark as per getting this site up and running again.  We know that a lot of the articles that are visible when you sign on to 40 South are very old.  We just don’t know how to handle them.  Until we can figure out how to relegate them to the digital closet, we ask for your patience.

Woodside, as far as I know, is the oldest building in the City of Maplewood.  I have written much about it and our pioneer Rannells family that built it.  For 17 years, I was involved in the effort to save the home.  One of the very enjoyable parts of the process was the contact that I had with the descendants of Charles Samuel and Mary Warder Rannells, the builders and first occupants of Woodside.

If you would like to read some of my previous posts about the Rannells family, this link will connect you to several others.

Through the photographer Greg Rannells who now lives in Maplewood, I made connections with other descendants scattered in different states, including Louisiana, Virginia, California and Texas. In Richardson, Texas, I met Elise Rannells Todd and her husband Glenn.  Elise was the family historian.  She and her husband were as open and welcoming as they possibly could have been. She shared anything and everything that she had concerning Charles and Mary.  Documents, furniture, silver, linen and images, photographs and paintings.  Ultimately, she generously donated nearly all of their documents and photographs to the State Historical Society of Missouri at UMSL where anyone can see them today.

Among her treasures was a stack of squares for a crazy quilt that had been started by Mary (called Mammy when she was older) and never finished.  Elise gave me two squares as a thank you for the research I had done on their family. It was such a nice thing for her to do, I was truly touched by the gift.  I regret that Elise is no longer with us.

Recently, I presented those squares of Mammy’s crazy quilt to the nice folks at our library.  If you are so inclined you can see these artifacts in person. But for those of you who can’t make it over to see them, please notice that in the center of one of the squares is the reason why Elise gave it to me.  A pair of velvet maple leaves.

Doug Houser     September 22, 2023

Above is a ca. 1842 painting of Mary Warder Rannells attributed to Manuel Da Franca.  It may have been a wedding portrait.  The original is mounted in an oval frame.  it was located in New Orleans when Katrina hit.  It survived the hurricane.  Its location today is unknown.  Fortunately several members of the Rannells family pooled their resources and had an expensive copy made.  That copy is now in the collection of the Maplewood Public Library.

Here members of the Rannells family are examining artifacts that had been discovered during the construction of the condos on the Woodside property.  Greg is on the left. His Aunt Elise Rannells Todd and her husband Glenn had driven up from Richardson, Texas.  The artifacts had been cleaned and sorted by the museum studies students at UMSL.  I still have 11 boxes of these items in storage.




  1. Doug, thank you for everything you do for our fair city. I love the quilt square, it is a snap shot of fashion and fabrics of a long ago time.

  2. Mammy was my 2nd great grandmother. This needlework seems to be so close and personal. Truly remarkable that it has survived. If the quilt had been finished, it likely would have been worn out and discarded by now! Thank you to Doug Houser.

  3. So good to hear from you Doug!! I have missed your postings. The crazy quilt square is so interesting, a lot of work went into that. The painting of Mary Rannels is just beautiful. Thank you so much for all you do to bring Maplewood past into our lives.

  4. Great to hear from you again, Doug. You and your articles have been missed. This was a very touching continued story of the Rannell’s family saga. You have brought so many threads together. Amazing where all these stories lead. Thanks again for all your efforts on behalf of revealing Maplewood’s past.

    Sharon Tash

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