Maplewood History: SHSMO Archives Material from Five Maplewood Families


Warning: Less Than Hardcore Maplewood History Fans Should Proceed With Caution.

This is just a reminder that the William Lyman Thomas collection of images and documents that was recently donated to The State Historical Society of Missouri is actually the fifth Maplewood trove to find a home there.

The first was the Charles and Mary Rannells collection which was composed of donations from many descendants now located in various parts of the country.  Elise Rannells Todd was crucial to bringing that collection together.  As the family historian, Elise possessed a great store of knowledge and was kind, generous and open about sharing it.  Not long ago I learned that Elise had passed away early in 2021.  I feel the loss and wish her husband, Glenn, the best.

Elise’s nephew, Greg, who lives in Maplewood, gave me her contact info in 2004.  At that time I was engaged in trying to save the Rannells family’s historic home, Woodside (Maplewood’s oldest building).  As luck would have it, my brother was getting married in Richardson, Texas, where Elise and Glenn were living.  When I told Elise that my wife and I were headed in her direction, she invited us, without ever having met us, to stay in their home.  We didn’t take her up on that but we did visit her.

On that visit, Elise showed us and allowed me to photograph her incredible collection of artifacts that had once belonged to Charles and Mary 150 years earlier.  Many of these I have documented in my books and blog.  Under a bed was a carpenter’s tool chest that was absolutely stuffed to the brim with letters and documents, some dating back to the 1830s.

One sunny day in 2006, Elise and Glenn showed up unannounced at my home in Maplewood and handed me a box containing just about all of those letters and documents.  I examined them over the winter. In 2007, descendants of Charles and Mary from all over the country came together and we donated most of their historic papers to what was then called the Western Historical Manuscripts Collection (now SHSMO) at UMSL.  The Rannells were the first to do so.

The second was from a young man named Matt Irwin Perkins.  His family had a fascinating history in Maplewood supported by many documents.  On December 3, 2010, he invited me to his apartment to look at some of his artifacts including his great-great grandparents marriage license and other important papers from the 1800s, some in German, his grandmother’s Maplewood High School memories book, and a couple of very old family photo albums.

This stuff knocked me out.  He let me borrow all of it for a weekend.  I photographed everything.  Out of that came the Slavik/Irwin posts of which there were 9.  He donated his grandmother’s memory book to our library but he wasn’t quite ready to donate everything else to SHSMO.  Later on I saw an article in the Webster-Kirkwood Times where he had done just that.  Nice job, Matt.  We appreciate it.

The third came from a longtime Maplewoodite and history buff, Marty Fischer.  On August 6, 2015, he called and said he had some things I might be interested in looking at.  He had purchased a lot of photographs, documents and memorabilia from the Kalb Electric family.  I met him at Foundation Grounds and was so impressed with his collection that I photographed a lot of it right there.  Later on he invited me to his home to photograph some of the larger heavier things he had collected.  I found images in his collection of buildings and street scenes that I had never seen before.  Years earlier I had even gone to Kalb Electric asking them if they had anything like this stuff.  They thought they did but didn’t know where it was.  7 posts were created from the Kalb material.

That’s three, the fourth was the Fennell family photographs and documents provided by the ever cheerful and supportive Nancy Fennell Hawkins.  Dealing with Nancy has been and still is a great pleasure.  Nancy lives in the middle of Kansas but has wonderful memories of her childhood in Maplewood.  From all of the material she has provided we can understand how she felt.  She donated her entire Fennell trove to SHSMO.  It contains some of the coolest historic images I have ever seen of our town.

And now the fifth is mostly at SHSMO as well. Chrissie Hayes McConnell has most generously shared just about all of her family’s historic treasures.  We, as a community, owe a lot to these very generous folks.

Now if you’re wondering just where are all of these posts that I have mentioned, have a look.

Rannells Family – at least 8 posts

Kalb Electric – 7 posts

Fennell Trove – 8 posts

Matt Irwin Perkins Collection – 9 posts

William Lyman Thomas Collection – 28 posts

Maplewood History: William Lyman Thomas Collection Is Donated To SHSMO

Doug Houser        December 17, 2021



  1. Doug, Thanks for letting us know about these donations. It has always amazed me what people keep and what they toss out. I myself wonder who would want to read some of the stuff I have from my parents and grandparents and why I should keep it if no one is interested in it. It is not always easy to convince myself that I should hang onto it or take the time to reread some pf of it. Thank goodness for what they kept.

    And Doug I want to tell you thanks for not just documenting the old but some of the newer stuff. Your recent article on the glass blower shop was a reminder that we at this time have people and places that some may not know exist. Most would look at that building and never give it a thought about what is going on in that industrial looking place. I have looked at the quansahut on Greenwood and wondered about how that came about or how the typerwriter shop continues to be around or why there is a ghost of a hardware sign painted on the brick side of a building on Greenwood. Was it a hardware store or an advertisment for another one? Places today will become lost history if they are not recorded now.

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