Maplewood History: The Amazing Lillian Weber Herold Collection – Part One


More Stunning Images Come to Light

A short time ago Dan Fitzgerald at the Brentwood Historical Society forwarded to me two images he had received from a descendant of Lillian Weber Herold. They knocked my eyes plumb out!

So to speak anyway.  Dan was kind enough to connect me with this descendant who in turn was kind and trusting enough to share with me and my readers one of the largest and best organized collections of family photos and documents that I have ever seen.  These images are so important and so rare that I feel a deep responsibility to present the images in the best manner possible.  For this opportunity I am truly grateful to the owner and I know you will be as well.

Anton and Margaretta Soehngen had a daughter, Annie, who married Theodore Weber.  This image is a tintype.
An undated photo of Anne Soehngen Weber as a young woman.
The back side of the previous image.  I have noticed on Facebook that someone is currently hand coloring old photographs.  Nothing new about that as this image makes clear.
The wedding photo of Anna Maria Soehngen and Theodore William Weber.  This occurred in 1876 according to the next document.
I love these. Thanks to the Kirkwood Historical Society for this one.  Please note that Theo. opened a small harness shop on Main St. (now Argonne) in Kirkwood.  He must have done well for in 1887, he built a two-story brick building to house his business and residence.  In 1903, he moved from Kirkwood to Maplewood.  Using, I was able to discover why.

A cataclysmic fire occurred in Kirkwood in 1896 and the nearest firehouse was at Arsenal and Sublette! I bet that firehouse was the one that is still there.  One of the buildings that was totally destroyed was that belonging to W.A. Soehngen (a barber?) and his family.  Perhaps this is how Theo. met Anne?  The horse drawn fire engine left the firehouse at 2:15 and had not made it to Kirkwood by 3.  The roads were not paved.  The article also mentioned that two buildings where colored families lived were destroyed.  The effect of this fire must have been devastating to many of the folks involved.  The good ol’ days.
This image of the Weber children, Emma Sophia and Emmeline must have been made while the family was living in Kirkwood.  That is a mighty big left hand you have there, Emma.  This is a hilarious shot.  I don’t think I have ever seen another one like it.
Their two oldest children…the good ol’ days, huh?
Emma was the oldest, born in 1877. Lillian was born in 1881.
The back side of the previous image.
Same image on a postcard.

The back side of the previous image. Lillian would have been 14 in 1895.  I have monkeyed with the color a bit on some of these to make them easier to read.
From the information written on the back of this image, I am guessing it was made in 1895 or 6.
What do you think?
Lillian was 16 in 1897.
The back side of the previous image.
This one says Lillian Weber ab 16 yrs old on the rear.
On the back of this one is written Lillian Weber Herold Kirkwood Mo.  If you have begun to suspect that these images come to us from a direct descendant of Lillian’s, you would be correct.
In April of 1902, Theo. ran for mayor. He got 4 votes. he tried.
By July of the same year, he apparently said the hell with Kirkwood, I’m leaving. This, of course, is total supposition on my part.  The following arrived by email from a family descendant of Lillian’s after this article was first posted. “Other possible reasons for the Weber family leaving Kirkwood are found in the newspapers. 1) 23 May 1902, Theo lost a suit to “compel Mayor Daly & the Board of Alderman to grant him a saloon license, and 2) He ran as an independent candidate for Kirkwood mayor & lost, having received only 4 votes, and 3) Theo sued the Kirkwood Board of Alderman accusing them of libel and asking for $10,000 in damages. He lost but on appeal he won but only received $500 ($15,766 in today’s money). St Louis Globe-Democrat, 20 Jun 1902, Friday, Page 7, “Kirkwood’s Saloon Damage Case.” I think you’re right. He & Annie were fed up.
Re: the fire and the mysterious W A Soehngen, a barber. He was Annie’s brother, William Anton Soehngen. On the 1900 census, William’s occupation is listed as saloon keeper. Guess he was able to recover from the fire.
I, too, found humor in the photo of the two young girls & the large hand! Us moms find ways to calm or still our children so they can be photographed. ;-)”


The back side of the previous image.  They were apparently still in Kirkwood when this was taken.
This is a tintype made in 1903 of Lillian and someone else. I didn’t realize tintypes were still being produced then.
The back side of the previous image. Maybe I should just abbreviate that? From now on I’ll use TBSOTPI.


OK, now I’m revving up for the Grand Finale of Part One of my two posts about The Amazing Collection of Lillian Weber Herold.  What follows is one of the two images that really knocked my socks off!  If I were an archaeologist, this would be the Roman helmet or the gold coins.

This is the earliest known image of the NE corner of Manchester and Big Bend. You are probably looking at the very first structure to be built on that site.  There is so much information in this very cool image that I was stunned. I had to find out where it was. Luckily I did.
Adjusted with Photoshop to be a bit easier to see.  Looking at this for the umpteenth time I still am fascinated.  This building was located where the White Castle is today.  The actual footprint would probably be out in the street somewhere due to the widening of both Big Bend and Manchester.  We have the date of the image, Oct. 1904.  We have the build date of the structure, 1903.  We have the names of the folks in the picture.  Theo’s harnesses are hanging behind them in the doorway.  His name is on the sign.  I could go on and on.  Historic images just don’t come much better than this one.
This is our oldest known photograph of what would one day be the intersection of Big Bend and Manchester. I don’t know the date of the image but I’d guess sometime in the 1890’s. As you can see there is nothing there. The fence on the left was in front of Sarah Harrison’s home now part of the JB Smith funeral home, being operated now and for many years by the Hardy family. This fabulous image is courtesy of Millie Hardy who sadly is no longer with us.
This image belonged to Martin Fischer who purchased it at a tag sale at Kalb Electric. He eventually gifted it to the State Historical Society of Missouri. Theo. Weber’s building can be seen just to the left of the windshield.  I included it in my book, Maplewood History – Volume Two where I noted that the purpose of that building was unknown.


Now if you like this sort of thing as much as I do, you might want to take your socks off before you look at this next image.  Lillian’s descendant went back to the collection.  Have a look at what turned up.

Holy cow!  Another image of the Weber’s building and with the year.  1908.  This is sublime.  It is certainly the longest post I have ever done.  I also think it is one of the best.

I better end it here.  I’ll go out on a high note.  You may not believe it but there is much more to come in my next post along with another block buster of an historic image.  Stay tuned.

Much thanks to the descendants of Lillian Weber Herold for their generosity in sharing these wonderful images with us all.

Doug Houser       May 20, 2021

I am posting this detail from the photograph above on May 27 in response to the comments below on air marking.

A couple of gentlemen (commenting below) believe the letters on the porch roof of this home may be an example of air marking which was used to help pilots navigate in the early days of aviation.  Under high magnification the letters appear to me to be C.P.C.  This certainly seems like it could be the reason for these letters.

I am curious at to when the practice of air marking began?  We are lucky that this image has the year it was taken written on it.  1908.  The Wright brothers made their very famous first flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903.  Could there really have been air traffic like we are thinking just 5 years later?







      • It was intended for all 40South readers. It is about Shana Alicia Poole-Jones who created a “ Grab-N-Go food and necessities table” outside her Maplewood home and was previously profiled on 40South. The story in the link above proves the old adage, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

      • I have never insisted that folks commenting on my posts adhere strictly to the subject at hand. Tom’s post contains a link to an article about a very generous Maplewoodian who is under attack by some apparently ungenerous sorts. I think that the comments section of my history blog is the wrong forum for her. She deserves a wider audience. I have donated to her effort in the past and will do so in the future.

  1. Hey Doug, great pictures in this one. The last photo shows a house in background to the right with lettering on the roofing. I have seen that before and always wonder what the purpose was and what they said. Any idea?

    • I don’t know, Luke. Do you think it might be some form of advertising such as the Meramec Caverns that was once painted on barn roofs? I’ll send you the highest resolution image I have. If you can make out any part of it. Let us know. Thanks for your question. good to hear from you.

    • Starting around the 1920’s they originally served 2 purposes. Initially the Army used them, and promoted others to do so, as aviation navigation aides. A lot of Army aircraft were landing in rural areas having gotten lost and running out of fuel. As civil aviation picked up, at much lower altitudes than we see today, enterprising advertisers started to take advantage of it too. Eventually larger cities had elevated public transportation and advertisers again took advantage of the elevated vantage point.

  2. Regarding that last picture, looks like most of the houses on Lyle were built around 1916, so that house behind the Harness shop wouldn’t be there much longer!

    Thanks Doug, quite a find.

    • Hey Ian, I wonder which of the buildings along Big Bend are still there. It is amazing to me how much the landscape has changed. You are welcome and it is.

  3. I’m always afraid I comment too much, but I really enjoyed this article very much. And I loved the early photo of Manchester and Big Bend. Also the photo on Mothers lap, very funny!! I think this is the fault of an inexperienced photographer, I have seen where small children are on a disguised parents lap and even have one with my mothers arm under a blanket trying to comfort and hold me down (1950’s still very common )
    Thank you Doug, Great research!!

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