Maplewood History: The Historic Papers of Woodside 1838-1914

The documents that had belonged to Edward Rannells, Charles' son were mostly located in this tin document box found here in Maplewood.

One of the many interesting things that have happened out of the effort to save Woodside involved the Rannells family papers. This collection is a wide variety of legal papers, household and farm receipts, cancelled checks and documents of many different kinds.

The papers of Charles Rannells dated from 1838 to 1865. There are also many papers that were generated from the activities of his wife, Mary Warder Rannells and his son, Edward W. Rannells. Edward’s are the latest with the most recent dating from 1914.  Charles passed in 1877, Mary in 1896 and Edward in 1920.

Many different family members had ownership of these papers with the largest part of the collection belonging to descendants in Texas. While perusing them a concern developed that something be done in order to insure their survival.

Charles’ papers were being stored in a wooden carpenter’s box which was probably what they were stashed in at Woodside. Many had been folded twice, stacked, and tied in bundles that had not been disturbed. Edward’s papers were still stored in his tin document box.

After a minimal amount of discussion, all of the family descendants agreed to donate their papers and allow their historic images to be copied by the Western Historical Manuscript Collection on the campus of UMSL. This organization is now known as the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center-St. Louis (SHSMO). Only a very few treasured letters were not included in the donation. This family is deserving of our admiration for the generosity they have shown by making all of these items they have so carefully protected available to us all.

Linda Kurtz was very active in the effort to preserve Woodside.  At the time of the above article, she had been working for quite awhile with the descendants of the slave families that had once worked the Rannells farm.  I lost contact with her and her research.  So if anyone knows of her whereabouts, please tell her I’d love to talk to her.

The documents that had belonged to Charles Rannells were mostly located in this tool box in Richardson, Texas.
The documents that had belonged to Edward Rannells, Charles’ son, were mostly located in this tin document box found here in Maplewood.
Yours truly with a folder containing some of the Rannells documents at SHSMO.  I believe the year was 2007.
The light in the room where some of these documents were photographed has made them appear unnaturally yellow.

A receipt for a horse named Miss Grizzle that Edward bought from the police department.
If I remember correctly this sewing machine was still in the family.
One of Edward’s checks.
The engraved images on many of these documents are spectacular.
They are works of art.
I think, but am not certain, that this is the genetic heritage of a horse named Callie.
A Bartold’s Grove letterhead.
The State Historical Society published an article about the collection in this issue of their review.

This is an interesting and important collection. This post reminds me I need to visit the UMSL office of the State Historical Society and see how they have preserved it. It is adjacent to the Thomas Jefferson Library. (Correction: The SHSMO office is within the Thomas Jefferson Library, adjacent to the Mercantile Library.  Thanks, Esley.)

As always, I appreciate your interest and support.

Doug Houser      August 5, 2021




  1. The director of the St. Louis office of the State Historical Society of Missouri is A. J. Medlock. I met him recently, and he is enthusiastically looking forward to working with local history enthusiasts. Contact him at 314-516-5214 or [email protected]. The office is on the lower level of UMSL’s Thomas Jefferson Library, right next to the Mercantile Library.

  2. Thanks Doug , I especially loved the check, written in pencil, there are no routing or bank identification on the check. $2.03. these papers are a real treasure. Carpentry on a porch for $2.75 a day and the horse was $5.00. Great picture of daily life

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