Maplewood History: The Paul Revere of Maplewood?


My last post featured a story from 1910 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that told of a serious yet completely forgotten explosion in Maplewood. It came to light from the furious digging of Maplewood history aficionado, Luke Havel.

Commenting on that post, Luke pointed out that there was another very interesting Maplewood related story on the opposite side of that front page. I agreed.

So here is that same front page again. I have enlarged the text for your reading pleasure. After you have read it, please tell me just how in the heck is this incident related to Paul Revere?

By the purest of coincidences, I just happen to have this composite photo I made some time ago of Otto Riek’s home. Someone please make sure the McDonalds who live there now see this. This is an interesting article, don’t you agree? All I can say is that chickens must have been a lot more valuable than they are now. They were shooting at each other and he ran over a policeman!  The vintage photo is from the Renaissance Society collection at the Maplewood Public Library.
See Bill McDonald’s comment below. DH 5/16



  1. Maybe MRH HS should be the Vigilantes instead of the Blue Devils? I am sure that wouldn’t be PC, but there seems to have been a fair amount of Vigilante Crime Fighters in Maplewood in its early days. I recall another article I had stumbled across that referenced vigilante shotgun patrols to thwart a rash of “Highwaymen” robberies. I will see if I can dig that one out.


  2. Doug,

    FYI, I have a list of all the owner/occupants for the house since 1900 and a little bit of history for each one. We still don’t know who built the house, but we haven’t given up. We think it was built in at least 1895 (we have a retail catalog of architectural brackets from that year that exactly match those under attic windows on the front of the house.

    There are rumors that it was originally built by oldest son John Sutton for one of his daughters on land that was in his inheritance from his father Jame (north of Manchester to about where Bruno is now), eventually being developed into what is now officially known as “Lohmeyer Heights.” The other houses up here on the hill are of 1915-20s vintage, so together with the house next door in the picture and the big frame house that was moved from the corner of Sutton and Lohmeyer, these three could have stood up here alone for 10 years or more…. Lohmeyer was never a through street until much later, which may explain why it is one of Maplewood’s narrowest streets–it was never used for traffic other than access to the few houses up here.

    Nice theory, anyway. I’d love to be able to prove it!

    What is the date of the plat map portion you posted? Is that from the 1906 version? Is is available somewhere?

    Thanks for all your work!


    P.S. With all due respect to Doug Minor, I think the whole thing about Paul Revere was just another reporter fishing for sensational headlines. Like now, it was always about the number of “eyeballs” that looked at your story…

    • Bill, I would love to add the information that you mention to my file on your lovely home. I’d especially like to get a copy of the cover and page of the catalog that you mention. A couple of photos shot with your cell phone would be fine. I believe I have at least one photo of a house that was probably removed for the apartment building just west of you. From memory I think it was a bungalow. I’ll dig it up.
      The 1909 Plat book of St. Louis Co. is where the map came from. They have copies at the Headquarters Branch of the St. Louis County library on Lindbergh and at Central Library downtown. I digitized the pages on Maplewood. I’ll be happy to email them to you if you give me your eddress. Mine’s [email protected]
      You’re welcome.
      A clarification of your P.S. Any of the posts that begin with Maplewood History, I wrote. Headlines and all. Doug Minor has written just about everything else. He’s written over 4,000 articles to my 155 or so which led me to suggest a while back that I am the Doug Minor and he should be called Doug Major.
      Also I agree with your speculation as to the motive of the unnamed reporter who came up with the Paul Revere headline. Catchy headlines that are actually related to the story content aren’t always easy to come up with. Maybe I’ll follow his lead and let my headlines loosen up a bit. Then maybe I’d be able get more clicks than Minor who has been leading in clicks so long that it’s disheartening.

  3. Great historical photos! Too bad they knocked down the beautiful home next door to the McDonalds and put up that hideous apartment building!

      • I’m curious. Did that house burn down or was it torn down? Was its destruction during the “revitalization” fiasco in the 1970s? Did the last owner fail to maintain it and let it go to a point not feasible to repair? Could be various reasons the house is gone. (I still sadly miss the house at Flora and Sutton that burned down a few years ago.) I think for the apartment building and parking lot, probably at least two houses were removed. One good thing about the parking lot is that it gives my back yard a lot of sun for my vegetable garden. Also, the people who live in the apartment building are very sweet individuals. Some of them visit with me when I’m outside gardening.

        • Hey Gary Lee, I have no idea when that house disappeared. I don’t think it was during the destruction derby in the mid 70’s. It is just beyond the border of that project. Since it was replaced with an apartment building my guess would be that it disappeared earlier than that. Probably the 1960’s when tearing down single family residences and replacing them with apartment buildings seemed like a good idea. I especially like the last two sentences of your comment. There are many very fine folks who live in apartments. Thanks for giving them a nod.

    • Thanks, Gary. I don’t get the Paul Revere connection either. Otto and Paul were both riding horses late at night. There’s that. What else? Perhaps the chicken thief was British but we don’t know. Maybe the chickens were British but it doesn’t say. Also Otto eventually caught and fought with the thief, taking the thief’s own revolver from him and then beating him over the head with it. In today’s world that would trump any stolen chickens and Otto would probably be looking for a good attorney.

  4. Doug, I knew as soon as I saw the name Riek that we were talking about the second owner of our house (the progenitor is still unknown!). Otto Louis and Amanda Riek (nee Stracener) were married in Hermann, MO in 1899. They moved into the “house on the hill” apparently in 1910 (According the census taken in April of that year, he and his wife were living at 2600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Maplewood–which is now known as Big Bend if I’ve got my stories straight, probably about where Imo’s is now at Lohmeyer and Big Bend). So in November of 1910 he and his wife, kids and brother- and sister-in-law had just moved up the hill and were settling in at 7329. Now we learn that he was a very civic-minded German and founded the armed (!) Maplewood Vigilante Committee for the purposes of thwarting chicken stealing!

    They had 2 children in 1910 (August Otto, age 9, Florence, age 7–one of the little girls in your picture is undoubtedly Florence) and lived in the house until 1938 or so when it appears that he and Amanda divorced. He held various job titles over the years, starting out as a saloon owner, shifting during Prohibition to titles like Manager/Secretary of the Maplewood Motor Company and “Brake Service” until he’s back in beer again in 1936.

    Thanks for the head’s up! There’s a hidden history in what we believe is one of Maplewood’s oldest houses perched up behind Shop-and-Save! Probably not as noble as WoodSide, but certainly an interesting watercolor painted in sometimes tawdry colors!


    • I just went back and consulted my notes. Otto was born in 1874 in Hermann, MO. So he’s running around at 1:30AM at night on horseback deploying deadly force at the ripe old age of 36!

      Otto and Amanda separated/divorced/abandoned (hard to tell from the records I have) after 39 years of marriage. Census shows him living alone and no mention of Amanda. He remarries in June, 1951 at the age of 76! However, his death certificate is dated September 1951, showing his spouse’s name as Marie” (consistent with his marriage certificate).

      Interestingly, Amanda’s death certificate in October of 1957 shows “Otto” as her spouse’s name.

      Grit, spit and iron wills. Maplewood wasn’t for cowards.


      • Bill, You’re darn right it wasn’t for cowards. It wasn’t for chicken thieves, either. We shoot them! (Or we would have if our aim was a bit better.)

    • Bill, Regarding the first part of your comment, the road we now call Big Bend Boulevard was called Big Bend Road, south of Manchester and Pennsylvania, north of Manchester according to the old reliable 1909 Plat Book of St. Louis County. See above. Thank you so much for all the historical nuggets you’ve provided. I’ll copy them and include them in my file on your home. As far as the history of Woodside being noble…well, you won’t have to adjust your palette much to blend the Woodside story into your watercolor.

  5. The body in trunk for years actually monopolized most of my attention! Nice to see that sensationalist reporting is not a new thing at all! Fascinating stuff

    • Why it’s not new at all, is it Michelle? Michelle should know about fascinating stuff. She has a store full of it. Michelle is the proprietor of The Book House in downtown Maplewood. If you haven’t been there, why not? It’s terrific! Thanks for your comment, Michelle.

  6. The Gay estate mentioned as being near where the chase began is now the Lake Forest Subdivision at the southwest corner of Clayton and Hanley. That is more than a half mile west of the St. Louis city limits, I would think. The end of the chase, 2647 Washington, would be less than a block west of Jefferson, which was apparently still a residential neighborhood. Within a decade, it would be completely transformed into a commercial area, and hardly anybody would still be driving a buggy.

    • Thank you, Esley, for that very interesting information. If anyone is wondering why Otto was so far out of the Maplewood city limits when he happened upon the chicken pilferer, remember it was 1910. I believe that the south side of Clayton Road was unincorporated. Maplewood was just 2 years old in 1910. Richmond Heights wasn’t incorporated until 1913. Much thanks to recently retired (but not really) Esley Hamilton long our historian of St. Louis County (and beyond) working out of the Parks Dept of St. Louis County.

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