Maplewood History: William Lyman Thomas and Catherine Kate Sutton – Part 1


Those of you that have been following this blog know that I have had the unbelievable good fortune to be examining many artifacts that have been preserved by the descendants of the Sutton family.  Some of them you have already seen in four previous posts. The main subject of those posts was the family patriarch, James C. Sutton. I wanted to clear him out of the way before trying to tackle the information and artifacts connected with his son-in-law, William Lyman Thomas.

Thomas married Catherine Kate Sutton at her father’s mansion on March 25, 1869. Judging from some of their family artifacts I’d say there is evidence that their marriage was a long and happy one.

Thomas and his family are the central figures from whom many documents and photographs survive.  There are so many items that my head has been whirling wondering how to present them in some sort of a reasonable fashion. I think I’m just going to abandon that idea and put them out there.  You can help me sort them out. So here goes. Read Thomas’ history of his own family first.  It is from his own “1911 History of St. Louis County”.

Note that the father of William Lyman Thomas was Jacob P. Thomas who died in 1854. Also note that one of his sons has the same name.  Also interesting is the fact that WLT’s older brother, Phil, disappeared and was apparently never found.
This document isn’t very clear but it looks like it may have belonged to the first Jacob P. Thomas. The date is hard to make out but I believe it is the 19th of July 1852.
This postcard has survived and it appears to be postmarked Dec 1864. Written upside down in pencil is “Jacob P. Thomas aged 10 years”.  The flip side of this card follows.
These two handsome fellows must be WLT’s younger brothers, Bernard and Jacob. If I have my dates right Jacob senior died in 1854 and Jacob the younger was 10 in 1864, his father must have perished right about when he was born.
Here they are cleaned up a bit courtesy of Photoshop.
This small announcement of WLT and Kate’s wedding has survived as well. It is interesting to me because it seems to be printed on a piece of plastic which I didn’t think they had in 1869. Celluloid?
Here we have WLT and Kate with their four daughters some years later. I believe Ella is the older daughter standing on the left.  From the residue she left behind I can confidently say that Emma is the daughter standing on the right.  I speculate that this image was made in the front parlor of their Maplewood home which still exists! Wouldn’t you like to know who that picture over the mantle is of?
Let’s recap, James C. Sutton died in 1877. WLT and Kate built their home in 1881. They named their real estate development, Ellendale, after their daughter, Ella. This is not speculation I’ve seen it written in several places. I know, I know. Why not Elladale? Can’t answer that one. I don’t know what connection the Greenes in this photo have to the Thomases.


I can’t thank enough the descendants of these great Maplewood families for sharing their very personal and historic material with us.  It changes the way we think about our town very much for the better.




  1. I had noticed the spelling of Greene and could not really remember how it was spelled on the school. And based on the time the school was built I wonder if they would have considered building a school and naming it after an African American. Nothing racist meant by that, just an observation based on the time frame the school would have been built.

    If the pictures were taken by a professional photographer there should be some mention of him and his business in a census or business directory somewhere. Which leads to a point about today. When they do a census today does it list your occupation like it used to?

    • The school on Dale was originally called West Richmond, and it had a large African American population. East Richmond was on the site that now houses MRH Elementary. West Richmond was renamed AB Greene, and East Richmond was renamed Chaney Elementary.

      • Thanks for this information, Cathy. You are saying that the name of the school was the same as the name on this 1888 photograph. How interesting. It seems like there must be more to it than just coincidence. I’ll forward this to a person who is sure to know, Richmond Heights own historian, Joellen McDonald. What say you, Joellen?

        • Cathy is correct about the names. However, in a photo from our collection dated 1912, the original name of East Richmond appeared to be “Richmond Heights School.” Photo on page 55 of our book, “Richmond Heights 1868-1940.

  2. The signature on the baby and cow picture is interesting as the school torn down in Richmond Heights where parks and ball fields are off of Dale was A.B.Green. That school was West Richmond and then named AB. Green, but after an African American gentleman. I believe.
    Also, the name Grumley is quite familiar to me on 7300 Block of Elm. The very large stone house (only large gray on the block—8th house from Sutton, north side) was built by the hands of the father of Mr. Hayes mother (you have mentioned him). She and the parents were Grumleys. He told me the story himself.

    • That’s interesting, Pickett. I suspected that Emma and William were the first owners but I didn’t realize he may have built it himself. Impressive. I’ll have much more to say about the Grumleys. Stay tuned. I too wondered if the A.B. Greene name on the photo had any connection to the school. You spelled Green without the final “e” so perhaps it’s just a coincidence? Thanks for your comment.

  3. Dear Mr Houser, I feel that we may be able to help each other. My name is Denise Heberer, I was born & raised in Maplewood and yes my grandfather was Chief of Police, Raymond Heberer. I have researched my family back to Belleville, IL where they were a very prominent family from Germany. They built the first opera house and beer garden in Belleville. They also owned a brewery, the Heberer Brothers Brewery. The Opera house was bought by Augustus Busch. Ray Heberer Jr. was my father. He had 26 children by 26 women. My parents abandoned me at my grandparents house when I was 7 mid old. They raised me and I never knew my father’s family. I would be very interested to know what u can dig up on the Heberer family. If it doesn’t interest you, I understand. But, if my intuition is right, I think you could find this family very interesting. I will be away on vacation for 2 weeks but if interested, you can reach me at Phone # redacted.
    I really love your page!! Have a safe weekend!
    Denise Heberer Moore

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