By Julie Blattner
Metro News
June 27, 1978
page 8

See below the story for a number of ads that appeared in this issue of various Dogtown shops

Finding out how Dogtown got its name might require a short history lesson or stretching the imagination or most likely, a combination of the two.

The dissension over the origin of the name "Dogtown" appears to unfold after the community had already established itself as an industrial and manufacturing site in the early part of the 19th Century.

In 1798, Charles Gratiot received an 8,000 acre parcel of land in which present day Dogtown is located. His property ran from Kingshighway to Big Bend and Pernod Ave., a line one-third north of the south line of Forest Park.

His land was popular for many reasons. Natural Sulphur Springs on the property were used for medicinal purposes. Also, a very superior clay vein was discovered near the middle of the land. Around this, a Quaker Community settled to mine and manufacture the great clay. The village was named Cheltenham in 1844.

In 1852, the Pacific railroad built its first strip of track from St. Louis to Cheltenham, and this brought new settlers to the area. Italians, Irish, German, Welch, Greek, French and English immigrants came for jobs in the clay works and mines. Cheltenham became a manufacturing area with an occasional hotel and tavern.

Some of the first names around Cheltenham that can still be heard around Dogtown today are O'Gorman, Dolan, Lehman, Scullin, Dillenberger and Gittins.

It was in the mid 1800's when Cheltenham was baptized "Dog town." Or; at least, that is what some historians believe. Supposedly, the operators of the kilns in Cheltenham in. the 50's owned numerous canines to protect their property and thus the phrase Dogtown was coined.

Other historians believe Dogtown was the name given to Cheltenham as late as the 1870's. Squatters, evicted when Forest Park was established, its dwellers moved to West Park and Graham, claimed squatter's rights, and thereby Cheltenham became Dogtown.

Still other theories continue to surface as to the origin of Dogtown.

Some believe that the squatters owned many dogs and that is how the Dogtown came to be. There are those who believe that since the squatters and their canines are long gone, Dogtown no longer exists. This is an interesting theory, but not nearly as unusual as the theory that relates its origins to Forest Park. Supposedly when the workmen landscaped the new park, many bores were unearthed that looked likes dog bones. Could this be the source of the naming of Dogtown?

It could be, but some would say that Dogtown was named for more obvious reasons - a dog-track near Cheltenham, or because the first St. Louis Humane Society was located in present day Dogtown.

Theories as to the naming of Dogtown are numerous and varied, as are the dogs that can be seen in the community today. Early settlers as well as present-day dwellers are reputed for their love of dogs. Dogs in Dogtown even have a grooming parlor. Perhaps it's as easy as that - a community filled with dog lovers' and their dogs, could it be that simple?



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