A newspaper clipping sent our way by Leo Griffard of Alexander Manufacturing brought to mind that the boundaries of some of our neighborhoods, and sub-districts in 'em, may be getting a bit blurred. The item Leo questioned had our famous Dogtown as being bounded by the city limits on the west, Hampton on the east, Interstate 44 on the south, and U.S. 40, Clayton Road and Clayton Avenue on the north. Those borders would make it seem that, like the Central West End, Dogtown must be ingesting some magic real-estate beans and growing horizontally like Jack's beanstalk grew vertically.
Leo, who was a Dogtown boy, feels that if nothing else it's of nostalgic value to set the record as straight as we can, on the actual boundaries of that unofficial city section. Our research shows that, within a block or so, the heart of Dogtown is that area between Oakland and Manchester, Hampton and McCausland. There are some who say it goes no farther west than Kraft nor east of Tamm, and others, described as purists believe it's no more than a block east or west, of Tamm. Others say it went as far south as Southwest, in the section west of Eckoff.
We thank the Rev. Thomas Flynn of St. James Church, Fred Hofer, Evelyn Gohn, Elaine Twesten, Virginia Seifert, Doris Stuckenschneider and St. Louis historian Norbary Wayman for their input in this survey. It was Norbury who literally wrote the book (books) on our neighborhoods for Frank Hamsher when he headed up the Community Development Agency. The articles on neighborhoods that Norbury wrote for Commerce magazine have been reprinted in the RCGA's $35 hardback volume "St. Louis: Its Neighborhoods and Neighbors, Landmarks and Milestones."
"Officially," Dogtown is a state of mind in the Oakland neighborhood, so named for a land surveyor, which was at one time part of the Gratiot League Square, named for Charles Gratiot who was granted the land in 1798. Following Gratiot's death, the property was divided between Peter Lindell, Paul Gratiot, Pierre Chouteau Jr., David Graham, Solomon Sublette and the Pierre Berthold estate. By the 1850s, the area started to be subdivided with the first being Gratiot Place, Sulphur Spring, Cheltenham and Glades Tract. After the World's Fair came Victoria Place, Oakland Terrace, Forest Park Home Place, Justin Place and Dillenberger Place. Others, such as Hi-Pointe, came later, then after WW II, Mitchell Terrace and Louisville Heights were developed. The 1986 version of the Oakland neighborhood has it bounded by Forest Park / Clayton Road, Kingshighway, the city limits and 1-44. One thing we.haven't covered is how Dogtown got that name. We'll save that tasty tidbit til tomorrow.
This is the first follow-up published the next day, Sept. 12, 1986
In yesterday's episode we did our darndest to try and pinpoint that place called Dogtown, and in today's exciting installment we'll try and shed a little light on how that area between Forest Park and the Frisco tracks got tagged with the moniker. The most believed tale has to do with the 1904 World's Fair and the Philippine Reservation therein. It's a fact that in that compound, which is about where you'll find Wydown Terrace today, one or more of the aboriginal tribes ate dogs as a regular staple of their diet. Because the tribesmen were not to vary from their natural dietary habits, their custom caused considerable consternation as word of their pooch preferences spread through the city. Because the animals were not forthcoming from the fair concessionaires, it seems, but can't be proven, that the dogeaters, who were Bontoc, Suyoc and Tinguares Igorrotes, made forays from the fairgrounds to the well-populated Oakland neighborhood to the south-southeast of our current Clayton and Skinker in search of the canines they craved.
Current Dogtown resident Katie Shiloh, having a vested interest in the matter, referred us to Dorothy Birk's booklet on the fair, "The World Came To St. Louis," in which it's noted that
Dr. T. K. Hunt, the gent in command of the Filipino contingent, convinced then Secretary of War William Howard Taft, who was visiting the grounds, to help the tribesmen obtain the dogs they so dearly loved in a legitimate manner. Taft took the task to heart and arranged for the city dog pound at Gasconade and Illinois to provide 20 pups per week. Which, even over loud protests, were provided through the run of the fair, thus for the most part ending the reign of missing pets in Dogtown. But that's only one of the stories of the origin of the name Dogtown. The others will be revealed in this space tomorrow.
This follow-up appeared the next day, Sept. 13, 1986.
Seems as if we'll never know for sure how our Dogtown got its name, but we certainly do have some good stories about its origin; it could be there's a goodly portion of truth in them all. Yesterday we covered the dog eaters from the World's Fair, but today we'll go back before the fair, to 1876. That's when, according to the 1937 History of Cheltenham and St. James Parish penned by the Rev. P.J. O'Connor, the area got its name "from squatters who built shacks in the neighborhood of Graham and West Park after they were evicted from Forest Park." And that's the extent of what this extensive volume on the area had to say about Dogtown. But we've unearthed yet another source for the name Dogtown, which goes back to the 1890s. That very believeable story will be told, possibly for the first time in print, on Monday.
The final part of this report appeared on:
Follow up on Sept. 16, 1986
ROAD TO DOGTOWN
Among the fun makers at Bello’s bash were June and Hank Reutter. Hank's a former Dogtowner who's been reading our pieces on that fabled place. Hank, whose dog Brownie was, we're told, one of the more well known dogs of that "town" in the '30s and '40s, insists that in his day the unwritten Dogtown boundaries were Lloyd, Louisville, Oakland and Hampton, with Hi-Pointe on the west and Cheltenham on the east. Those were the days when there was a little stream loaded with crayfish just south of Forest Park, which is now covered by U.S. 40 or, as it was once nicknamed, the Red Feather Expressway, which is yet another story.
In the course of conversation, we chewed the fat about sports such as the annual parochial school contest for the Jules Monti trophy and those great St. James soccer teams under coach John Anderson Sr. Other names synonymous with soccer were the Houlihan brothers, John, Edward and Ralph; William Henses Sr. and Jr.; Dan Murphy; Jimmie Nolan; and Jack and Bobby Rooney. Hank recalled watching the Arena barns burn as well as playing in the clay mine, which is probably still under Clayton and Tamm. Those were the days when all local business shut down for three hours on Good Friday, and Father O'Connor came around to see that they did. As in all our old neighborhoods, there were plenty of businesses such as Scullin Steel, Jack O'Shea's, Pat O'Connelley's, Bill Haley's Double Dip ice cream parlor, Lungstraus cleaners, Bissick's drug store, Badendieck's grocery, Croghan's mortuary, John P. Dolan real estate, Garavaglia's store, Miss Katherine Schweikert dry goods, Joe and Jennie Sharamitaro's, Koeneke's drugs, Oliver Knebel's Ollie Auto Top, Clem Placke's service station, Laclede Christy Fire Brick, and Mary and Randall Dwyer's White House Bar at Clayton and Graham.
NAME THAT TOWN:
The Globe Democrat’s own John "Jack" Weaver, whose hair has gone from bright red to bright white since he grew up a Dogtowner, a place from which he has never moved, relates the following story as the true origin of the legend on his town's name:
Back in the '90s, Jack's grandparents Gussie and Jim Mouldon opened a saloon and boarding house on the northeast corner of Clayton and Graham, which became a convenient stopping-off point for wetting the whistle and watering the horses for the farmers who used Clayton to drive their wares to the old market at Sarah and Laclede. It's been handed down that the farmers always cursed going through that district, because it seemed as if most everyone had a dog, and in those olden times they weren't chained or fenced in. Therefore, the dogs would run along on both legs of the farmers' trip, and bark and nip at the legs of the horses on their teams, so - you guessed it - they nicknamed the area Dogtown.
Could be the name reached the dog-eating Igorots in their World's Fair Philippine Village, and they literally dropped in for dinner a time or two in their year's stay, and the nickname took on new meaning. But for whatever reason, there was and is a Dogtown, a place of pride that seems as strong today as it certainly must have been when Jack Weaver and his classmates were St. James' Diamond Jubilee graduates in 1937. To paraphrase Rep. Dick Gephardt in the speech he delivered at Bevo Day, "God Bless the great neighborhoods of St. Louis."
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