Dogtown is an area bordering on St. Louis County, bounded by McCausland and Hampton aves., on the west ant east and Manchester and Oakland aves. on the south and north. Many of the old-time residents of the area know it as Dogtown, and there is a Dogtown Golf Association and a Dogtown Khoury League. But where did the name originate? Apparently is was known as Dogtown at the time of the St. Louis World’s Fair and some of the old-timers in the Observer area may know why it was called Dogtown. A number of residents have gotten curious as to how the name came about ad the Observer would be happy to hear from anyone who knows how Dogtown got its name.
The canine caper- - -or who tagged Dogtown?
At the turn of the century, about the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition better known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, there were, apparently, more dogs than people in the sparsely settled area bounded by Hampton, McCausland, Manchester and Oakland avenues.
And that is the reason the section was called Dogtown then and is still known by that name among the old-timers who live there or remember it from their younger days.
At least that is the answer given by most of those who responded to an Observer request for an answer to the question of how Dogtown got its name.
The original query came from Mrs. Mitchell Scherzinger Jr. who lives at 6160 Crescent Ave. In the heart of Dogtown and who said that the old name still lives in the Dogtown Golf Association and the Dogtown Khoury League and seems to be regaining favor among residents there.
Clarence E. Schurwan, who now lives at 7644 Marion ct. In Maplewood, says his parents lived there in 1898 at N. Park and Ripple. Known as “The Wild Turk” in his youth, Schurwan says “The people there had lots of dogs, hunting dogs mostly . . . bird dogs, coon dogs and squirrel dogs. My dad had 26 himself . . . and at night the dogs would roam Forest Park.”
Mrs. Robert Fennell of 1612 Yale, who was born and raised in Dogtown, recalls also that people of the neighborhood were quite proud of their dogs and that there were so many of them they ran in packs.
“People who didn’t live in Dogtown got a snarling reception from the resident dogs and there were mighty few night prowlers in the Dogtown area,” she says.
The unfriendliness of the dogs resulted in its original “christening” according to Mrs. Helen Massaro of Rock Hill.
Mrs. Massaro says that the tag “Dogtown” was hung on that section by George Kriegshauser, founder of the mortuary that bears his name, because the dogs interfered so much with the horse and carriage funerals of the day.
Mrs. Adeline Schumacher of 6215 Marmaduke Ave. Also holds to the “more dogs than people” theory, saying that her mother told her that story about Dogtown.
St. James parish was in the section and several residents referred to a pamphlet written by the Rev. P. J. O’Connor in 1937 called “The History of Cheltenham and St. James Parish.”
Mrs. George Herbst of 1021 Childress, Matt Struckel St. Of 3216 Big Bend and Bill Manion of 7723 Wild Plum ln. referred to Father O’Connor’s booklet.
The history itself says only that Dogtown was so-called by squatters who built shacks in the neighborhood of Graham and W. Park after they were evicted from Forest Park in 1876. Manion adds the comment that “visitors to the area “said the squatters lived like dogs.”
One other explanation of the name can probably be ruled out, exotic as it may be. Mrs. Richard King of Crestwood, whose father-in-law lived in Dogtown, says that the name came form an exhibit at the World’s Fair.
Igorrote tribesman, living in native fashion in their compound, she says, fancied dogs as an entree on their menus and boys were paid of given free tickets to the Fair for providing them from among the abundant strays that roamed the area.
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