By Father P.J. O'Connor
A very special thanks to Bill Vorbeck (St. James class of 1947) for scanning the book and sending the scans on to me to allow the book to appear for all
This copy of this book is the result of the generosity of a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. Not only was this a generous gift of time and money, but the donor allowed his copy of this rare book to be taken apart in order to allow a proper scanning.
Please note: Since I had to hand type a great deal of the text so that you could search it, there will be mistakes. Please report all mistakes to me. my e-mail address is at the bottom of each page. You may use the search engine on the mail Dogtown page to search any name.
Below, on this page are pages 1-27. For the rest of the book go to:
THE MOST REVEREND JOHN J. GLENNON, S.T.D.
Archbishop of St. Louis
|REV. P.J. O'CONNOR||REV. ROBERT E. MCKEON|
REV. P.J. O'CONNOR, Pastor
St. Louis, MO. --------- 1937
WITH EPISCOPAL APPROVAL
Commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of St. James Parish
and the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the coming to the
Parish of Rev. P.J. O'Connor, Pastor
At the time I began to write this history, I intended to confine my work to a few pages dealing with the history of St. James Catholic Church in Cheltenham. After some study I found that Cheltenham is an historic village, having many an item of interest hidden under its past.
This work was written as a prelude to the Diamond Jubilee of St. James Parish and had to be completed before June 6, 1937 when the church ceremony commemorating the event was to be celebrated. I did not begin writing or making research until early in the preceeding month. Unfortunately, I became ill and had to rush the completion of the work.
I do not claim that the narrative is accurate in detail, but it has at least the merit of having unified the works of other authors and of having added to them such information as I could gather from the archives of the parish and local tradition.
In writing this historic brochure I drew very extensively from the following:
THE MOST REV. CHRISTIAN H. WINKELMANN, S.T.D.
Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis
Dedicated to the memory of the
Priests and Nuns who preceeded
me in the spiritual work in this
field in which I have labored for
the past twenty-five years.
REV. P.J. O'CONNOR
Though the City of St. Louis is built on the west bank of the Mississippi, a drop of rain failing in the west end of the City, were it to follow a natural course would not take a direct eastern run to the River; it might trickle to a rivulet that has southern course; the reason is, the City is built on a plateau that has a gradual elevation until a height of about 605 feet is reached (six miles from the River) at a point near Southwest and January Avenues where a descent begins and continues toward the southwest and south.
In this descending table-land in 1861, ran a clear crystal stream, the River Des Peres; it was not city-minded. To the south and west in a tread of silver sheen it stretched a serpentine course through groves, orchards, farm lands, broken abruptly at intervals by a delightful vista of bluffs, hills and valleys.
On this stream, 4 1/2 miles due west from the Old Courthouse, an English colony of Quakers established in 1844 a factory for the manufacture of clay products at a place then called Sulphur Springs but later called Cheltenham. The location was eminently suited for such an industry because through the whole section ran an underground strata of white clay which when mined might be manufactured into a brick that could stand a tremendously high temperature and be used in the interior of ovens and furnaces. In this strata also were found veins of soft coal, the mining of which later became a considerable industry. These pioneers. the Laclede Christy Company, were followed by others. The Mitchells set up kilns in 1857. The same year came Evens and Howard. The Winkle Terra Cotta Company built an extensive factory in 1883.
On December 9, 1852 Cheltenham received a unique notoriety as well as a further impetus to its industrial expansion. The Pacific Railroad celebrated the completion of a five-mile railroad from St. Louis to this village. This was the first railroad west of the Mississippi and the beginning of a line from St. Louis to the Pacific Coast. (Stephen's History of St. Louis. )
The History of Cheltenham or Sulphur Springs goes back to 1798 when Charles Gratiot received from Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, the Spanish Governor-General of New Orleans, the concession to the Gratiot League. This consisted of eight thousand acres, bounded by Kingshighway, Big Bend Road. Pernod Avenue, and a line one-third of a mile north of the south line of Forest Park. (City Records.)
Charles Gratiot named the road along the eastern edge of his property "The Kingshighway" in honor of the King of France.
Paul Benjamin Gratiot, born March 13, 1800, the tenth and youngest surviving child of Charles Gratiot, inherited a part of this tract from his father and moved on it in 1832. In 1838-40 he built his home on this property. One of his descendants, Mrs. Bertha Gratiot Blythe, a prominent parishioner, lives in the old homestead or on the site of same, at 6135 Victoria Avenue.
The first name given to Cheltenham District was Sulphur Springs. In the old Gratiot League Square there was a region almost up to 1860 idyllic in its native aspect. This was the little valley of the River des Peres stretching between the present Forest Park southwestwardly to Knox Avenue. Its slopes had originally been covered with the tree growth common to Missouri stream courses. A group of lordly oaks shaded seigniorily a clump of pawpaws. Here and there leaned over the des Peres the capple-bark of sycamore. Again, and solitary, stood a gigantic cottonwood. There were thickets of hazel, stretches of wild apple, and on the uplands one struggled through the briars of wild black-berry. (Bulletin--Shaw's Garden.)
The most prominent feature of the valley was found a few hundred feet west of where the little river made a right angle turn westward and east of the present Sulphur Avenue. Welling up through the bed of the stream and issuing from the banks were sulphur springs. From these Sulphur Springs, Sulphur Avenue took its name. (Missouri Democrat.)
The Board of Commission for the adjustment of land claims investigated the title of Charles Gratiot to his lands. On August 29, 1806, Louis Bonu, being duly sworn, said, "That he had known the said tract of land established as a farm. That it was settled under Francis Cruzat by Benito Vasques who made a park of the same and that there is on said tract a salt spring. That he went through this land at two different times and the same was then actually inhabited and cultivated. He saw a great number of cattle but could not say to whom they belonged." Hyacinth St. Cyr testified that Benito Vasques had salt works established at the aforesaid spring.
There was an advertisement in the Missouri Republican Tuesday, October 3, 1837, Page 2, Column 6. which tells of the races that were to be held for five days beginning Tuesday. October 17, at "St. Louis Sulphur Springs Course" and T. W. Thompson advertised in the same paper his Sulphur Springs House which was then the big hotel, and stated that the neighborhood abounded with excellent hunting grounds and a stream that afforded excellent fishing.
The exact date of the finding of clay at Cheltenham is not fully established but Paul M. Gratiot engaged in the manufacture of fire brick in a small way as early as 1837. His works were situated on Kingshighway. No substance has been found anywhere that approaches the Cheltenham clay. The clay on being first brought to the surface and exposed to the light has an appearance similar to that of stone but after being exposed to the weather for a few days it disintegrates and falls to pieces. After it has been pulverized and treated, it is ready to be manufactured into fire brick or whatever else is intended. (J. Thomas Scharf's History, Vol. No. 2.)
Before the opening of Eads Bridge (July 4, 1874) coal ferried across the River from the Illinois fields was costly because of bad roads, difficulty of hauling and distance. In the vicinity of St. Louis, there were many small coal mines operated: though the coal was of a low grade and the stratum not, more than two or three feet in thickness. The mines on Dry Hill were operated with profit and the output was considerable. These mines supplied coal to the James B. Eads Shipyard in Carondelet in the 60's when he had contracts to build river iron-clad boats like the Tyler and Lexington. Some of these mines were located in Forest Park but the ones best remembered are those that were on a line along Clayton Road between the River des Peres and Childress Avenue, owned by William O'Thomas, Jake Schrier, W. Dillenberger. John O'Gorman operated a mine east of the Church. Three employees were asphyxiated there more than seventy years ago.
In 1852 the territory between Kingshighway and Tamm Avenue, north of Manchester was cut into lots of 17 acres. These farms were designed for County Seats and were attractive because in front was the City and in the rear was the wilderness with all its mystery and seductiveness almost unbroken to the Pacific Coast.
County Seats in the old days included the homesteads of Sublette, Thomas Campbell, Judge Davis, James M. Tarrants, Dr. Isaiah Forbes, Gratiot Home, Billon Mansion. The Glades Family, John O'Gorman, Antony S. Robinson (house remodeled into a restaurant in Forest Park Highlands.)
Paul Benjamin Gratiot was born March 13. 1800, was the tenth child of Charles Gratiot. In 1825 he married Virginia Billon; they had six children who grew to maturity: one of these, Adolph Paul, was the father of Mrs. James C. Blythe and one of the three brothers who continued living in the old homestead. The home 6135 Victoria Avenue, in which Mr. and Mrs. Blythe now reside is the old home erected by Paul Benjamin Gratiot 100 years ago. This house was constructed from material taken from the immediate lands and as a type of building of that period is very interesting. Alterations were made in the home in 1891 but the original eight-room building is easily identified. The walls are constructed of logs, laid diagonally from the ceiling of each room to the floor, crossing at a point in the center of the wall. The inter-spaces are built in with hand-made brick. The exterior is weather-boarded with walnut and the interior plastered, laths were used only in the ceilings; there are three brick chimneys, 8x4. There are open fire places in six of the rooms; the original grates are still used in four of the rooms; two of these are decorative iron of attractive design.
Adolph Paul, Mrs. Blythe's father, was the seventh child and was the only one of the family who had children. His brother, Dr. Charles B. Gratiot, practiced in this locality from 1849 to about 1895. He was considered an eminent physician and a man who never turned down the call of the poor; as a consequence he did not acquire much wealth, but was much admired by the community. Two familiar figures for the greter part of a century were his brothers, Henry Terry and Paul Benjamin. Henry died in 1918, Paul Benjamin in 1930. Up to the time of Paul Benjamin's death his memory was keen and his recollection of events went back to the days when the wild pigeons used to shadow the sun in their flight. Boys would listen to his tales and as his narrative proceeded their respect for him increased. He was minutely accurate and markedly cultured. He spent the greater part of his matured life in the employment of the Laclede Bank and after retiring he devoted his time to his estate and to local improvements. His earnest wish in his declining year's was to die in the home in which he was born. His wish was fulfilled and he died in the old homestead after living to the good old age of 83.
Adolph Paul Gratiot, the father of Mars. Blythe, is described as the only on eof the family who was a typical Gratiot. He was tall, slim and graceful, his gray eyes twinkled with light when he smiled. He was usually selected by his relatives as an agreeable companion. He married Caroline Graham, whose father owned a tract of land south of the railroad and adjacent to Sulphur Springs. They had five children, Messelia, Adolph Paul, Bertha (Mrs. Blythe), Edith and Clara (Mrs. Johnson.) Only Mrs. Blythe and Mrs. Johnson are now living.
The only direct descendants of Charles Gratiot now living in St. James Parish are D. Gratiot Johnson, 6136 Victoria Avenue; Sackett Johnson, 6120 Victoria; Miss Jeanne Chauvin Blythe and Miss Mary Thompson Blythe. Mrs. Blythe became a convert to the Church in 1926. This branch of the family had given up the Catholic faith. Her husband, Mr. James C. Blythe, and her daughters, Jeanne and Mary are also Catholics. The family have a special interest in the congregation of St. James Church because of their genealogy, culture and especially because the site of the old Church and school was donated by the Uncle, Henry Gratiot. A
A railroad was brought to St. Louis and put on exposition in 1830. The rolling stock was a miniature locomotive and one car which held a single person. Steam was raised in the locomotive and the little train was sent around the track at a lively rate, such as might have been a merry-go-round. An admission fee was charged and a small amount was collected for the ride. Probably not twenty people in St. Louis had seen a railroad previously.
The first real railroad was a strip of track built by the Pacific Railroad from St. Louis to Cheltenham in the year 1852. The nearest railroad station to St. Louis at that date was when the Wabash Railroad completed its line as far as St. Charles in 1852 and the same year the Alton and Chicago Railroad extended its line from Springfield to Alton. On the first day of December 1852 the first locomotive whistle west of the Mississippi River sounded at seven o'clock in the morning. The locomotive stood on the Pacific Railroad track just west of Fourteenth Street. Thomas Allen, President of the Pacific, T. S. O'Sullivan, Company Engineer; William Art Kingsley and a few others connected with the road climbed on board for the initial trip. Charles Williams operated the engine. The train was run out to the end of the track at Cheltenham. This was the beginning of railroad operation in St. Louis. The terminus of the road was then called Sulphur Springs. At Sulphur Springs speeches of congratulations were made by Mayor Kennett, Edward Bates and James H. Lucas, and lunch was served at the local hotel. In 1853 the road was extended to Kirkwood and that terminus was given the name Kirkwood after the first Chief Engineer. Passengers were taken on at Rock Springs, Cheltenham, River des Peres and Webster College. The next division of the road was made to Pacific, then called Franklin, in 1854, a distance of 39 miles. The cost of construction was estimated as a trifle over $1,600,000.00. In 1855 the line was extended to Jefferson City. The first train to go over the Gasconade River fell from the bridge, a distance of thirty
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feet, a locomotive and many of the cars crashing with a roar into the flood. Chief Engineer Thomas O'Sullivan was crushed. Mayor King of St. Louis was seriously hurt. Former Mayor Wilmer, also, was injured. The survivors were taken to a steamboat on the Missouri River and farmers fashioned thirty-crude coffins for the dead, among whom were many of the first citizens of St. Louis.
Apparently in those days it was an engineering feat to properly construct a railroad bridge over a river.
Cheltenham Station was a frame house with a pitch roof. It was on the north side of the Pacific Railway between the Railway and New Manchester Road. Sulphur Avenue formed the western boundary of the Station.
Howard Station the next east is the identical and original building as erected. This was a freight station for local industries. Cheltenham Station was confined to passengers.
Glades Station was the original name of the Pacific Railroad Station at Ecoff Avenue. Glades had a farm near Kraft and Dale Avenues.
In 1852 Cheltenham was sufficiently populous to have a railroad station and the National Government established a Post Office in Muegge's store on Manchester and Dale Avenues. The old two-story brick building still stands and is probably the most interesting relic of the early days of Cheltenham. General Grant later President Grant when coming to St. Louis from the Grant Farm often wassailed in Muegge's store.
On the night of September 29, 1864, a raiding party of Confederates, an attachment of Shelby's cavalry raided the Post Office. Shortly after dusk Mr. Augustus Muegge and his wife were sitting in their residence and a knock was heard at the door. Opening it he was confronted by a number of men standing on the steps while others further back were holding the horses of the party. They asked Muegge about his partisanship and he replied he was the United States Post Master and a Union man. He observed their gray uniforms, sabers, and long riding coats. While they were seizing the mail and raiding the home Muegge escaped on horse back and rode with all speed to the Militia Camp of the Olive Street Plank Road. A force was immediately sent to Cheltenham but the Confederates had escaped back towards Valley Park (then called Meramec) whence they came. The Union forces pursued them along the Laclede Station Road as far as the Old Watson Road and then gave up the hunt.
Daniel Payne, an aged Negro residing in a small log house on the east side of Clarkson Road, midway between Clayton Road and Kehrs Mill Road says he vividly recalled seeing this squad of Confederate cavalry and thought the whole Southern Army was making a raid on St. Louis. An inquiry was later made and never answered as to how the riders penetrated so close to Cheltenham without being observed. All bridges over the Meramec were supposed to have been securely guarded that day.
While Louis Philippe was on the throne in France, he said the man he feared more than any other in the kingdom was Etienne Cabet, the leader of the Communists in France. Philip's downfall occurred in 1848. A few days after his flight Cabet marched through the streets of Paris at the head of 10,000 Communists. (The Americana.)
The same Etienne in 1853 arrived in Cheltenham with 200 followers. After an unsuccessful effort to establish a colony first in Texas and afterwards at Nauvoo, Illinois, he purchased 28 acres of ground on Wilson Avenue east of Sulphur at a cost of $25,000.00, on which he could make only a small deposit. He called his community the Icarians.
This pioneer effort to establish communism in the United States attracts at present special attention because of the many conquests made by communism in the past quarter century. The initial efforts of Cabet has been followed in general outline to a great extent by his successors. He strongly advocated a world-wide propaganda in which he endeavored to build up "popular front." This he did in all his writings but especially in his magazine "La Populaire." His book, the "Voyages En Icarie" passed through five editions from 1842 to 1848. In this he illustrated his scheme of communism. He died in St. Louis from an apoplectic stroke in 1856 and was buried in the Old Picker Cemetery. The Cheltenham community was exceedingly active in propaganda, had a school, a band of music, and frequently presented plays that gave expression to communistic theories and suggested world-wide revolution. After the death of Cabet one of his disciples, A. Bauva, directed the colony. Most of the men who formed it were mechanics, tailors, or shoemakers who went to work in St. Louis and deposited their money in a general treasury. They erected one large stone building which was used as a community center and adjacent to it constructed several small log cabins. The mosquitoes from the River des Peres, malaria fever, dissension, a large indebtedness and a lack of contributions
from those to whom they made their appeals in France led to their dissolution.
In March 1864 the mortgagee pressed for payment. Bauva relinquished the property and the colony scattered each one to make out for himself as best he could.
After the railroad came to St. Louis, Mining Companies in the Rocky Mountains found it often more convenient to ship ore in an unrefined condition to St. Louis. St. Louis Smelting and Refining Co. was one of the largest of its kind in the City. It gave employment to more men in Cheltenham than any other local industry and brought many Catholics to the district.
Gold, Silver and precious metals were made into bars and carried from the store house to the train without the least effort at concealment. Cheltenham was reputed to have a gang of forty robbers and in those days there may have been a "Buffalo Bill" and "Jesse James" but the ordinary robber was a petty thief who never dreamt of making a raid on a bank or a smelting plant.
This smelting plant was located east of Macklind Avenue and south of the Pacific Railroad tracks.
Mr. Tom O'Gorman states that Richard Hanrahan had the quarry at Dale and Manchester. Prior to that time it belonged to his uncle, David O'Gorman. At that time Mitchell Avenue was called Hill Road. Wm. Reilly had his home at Plateau and Kraft Avenues. There were a few small houses on the right-of-way of the Missouri Pacific tracks. One of these at Dale Avenue was owned by John Connors. Andrew Cahill lived near the tracks east of Tamm Avenue. Across from Dolan's Real Estate Office was a picnic grounds. East of which was Peter Hume's farm. Mr. Hume was the father of Mrs. Ed Nixon. Wrisberg's Grocery was at Manchester and Macklind Avenues in the early 70's. The family of Gittens had a tavern and general store as early as the 50's at the north-east corner of Manchester and Sulphur Avenues. There was a public school at Manchester Avenue west of Kraft.
There was a tobacco factory near Knox Avenue. The Fountaine house was the cottage between the Missouri Pacific and Frisco tracks at Sulphur Avenue. Nearby south of the Frisco Tracks were the sulphur bath houses. The Buchanan home became later the home of Jerry Fruin. The Lancasters lived one hundred feet north of Dolan's corner. Later this piece of ground became the property of the Nixon's. O'Gorman's home is older and was probably the first to be erected on Tamm Avenue.
Left to Right: G.W. Gittins, President, Ray Obenhaus, Ames, Kelley, Hennessy,
Flood, Manager: Varenhorst, Rooney, Tires, Stolts, Meyers, Gittins, Mascot.
John Craven's saloon was near the present Placke Station and near the greenhouse in the early 80's was a school for Protestant children.
Cheltenham is described by Mr. Henry Wassall as the district between Forest Park on the north, January Avenue on the East, River des Peres on the South and Tamm Avenue on the went. In the deed conferring the property to site of the old Church is described as West Cheltenham and at that time West Park Avenue was named Cheltenham Avenue. Mr. Wassall resided in 1878 at the Billon old homestead.
Macklind Avenue was named St. Louis Street; Pierce Avenue was Washington Avenue; Manchester Avenue was Pacific Road, later New Manchester Road; Dale Avenue was named Valley Road; Tamm Avenue was Tamm Road and before that Church Road and O'Gorman's Lane. There were bridges across the River des Peres at Macklind and Pierce Avenues in 1857.
There were no made streets in 1878 north of Manchester Road. The homes were reached by lanes and driveways. In dry weather carriages drove across pastures. Tamm Avenue was a Country Road bordered with trees. Sulphur Springs Hotel and grounds were on Sulfur Avenue south of the Pacific tracks. The hotel burned down about 1888 and the grove remained and was called Leonard Grove, and an adjoining tavern, Leonard's Grove opened. Leonard operated the place as a picnic grounds up to 1890.
Thomas Campbell's woods lay between the Missouri Pacific tracks on the north and Wilson Avenue on the south on the hillside. The Campbell family's burying grounds was at the highest point of the farm on Wilson Avenue. French Village lay east of the farm. There was a Negro settlement on the hill south of French Village.
Jim Tarrants, the gambler, lived at 5814 West Park Avenue. Tarrant's house was surrounded by his farm Of 27 acres, east and west of the home. It was an orchard farm containing peach, apple, plum and cherry trees. Jim Shields, a molder, afterwards lived in Tarrants' house. Devlin's farm was east of Gratiot school. One of his daughters became a nun more than fifty years ago. Her name was Loretta and Loretta Avenue bears her name. Mr. Devlin was killed by a train. Prior to his death he had a prolonged law-suit with Judge Davis concerning the opening of Hampton or Billon Avenue.
First Row, Left to Right: John Zimmerly, William Diefenbach, William Brookner,
John Diefenbach, John Beerescheim, Herman Brookner, George Beerescheim.
Top Row, Left to Right: Valentine Diefenbach, Herman Nagel, Gus Fohlmer, Frank
Schultz, Dean Donnigan, William Zimmerly.
"Dog Town" was so called by squatters who built shacks in the neighborhood of Graham and West Park in 1876. Mike Brady's home was at Sproule and Lloyd and the woods around it was called "Mike Brady's Woods."
Gratiot's Well was on the east side of Graham Avenue at the back of the little
house that faces Clayton Road. The Gratiot's orchard ran along Victoria Avenue east of Graham and north of Wesr Park.
Doctor Chas. Gratiot's of homestead was on the west of Hampton Avenue (then called Billon Avenue). In the 80's the Doctor built and moved into a house at the northwest corner of Hampton and West Park Avenues.
The "Old Man Hut Swimming Hole" was on the river Des Peres south of Oakland Avenue between the Walsh Stadium and $t. Louis University High School, so called after an old man who lived the life of a hermit in a little shack nearby.
The Holland Vineyard was the largest vineyard in St. Louis 57 years ago. It was located at Wilson Avenue east of January Avenue. This vineyard was owned by Wm. F. Holland and had 1700 vines. Chas. Holland, a son is still an active member of the Fire Department in Engine House No. 52.
Forest Park Highlands started as a beer garden in 1899. Clayton Road through Forest Park was a part of the Old Fox Creek Road as shown in Pitman's Atlas of 1878.
The Hawthorne, a roadhouse and gambling den, was a two story brick building on Clayton, west of Louisville. It was popular in the 90's. Before this time it was the residence of the Lloyd family and in their time there was an orchard at the east side of the house.
There was a little settlement at Wise and Childress where lived James, Jerry and Jim Rooney, Charles Ehle's home was approximately between Louisville and Fairmount Avenues. Felix Bossorth's blacksmith's shop was at Tamm and Wise. On the north side of Clayton was Dillenberger's. Ely's store was at Tamm and Clayton which later became a saloon and cock-pit. Mr. Johnson operated a saloon at this corner 60 years ago. Across the street was Sigfried Grosch, the wagon maker. John LaGarce's house was at Tamm and Berthold. The last coal mine to be operated had its shaft at Childress and Clayton and was operated by Peter Humes.
Mrs. Combrevis, daughter of Peter DuCarmont, resided at Sublette and Manchester Avenues. She was born there in 1874. This was known at the time as the Five Mile House on Manchester Avenue. Next door was the blacksmith shop operated by Mrs. Combrevis' father, Peter DuCarmont.
William L. Sublette married an Alabama lady, Miss Frances Hereford, to whom his younger brother, Solomnon P., had been quite attentive. When William died he left his fortune to Mrs. Sublette, on condition that she would not change her name. After a period of mourning the widow became the wife of Solomon P. Sublette. She did not change her name.
In Bellefontaine Cemetery is the Sublette family lot. It is distinguished by a bluish-gray granite obelisk. Here lie two of the brothers, William L-, died July 23, 1845, his age purposely omitted, and Solomon P., died August 31, 1857, aged 42 years. The data for each brother is on a separate face of the obelisk. Underneath that of each brother is the repeated inscription:
Frances S., His Wife,
Died Sept. 28, 1857.
Aged 35 Years.
The explanation is that Frances, as widow of William, married Solomon. As to the omission of William's age, therein consists one of the disputed facts in a contest among heirs for the Sublette fortune. (See file in Circuit Clerk's office and Probate Court, both in Civil Courts Building, St. Louis.)
Sublette's Estate was a tract bounded north by South Road, west by Sublette Avenue, east by Macklind Avenue. and the south by a line near the present Shaw Avenue. Sublette was a member of one of the big fur companies of St. Louis. He had a menagerie on this Estate. Undoubtedly, he intended it as an advertisement for the sale of furs. It is said it was highly interesting not only to the boys and girls of Cheltenham but to the whole City of St. Louis.
Forest Park was farm land for eleven years after St. James Parish was established, and many of the property owners and workmen were Catholic and these and many others north of the Park came to Mass to St. James Church. Among those who moved from the Park at the time when the land was purchased by the City were William Brady, Joseph Hefele, Andrew Kennedy, The Townsends, John Hunter, Th. Loftus, Hugh Shields and William Reagan. David Tracy, father of Julie Tracy, lived on the south side of the Park near the Highlands.
The frame house now at 1310 Graham Avenue, the Schwenker home, once nestled among the groves of oak, hickory, ash, walnut, elm and sassafras in the Park. There are other houses still on Graham Avenue that also were once located there.
In the 1326 acres of Forest Park were twenty-nine parcels that ranged from 294 acres down to lots. The price paid by the
|SOME PLACES IDENTIFIED
Just locate the numbers on the map itself.
|1. Laclede Fire Brick Works, James Green, President||2. Pacific Fire Clay Works, William M. Lindsey, President||3. St. James Church, Catholic||4. Cheltenham Station, Pacific Railroad|
|5. E. Gittins Hotel||6. Cheltenham Hotel||7. District School # 3||8. Geo. A. Davis|
|9. Eliza Billon||10. Dr. Chas. Gratiot||11. Henry M. Gratiot||12. P. Ducamont|
|13. S. Mitchell's Fire Brick Works||14. Schwanker's Hotel||15. Doctor Forbes||16. Professor Tice|
|17. Wm. Thomas||18. St. Louis Smelting and Refining Company||19. Cheltenham Fire Brick Works||20. John O'Gorman|
City for this ground averaged about $510.00 an acre. The biggest sections were owned by Charles P. Chouteau, Julia Maffitt and Isabella DeMunn. The preliminary opening of Forest Park took place on the 29th of June, 1872.
While St. Louis set about acquiring what is now Forest Park in 1872, there was found no provision in the charter for purchasing property beyond the City Limits. This suspended the negotiations. The matter was revived and became one of the impelling urges which resulted in the extension of the City Limits in 1876. (Steven's History of St. Louis.)
In 1876 there were 20 small houses in the Park. The people who lived there used to sink shafts 40 feet deep to a thin vein of coal which they mined for fuel and sold to others. The coal mined in the Park was of a very poor quality.
Front Row: Mrs. L. Droege, Adeline O'Gorman, Ruth Pierce, Bernadine Hugeback, Josephine O'Gorman.
Back Row: (Traditionalists) Thomas O'Gorman, William Henker, J.P. O'Gorman, Geo. Wm Tucker, Frank Grosh.
After the opening of the railroad, Irish, French, German and Welsh immigrants came to the village. The Clay Works and Coal Mines employed many Of them. Cheltenham also happened to be a natural gate-way to the City, there was a highway of considerable importance, the Pacific Road, later called New Manchester, that connected with the trails the running south or west. Over this road came merchants, trappers, and Indians. Road houses, taverns, blacksmith shops, a post office, sprang up to meet the demand. A sulphur spring was available for baths, and its curative qualities were advertised until Cheltenham became known not only as a manufacturing, center but also as a health resort.
The Catholics in the Village at an early date realized that their Spiritual life and that of their children could not long survive unless a parish was organized and a Church erected. The nearest parish Churches were St. Malachy's in the City, St. Mary and Joseph's Carondelet, St. Peter's Kirkwood, St. Martin's on the Bonhomme Road and to the north there was no church nearer than Normandy. St. Malachy's parish, though now old and almost out of the residential districts was at this time (1860) only recently established in the city suburbs. This was a period of Church extension in St. Louis, to the Parishes already established were added St. Bridget's built in 1854; St. John Nepomuk in 1854; St. Lawrence O'Toole's and St. Liborius in 1855, St. Malachy in 1858; The Annunciation in 1859. St. Boniface in 1860. Rothensteiner's History of Arch-Diocese in St. Louis.) When St. Malachy's Parish took over this territory the City Limits extended only to Grand Avenue. Between St. Louis and Cheltenham there was farm land dotted with ponds, one of which, Silver Lake near Tower Grove Station, was of considerable size, and Mr. Joseph Crotty now member of St. James Parish shot wild duck, curlie snipe and plover in this pond several years' later. Macklind Avenue was then called St. Louis Street and was the only road leading to the St. Charles Rock Road until one came to Skinker Road.
St. James Parish was opened as a Mission of St. Malachy's Parish by Father John O'Sullivan in the year 1860, Father O'Sullivan said Mass in a hall in Cheltenham while the Mission was being organized. This was a time of intense political excitement. Abolition of slavery was a burning question all over the country. but especially in Missouri, one of the border states.
Abraham Lincoln, a defender of the right of freedom had received the presidential nomination when the Republican National Convention met in Chicago (May 16, 1860). The Democrats were divided; the candidate of the northern wing of the party being Stephen A. Douglas, while the pro-slavery section nominated J.C. Breckenridge. A combination of circumstances gave Lincoln victory at the polls. The electoral vote stood 180 for Lincoln, 72 for Breckenridge. The Americana)
During the four remaining months of Buchanan's administration the storm of secession gathered in the South. The Confederate Congress met Feb. 4, 1861 at Montgomery, Alabama and chose Jefferson Davis, president. St. Louis had many reasons for sympathy with the South, it was the chief market for many of the Southern States: merchants not only made periodic business trips to St. Louis, but many of them had intimate social contacts with prominent St. Louisans; their children frequently found employment in St. Louis St. Louis stores and in many instances became a part of the business life of the City; one of them, Claiborne Fox Jackson was the Governor of the State of Missouri. The sentiment of the people was divided. As for the Northern States, the Civil War meant a war of conquest. For the Southern States the conflict was practically a defensive war against a foreign aggressor; but in the case of the border States and pre-eminently Missouri, the war meant a contest of neighbor against neighbor, friend again friend.
It was in this period between the nomination of Lincoln and the breaking of the storm April 12, 1861, that St. James first church was erected. A report of the Golden Jubilee Celebration made in the St. Louis Republic July 1912 opens with this sentence: "The passing generation met the coming yesterday at the Golden Jubilee Celebration of St. James Parish, Tamm and Wade Avenues, when John Casey and Robert Fox who attended the dedication of the original St. James Church, January 1, 1861 were introduced to the Congregation by the pastor Father Edmond A. Casey, and told of their difficulty in reaching "Dry Hill" as the site of the church was then known."
If the church was dedicated in 1861 as this report states it is difficult to explain why the golden jubilee was not celebrated until 1912. Possibly the parish did not get Canonical recognition till 1862 and remained a Mission of St. Malachy's for a time. The first parish record is of a marriage and reads: "On this 25th day of July 1861, 1 the undersigned, joined in the Holy Bonds of Matrimony Joseph E. Brazzeau, son of Louis Brazzeau and Theresa D'Mouile of the one part to Catherine Bompart, daughter of Louis Bompart and Aurora Brazzeau of the other part." The next marriage took place three days later and was that of Felix Daly son of Denis and Rose Connoly and Mary Anne Spillane daughter of Michael and Honora Barry. These are signed by Myles Tobyn who succeeded Father O'Sullivan as pastor at St. Malachy's. The next marriage record is four years later May 4. 1864 when Robert Ward married Sara Hynes.
The first baptismal record reads: "Sept 20, 1861 1 baptized Mary, ten days old daughter of John Quinn and Catherine Walsh. Sponsors, Bernard Quinn and Ann Moran." This was signed M. Welby, and he appears regularly in the records until December 23, 1866. Occasionally, he received assistance from Father Tobyn and Father Ring, pastor of St. John's or one of their assistants.
Father O'Sullivan's name never appears in the records of baptism or marriages; undoubtedly, he baptized in St. James Church and kept the records at St. Malachy's until August 1861. The connection of St. Malachy's and St. James Parish continued to be intimate for a number of years. Whenever the parish was without a pastor Father Tobyn or his assistant Father R. S. Tucker. and after his transfer Father Ziegler or his assistants administered from St. Malachy's to the spiritual needs of the people of St. James, this especially during the years of 1867-1868 and until May 1869. During this last year the records of this parish were kept in the records of St. Malachy's and St. James had no resident priest.
Father John O'Sullivan, 1860.
The first pastor of St. James, Father John Sullivan was also the first pastor of St. Malachy's. On October 24, 1859, Archbishop Kenrick laid the corner-stone of the new church on Clark and Ewing Avenues. Rev. John O'Sullivan attended the parish from St. Bridget's Rectory till October 30, 1859, when he moved to St. Malachy's. (Rothensteiner's History of Archdiocese.) He worked untiringly and had the Church ready for dedication September 2. 1860. As soon as it was completed he began to build the Mission Church in Cheltenham; this was constructed by Dick Tobin, a brother to Mrs. John O'Gorman, and uncle to our venerable parishioner, J.P. O'Gorman.
Father O'Sullivan, an Irishman of strong convictions, was a hot and outspoken secessionist. This is difficult to reconcile with his Irish traditional love of freedom. He thought, with many others, that slave owners were caught in a social system that prevailed when the Constitution of the United States was adopted and should be recompensed for the property loss they might sustain if the slaves were given freedom. He probably also believed that the poor Negro so recently a savage should be prepared for civilization and gradually emancipated so as not to destroy the economic condition in the South. He objected not so much to the freedom of the slave as to the arbitrary and hostile method advocated by the United States. He knew that abolition meant Civil War and all its horrors and he was a lover of justice and peace. His fiery temperament soon brought him into conflict with the military authorities. Archbishop Kenrick permitted his removal from the parish but recommended him to Bishop Juncker of Alton who gave him the parish of the Immaculate Conception Church in Springfield, Illinois, where he died in 1865.
The Church built by Father O'Sullivan in St. James Parish was on the site of the present Old Church. In the rear were a few rooms in the basement that were later used as a school. It was completely destroyed by fire in April, 1891. The firemen who battled with the flames after exhausting the water in a well that stood between the Old Church and the Moore residence, endeavored to connect their hoses and pump water from the River Des Peres. (The River of the Fathers).
The site of this Church was on a strip of ground donated by Henry Gratiot to Archbishop Kenrick June 11, 1860, extending from the north side of the Rectory 104 feet. At a date not determined, he gave another one hundred feet to the north of this property now the site of Mrs. Moore',s residence and the convent.
A record of the transfer follows:
This deed made and entered into in this eleventh day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and Sixty by and between Henry T. Gratiot of the State of Missouri party of the first part and Most Reverend Peter Richard Kenrick, archbishop of St. Louis of said County of St. Louis and State of Missouri party of the second part, Witnesseth, That the said party of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar to him in hand paid by the said party of the second part, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, hath granted, bargained and ,sold and by these presents doth grant, bargain and sell unto the said party of the second part the following tract of land situate, lying and being in the said County of St. Louis and in the vicinity of the village of Cheltenham in that addition to said Village known and called by the name of West Cheltenham, beginning at a point in the Eastern line of Tamm Avenue, one hundred and four feet, four and one-half inches north from the line dividing the larger tract owned by said party of the first part from the tract of land owned by Jacob Tamm, and running southwardly one hundred and four feet, four inches and one-half along the eastern line of Tamm Avenue, thence Eastwardly along the said dividing line two hundred and eight feet, nine inches, thence northwardly in a line parallel with the eastern line of Tamm Avenue one hundred and four feet, four and one-half inches thence westward in a line parallel to said dividing line two hundred and eight feet, nine inches to the place of beginning; Said tract hereby conveyed being bounded on the west by said Tamm Avenue, on the south by tract owned by Jacob Tamm and on the east and north by property owned by the said party of the first part; and containing one-half acre. To have and to hold to the said Party of the second part, his heirs and assigns forever for the use and benefit of the Roman Catholics of Cheltenham and vicinity to be used by them as site for Church, School house or Priests' Residence and for no other use or purpose whatever, the party of the first part covenants with the said party of the second part to warrant and defend the said tract hereby conveyed against all persons claiming or to claim under him the said party of the first part. In witness whereof the said party of the first part has hereunto set his hand and seal the day and year first above written.
Henry T. Gratiot (Seal)
STATE OF MISSOURI
CITY OF ST. LOUIS
Be it remembered that on this Seventh day of March 1861 before me undersigned Secretary of the Board of County Commissioners of St. Louis County, came Henry T. Gratiot who is personally known to me to be the same person whose name is subscribed to the foregoing instrument of writing as a party thereto and he acknowledged the same to be his act and deed for the purposes therein mentioned in testimony whereof I hereto set my hand and affix the seal of said board at office in St. Louis the date last aforesaid.
(Seal) Saml. W. Eager Jr., Secretary,
per John T. Humphreys, Deputy.
Filed and recorded Match 7, 1861.
A. C. Bermoudy, Recorder.
A later deed was drawn April 2, 1890 which transferred this piece of property to the Church and eliminated all the condition as to use stated in the original deed.
Six months after the dedication of St. James Church, Father Michael Welby was given charge of the Parish. His record of baptism begins in September, 1861 and runs continuously till December 23, 1866, when he baptized John, son of Antony and Mary Eveker. The first record of a marriage at St. James' by Father Welby is on March 28, 1864. This and another are the only record of marriages performed by him in the Parish. In those days a marriage would be considered invalid unless the Pastor of the bride or one delegated by him or by the Ordinary officiated. It might be suggested that Father Welby was not Pastor of St. James for a very long time. Other records list him a Chaplain of St. Louis Hospital; assistant at Annunciation, in the years 1864-1865. In the Official Directory of 1866 he is given as Pastor of St. James Church, Cheltenham. In the end of that year
he was authorized to organize Holy Angels on St. Ange Avenue and LeSalle Street -- this was considered one of the finest residential districts in St. Louis, the Church erected by Father Welby was dedicated January 1, 1867. He remained Pastor of Holy Angels till he was succeeded by Reverend Francis M. Kielty, February 16, 1869.
During these years there was a Parochial School at St. James, in the basement, of the Church. Old parishioners say Father Welby lived at the home of his brother John, at Sproule and Lloyd, and that Thomas Conway, an Irishman, taught in the School.
The year of 1866 brought a second epidemic of cholera to St. Louis. As Monsignor Brennan put it -- "Hundreds upon hundreds perished, young and old succumbed to its fell touch, pallid fear and ruthless panic seized on all, confusion dwelt on every face and dread in every heart." The priests of St. Louis and the nuns were heroic and the sick and dying longed for their visits and thought of them as angels of mercy. This also was true of Cheltenham. Father Welby was in the thick of the fight at the City Hospital where he was Chaplain, at the same time he was building the Holy Angels Church and attending to the spiritual needs of the two Parishes. Father Welby remained pastor of Holy Angels Parish for less than three years. He left the diocese February 16, 1869, and became affiliated with the diocese of Alton.
From January 1, 1867, until May, 1869, St. James was again a Mission of St. Malachy's. During this period Father Tobyn pastor faithfully attended to St. James and usually he or one of his assistants drove out over bad roads. The late Thomas Hetherington, brother of Mrs. Placke, occasionally drove the priests and said it was a whole day's trip. When Father Tobyn was transferred to Old Mines in August 1868, he was succeeded at St. Malachy's by Father Charles Ziegler. (Rothensteiner',s History of the Archdiocese). Thus Father Ziegler became connected with St. James Parish and frequently said Mass and attended sick calls here from August, 1868, until May, 1869.
The final separation of St. Malachy's and St. James came with the appointment of Reverend Thomas Manning. He was Pastor Of St. James Church from May, 1869, till January 31, 1870 -- a period of less than a year; he was, not ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Louis; there is no record whence he came or where he went; old timers say he left the Parish very suddenly and a report spread that he went insane.
When old parishioners were questioned about the characters of former Pastors, invariable, they answers revealed the one most revered and loved by them was Father Henry Kelly.
He is on of the two deceased Pastors of St. James Parish who are buried in the old Priests' Lot in Calvary Cemetery. The inscription on his monument expresses the impression he made on his people: "He was simple and upright, fearing God. Job: 1-1."
Father Kelly was born in County Kildare, Ireland, on the 22nd of July, 1840; he was educated for the priesthood at St. Patrick's College, Carlow, and was ordained May 20. 1866. His first appointment in St. Louis was to the Church of the Annunciation, where he served until he came as Pastor to St. James Church at Cheltenham. The first Baptismal record written by him reads. "February 13, 1870: I baptized Mary Ann, daughter of William Quinn and Bridget Flood: Sponsors, William Bruanehamand and Ellen Flood."
The oldest inhabitants cannot recall any Rectory before the one erected by Father Kelly. This was a building, half of which was frame facing Tamm Avenue; to which was
added later, four rooms, the walls of which were brick. Mr. J. P. O'Gorman states the frame was originally erected, and occupied as a School; it was the second school in the Parish; the first was in the rear of the first Church. Mr. J. P. O'Gorman and his brother, Tom, attended both schools.
The site of this building was on the ground where now stands the Moore residence; between it and the Church there was a cistern and a spring well from which the local community drew water. This building was used during Father McNamee's time for services, in the period of emergency after the first Church was burned, and also as a school and rectory. It was finally torn down when Father McNamee sold the lot and the one on which the Convent stands, to Henry Hart.
Father Kelly was 30 years-old when he came to Cheltenham; in a few years he aged considerably; he was a silent man, tall and well proportioned. Presumably he grieved that the school could not be continued. It was the only school in the village for Protestants and Catholics.
About the time the parochial school failed the City Limits were extended to take in Cheltenham and all of St. James Parish in the year 1877. On its failure a public school was opened on Graham Avenue. This served until the Gratiot School opened.
The location of the old public school was at 1133 Graham, Avenue. Mrs. Winter's residence it is was constructed of brick from the school.
Father Kelly's death is pathetic. One Sunday a few priests from the City came to visit him and remained for dinner. After they had gone on the train, he had a recurrence of heart trouble. His housekeeper, Bridget Brady, the mother of Mrs. Martin Coad, Charles Brady, Robert Brady and Mrs. Helen Seager, became alarmed and called in a few of the neighbors. Mrs. John Brady and Mrs. Tracy sat by his bed; the men tried to get a doctor and failed; the priest's pulse indicated his heart was weak. They would have gone into the City for a priest, but he said, "It is too late to call one, wait till morning." He died before midnight without having doctor. His passing was so tranquil those in the room thought he had gone to sleep. When they could not hear him breathe, they brought a mirror and held it over his face. There was no indication of moisture on its surface and it was concluded he was dead. After midnight, a woman going into the death chamber observed the color had not left the priest's face. She ran downstairs and said the priest had come back to life. The few who were present became fearful and were inclined to run from the house. After an hour they regained their composure and went back to view the corpse.
Father Kelly died July 13, 1878 and was deeply mourned by all the parishioners.
Father Kelly's effort to maintain a school ceased after a few years; the depression that followed the Civil War reached its climax in 1873 and left the parishioners and the whole settlement very poor. An idea of existing need might be gathered from a story narrated to Father O'Connor a decade since when he was attending a dying man whom he prepared for first communion. "It was not my fault," he said, "My mother had a stepson about my age; both of us were in Father Kelly's First Communion class. When the time came for receiving Communion, she could buy shoes for only one of us, and she gave them to the step son lest he might think she thought more of me than him." This was not an unusual case; work was scarce; a laborer worked in the mines or factories for less than a dollar a day. There was not planned relief or Government aid in those days; neighbor helped neighbor and friend helped friend; this was Christian Communism as taught by the Church. In time of distress the rich have an obligation toward the poor; they should not stand by heartlessly and have no pity nor sympathy; property rights are secondary to the general welfare, "necessity has no law." In extreme distress the poor have a claim on the coffers of the well-to-do. Where the Communism dictated by the eternal law of love is ignored, Christianity is not operative; the reaction is hate, class enmity, indignation and rebellion. The revulsion against the rich becomes also a revulsion against the Church. Like Christ it is condemned without a just trial. The constant plea it made for justice is forgotten, as is the aid it gave through the clinics, hospitals, homes for the aged and orphans. The rich man finds it as difficult to stay in the Catholic Church as for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle: he sends his children to schools and universities that ignore the very existence of Christ and God. These become in many instances the social elite who fashion the morals of the masses. They teach through the press, the stage and the school a philosophy of life that is in complete conflict with the teaching of the Church. They scoff at Hell and Heaven; to them restraint is mental anguish. Let yourself go is their slogan of life, and any distance in the road of indulgence and pleasure; to this wealth is necessary.
Though the urge to attain wealth has destroyed Social Justice, it has been a strong inducement for men of ability to promote industry and scientific study as a means to luxurious living. Every modern convenience
and labor saving device might be, traced back to the avarice in someone's heart. Wealth is a great incentive to action. Christian culture trained men to be saints and motivated them to love their fellow-man; Modern neo-paganism trains men to be millionaires and sensualists. The City of God and the Modern City are opposite poles of the magnet of life. Individualism is the swing of the pendulum in one direction. Protestantism promoted private interpretation of the bible and individualism in industry. Each man makes his own laws of moral conduct. In this system frequently the most clever rascals outrun the rest and rule the masses; the return momentum now in the backward swing is the pendulum of depression, driving the poor toward the contrary of individualism which is Communism and Fascism. The sit-down strike and class consciousness of the present generation is the first indication of revolt against existing order. In this system the clever and persistent are sure to gain a big advantage over the majority of the Community. They have become captains of industry and leaders of thought. Unfortunately their moral code has degenerated to a cold-blooded aim at profit and wealth. The rich have become richer and the poor subordinates the machine gets more attention than the man.
Father Kelly was succeeded at Cheltenham by Reverend Thomas Ambrose Butler, July 1878. Reverend John Rothensteiner, the historian of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, knew him and states he was one of the most remarkable men of St. Louis priests of his day. This is high praise and there is no good reason for suspecting it to be an exaggeration.
Father Butler's life might be extended to a whole book. He was ordained in Maynooth College, 1864. This has been for the past 142 years the Home Mission College for Ireland. Graduation from this Seminary is generally regarded as an assurance of high scholarship and if a tree is to be judged by its fruit, the Irish Church and the Irish Immigrant is the best tribute that can be given to the long line of priests who have been ordained in this Seminary. In the olden days the Irish peasantry had no schools and many were illiterate but not in matters pertaining to faith and morals. The most illiterate Irish man or woman was as sound in faith and morals as were the greatest doctors of the Church.
The priests of Ireland have been as a body the spiritual teachers of that vast throng of Irish immigrants whose children are now a big regiment of the spiritual army that has given the Church perennial vigor in America, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries.
Attention has frequently been called that Maynooth College was established by an English Act of parliament and given an endowment of forty thousand dollars a year. The implication is, and undoubtedly the aim was, to make the college loyal to His majesty, the Condition to this endowment was that the Board of Trustees should inculcate obedience to English Rule and that the students take
an oath of loyalty to the Crown. in the early days this stipulation seems to have been enforced. Of the 69 students in the Seminary in 1800, no less than 18 were expelled for having taken the Rebel oath, (Catholic Ency.) All through the years the spirit of Maynooth among the majority of students has been anything but sympathetic of English Rule. Father Butler was no exception. No sooner was he ordained than we find him enmeshed in the Fenian Movement and prominent among those who urged the rebellion against English Rule. His Bishop, Cardinal Cullin, commanded him to make no more speeches of political nature and threatened him with suspension. Father Butler's response was to sail from Ireland and affiliate with the Diocese of Leavenworth, Kansas. He is next found as a Chaplain in the Union Army stationed at Fort Leaven worth, Kansas, and undoubtedly served in this capacity during the Civil War. After the
war Father Butler became interested in forming a colony in Potawatomie County, Kansas, and he induced his country men to settle there. He sold many farms of about 160 acres to individuals who could afford to make the purchase at $4.50 per acre. With each farm was given a lot fronting 80 feet in a tract of land at a place called Fort Butler which later became Butler City. In the meantime, those who were members the colony agreed to buy and sell their goods through the commercial agency set up in the colony. Thus began what was probably the first cooperative society west of the Mississippi. Bishop Ryan of St. Louis visited the colony and was so impressed with Father Butler's work he invited him to come to St. Louis to secure more members. He accepted the invitation and arrived in April 1875. The Irish Societies extended to him a hearty welcome. During the next two years he remained with Bishop Ryan at St. John's Church and spent whatever time was left him, after discharging duties of an assistant organizing his colony. He frequently visited his friend Father McEvoy who was then Pastor of St. Kevin's and prevailed on many of the Irish in this Parish and from other parts of St. Louis to sell their holdings and go to Butler City. Amongst those who went were Richard Tobin. John J. Houlihan and his father, Patrick, the grandpa of the many Houlihans who have been favorably known these past fifty years in St. James Parish. It is not very clear why the colony was abandoned by Father Butler but it is evident he lost interest in it after he was appointed Pastor of St. James Parish in the year 1878. Father Butler was an attractive and eloquent priest. His appointment to St. James pleased the people because if there was any complaint to be made of Father Kelly's character it was his habitual silence, not only in the Rectory, but also in the Church. In contrast, Father Butler impressed the parishioners as being a great orator. Undoubtedly. he was an effective speaker. His sermons were poetic effusions, ripe with antithesis, similes, imagery and climaxes. He was indeed a poet as is evident from the book of poems which he published, entitled "The Irish on the Prairies." However, there is reason for doubting that he ever gave his heart to the people of St. James. After his first few weeks in the Parish he became interested in the District around Tower Grove where he opened a Mission Church. In a few years he erected a residence and Church which he called St. Cronan's. There he resided the greater part of the time that intervened until a division was made between the two parishes in January 1884.
The priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis held Father McNamee in the highest esteem, and by a curious contradiction of facts, he had a difficult time in maintaining the good will of the people of St. James. After twelve years of of penurious striving and great effort, at the age of sixty he became an embittered and feeble old man and left the parish, in disgust. He retired to the home of a sister in Bement, Illinois where he died a year later on May 3, 1897 and willed that his remains be taken to ST. Louis and buried not from St. James Church but from St. Malachy's.
At that time Father Phelan wrote, Father Patrick McNamee, for thirty years a priest this diocese, died in Bement, Illinois --kindly by nature, he was charitable to a fault. He was much liked by his fellow priests."
The first Baptism recorded by him reads: "On the 9th day of March 1884, I baptized William son of Joseph and Catherine Sontag"; the first marriage was that of Peter Manion and Catherine Collins on October 5, 1884 -- his last, Peter LaGarce and Alice Cooney Dec. 21, 1896. The next day he baptized Henry F. Delaney son of George W. and Eugenia F. Lavedore.
Father McNamee probably failed to be popular with many of his parishioners because he endeavored to do many things. In his first year in the parish he realized that the faith could not long survive unless the parochial school was reopened. True, there were classes for Catholic children who went to the public school and the Sisters of Mercy and Loretto came in on Sundays to give Cathechetical instructions from time to time, but these classes were poorly attended. There was difficulty in getting a competent teacher; most of the people as a whole were very poor or not inclined to make added sacrifice for, Catholic education. But notwithstanding these difficulties he opened the school in the old combination building that was used as a Rectory. He secured a young Irishman named McNamara, who probably was an ex-ecclesiastical student to teach and at a later date when there were no funds he looked for an intelligent woman to teach and be housekeeper. Mary Forbes was glad of an opportunity to serve God in this capacity. Her parents died when she was very young. She and her sisters were brought up in an orphan home and we're given a liberal education. Her older sister became a nun.
At first Mary was patient and humble, as she became more necessary and useful, her labors multiplied and her sense of importance increased to a point where she had a hand in every parish activity. Justly or unjustly the parishioners accused her of being domineering and intolerant though all admitted her character was otherwise irreproachable. Father McNamee perhaps thought this also, but there was the empty treasury and the Catholic School for which he had made so many sacrifices, so Mary Forbes was not dismissed, The parishioners became dissatisfied and the school failed another time.
Mrs. Ed Nixon states "Father McNamee taught as much in the school as did Miss Forbes and the children were delighted when he came into the room. He would talk and sing to them -- one song which he sang often was 'Guardian Angel'. He would also bring visitors to the school, among whom were Father Charles and Father Gaudentis. He often had picnics at Christian Brothers' College. One 'Veiled Prophet' night Father McNamee put a veil over another priest's head and said, 'Children, here comes the Veiled Prophet'. The children sang in the choir under the direction of Miss 'Mary' and she was patient with them.
"When the school closed, the following parishioners taught catechism and gave instructions to the children. Miss Emma Ely, Miss Julia Tracy, Miss Alice Connors (who taught at Gratiot School), Miss Katie Reid, Miss Mattie Gahl, and Miss Mary Kelly."
Father McNamee could not raise enough money to get insurance on the Church. Fortunately, a few months before the Church burned, he paid for a policy out of his own meager funds and saved the parishioners a considerable loss. The children and the German element of the congregation, the school children and non-Catholics loved Father McNamee. The people who disliked him usually were those he rebuked.
In the month of April 1891 at 1:30 a.m., the first church caught fire and was burned to the ground; the old school and rectory were availed of for church services. Father McNamee was not discouraged, he set about immediately to raise funds. He was an untiring worker, his congregation at this time had dwindled away, but the few who had any means made generous contributions. The contract was let to Mr. Ralston. a non-Catholic in the community whose grand-children are now members of the parish. The architect was William F. Raeder, of Benton, also a non-Catholic.
The old Church we now have was dedicated in the year 1891. It had splendid pews, made of ash of home construction. The windows were large and the glass was of variegated colors. The Church seated 350. The front on Tamm Avenue has a pretty belfry and the interior was exceptionally devotional. It was erected on the exact site of the first Church. To meet the expense of construction Father McNamee found it necessary to sell two church lots to Henry Hart on which were constructed the Convent and the Moore residence.
Father McNamee had always a hard life. He was born in Donegal, Ireland, on March 17, 1836. Accompanied by his parents he came to the United States at an early age. After his father's death he worked for many years to support his saintly mother. Having secured sufficient to maintain her, he entered the ecclesiastical Seminary at Cape Girardeau and was ordained 4th of July, 1868. He was then 32 years old. His first appointment was to the pastorate of DeSoto. (Our Pastors in Calgary.) His saintly mother kept house for him till she died in September 1875. From 1870 to 1873 he was pastor of Macon City. While there he established a Mission in Clay Township. (Rothensteiner's History.) In 1881 he was in charge of Bloomsdale. Dr. Brent Murphy recalls being on a visit there of a Sunday and while Mass was being celebrated the plaster over the Sanctuary fell down on the Altar. He spent two years in New Madrid, Missouri, before he was appointed to St. James.
After he was a few years in St. James Parish, he planned abandoning the old rectory and building the present one. To do this he purchased the fifty foot lot on which the rectory stands. The building was ready for occupation in 1888; Father Casey enlarged this building in his time and Father O'Connor made a few small improvements.
All the Church buildings that remained in St. James Parish up to 1900 were those erected by Father McNamee. At the time he resigned, the parish indebtedness was $600.00. The struggle he made to maintain a school and pay for the building of the Church and rectory left him sometimes so poor, he would have to beg the price of a meal from the parishioners. After the school closed, he could see nothing but failure; he became moody, irritable and forgetful. Many of the parishioners not understanding the effects of a life-long strain on a sensitive nature thought of making a petition to have him removed. This reached his ears and undoubtedly contributed to his rapid decline and retirement. The big events of his life synchronize with three big festivals. He was born on St. Patrick's Day, ordained a priest the Fourth of July and on Christmas Day 1896 he stood at the door of the Rectory holding in his hand, a crucifix surrounded by a few faithful parishioners and with tears in his eyes, he bid a last farewell to St. James.
Father Casey had the something that is called typically Irish to his appearance and character. This is better understood than described. He was the Saggarth Aroon of the best Gaelic tradition. A handsome, vivacious, human person that stole into hearts of most people who met him and he met very many in his day.
He was by no means an ascetic and he was rarely suspected of being saintly but he prayed with the confidence of a bad little boy that right away forgot and was mischievous.
Father Casey had the attractiveness that goes with a handsome face and the disarming simplicity that accompanies a County Limerick soothing accent. These only impartially concealed a mind that was keen as a razor and as clever as a fox, and with it all a heart that reacted as quickly as a fiddle to every emotion. His laughter was loud and contagious, his sympathy was deep and tear drops came as quickly to his eye as to a woman's.
People who knew and admired him said, "God broke the mould when he made Father Casey."
He was born at Kilmallock, Ireland, April 9, 1856. He was educated for the priesthood at St. Patrick's College, where he was ordained January 12, 1881. His friend, Father Lavery, used to say of him. "He was never educated anywhere." he was a natural that education would ruin. Be this as it may he knew enough to keep Father Lavery or any other erudite ecclesiastic or scholar on the alert. If Homer nodded in Father Casey's presence, he was apt to wake up in embarrassment and confusion.
St. Patrick's College, Carlow, was the first ecclesiastical College in Ireland to open after penal laws were abrogated. It began as a College and a Seminary. Lay students studied there for the professions. In its halls for many years, aspirants for a career in law or medicine and those who had no ambition to do anything but pass the time pleasantly, rubbed shoulder to shoulder with students who were being prepared for the priesthood. As a consequence discipline in those days was lax and mischievousness rampant. When the College became exclusively a Seminary the tradition remained. The students discountenanced ambition to be learned, the fear of showing off anything that was not radical was so well inculcated, a good pious young man had to late very careful not to manifest any of those virtues
that might be a reflection on the conduct of his companions. If he happened to be clever or saintly and had good sense, he endeavored to conceal those characteristics to escape ridicule and retain the good opinion of his friends. Adjustment to such a fundamental principle was often very difficult to a boy brought up by a saintly mother in a Christian home. Frequently. he was shocked or disillusioned and could not reconcile the spirit of the Seminary with the exalted ideals he had of the priesthood. Of course the guiding authorities discountenanced every violation of the rule; there were caveats, warnings and expulsions but nothing the professors or spiritual directors ever did seemed to change the radical atmosphere created by the first student body. The majority of students liked it and unalterably continued to cultivate it. They knew exactly what it meant; it was hypocrisy which cancelled real goodness and was boyishness in all its ungenerousness. Thus it was that Carlow College was dubbed by men of other Seminaries as the "Refugium Peccatorium" that is "Refuge of Sinners."
The President of the Seminary during the past fifty years, Very Rev. John Foley, probably understands this spirit better than anyone else; occasionally he would remark to the student body: "There are two classes of students of whom I do not approve, one is the eye server, the young man whose motive for being good is the approbation of his superiors, the other is the radical. Of the two I prefer the radical, he is like the high spirited young horse that is hard to hold on the road. If once tamed down. he will make a good man." There have been many eminent Carlovians in the Archdiocese of St. Louis; amongst these have been Archbishop Patrick John Ryan, Bishop Francis Gilfillan, Father John Head, Peter O'Rourke, Monsignor Lyons, P. J. O'Reilly and Monsignor Tim Dempsey. In this College, Paul Cullen, Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin, studied for the priesthood. He was elevated to the Cardinalate in 1867, being the first Irish Bishop on whom this high dignity was ever conferred. (Catholic Encyclopedia.)
Father Casey never completely lost the spirit of Carlow College. He was a boy till the day he died and nothing pleased him better than association with men of the world. He looked for the good there is in most men and when he found a little seed of goodness he cultivated it with care. He could hold his own with any group. He often reached people who would steer clear of the ordinary priest. He was rarely critical of the conduct of others. He dined and joked with goodfellows and later! won their hearts.
He was an intimate friend of the late Honorable Mr. Champ Clark. It was related that Clark stated had he been elected president of the United States he would have given Father Casey a key to the White House. The biggest day Father Casey had in St. James Parish was the one in which the parochial school was dedicated. On that occasion Mr. Clark, then the Speaker of the House, made the chief address.
Father Casey's first appointment was as Chaplain at the novitiate of the Christian Brothers at Glencoe. Missouri. In 1882 he was made assistant at the old Cathedral and later was transferred to St, Bridget's.
He served for a time at Hannibal, Missouri and was appointed pastor of Shelbina in 1884. He spent the years from 1889 till the time he was appointed to St. James Parish December 1896, at Montgomery City, Mo. While there he became involved in a notorious law suit about a colt. Always a lover of good horses he had at this time a beautiful thoroughbred colt which he put in pasture on the farm of his friend Mr. J. T. Donovan. Whilst Father Casey was on a trip to Ireland. Mr. Donovan entered the colt in races. It fell at one course and broke a leg. On Father Casey's return, Mr., Donovan explained his good intentions and was forgiven. However, a violent disagreement arose later When Father Casey was sent a feed bill for the dead horse. Father Casey refused to pay the bill and was sued. He immediately made application to the Courts for the price of the horse. Nat Dyer and Champ Clark prosecuted the suit for Father Casey and other eminent lawyers were employed by Mr. Donovan. The character of each litigant was scrutinized as having some application to the evidence. Father Casey's personal defense was a master-piece of clever retorts and was given wide publicity as were the implications against his character. The jury disagreed and a change of venue was had more than once. The Court was crowded each day the case was called. There were revelations and sensations sufficient to make a dull, wet day in a country town have the pleasure of a picnic. The local press did not diminish the interest in the trial. It was given a front page in the newspapers of St. Louis. By the side of Father Casey each day sat his faithful friend, Father Sevcik. In the final decision Mr. Donovan was obligated to defray the expense of the trial and the jury decided not to recompense Father Casey on the grounds that a clergyman had no business having a race-horse
The decision of the Court, and the unforeseen notoriety of the trial made Father Casey
repent till the day of his death of his rashness in bringing suit against Mr. Donovan, he used to say, "a priest comes out second best when there is mud-slinging, a Roman Collar is easily stained." Father Casey's character did not suffer in Montgomery City, nor for that matter in the Congressional District in which the case was tried, both Protestants and Catholics admired his fighting qualities. These were pioneer days when men who proved their manhood were made heroes, and the spirit of a New World was moulding its youth to be courageous and aggressive.
Father Casey was appointed pastor of St. James Parish December 1896. At that time the parish extended to Maplewood and south to Gravois Road. He had a horse and buggy and visited his parishioners as much as he might have done in a country parish. The first child baptized by him was Francis English on January 10, 1897; Sponsors, Wm. Haynes and Alice Howard. The last child he baptized was Grace Kelly, daughter of Bernard Kelly and Grace Ashmead.
In the next few years preparations for the World's Fair were being made and Forest Park, and the adjoining territory, was full of activity. Buildings to house the Fair were being constructed; Mechanics came in from every State in the Union as did others interested in the Fair. On the south side of the Park many homes and rooming houses were erected. This gave Father Casey a reasonable hope that the parish was to have an immediate permanent growth.
The idea of building a school began to crystallize in his mind. On talking it over with his parishioners he was given sufficient encouragement to seriously consider opening immediately a parochial school. Another event that helped him to come to a decision was the closing of a parochial school in Jonesburg, Missouri, where the four Sisters Catherine, Loyola, Louis and Bernadette, Dominican Nuns from St. Agnes Convent, New York, had, at the invitation of the pastor, Rev. M. D. Collins, opened their first house in Missouri. On a visit made by Father Casey to Jonesburg, where he had been at one time pastor, he met the Dominican Nuns and being informed that they intended closing the Mission there in June, he made application to Mother Thomas that these Sisters should come to St. James Church and open their first Mission in St. Louis.
When making his application, he explained to Mother Thomas the difficulty there was likely to be in maintaining a school in the Parish at that time. He pointed out to her that the revenue for the year 1900 was less than $2,500.00 and that more than half of this amount had been raised from fairs and festivals. The Reverend Mother, who was noted for her missionary zeal, urged him to trust in God and assured him that she would let him have the Sisters at a reduced salary until such time as the Parish would be able to sustain them. Mrs. John L. Boland, Claverach, St. Louis County, removed further doubts when she offered to purchase from the Park Building and Loan Association a residence at 1354 Tamm Avenue for the Sisters. There seemed to be some misunderstanding about this gift. Father Casey presumed that Mrs. Boland would also furnish the Convent. This she was unwilling to do and when the Sisters arrived they found an empty house and make-shift furnishings. He immediately appealed to the parishioners for funds. The donations he received are herewith listed and give a fair perspective of the ability of the parishioners to sustain a school:
Mrs. Niesen, $10-00; Mrs. Benoist, $5.00; Mrs. Christy, $5.00; Mrs. Schwoerer, $5.00; Mrs. Inage Murphy, $5.00; Mrs. Dolan, $5.00; Mrs. Klein. $5.00; Mrs. Rieger, $2.00; Mrs. McCarthy, $2.00; Mrs. Titt, $2.00; Mrs. McKim, $1.00; Mrs. Schtazman, $1.00, Mrs. Hart, $1.00; Mrs. Murphy, $1.00; Mrs. Murphy, $1.00; Mrs. Schmitz, 1.00; Mrs. Houlihan, $1.00; Mrs. Koenecke, $1.00; Mrs. Saxton, $1.00; Mrs. John O'hare, $1.00; Mrs. M. Hefele, $1.00; Mrs. John Schilds, $1.00; Mrs. Ed Cody, $1.00; Mrs. J. Hanly, $1.00; Mrs. Bayliss, $1.00; Mrs. Gross, $1.00; Miss Philibert, $1.00; Miss Ehle, $1.00; Miss Tracey, $1.00; Miss Mitchell, $1.00; Mrs. O'Gorman, $1.50; Mrs. Fahey 50c; Mrs. Saxton,50c; Mrs. Schields, 50c; Mrs. Hanley, 50c; Mrs. P. Manion, 50c; Mrs. Brady, 50c; Mrs. Gallagher, 50c; Mrs. O'Gorman, 50c; Mrs. Gibbons, 50c; Miss Rolves, 50c; Mrs. John Brady, 25c; Mrs. McCaffery, 25c; Miss Rooney, 25c. Total collections, $73.25; less money given by Mrs. Klein to Fr. Casey, $1.50; leaving a total of $71.74. Borrowed from Altar Society, $15.00;making grand total of $86.75. There were probably other donations of furniture by parishioners not listed -- amongst others by Mrs. McCarthy, sister of Mrs. Niesen and Mrs. Long.
Lammert, beds, $34.40; Kennard, shades, $17.64; Mrs. Lang, $8.00; Ringen. on account, $25.75; Lammert, on account, $10.00. Total, $95.79.
In this building the school opened Septetember 8, 1902. There were 35 listed as Charter Pupils. The names are: Theodore Beyert, Amarita Boland, Edward Brady, Andrew Caswell, Anna Cody, Charles Cody, Thomas Comer, Catherine Comer, Raphael Dolan, Helen Dolan, Patrick Flavin, Maxine Fournier, Francis Gibbons, Bertha Gyer, Marie Hart, Genevieve Hart, John La Garce, Maurice Lohmeyer, Genevieve Mahon, Justine Mahon, Teresa Manion, Owen McVey, Marie O'Gorman, Paul O'Gorman, Margaret Saxton. Charles Sindell, Thomas Sindell, Francis Signaigo, Edward Signaigo, Helen Walsh. Thomas Walsh, Veronica White, Edward White. Through the year there was an increase in attendance to 70. Classes were formed up to the Sixth Grade. Plans for a school were drawn and a drive for funds was made. Parishioners donated $1,136.00 and personal friends of Father Casey contributed $1,155.00. A loan of $5,000.00 was made of Mercantile Trust and by January, 1903, the basement of the school was ready for occupation. The building that was planned at this time was never completed. Father Casey intended it to be a two-story combination building of Church and School, a hundred feet long and fifty-four feet wide. The Church was to occupy the first floor and the school the second. After the basement was completed, there was a delay for lack of funds and the building that Father Casey left the parish was not completed until 1906. This was the front part of the present school. There are only two of the original rooms, those on the second floor, now being used for class rooms. The rest of the building was erected by Father O'Connor in 1919 when the old Church was made unfit for occupation by a fire that started in the boiler room the morning of January 2. 1919. The total cost of the building constructed by Father Casey amounted to $20,000.00. At the time of his death, there was an indebtedness of $9,000.00 in the parish; he rarely got a full salary. The school was his one great ambition in life. He used to say to the parishioners, "Let us take care of the school and the school children later on will take care of the parish." He presumed those who would be given an opportunity of a Catholic education would remain and help to build it up. This might be expected in most parishes but it is far from being true in St. James, Those who were educated in the school, as a rule, were given an urge to improve their condition in life and as will be seen from the list Of graduates, very few of them remained. Most of them have moved to the west end and are helping to build up the new parishes in which they have their homes and St. James keeps up its effort to continue the school and give a Catholic education to every poor man's child regardless of what advantage might accrue to the parish in the days to come.
Sister Loyola, one of the four nuns who came to St. James, describes in her "Fifty Years of Retrospect," the opening of St. James School and the hardships the nuns underwent. These are her words:
"In September, 1902, the four Sisters who had been in Jonesburg were transferred to the school about to be opened in St. James Parish, St. Louis. But there was no school building awaiting them, nothing but a little cottage of six rooms, three of which they were obliged to convert into class-rooms. Here they huddled together seventy little children to receive the elements of Catholic education. The Sisters themselves were obliged to repair to the cellar -- then in an unfinished state -- to cook and eat. The earthen floor was so uneven that one Sister would be told off at meal times to hold the table steady while the others used their knives and forks. Through a misunderstanding, there was no furniture not even a bed -- in the house upon their arrival. It was a sorry quartette that sat on their trunks that first evening looking at one another and wondering if this venture was to have the same ending as had Jonesburg. For a week the Sisters slept on the floor, a prey to the stings of mosquitoes that swarmed from a noxious swamp in the rear of the property. The misunderstanding as to the furnishing of the house was due to the fact that the one wealthy woman of the parish had led the pastor to believe that she would supply all that was necessary for the needs of the Sisters, and he, having given her carte blanche, so informed his good people, who, had it been left to them, would gladly have procured for the Sisters every reasonable comfort. When the parishioners learned that the supposed benefactress had failed to do what was expected, they lost no time in remedying the neglect and in a short while the Sisters were very comfortable in their little home. The house became quite commodious when, in January 1903, the classes were transferred to the basement of the new school building.
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