By Peggy Kruse

Below are just a few of the stories we found especially interesting.  You can read through this page and get a feel for some of the area’s history — you can also click on the links and learn a great deal more.

Topics here include:

  • Physical location of Old Jamestown area attractive to early travelers and inhabitants
  • Native Americans & Explorers
  • Early Settlers
  • “James Town”
  • Guy Seeley property & log cabin – later owned by Elizabeth Mullanphy & James Clemens, Jr.
  • Cold Water Cemetery – Patterson Family – Rev. John Clark – Church/s & School
  • Original Brown School on Old Jamestown
  • Steamboats and the Car of Commerce Chute
  • Musick’s Ferry and Inn
  • Halls Ferry Road
  • Douglass-Tunstall House
  • German Immigrants
  • Civil War (Link to other site)
  • African-American Cemetery on Cold Water Creek at Old Halls Ferry
  • Desloge Vouziers Mansion
  • Shelby Curlee, Owner of Curlee Clothing
  • Washington University Physicans and Researchers
  • Old Jamestown Association
  • Laclede Gas Underground Storage
  • Karst Protection District

 Physical location of Old Jamestown area was attractive to early travelers and inhabitants

Native Americans and then settlers long used the unique characteristics of the Old Jamestown area as preferred travel routes.

Just north of Old Jamestown, in St. Charles County, is Portage des Sioux, which is located at a point where the distance between the Missouri and Mississippi is only two miles. The name of the town derives from the fact that Native Americans would carry their canoes across this narrow neck of land saving themselves twenty-five miles of paddling.  (Excerpted from the Portage des Sioux web site site)  For more information about activity at Portage des Sioux, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaties_of_Portage_des_Sioux

Native American routes to St. Louis are thought to be trails from Portage des Sioux to the Musick’s Ferry or Portage Road areas over to Bellefontaine Road and then to the City of St. Louis. 

Kingshighway in St. Louis City is thought to have been a “continuation of King’s Trace in Jefferson County, running north….  Along this there had been an Indian trail, skirting the forest west of the prairie land, in the direction of a portage on the Missouri River, a way many miles shorter than by the Mississippi River.”   (Encyclopedia of the history of St. Louis, Vol 4, page 2157, Street Names)

Bluff areas on river are some of highest Missouri River bluffs in St. Louis County.  The Old Jamestown area avoids flooding because of the bluffs and because flood waters go to the flood plain between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

Native Americans and Explorers

Many nomadic Native American tribes at least passed through OJ area over thousands of years.   Artifacts have been found at Musick’s Landing and in Sioux Passage Park and along Cold Water Creek.

At least twenty Native American tribes received gifts at the Spanish post in St. Louis in 1777.  Those from along the Missouri River in Central Missouri were the Little Osages, Big Osages, and Missouris.  The Ottawas and Sauteurs lived as far away as 325 leagues (about 850 miles) in Canada.   Closest were the Peorias and Kaskaskias located In Kaskaskia, 22 leagues (about 60 miles) away.  (Spanish Regime in Missouri, Louis Houck, 1909, pages 141-148)

The confluence of the Missouri River and Mill Creek was a favored campsite for Indians of the late woodland and Mississippian periods. The area featured good hunting and fishing. A source of flint for the manufacture of tools and weapons was readily available. An easily accessible spring provided all-important drinking water. The area provided the needs of the early inhabitants. It is possible that Indians of the Middle Woodland period inhabited the area as early as 100 A.D. The Sioux Passage Park Archaeological Site is located in the park.   (Sioux Passage Park Web Site)

“It was at Portage des Sioux that Indians of the ‘Upper Missouri’ district made their headquarters for dealing in furs in pioneer days of Missouri.  It was the custom, according to stories that have been told by the old residents of Florissant, that the Indians would cross the Missouri River from Portages des Sioux at a point near Musick Ferry and carry their wares to Florissant, where they bartered with the early white settlers.”  (quoted from Post-Dispatch article, June 22, 1919, which was quoting Leonard Albers)

Explorers [most notably Lewis & Clark] passed the present Sioux Passage Park site on their treks up the Missouri River to the unknown West.   Reference is [also] made in the Journal of Zebulon Pike [of Pike’s Peak fame] to camping in an area in close proximity to present day Sioux Passage Park [on his journey to explore the southern portion of the Louisiana Purchase].  (Sioux Passage Park web site)

For more stories of Native American activity in the Old Jamestown area, see the Introduction to the History of the Hazelwood School District by Gregory Franzwa, 1977.

Early Settlers

The “Louisiana” area west of the Mississippi came under Spanish control in 1763.  Between 1770 and 1803, Spanish lieutenant governors (sometimes called commandants) sent to St. Louis encouraged immigration and were quite generous in conceding large tracts of lands to the newcomers.  By 1800, most, if not all, of the land in north St. Louis County had been granted to the first settlers.   (Eventually most of these grants were verified by the U.S. Government.)  

Note:  Napoleon Bonaparte returned Louisiana to France from Spain in 1800, under the Treaty of San Ildefonso….However, the treaty was kept secret, and Louisiana remained under Spanish control until a transfer of power to France on November 30, 1803, just three weeks before the cession to the United States.  (Wikipedia article on the Louisiana Purchase http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Purchase)

A few of the early land owners and their holdings in the Old Jamestown area were James Family Members (Sarah, Benjamin, Cumberland, James, and Morris) — land grants totaling1,863 acres and Hodges Family Members (Edmund, Gilbert, Ebenezer, Daniel, and Samuel) — land grants totaling 1731 acres.  Other land grantees were James Richardson, John Patterson, William Patterson, David Brown, John Seeley, Guy Seeley, James Hart, and Farquar McKenzie.

“James Town” — Phinehas James

The first historical reference to the area known as Jamestown is documented in June 1819.  Phineas James, one of the earliest settlers to this area, advertised the sale of lots in what he called “James’ Town.” According to his plans, a sizeable community would be started on the limestone plateaus that border much of the Missouri River in this area. It has been speculated by historians that Phineas James had visions of this settlement someday rivaling the City of St. Louis.  (Old Jamestown Area Study, page 5.

From the front page ad for “James Town” in the Missouri Gazette, the St. Louis area’s first newspaper, June 16, 1819 (reprinted in the September 1975 Hazelwood School District Newsletter):

Notice

The subscriber informs the public that he has just completed laying off James’ Town, and will offer the LOTS at public sale to the highest bidder on the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth day of July next.  The terms of …. date of sale, at which a correct plat of the town can be seen.

JAMES’ TOWN

Is situated on a beautiful bluff, on the southern bank of the Missouri River, six miles above its confluence with the Mississippi.   Being situated on a bluff, it has the advantage of a firm rock shore, along which there are a number of the safest harbors for boats that I presume any other town on these waters can boast of; also, several seats for mills that so large a water course can form.   Near the public square, there is a cave through which passes a large body of cold, sweet lucid water which I think could, without much expense be raised and conveyed to every part of the town.   The earth after removing the virgin soil is admirably calculated for brick, and the rock along the river, which can be easily procured, is of the best quality, either for building or manufacturing into lime; sand for making brick and mortar can be procured without much trouble or expense.   Behind this desirable situation lays the rich and flourishing country of Florissant or St. Ferdinand and in front (beyond that majestic river that sweep[s]  along its base) is to be seen that fertile bottom that intercepts the communication of those two splendid rivers (Mississippi and Missouri) which not only offers to the fancy a rich harvest of charms, but also to the town an abundant harvest of advantages.   The situation of this town is so lofty and noble as never to offend by noxious fumes of putrid sickly air; and the eye has always presented to it, a beautiful and grand variety [In fine?]    To give a more powerful and impressive idea of the value of the place, is but to observe that there are now about three hundred lots laid off, of which better than one sixth of that number are already disposed of, and most of the purchasers have promised to build on them immediately, which I consider as one strong, convincing proof of Jamestown having merit as an advantageous and desirable situation.

Phinehas James

June 14…

The dream Mr. James held never materialized. In the ensuing years after his first advertisement, little is heard from the community of “James’ Town” – however, it did appear on several maps.  One early map showed a community of 3-1/2 blocks, approximately 8 to 16 homes.   The name was also used in the application to build a Jamestown Road from Parker Road to the River via Portage Road.    [From Portage to Douglas Roads, the current Old Jamestown was called Accommodation until well into the 1900’s.]    (Old Jamestown Area Study, page 5)

Guy Seely property and log cabin – Eliza Mullanphy and James Clemens

Guy Seely was one of the first landowners in north St.  Louis County.  A contemporary of such pioneers as Little, Rogers,  James, Brown,  Carrico, Jamison and  Patterson, his children married into  those  families.  His  son,  Cornelius, married Elizabeth Little on May 12, 1789….

The Seely land-grant was from the King of Spain, and was confirmed as Seely property under U.S. Survey no. 934.  Lying directly across the Missouri River from Little’s Island in St.  Charles County, the Seely tract [between the current Jamestown Farms and Portage Road area]  was on the high ground of St.  Louis County, and comprised much of the area along Old Jamestown Long.   The road  was just an Indian trail at that time….Indians portaged across the Missouri River here and followed the trail which  connected with what was known as “The  Great Trail…” (Bellefontaine Road) which ended at St. Louis.

The  log  cabin   which  Seely  built   was  the   most  remote outpost of civilization on  the frontier,  and   was   the   site   of  many   conferences  with   the   natives.   When   General Wilkinson came  to the  area at  the  turn of the  century to select  a site  for a military fort and  trading post  for the  Native Americans, he was  a guest  for nearly two weeks in  the  Seely  log­ cabin  home.   General Wilkinson selected his site  and  built  Fort  Bellefontaine which  was just  east  of the  Seely  property at the  mouth of Cold Water Creek.

In later years John Mullanphy, Missouri’s first millionaire, bought the property and deeded it to his youngest daughter, Eliza, who married James Clemens, Jr., on January 10, 1833….

(Above quoted from Missouri Historical Research Record, April 1968, written by Robert Swanson and published by Heritage Research Service)

James W. Clemens was a successful businessman in St. Louis.  He was born in 1791 in Danville, Kentucky and came to St. Louis in 1816.  He was also second cousin to Mark Twain’s father (who lived in Hannibal) and helped him out with a loan and other financial assistance.   (James Clemens of Washington County, Pennsylvania, 1734-1795, and his family, by Raymond Martin Bell and Harriet Lane Cates Hardaway, 1907)

City of St. Louis:   Six years after the death of his wife, work began on his mansion at 1849 Cass Avenue in the City.   It was completed in 1963.   Clemens built the house with Eliza in mind.  Her face is carved into a marble fireplace in the front room and also appears in an ornamental plaster ceiling molding in the first floor hall.  Eliza’s death mask, duplicated in cast iron, decorates the outside of window lintels.   Mark Twain stayed at the house on visits to St. Louis.  (St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, “Mansion Is Haven For Homeless, by Donald Berns,” exact date unknown but it’s after 1987)

Cold Water Cemetery – Patterson Family – Rev. John Clark – Church/s and School

Historic Cold Water Cemetery is located off Old Halls Ferry between Pallottine Renewal Center and Hammer’s Farm.

The paragraphs below are excerpted from the ‘History’ page of the Cold Water Cemetery web site http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~modarcwc/    [This web site is temporarily unavailable; if rootsweb corrections cannot be made, it will be moved to a different web hosting site.]  We suggest visiting the site for much more information.

Hidden away, back a long lane off of Old Halls Ferry Road in Florissant is the beautifully restored Cold Water Cemetery.  You will find it located atop a hill, surrounded by deep woods, shaded by ancient oaks and walnuts, and also surrounded by deep depressions in the land, locally called “The Sinks”. 

Two known Revolutionary War Soldiers are buried there, John Patterson, Sr. in 1839, and Eusebius Hubbard in 1818… [as well as] soldiers who fought in the War of 1812, the Seminole War, the War Between the States, the Mexican War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

 ….This small cemetery is on land given for this purpose by John Patterson, Sr., a Revolutionary War Soldier.  Legend is that an eight-cornered Methodist church in the shape of a cross was established about 1808 and the cemetery, which was to become Cold Water, was established on the circumference of the church grounds.

This historic cemetery is considered to be the oldest Protestant cemetery, still in use, west of the Mississippi River.

John Patterson, Sr. gathered his family together and, with many of his friends and relatives, journeyed from the Carolinas, eventually arriving in the Cold Water Creek area around 1797.  They began to acquire land, much of which was from Spanish land grants, as the area was under Spanish Rule at the time.

The Spanish were Catholics and this new breed of settlers being Protestant, was difficult for the Spanish to understand.  The Pattersons retained their Protestant faith through the services of a Methodist Minister known as “Father Clark.”

Rev John Clark, born in the British Isles, was by every measure a gentleman, one with genteel manners and speech, neat in appearance and dress.  Perhaps it was this bearing which made him a welcome guest across the continent and particularly at Cold Water settlement.

The American Revolution was only two years old when Clark, who was twenty, became a crewman on a British transport.  ….   [He had many adventures as a crew member of various ships during the Revolutionary War.  See the cemetery web site for many stories.]

According to an often-told story, Clark began preaching to a group of American settlers in the Louisiana Territory who had gathered at Bates’ Rock [near Herculaneum] in 1798.

It is said that Zenon Trudeau, the Spanish Commandant in St. Louis, had a friendship for Clark but publicly warned him of the stern penalties for disobedience to the law [against Protestant preaching].  The story goes that Trudeau never sent officers to arrest Clark until he was certain that the Methodist preacher was safely back in Illinois.  He would give him three days to get out of Spanish Territory which would allow him enough time to finish preaching and return to Illinois.

At the turn of the century, Clark was making regular visits to the settlements along Cold Water Creek.….Cold Water work became a part of the so-called “Illinois Circuit,” renamed a year later the “Missouri Circuit,” and by 1809, the “Cold Water Circuit.”

About 1810, Clark became closely associated with a Baptist group called the “Friends of Humanity”.  He was probably attracted to them because of their abolitionist stance and because he favored Baptist polity over the Methodist appointive system.  In 1811, Clark affiliated with the Baptists and continued in that denominational ministry until his death twenty-two years later….

On November 15, 1833, he died in the home of Elisha and Lucy Hubbard Patterson, whom he had married more than twenty-seven years earlier.  ,,,,   His grave is probably unusual in that both the Baptists and the Methodists have marked it.

The cemetery is currently the property of the Missouri State Society Daughters of the American Revolution who maintain it and have a traditional Memorial Day ceremony that includes the VFW Color Guard, the American Legion, Cub Scouts, a 21 gun salute, a guest speaker, and special memorial services for the deceased DAR members and for the many veterans buried there.

Also at the cemetery site were the first buildings of Salem Baptist Church (now on Old Jamestown Road) and Cold Water School (now on New Halls Ferry in front of Hazelwood Central High School).

See the official Cold Water Cemetery web site: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~modarcwc/  With Links to a ‘History’ page with much more detail and a ‘Names’ page with names of those buried there over the years. [Note:  This web site is temporarily unavailable.  If corrections can’t be made by rootsweb the web site will be moved to a different web hosting service.]

Original Brown School on Old Jamestown

Following are excerpts from Chapter 1 of History of the Hazelwood School District, written by Gregory Franzwa, 1977:

Up in the northernmost reaches of the current Hazelwood School District was the Brown school.  Product of a homespun American society of frontiersmen, anxious to prepare their children for their future, begrudging their loss to the classroom during the spring plowing season, proud when an occasional eighth grader returned from Clayton exams aglow over his new diploma.

In the 1840s the settlers were anything but crowded, but the little  log, school  near  the  Cold  Water cemetery — the   only  one  for  miles  a­ round .– was bursting at the  seams.  The children on the Shackelford, New Halls Ferry and Old Jamestown roads had a long way to walk to school in the biting winters of the mid-century.

Uncle Billy James did something about it. On December 9, 1859, he deeded 3/4-acre of ground to the three directors on the board of education – Peter Temple, Benjamin Douglas and Lewis Patterson.  The tract was on the north side of Old Jamestown road east of Douglas and almost on the corner of the Carrico road. It adjoined land owned by the Browns – David, Clement and William.

The one-room school was built of brick and was originally called James School, then changed names several times to Douglas and James and finally to Brown School.

After Brown School was taken over by the new School District of Hazelwood in 1950, the building became a residence, first as a parsonage for Salem Baptist Church, which sits across the street.  It still stands, with additions on either side, and is still in use.

Still on the subject of Brown School, we jump briefly into the 20th century.  Ralph Wehmer was a student at Brown School in the 1920’s and told the story below to OJA history committee member Olga Smith (a BJC Hospice Lumina Project Volunteer) on 16 July 2007.

One foggy morning, around 8:30, while outside at school, we heard a noise that caught our attention.….   We saw a plane coming down low in front of our school. The plane was really low, probably 50 feet in the air.  The plane would come down low and go back up again. As the plane came down low, he cut the engine and hollered, “Where’s the nearest airport?” We pointed in the direction of the airport, which was then Anglum, Missouri (now Robertson].  We kids made a ‘human arrow’.  The oldest kid, Bill Brinker, organized us.  He circled back around and yelled down, “Thank you!” The person in the plane happened to be Charles Lindbergh! [At the time, there were spotlights every 10 miles from Alton, over Vaile to Florissant and on to the airport for pilots to find their way. It was so foggy that morning, that he couldn’t see them.]

Steamboats and the Car of Commerce Chute

Steamboat schedules published in old newspapers show stops at Musick’s Ferry
at the end of New Halls Ferry and Douglas.

Following are excerpts from “Missouri River Steamboats” by Phil E. Chappell, which contains a list of 700 steamboats.   This was a companion to Chappell’s paper on “Missouri River History,” about Native Americans and explorers and steamboats, which he read before the Kansas State Historical Society on December 6, 1904.

The first steamboat to ascend the Missouri river was a boat called the Independence. She came up as high as the mouth of the Chariton river in the spring of 1819, and thus demonstrated that the river was navigable by steamboats. There were few steamboats, however, on the river previous to 1840, owing to the sparsely settled condition of the country and the limited demands of commerce. Those that were built for the trade during this early period were small, lubberly craft, exceedingly slow and of heavy draft. They were single-engine, one-boiler side-wheelers, without the modern cabin, and had no conveniences for the comfort and safety of the passengers. With the rapid increase of population along the lower river, in the decade from 1830 to 1840 came an increased demand for additional transportation facilities; larger boats were built; the modern cabin was adopted; and additional improvements were made, both in the hull, so as to lessen the draft, and in the machinery, to increase the speed. These improvements kept pace with the trade as it increased until the ’50 ‘s, when the boats built for the lower river during the decade from 1850 to 1860 were veritable floating palaces, and were unsurpassed in speed, splendor and luxurious furnishings by any inland water craft in the world.

It was during this period (1859), when the Missouri river steamboat had reached its perfection, and the business its highest degree of prosperity (there being not less than 100 boats on the river), that the railroads invaded the country tributary to the lower Missouri, and sounded the death-knell of steam boating. The contest which ensued between the two rival methods of transportation was short and decisive, and it soon became apparent to the steamboat-owner that he could not compete successfully with this modern competitor for the commerce of the West.

Given fires and explosions, many steamboats did not last long – they had average lives of 5 to 10 years.   In 1832, the steamboat named Car of Commerce sank in the chute south of Pelican Island…..and afterward the chute was named Car of Commerce, which still appears on maps of the Old Jamestown area.

Musick’s Ferry and Inn 

Also still appearing on some maps, including MapQuest is Musick’s Ferry, at the end of New Halls Ferry and Douglas, just to the west of Pelican Island.

About 1800 Sarah James owned the land now identified as Musick’s Ferry.   Her ferry was operated as James Ferry or Spring Ferry.   She sold her land about 1815 and the ferry operation was later leased to Captain Edward Hall whose name was used for Halls Ferry Road.  The land and ferry were acquired by Reuben Musick and his wife, Lydia Carrico Musick in 1848.

The next two paragraphs are from Musick Family Association of America published by Don Musick of Mt Vernon, IL

“Before a bridge was built across the Missouri River from St. Louis CO. to St. Charles, Mo, crossings were made by “Hall’s Ferries.”   The St. Louis CO. docks were called “Musick’s Landing.”  This property was owned by Reuben Musick and his wife, Lydia Carrico.   Reuben also owned an inn called Musick’s Tavern, which offered travellers food and overnight accommodations while awaiting the stage taking them into St. Louis.  ….”  The Helmholz Papers via Musick Family Association of America

“In the summer months, besides ferries and river traffic, a variety of showboats anchored at Musick’s Landing.   It became fashionable for residents of towns in west St. Louis CO. to drive out to Hall’s Ferry Road, dine at Musick’s Tavern, and see a showboat performance.   Many rented a room and remained for additional shows, which were changed every night.  Matinees were given Saturday and Sunday afternoons.   Business prospered, and the tavern was enlarged several times.”…The Helmholz Papers via Musick Family Association of America.

A February 20,1931, newspaper article in the St. Louis County Watchman Advocate provided fuller information about the ferry operation and the inn.   Some of the information was provided to the newspaper by Patterson Hume who was about 75 at the time the article was written.  The paragraphs below are excerpted from that article, a copy of which was provided to us by the St. Louis County Library. 

“The old ferry, a roofless, flat boat arrangement, was propelled by horses walking on a treadmill and later in a circle around a pole, which turned a shaft which kept the wheel in motion to push the boat across the river….

“Of course the old Missouri in those days was not as wide as it is today, and the crossing was accomplished, as I have been told in pretty good time.  Although the country to the north was pretty well developed and populated, travel was not so heavy, and then too, there was another ferry at St. Charles, and this cared for a good bit of business.”

About 1850, the problem of overnight accommodations for farmers and furriers who hauled their products from the St. Charles and northern Missouri district, via Musick Ferry, to St. Louis was taken up by the few business men of Musick’s Ferry….

Work on the old building, which stands on the East bank of the Missouri River, was started in the early [1850’s] and its nineteen rooms are encased in a stone hulk, the walls of which measure nearly two feet in thickness.   The stones, huge blocks with their outer surface smoothly finished, were quarried and dressed right in the neighborhood by native artisans, who were evidently experts and used to good advantage the few tools available to stone mason workers in this early period, as is evidenced by the finish on some of the blocks.

Vincent Grey was the builder and he erected the building for his mother-in–law, Mrs. Blackburn, known in the neighborhood as “Aunt Betsy,” a daughter of James James.

The tavern was named Musick’s Ferry Inn and presided over by “Aunt Betsy,” it thrived for many years as a great center of commerce as well as entertainment, as not only farmers, halting here on their long and arduous trips to enjoy a good night’s rest and partake of Aunt Betsy’s wholesome meals took advantage of its accommodations, but gay parties of those pioneer folk from both sides of the old Missouri journeyed over the rough roads in wagons, buggies and on horseback to participate in the gaieties at the tavern.

The old Inn did a thriving business for a while, some nights accommodating as high as 15 and 20 farmers, who after crossing the stream would stop there for the night before continuing their journey the next morning to St. Louis, and likewise, those returning from St. Louis, arriving at the river too late to be ferried across would put up there for the night.”

The building was later used as quarters for workers at the quarry and then the lower floor used by as the owner’s residence.  Unfortunately, it was destroyed sometime after 1936.  In the 1931 Watchman Advocate article, the then current owner said he planned to tear it down that year but there is a 1936 photo of the building.

Halls Ferry Road

Hall’s Ferry Road was surveyed in 1815 from St. Louis to the Missouri River, where it was connected with a road in St. Charles County running to Portage des Sioux.   Connection was made by a ferry operated by Edward Hall.  This first route is now Old Halls Ferry Road.  A petition for its construction was filed with the County Court in 1917.

Old records at Clayton Court House include the original petition for the construction of the road….   In the petition it was set  out, “that the only road which leads from the Ferry to St. Louis, was laid out by the United States soldiers more for the purpose of the express from Portage [des Sioux] to headquarters and that, it was difficult to use it even on horse back.”  (February 20,1931 Watchman Advocate article.)

Like most roads, Halls Ferry Road was first paved with wooden planks.Yellowed with age, [the] papers in the files of the Halls Ferry road, designated among files of other roads in the county as “Halls Ferry road – No. 1,” give an interesting history of the pioneer methods of road-building in St. Louis County.   One court order recording the contract for a section of the road sets out that, “the boards now at Bremen…are to be laid as far as they will go at $15 a mile and the agreed price per lineal foot.”   The latter price being evidently set in a previous order which is not among the records?   All measurements are specified in poles.  (February 20,1931 Watchman Advocate article.)

Douglass-Tunstall House and Land — Owners provide historical overview of Old Jamestown

This article was printed in the Old Jamestown Association Newsletter, May 2014, and was updated July 2014.

Have you ever wondered about the large white brick house at 15310 Old Halls Ferry Road, just north of Pallottine Renewal Center and Coldwater Cemetery?  Drawn from a variety of sources, here are a few historical highlights about the house and its inhabitants.

The house was constructed in the early 1850’s by slave labor with bricks kilned on the property.  This Federal/Greek revival style house was built in an L-shape popular in those days, one room wide in both directions.  Each of its 12 rooms had a brick fireplace.  Slave quarters were the two upstairs rooms in the back, female slaves in one room, men in the other — the rooms were separated by a solid 36-inch masonry wall and each was reached by its own stairway. 

The ground on which the house stands was originally granted to David Brown’s representatives by the Spanish in the late 1700’s.   Daniel and Mary Brown sold it in 1819 to four of the five sons of pioneer settler John Patterson, Sr.   The 400 arpents (340.28 acres) were divided among them.   The property was later sold to Elizabeth B. Tunstall.

In 1858, the Tunstalls sold the house and property to Nicholas Douglass and his wife, Margaret Patterson, daughter of John Patterson, Jr., and Jane Jamison (step sister of John Patterson, Jr.)  Two of the Douglass’ children, first Mary, and after her death, Virena, married Henri Chomeau, a civil engineer who served as County Surveyor and was founder and president of St. Louis Title Company.  Virena and Henri’s daughter was Adele Starbird, Washington University’s 1931-59 Dean of Women as well as a very popular columnist for the Post-Dispatch.  They are all buried in Coldwater Cemetery.

In 1885, Herman C. Rosenkoetter purchased the farm, then nearly 200 acres.  In 1910, he farmed about 300 acres, specializing in growing fruit.  Rosenkoetter was not only a very successful farmer but also active in St. Ferdinand Township politics.   He served for fifteen years as road supervisor and for thirteen years as a member of the local school board.

In 1940, Oscar Hammer and his wife Velma bought the house and the 100 acres surrounding it.  During World War II, Hammer was vice president of materials with Curtiss Wright Aircraft Company and later held a similar position with McDonnell Douglas.  In the 1950’s, the Hammers established the Old Halls Ferry Stables, raising and boarding thoroughbred horses.

After their deaths in 1995 and 1997, one of their daughters, Rosann Stegall, was reported missing from the home in January 1999.  About a month later, her body was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico 20 miles off the coast of New Orleans.  However, a connection was not made between the two incidents until October 2004 and police did not find a motive for the murder.

The property is now known as Hammer’s Farm.   The house was damaged by a fire in early 2014.

German Immigrants

Like many Germans, about 1840 the Rosenkoetters boarded ships in Bremen, Germany, and took the two-month trip to New Orleans, then took steam boats for the two-week trip up the Mississippi to Missouri.   Many left Germany because of the poor economic conditions at that time and some left to avoid serving in the Prussian military.

Most of the Germans came to farm the land in Old Jamestown.  The Rosekoetters also had stores/taverns at Cross Keys (Hwy 67 and New Halls Ferry) and Shoveltown (Hwy 67 and Old Halls Ferry).   The Rosenkoetter story is told in “From Westphalia Into the World, A Farmer’s Family from Westphalia in Search of a Better Future in the U.S.A.”

Another early German family, the Buengers, had farm buildings that still stand at the corner of Vaile and Old Jamestown.  Their descendants live across the street and maintain the property and historic buildings.

Many other Old Jamestown farm families continue their association with the Salem Lutheran Church in Black Jack, which was officially organized in 1849 as Salem Evangelical Church of New Bielefeld.

African-American Cemetery on Cold Water Creek at Old Halls Ferry.

The 1/2-acre New Coldwater Burying Ground Memorial Park Cemetery at 13711 Old Halls Ferry Road was used as a cemetery from 1886 until 1949.   It was one of the few graveyards in Missouri both owned by African-Americans and reserved for African-Americans during that time.  The ground was purchased for $50.  At least some of the purchasers were ex-slaves who collected the money from the African-American community.   Contributions ranged from 25 cents to $3.   The land was next to another half acre, which had been purchased for $1.00 in 1868 and was being used for a church and school.

Maintenance of the cemetery was erratic after 1963 when Frazier Vincent died — he was the son of one of the original purchasers.   In 1993, the City of Black Jack took over responsibility of the cemetery and held a rededication ceremony in 1995.

Reviving a dead cemetery, North County Journal, June 18, 1995

Desloge Vouziers Mansion

Firmin Desloge amassed a fortune after founding the Desloge Lead Co. in St. Francois County in 1873.  His son, Joseph Desloge, Sr., born in 1889, served with the French artillery in World War I and received an award (Croix de Guerre) for defending the town of Vouziers In France.

In 1919, Joseph bought a large tract of land near the intersection of what is now New Halls Ferry and Shackelford roads and commissioned New Orleans architect Dennis McDonald to design a Louis XVI-style chateau, which Desloge would name Vouziers.

By 1926, the 10-bedroom, four-story manor had been completed, with no expense spared.  The 4,000-square-foot ballroom, built into the hillside, is connected to a parking area through an underground tunnel.  Joseph Sr. had four children who grew up in Vouziers.   His daughter Anne was the 1946 Veiled Prophet queens. 

The property was later sold to the Kroeger Family who sold it in the late 1990s to McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) for their Leadership Center, which hosts employees and others from all over the world for classes and other events.

A house on eastern side of New Halls Ferry was built by the Desloges about 1930 or 1940.  Joseph Desloge, Sr., kept his horses in a barn and the family went riding from there.  The man employed by the Desloges to mind their horses lived in the house with his daughter.  Others with connections to early landowners in the area have lived in the house over the years.

The Desloge family sold Pelican Island at a discounted price to St. Louis County, which later turned it over to Missouri Department of Conservation.

Shelby Curlee, owner of Curlee Clothing Company

In the early 1900s. Shelby Curlee, owner of Curlee Clothing Company, owned property overlooking the Car of Commerce Chute and the Missouri River, which has since become Castlereagh Subdivision on Old Jamestown Road.  Curlee had a ‘mansion’ or ‘castle’ and a very large orchard.  His brother, Col Francis Curlee, also owned the clothing company, which was begun in Corinth, Mississippi, in 1900, and moved to St. Louis in 1903.   In the 1940s, Curlee Clothing was larger than Levi Strauss.    Francis bought the Nathan Boone home near Defiance, which later became an historic home open to the public.  Francis and Shelby were great-grand nephews of Daniel Boone who died in the historic Defiance home in 1820.

Washington University Physicans and Researchers

These are some of the highly regarded Washington U. physicians and researchers who lived along the Missouri River in Old Jamestown.

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Evarts A. Graham, M.D., F.A.C.S. (1883-1957) and his family lived on Jamestown Acres in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

From Wikipedia:  Graham was a professor, a physician, and a surgeon, who served as chairman of the department of surgery at Washington University School of Medicine from 1919 to 1951.  He and Dr. Ernst Wynder conducted the first systematic research on the carcinogenic effects of cigarette smoking that was done on a large scale.  He was best known for collaborating on the first successful removal of a lung for the treatment of lung cancer in 1933.  He also developed the first procedure for imaging the gall bladder.

Graham’s house on Jamestown Acres was designed by Harris Armstrong, a well-known modern architect.   Graham’s son, Evarts, was managing editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from 1968 to 1979.

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Vilray P. Blair, M.D., lived on Portage Road.    He served as chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Washington University from 1925 until 1955.   He is recognized as a premier American pioneer in plastic surgery.

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Alexis Hartmann, M.D., and later his son, Alexis Hartmann, Jr., M.D., had a summer home on Jamestown Acres.  The senior Hartmann was Chief of Pediatrics at Washington U. and was part of a group who developed a technique to measure sugar in patients’ blood.

The younger Hartmann was a pediatric cardiologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and a faculty member at Washington University’s School of Medicine.  He “was the first to recognize the double-chambered right ventricle in the heart, a form of septated right ventricle caused by the presence of abnormally located or hypertrophied muscular bands.”  (The Department of Pediatrics celebrates its first 100 years, March 30, 2010, Washington University in St. Louis Newsroom)

Old Jamestown Association

The Old Jamestown Association was incorporated in 1942 as a benevolent organization by the State of Missouri. The reasons for forming the Association then are essentially the same reasons for its existence today. However, some of the concerns of area residents were quite different then:

…Evaluate the pros and cons of incorporating as a village…The feeding of garbage to the hogs by local farmers…Trash burning along Sinks Road…Building of snow fences and snowplowing the roads (the Association owned its own snowplow)…

The Association continued to operate during the 1950’s, often responding to such issues as, the threat of “being gobbled up by Florissant,” the proposal to install a marine transmitting station for riverboat communications, and the project by Laclede Gas to store all of the natural gas for the St. Louis metropolitan area in a porous rock formation 1200 feet below the ground surface in the Old Jamestown Area.

The Association became inactive in 1963 and remained so until 1987 when St. Louis County announced the formation of the “New Jamestown” Area Study committee, whose purpose was to “help draft a plan for developing one of the County’s few areas that remain largely undeveloped.” The concept of a comprehensive plan was generally supported by residents. However, the virtual omission of area residents from the citizens’ study committee, among other concerns, was viewed as intentional. Citizen activity over the next several months led to the reactivation of the Association in October 1987. The Association took a contributory role in the Area Study by providing information to the County and keeping residents advised of the progress. The Area Study was complete and submitted to the County Council in April 1988, six months later than originally planned.

 The July 1988 Association Newsletter provides a great deal of information about the development projects and proposals at that time.

Laclede Gas Underground Storage Facility

In the early 1950’s, Laclede Gas Co. began looking for a place to store natural gas. Some gas companies had been using aquifers – sandstone formations that hold underground water – as safe and secure storage areas for gas since the early 20th century.  Laclede was specifically looking at 100? Acres on Sinks Road.

Some landowners did not want a natural gas field under their homes because they feared an explosion and fought the acquisition.  In 1963, their fears were validated in part when gas under pressure blew a cap off a pipe at the surface. No fire started. The dangerous situation was not corrected for days, until Paul “Red” Adair, the legendary oil-and-gas-well emergency specialist, came to recap the pipe.)

The gas company went to the Missouri Legislature for a law to condemn the subsurface rights of the resistant landowners for the storage facility. The Missouri Supreme Court eventually cleared the company’s right to take the aquifer.  Today the gas company can store up to 5 billion cubic feet of gas in the underground aquifer by injecting it under pressure – between 300 and 630 pounds per square inch – into the sandstone.   

Karst Protection District

Karst geology is characterized by underground rivers, caves, springs, losing streams, voids, and fissures, which are the result of millions of years of water dissolving limestone formations that eventually result in surface collapse and visible sinkholes on the surface.   The “Florissant karst,” an area of four square miles within the Old Jamestown area is well known by geologists worldwide .  All storm water runoff discharges directly into sinkholes and then to the network of underground water aquifers.  The earliest written record of the area dates back more than 200 years to 1797 when the “sinkhole area” was a part of the original Patterson Settlement that was “the first successful English speaking settlement in Spanish Territory”.  After many years of supporting its concepts, in March 2009, St. Louis County enacted environmental legislation to preserve part of the Old Jamestown area’s unique geological karst formations.   The karst zoning is similar to the Non Urban (3 acre) zoning with some other restrictions. See Karst page for much more information on the karst area and features.