James Sutton

Old Police Car
James Sutton, wanting to pursue real estate, purchased 334 acres from the Gratiot heirs (1826). The land was in the southwestern part of the league square originally purchased by Graitiot and was purchased for a dollar and a bit ($1.125) per acre (A bit was a half of a quarter of a Spanish silver dollar that had been cut into small change with a cold chisel). Sutton added 51 acres to this purchase in 1848 paying $7.50 per acre.

Sutton constructed a log cabin and moved on to his land, living first near the present Commonwealth Avenue. Then the "Road to Jefferson City by way of Manchester" was opened through the northern part of Sutton's land and he decided to build a home and a storehouse on a high point on the north side of the road near his western line (7453 Manchester). A blacksmith shop was built across the road and soon we read that a road was opened "from Sutton's blacksmith shop to the big bend of the Meramec". This of course is our Big Bend Boulevard which is thus shown to have derived its name not from any big bend in the road but from the big bend in the river (Meramec) to which it led.


Sutton had some interesting neighbors. Just west of him there lived a rather prominent lawyer, Charles S. Rannells by name. He owned all the land west to Hanley Road and south for quite a distance, having bought most of it from Mrs. Ann E. McElderry, for $15 an acre. Rannells called some of his settlement Laclede, for Pierre Laclede Liquest, founder of St. Louis, and from this a station of that name was established on the Pacific Railroad. This location is later where Edgebrook Road (now entrance to Deer Creek Park) can be found, but the road leading north and south from the former station is still called Laclede Station Road.

The brook often referred to in accounts of this area is the Deer Creek branch of the River Des Peres marking the southern boundary of the present-day Maplewood (The River Des Peres of the Jesuit fathers, who had for a few years maintained a mission church at the mouth of that stream). In this part of the present Maplewood the Cartan family also owned a large acreage. North of the Sutton property was a tract owned by the Gay family called East Laclede. It was developed by Brown Real Estate Company as Zephyr Heights.

Other active realtor offices in Maplewood are those of Krodinger, Skinner, Mahler, O'Gorman and Leahy, and the Maplewood Citizens and Peoples Bank. Another neighbor west of Sutton's place was Henry Bartold. He came from Germany in 1835 and in 1840 with his brother Frederick built a stone roadhouse and tavern on Manchester Road near Deer Creek. For years his place was called Bartold's Grove because of its popularity with picnic parties, and the first post office in the neighborhood, the Valley Post Office, was located here. Valley School was one of the first schools in the neighborhood.

Another of Sutton's neighbors, who lived to the north, was Jean Baptiste Bruno, a Frenchman who was a market gardener and for whom Bruno Avenue is named. Jerome, Weaver, and Folk Avenues are for three states attorneys who prosecuted bribe takers.

Limits of The City of St. Louis

In 1876, the limits of the City of St. Louis were extended to their present location. This limit line shows no consideration for the buildings in Maplewood, but ruthlessly bisects many of them. It cuts off the eastern triangle of the Brownson Hotel and runs right through the middle of the old Maplewood Theater, (now gone) putting the projection booth in Maplewood and the screen in St. Louis.

On one street, however, the limits do not interfere with the house. This is along Limit Avenue which was plotted with half of its width on either side of the limits line (St. Louis on the east and Maplewood on the west).

Henry L. Sutton

When the new county was organized, a Maplewood man, Henry L. Sutton, son of James C., was chosen as its chief executive officer, or presiding justice of the county court. The first three meetings of this body were held at the Sutton home on Manchester. Then in 1877, the patriarch of the neighborhood, James C. Sutton died. He left nine children and his land was divided between them. One of the daughters, Mary C. Marshall, seems to have been the first to think of selling her tract for a subdivision, for in 1890, she sold to a company organized by Theophile Papin and Louis H. Tontrup, two St. Louis real estate men, and managed by Robert H. Cornell.

They plotted the land into blocks and lots and named their subdivision Maplewood. This was because of the fact that they planted maple trees along their streets. These streets were also named for trees and shrubs; Maple, Elm, Myrtle, Hazel, Vine, Arbor, and Flora. The street on the west line of the subdivision was named Marshall and the one on the East line Sutton. In some unexplained manner these names were later transposed and remain so located to this day. Then the daughter of James C. Sutton, Sarah Harrison, opened up Maple Lawn, west of Sutton Avenue, and Kate Thomas started Ellendale, so named for one of her daughters.

A son, John L. Sutton sold some of his land on the north side of Manchester to the Lohmeyers who laid out Lohmeyer Heights and Charles W. Sutton sold his land south of the railroad to Moses Greenwood, an active real estate man, who laid out the subdivision which he named for himself. So Greenwood was not named for the forest located there, but for the man who subdivided the forest. Greenwood's plan for naming his streets was most unique. He simply took famous cities of the world and brought them to his subdivision. So we now see in Maplewood a Picadilly from London, Unter der Linden from Berlin, Commonwealth from Boston, Manhattan from New York, and Oxford and Cambridge from the well known university cites of England.


During this period transportation to the suburban area was by the Missouri Pacific's "accommodation" trains, with stations or depots called Ellendale, Maplewood, Sutton, and Laclede. In 1896, an electric streetcar line reached Maplewood and the population of the place increased tremendously. The same year, The St. Louis Meramec Railroad Company operated a trolly line that ran from downtown St. Louis to the Sutton Loop. This was known as the Manchester Line.

Community Growth

Churches were organized and stores and banks as well as library and a city hall appeared on Manchester Avenue. In fact, so many business men came to Maplewood that they could organize a Business and Civic Club which is still prospering. This club became famous for its annual baseball game between the "hefty" businessmen and the "slim" businessmen.

The organization was the Fats and Leans. A fire in January 1908 at the Banner Lumber Company resulted in nine buildings being destroyed. The citizens of Maplewood felt that the St. Louis City Fire Companies could not provide sufficient fire protection so the community decided to incorporate, doing so in May 1908, primarily to provide fire protection and schools.

The schools later became self-managing and self-funding. Some of the prominent citizens that have been mayor include: Arthur J. Crum, F.E. Guiber, Charles S. Goeblein, Milton G. Fink, Charles Stewart, John D. Schuster, Eugene Burks, Charles S. Humphreys, John D. Fels, Frank L. Martini, and Arthur A. Poetting. With Maplewood growing, a second trolly line was built in 1921 on Yale Ave., the "City Limits Line" began operating a north/south route.