The Meramec River forms the western boundary of the City of Sunset Hills. The hills to the east held many springs, both fresh and mineral water; the bottomland of the Meramec Flood Plain offered excellent farmland. It is little wonder that Mound builders stopped in our area to settle. Their artifacts still remain around the stopped up sulphate and salt springs. Historic Indians settled here for the same reasons. The first white men to come into the area came to buy and run the salt springs.
The oldest settlement along the Meramec was in the area around Fenton and Sunset Hills, Spanish Grants of land were given to John Hildebrand in 1777, Gabriel Cerre in 1779, and Jacques Clamorgan in 1791. Hildebrand owned land in present Valley Park and Fenton, sold his land to Thomas Tyler who sold it to Clamorgan. Clamorgan ran the mineral spring on the West Side of the river in Fenton. Gabriel Cerre owned the sulphur spring in Sunset Hills but had someone else run it for him. (Gabriel Cerre father in law is Auguste Chouteau, founder of St. Louis.) The names of other original land grants were all French-Candians but dates are obscure. Phillip Baccene, John Watkins, J. Neybour, John Boli and Conrad Wheat owned some of the land in Sunset Hills. Others in the surrounding area were Peter Didier, William Boli, Sophia Shafer, Fr. Peilievre, Francois LaCombe and Baptist Riviere.
The Spaniards had invited Daniel Boone into Missouri. They promised him huge grants of land if he would come and be a Syndic or Judge to the Indians of the area. He settled north of the Missouri River. In his travels back to Kentucky he would tell the settlers of the great land available in Missouri. John and Jemima Sappington listened with interest to his stories and in 1804 sent sons Thomas and Zephaniah and son-in-law Jonah Parke to explore St. Louis County and buy land. They bought 1,920 acres of land from Peter Didier in 1804 (Crestwood and Sappington area). In 1805, the Sappingtons came with their 17 children and friends to settle along the Gravois Road and environs. This road was on a map of 1804, as the road leading to Clamorgan's spring. The Sappington family was a very rare 1 in that all but one of their children grew to maturity married and populated the area that came to be known as Sappington. Their homes were scattered over a broad area of Crestwood, Sunset Hills, and Concord.
Zephaniah Sappington's home seems to be the oldest. This is the John Dressel property on Gravois. Begun in 1805, chimney built in 1811, the house was finished in 1815. There was another house that was larger than this 1 on the same farm. Resin Sappington ran a grist mill from that house and his brother Jack had a tannery of 45 vats on the same property. There was a spring house, smoke house, slave cabin and a big barn. When Southwoods Apartments were built, the barn was torn down. The old mill stone used in the grist mill was moved into Mr. Dressel's beautiful garden and may still be seen today. The Sappington House maintained by the City of Crestwood is the Thomas Sappington home, completed in 1815. Thomas Sappington and Mary Ann Kincaid obtained the first marriage license issued in the region in 1807 and the house was started. It was built by slaves. The Joseph Sappington home off Baptist Church Road owned by the Lubbock family might have built as early as 1805. Mark Sappington's home, called the Arban house on Old Sappington at 366 was built in 1845. The 17 children all married.
Most of these families had children and Sappington kin in the area have names such as: Hawken, Parke, Hauser, Knowlton, Gast, Work, Hewitt, Pipkin, Long, Kincaid, Wells, Smith, McCormack, Stevens, Wright, Brown, Coons, Sebree, Jollys, Steinhauer, Flesh, McWartman, Mauro, Barrett, Baxter, Tiffin, Goddard, Temple, Onslow, Tyler, Byrd, Jones, Axtell, Hern and Stonebraker. Jonah Sappington, son of Zephaniah, married Martha Pipkin and built a cabin on Robyn Road, Sunset Hills, just west of the Pipkin farm. This cabin burned to the ground in 1951 because it did not have a fire tag on the building. In the days before the fire districts, you paid for fire protection and you had to have fire tag. George Sappington lived at Gravois and Sappington Road. He ran a blacksmith shop. As late as 1920 the area was still called Georgetown, after George Sappington.
Captain John Long
About the same time the Sappington group of families were settling in the Gravois District, Captain John Long, his wife Elizabeth and their married children moved into the area. John Long was Captain of a ship that sailed between Virginia and England. While in England he fell in love with Elizabeth Bennett. She eloped with him and they were married in Philadelphia June 15, 1782. Elizabeth's father disinherited her for eloping. In 1794, they joined his brother Lawrence in Kentucky, started for Missouri in 1796, and reached Kaskaskia before the spring thaw. They had to wait for the ice to melt before they could cross the Mississippi on the ferry. Captain John Long and his brother Lawrence received Spanish Grants of land; Lawrence owned Chesterfield and John owned Bellefontaine. In 1807, the Long family moved from Bellefontaine to the Gravois District and bought Survey #9, known now as Grant's Farm. The Long's were the first white settlers to own the property. John and Elizabeth had 4 children: Isabella married James Mackey; Nancy married Eli Musick; William Lindsay married Elizabeth Sappington; John, Jr. was killed by Indians at Cap Au Gris during the War of 1812.
James Mackay and his wife, Iasbella Long, bought land granted to Hugh Graham under the Spanish. This is now Grantwood and Forest Haven. James Mackey was quite an all around man. He had explored the Missouri River in 1793, and drew the maps for Lewis and Clark; in 1804, he was Judge for the St. Louis region (which covered land from St. Louis west through all Louisiana Territory); he served in the Territorial Assembly of 1816. A big greystone house called "Mansion House" stood close to the St. Louis Bridge on Gravois and Grant Road; when he died in 1860 he left it to his wife and son, Xeno Mackay.
Nancy Long and her husband, Eli Musick, had a farm on Musick Road and are remembered for having help found Concord Baptist Church on Baptist Church Road in 1809.
William Lindsay Long
William Lindsay Long married Elizabeth Sappington in 1808, and is supposed to have built the home White Haven for his bride. In 1821, Colonel Ferderick Dent bought the land called "White Haven" now the home of Mr. Albert Wenzlich. In 1818, Long bought Survey #373 and laid out the town of Fenton, named for his mother's mother. The family lived their 2 years and then moved back to the Gravois District. He built a log home on Pardee and Garber Roads. This home had now been purchased by the City of Crestwood for restoration. William ran a grist mill on the property. He was also appointed Post Master to Sappington in 1827. He died in 1849, of Cholera. William and Elizabeth had 12 children.
Sappington Cemetery had to be established in 1811, when Cholera claimed the life of Sallie Sappington Glenn, 17, bride of 2 months. Her mother, Jemima, died in 1814. The Sappington family tells of how John sat in his rocker on the front porch with his musket on his lap, guarding Jemima's grave. A main Indian trail ran along Gravois Creek and the Indians still had a bad habit of digging up graves to claim scalps. This family cemetery is luckier than most. It was set aside in a will to be permanently kept as a burial ground. Today it is maintained by the city of Crestwood and the DAR. There are 3 Revolutionary War soldiers and 5 War of 1812 soldiers buried in the plot hat is located north of 366 by Gravois creek.
The Meramec River
The Meramec River played an important role in the development of the region. People had to get from 1 side to the other to travel from St. Louis County. Gamache ran a ferry near the mouth of the river, LeMay ran a ferry, and William Boli was granted the ferry rights to Clamorgan's spring in 1804, and in 1821 Michael Honore Tesson moved into "Fox Meadows" so that he could more closely oversee Tesson Ferry, crossing the river about where Highway 21 or Tesson Ferry Road runs today.
Mr. St. John & Son
Mr. St. John lived close to the Tesson Ferry site. His son in law was a doctor named Butler. Dr. Butler's home was up at the top of a big hill and anyone needing his services had to climb up to the house by means of trail that came to be called Butler Hill Road.
The Watson Road
Another road leading from the river to downtown St. Louis was The Watson Road. Wesley Watson and his son, Selma, ran a sand and gravel pit about where Winter Brothers are. Meramec sand had no lignite in it and so it could be used in the mortar that holds most of the brick and stone buildings of St. Louis together. Mississippi river sand could not be used. When Highway 66 was constructed in 1931, they used the Watson Road as a guideline. Today you fined little pieces of Watson Road from Sunset Hills, Webster Groves, West City, and downtown St. Louis.
Gravois Road was an on a map in 1804, as the road that led to Clamorgan's spring. William Lindsay Long, surveyor, had laid out the town of Fenton in 1818. The first families of Fenton were named Long, Herbert, Vandover, Sigler, Bowles, Rudder and Ferris. Sam Vandover bought land on both sides of the river so that he could run a ferry at Fenton in 1833. The ferry landing was at the foot of Ferry Street. By 1854, a covered toll bridge was erected at the ferry site. By 1833, the people of Fenton were beginning to get a little worried about the growing settlement down river by Boli's Ford and petitioned the City of St. Louis to run Gravois Road through the town of Fenton instead of downstream. This was passed by the highway board and Gravois Road moved north to about where the old Gravois is today. The road has been used as a covered wagon trail, a farm to market road and a cattle trail as well as stage line. It has the distinction of being the first county road to be paved in the entire state, done in 1914. Gravois Road was very important to the growth of the area.
Judge Joseph Sale
Judge Joseph Sale bought farmland along the Gravois and Watson Roads from Gabriel Cerre in the early 1800's. His family home and cemetery were located across from Lindbergh High School at Stevenson Drive. Judge Sale was one of the founders of Concord Baptist Church. The Sale family farmed the rich bottomland all through the 1800's, and even today a small section of the territory is still owned by Sale estate. This is the property so rich in Indian artifacts along Old Gravois Road. Supposedly, his cemetery is also on a burial mound. There are only a few remnants of tombstones to be found of the Sale family cemetery on Stevenson.
Thomas Eddie was a Scotsman that came to St. Louis seeking adventure. He would eventually settle in Sunset Hills and Crestwood, but in 1823, he joined a great adventuresome group heading west to seek their fortune in furs. Early historians labeled the group the Seven Trappers. This group was headed General Ashby and in it were Jim Bridger, John Coulter, the Sublette Brothers, Bill Gordon and Thomas Eddie. Among other things, this group discovered the Great Salt Lake. Eddie returned to St. Louis in 1829, and bought the Green Tree Tavern with money made from his furs he trapped. He married Margaret Clark Campbell, October 27,1833. It was rumored that he traded his store bought boots for the parcel of land in southwest Crestwood and East Sunset Hills. Since his plantation was on the East Side of the trail and Jonah Parke's plantation was on the West Side of the trail the street came to be known as Eddie and Parke Road (the Parke spelling has been changed to Park today). Eddie Cemetery remains in the Eddie family, the gravestones of early 1800's are lovely examples of that time.
Oswald Sturdy settled his family on land along the Watson Road in Crestwood. The 110-year-old house was torn down to make way for the subdivision known as Sturdy Estates. However, the family cemetery was preserved on the north side of East Watson Road at Gayle. It must have someone buried there every 25 years to keep it a functioning cemetery. Here you will find "the first St. Louis policeman killed in the line of duty, 1875," according to the head stone.
Colonel Phillip Pipkin
Colonel Phillip Pipkin bought the David Fine Property in 1836, and built a lovely home on Southwick Drive off East Concord Road. This house had a tunnel leading from the basement for several miles. There has been much speculation as to what the tunnel was used for but we shall never know unless a diary or other record turns up somewhere. In the meantime, it is fun to dream up your own idea for its uses. Today it is boarded up, of course, because the ground has been subdivided. The flagstones leading to the patio of the old Pipkin house are interesting. It seems that the owners after the Pipkin family didn't like a family cemetery standing in their orchard; they took out the headstones and used them to lay a walk around the house.
Germans escaping tyranny of their homeland came to America in the 1830's. Many of them came to Missouri, drawn here by the beautiful descriptions of the land found in a book written by a German named Durin who had visited here. He spoke of how the Meramec Valley resembled the Rhine Valley. This book was published in Germany and was evidently fairly well read. Families with names like Rott, Theiss, Crecelius, Wohlschlager, Werner, Mueller, VonTalge, Mehl, Ochs, Schmidt, Happel, Wolf and Schneider filled the South County area.
Baldazar Rott with his wife and son, Jacob, came to America from Germany in 1842. From New Orleans they came up river to Sunset Hills and settled on land west of Rott Road. The steps to the old house are visible on Peterland. Baldazar and his wife were born in 1799. Mr. Rott was an active and prominent farmer from 1842 to 1875. His wife died in 1892, at the age of 96. Jacob Rott married Dorothea Grossherr in 1849, they had 10 children.
Jacob died in 1871. Dorothea reared the children and kept the farm for twenty years. In 1891, she sold the farm to Joseph Griesedieck, Stockstrom and Dieterle. She provided generous parcels of land for her 4 sons. Henry owned 80 acres at Gravois and Musick-the Sabastian Sappington property. John J. lived on the J.B. Sappington farm and bought 40 acres of the Long farm; Jacob, Jr. owned a portion of the Sturdy Estate, north of 66 and east of Lindbergh running up to Eads land. The Sunset Manor subdivision in Sunset Hills is the Jacob Rott orchard - some of the pear trees are scattered throughout the yards on Monica and Deane Court. Charles Frederick Rott owned the land where Wohlschleager's store had been. Charles Rott ran the grocery store at the corner of Denny and Gravois until he sold the store to Johnny Loeffelman.
This family was a very civic-minded 1. Not only were they founders and generous supporters of St. Lucas Evangelical and Reformed Church; the men served many times as Board Members for Rott School (later William Rott was on the School Board of the Lindbergh District); they were leaders in the Farmer's Club, they served on the County Council, Henry was a judge, the entire family served their community in many ways. A stained glass window at St. Lucas Church was donated by Dorothea and serves as a memorial to this great family. Rott School and Rott Road carries the name proudly.
Family That Settled in the 1800's
Many other German families came into the area in the mid 1800's. Mathias Bost attended the log-cabin school so we know about when that family settled. Mr. Mudd bought the Bost land for the price of 2 slaves. Bost bought it from Mudd. The 2-story behind the 300-year-old white oak tree on Seebold property is a remodeled pre-civil War house. The Wahlig family ran a dairy just east of Bosts' on Watson. Gus Wahlig told of how he helped build the log cabin school on Rott Road. Kempfs lived across from Bost on Watson at the school. Fred Koch had the land by Sylvan Beach. Ben Heutel land on Weber Hill Road is supposed to have the name of the Indian Chief that owned the property on the deed. Charles Weber's son Peter, Weber Hill Road, was a road overseer and took care of the road so they named it for him. Schutz land down by the levee is on an Indian Mound. Enos Pipkin owned several blocks of land but had his home where Sunset Terrace subdivision and Ronnie's Acres are now. The big pond on his farm furnished ice for everyone. George Hunkler located on Gravois. Wenzel Sleisner owned the top of the hill, Kimker Lane, which he sold to Louis Kimker in1910.
Three other German families with interesting homes especially stand out because the homes are the oldest in our area.
The Louis Rott home on West Watson by South County Technical High School was built in the 1840's. In the1950's Mrs. Edmund of Edmund's Restaurant owned this; her restoration of the home made the Rotogravure in 1952. There was an outside oven and a winery as well as a smoke house in the backyard. The house is built of frame and limestone, quarried across the street behind Murphy's. The beams inside are white oak.
William Henry VonEime
William Henry VonEime came from Braunschweig, Germany in 1852. He bought about 60 acres of land that had been granted to Phillip Baccane by the Spanish, later owned by Sappingtons and now part of Sunset Country Club. A home was built on the hillside, very large for that period, 3 stories high in back - 2 in front, overlooking the beautiful valley to the north. His bride, Catherine Koehler, came from Brunschweig later that year. The Eimes lived on this farm until they moved in 1901 to the fashionable part of town, south Kirkwood in Meacham Park. They had 8 children.
J. E. J. Frederick
J. E. J. Frederick owned 40 acres of valley land along Brush Creek. There was a spring on the property. The white frame house still standing today was used as a gristmill and home. In front of the structure was the room for grinding grain. A mule was used to turn the wheel. The miller was paid a certain percent of the flour he ground, usually 10% and he was then free to sell it or use it. By farming and milling the family always had enough food. Five boys from the family attended the log cabin school. They were Martin, Harry, William and Charles. Martin born in 1858, took over the farm and mill on Watson. Carl or Charles had a farm on Mentz Road; William lived in Oakville; Harry moved away.
Martin married a girl named Catherine. They had 5 children. After Catherine died Martin married Mary Weber Chastine, sister of Karl and Martin. Mary had 1child before she married Martin. Martin and Mary had 4 children. Henry and Charlotte Frederick live on the working farm today at 13126 West Watson Road.
"The Castle", a stone house owned by Mr. Lewis, on Watson at Weber Hill Road, had the stone facing added around 50 years ago. The Becker family was there in the 1890's and after them the Stoker family lived there. No 1 knows if the house was built before the Beckers owned it. A plat map of 1870, shows the J. R. Rott estate owning the property and a house is marked as being on it. This does not mean it is the same house, but it could be.
The Waterhout family moved into part of the Eddie Estates in the 1850's. Mr. Waterhout had come from Holland in 1830, by a sailing ship. Nicholas, his son, and a twin sister were born in Manchester but were toddlers when their father and mother moved to Denny Road and Eddie and Parke and built a log cabin.
Andy Bowman was a half-brother of Nicholas. He was old enough to join the Union Army in the Civil War, serving in 360 battles and skirmishes with out being wounded. Nick remembered seeing U.S. Grant haul wood along Denny Road, cutting most of his cord wood from the area now Ronnie's Acres and Robyn Hills Estates. Nick was in his nineties when the Rott School dedication book was written in 1931; in it they quote several interesting stories of Grant that Nick remembered. Nicholas married Fannie Cox, who came from England when she was 6 and died at the age of 95, and they had 7 children.
Nicholas bought the farm for $3,600 from the other Waterhout heirs. Thirty acres of this farm was in peach and apple orchard; Nick did his own grafting and budding. A few of the trees still remain.
Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent
The real life story of the romance of Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent is more romantic than most historical novels. The fact that part of the story actual took place here in the Sappington area makes it fascinating. Colonel Frederick Dent had bought the estate named "White Haven" in 1821. This lovely home was the site of many parties and gala affairs. With Jefferson Barracks Army Post nearby, the officers were invited to Colonel Dent's home regularly. The new second lieutenant, just out of West Point and appointed to J.B.U.S. Grant was invited to the home of a classmate and met the classmates sister, Julia Dent. They fell in love and were engaged but the Mexican War separated them. Grant returned to St. Louis as soon as he could and on August 22, 1848, he and Julia were married. The Grants had 4 children. Grant remained in the army until 1854 when he resigned so that he could rejoin his family. Colonel Dent gave the Grants a parcel of land north of Pardee Road. "Hardscrabble" was the name Grant gave his log cabin. It was well named for Grant had a hard time earning a living for his family. For 3 years he cut and sold cordwood. Nick Waterhout and Peter Weber both remembered helping Grant cut and carry wood to the city. Nick said that much of the wood came from the area of Ronnie's Acres and Robyn Hills Estates. One of the Sappington men identified "Manhattan Trail" as Grant's wagon trail. In 1859 Grant moved his family to St. Louis, from their they moved to Galena, Ill. When the Civil War broke out Grant applied for a commission but was ignored until August 1861, when Lincoln promoted Grant to Brigadier General. He received this commission in Ironton, MO-where there is a statue commemorating the event. The rest of his story is history well known by all. Many tales are still around about the times he revisited in- laws after the war. His lovely wife, Julia was devoted partner and mother. John Fenton Long had been her teacher at Sappington School and was invited to the White House while the Grants were there. She was a great representative for the Sappington area.
Business for the area in the mid-1800's was centered in Georgetown. The area around Gravois Road, Sappington Road, and Denny Road. George Sappington ran a black smith shop and owned a large portion of the land; the business district took his name. A commission house was on the corner of Sapppington Barracks Road and Gravois, ran by a man named Tautphaeus. This is where the farmers would bring their produce, sell it to the commissioner, who in turn would sell it to the grocer in other words a wholesaler. East on Gravois there was Heim's Inn, later Sappington Inn was located in the triangle of Denny, Gravois, and Sappington. These were half-way houses. The traveler to St. Louis could come in this far from out-of-state by evening. He would feed and quarter his horses, have a good meal and night's lodging for himself. By morning he would go into St. Louis conduct his business, and be able to get back to the Inn by the next evening. Again he would spend the night and get an early start for home the next morning.
Gnauch's Tavern was a favorite meeting place, too. Now owned by a Realty Company, it was Bippen's Estate-a fashionable restaurant and beer garden, before that it was called Seibert's Grove. The backyard had spots for picnicking and wedding parties. Across the street up at Denny and Gravois, Jacob Wohlschlaeger had a general store. The creek to the south behind the business district has an interesting background. Slaves were not allowed to be buried in many of the family or church cemeteries and so when a slave died they were buried on the only state property around, the creek banks. William Lindsay Long was appointed to postmaster for Sappington Post Office in1827. This post office was in the general store in Georgetown. The 2 mills for grinding grain that we know about are the Frederick mill on Watson Road, west, and Reasin Sappington's mill, east. Jack Sappington ran a tannery of 45 vats until 1845.
A little later in the 1800's 2 more business districts came into being. Concord Village was called both South Affton or West Mateese. Mateese is the proper pronunciation of the French name Mattis. You find the named spelled both ways on the school, road and creek named for the settler. South Kirkwood was the other business area, the west end of the subdivision known as Meacham Park. Schwenker's Market was at Big Bend and Kirkwood Road; Azelman's blacksmith shop-Denny's Garage also on the east. On Chicago Ave, just east of Howard Johnson's lodge, a family made potato chips in their garage and the children sold them door to door, the beginning of the Saratoga Potato Chip Company of St. Louis. Across the street was the largest orchid farm in the United States in the late 1800's D.S. Brown's Orchid Farm. It covered most of the territory between Big Bend and Highway 366, west of Lindbergh to Geyer Road. There are greenhouse remaining today behind Venture, Maryhurst and Vianney, and the Site Service Station. Mr. John Krumm came to Meacham Park in 1891, bought a home on Memphis Ave, which has an addition to it; his family lives in it today. Mr. Krumm and many others worked for Mr. Brown.
At the end of Geyer Road, across from Abadie's subdivision, was Windsor Spring, run by L. Rassieur. Windsor Spring was a large spring with water so pure people came from downtown St. Louis to buy it. The spring was so well known the railroad named a station stop Windsor Spring Station. Here the big green bottles of water from the spring bottles had a big green goose on it. In 1902 that green goose became the second registered trademark in the state of Missouri.
In between these business districts were truck farms, hog farms, turkey farms, chicken farms and smaller springs. Many of the farms were so large and so well managed that they were recognized as outstanding farms of the state. F. Lucas and J. Rott were listed as prominent farmers of 1870.
Big parcels of land were bought and farmed by immigrants coming to America by way of New Orleans, families moving west, and sometimes by those already familiar with the group here. William Maret settled his family on 30 acres of land later to be called Maret Drive. He had a hog farm, a cement and stucco contracting business, and his heirs now run 2 restaurants. Ben Heutel built a 2-room house on Weber Hill Road that has had many additions to the structure, however the old beams and stones are there. Ben had 5 sons: Joseph, Peter, John, Henry and Benjamin. Peter founded the Sunset Auto Company. John had a brick company in Affton, and the others lived in the area with their families. The territory around Sunset Auto Company is called Huetelville by some. E.J. DeGrendele moved from Eddie and Park and Gravois out to Sappington land on Weber Hill Road. They farmed the large acreage in the valley. Walter DeGrendele said that he used to turn over the big top stones of Indian graves with his plow, breaking the plowhead and his back as he tried to move the giants. Mrs. Estelle Hansen lives on the property today, representing the DeGrendele name in civic affairs. This family helped keep the Rott School going through the difficult 30s. George Hunkler farmed along the Gravois Road, ran a general store in the 1900's and today his heirs run the feed store. Over on the Watson Road the Wahlig's ran a dairy close to Rott School. Murphy's dairy was east, nearer Denny Road. Mr. Murphy use to deliver his father's milk supply each day, making his last stop Denny's garage so that he could be around those new inventions called automobiles. He got his start in the used car business with 1 car and built up his used parts business still in operation today. His sister Blanche traveled all over the world. William Kraemer farmed the valley north of Watson road. Gust Meyer was a road overseer, Joseph Becker farmed at Watson and Weber Hill Road. George Longheinrich, John Chott and Wenzel Schleisner were on Weber Hill Road. E.H. D. Stolz and George Westup, Sr. loved on either side of Denny Road by Robyn Road. Albert Beim bought the A. B. Cole property and part of the Rott estate. Sunset Plaza Shopping Center was Mr Beim's wheat field. The highway tore down the big Beim home on Maple Drive when 270 went through. Alice Beim Moore and her son, Alwal Moore, ran a hog farm of 900 hogs. The hogs had to give way to chickens as more and more people moved around them. Today the farm is an egg brokerage firm known as Moore's Quality Farms. Quinn ran a poultry farm on Rott Road at Denny. The home and outbuildings today belong to the Franz family who bought the land in 1911.
West, on the river, there was a steamboat that ran from Valley Park to St. Louis. This didn't remain in business more than several years because the trip took so long. The Meramec was a clear, fast flowing stream with water pure enough for the town of Valley Park to use it as their water supply. In Fenton there was a crayfish packing plant that also was used as a resort area. No 1 had swimming pools in those days and the sandy beaches of the Meramec drew large crowds of people each weekend. Meramec Highlands in Kirkwood was the most elaborate resort, here there were large hotels and restaurants that could be reached by the electric car line that ran from downtown St. Louis. Another electric car line ran down by Tesson Ferry. Beaches carried names like Minnie Ha-Ha, Gravois, Rock Aalva. North of Gravois named for Mr. Griesedieck's estate on the hill called Rock Alva, and Sylvan Beach, north of 66 where the Fountainbleu swimming club is located. This beach had pony rides for the children and horseback riding back through the trails. There was 1 cave up on the hill that was big enough to hold 26 horses in its mouth. Each weekend there were volunteers that manned the River Patrol; swimmers skilled in lifesaving. The Meramec had dangerous eddies and whirlpools that would claim careless or unwary people. These resorts were most popular in the 1890's and early 1900's. By the thirties there were public swimming pools with lifeguards. Of course, even today there are swimmers in the river but it is now best known and used for boating.
More and more people became aware of the beauty of the surrounding hills along the river as Meramec Highlands became so popular. When Dorothea Rott decided to sell her land in 1891, she had no trouble finding buyers. Joseph Griesedieck bought 2 parcels of the Rott land-1 along the river and 1 where the home was on Rott Road. He built a farm house on bottom land at the base of Indian Hill and later he had a big stone house built on the top of the ridge he called "Rock Alva". Louis Stockstrom owned the land just north of Mr. Griesedieck overlooking the river with such a view he named his estate "Eyere"-he also owned land on Rott Road including the log cabin school. J. M. Dieterle owned a stretch of land running from the top of the hill down to the river just north of Stockstrom's land. The private road for Eyere and Rock Alva had to run through Mr. Dieterle's property. Cars used to ford the river at the base of Mr. Dieterle's hill; the hill was so steep that mules had to be used to pull the automobiles up to the top and onto Rott Road. The Maag family had the land east of the others, to Rott Road.
St. Louis World's Fair
The Louisiana Exposition, better known as the St. Louis World's Fair, brought people from all over the world to St. Louis. The Lemp brothers had homes built overlooking the river and entertained at their estates of Alswell and, Cragwold. The Nulsen caretaker's home was moved from the Fair to its location on Peter property. Across the street at the caretaker's home for Laumeier Park, Reifsteck's the home has light fixtures, door knobs, and other bits and pieces of memorabilia from the Fair. Two new homes appeared on Watson around this time. The Wahlig white frame house on the south and the Rouhac white frame house on the north.
Charles Eime had a fine white frame house built on his 100-acre farm in 1904. The house is to be torn down for a retirement center-between old and new Gravois.
Soon after the Fair another brewer became interested in this area and he really made St. Louisans aware of Sappington. August Busch bought the acreage known as Grant's Farm. Sometime before this the company, Anheuser Busch, bought land out past Georgetown; the estate known as Grandview is on a plat map belonging to them in 1909. In the DeGrendele children, Mrs. Estelle Hansen remembers Mr. Busch coming to her father and telling him that the fence wasn't strong enough to hold back the Busch animals, mainly elk. Mr. Busch put up stronger fencing around the land that butted Degrendele and Weber property to the west. Grandview was given to the county for use as a park. This was destroyed when Interstate 270 was built through the middle of the property. Grandview was the first name of the Reorganized School district, later changed to Lindbergh.
Adolphus Busch built the stately White House facing Hadley Hill Road known as the Mill Hill Fathers home today for his wife, Mrs. Lambert. Mrs. Lambert had 2 sons, Stanford (Casey) and Martin; both of them avidly interested in aviation. Mr. and Mrs. Busch had 1 daughter, Marie Busch Condi. When Mr. and Mrs. Busch divorced, Mrs. Busch continued to live in the house until her death. At that time it was willed to the present owners. The slopping yard behind the house made a perfect landing field for an early biplane. Casey even earned the nickname "Crazy Casey" because he continued to fly in spite of accidents. One time the Heutels saw a wing fall off and then the motor fall into an orchard, but the plane and its pilot landed safely. Another time he landed on Swantner's garage and haystack. Both brothers were friends of Charles Lindbergh and helped him in his 1927 flight. Somewhere on this property there was a big rock fence. These rocks were big, round, brown rocks and were hauled by George Winter from the quarry on Kennerly Road to the building site on Gravois.
Across the street from the stable on Hadley Hill Road is the William VonEime home. This had been built in 1852. In the 1900's it was remodeled by adding stucco to the outside, making it look Victorian, but the original charm is there with the window panes and wooden beams and flooring. This is one of our oldest homes and certainly one of the most charming of any age.
Jacqueline Busch Jones
Just to the west on Hadley Hill Road is the home originally built for Mrs. Hadley's mother. Jacqueline Busch Jones married Willis Hadley and lives to the west in the estate down the hill that bears their name. Mr. Hadley was one of the first Aldermen of Sunset Hills.
Over on the northeast Side of the Country Club is the Eberhardt Anheuser home, sitting on the hill in such a way that the sunset view is outstanding. The hones on Workbench Drive were built around the same time, probably as guest houses. In the early twenties they were used as an artist's studio.
Development followed close behind Mr. Busch. He even paid half the cost of paving Gravois Road to have it the first county road in the state to be paved in 1914. He made it a point to know his neighbors and deal with them. Everyone talking about the past has spoken very highly of Mr. Busch. His Son, August Busch, continues to support the Sappington area. Grant's Farm is today the showplace of St. Louis county; people come from all over the world to tour the grounds, drink Budweiser Beer in the Barnhof and view the animals.
The Nulsen family built another of today's showplaces of Sunset Hills in 1913. It has been called the Griesedieck home sometimes because Mr. Griesedieck owned the land after Baldazar and Jacob Rott. This estate on Rott Road has a beautiful stone house, a stable house and a caretaker's cottage. The Nulsens knew the curator of Shaw's garden very well; their land was often used as a way station for plants. Shrubbery, trees and flowers were planted in the Nulsens yard for testing before being taken to the garden. If the plant could survive the climate on the Rott hill it could take the more sheltered surroundings of Shaw's garden.
Balmagoun Lane acreage was bought from the Abadie Estate by Mr. Tatman, Reliable Insurance Company, because he said it reminded him so much of his native Scotland. It overlooks Powder Valley. Enchanting English Manor style houses sit up on the hillside. Mr. and Mrs. Henri Chomeau, 21 Balmagoun Lane, represent the Tatman family through Mrs. Chomeau and Mr. Chomeau is from one of the oldest families of St. Louis.
At the corner of the Watson Road and Denny Road (Lindbergh Blvd.) stands the home built by D.C. Schultz in 1913. The family entertained lavishly and often. Many of the older citizens speak of the grand parties given by the Schultz family.
W.A. Rowe Floral Company
In 1918, W.A. Rowe Floral Company was started where Chamberlain's turkey farm used to be. Great rows of greenhouses filled the land east of Denny Road. For many years this was the largest wholesale Floral Co. in the St. Louis area. Mr. Rowe spoke German fluently and handled men so well that he was asked by the government to handle Prisoner-of War in WWII.
A sign was placed on Denny Road and Robyn in the late teens, advertising Sunset Terrace Subdivision-absolutely no hog or poultry farms allowed. Mr. and Mrs. Loveridge bought land on Robyn Road in1919 but waited until 1925 to build their home, wanting to be positive about the hog and poultry farms. The lovely home of Mrs. Paul Krueger, at the entrance of the subdivision, is where the Pipkin log cabin stood. The Pipkin pond furnished the ice supply for the neighborhood.
Across the street from this Pipkin land there was an estate owned by a Mr. Meyer. This home and the Seitz property became Thomas Jefferson School in 1946. Just south of them was the Tesson property. Asa Tesson had built a big rock house in 1851 from stone quarried on the land. Joseph Casebler did the masonry, Captain Stephen Smith did the plastering and George Sappington did the woodwork. This land was sold in 1917, for $500 an acre. Today we call it "Fox Meadows".
There was a delightful little tea room on the Watson Road in the 20s and 30s. People would stop here in their way to and from the beaches. When highway 66 was constructed, it took all the traffic off the Watson Road and the teahouse had to close, becoming a home with many, many windows. The Dwigins family lives there now.
Sunset Manor subdivision, was started in 1926. This included Rayburn, Floralea, Monica and Deane Court from Lindbergh to Leila Avenue. The oldest home in this plat is that of Carrie Dayball, a member of the Bicentennial Commission. She has a copy of the original restrictions. Paragraph 2 states: "No livery stable, slaughter house, soap or glue factory, dairy or nuisance of any character, shall be erected, maintained or operated in this subdivision". Paragraph 4 states that the building must cost at least $2000. This acreage was part of the land given to her son, Jacob, by Dorothea Rott. The Rott house is in Crestwood. This land was part of the orchard and vineyard; some healthy old pear trees are scattered throughout.
There is a square, 1-story house on Weber Hill Road today with an interesting background. Mr. Adamek, an artist from Bohemia, married Mary Sleisner. On land given his wife by her father, Mr. Adamek designed and built a home and art studio. The first floor is all you see today but it formerly had a rock tower above built of native stones and designed to draw the proper light for a painter. He was the first scenic designer for the Muny Opera, also designed the fancy curtains for the leading movie housed in the late 20's and 30's.One of his murals still remain in Arthur's Restaurant at Eichelberger and Grand Ave. This was Eve Simeone's grandfather; she has some of his sketches and paintings.
In 1927, with help from prominent St. Louisans like the Lambert brothers, Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in "The Spirit of St. Louis" aircraft. Honors poured in from all over the world. The "Watchman Advocate", a newspaper, of St. Louis County ran a contest to see who could come up with the best idea for St. Louis County to honor Lindbergh. John J. Rott won the contest by suggesting that they make a highway completely around the city- county and call it Lindbergh Boulevard. This idea was accepted. Using Sappington Barracks Road, the road that led from Jefferson Barracks to Sappington; and Denny Road that led from Georgetown north past the Denny home in Ladue, Lindbergh Boulevard was completed in1931. An interesting sidelight is the story of how the Service Station came to be at Robyn and Lindbergh. It seems Mr. Meyer across the street paid someone surveying for the highway not to use his land. This took Mr. Westup's entire front yard. Mr. Westrup in turn used the rock discarded by the highway department to build a service station across from Mr. Meyer. This is a Fina Station today but it was formerly a Standard station ran by My. Westrup's son, George.
Highway 66 was completed at the same time Lindbergh was opened. The overpass at 66 and Lindbergh was quite a landmark for 1931, drawing crowds to see the new clover leaf. On the southeast corner of this new highway there was Graffman's Dairy, land rented from Dr. Gadsby. Next door Dr. Gadsby had fancy horses. The trees on Gadsby's land were planted by Bob and Andrew Waterhout when the land all belonged to their father. About this time the Waterhout home burned to the ground, destroying all their furniture and memorabilia from the Civil War.
After World War II
After WWII the area changed rapidly. Veterans returning from the war wanted to own their own property as they dreamed of that little house in the country and came into Crestwood and Sunset Hills to buy it. Crestwood grew so rapidly it became a city 1949. Today it has a population of over 15,000. Sunset Hills was a bit slower in its growth. For 1 thing, the same families continued to own and farm the land. Not many developments like Sturdy Estates in Crestwood occurred in Sunset Hills. Very few of the lots except for Sunset Manor were zoned for 1/2 acre. Homes appeared here and there on acre lots. Fox Meadows began to grow; Sunset Terrace was beginning to fill. Off Watson Road, Bond Place was a subdivision for Frederick children. Kimker Lane began to have a few more homes on the hill each year. Maret Drive and Court Drive added a new home between older ones.
W. H. Mauro Estate
In the 50s the W. H. Mauro Estate was subdivided; lovely homes took form of Fairlind and Parklind east of Geyer Road by Sunset Country Club. Further north Enos Pipkin's blackberry patch became Ronnie's Acres. Paul Drueger, Judge Luman Matthews and Louis Mays developed this land. Mr. Krueger ran Wehrenberg's Drive-In Theatres for his father-in-law and he had a son named Ronnie. Therefore, the streets are Ronnie Lane, Cinema Lane and Matthews Lane. Across Lindbergh, Sunset Terrace Dr., originally platted as part of the large Sunset Terrace subdivision of Robyn, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Jerome and Sunset Terrace filled with homes. Between East Watson Road and 66 the rest of Sturdy Estate was subdivided and streets named Otto Westway, Maeburn Terrace, Julius Northway, Richview, Dr. and Walter Midway used the first names of the developers.
Watson-Lindbergh Improvement Association
One of the reasons Crestwood incorporated was to control their zoning, especially along the main highway, 66. Unincorporated areas were zoned through the county council and spot zoning did occur from time to time. In early 1950's the residents along Watson and Lindbergh banded together to form the Watson-Lindbergh Improvement Association. This organization sent representatives to the council meetings with petitions for better service in sewer, water, police, fire, and gas matters as well as objecting to business zoning. In 1952, it was learned that the Bodine Construction Co. had requested permission to build an asphalt treatment plant on Lindbergh and Watson. A lawyer was hired. The residents were advised to extend the organization for a broader base of power. The South Lindbergh Improvement Association was formed; a majority of homeowners in the area joined the group and successfully fought the asphalt plant zoning. This organization voted to file for City incorporation in May of 1954, as a preliminary precaution in the event that one of the neighboring cities decided to file annexation proceedings. In January 1957, at the monthly meeting of the Kirkwood City Council, it was decided to annex certain areas, including that portion of Sunset Hills north of 66. The South Lindbergh Improvement Association members voted to move forward with incorporation proceedings immediately.
How Sunset Hills Got it's Name
Several people have been credited with naming the city. Some say a lady who had been a life-long resident suggested it because of the lovely sunsets. Violet Wohlschlaeger has also been mentioned by many. Mr. Vincent Gilliam, an officer of the association, made the motion to incorporate as "The City of Sunset Hills", this motion carried and the name became just that.
On June 5, 1957, the Saint Louis County Council approved incorporation of Sunset Hills. The City of Kirkwood filed suit for annexation of the area they had requested. The suit was later withdrawn and the County Council appointed the certain officials to serve until an election the following April.
The first election for the city was held in April 1958. Those elected were Mayor, Alexander Kitum; Collector, Joseph Redel; Marshall, Alwal Moore; Municipal Court Judge, Carl S. Hoffmann. All officers are elected for a 2-year term but the aldermen are staggered so that each year there is an election for one of the 2 aldermen in each ward. In 1958 they ran for either a 1-year term or a 2-year term. Ward I - Robert Jones, 1 year and Mr. Knight, 2 years; Ward II - Orval Waterhout, 1 year and Mr. Rey Young, 2 years; Ward III - Willis Hadley, 1 year and Mr. Ray Saddler, 2 years.
Mayor Alex Kitun served until 1965, when he resigned because his business transferred him. A Special Election was held and Arthur DeGrand was elected Mayor. He was re-elected in 1966. Joseph Redel served as Mayor from 1968 to 1974. Arthur was elected in 1974 and 1976. Robert Schuetz has been City Collector since 1960. George D. Pittman, Jr. has been Municipal Court Judge from 1962 through 1976.
Alwal Moore served as Marshall until the post was eliminated in 1973. The Sunset Hills Police Department came into being in April 1973. Eric Dam has been the Chief of Police who organized and molded the department into the outstanding Police Department it is today.
The logo for the city was designed by Alderman Joseph VonGruenigen. Mr. VonGruenigen also edited the newsletter for many years.