Thursday, March 23, 2017

Crossroads History

by Ted Rauch

Our reprint article this month is From the St Charles Journal of September 1, 1974, where it appeared under the byline of Ted Rauch, the St. Charles County Historical Society Archivist.

If you read down a list of the names of our streets, it will be evident that they were not chosen by chance, but by design. They give a consecutive picture of historic eras of our city and country

Here first were the Indians, so we have Indian Hills, Osage, Arrowhead, Cherokee, Shawnee, Indian Trail. Later, Tecumseh, an Indian chief in the War of 1812, raided the American settlements in the Ohio Territory as an ally of the British. Somehow this seems an odd name choice.

Reminiscent of the Spanish period are San Carlos Rio Vista, San Camille, and San Jose.

There were the earliest French river explorers we have LaSalle Street in Marquette Hills, Blanchette Street, for the founder; Duquette, a prominent early businessman; Duchesne Drive for Mother Duchesne, founder of the Sacred Heart Academy; and simply French Street. Prairie Haute, Belle Plaines, and Eau Clair - High Meadow, Beautiful Field, and Clear Water in order.

From 1795 to the 1830's came the English, Scotch- English and Scotch-Irish from the original colonies across Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio. ‘The Boones gave us Boonslick Road and Boone Court, Drive and Avenue The first two U.S.Senators from 1821 live on in Benton Avenue and Barton Place. Easton Place was named For Mary Easton who married George Sibley and

started Lindenwood. There is Collier Place for Catherine Collier who founded the old St.Charles College. Fielding is named for John Hunter Fielding, the first president of that school.

We have Emmons Avenue for Ben Emmons I, who helped write the first Constitution of Missourit. Powell Terrace and Street took the name of our first mayor, Ludwell Powell. One street in Powell Terrace subdivision is Howell, honoring Francis Howell, first settler in what is now the Francis Howell School District. Missouri's first governor's namesake is at McNair Place.

In this same period, and after 1804, were the western explorers. The streets that mark them are Lewis, Clark, Sibley - on the Commission to lay out the Santa Fe Trail, and also Pike, for Zebulon Pike who discovered and named Pike's Peak.

From 1804 to 1821, Missouri was a territory. General Clark was the first Territorial Governor: James Wilkinson was the

second - and so Wilkinson Street; Benjamin Howard was the third, so Howard Street.

Here we'll break the chronological sequence to list the streets of the Presidents (found in many towns): Washington, Adams Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Lincoln and Grant.

Now we have a small miscellaneous group. Randolph Street for John Randolph of Virginia, for many years a most powerful orator in Congress who took part in the Missouri Compromise debates. Then there was Daniel Tompkins, of New York, who was Vice President under President Monroe and later on the Supreme Court. Richard Montgomery died bravely in the Battle of Quebec during the Revolutionary War. Benjamin Franklin, Ambassador to France, from whom he secured critical military and financial aid during the Revolutionary War. Later there was Colonel George Morgan who founded New Madrid, Mo., and rated a street name.

The above list tells us one thing. Somebody in this town knew a 'heck' of a lot of history. I didn't know who Tompkins, Montgomery and Morgan were, did you?

In the War of 1812, nobody won and nobody lost. The English burned our Capitol at Washington, D.C. and we invaded Canada. And the only big land battle, when Jackson defeated the English at New Orleans, was fought after the treaty terms were agreed to. But there were some great heroes, and the street namers had a field day.

Remember Oliver Hazard Perry who defeated the English at the battle of Lake Erie in 1812 and sent the famous dispatch "We have met the enemy, and they are ours?" Then, the dying Captain James Lawrence in an open sea battle admonished his men "Don't give up the ship, boys." Lawrence Street is a tribute to him. Stephen Decatur captured a British warship and was made Commodore in 1813 and later coined the phrase "Our Country, right or wrong, our Country!"

More naval heroes emerging from this War were Isaac Chauncey, a ship commander on Lake Erie; Wm. Bainbridge, a Captain of the USS Constitution which destroyed the British 'Java" in the South Atlantic: and Thomas McDonough who won the Battle of Lake Champlain that prevented the invasion by the British from Canada.

Why all the names from this War? Because by the 1820's, the town was adding many new streets and these heroes were fresh in citizens' minds. Probably few towns have such names, but here the time was right.

Sam Houston has his street too. This from the period of the Texans' troubles with Mexico. Houston went to Texas to help after the Battle of the Alamo. He won the decisive Battle of San Jacinto in 1836.

Next came the German immigrations in the l830's and 40's. While many towns in the county have German names, not many of our City's streets do, unfortunately, considering the great contribution of the German citizens. Most of them bear the names of early families coming at this time from Germany - Boschert Drive, Zumbehl Road, Schaffner, Leverenz, Rauch and Droste. Krekel Place honors Judge Arnold Krekel who organized German Union sympathizers into a Home Guard as soon as the Civil War started. He did much to keep St.Charles in the Union camp.

Reminiscent of the Civil War era are Lincoln Dr. and Grant Drive; Lee Drive for the South's greatest‘ general; Sherman for the North's general. Gamble Place recalls Missouri Governor H.R.Gamb1e who became provisional governor in 1861 when Governor Clairborne Jackson espoused the South's cause and left the state to join the Confederacy.

What about Kingshighway? No kings here. But in the Middle Ages, kings periodically visited the provinces in their countries administered by their nobles. If all other roads went to pot (and they did), the highway travelled by the king was broad and well kept - the King's Highway. In Missouri under Spanish rule, the trail established between New Madrid, Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve and St.Louis was also called the Kingshighway.

Main Street has always been the Main Street. However, in the old deeds, Second Street was called 'the Second Main Street,' and Third Street was called 'the Third Main Street.' As the town grew, the 'Main' for Second and Third was dropped.

Any new streets coming up? How about Lindgergh or the Astronauts - for this era - the Space Age?