‘Simply a business proposition’

Roy Simpson Rauschkolb
Roy Rauschkolb

When Presbyterians decided to sell their church at 910 N. Newstead to Lane Tabernacle, Roy S. Rauschkolb, a 34-year-old Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. salesman, organized a “protective association” to block the sale and keep African Americans from moving into the neighborhood. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jan. 25, 1920)

Rauschkolb said: “This is not a race question, and there is no prejudice in it. It is simply a business proposition. Most of us have worked hard to build or buy our homes, and we don’t propose to see their value depreciated.”

Rauschkolb didn’t “build” or “buy” his home, though: Census records show he was renting an apartment on Enright when he organized the “Delmar-Enright Protective and Improvement Association.”

Later that same year, Rauschkolb was “loaned” by Firestone to the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce to help promote a $60 million bond issue. He became a Chamber official in the 1920s, represented laundry owners during a bitter strike in the ‘30s and ran the Granite City-based Tri-State Chamber and served on the Bi-State Development board in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

A footnote: Rauschkolb, who moved frequently, was politically active as a young man, briefly serving on the Webster Groves board of aldermen, helping organize Republicans in that conservative south St. Louis County community. His father, Louis Rauschkolb, was an inspector for the St. Louis sewer department, but killed himself in 1914, after he was demoted to cleaner.

Roy S. Rauschkolb’s obituary in 1963 made no mention of his activities in 1920; his death certificate said he worked as a “Public Relation Man.” (Originally published Jan. 19, 2020)

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