An odd and irreverent series highlighting influential St. Louisans who avoided “the limelight” ran from Dec. 12, 1909, through May 8, 1910.Continue reading “‘Bashful St. Louisans’”
Tag: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
‘Only one Santa Claus’
Everybody knows about little Virginia O’Hanlon’s 1897 letter to the New York Sun, asking if Santa Claus is real. Francis Pharcellus Church’s response – “Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus” – deftly elevated magical thinking, delivering a double blow to journalism and parenting from which neither ever recovered.* The Sun, which also gave us the Great Moon Hoax, died in 1950.
Unlike Virginia, who was the subject of news stories throughout her long life, nobody remembers little Wilbur Kent and his letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in which he asked whether there were two Santa Clauses because that’s how many he saw — on the very same day! He was deeply troubled because his “pap an mamma” said there was only one Santa, just like “they is only 1 god.”Continue reading “‘Only one Santa Claus’”
Adolf Hitler, the Austrian-born Bavarian fascist, made his first appearance in the pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a century ago, about 10 years before he was appointed chancellor of Germany.
It was a brief mention. The newspaper on Dec. 11, 1922, published only the first paragraph of a short Associated Press story, which reported “American money is helping to finance the Fascisti movement in Bavaria led by Herr Hitler.”Continue reading “‘American money’”
‘Three papers united in one’
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch was created in December 1878 when Joseph Pulitzer combined the Dispatch and the Evening Post. Most contemporary histories of the paper, however, omit Pulitzer’s acquisition of the recently launched Evening Star in May 1879 for a paltry $790.Continue reading “‘Three papers united in one’”
‘He studied nothing, but knew something about everything.’
In January 1903, Rep. John T. Crisp of Independence proposed a “Jim Crow” law for Missouri, requiring Black and white passengers to ride in separate railway coaches. “Col. Crisp’s bill is taken seriously by his fellow members at Jefferson City. It is necessary to say this for the reason that Col. Crisp’s colleagues do not always take him seriously,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.Continue reading “‘He studied nothing, but knew something about everything.’”
Watermelons and Prophets
Organizers of the Order of the Veiled Prophet in 1878, led by brothers Charles and Alonzo Slayback, sought to lift the city’s profile as a growing, affluent commercial hub. But, early on, the all-white, all-male Veiled Prophet promoted racist tropes, which were unapologetically echoed by all the leading newspapers of St. Louis.Continue reading “Watermelons and Prophets”
“Journalists who take themselves seriously, who regard the work of moulding public opinion as a high vocation, who believe in duty and are willing to accept responsibility, who would rather champion the rights of the many than defend the privileges of the few, are finding it more and more difficult either to enter or to remain in the newspaper field, whether as employees or proprietors.” – Col. Charles Henry Jones, Feb. 23, 1899 [From “Charles H. Jones 1848-1913: Editor and Progressive Democrat” (1974)]Continue reading “Colonel Jones”
White riot, 1920
The East St. Louis Massacre of 1917, a series of riots triggered by white labor’s reaction to the employment of Black workers as strikebreakers, left dozens, if not hundreds, of Black residents dead and thousands homeless. But workplace-related racist violence continued in the region for years, albeit on a smaller scale.
On Friday, Aug. 13, 1920, the owners of a coal mine in Coulterville, Illinois, faced with a shortage of white workers, decided to make a Black worker, William Morrison, work in a pit hitherto reserved largely for whites. But the white miners refused to work with Morrison. And they again refused on Saturday, Aug. 14.Continue reading “White riot, 1920”
‘No longer will policemen beat the heads off malefactors’
In April 1911, voters in Granite City — a company town founded by steelmakers near St. Louis — elected Marshall E. Kirkpatrick, a 28-year-old shearer at the Niedringhaus mills, as mayor. Kirkpatrick, a Socialist, would prove to be a capable administrator, serving nearly two decades in that office, until his death in 1942.Continue reading “‘No longer will policemen beat the heads off malefactors’”
100 years of disappointment
The 1920 Census bumped St. Louis out of fourth place, launching a century-long quest to undo the Great Divorce of 1876. And though its population would climb for a few decades – peaking at 856,796 in 1950 – St. Louis kept sliding in the rankings and dropped out of the top 10 in 1970. (Most recent estimates indicate the population is hovering just above 300,000 – below the 1870 count.)Continue reading “100 years of disappointment”
‘No feeling of jubilation manifested’
A black man was arrested in Sikeston, Missouri, taken across the Mississippi River to Bardwell, Kentucky, and lynched, burned and mutilated by a mob looking to avenge the murder of two white girls.Continue reading “‘No feeling of jubilation manifested’”
Another moving day
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as of 2019, has had eight locations* since the paper was founded by Joseph Pulitzer in 1878. But the only office built by the newspaper’s owners was at the northeast corner of 12th and Olive, now 300 North Tucker Boulevard. The newspaper was based there from 1917 until 1959.Continue reading “Another moving day”
A ‘network of surveillance’
The goal was to counter German spies and saboteurs during the Great War, but the American Protective League appeared to be more successful at helping criminalize speech and neutralize dissidents, including leftists and labor activists.Continue reading “A ‘network of surveillance’”
‘The house where Eugene Field was not born’
A plaque on the Eugene Field House says “the children’s poet” — famous for “Little Boy Blue,” “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” and other works — was born there. The Field House Museum, on its website, says “Eugene Field was born in St. Louis at 634 South Broadway, on September 2, 1850.” And some contemporary news stories also say Field was born there.
But he wasn’t.
A former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter named Robertus Love took the blame for the confusion — a century ago. In letter to the newspaper, published on Feb. 12, 1917, Love wrote: “About 15 years ago I suggested a story on Eugene Field.… My suggestion was approved and I was assigned to get the story. I interviewed several persons who had known Field more or less intimately when he lived here as a young newspaper man. Also I interviewed his guardian, an elderly gentleman now dead…. In reply to a specific query as to where Eugene Field was born, his guardian told me it was the house on South Broadway.” Continue reading “‘The house where Eugene Field was not born’”