How Small Towns Affect Big Cities
By: Stephen Rusbarsky
The history of the towns that sprang up on
the banks of the lower Meramec River should be more known to everybody. They are
significant because the first railroads coming out of St. Louis and leading far west ran
through this area of Sherman, Glencoe, and up in to Eureka, Missouri. Although this paper
will focus mostly on the history and happenings of the Sherman area, no historian will
ever say that history happens in a vacuum. The histories of towns surrounding Sherman, MO
have been examined, and happenings relevant to the Sherman area are included in this
Although there are no written records on the area of Shermans first inhabitants,
only 10 miles up the Meramec is the town of Eureka. The Eureka Historical Society has
compiled a nice quantity of documents that point to the first inhabitants of their area
being the Shawnee Indians. The Shawnee lived on the banks of the Meramec, "and even
today artifacts can be found as evidence of their past occupation of the area." (http://www.eureka.mo.us/history.htm) It would be no stretch to say that the Shawnee frequented or even inhabited
the areas downriver of Eureka, thus inhabiting the Sherman area. The fish and wildlife of
this area are abundant now, and most likely were even more abundant during the time when
the Native Americans lived there. They would be attracted to present-day Sherman in search
The town of Sherman is famous simply for its namesake, Sherman. There has been
speculation that General Sherman owned the Kaes house, and some older people in the town
still call that house the "Sherman house." Although the town was founded during
the time when General Sherman was alive and traveling around the general area of St.
Louis, it is doubtful that Sherman owned and lived in the Kaes residence. First of
all, gen. Sherman was on the north side of the Civil War; he wanted to see slavery ended.
The people in the area of Sherman were strong southern sympathizers and would have made
General Sherman very uncomfortable if he lived among them. Furthermore, there is no
documentation to support the claim that general Sherman owned any land in that general
The Kaes House had a separate outhouse on its northeast corner, and a separate kitchen
and springhouse about 20 yards to the east. Houses during this period were made of wood
frames and not usually able to prevent fires very well. Therefore, most houses had
separate kitchens near the house that were made of stone. The Kaes house is no different.
The separate kitchen and springhouse was a two-story stone building. There is a hole in
the floor of the upper level that has access to the small, circular spring in the floor of
the lower level. The most interesting fact about the lower level of this building is that
it backs up to a decent size cave! The cave in the springhouse has a secret passage to a
larger cave where slaves may have been kept prisoner (Love). There is more reliable,
first-hand evidence that the cave possesses a passage to an old schoolhouse that stood ¾
of a mile up the hill to the northwest. Mrs. Haevara Day, the granddaughter of Emile Kaes
and daughter of Louise Hufachmidt, stated that, "The spring house was one thing my
father did talk about
through this cave was his path to the school house."
Phillip Kaes, the owner of the Kaes house, was born in 1820 in Kassel, Germany, and
came to the St Louis area to escape religious persecution. (Day) Kaes worked as a farmer
and farmed much of the then-unforested land surrounding his home. (French) He used the
help of slaves, and although the number of slaves that worked for him is probably lost
forever, there are two slave cabins next to the Kaes house. It might be safe to say that
at least two families worked for Mr. Kaes, although this is only a speculation and not
fact. The mere fact that these cabins exist is a first-hand sign that there were slaves in
Missouri. It is a wonderful thing to be able to walk in these cabins and see first-hand
the artifacts laying around that the slaves farmed with, and see where they lived.
Near the town of Sherman resided James E. Yeatman, one of the greatest philanthropists
of St. Louis in the nineteenth century. James E. Yeatman was born in 1818 and died in
1901. Although he lived in St. Louis City, he built a summer home in the hills of what is
now Glencoe, MO, only a few miles upriver. (Hamilton) His land, only a few miles downriver
from Castlewood State Park and Glencoe, MO, has had only a few documented owners.
(Hamilton) He came to St. Louis from Tennessee and founded the Merchants Bank, which later
became known as the Merchants-Laclede National Bank. His residence was on East Grand
Avenue near Bellefontaine Road1. In addition, he
was one of the founders of the Mercantile Library Association (Wayman).
Although not directly related to the land, the city home of James E. Yeatman had a few
prominent landmarks. One was the Veranda Garden Road house at the Easton-Franklin wedge of
land (mopac), St. Marks English Lutheran Church, which was then on a street called
"Elliot Avenue" and is now at present day Cole Street. Finally, on Garrison
north of Franklin Avenue was the big house of General William T. Sherman, a contemporary
of James E. Yeatman. (Wayman)
There are two graveyards in the area that are of some historical significance,
especially in the town of Sherman. The more obvious and well-known graveyard is about 100
yards west of the Kaes house. This graveyard is now forested, but the trees are young,
which leads one to believe that at the time when it was most widely used, in the late
1800s, there was a clear view of this graveyard from the Kaes house. The gravestones
also face the house. The gravesite isnt more than 100 feet long by 50 feet wide. Its
length extends toward the uphill direction. Most of the gravestones are rounded on the top
and have simple inscriptions on them such as, "our son", or "Phillipp Kaes
and his wife." Stoddard states that he witnessed a gravestone of a slave in the same
cemetery as Mr. Kaes. Upon it was a carving of a hand with the words, "A lifetime of
servitude." However, I did not find this stone, and may want to do more careful
observation to see it.
The second graveyard in the Sherman area is about ¾ of a mile up the hill from the
Kaes house northwest. Upon looking for this site, the old schoolhouse site was found, as
was the entrance to the cave that led to the Kaes springhouse. Once the gravesite
was found, immediately a man shouted, saying that he didnt want anyone in there. The
mans name was Mr. Kerber, and he allegedly owned the graveyard, which is only 20
feet from his driveway. Although the man was stern and stubborn about never going in the
graveyard again, he offered some interesting clues and facts pointing to the graveyard,
the railroad and to how Phillipp Kaes farmed back in the late 1800s. Kerber said
that a Presbyterian church used the old cemetery in late 1700s. The one gravestone
that was seen before Kerber noticed bore a 1700s birth date for the woman buried
there. This gravesite is much older than the one wherein Phillipp Kaes is buried. Kerber
doesnt want the public to know about this gravesite. Some interesting evidence
pointing to how Phillipp Kaes could have farmed the Sherman area was found when Kerber
went in his house and brought out a picture showing an aerial view of the Sherman area in
the late 1800s. The snapshot showed that there were no trees where forests presently
inhabit. This makes it easier to think that Kaes had farms in the area, which are now
The "St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad", or "Frisco Line" had
its origin in the southwest branch of the Pacific Railroad. (Mopac) Although no records
show when the line was being worked on in the town of Sherman or Glencoe, the Glencoe
Historical Society says that the Missouri Pacific Railroad was opened to Franklin (now
Pacific) on July 19, 1853
Another important part of history that is directly related to the railroads is the
incredible entertainment and recreational value of this area from the early nineteen
hundreds to present day. First, from 1915 until the early 1940s, the Meramec River
hosted about 14 thousand people every weekend as they flocked onto the train
affectionately named "Sparky" by the riders. The people would come from St.
Louis city and travel to the Castlewood and Sherman area where large beaches existed along
the river. (Love) The most famous beach was Lincoln Beach. (Love) these white sand beaches
brought with it clubhouses, bars, and in the 1920s, even speakeasies were common, as
people sought out illegal alcohol and gambling. (Love) Entertainers and musicians would
often come out to perform from St. Louis, attracted by the large crowds. (French) After
the 1940s, the beaches were eroding and becoming grown over with plants, but that
didnt stop more people from coming out. Only, this time people flocked to an 18,000
square foot swimming pool that was spring fed and in the Castlewood area. (French) Love
states that the pool would be filled up with cold spring water on a Monday and by the
weekend the water was warm enough to swim in. The pool would be emptied out the following
Monday and refilled. This pool was a major attraction and competed for popularity with
Lincoln Beach. (French)
The Castlewood, Glencoe, Sherman, and Eureka areas all are a major part of history in
St. Louis. The immigrants, slaves, railroads, speakeasies, and recreation have all played
a major part in helping shape present-day St. Louis culture. Immigrants such as Mr. Kaes
brought farming techniques and religion with them. Railroads brought hoards of people
seeking a weekend of fun and carousing on beaches like Lincoln Beach. Finally, slavery in
the St. Louis area reminds us of how our ancestors treated people and how different we act
today. Although these places are not directly in St. Louis, they have all affected and are
tied to the rich culture, heritage, and history of St. Louis.
Day, Haevara. Original letter to Mrs. Catherine French. Feb 17, 1981.
Foster, Al. Glencoe: From the beginning. Unpublished. May 15, 1983.
French, Catherine. Recreation History of Castlywood and Surrounding Meramec River Area.
Glencoe Historical Society. http://www.eureka.mo.us/history.htm. Online
.Hamilton, Esley, historian, St. Louis County Parks Department. Email correspondence.Esley_Hamilton@stlouisco.com
Kerber, Mr. Interview. June 29, 2001.
Love, Richard. Interview. June 26, 2001.
MoPacs First 125 Years. www.geocities.com/~mopac/mphist01.htm. Online.
Stoddard, Dave. Interview. June 26, 2001.
Wayman, Norbury L. History of St. Louis Neighborhoods. Online. http://stlouis.missouri.org/neighborhoods/history/index.htm