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100 People Who Shaped St. Louis

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  • Mayor James G Barry (1800 - 1880)
    Barry was elected in April 1849 as the mayor of St. Louis, for a term of one year.[citation needed] Within a month of being elected, the Great Fire of 1849 in St. Louis occurred. On May 17, 1849,...
  • Halsey Cooley Ives (1847 - 1911)
    Halsey Cooley Ives (27 October 1847 – 5 May 1911) was the founder of the Saint Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts. The institution later became two distinct bodies; the Saint Louis Art Museum, an...
  • John B. C. Lucas, US Congress (1758 - 1842)
    Born in France, Lucas happened to meet Benjamin Franklin, the U.S. Ambassador to the French court. Fascinated by Franklin's conversations on the new democracy & the vast opportunities of a new fronti...
  • Louis Auguste Benoist (1803 - 1867)
    Biography (from The Encyclopedic History of St. Louis): Benoist, Louis A., pioneer banker and financier, was born August 13, 1803, in St Louis, then a French village under Spanish .domination and about...
  • Morton D. May (1914 - 1983)
    Morton D. May (25 March 1914 – 13 April 1983) (known as Buster to his friends and colleagues) was an American philanthropist, Jewish leader, and art collector. He was also at various times director, ch...

100 People Who Shaped St. Louis


From "100 People Who Shaped St. Louis" St. Louis Magazine, December 27, 2007 3:35 PM

It’s not always the politico with the nuclear handshake and the three-piece suit. Or the judge, the archbishop or the tycoon. No, sometimes the folks who profoundly shape (or, as the case may be, scratch and dent) the history of a place are the rabble-rousers, muckrakers, crusaders, visionaries, wingnuts, artists and self-made men and women. Historically, St. Louis has had a generous share of all of these, from philanthropists to anarchists. Our goal was to round up a list of those who, now gone, affected the fabric and fate of the city most profoundly.

Some of the folks here you’ll recognize, like Pierre Laclede, who had the foresight to choose a long, clear bank along the Mississippi—one with a gentle incline, ideal for the docking and unloading of boats—and cemented our place as a commercial river port for centuries. Some names you may recognize—you probably know of Father Dickson Cemetery on Sappington Road, for instance—but you may not know that its namesake, Moses Dickson, was the founder of a secret African-American organization called the Knights of Liberty that was planning a military offensive to end slavery when the Civil War broke out.

In either case, we hope we’ve liberated St. Louis history from the mustiness of the history book, with its endless lists of dates and places and skirmishes, by bringing alive the people who made those dates memorable, gave this place its shape, fought, flourished and left their traces behind in ways both tangible and mysterious.

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