Evelynn Johnson, second from left, and her family meet with genealogist Kenyatta Berry, second from right, at Union Station in St. Louis during filming for PBS' 'Genealogy Roadshow.' Johnson's story will be shared in the show's Feb. 10 episode.
When PBS’ “Genealogy Roadshow” asked for queries from St. Louis residents last year, Evelynn Johnson gave them her great-grandfather's name.
“I was asking my mom if were kin to another family that shared our last name,” Johnson told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday. “She said ‘Well, this is your great-grandfather’s name. See if they know him.’”
Owners of the New Masonic Temple on Lindell Boulevard in Midtown St. Louis hope the New Year brings renewed interest in the building, which is for sale. Building manager John Vollman has spent years volunteering at the space.
“It’s a pleasure to come in here most days. You just feel the history,” said Vollman.
As St. Louis celebrates 250 years, several books have explored the city’s history. Add one more to the list, but this one tells the tales through timelines.
“St. Louis: An Illustrated Timeline” offers a tour through St. Louis’ past (and future, as the book ends in 2016) with vignettes for noteworthy years. It also has what author Carol Ferring Shepley calls a “wide-angle view” of the city.
For almost 100 years, Famous-Barr was a St. Louis shopping destination. Its holiday window displays in particular drew shoppers from throughout the St. Louis area to Famous-Barr’s downtown location. Many of those displays, and other well-known Famous-Barr events, were directed by Helen Weiss, the store’s public relations maven.
During World War II, thousands of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers took to the skies daily. The planes were a crucial part of campaigns, from the bombing of Dresden to D-Day, and were flown by the likes of Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart and Lt. Col. Basil Hackleman.
Hackleman, who now lives in Springfield, Mo., was the original pilot of the Nine-o-Nine, a celebrated B-17 that is said to have never lost a crew member or abort a mission because of mechanical failure. The plane was scrapped after the war.
Iconic Rosie the Riveter got a lot of attention during, and after, World War II, but women have always worked.
Before the war, women made up approximately 25 percent of the manufacturing workforce, said Alice Kessler-Harris, an American history professor at Columbia University. Except for the poorest, women often left the workforce when they got married or had children. That’s what the war changed.
St. Louis founder Auguste Chouteau set out with a simple goal: he wanted to build one of the nation’s finest cities.
Historian Fred Fausz believes St. Louis is living up to that goal.
“I think the vibrancy of the city, the spirit of the city is still here, even if you have to include 90 other communities because we’ve created a metro area,” said Fausz, a University of Missouri–St. Louis associate history professor whose new book explores the area’s history, “Historic St. Louis: 250 Years Exploring New Frontiers.” “It is a truly vibrant city as the founders envisioned.”
Events in Ferguson may have started with the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, a black man, at the hands of a Ferguson police officer, a white man, but John Wright believes there’s more to it.
“You never know what spark is going to ignite the incident,” he said. “I think Ferguson is a wake-up call to all of us. We can’t just keep going, business as usual in some areas, without having another explosion.”
Wright, who has written several books about African-Americans in St. Louis, said this was one of only a few racially charged events in the region’s history.
St. Louis played a key role in the Civil War. Not only was it a significant naval base, but a riot at the edge of town led to the creation of Missouri’s militia and the effects of the war can still be felt today.