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Jan 05

A Look Back with the County Executive: What's in a Name?

Posted on January 5, 2018 at 4:54 PM by County Executive

Have you driven around St. Charles County and wondered how various streams, towns, streets and roads got their names? Each new group of settlers – French, American and German – lent their names in their own time.

An Osage war party pursued a band of Sioux down the Missouri River in canoes.  The Sioux made a turn in the river and, now shielded from the Osage' view, pulled their canoes from the water and hid along the river bank until the Osage had passed. They then carried their canoes across the two-mile strip of land and put into the Mississippi River at a point that gained them 20 miles on their pursuers and guaranteed their escape. Francois Lesieur founded a village on the site in 1799 that became known as Portage des Sioux, and one of its streets is named Lesieur. 

French-speaking settlers in what later became St. Charles County relied on local waterways to hunt and fish. Not surprisingly, many of our water resources have names like Belleau, Blanchette, Cuivre, Dardenne, Femme Osage, Peruque, Gillette, Teuque, Marais Croche and Marais Temps Claire. Rose Philippine Duchesne was an educator from France who lent her name to a Catholic High School and street in St. Charles long before her canonization. John Baptiste Point du Sable, retired fur trader and founder of Chicago, died in St. Charles and has a park named in his honor.

Early American settlers received Spanish land grants. The Village of Cottleville was established on Warren Cottle’s grant. Other grantees lent their names, including Daniel Boone (slick Road), Jonathan Bryan (Road), David Darst (Bottom), Daniel McCoy (Creek), Robert Spencer (Creek), James Green (Bottom), Francis Howell (prairie/school district), Jacob Zumwalt (fort/school district), Joseph and John Weldon (Spring) and James Callaway (Township). Later American arrivals included William McClay (Road), former Congressman Edward Bates (Road), John Pitman (Hill Road) and William Dyer (Road).    

In St. Charles, streets were named after our first seven presidents, assuming both Adams were honored with one street. Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton and Kentucky Senator Henry Clay were also honored. Other streets were named after statesmen (Franklin and Howard), explorers (Lewis, Clark and Pike), military heroes (Lawrence, Montgomery, Decatur, Perry) and even an Indian Chief (Tecumseh) after forts were no longer necessary to protect settlers. 

One of the towns that grew up along the North Missouri Railroad took its name from John O'Fallon, a member of the railroad’s Board of Directors. Another took its name from Erasmus Livingston Wentz, chief engineer of the railroad. Richard Matson conveyed 20 acres of land for a depot on the Katy Railroad. A competitor who lived two miles to the north persisted until the railroad also located a station on his property. Having done this in defiance of Matson, he called the place “Defiance.” When the same railroad was being built through Green’s Bottom, T. George Jung made a cession of land on which the railroad built Jung’s Station.  

German farm families lived along farm-to-market roads that, when the Post Office began requiring addresses, came to bear their names. In Cuivre Township, roads were named Eisenbath, Freymuth, Hackmann, Hoff, Oberhelman, Meinershagen, Peine and Wortman. In Callaway Township, the Schaper, Schnarre, Schwede, Hueffmeier, Diehr and Duello families lent their names, while the Emke family did likewise in Femme Osage Township, where the federal government had abandoned many county roads when it purchased land for an Ordinance Plant in 1940. Feise, Gutermuth, Jungermann, Kisker, Knaust, Muegge and Siedentop Roads were in Dardenne Township, with Zumbehl, Pralle, Droste, Ehlmann and Willot in St. Charles Township. The Machens and Boschert families gave their names to towns as well as roads in Postage des Sioux Township, which also had Ell, Klinghammer, Mintert and Saale Roads, just to name a few.

It was not until 1937 with the platting of Blanchette Hills subdivision in St. Charles that streets were named after Missouri’s first governor Alexander McNair, the county’s first state Senator Benjamin Emmons III, the state’s second attorney general Rufus Easton, and William Pettus, the second secretary of state, all of whom resided in St. Charles. Also honored was Arnold Krekel, Colonel of the Union Militia unit from the county during the Civil War.