In a certain sense the history of Dogtown begins way back in 1798 under Spanish rule. Charles Gratiot received an enormous land grant that ran from Kingshighway (which Gratiot named for the King of FRANCE, yep. While the Spanish ruled Louisiana, France already owned it, they just hadn't taken possession), all the way to Big Bend, and border on the north about 1/3 a mile into what is now Forest Park, and finally on the south by Pernod. These land holdings shrunk inside the Gratiot family by inheritance, until Paul Benjamin Gratiot finally settled a part of it in 1832. This was nearly the limits of this neighborhood, except that it ran from Kingshighway, not Macklin or Hampton. But it was bordered by Manchester, the curious 1/3 mile into Forest Park border, and McCausland.

The development is sort of divided into phases. The first phase, from about 1832 to 1862 is the story of mines, both coal mines and clay mines, the making of brick, and the wonderful sounding days of the Sulphur Springs resort.

With the coming of St. James Church in 1862 we get more the story of settlement, though the central employment continued to be the mines. Alas, Sulphur Springs was gradually being destroyed by pollution.

The next phase of development is the continued buildings of subdivisions in the Dogtown area and the coming employment boom of the World's Fair.

From about 1900 to 1960 is the story of the finalization of housing, coming of Scullin Steel, demise of all mining, and the stabilization of the neighborhood.

Lastly from the early 1960s to the present there is a significant change in the tenor of the neighborhood.

Along the way there are many tales to tell. The Garden of Eden nature of the original land, the mines of both sorts, the semi-myth of the Irish settlement, the World's Fair and the Igorot natives, the legendary sports teams and figures, the saga of Father P.J. O'Connor, the extant 100 old homes, a history of local businesses and on and on and on. This is a project of years, even decades. It will require help. Help with leads, lending of materials such as newspaper articles, letters, documents, photographs and so on. There are people to interview, places to visit, photographs to be taken. Co-participants are warmly invited.

Okay, so this is just about as much as one might expect over a glass of Guiness at Seamus. Soon I hope there will be enough to require a relaxed period of hours to even get a good start.

Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu

September 1999


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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu