History of Saint Mary

In early references the town is listed as Sainte Marie's Landing.   A map made in 1799 shows the landing near the St. Laurent River.  This tract of land bordered the Mississippi River on the east and extended as far north as the Saline.  In 1809, August Ste Marie came from St. Louis and established a woodyard there.  Later the property was acquired by Timothy Davis.  In 1837, John Livingston Van Doren secured the land and laid out a settlement to be known as Iron Mountain City.  The company could not pay its taxes, so the land went back to Timothy Davis.  The town has been known as Iron Mountain City, Yankeetown, Camp Rowdy, Saint Marys, Saint Mary's and finally Saint Mary.

Miles A. Gilbert heard about this land being auctioned at the courthouse in Ste. Genevieve.  On December 2, 1839, he bought the land in two tracts.  One contained 1,485 acres, and he paid $810.00 for it.  This tract contained the landing for boats.  He had the idea that his land would develop into a great river port, so he laid out lots and streets, and he named it Saint Mary.

In 1876, the Missouri Gazetteer states that the town had 500 inhabitants, a stage to Perryville daily and daily mail.  There were four general stores, four hotels, three boot and shoemakers, two physicians, two butchers, one barber, one cabinet maker, one wagon maker, one tinner, one agricultural implements dealer, one fouring mill, and one cigar manufacturer.  In 1879, the Gazetteer reads, "two brick stores, a two-story school house, and about a dozen dwelling houses were erected."

But just as Gilbert's dream seemed to be coming true, the Mississippi River channel changed.  In 1881, a new channel was carved, leaving a 15,000 acre island between the town and river.  The town continued to struggle, and in spite of the river change, businesses continued to grow.  In 1901, the Bank of Saint Mary opened for business.   In 1907, a new public school was completed.  The town supported two churches.   During the war years, the town continued to do a thriving business.  In 1951, Prince Gardner announced the selection of Saint Mary's as the site for one of its factories.   It provided jobs for about 750, before its closing in the early 1980's.  At this time, the economy declining. As education progressed at a fast pace, more space was needed for the high school. In 1965, the high school was closed, and later the grade school.

Miles Amma Gilbert


Age 18 Clerk in wholesale house of "Pease and Camp" Middletown, CT, for two years

Fall 1831 To New Orleans as "head salesman in a wholesale dry goods house, remaining to June 1832

8 June 1832     Purchased a general assortments of goods, shipped them to Kaskaskia, Ill where he had a business for 11 years with branch stores in Horse Prairie and Georgetown, both in Randolph County Ill.

1835    With Sidney Breese, late Chief Justice of Illinois and Thomas Swanwick, purchased large body of land to found Cairo.

April 1843     Move to Cairo to act as Agent of Trustees of Cairo Trust Property (which administered the property of the Cairo City of Canal County).

April 1847     Move to Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri

1848      Laid out town of Saint Marys Landing, Previously Known as: Sainte Marie's Landing, Saint Mary's Landing, Saint Mary's (or Saint Marys), Iron Mountain City, Yankeetown, Camp Rowdy

1853       Built Oakwood, his home (House burned down in the 1940's)

1866       Elected one of Judges of County

1868       Re-elected became presiding Justice

1868-80  Re-elected steadily as Justice

First a Whig, then a Democrat, and during the (Civil) War was a strong Union Democrat. "He took an active part in securing Union delegates from his district to the Missouri State Convention called to determine whether or not the state should secede; and it was largely through his pen and management, against powerful opposition, that Union delegates were elected from his congressional district. At the district convention it is said he sat up all night, wrote the Union Circular addressed to the people, got it printed and it circulated all over the district by 12 o’clock the next day, before the seceders from that convention had their circular printed." Also, "…to him as much as any man in this section of the state is due the credit that Missouri remained loyal to the Union. He was Presiding Judge of the County Court of this county for many years after the close of the war, and to him and his associate on the bench, the late Francis Rozier, is due the fact that this county escaped the railroad building craze that saddled so many counties in Missouri with large railroad bonded indebtedness with no railroads to show for it."

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Saint Mary's School after the flood of '93

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In 1973, the worst flood in history covered Kaskaskia and Saint Mary's. 
People were left homeless; homes and businesses were destroyed.

[Of course, since this was written, we have experienced the Flood of 1993, which topped all others.]

The amount of land area in St Mary is 1.127 sq. kilometers.
St Mary is positioned 37.87 degrees north of the equator and 89.94 degrees west of the prime meridian
Today the census shows the population of our town at 377,  Housing units-187  Source-US Census 2000

Joanna Miner Baker


Joanna Miner was born October 24, 1776, at Lyme, Connecticut. Her father is referred to in an old account as "Captain Miner, who commanded a vessel during the Revolution". Most of the early records of Lyme have been lost. Joanna Miner (or Minor), however, is believed to have been the daughter of Martin and Elizabeth Davis Miner of Lyme, who were married there in 1772. Joanna Miner married Bayze Baker, October 22, 1791, and they had nine children. She died at West Bloomfield, New York, January 18, 1814. The records of the Congregational Church of West Bloomfield list baptisms in 1804 of children of Baysey and Joanna Miner Baker.

The Minor family of Connecticut whose numbers are too numerous to count trace descent from Thomas Minor, who settled in Stratford, Connecticut about 1685. Thomas Miner all accorded the right to bear arms in the days of Edward III. The acceptance of Martin Miner (or Minor) and Elizabeth Davis Miner (or Minor) as parents of Joanna is based upon the fact of record that a Martin Minor (the name an uncommon one) went to West Bloomfield with Bayze Baker.

David Jewett Baker I


A "Connecticut Yankee" who settled in 1819 in Kaskaskia which was then the Illinois State Capitol. He was one of the strongest anti-slavery leaders of pioneer Illinois. He stood with Governor Edward Coles, the second governor of Illinois, when he was defeated. Through the efforts of slavery proponents the state legislature ordered an election that year on the proposition of calling a convention to amend the state constitution to permit slavery.

Prior to the election, Illinois was approaching a state of civil war with families and communities divided. Mr. Baker spoke and wrote against slavery and assisted Governor Coles in distributing thousands of anti-slavery tracts, supplied by Philadelphia Quakers whom Coles met through his prominent Philadelphia friend, Nicholas Biddle. Tracts were sent to Saint Louis merchants with shipments of merchandise and thence forwarded to Coles. Their source was never learned by the slavery faction.

Anti-slavery men organized in township and county units and distributed pamphlets and literature. In the election the pro-slavery men were routed. Feeling ran so high against Mr. Baker for his part in defeating the slavery constitutional convention that Thomas Reynolds, Chief Justice of the Illinois State Supreme Court, attacked him on the streets of Kaskaskia. The men reportedly dueled with canes and bowie knives, and both were marked for life afterward. Mr. Baker’s life was threatened many times because of his opposition to slavery.

David Jewett Baker was a supporter of the Republican Party in 1854; following its inception in Ripon, Wisconsin and Jackson, Michigan and before it was formed in Illinois. He was chairman of the first Illinois Republican State Central Committee of which Lincoln was a member. In 1858 he served as a member of the committee that drafted the resolutions debated by Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas.

He was born in East Haddam, Connecticut on September 7, 1792, and the son of Bayze and Joanna Miner Baker. At seven, he and his parents moved to a farm near West Bloomfield, Ontario County, New York. He taught school to earn money to attend Hamilton College, and due to his studies at home, he entered as a sophomore in 1813. Upon graduation in 1816, he became the first man in his part of the state to complete a college education. He studied law in addition to regular college courses, and shortly after graduation was admitted to the bar.

On October 17, 1819, he married Sarah Tennery Fairchild of Morristown, New Jersey, and the couple left immediately for Illinois, which the preceding year had been admitted to statehood. After a journey down the Ohio River by flatboat to Shawneetown, they followed the trail on horseback to Kaskaskia, the state capitol, arriving in November 1819. He immediately began law practice, and was appointed Probate Judge of Randolph County in 1820, where he served several years. In 1829 he was appointed by Governor Ninian Edwards to the United States Senate to fill a vacancy. He served until the election, but during his term introduced "Baker’s Law", bitterly opposed by eastern states, which sought to impede western development, and one of the most significant and far-reaching laws of its day. It helped open the west by encouraging settlers of small means, through its provision to allow entries of government land in tracts of forty acres. The prior law had not permitted entry of less than one hundred and sixty acres.

In 1833, Mr. Baker was appointed by President Andrew Jackson as United States District Attorney for the State of Illinois—the state, then constituted one district. He served in that office until 1841.

Following the flood of 1844, which swept away the old town of Kaskaskia, Mr. Baker and his family moved to Alton, where he was known as one of the best attorneys in Illinois. Mrs. Baker died there on March 4, 1859. Later, he married Elizabeth Swanwick, who was born in Chester, England, about 1805. He died at Alton on August 6. 1869 and his prominence in Illinois legal circles was such that the State Supreme Court held memorial services in his honor, on January 10, 1870. Elizabeth Swanwick Baker died in Chester, Illinois, January 26, 1900, at the age of ninety-five.

Mr. Baker was buried beside his first wife, in the cemetery at Alton, at the extreme far end of the cemetery, away from the river. The stone is a sort of obelisk, about ten feet high.

At the time General La Fayette was being feted, a ball was given in his honor in Saint Louis, Missouri. He requested that he lead the grand march with the "beautiful French lady"—Sarah Tennery Baker. Years later, in 1825, when he visited the United States on a triumphal tour, he came to Kaskaskia, and was entertained at the home of Senator Baker. Upon his return to France, he sent the Bakers a very handsome pair of brass andirons and a brass fender. Barry Gilbert of Evanston, Illinois, great-grandson of David Jewett Baker I, now owns these.

Mr. Baker’s influence was reflected in the lives of his children. Four distinguished sons were educated in law, though only two practices law. Another son, William died in infancy. The Bakers had six sons and three daughters. The Baker family was closely identified with Lincoln, the formation of the Republican Party and the war to save the Union. David Jewett Baker I and his sons attained distinction, with a consciousness of solidarity in the family relation, and of their obligation to maintain the family honor unsullied.


Sarah Tennery Fairchild Baker


She was born in Morristown, New Jersey, October 2, 1803, a daughter of Joseph and Phoebe Lewis Bayles Fairchild. On October 17, 1819, she married David Jewett Baker I. The young couple had high aspirations, the wife giving impetus to her husband’s ambition, then and thereafter. They had nine children. She died in Alton, Illinois, March 4, 1859. She was described as "the best woman conversationalist in that part of the country". The Fairchild family was of Scotch descent, with the name derived from Fairburn. The immigrant ancestor was Thomas Fairchild, who died in 1670, and who settled in Stratford, Connecticut.


Source Document:  Barry Gilbert Scrapbook, page 59b
Bare bones events in his life according to an obituary in 1901 in the scrapbook:





STARSHIP - We Built This City

We built this
city, we built this city on rock an' roll
Built this city, we built this city on rock an' roll

Say you don't know me, or recognize my face
Say you don't care who goes to that kind of place
Knee deep in the hoopla, sinking in your fight
Too many runaways eating up the night

Ma Coley plays the mamba, listen to the radio, don't you remember
We built this city, we built this city on rock an' roll

We built this city, we built this city on rock an' roll
Built this city, we built this city on rock an' roll

Someone's always playing corporation games
Who cares they're always changing corporation names
We just want to dance here, someone stole the stage
They call us irresponsible, write us off the page

Ma Coley plays the mamba, listen to the radio, don't you remember
We built this city, we built this city on rock an' roll

We built this city, we built this city on rock an' roll
Built this city, we built this city on rock an' roll

It's just another Sunday, in a tired old street
Well if you got the toco, oh, then we just lost the beat

Who counts the money underneath the bar
Who writes the wrecking ball in two wild guitars
Don't tell us you need us, 'cause we're just simple fools
Looking for America, coming through your schools

[I'm looking out over that Golden Gate bridge
Out on a gorgeous sunny Saturday, I've seen that low amount of traffic]

Don't you remember [remember]

[Here's your favorite radio station, in your favorite radio city
The city by the bay, the city that rocks, the city that never sleeps]

Ma Coley plays the mamba, listen to the radio, don't you remember
We built this city, we built this city on rock an' roll

chorus repeats 2x

[We built, we built this city] built this city [we built, we built this city]
[repeats out]