Deus Fortitudo Mea

Filed under: Family Events,Family History,Family Places,St Louis History — Chamberlain @ 4:22 pm
No. 225

Memorial Day weekend was the occasion of a momentous gathering of the Chambers’ tribe. We will try to capture the flavor and scope of this hugely successful event. Such a Herculean labor of love on the part of so many precludes giving appropriate thanks to all that deserve it, but in this posting we will try. We will inevitably miss important contributors, for that we apologize. A big ‘Thank You’ is owed to everyone that attended and worked to make it such a memorable celebration of the Chambers Clan.

Before we begin we must provide some important background information. Given that Bepaw’s company was the Harris Polk Hat Company, we felt it was fitting to commission a souvenir that tied into that history and also into a theme of Making Chambers Great Again. But a confession is appropriate up front. Sad. Our family classicist (belatedly) pointed out a grammatical error in our hat logo. The logo should have read “Deus Fortitudo Mea”. Instead we have the word “Meo” (as in “Hold the Meo”), which does not agree in gender with the female noun fortitudo. Horribile dictu! I’m certain that everyone noticed the error but charity precluded any critical comments for which I am very grateful. Anyhow here is the offending item:

Anticipating the inevitable weaseling from Iowa, the answer is: “No, despite this minor error, there will be no discounts nor refunds.” Indeed in the philatelic realm, errors such as this increase the value of the item. Hence management is contemplating raising the price of the hats accordingly. We will let you know the final decision about this shortly.

Thanks to Katherine Law and Bill Cromie we have lots of reunion photos to share. The Salters, Quicks and Dunns kicked off activities on Thursday May 25th with a visit to the family grave site at Calvary Cemetery followed by a visit to the chapel of the Pink Sisters for a prayer for our clan, especially those recently departed family members including Claiborne Pentland, Ray Salter, Bill Hollo and Ralph Kalish. They were sorely missed throughout the weekend. A luncheon at the City Garden featuring its many whimsical sculptures followed. On Saturday evening, May 27th, Bobby and Mary Dunn hosted a spare rib cook ‘in’ (owing to inclement weather) at the newly renovated Moone Athy farm house (hat tip – kitchen update thanks to the planning efforts of Jennie Quick, Susan Cromie, Eleanor Withers, Katherine Law and Helene Tatum). Danny Cromie once again stepped up to the plate to provide delightful vocal and instrumental entertainment for the clan’s enjoyment that evening. Flying Chinese Sky Lanterns were a special treat after dark. On Sunday sleep in was made possible thanks to Fr Gerard Garrigan of the St Louis Abbey who very kindly agreed to travel to the farm to say Mass midday. Captain Charlie Skinner noted how extraordinarily beautiful the ceremony was in our outdoor setting. Many thanks to Fr Gerard! Sarah Fehlig provided the Cantor’s duties with vocal and guitar accompaniment. Following lunch, many participated in a nature walk through the Jack Cromie trail. A late afternoon sing-along in the Quick room capped Sunday’s events featuring Sarah and Ed Fehlig’s recently donated Yamaha digital piano – thanks Sarah and Ed! We must note that numerous meals throughout the weekend were provided and prepared by Cynthia and Bill Cromie – many thanks to them both for these! Memorial Day itself centered on the clan’s Florissant roots. The day started with a trip to Cold Water Cemetery, considered to be the oldest Protestant Cemetery west of the Mississippi still in use, for a Memorial Day ceremony. We regrouped next at Taille de Noyer where we were hosted for a private tour of the historical family homestead by family relative Jean Hilmer. Here Alicia Salter and those of her generation shared their recollections of their time there as children. Finally we moved on to St Ferdinand’s Church where again we were given a wonderful tour of the shrine where St Rose Philippine Duchesne lived and taught as she founded the first convents of the Society of the Sacred Heart in the United States. Bill and Karen Skinner then treated the family to a delicious picnic lunch on the grounds of the shrine. Thus it was appropriate that we culminated the wonderful weekend on the stomping grounds where the family took its St Louis origins.

Weekend photographs starting with the visit to Calvary Cemetery:

A Visit to our Family Gravesite

Salters at City Garden
25 May 2017

A few snapshots from the Saturday night cook in:

Sunday May 28th. Mass at Moone Athy followed by baseball at Kalish Field and the Jack Cromie trail walk:

Memorial Day at Taille de Noyer and St Ferdinand’s shrine:

This last photo from Katherine Law pretty well sums up the Memorial Day Reunion – doesn’t get much better!

High Livin’

Let’s hope there’s another Making Chambers Great Again event in our future!


A Bittersweet Farewell

Filed under: Family Events,Family Places — Chamberlain @ 9:55 am

Chambers’ Chambers

Est 1902

Please join the the Polk Family

In drinking a toast to memories of 4969…

Saturday, November 28

5-7 PM

4969 Pershing Place

Rsvp –


Celebrating St Louis and Other Things Too

Filed under: Art,Family History,Family Places,Kudos — Chamberlain @ 2:41 pm

St Louis this year celebrates the 250th year of it founding. As a part of this celebration, Washington University, The Association of Yale Alumni, and the Les Amis organization together are sponsoring a day-long symposium on Friday, February 14th, at the Missouri Historical Museum, 5700 Lindell Blvd, St Louis Mo 63112. Sign up and mark your calendars because this promises to be a fun opportunity for us to get together and learn more about our rich cultural heritage.

The program will feature discussions about our city’s founding by historians from across the US with expertise in our French and Spanish heritage. Included in the list of participants will be Yale’s Jay Gitlin PhD and our own Clay Skinner PhD from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. Attendees will include European and Canadian ambassadors and Chief Red Eagle from the Osage Tribe. Luncheon at Washington University and/or dinner at Windows on Washington will be provided to registrants.

René Auguste Chouteau, Pierre Laclede, and John and Bryan Mullanphy are but a few of the prominent figures in our city’s history with whom family members and friends have a connection. So this should be a fun and informative event and we hope that some of you will take the opportunity to attend. For reservations you may contact Diane Morrissey at, or call her at 302-432-1946. You may also register on line at

Another THANK YOU CYNTHIA is due to Cynthia Cromie whose most recent Walnut Tally has just arrived in the mail. This is a huge undertaking, beautifully done, that is an indispensable desktop tool that the whole family relies upon. What a gift. Included in this year’s mailing is another gem, Camp Runamok Games. As Cynthia notes in the preface,

“In Cromie family folklore, Camp Runamok is convened whenever and wherever there are more people who have an urgent need to run around than people who do not”.

As can be imagined, this condition pertains more often than not in the Chamber. The history of Runamok is detailed in the publication for your edification. A classic, full-fledged Runamok was recently experienced at one of the family haunts, Hessel MI. Link here to witness first hand a Runamok, and you’ll quickly get the (painful) idea. This booklet provides all the rules needed to set up and, more importantly, referee multiple diversions for the youth so as to fully realize a Runamok for yourself. Thanks Cynthia for your Sisyphean efforts on all our behalf.

To cap things off we have another terrific success by Gin Cromie. Her movie, The Square, which we noted in a posting previously here,
is now available on Netflix. As noted in the Netflix write-up:

“Nominated for the 2014 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature, this critically praised documentary chronicles the history-making revolution in Egypt that captivated the world with scenes of courage and freedom in the face of violent opposition.”

This of course is big. We now have an Academy Award nominee in our midst. We’ll claim her, no problem. Congratulations to Gin!

Happy New Year All!

Crushed Red

Filed under: Entertainment,Family Events,Family Places — Chamberlain @ 11:56 pm

This news just in – Powell and Ralph Kalish will be opening their new Clayton restaurant on February 13th. Described as “fast casual” and occupying an ideal spot at 8007 Maryland Avenue at Meramec, this “Urban Bake and Chop Shop” will be a great new addition to the Clayton culinary scene. Local Restaurateur Chris LaRocca is partnering with Powell and Ralph in this endeavor, with a proposed menu built around chopped salads, stone fired pizzas and fine wines – ideal for both a quick lunch and/or a relaxed dinner – and a perfect venue for the Clayton business clientele. A preliminary website can be accessed here, and Powell has kindly provided some construction photos here. This will be an ideal gathering place for the St Louis Chambers crowd. Here is a photo of the convenient location formerly occupied by Blick Art Supplies

The clan extends its best wishes for a home run to the Kalish men – see you there!


An Armenian Connection

Filed under: Family Places,Family Updates,Travel — Chamberlain @ 1:52 pm

Molly and Gareth Wynn-Owens hosted mom and dad Bill and Sarah Hollo last summer in Yerevan Armenia where Gareth is currently posted. Where exactly is this? Google to the rescue – look carefully at the center of the map below and up the magnification to see Yerevan’s location:

View Larger Map

Clearly not a geo-political tranquility zone, tucked between Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iraq, and Georgia. Hence just the place for Molly and Gareth. The clan has been anxious to get a glimpse of our Middle Easter adventurers and thanks to Molly now we have one. Here they are:


Sarah and Molly at The Cascade
“A magnificent display of Soviet architecture in central Yerevan”

The stunning 4th century Gerghard Monastery, one of many in the region

Sarah, Gareth and Molly on Northern Avenue
The main shopping promenade of Yerevan

Bill, Sarah and Molly on the terrace overlooking the city

Bill & Sarah outside of Yerevan


Not your average Cancun Funjet Travel package eh?

Many thanks Molly and Gareth for sharing these photos and providing us a vicarious armchair glimpse of your exciting world…


Our Iowan Connection

Filed under: Agriculture,Family History,Family Places,Kudos — Chamberlain @ 3:22 pm

Kudos from the Clan to Calvin and Barbara Gatch. The Gatch-Schrup Farm (Mosalem Township, Dubuque County, Iowa) has recently been honored by an official listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

In addition to the distinction of this listing, this farmstead has fascinating historical links to the Chambers-Mullamphy-Walsh family. But first, to get oriented, here is a map of the Dubuque Iowa vicinity:



Most of us are aware of land holdings of the Chambers and Walsh ancestors, including ranches in Texas (San Angelo) and in California (Colusa County – see the biographical essay on Richard Walsh in our Library). But probably unknown to most of us, the family had land holdings in Iowa also. The following excerpts are from the descriptive narrative submitted to the National Register. They not only describe the architecture of the farmstead, but also reveal that St Louisans John Mullanphy and Auguste Chouteau had been early owners of this very same farm which now belongs to Barbara and Calvin.


Architectural classification: Stone Limestone, Luxembourg
Period of Significance: 1854 – 1885

Narrative Description:

The John and Marie (Palen) Schrup Farmstead Historic District is located at 10086 Lake Eleanor Road in the South West ¼ of Section 7, Mosalem Township, Dubuque County, in eastern Iowa. The rectangular farmstead district is approximately 3 acres.

The John and Marie (Palen) Schrup Farmstead Historic District includes the original farm house, stone barn and stone well-house, all of which share many typical mid-nineteenth century Luxembourgian vernacular characteristics. Each is constructed from both field stones and cut stones. Each mirrors the spare, simple and graceful design of farm buildings of Luxembourgian influence. The farmstead district includes the current windbreak and stone retaining walls on the north side of the well house and the south side of the house. The Farmstead Historic District also includes the land set aside for the vegetable garden and the family orchard.

Contributing buildings include three stone structures: the house, barn and well-house. One non-contributing structure is a small storage shed at the southeast corner of the house.

The farmstead district is part of the original farm of 193 acres settled by John and Marie (Palen) Schrup. The farmstead district is located within the original Julien Dubuque land claim, negotiated with the Mesquakie Tribe by Julien Dubuque in 1788 and confirmed in 1796 by Governor Baron Francisco Carondelet for the Spanish government. Julien Dubuque sold title to this land to Auguste Chouteau of St. Louis in 1804, who in turn sold half-interest to John Mullanphy, the great-great-great-great grandfather of one of the current owners and occupants, Calvin F. Gatch, Jr.

The heirs of Chouteau and Mullanphy lost their claim to the land in 1853 as the result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Julien Dubuque did not possess fee simple, but merely the right to mine the lead. There is a vertical lead mine shaft located within a quarter of a mile of the farmstead district, and the 1858 Mineral Map of Dubuque and Vicinity indicates the presence at that time of a lead furnace just north of the farmstead district.

However, the Luxembourgers who started migrating to Dubuque and Jackson County in the 1850’s were drawn not so much by the opportunity to mine lead as by the opportunity to build lives akin to the ones they had left behind in Luxembourg. Many settled in the nearby town of St. Donatus and some settled on farms in Dubuque County’s Mosalem Township and Jackson County’s Tete des Morts Township.

The distinct architectural styles of the Iowa Luxembourgian houses and barns and the strong religious ties with the Catholic Church make clear the extent to which the early Luxembourg settlers clung to their cultural and religious traditions.

As agriculture and rural life has changed in the 150 years since the early Luxembourgian settlers arrived, old limestone houses, barns and well-houses are simply not practical. Although there are scattered buildings still standing, there are few farmsteads intact. Most of the original Luxembourgian buildings have been torn down to make room for more modern farm houses and barns. The John and Marie (Palen) Schrup farmstead is one of the few remaining farmsteads that represent the Luxembourgian settlement of the second half of the 19th century.

The farmstead district is located on one of the highest spots of the original 193-acre farm with a view of the countryside to the ridge-tops several miles to the south and west. The principal farming activity has always revolved around dairy cows. The rock barn and well-house allowed early settlers to milk a few cows and store the cream in the well-house until it could be delivered to the creamery.

The farmstead stone house, barn, and well-house are architecturally significant because they compose one of few well-preserved Dubuque County Luxembourgian immigrant farmsteads settled in the mid-nineteenth century.



It is amazing to learn that this farm belonged to Auguste Chouteau (a Walsh ancestor of Mary Corley Dunn) and then to John Mullanphy (Chambers ancestor) some 200 years ago. Here are some photos of this beautiful site:


Scenic view of surroundings from farmstead’s high ground

Stone barn and outbuilding

Main dwelling – note: green thumbs have been here…

Patio and flower beds complement rock construction

Kitchen/Dining Area

Original joists and wooden lintels

Library/Music Room

Another view of surrounding countryside




What a beautiful relic of the family past. To end, here is a map showing just where Luxembourg is located – something I couldn’t recall.

Congratulations Barb and Cal – the immense time and effort you’ve devoted to this ancestral farmstead is clearly evident.


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