Ellisville City Hall is located at 1 Weis Avenue, Ellisville, MO 63011; phone: 636-227-9660.
In 1541, Spaniards were the first Europeans to explore the Ellisville area. This area was claimed for Spain by Hernando de Soto and later claimed for France by Rene-Robert Cavalier La Salle. King Louis XIV of France directed that a large area, including Ellisville, be explored in 1658, and French explorers from Quebec began searching for potential locations of trading posts in the Mississippi River Valley. In 1682, the French formally took possession of a large portion of the United States that they named Louisiana. In 1720, lead mining began in the area. Sieur Renault received the first land grant in what is now Jefferson County where the Big River joins the Meramec River, approximately 10 miles from Ellisville. By 1760, French traders, trappers, and missionaries had penetrated the Mississippi Valley and established settlements as far south as the Missouri River in St. Charles County. In 1763, the governor of French Louisiana granted to Gilbert Antoine Maxent the exclusive right to trade with the Native Americans on the Missouri River and west bank of the Mississippi River. Maxent sent Pierre Laclede to set up a trading post in Upper Louisiana. In November of 1763, Laclede found a terraced area on the west bank of the Mississippi River for his post. This spot was 12 miles south of the confluence of the Missouri River. Laclede named his post for King Louis IX of France.
The French had a profitable trade with the Native Americans. Auguste Chouteau traded with the Native Americans over a path that later become Manchester Road. St. Louis might have remained small in these early years except that King Louis XV ceded the land east of the Mississippi River to England. French individuals in Illinois moved to Missouri, with traders moving to St. Louis and farmers moving to Ste. Genevieve. Except for a brief period when the area was deeded to Spain, the territory remained under French control until acquired by the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1818, Louis Kessler and his family came from Germany and settled on wild land along Kiefer Creek. The Kessler family was one of the earliest families from Germany to settle in St. Louis County.
The Ellis House.
Many of Ellisville's early residents were from Kentucky and Virginia. Moreover, many of them had in common ownership of the Ellis House. The first significant construction in Ellisville began in 1835. Captain Harvey Ferris constructed a brick house (subsequently known as the Ellis House) on the south side of Manchester Road, west of Kiefer Creek. This house was sold in 1842 to Vespasian Ellis, a newspaper editor, who later served as a U.S. consul to Venezuela. Mr. Ellis sold the house to William Hereford of Virginia. It is commonly believed that Mr. Hereford named the City after his post office (Ellisville) in Virginia, although others believe that the City was named for Mr. Ellis. Since Mr. Hereford served as postmaster, it is likely that he named the City.
The Ellis House was then sold to Samuel Wilson who sold it to Major Clarkson of Kentucky. Clarkson sold the house to Captain Benjamin F. Hutchinson of Kentucky. Captain Hutchinson (a steamboat captain) added a Victorian-style rear wing to the house. Captain Hutchinson later sold the house to Adam Doering. John Henry William Rasch bought the house and in 1896 and the house was owned by the Rasch family until about 1957. The Ellis House enjoyed a long history but was razed in 1969. Several major streets in the City were named after some of these Ellis House owners.
Early City Growth.
A post office and general store were constructed in the City in 1842. Phillip Kiefer purchased 60 acres from Louis Kessler during this time. Mr. Kiefer farmed this land and later added another 40 acres to his holdings. Kiefer Creek is named for him. In 1851, Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Congregation was formed by twenty families and held their first service in a house east of the City. In 1854, the congregation built a log cabin at the jog in Reinke Road southeast of the City to serve as their church. In 1871, the congregation built a new brick church on their present site at 15808 Manchester Road. In 1878, the church changed its name to St. Johns and a parochial school that offered instruction in both English and German was added. In 1873, Dietrich and Louise Reinke purchased 140 acres on Reinke Road. The Reinkes were prosperous farmers and leaders in the community and in St. John's Church.
St. Louis City and St. Louis County.
By 1875, the City of St. Louis was a thriving city. By contrast, St. Louis County was a large, sparsely populated rural area. County residents petitioned the City of St. Louis to annex the entire county. In 1876, City residents rejected this petition and set permanent boundaries for the City. This action allowed more than 100 villages and cities to incorporate within the county over the next 120 years. In 2002, there were 91 municipalities in the county, some the result of consolidation of two or more villages.
Incorporation as a Village.
In 1902, Edward Froesel opened a blacksmith shop in Ellisville. By 1911, a hotel and tavern had been added and the Ellisville area had approximately 50 people. By 1919, there were many automobiles in the area and Froesel converted his shop into an auto repair garage. In 1932, there were three schools in the area, but residents wanted to start a public school. To start a school, the area had to be incorporated as a Village. A vote was taken and on May 23, 1932, the Village was incorporated and the Ellisville Village School District was established. This district was included in the statewide reorganization of school districts in 1949, was designated Reorganized District R-6 of St. Louis County, and later became known as the Rockwood School District.
Evolution as a Growing City.
In 1940, the Village had approximately 300 people. Population growth was slow until 1950. In 1957, residents voted to become a 4th Class City in order to establish a municipally-owned sanitary sewer system. The city had rapid growth from 1950 until 1980, and has maintained a healthy growth rate since then. On August 3, 1993, the City's Home Rule Charter took effect.