Following the exhibition of his photo of the plaque in the Teaching Gallery in spring 2020, Geoff Ward requested that Clayton’s Community Equity Commission consider removing or amending this historical marker, in light of its racist framing of the history of the county. St. Louis County and the City of Clayton have since pledged to review their commemorative landscapes to assess consistency with commitments to equity. Geoff Ward has agreed to serve on the Mayor’s Commemorative Landscape Task Force in Clayton and on the St. Louis County Cultural Review Committee.
To learn more and contribute to the county review process, visit https://www.stlouisco.com/Your-Government/Diversity-and-Inclusion/Symbols-Opression.
The county was first visited by white colonists when missionary priests, Illinois French, and Kaskaskia and Tamaroa Indians settled the temporary village of Des Peres, 1700–03. The village site, laid out 18 years after La Salle claimed the territory for France, is now within St. Louis city limits.
The county’s first permanent settlement was St. Louis, founded by Pierre Laclede, 1764. Though France had ceded the region to Spain, 1762, the settlements were made by the French, and other early villages were Creve Coeur, Carondelet, and Florissant, an early Catholic educational center. In the late 1700’s, Americans began to settle farms on the creeks and rivers. On Cold Water Creek, a Methodist Church was formed, 1806, and on Fee Fee Creek a Baptist, 1807.
St. Louis and its surrounding settlements formed one of 5 Spanish districts before the American period began, 1804, and one of the first 5 counties of Missouri Territory, organized, 1812. St. Louis city and county separated, 1876, and Clayton was laid out as the new county seat, 1878. The name is for Ralph Clayton, who gave 100 acres of land.
Erected by State Historical Society of Missouri and State Highway Commission, 1955