Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ferdinand Garesche And The Democratic Machine In St. Louis

As noted previously, Alexander Garesche stated, while attempting to explain their actions at Camp Jackson in May of 1861, that he and his brother Ferdinand were not Secessionists but, rather, Democrats. After the war, it appears that Ferdinand Garesche was heavily involved in Democratic machine politics in St. Louis.

Bill Kelsoe, in A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture of the City, notes that in 1874 Garesche was serving as the chief clerk of the St. Louis County Court. He also covered the St. Louis County Democratic Convention in September of 1874 and stated that Garesche was nominated to stand for re-election to that position as part of the Democratic ticket. In the November election of that year, Garesche won re-election.

J.A. Dacus and James Buel, in A Tour of St. Louis, wrote in 1878 that Garesche was serving as Commissioner of Supplies for the city of St. Louis and had an office at City Hall. According to documents from the mayor's office, Garesche was serving in this position as late as 1880. Based on these documents, it appears that Garesche oversaw a budget of over $280,000.

In 1877, Garesche was part of an election-fraud scandel investigated by the United States Congress. It seems that Garesche, in his capacity as county clerk, may have tampered with ballets in a congressional election and thrown the race to Lyne Metcalfe, the former mayor of Alton, Illinois and a member of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. While nothing came of the investigation, it's interesting to note that the Democratic machine in St. Louis may have been involved in election-fraud while trying to elect a Republican congressman. It's certainly odd but Kelsoe noted in his book that in 1874 the Democratic machine had thrown some contests to the Republicans in exchange for their support in other contests.

It seems likely that Garesche, as a result of the scandel, was moved from the clerk's office to city hall.

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