Monday, June 9, 2008

The Dillons Of Mehlville Part 3

The third and final part of the Dillon family oral history based on the recollections of Irene and Charles Wilson, the daughter and son-in-law of Packy Dillon.

Packey Dillon married Martha Baggot while still playing professional ball and they begot children as follows: a pair of twin girls who died in infancy, Edward, Irene, Loyola, Arthur, Marie and Jerome-the last two born on the farm at Mehlville. After quitting baseball Packey engaged in the huckstering business running two wagons.

In 1887 they purchased the farm at Mehlville for $6800 from a Life Insurance Company which had foreclosed on the owner Emile Thomas, who had been the Sheriff of St. Louis and St. Louis County. The tract consists of approximately 34 Arpents the old Spanish deeds in that time being listed as Arpents, instead of acres as is now the case. Jerry’s father was 5 months old when the move to the Country was made. Truck farming was carried on by Patrick and his brother Edward who made his home with Patrick and Martha. As Edward, Arthur and Jerome grew up, they also went into farming. The Dillons often spoke of the fine fruits and berries produced on the place in the early days before spraying of the trees and the dusting of crops became necessary.

Packy died in 1902, at the age of 49, very suddenly, from a heart ailment. Packy went to the Sunday ball games to see the Browns play at every opportunity, going to his mother’s home for dinner, thence to the ball game. This was a long trip by horse and buggy to the end of carline and a long streetcar ride to his mothers, thence by street car to ball park...

Farming was carried on more or less until Edward’s death in 1943. Loyola passed away in 1945, and Marie the last survivor living on the farm disposed of the remainder of the farm of 8 1/2 acres and the home. There are now 18 houses in all on the old farm. Two streets intersect the place as now being laid out one being Dillon Drive which is paved according to County specifications. The other is Edward Avenue, which is temporarily paved and will be paved in like manner on the application of the majority of the residents on the street. Only a ½ acre remains in the hands of Irene. Two acres have been sold of the 2 ½ acres deeded to Irene by Jerry by suitclaim. 2 ½ claim acres remain of the old farm which are unimproved and when these are built on the place will be filled. Sewers are subsequently built, connecting with the St. Louis sewage system. Homes may be built on less than acres so it seems that persons now living on the place with plenty of elbow room may wake up some day and find themselves rather crowded in as much as no restrictions were imposed on lot buyers except those imposed by the County as a health measure on account of the use of septic tanks.

The writer failed to mention thus far that Alicia Mullen, formerly Mrs. John Dillon, died in 1907 the year of Rene’s marriage to the writer. (The lucky girl). The holdings of Mrs. Mullen had shrunk by this time to the houses on Locust Street and the three on Thomas Street and the 99 year lease on Olive Street amounting to about $32,000 on sale. The Dillon children all gave their part of their inheritance to the mother so as to lift the mortgage on the home (including Rene).

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