Founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclede, St. Louis was located in the territory owned by Spain and France prior to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The Spanish governmental records were retained in 1803 and moved to Havana, Cuba, and then to Seville, Spain. Those records are on microfilm as part of the Cuban Collection housed at the Clayton Library in Houston, Texas. The records are not currently available at any other U.S. library.

The City-County Separation

The most unique aspect of St. Louis history was the separation or divorce between St. Louis County and St. Louis City that occurred in 1876. Prior to 1876, what is today St. Louis City and St. Louis County was all under the jurisdiction of St. Louis County. The county courthouse was in sight of the river. There were several small communities in the county, to the north, south, and west of the City of St. Louis. The City fathers decided they did not want to support the outlying communities, thus forming an independent City of St. Louis with its current boundaries. You can learn more about the mayors in the City of St. Louis at the St. Louis Public Library website. The remainder of St. Louis County formed its own government in 1877 and established its courthouse in Clayton.

Therefore, when researching a St. Louis ancestor, it is often necessary to check both the City and County records for events that occurred after 1876. The records for all events that occurred before that date remained with the City and are available through the appropriate office in the City of St. Louis.

Patricia Davidson-Peters has a narrative that focuses on the personalities involved in the early days of St. Louis with attributed biographies of selected prominent St. Louisans from that period and other interesting links. There are many good histories of St. Louis listed below. Some of these books and additional information are available online.


Billon, Frederick Louis. Annals of St. Louis in the Early Days Under the French and Spanish Dominations. 1886. Reprint, Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, Inc., 1997.

Billon, Frederic Louis. Annals of St. Louis in Its Territorial Days, from 1804 to 1821: Being a Continuation of the Author’s Previous Work, the Annals of the French and Spanish Period. St. Louis: Frederic Billon, 1888.

Book of St. Louisans, 1906. St. Louis: St. Louis Republic, 1906.

Book of St. Louisans, 1912. St. Louis: St. Louis Republic, 1912.

Cohn, Robert A. The History and Growth of St. Louis County, Missouri. St. Louis: privately printed, 1965.

Corbett, Katherine T. In Her Place: A Guide to St. Louis Women’s History. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Press, 1999.

Cox, James. Old and New St. Louis. St. Louis: Central Biographical Publishing, 1894.

Dry, Camille N. Pictorial Saint Louis 1876. 1876. Reprint, Hazelwood, Missouri: McGraw-Young Publishing, 1997.

Fox, Tim. Where We Live: A Guide to St. Louis Communities. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Press, 1995.

Gill, McCune. The St. Louis Story: Library of American Lives. Hopkinsville, Kentucky: Historical Records Association, 1952.

Gosebrink, Jean E. Meech. Saint Louis: An Annotated Bibliography on the City and its Area. St. Louis: St. Louis Area Studies, St. Louis Public Library, 1991.

Hagen, Harry M. This is Our Saint Louis. St. Louis: Knight Publishing, 1970.

Hannon, Robert E. St. Louis: Its Neighbors and Neighborhoods, Landmarks, and Milestones. St. Louis: Regional Commerce and Growth Association, 1986.

Hertich, Henry G. History of Old Roads, Pioneers, and Early Communities of St. Louis County. St. Louis: Watchman-Advocate, 1935.

History of St. Louis County, Missouri. Clayton, Missouri: Watchman-Advocate, 1920.

Houck, Louis. The Spanish Regime in Missouri, 2 volumes. Chicago: R. R. Donnelley & Sons, 1909.

Hyde, William. Newspapers and Newspaper People of Three Decades St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society, 1896.

Hyde, William, and Howard L. Conard. Encyclopedia of the History of Saint Louis. New York: Southern History Company, 1899.

Kirkendall, Richard S. A History of Missouri. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2004.

Larkin, Samuel. Who’s Who in St. Louis 1928–1929. St. Louis: Civic Union of St. Louis, 1928.

Lionberger, Isaac. The Annals of St. Louis and a Brief Account of its Foundation and Progress 1764–1928. St. Louis: Mound City Press, Missouri Historical Society, 1928.

Phillips, Charles. Missouri: Mother of the American West. Northridge, California: Windsor Publications, 1988.

Primm, James Neal. Lion in the Valley: St. Louis, Missouri. Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing, 1981.

Rectenwald, Miranda Rabus, and Andrew Hurley. From Village to Neighborhood: A History of Old North St. Louis. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 2004.

Saint Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation. 100 Historic Buildings in St. Louis County. St. Louis: St. Louis County, 1970.

St. Louis Genealogical Society. Index to the Minutes of the First and Second Board of Land Commissioners, Missouri, 1805–1812, 1832–1835. St. Louis: St. Louis Genealogical Society, 1983.

Sanfilippo, Pamela K. Agriculture in Antebellum St. Louis. St. Louis: U.S. Grant National Historic Site, 2000.

Scharf, J. Thomas. History of St. Louis City and County from the Earliest Periods to the Present Day. 2 volumes. Philadelphia: L. F. Everts & Co., 1883.

Smith, Clifford Neal. Spanish and British Land Grants in Mississippi Territory, 1750–1784. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2004.

Stadler, Frances Hurd. St. Louis: History of the City from its Founding to Eve of 200th Anniversary. St. Louis: KSD & Kriegshauser, 1962.

Stevens, Walter B. Centennial History of Missouri (the Center State): One Hundred Years in the Union, 1820–1921 .St. Louis: Clarke Publishing, 1921.

Stevens, Walter B. St. Louis, the Fourth City, 1764–1909. 3 volumes. St. Louis: Clarke Publishing, 1909.

The Commonwealth of Missouri: A Centennial Record. St. Louis: Bryan, Brand, & Co., 1876.

Toft, Carolyn H. St. Louis Landmarks and Historic Districts. St. Louis: Landmarks Association of St. Louis, 1988.

Troen, Selwyn K. A Guide to Resources on the History of St. Louis. St. Louis: University of Missouri, 1971.

Van Ravenswaay, Charles. Saint Louis: An Informal History of the City and its People, 1764–1865. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Press, 1991.

Vexler, Robert. Saint Louis: A Chronological and Documentary History, 1762–1970. Dobbs Ferry, New York: Oceana Publications, 1974.

Wayman, Norbury. History of St. Louis Neighborhoods. 19 volumes. St. Louis: St. Louis Community Development Agency, 1978–1981.

Williams, Walter, and Floyd Calvin Shoemaker. Missouri: Mother of the West. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930.

Wright, John A. Discovering African-American St. Louis: A Guide to Historic Sites. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Press, 2002.

Last modified: 27-Feb-2017 20:23