John and Kate Gannon were brother and sister, children of James Gannon and Catherine Rafferty, who had emigrated from Ireland and owned a farm in University City. John J. “Jack” Gannon was born on 4 January 1861 and died on 13 September 1938, unmarried. Katharine Agnes “Kate” Gannon was born on 28 June 1864 and died on 16 February 1954, unmarried.

In 1916, the City Council of University City voted to extend the city limits westward from Hanley Road to North and South Road. This extension included the old Gannon farm. On 16 November 1921, Jack bought out his siblings to acquire sole ownership of the property. In 1923, Jack worked with area businessmen to establish the Gannondale Realty Company, which was incorporated on 28 July 1923. He registered the Gannondale subdivision with St. Louis County on 14 September of that year. He then worked with Arthur H. Kuhlmann, the University City Building Commissioner, to develop the properties in Gannondale.

Parcels of lots were released to him for development throughout the fall and winter of 1923. After the property was divided into streets and lots, Jack and his sister Kate lived in what had been their farmhouse, now known as 7503 Gannon Avenue. With the farmland being turned into housing for University City residents, Jack had to find other work. He had years of experience in maintaining the farm equipment and found employment in one of the area automobile factories as a mechanic.

Photo in the collection of Ted Steele
Used with permission

Early in the 1930s, Jack became a member of the University City Board of Park Directors (now the Board of Park Commissioners). He served on their finance, sports, and tennis committees, where he was involved in projects such as improving the baseball diamonds in Heman Park. He was elected second vice-president of the board at their meeting on 8 June 1938; however, Jack attended only one board meeting (on 22 June) in the capacity of vice-president, as he became ill the next month. He died in the same house where he was born on 13 September 1938, at the age of seventy-seven.

Kate Gannon never married, but she assisted her brother Jack in running the farm throughout her life. After her brother’s death, she moved in with her sister, Mary (Gannon) Kelly, in her home on Flora Place in the Shaw neighborhood in south St. Louis, where she doted on her nieces and their children. Mary Kelly died in 1946, and Kate continued to live in the home on Flora until her own death. The last of the Gannon children, she died on 14 February 1954, just a few months short of her ninetieth birthday.

(Sources include church records, death records, deeds and other land records, newspaper articles, and the U.S. federal census.)

Written by Ted Steele

February 2017 (excerpted from a longer essay originally written in 2004 and revised in 2009)

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Last Modified: 26-Oct-2018 10:03