The Russell estate, like the Christys‘ and Binghams‘, by benefit of its large size, lucked out when coal was discovered on its grounds. When the population of St. Louis was already around 300,000 in 1876, it’s hard to believe that Tower Grove South was out in the country, and largely owned by the Russells, as you can see above and below, in Compton and Dry’s Pictorial St. Louis and a plat map of their land. As you can see above in the lower right, the clayworks is clearly visible, processing the clay into bricks after being mined along with coal in the Russells’ mines. Their wealth afforded a prominent burial plot in Bellefontaine Cemetery.
I’ve looked briefly at clay mining in the Tower Grove South area before, back in March of 2021 further to the south. As you can see below, the shafts to the mines were just southeast of the intersection of Roger Place and Arsenal Street. Russell Avenue was renamed to avoid confusion with the major thoroughfare to the northeast.
The Russells and their relatives the Parkers lived along Oak Hill, among a grove of obviously oak trees, which I’ve looked at before. Bamberger’s Grove to the east, which I looked at back in September of 2020 and in a St. Louis Magazine article.
The coal and clay began to give out in the late Nineteenth Century but the Parker-Russell Mining and Manufacturing Co. was still in business in 1903, as can be seen at the corner of Morgan Ford and McDonald Avenue. They probably reoriented their business when the mines exhausted, but the round red structures are probably kilns.
I found this old photo of miners in the City of St. Louis, though they are most likely from a generation later. It’s amazing to think that such extensive mining once occurred within the city limits of a municipality of 850,000 residents.