DESLOGE — Three great-great-grandsons of city founder Firmin Desloge II attended an official dedication Monday night of a bronze medallion great-grandson, Steven Rockwell Desloge, donated last year to the city.
After accepting the medallion, cast in the 1930s, the Desloge Board of Aldermen had it professionally framed and placed in its chambers at city hall.
William, Raymond, and Christopher Desloge Jr., all of St. Louis, attended the dedication ceremony to see the framed medallion and to hear words of appreciation for their family’s gift from board members and city employees.
Steven Rockwell Desloge was unable to attend the ceremony due to a scheduling conflict.
Mayor David Kater began the informal dedication by telling of his fifth grade dream that someday he would be mayor of Desloge. After winning election to the board and eventually becoming mayor, Kater said he found much to praise about the city that is his home.
“Desloge is a great city and this is a great board to work with,” he said. “I want to thank your great-great-grandfather, Firmin Desloge, for investing in the city many years ago.”
Kater’s words of sincere appreciation for the Desloge family and the city were echoed by Administrator Greg Camp and aldermen J.D. Hodge, Alvin Sutton, Mara Westbrooks, Jim Jones, Chris Gremminger and Jerry Hulsey.
Camp drew an appreciative laugh from the family when he said, “After dealing with the city of Desloge on a daily basis it’s nice to meet people who hear their name mispronounced even more than I.”
Speaking on behalf of the family was eldest great-great-grandson, William, who thanked the city for the honor of participating in the ceremony and offered Steven’s regrets for having to miss the event.
“It’s really nice to know that a growing city like Desloge is named after our family and that our great-great-grandfather had a part in helping to make it what it is today,” said William. “We want to especially thank Mayor Kater and Mr. Camp for all they did in making this evening possible.”
Following William’s address, members of the audience were given an opportunity to introduce themselves and share with family members what the city of Desloge means to them personally.
Drawing the Desloge’s attention were portraits of three family members placed at the front of the chamber after being moved there from the city library for the occasion. The paintings were of Firmin Rene Desloge (1803-1856), city founder Firmin Desloge II (1843-1929), and Firmin Rene’s wife, Cynthian McIlvaine Desloge (1815-1875).
The Desloge Consolidated Lead Company was organized in 1888. It evolved from the Desloge family businesses in lead and mercantile that had done business in the state since 1824. It included the Missouri Lead Mining and Smelting Company in 1874, and the Desloge Lead Company in 1876. Firmin Rene Desloge built what was then a modern smelting furnace sometime about 1824, as an extension of his Potosi mercantile business.
His son, Firmin V. Desloge, expanded mining operations and management to Bonne Terre and a charter was requested and granted to the Missouri Lead and Smelting Company on June 5, 1874. The corporate name was later changed to The Desloge Lead Company on Feb. 21, 1876. Three shafts were sunk during the years of 1876 and 1877, and a new mill was built.
The interests of this corporation were consolidated with those of the St. Joseph Lead Company in 1887, and were a part of the holdings of what is probably the greatest lead mining and smelting company in the world. A fire in March 1886 destroyed the concentrating mill plant and did great damage to the entire surface plant of the Desloge Lead Company. Rather than rebuild, the Desloge Lead Company was sold to St. Joe. In 1887, the land was cleared and company houses for his staff were constructed just west of the present day railroad tracks, the location of present day Desloge.
Attendees visited informally with family members and posed in front of the wall featuring the bronze medallion, along with photos of previous city mayors, after which they attended a reception held nearby.
Kevin R. Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 114 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.