Desloge family

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Desloge Family in America)
Jump to: navigation, search

The Desloge family /dəˈlʒ/,[1] one of the oldest French families in United States, Missouri and St. Louis,[2] rose to wealth through international commerce, sugar refining, oil drilling, fur trading, mineral mining, saw milling, mercantile, manufacturing, railroads, real estate and river boats. The family later funded hospitals and donated large tracts of land for public parks.[3]

Author and academic Carl Eckberg coined the phrase “French Aristocrats at the American West” to describe some prominent French families in Missouri, including the Desloge family[4][5] whose impact was “characterized as much by family connections, private enterprise and negotiation as by conquest.”[6]



The family's progenitor was Firmin René Desloge, a descendant of French nobility[7][8] who emigrated to Missouri in 1823 to join his uncle Jean Ferdinand Rozier and his business partner John James Audubon.[8][9][10]

The family's businesses in lead and mercantile in Missouri date from around 1824, when Firmin Rene Desloge built his own smelting furnace as an extension of his Potosi, Missouri, mercantile business. They grew to include the Missouri Lead Mining and Smelting Company in 1874 and the Desloge Lead Company in 1876, inclusively one of the largest and oldest lead mining companies in America.[11][12]

The family moved to St. Louis in 1861, at the outset of the American Civil War, after various attacks at Potosi, Bonne Terre and upon the family lead mining works by both Federal and Confederate armies who sought lead for weapons.

Firmin Rene Desloge's son, Firmin V. Desloge, expanded mining operations and expanded management to Bonne Terre, Missouri; 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 February 21, 1876. Three shafts were sunk during 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.[13] 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 at the location which became known as Deslogetown, present day Desloge, Missouri.[11] A new company was formed known as The Desloge Consolidated Lead Company.[14][15]


The massive Desloge plant ran under his operation until 1929 when it was sold to the St. Joe Lead Company for $18,000,000 (about $360 million in 2011 dollars). “With the absorption of the Desloge concern by the St. Joseph Lead Company, one of the oldest mining companies of the district goes out of existence as a company."[16][17][18]

Firmin V. Desloge also built the first railroads to penetrate the disseminated lead field of St. Francois County, Missouri, to benefit the needs of the Desloge and St. Joe mines: The Desloge Railway, The Mississippi River and Bonne Terre Rail Road[19] and then The Valley Railroad. Firmin Desloge II was also involved with the development of the Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad (aka, Iron Mountain Railroad) from St. Louis, Missouri to Texarkana, Arkansas. The St. Joseph Lead Company built a narrow gauge railroad thirteen and one-half miles long, reaching from the mines to Summit in Washington County, a point on the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad.[20] The cost was divided between the two companies, the St. Joe paying two-thirds and the Desloge Company paying one-third.

Firmin V. Desloge died in 1929 as one of the wealthiest men in the world.[21]

Around 1916, the Desloge Consolidated Lead Company moved its corporate offices from Desloge, Missouri, to the Rialto Building in downtown St. Louis. Robert E. McHenry’s book on mining enterprises in Missouri, "Chat Dumps of The Missouri Lead Belt," contained a foreword by Jeffry Zelm, CEO of Doe Run Company. Zelm wrote “[While] St. Louis, with its French ancestry, has been noted as a fur capital, more money passed through St. Louis as a result of the lead business in Missouri than did because of the fur business.” And the oldest St. Louis-based lead family is Desloge.[22]

Louis Desloge (from Jules Desloge) founded Watlow Electric in 1922 to manufacture electric heating elements for the shoe industry. The company name Watlow is selected referring to "low-watt" heaters to replace steam heat. In 2011 Watlow, still a Desloge family business, employed 2,000 employees working in 13 manufacturing facilities in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia and have sales offices in 16 countries and a global distributor network.

Joseph Desloge founded Killark Electric in 1913. He designed an industry-specialty electric fuse which as is known today, Killark (Kill the Arc) became the name of the company. Joseph Desloge also owned Minerva Oil, (a confusing misnomer as it was primarily mining zinc and fluorspar); and founded Louisiana Manufacturing Company and Atlas Manufacturing Company. Joseph Desloge’s son Joseph, Jr. was also successful mining Uranium in Utah which he and his partner sold to General Electric; and in natural gas exploration in Lycomin County, Pennsylvania.

Louis Fusz married Firmin Desloge’s daughter Josephine, and the Fusz family played several key roles in the ownership and management of the Desloge Consolidated Lead Company. Louis Fusz was president of Regina Flour Mill Co., and of Desloge Consolidated Lead Co. The Fusz name in St. Louis today is automobiles. In 2011, after 58 years, the Lou Fusz Automotive Network consists of 16 car dealerships.

Theodore (Ted) Desloge, Jr was a partner in and President of Park 'N Fly established in 1967 as the first off-airport parking company, the nation's leading off-airport parking company. Ted has also been Director of Valley Forge Corp. and Mississippi Valley Bankshares, Inc.; and founder of Janna Medical Systems.


Christopher D. Desloge (born July 23, 1958) in 2011 is chairman of the board of Madaket Growth — until 2004, Desloge Consolidated Lead Company[23]— a St. Louis-and-New York-based holding company for businesses in commercial and residential real estate brokerage, websites and business consulting.[24]

Rick Desloge[25] was a business and media journalist with the St. Louis Business Journal.


Three Desloges — Diane Waring Desloge (daughter of William L. Desloge), Anne Kennett Farrar Desloge (daughter of Joseph Desloge, Sr.) and Katherine Falk Desloge (daughter of Stephen F. Desloge) — have been "Queen of Love and Beauty" at the Veiled Prophet Ball, a debutante ball held in December in St. Louis.


The 1932 bequest of Firmin V. Desloge funded the Firmin Desloge Hospital, today known as St. Louis University Hospital;[26] a separate bequest one year later from his wife, Lydia Desloge, built a chapel at the hospital.[27]

In 2006, Theodore P. Desloge, Jr., great-grandson of Firmin V. Desloge, and his wife donated $5 million for the Mr. and Mrs. Theodore P. Desloge, Jr. Outpatient Center.[28]


Through Loriel Johnson, who married William Livingston Desloge, the Desloge family’s direct ancestry includes two members of the Mayflower, Stephen Hopkins and William Brewster; two members of the 1630 Puritan Pilgrim Massachusetts Bay Winthrop Fleet; and relatives who were at Jamestown in 1609.[29] Her ancestors via the Pilgrim Winthrop Fleet Rockwell family[30] include Saints Begga, Itta, Gondolfus, Leudwinus, Arnulf, Clotilde, Sigrada, Warinus, Alfred “The Great”, Ealhswith and Blessed Charlemagne;[31] as well as Plantagenets, William the Conqueror, Emperor Claudius, and Mark Antony.[32] Other ancestors were founding members of Quakers in Pennsylvania and the Anglican Church in 1600s Virginia.[33]

Through Lydia Davis, who married Firmin V. Desloge, this ancestry includes relatives at colonial Williamsburg, signatories to documents of Virginian independence from England,[34][35] others who were present at Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty” speech, and some who were friends with as vestrymen with Thomas Jefferson.[36] Some Desloge family ancestors fought against the British at Bacon’s Rebellion, 100 years before the American Revolution .[37]


  1. ^ The article is the condensed version of 900-page historical monograph supported by materials at historical societies, over 230 bibliographic sources under ISBN, with copyright and Library of Congress application
  2. ^ Stevens, Walter B. St. Louis The Fourth City 1764-1911. 2 vols. St. Louis-Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909 and 1911.
  3. ^ History of Southeast Missouri. Robert Sidney Douglass, Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York, 1912
  4. ^ A French Aristocrat in the American West: The Shattered Dreams of De Lassus De Luzières, Carl J. Ekberg, University of Missouri; 1st Edition (Dec 27 2010)
  5. ^ Attribution of this coined phrase of Carl Ekberg to the Desloge family located in the written permission by Carl J Ekberg, on file at the Missouri History Museum, Research and Reference Building, St. Louis, MO
  6. ^ Jay Gitlin, The Bourgeois Frontier: French Towns, French Traders & American Expansion
  7. ^ “Descendance de Joseph-Gilles Desloge.” 2 pp. typewritten, n.d. Translated by Rosemary T. Power. Missouri Historical Society Archives, Joseph Desloge Collection
  8. ^ a b Huger, Lucie Furstenberg. The Desloge Family in America. St. Louis: Nordman Printing Co., 1959
  9. ^ Sharpe, Mary Rozier and James, Louis, Between the Gabouri, History of the Rozier Family, 1981
  10. ^ Arthur, Stanley Clisy. Audubon: An Intimate Life of the American Woodsman, 1937
  11. ^ a b Desloge Consolidated Lead Company records at Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, MO
  12. ^ Thomas A. Rickards. A History of American Mining, Maple Press Co., New York, 1937
  13. ^ Bouchard, W. L., A Trip Through Bonne Terre Mines and Surface Operations, published by The Lead Belt News, Flat River, St. Francois Co. MO, Fri. March 4, 1949.
  15. ^ History of St. Joe Lead Company
  16. ^ May 31, 1929 The Lead Belt News
  17. ^ McHenry, Robert E. Chat Dumps of The Missouri Lead Belt, St Francois County. With an Illustrated History of the Lead Companies that Built Them, Flat River, Bonne Terre, Desloge, River Mines, Leadwood, Elvins, Leadington, self-published, 2006.
  18. ^ Thompson, Henry C. Our Lead Belt Heritage. Flat River, Mo., 1955
  19. ^ Sullivan, John J., History of St. Joe and Desloge Railway and Missouri River and Bonne Terre Railroad, handwritten, Railroads Collection, Desloge Railway, Missouri Historical Society archives
  20. ^ Missouri Short Line Railroad
  21. ^ List of the Richest Men in the World, New York Times, May 20, 1923, accessed by ProQuest Historical Newspapers, via St. Louis County Library.
  22. ^ "The History of the Desloge Family in America", by Christopher Desloge, (2013). Yale University professor and Director of French American history on the American Frontier Jay Gitlin (Faculty: Environmental History at Yale) called "The History of the Desloge Family in America" “one of the most serious and major contributions on the subject…a foundation of work for thousands of academics and historians”, in his foreword to "Desloge Chronicles", 2012. Missouri History Museum, Research and Reference Building, St. Louis, Missouri.
  23. ^ "History". Madaket Growth. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  24. ^ "Madaket Growth, LLC". SOS Home :: Business Services :: Business Entity Search. Missouri Secretary of State. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  25. ^
  26. ^,1130518
  27. ^ Missouri History Museum, fully executed bequest documents in the possession of the Missouri Historical Society Archives, St. Louis, MO, Joseph Desloge Collection, (Item A0380)"legal contracts concerning the building and endowment of the Firmin Desloge Hospital"
  28. ^ Article. Center site
  29. ^ Genealogies of the Families of John Rockwell of Stamford, CT 1641, James Boughton, William F. Jones, New York 1903
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ The Plantagents ancestry from BCE from The Claypoole Family in America, Volume One, Compiled by Evelyn Claypoole Bracken, assisted by Arthur M Hurst, W. Lionel Claypoole, and Dr. Margaret Claypoole Willoughby, Indiana, PA 1971
  33. ^ Desloge Chronicles
  35. ^ Instructions for the DEPUTIES appointed to meet in GENERAL CONGRESS on the Part of this Colony. By the Virginia Convention of 1774
  36. ^ Field genealogy: being the record of all the Field family in America prior to 1700, Volume One, Frederick Clifton Pierce, Hammond Press, Chicago, Il, 1901
  37. ^ Capt. Simon Miller from The History of Essex County VA, Settlers, Southerners, Americans and “Genealogy of the Hord Family” and “The Hord Family of Virginia”
  • Southeast Missouri Mining and Milling. Doe Run Company. 2004
  • Potosi (Missouri) Historical Society

External links[edit]