Henry Overstolz

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Mayor Henry Clemens von Overstolz
Mayor Henry Clemens von Overstolz.jpg
24th Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri
In office
February 9, 1876 – April 12, 1881
Preceded by James H. Britton
Succeeded by William L. Ewing
Personal details
Born (1821-07-04)July 4, 1821
Munster, Germany
Died November 29, 1887(1887-11-29) (aged 66)
St. Louis, Missouri
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Philippina Espenshied
Children Lucile A. von Overstoltz, Ida von Overstoltz, Charles Henry von Overstoltz, Marie von Overstoltz, Catherine Philippine von Overstoltz

Henry Overstolz (born Henry Clemens von Overstolz on July 4, 1821 – November 29, 1887) was the 24th mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, serving from 1876 to 1881. He is a direct descendant of the oldest patrician family of Cologne, Germany (the Cologne patricians).[1] Henry exerted a wide-felt influence on public thought and action, upon political affairs and business activity, and fifteen years prior to his death he retired.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Munster, Germany on July 4, 1821 to William von Overstoltz and Therese Buse. His father William was born in Duisburg, Westphalia in 1780 and died in St. Louis in 1853. His mother Therese was born in Paderborn, Westphalia in 1790 and died in St. Louis in 1862. Henry moved to St. Louis in 1846, where he entered the merchandising business. Aside from his business prosperity, Henry could lay claim to eminent services rendered to his fellow-citizens in a political life as satisfactory, as it was honorable.[1]

Political career[edit]

Henry involved himself in the city's government and, in 1847, was elected to membership in the City Council. In 1853, Henry was elected as the city's comptroller, becoming the first native-born German to be elected to office in St. Louis. Later, in 1871, he was elected president of the city council.[3] Henry ran for mayor as an independent in April 1875, but lost to Arthur Barret.

Following Barret's sudden death a scant three weeks after his election, Henry again ran for mayor in the special mayoral election that followed. He lost to his opponent James Britton. Henry contested the election two days later, alleging, among other irregularities, ballot stuffing.[4] In February 1876, after a recount of the ballots, Henry unseated Britton and was declared mayor, having won by 77 votes out of more than 29,000 votes cast.[5] He was a supporter of the Charter and Scheme that separated the city of St. Louis from St. Louis County in 1876.

As a result of the new city charter, Henry became the first mayor of St. Louis elected to a four-year term when he was reelected in 1877.[3] During the course of his mayorship, Henry worked to reorganize the city government and forge new relationships with the county and state resulting from the changes instituted by the new city charter.[3] Henry sought a third term as mayor, but was defeated by William Ewing in the 1881 mayoral election.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Henry's home life was indicative of a mind of elegant attainments and studious tastes. His private library was choice and large and harmonized well with the liberal taste displayed in a valuable gallery of pictures and art objects. A happy home, graced by a wife and six children, crowned the labors of an active and honored citizen.[1]

In 1875, Henry married Philippina Espenshied (later known as Philippine E. Von Overstoltz, May 1, 1847 – September 6, 1925). He was a widower when he married Philippine. Philippine and Henry had six children.

Philippine was the daughter of a successful Western wagon-maker, Louis Espenschied, who was the owner of Louis Espenschied Wagon Co.[7] Henry died on November 29, 1887 and was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. One of his legacies to her was a large library and a collection of paintings, valued at the time at $100,000 which was widely exhibited at large fairs and exhibitions.

Among their children were Charles Henry von Overstoltz (April 18, 1880- December 27, 1941),[8][9] Ida von Overstoltz (September 26, 1878- October 6, 1961),[10] Marie E. von Overstoltz, Catherine Philippine von Overstoltz, and Lucile Alice von Overstoltz (March 29, 1876 – June 22, 1948), who married Maximillian Joseph Koeck.[11]


  1. ^ a b c History of Saint Louis City and County: From the Earliest Periods ..., Volume 1
  2. ^ Stevens, Walter Barlow (1915). Missouri the Center State: 1821–1915 (Volume 4). Chicago - St. Louis: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. p. 412.
  3. ^ a b c "St. Louis Historic Preservation: Overstolz, Henry Clemens". City of St. Louis. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  4. ^ "The Mayorality". St. Louis Globe-Democrat. 1875-11-05. Retrieved 2008-08-25. [dead link]
  5. ^ "St. Louis Mayors: James H. Britton". St. Louis Public Library. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  6. ^ "St. Louis Historic Preservation: Ewing, William L.". City of St. Louis. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  7. ^ "Coachbult.com - Espenshied Wagon Co.". www.coachbuilt.com. Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  8. ^ Title: U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current Author: Ancestry.com Publisher: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Publisher Date: 2012 Publisher Location: Provo, UT, US.
  9. ^ Year: 1880; Census Place: Saint Louis, St Louis (Independent City), Missouri; Roll: 724; Family History Film: 1254724; Page: 229B; Enumeration District: 142; Image: 0407.
  10. ^ Title: U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current Author: Ancestry.com Publisher: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Publisher Date:2012 Publisher Location: Provo, UT, US.
  11. ^ Title: California, Death Index, 1940–1997 Author: Ancestry.com Publisher: Ancestry.com Operations Inc Publisher Date: 2000 Publisher Location: Provo, UT, US.

External links[edit]

  • Henry Overstolz at the St. Louis Public Library: St. Louis Mayors Online Exhibit.
Political offices
Preceded by
James H. Britton
Mayor of St. Louis, Missouri
1876 – 1881
Succeeded by
William L. Ewing