Des Peres’ name seems an unlikely name for a city settled largely by German Immigrants. However the name was attached to the area long before the town of Des Peres was formed in 1934. To the trappers and hunters that traveled the River Des Peres it was known as the watershed Des Peres. When Des Peres incorporated in 1934 they never thought about changing the name. It stayed Des Peres. It is a great place to both live and work.
The first inhabitants of Des Peres were the Cahokia, the Kaskaskia, the Mitchigamea, the Moingona, and the Tamaroa peoples.
The Osage Nation lived in the area around Des Peres. The Osage were members of the Dhegiha Sioux group of tribes. This group also included the Ponca tribe, Quapaw tribe, Kansas tribe, and Omaha tribe.
Des Peres is thought to be the oldest white settlement in Missouri, founded about December 3, 1700 by a group of Kaskaskia Native Americans and French who had left the camp of the confederated Illinois tribes on the Illinois River. The settlement was called Des Peres, French for “The Fathers,” and meant to honor the Spanish missionaries who settled there. This settlement was at the mouth of River des Peres and it is thought the first settlers found this region unhealthful, so moved across the Mississippi River to a prairie about 25 miles from the mouth of the Kaskaskia River.
People of European descent began settling in Des Peres in the 1800s. By 1850, there were 75,000 people living in St. Louis. Des Peres was mainly settled by German immigrants and southerners from Virginia and the Carolinas who were drawn to the area by the farmland sold off by the United States Government in 80-to-160-acre tracts.
Des Peres got its name from the River des Peres whose tributaries, Deer Creek and Two Mile Creek, ran through the town. The name Des Pères is a French term which means “of the Fathers”.
In 1834 a small church, the Des Peres Presbyterian Church, is a historic church on Geyer Road in Frontenac, Missouri.
It was started in 1834 and was added to the National Register in 1978.
Mayor Mark Becker has been mayor of the city since 2018.
The public schools serving Des Peres are Parkway School District and Kirkwood School District. Two private schools exist both with religious affiliations. St. Clement of Rome School is run by its adjoining church and parish under the direction of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis. It houses students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade. St. Paul’s Lutheran School also houses students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade and is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Des Peres maintains six separate parks: Des Peres Park, Harwood Park, Pioneer Park, Sugar Creek Park, as well as the 13 acre Phantom Forest and the 10 acre Bittersweet Woods conservation areas. Both designated “urban wildlife areas” are administered in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation and run adjacent to Dougherty Lake, one of the original residential developments in Des Peres. The sites and trails for both sites are accessible to the public only via Barrett Station Road entrance. Bittersweet Woods was donated by Des Peres residents Jean and Joan Goodson. Phantom Forest was donated by Des Peres residents Claire and Ray Moore after Ray Moore’s death. It is named after the Phantom comic strip, of which Ray Moore was the co-creator (with Lee Falk) and original illustrator.
The Lodge is an upscale, state of the art community center that includes indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities, fitness center, gymnasium, and meeting rooms.
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