The Life of Samuel Cupples
Samuel Cupples born in Harrisburg, PA, on September 13. He is the 13th child of James and Elizabeth Bigham Cupples.
The Cupples family relocates to the Pittsburgh, PA, in or about this year.
Samuel begins working in a grocery store in Pittsburgh starting from about the age of 12.
Samuel and his family move to Cincinnati to begin working for A. O. Taylor (or Tylor) Woodenware Company.
A. O. Taylor (Tylor) sends Samuel on a barge to sell a load of woodenware products and to establish a branch in New Orleans. When he arrives at to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, rivermen tell him that he should go to St. Louis, rather than New Orleans, for a better market. After selling the first load of wooden goods at Cairo, IL, even before reaching St. Louis, he heads back to Cincinnati to replenish his stock and takes off once again for St. Louis. He entices his friend Asa Americus Wallace to come with him to St. Louis When they arrive in St. Louis, they begin Cupples Company in leased space on the 2nd and 3rd floors of 9 Locust Street.
Also, Samuel begins his affiliation with the Fourth Street Methodist Church (located at the corner of 4th and Washington and affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church South soon after coming to St. Louis. Reportedly, he teaches Sunday School at the Church.
Cupples moves the business from Locust Street to larger quarters on the levee.
Samuel buys property on Cote Brilliante for $5,627. The property originally belonged to Auguste Choteau. This property later became his principal residence and farm property.
Samuel Cupples marries Margaret Amelia Kells in St. Louis on February 15. Between 1854 and 1858, Amelia has at least one child who dies at birth and is buried on December 22, 1854.
Margaret Amelia dies of consumption (tuberculosis). Before her death, she reportedly asked Samuel to marry her sister, Martha. This was not an uncommon practice in this age in order to keep money in the family.
Samuel Cupples and Asa Wallace expand their partnership to include Thomas Marston of Chicago.
Samuel marries Martha Kells on Christmas Day.
Cupples and Marston Wholesale Wooden and Willow Ware is now relocated to 55 and 57 N. Second Street in St. Louis.
Samuel and Martha have three children, all of whom die in early childhood either from diphtheria or typhoid.
Harriet Lillian ("Lillie") Kells, born December 8, 1866, and buried June 7, 1874
Belle Marston, born October 28, 1869, and buried June 30, 1879
Clara Taylor, born August 28, 1871, and buried June 1, 1874
Cupples & Marston listed as members of the St. Louis Provident Association. The Association was originally founded in the 1850s. Its annual reports stated that its mission was: "to alleviate poverty caused by an increasing population, the cholera epidemic of the 1840s, a city-wide fire shortly thereafter and the disruption of the Civil War." At this time, the Association distributed aid to 1,167 families.
After a stop in Cairo, IL, where he is told that "St. Louis is where the action is," Harry Brookings comes to St. Louis and joins Cupples & Marston. Harry was the internal pricing expert.
Harry's brother, Robert Brookings soon joins Cupples & Marston. Robert became the premier traveling salesperson for the firm.
Amelia Ross Lowman (1862-1933), at age 6, comes to live with Samuel and Martha. Amelia is the daughter of Martha's sister, Harriet Kells Lowman.
The Marston name is dropped from the business. Samuel Cupples Wood and Willowware Wholesaler is operating from 108 & 110 North 2nd Street in St. Louis.
1871 About this time, the Brookings brothers propose leaving Cupples Company. According to Fr. Maurice McNamee, Mr. Cupples replied, "Boys, you can't do that; I'll make you full partners!"
Samuel and Martha Cupples officially adopt Amelia Ross Lowman on March 7.
The Cupples family is received into St. John's Methodist Church, precursor of the current St. John's on Kingshighway at Washington. The original St. John's Church, built in 1867, was located at 2901 Locust. According to the church records, the names of those received into St. John's are: Samuel Cupples, Mrs. Samuel Cupples (Martha), Amelia Cupples, and Lillie Cupples.
From 1876-1890 and from 1900-1911, Mr. Cupples served as a curator at Central Methodist in Fayette, MO.
Mr. Cupples begins to serve on the Washington University board. He served on the Board from 1881 until his death in 1912. Later, he will become involved with Robert Barnes in the Washington University Medical School and also in the founding of Barnes Hospital.
Work begins on construction of the Cupples Station Property, which is shown below. In time, the Cupples business became the hub for transportation through St. Louis.
By the mid-1880s, according to the Brookings file at Washington University, Mr. Cupples was in poor health and retired from the active running of the business. Asa Wallace, his sons, and the Brookings brothers begin to run the business about this time.
Construction begins on the Samuel Cupples House at 3673 West Pine. The family lived at the home of a Dr. Lawrence at 3611 West Pine until construction was completed.
This is the first year that 3673 West Pine is listed as the Cupples' residence address in the St. Louis Business Directory.
The Cupples family travels to Europe.
Mrs. Martha Cupples is struck by paralysis on June 1. She is reportedly "prostrate" by her condition from this time until her death in October 1894.
According to the St. Louis Business Directory, the business relocates to an address known as "Cupples Block."
Samuel Cupples appears on the 1892 New York Tribune list of millionaires. Summing up the Gilded Age spirit, the paper states, "The late 19th century was the heroic age of the forceful individual personality in American enterprise."
Mr. Cupples begins his tenure on the Board of Trustees of Vanderbilt University, a position he held until 1911. He actually submitted his resignation in 1897 citing that ill health caused his inability to attend the annual meetings, but the Board refused to accept the resignation. To repay the Vanderbilt Board, in 1987, Mr. Cupples pledges an annual contribution of $1500 toward the salary of a professor of practical theology on the condition that the remainder be raised from other sources.
Martha Kells Cupples dies on November 18 of pneumonia paresis at the age of 64. She had been a bedridden invalid for three years prior to her death.
Sometime in the 1890s, Cupples and Brookings become involved with Barnes Hospital. Brookings plays a role in aligning Washington University with Barnes Hospital. Both the Brookings brothers were in on the early Barnes Hospital decisions.
Mr. Cupples continues his philanthropic activities. He is Vice President on the Executive Board of the St. Louis Provident Association. By this time, Provident sponsors 75% of all the charity in St. Louis. Comparable groups include the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the United Hebrew Charities. Provident serves approximately 3500 families, 1205 foreign citizens, 1450 United States citizens, and 866 African-Americans. Also, Mr. Cupples sits on the board of Missouri Children's Home, an organization dedicated in memoriam to Mrs. Cupples in honor of her many philanthropic activities.
Samuel Cupples provides $100,000 to build the Methodist Orphans' Children's Home in honor of Martha Kells Cupples. He functions as Treasurer of its Board of Trustees. The Home was later dedicated in May 1896. The Methodist Orphans' Board was founded in 1867 by the First Methodist Church South. Mrs. Cupples was one of the founding directresses and Mr. Cupples sat on the Men's Board from the time of its inception nearly thirty years earlier.
Mr. Cupples donates money to restore Lafayette Park Church after a cyclone devastated it.
Mr. Cupples' business holdings now includes Samuel Cupples Envelope Co., which held the official license to sell postcards at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Postcards from the company were designated as "Official Souvenir World's Fair Saint Louis 1904."
The hold-to-the-light postcards were some of the most popular postcards, because the image on them changed once they were held up to the light. When the postcards were held up to the light, the buildings in the image lit up.
Samuel Cupples is one of the 115 donors for the building of the new St. John's Church on Kingshighway. Ground was eventually broken for the Church in June 1901.
In May, capital stock from the Cupples Station property is transferred to Washington University. The stock carried a book value of $3,000,000. Cupples supposedly gave the property with an attached debt of $3,000,000, which the University paid off through tax savings because of its tax-exempt status. The situation led to a policy that tax-exempt institutions cannot accept gifts of this kind.
In November, Mr. Cupples attends the dedication of Washington University. He sat in attendance with the University faculty.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Cupples Wooden Ware, employees of the company present Mr. Cupples with a memorial booklet, in which the company history was recorded. Some of the quotes testifying to the corporate traits of Cupples Wooden Ware included:
"Fairness, honesty, quality, service. . ."
"Business has a duty to society that is bigger than just its economic job."
"Human obligation to employees, customers, and to the community at large."
The cornerstone is laid on May 11 for Cupples Hall I of Washington University. The building was later used by the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company to be used as its Service Building for an anthropological exhibition of mummies in the basement.
The cornerstone for Cupples Hall II is laid on May 25. It was also used in the 1904 World's Fair under the name of the Jefferson Guard Building.
The Cupples Engineering Laboratories building cornerstone was also laid on May 25.
On November 1, an imposter named Matilda Cupples came forward attempting to extort money from Mr. Cupples. She claimed to be his niece and ordered invitations to her wedding in the name of Samuel Cupples. The Cupples family had to endure a court proceeding to reverse this charge.
1909 Samuel Cupples, his daughter, and his granddaughters, board the R. M. S. Republic. However, the Republic collided with an Italian ship off the Nantucket coast. This incident marked the first use of the Marconi wireless communication, or the telegraph, and was heralded as saving the passengers and crew.
The shipwreck aggravated Mr. Cupples' asthma and left him with nervous prostration, both of which reportedly contributed to his death.
On January 6, Samuel Cupples dies of pneumonia and bronchitis. His daughter, Amelia, is the only relative at his side when he dies at 11:00 p.m. In addition to his business and philanthropic activity, his obituary also lists him as one of the directors of Boatmen's Bank.
The Cupples estate is valued at $1,575,129.29, which does not include his properties and their furnishings and artwork.
The Samuel Cupples House
Building permit filed with the City of St. Louis for a two-story residence at 3673 West Pine. Estimated cost: $150,000. Architect: Thomas B. Annan.
Construction began on the house and stables. The stables were located directly south of the house between West Pine and Laclede Avenues. The stables were built to include a blacksmith shop, horse stalls, servants' quarters, and a kitchen. A tunnel connected the house from the basement to the stables.
Artisans were brought over from Scotland to carve the decorative stonework on the main house.
The house was completed and was now three stories and much over budget. The original design included a flat porch area at the back elevation and a narrow porch with a roof on the back northeast elevation.
St. Louis Business Directory lists 3673 as Mr. Cupples' official address.
Building permit filed with the City of St. Louis by the Jesuits to build DuBourg Hall at Grand and Lindell. It was rumored that Mr. Cupples was perturbed with the Jesuits because this large building cut off his eastern view.
Building permit filed with the City of St. Louis to enclose the back porches. The flat porch became a round conservatory and playroom with a glass skylight. The narrow porch was closed in and became the servants' dining room. The architect of record was Theodore Link, designer of Union Station.
Building permit filed to erect a greenhouse west of the main house.
The house was sold to the Brotherhood of Railroad Telegraphers for their corporate headquarters.
Date Unknown Stables demolished
Saint Louis University purchases the house to be used for classrooms and a student union.
The structure was to be demolished to make way for a new building. Fr. Maurice McNamee, S.J., petitioned the University President, Fr. Reinert, S.J., to give him a few years to restore the building. With the help of University students, Fr. McNamee began the interior restorations.
The house opened to the public for the first time, empty of furniture.
Samuel Cupples House was designated a historic building on the National Register of Historic Places.
Late 1970s The exterior of the house was cleaned to remove 90 years of soot. Throughout St. Louis, homes and commercial buildings were covered with industrial soot from the coal burning factories.
The lower level was redesigned to become an art gallery and art storage area.
Cupples House was cited by the National Victorian Society as an outstanding example of historic preservation and restoration.
The Conservatory was remodeled and renamed the Harris Education Center that is fully handicapped accessible and features touch tour computer visuals for the sight impaired and closed-captioned videos for the hearing impaired.