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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html


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The Fillet Family.

In America there is but little pride taken in genealogy, and it is a rare occurrence to meet a family who can trace their ancestral lineage farther back than two or three generations. Business is the great absorbing interest of all classes of society, and keeps them intent upon the present and the future; what is past cannot materially affect their business, and the indulgence of family reminiscences would only occupy their mind to the exclusion of other thoughts more available perhaps in a financial view. This is the substance of their reasoning, and hence the ignorance displayed by most families in ancestral knowledge. There are some whom this business philosophy does not influence, who take a worthy pride in tracing their families from some certain renowned epoch, through all the mazes of lineal and collateral descent for a long series of years, and in keeping a record of the names and pursuits of each member, which is handed down to the succeeding generations as a valuable relic. The family who head this article can trace their different members through all of their various connections, with all the accuracy of a fee simple estate, as far back as 1620, the year on which the Pilgrims dated their advent on the continent of America.

Before proceeding farther in this place, the author would say that it was his original intention of giving a biography of only one member of the Filley family, and the one selected was the Hon. Oliver D. Filley, the present mayor of the city; but there were others of the same name and same family, who were well worthy of a place in this book; so he determined upon giving a succinct historical sketch of a family who have taken a singular pride in preserving their genealogical records, and whose members, residing in the city of St. Louis, have been among our most thrifty and enterprising citizens.

The Filley family are of Welsh origin, and the first of that name that ever trod upon American soil, was a passenger in the "Mayflower," which, in November, 1620, landed the Pilgrims on the bleak promontory where Plymouth now stands. Thirteen years afterward, when two-thirds of their number had been destroyed by disease, famine, and the tomahawk, a small colony, under the direction of William Holmes, sailed from Plymouth to Windsor, Connecticut, to form a settlement; and for the purpose of defence, was built the log fort which was afterward attacked by the Dutch governor, who presided over the few houses which were the first commencement of the present city of New York. They were, however, repulsed, and the new colony at Windsor soon commenced to grow as some coral isle in the sea of wilderness.

There is an old record at Windsor still in existence which shows undeniably that William Filley was one of those who founded the place in 1633. From this William Filley have sprung the numerous

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branches of the Filley family which are now so widely spread over the Union. Were we so disposed, we could now, from documents in our possession, trace all the descendants of William Filley down to the present generation, giving their names, and dates, and places of birth. This would be dealing too much with the past, and foreign to the purpose of this work, which is designed to comprise in the most limited space the most useful and interesting information. We will only say that some of the family during the Revolutionary war did good service for their country at that precarious period of her existence.

Oliver D. Filley, the present mayor of St. Louis, was born May 23d, 1806, in Simsbury, now Bloomfield, Connecticut. His parents, Oliver Filley and Annis Humphrey, were married May 8th, 1805, and had eight children, of whom Oliver D. Filley was the eldest. He was sent early to school, and directly he learned the branches of a business education, he commenced to learn the tin-ware business in the shop of his father. Some time afterward he was sent to complete his education at an academy. His father, purchasing a farm, carried on at the same time the tin-ware business, and Oliver frequently assisted him in his mechanical and agricultural labors.

Previous to the autumn of 1829, the fame of the western country had become bruited along the Atlantic settlements, and crowds of emigrants daily forsook their homes, to locate themselves on a soil whose fertility so widely contrasted with the barrenness of the eastern regions. Oliver D. Filley joined the general exodus. He was anxious to locate himself in a place that possessed in itself all the elements of prosperity; and then the self-reliance which from a youth made a part of his character, assured him that he would be successful in all of his undertakings; so, in the season and year we have mentioned, he came to St. Louis, and at once commenced working journey-work in the tin establishment of a Mr. Mansfield. After pursuing his vocation in this manner for about a year, he purchased the establishment from its owner, and this was the commencement of the large fortune that he has since amassed, and the starting-point of that business capacity which has so developed its rare powers in every thing he has undertaken.

The little shop which Mr. Filley first purchased, under his management soon commenced to enlarge and make a figure in the locality in which it stood. Year after year it gave significant evidence of its vitality, and the owner gradually became introduced to the commercial world by his business operations, which had ever been conducted in accordance with the highest principles of honor. He soon became well known and respected, and at last became a leading man in the business world of the Western Metropolis, by his own efforts, unassisted by adventitious circumstances.

The possession of wealth, which so often petrifies the heart and renders it insensible to sympathizing emotions, has had no injurious effect on Mr. Filley. His charitable feelings can readily be called into action, if any worthy object be presented for relief. His liberality does not proceed from a vain ostentation. He seeks no display, and gives from a sense of duty and to gratify the promptings of a heart naturally generous. The fortune that he now possesses has been made from the profits accruing from the business he pursued, and he has always been opposed to the

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dangerous system of uncertain speculation. How cautious he is in business, the following circumstance will show. He was once a director in the Bank of the State of Missouri, and when the majority of the directors were in favor of receiving Illinois money on deposit, he resigned his position.

Mr. Filley has ever been a strong advocate of abolishing slavery in the state of Missouri, and in 1848, when a call was made upon the public for an expression of its opinion, his name first appeared upon the roll. If Missouri were free, the quicker, he thought, she would develop her resources. Acting in accordance with the wishes of the people, he became a candidate for mayor in 1848, and was elected; and so popular was his administration that, contrary to his wishes, he was again brought forward in 1859, and was again elected to his high position. Mr. Filley married Chloe Velina Brown, and they have a family of six children; the eldest son, Oliver Brown Filley, being one of the proprietors of the well known Fulton Iron Works.

The brothers of Oliver D. Filley are all well known in the localities in which they reside, and have been successful in the avocations they have pursued. Marcus L. Filley, now of Troy, New York, was once a resident of St. Louis, having come to the city as early as 1827, and was for two years a student of law in the office of Judge Peck. Giles F. Filley, another brother, came to St. Louis in 1833, and entered into business with his eldest brother, Oliver, learning his trade, and with whom he continued until 1841, when he went into the crockery business, which he continued until 1849, and then connected himself with the foundry business. He has been largely engaged in the manufacture of stoves, and has become numbered among our wealthy citizens. J. H. Filley, also a brother, resides in Bloomfield, Connecticut, where their only sister also lives. E. A. & S. R. Filley, the extensive china merchants, and Chauncey J. Filley, their brother, who has likewise a large china establishment, belong to this remarkable family, and possess their leading characteristics. The whole family have been remarkably successful in the vocations they have pursued. They have inherited the virtues of the Puritan, stripped of his bigotry, and their business talent, their unerring judgment, and honorable bearing, have won the confidence and well-wishes of the community where they reside.

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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html
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