The City's NamesakeThe city’s name is taken literally from "seeds" of our heritage. The City of Black Jack was named for three, unusually large and outstanding American Oak trees that germinated and grew at the intersection of Old Halls Ferry and Parker Roads early in the nineteenth century. The three trees, located about 12 miles from the St. Louis City Courthouse, provided shelter and welcomed relief for farmers hauling their crops to market from outlining areas. They provided a place to rest, a place to meet fellow travelers, and a means to measure distance to and across the Missouri River. In 1840, these three trees were named and became widely known and recognized as ‘the Black Jacks’
Black Jack Oak Trees
During the early 1840s, a clump of three large Black Jack Oak trees stood at the intersection of Parker and Old Halls Ferry Roads. This species of the American Oak is usually small and scrubby, but these were large and cast immense shade upon the tired and heated humanity that passed that way.
The trees were located about 12 miles from the St. Louis County Courthouse, and afforded shelter, as well as a resting place for farmers hauling their wheat, cordwood, and garden products to the market. Farmers living in the Sinks and outlying districts made these Black Jacks a stopping place, often bringing their heavy loads to this point during the evening, and resuming the journey to the city the next morning. In this way, the oaks soon attained celebrity status as a point for shelter from the heat, a rendezvous, and as a measure of distance from other points, and were spoken of as "the Black Jacks".
The First Home
At this time, there was no building of any sort on the present site of Black Jack, but Thomas Fletcher built his home, a modest one-room log house, on the Halls Ferry Road, a short distance from the famous oak trees. Black Jack was officially christened by the Postal Department in 1865. Julius Nolte had been away taking part in the war and returned to his home to become the first postmaster of the growing village. He was also the owner of a general country store.
A half mile east on the same road, Peter Obert, conducted a blacksmith shop and a general store. At this time also, Mr. Richardson built a large tobacco barn on the Halls Ferry Road. This structure was, a few years later, transformed into a residence by Judge L. Hyatt, and still later was occupied by the Utz family. Joseph Leber is credited with being the pioneer businessman of the community. He opened a blacksmith shop on the Northeast corner of the intersection of Old Halls Ferry and Parker Roads, and later opened a wagon-making shop next door.
Among the settlers at this time we find the Rosenkoetters, Trampes, Jacobsmeyers, Poggemoellers, Burgdorfs, Noltes, Hammersens, and the Uzzells. Through time and progress, the appearance of the famous Black Jack Oak trees changed.
No buildings surrounded the original Black Jack Oak trees. They stood out proudly. Soon, Thomas Fletcher built his modest one-room log home a short distance north on Halls Ferry Road from the famous Black Jacks. Along with residential building, Black Jack’s commercial district began to grow and flourish. Joseph Leber was the pioneer businessman for the village. He opened a blacksmith shop on the northeast corner of Old Halls Ferry and Parker Roads and later added a wagon-making shop.
Peter Obert also operated a blacksmith shop, a general store, and repaired shoes from a building a half-mile east on Halls Ferry Road, close to where Mr. Richardson ran his tobacco barn. In 1865, the Postal Department officially christened the village, Black Jack; and Julius Nolte, home from the war and owner of the general store, became the first Postmaster of this growing village.
Time and progressive changes soon began to alter the appearance of ‘the Black Jacks’ village. By 1877, Black Jack’s population was recorded at 300. Victorian- and federal-style homes, along with stone houses and simple structures were built along Parker and Old Halls Ferry Roads. Farms operated by the Jacobsmeyer, Trampe, and Poggemoeller families prospered and stretched across the open land. The growing village, now surrounding ‘ the Black Jacks’, became a thriving community.
On June 23, 1970, a petition containing 1,425 signatures was filed with the St. Louis County Clerk to incorporate 1,700 acres (2.65 square miles) as the City of Black Jack; and on August 6, 1970, Black Jack officially became a Third Class City with the first appointed mayor and eight councilmen. The first election was held in April 1971.
Now in 2014, the City of Black Jack has grown to approximately 6,700 residents and 3,000 homes. The city currently welcomes and supports 43 businesses, eight churches, and three elementary schools. We respect our green space and treasure our 75-acre park, as well as our Joyce E. Hoffman Nature Park. As Black Jack continues to grow, our city still basks in the shade and life originally generated by the seeds of those three American Oaks. Those stately trees represent who and what we are today, a proud city with strong roots, providing the safety and respite of community for residents coming home.