While Clayton was incorporated into a city in 1913, its presence was established long before it became official. Born out of the separation between St. Louis city and county and the need for a new county seat, the city took roots in 1877, when Ralph Clayton donated 100 acres of farmland and the Hanley family added four more. The fact that 36 years passed before Clayton became an official city was especially intriguing to Mary Delach Leonard when she wrote Clayton, Missouri: An Urban Story, just in time for the centennial anniversary. “You look at that, and wonder why it took so long for Clayton to become a city. But when you learn about the history, you discover that there was this group of people who just knew how to get things done, so they didn’t feel the need to establish an actual city with a mayor, etc.”
When RALPH CLAYTON and his neighbors donated 104 acres of farmland to build a courthouse and county seat more than 130 years ago, they had no inkling that the rural outpost would evolve as a progressive metropolitan hub in the century to come. A newly released book, Clayton, Missouri: An Urban Story, chronicles the making of the city through the people who helped build the community. Written by veteran journalist MARY DELACH LEONARD, the book is filled with historical anecdotes, nostalgic photographs and modern street scenes. The book is available online through reedypress.com and at several local bookstores.