Family Historian Makes Donation to The Knobbe House Photo Collection

Stan Busken of Liberty, Mo., recently donated to Hazelwood three large photos for the Knobbe House in historic Brookes Park. Busken is the great-grandson of Joseph S. Knobbe, Sr., who once owned the Knobbe House.

The photos date back to 1872 and are mounted in antique frames.

One of the photos was a long lost photo he’s been looking for ever since he started doing historical research on Joseph S. Knobbe, Sr., and his siblings in 2009.  It is the wedding photo of Joseph S. Knobbe, Sr., with his first wife, Anna Maria (Henke) Knobbe, taken in 1879.  Photos of Anna Maria are rare since she died of consumption (tuberculosis) at the young age of 41 after giving birth to seven children.

In 1877, at the age of 19, Knobbe, Sr., immigrated to America from Wettrup, Germany.  When he arrived in the St. Louis area to live with relatives, he had little clothing and only $25 to his name.

He was able to accrue over 300 acres of fertile farmland in Hazelwood where the Village Square Shopping Center and Hazelwood West High School now sit. He became a prosperous potato farmer, serving as a stockholder of the Citizen’s Bank of Florissant and later as Director from 1913 to 1920.

After his first wife died, Knobbe, Sr., found himself as a widower raising several children.

In 1897, his sister-in-law, Maria Anna (Keeven) Henke, became a widow with five children.  Three years later, Knobbe, Sr., married his sister-in-law and they formed a blended family of 11 children.  Together they had one son, Joseph S. Knobbe, Jr., born on April 26, 1902.

One of the other donated photos shows Joseph S. Knobbe, Sr., at the age of 15. The third donated photo shows Joseph S. Knobbe, Sr., posing with his three other brothers: Clement, August, and Benedict. The photos will be added to the collection of photos of the Knobbe children that were previously donated by Busken.

The Knobbe House is one of three historic structures preserved at Hazelwood’s historic Brookes Park.  The home was built in the mid-1800s and owned originally by Bernard Henke, a farmer. Joseph Knobbe, Sr., came to work for the Henke family in 1877.

After being in the Knobbe family for more than 100 years, the house was donated to the City of Hazelwood in 1995.  Later that same year, it was moved from its original location near what is now Village Square Shopping Center to Brookes Park on the other side of I-270.

The house was restored in 2007 for community rentals and social events.  In 2010, the City of Hazelwood received the Adaptive Reuse Award from the St. Louis County Historic Buildings Commission for its restoration efforts in preserving the historic structure for ongoing use.  It is currently being used as the liaison office for Emerald Automotive, which intends to make Hazelwood its North American manufacturing hub for its t-001 – an extended-range, electric fleet vehicle.


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