Chesterton Visits to St. Louis

Our faithful member Patty has been very diligent with her self-appointed task of tracking down GKC’s travels to our fair city during his lifetime. 

Introduction and Material from GKC’s 1921 Visit

Material from GKC’s 1931 Visit

Maybe she was inspired by John “Chuck” Chalberg’s impersonation of Chesterton at the Conference and thought that he looked very much at home here in St. Louis.

Whatever the reason, here is the e-mail she has put together for us, many thanks Patty and we look forward to updates!!!


Dear Scott I am so excited. . . we are hot on the trail of Chesterton in St Louis. It’s ironic that we find the man mountain’s presence now and not before the conference but that’s the way of life- back-ass-wards- as you know.
It seems that he graced us not only in 1921 but again after his semester of lectures at Notre Dame in January of 1931. He spoke to the Catholic Club here on the subject of Vatican City at the Hotel Jefferson on Jan 26 1931. I am hot on his trail in records both photographic and textual in March of 1921 and January of 1931.
I feel that the Chesterton Society in St Louis has a mission because of its heritage both Chestertonian,and  historically  in its own right by being a part of the St Louis traditions to bear witness and broadcast Chestertons message to the world. He was a real prophet as the conference header said but he also had a plan. Unfortunately his prohecies came all too true about the ways of the world and its woes. And his plans have not been realized or even promulgated.
    So Here We Are . In 2011. Reading his words, loving his message, wanting what he wanted . He would never have dreamed of that but we can dream bigger. SO spread his words, enlist new readers and pray,that the defender of the faith, our jester, critic and friend will continue to grow in audience around the world and add his light of faith, hope, charity, and mirth for all.

Received an update via e-mail today (10/12) and here it is in it’s entirety:

The great man we love to call our friend and companion on our life journey
graced our town twice in ten years with short but significant visits. The first was in March of 1921 as a mostly ignored unplanned detour requested by members of St Louis’s Artist Guild who wanted him to see what the Middle of America was really like and that it was not a “National Pittsburg” as he had thought. He was surprised by his experiences in St Louis and pleased. His topic on that trip was the  “Ignorance of the Educated” He spoke at the Sheldon which was oversold at 2 dollars for all seats.He was interviewed incessantly in all papers and paraded around but could not lecture because of agent contract.He gave many off the cuff 15 to 20 minute remarks and did so at the Sacred Heart Maryville campus in South city on March 20 as recorded in French in the academy’s journal.

His second visit was almost ten years later in January of 1931 when he came to speak several places. He spoke to the Catholic Club on Jan 24 at the Hotel Jefferson on the subject of Vatican City, He seemed to think it was a miracle in the modern world that a country would agree to set aside land for a spiritual city in the 20th century I have more research to do to find text from that talk.The talk at the Odeon was the next evening and was on Culture and the Coming Peril. He gave the lecture many times and the Peril took on various nuances but was mainly materialism,modernism and worldliness in general .But he forsaw a time like today where the culture of death would be looming all too real in our lives,a battle to be fought head to head  hopefully,  not hand to hand.  I still have many newspapers to check in 1931. But I wanted to get some of this to you all so you would know what was going on.

These two lecture trips were a great success for Chesterton. And in my newspaper researches in the Access Newspaper Files on Chesterton I found that he was quoted in paper after paper in every big, little, and backwater town in the english speaking world in his day and beyond.
There is a lot more to add sift and edit

Its very strange how much misinformation gets published. Thomas Peters wrote a book Battling for the Modern Mind a Beginners Chesterton He has some difficulty with dates. I read the book in a hurry two years ago and forgot it except its inaccuracy I dont knowq what that says about either of us but he is a PhD from SIU Carbondale now in California. It might be worth seeing at the library but dont buy it I did.

Here is an update received from Patty 10/12:

I am really becoming overwhelmed by the possible significance of what I
have found in local archives and records about Chesterton. Both Walter Ong
and Father Henle Jesuit priests and great scholars left appreciations which
I believe are unpublished and I hesitate to keep them in our exclusive
hands. I left a message this morning on Dale Ahlquist’s phone recorder
asking him to get in touch with me with some ideas of where to go from here.
Do we go on with our work here in house in St Louis or do we pass the baton
to the Scholars at the Chesterton Institute or thru Dale. I weould like us
to carry on for the indefinite future,because I still have Glennons papers
to find and Father Dowlings papers to check out plus Kenrick’s archives are
shut down for a year. Any ideas from you two would also be most welcome. One
thing which is also important is the letter to Father Henle from the 80-
plus year old man who had been one of the altar boys at Chestertons mass of
conversion. I do not know if this has seen the light of day since it was put
in the archives after Henle’s death.

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