Thomas M. Sayman Photography

Thomas Kempland Collection, Concord Village, Mo.

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Had Thomas M. Sayman simply remained a soap manufacturer, the significance of this collection would have little notoriety. However, Sayman did something exceptional in 1928, when he purchased 2,400 acre Roaring River Development for $ 105,000, then gave it to the State of Missouri to become Roaring River State Park.

Perhaps "Doc" Sayman was giving back a bit of kindness that was shown him at a tender age of  "only nine years old, when he  left his Indiana farm, barefooted and overalled, to seek his fortune. When a passerby saw him gazing wistfully in the window of a clothing store at a suit of clothes, and learned that he had left home to make his own way, he bought him the suit." That stranger gave him some advice he would follow for his life, "Whenever in doubt about anything, consult a businessman".

At age ten, Sayman found himself traveling with the circus, learning to run his own "medicine show" by age eleven.  He eventually believed he had developed a marketable product and set off on his own first independent adventure in Carthage, Missouri. By 1900 he moved his expanding business to St. Louis. He developed creams, medicinal salves and eventually soaps. As wealth rolled in, so did trouble. Perhaps paranoid by robbery, Sayman was well stocked in arms and was never afraid to flourish a pistol (which landed him in confrontation with police and court. over fifty times.)

Sayman built a large manufacturing building in 1912 located at 2117 Easton Ave. (present day Martin Luther King Drive.)  According to Dykon Blasting Company,  This building was purchased in 1940 by Lambert Pharmaceutical Company, the maker of Listerine, which occupied the building until 1966. At the time it was imploded (November, 2000) it was known as the "Warner-Lambert Building".  [Animated Graphic of building collapsing]

Although wealthy, Sayman had a soft heart for animals. He loved birds and "once when he discovered a sick calf at his farm, he promptly loaded it in his limousine, drove to the nearest drug store, demanded medicine mixed at the soda fountain, and curb service for the ailing animal."

"Doc" Sayman died in Sept. 1937. Today his statue stands in the park he gave to the State of Missouri.

Source: "Private Development 1836 to 1929 At Roaring River State Park",  by Senator Emory Melton; White River Valley Historical Quarterly,  Volume 5, Number 12, Summer 1976. For more information on Roaring River State Park see,

Thomas M. Sayman, born abt 1854 Indiana; In 1880 resided in Du Quoin, Perry Co., Illinois. Had three daughters and one son by his first wife, Rosa. The daughters being: Gertrude, Bonnie, and Bessie; and son, Radford.  Divorced hsometime between 1900-1910. He had at least an additional child, a daughter named Dorothy by his second wife, Lillian.  In 1900 he resided at 2829 Easton Ave., St. Louis. In 1910, he is found residing at 4603 Westminister Blvd., and by 1920 while living with his second wife, Lillian, at 2117 Franklin.  Source: U.S. Census records.










Annual Ball, T. M. Sayman Soap Co. Employees and Guests, May 19, 1916. Photo by A.W. Sanders. [Enlargement]


Sayman's Vegetable Wonder Soap, for the Complexion skin, scalp, and toilet. Location: 2123 __?____.


Sayman Soap Factory. Building to the left has address 2131_____?______.  On the building facade, between the fire escapes, it is engraved with "Sayman".  This building is considerably smaller than the Sayman (Warner-Lambert) building at 2117 Martin Luther King Dr. (demolished in Nov. 2000). This may have been the sales office, located someplace else.  [Sayman factory enlargement] [sayman factory close-up ]


Gus Stoegker New and Second Hand Furniture and Stoves. Address on building is 2121____?_____ for right store front, 2123 for staircase (upstairs) and the side of the store on the left probably is 2125. [Enlargement]

Three business fronts. Appears to be on the left, Walter Pfeifer Meat Market (Pfeifer Bros. butchers occupied the address 2122 Franklin in 1890 St. Louis directory. This is likely the same location.), a Barber Shop / shoe shine place at address 2124.  Hair cutting 15 cents. All Shines 5 cents. Sign on door appears to be an advertisement for Mercantile Cigars. (Note: There is a gentleman of color looking out the window.); and the more active business on the right, Peoples Laundry. Shirts 7 1/2 cents; C& C 20 cents per dozen; Underwear 5 cents. The poster's advertising shows, Left to right: 1st: show name not readable but showing at the Grand, Jan 12; 2nd poster: "Happy Hooligan", Imperial Jan 12;  3rd poster: "Yon Yonson", Havlin's Jan 12;  [Enlargement]

Possibly the rear of the Sayman factory. [Enlargement]

Another view of the previous structure [Enlargement]

Photo used for construction. On another identical photograph, the annotation indicates this may be relating to a two story residence on Washington Avenue.

 [Enlargement with annotation]

Thomas M. Sayman

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See also:

Kempland Glassplate Photo Collection:

Scenes of Old St. Louis:

Home: History's Time Portal to Old St. Louis


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