The French name "Des Peres" seems an unlikely name for a city settled largely by German immigrants and southerners from Virginia. However, the name was indelibly attached to the area long before the Town of Des Peres was formed in 1934.
In 1701, a group of Jesuit missionaries established a settlement on the banks of the Mississippi River near the mouth of the Des Peres River. The name "Des Peres," which means "of the fathers,” traces its origins back to that early settlement.
The River Des Peres of the earlier days was not what we know it today but consisted of the main channel and all of its minor tributaries including what are known today as Deer Creek and Two Mile Creek, which flow through Des Peres. To the trappers and hunters who followed the course of the river and to the early settlers, this broad watershed was referred to as Des Peres.
Early Uses of "Des Peres"
The name "Des Peres" can be traced back through many uses including:
- The establishment of the Des Peres Presbyterian Church in the early 1830s
- The German Evangelical Congregation of the River Des Peres in 1838 (now known as St. Paul's Lutheran of Des Peres)
- The Des Peres Post Office in 1848
- The Des Peres Law & Order Society during the Civil War and the Des Peres Elementary School in 1892
The name was widely used before 1900, and Des Peres was commonly referred to describe the area long before its incorporation in 1934. The attorney who prepared the petition to incorporate recalled that no serious discussion was given to any other name since the town was already known as Des Peres.