Madison Valley (formerly Old Slave Rd) Historic Marker
In 2013 and again, more recently in 2022, property owners along what was previously "Old Slave Road" (platted in 1979) petitioned to have its name changed to a recognition that reflects the historical significance of the area while recognizing the hurt the name inflicts on many. At its July 29, 2022, meeting, the Historic Preservation Commission approved a request by property owners to change the street name to “Madison Valley,” honoring Elijah Madison who fought for his and others' freedom during the Civil War, as a Corporal for the 68 Regiment of the United States Colored Troops (USCT). It was recommended by Commissioners at that time a memorial plaque honoring Elijah Madison also be installed in this general vicinity. City Council then issued final approval of the street name change request on January 9, 2023, via Amended Bill #2749B.
A public process is now being conducted to determine the historic marker's verbiage, location, and appearance. The Historic Preservation Commission has voted to put forth the following marker type and verbiage for public review, with a desire to honor all individuals from that specific area of Madison Valley, who served in the United States Colored Troops for the Union Army during the Civil War, as well as that community's broader history.
Written comments are encouraged and will help guide this effort to its conclusion. Please submit your comment via this comment form to the Historic Preservation Commission. If you have questions, please contact the Department of Planning at (636) 458-0440.
Honoring Those Who Served in the United States Colored Troops
More than 8,000 enslaved men in Missouri joined the United States Colored Troops (USCT) during the Civil War (1861-1865) to fight for the Union, including many who had previously worked the large hemp plantations at present-day Madison Valley, just north of Babler State Park. Statewide, slave ownership remained legal after the Emancipation Proclamation because it did not apply to border states like Missouri, which did not join the Confederate States of America. However, in 1863, the War Department passed Order No. 135, thereby allowing enslaved men to emancipate through enlistment, even without owner consent. Locally, Corporal Elijah Madison, and Privates Stapleton Madison, Louis Rollins, Sr, Henry Hicks, Henry Anderson, Warren Hawkins, Reuben West, Norman Hawkins, Lewis Brown, Robert Brown, Clinton Gallaway, Richard Hughes, Thomas Randall, Alfred Smith, and James Green, all enlisted so they and others could be free. Slavery was officially abolished in Missouri on January 11, 1865. Many of these men returned to the area after the war as farmers and community leaders and are buried in Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery, not far from Madison Valley.
Proposed Marker Location:
The Wildwood Historic Preservation Commission is presently exploring a partnership with Babler State Park to install the historic marker within the park along Wirth Drive, where there is an existing pull-off area. There are also existing trails in proximity to the location, and opportunity for a future greenway project, for which the marker would be a defining feature. Additional history would be incorporated into park programming and materials.
Additional Information and Links:
Please see the following links for background on the street name change request, historical reference material, and a project schedule. The historic marker is to be installed by December 31, 2023. An unveiling ceremony will take place at that time or shortly thereafter.
Background on Street Name Change Request:
Historical Reference Material:
- The Courage and Perseverance of One Man, article by Karen Fox
- Missouri History Museum Background Sketch on Elijah Madison
- Survey of the Coleman Slave Cemetery (by the Archaeological Research Center of St. Louis)
- August 24, 2023 Historic Preservation Commission (agenda pending)
- September 11, 2023 City Council (agenda pending)
- October 9, 2023 City Council (agenda pending)