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Name:    Filley, Oliver D.
Profession:  Mayor
Category:  Politics and Government    (Number 16)
Term as Mayor:    1858-1861
Born/Started:     May. 23, 1806
Description:    Oliver Filley was the 25th mayor of St. Louis and its first Civil War mayor. He had been elected for one-year term in 1858; then in 1859 he became the first mayor elected for a two-year term under the new City Charter of 1859. Under his leadership, the Fire Alarm Telegraph System was completed and put into use. The first paid Fire Department was organized. Construction was begun on four street railway lines operated by horse cars. The City began to regulate private employment agencies.

At the start of the Civil War, Mayor Filley headed a movement for arousing and consolidating Union sentiment and acted as chairman of the Committee of Public Safety. This citizens’ body was appointed to cooperate with the military in enforcing the authority of the National Government. He continued on the committee after his term as mayor.

Born in Bloomfield, CT in 1806, Mayor Filley had a business education. He worked in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in the sheet metal trade. In 1833 he came to St. Louis and worked for a stove manufacturing shop. He soon bought out the company and went into partnership with his brother, Giles F. Filley. In 1835 he married Miss Chloe Velins Brown of Bloomfield, CT; they had three sons and four daughters.

His first political beliefs followed those of the hard money Jacksonian Democrats. He was a close friend of Thomas Hart Benton and later a supporter of the Free Soil movement. After 1856 he became a leader in the Republican Party. In the 1858 mayoral election, he won over George R. Taylor, the Democratic candidate.

Until 1859, all mayors had been elected for one-year terms. The new charter also changed the organization of the legislative body of the City government. The two house legislative plan that had been adopted in 1839, was replaced by a single board called the Common Council. It consisted of two members elected from each of the ten wards. Members of the old board of aldermen formed the new Common Council. The second body, the House of Delegates, ceased to exist in 1859, reappearing in 1866 for one year, then being re-estbalished in 1876 and used until 1914.

Mayor Filley was also one of the leading businessmen of the City. He was a director of the old Bank of the State of Missouri. His stove manufacturing company did business throughout a territory bounded by the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois Rivers. He died on August 21, 1881 in Hampton, NH. Interment was in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

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