New Melle, settled by immigrants from Melle, Germany in 1839, is a small town in the scenic, and historic southwestern section of St. Charles County, Missouri. It runs along the southern end of Highway Z, and its original center is at the crossroads of Highways D and F. The first settlers had landed at Port Orleans, and found their way up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to St. Charles, where they traveled west along the Booneslick Trail (Hwy. N) to a path leading south (now Hwy. Z). On they trudged to the highest point, a site that reminded them of their homeland. which they quickly named "New Melle".
The immigrants, mostly Lutherans, organized St. Paul's Lutheran Church (now of the National Register of Historic Places) in 1844. Twenty of the 40 acres they acquired were set aside for a town. The area was soon laid out in 16 one acre plats, with a large "Market Square". Before the turn of the century, New Melle was recognized as an important "farm to market" town. German Methodists began arriving in the 1860s, and organized the Peniel Methodist Church in 1869. Before 1900 there were four general stores, a mill, small hotel, two wagon makers, three blacksmith shops, a public school and two parochial schools, a creamery, a furniture shop, shoe cobbler, jeweler, a brick kiln, and a large park for picnics.
New Melle continued to thrive as it entered the 20th century. Frieden's E.&R. Church (now Friedens Peace United Church of Christ) was organized in 1905. All was well until the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, followed by World War II in the 40s. Small towns struggled to regain their earlier importance during and soon after these events. In 1945, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church was organized, and a Community Club and Volunteer Fire Department soon followed.
Years passed and the beautiful countryside surrounding New Melle was re-discovered as fine modern homes began filling up attractively landscaped subdivisions. Today, New Melle remains a small town, with many unique amenities:
- Restaurants, wine garden, and specialty meat shop.
- A bank, post office, dentist, retail/office center, and a variety of other service and construction related enterprises.
- New Melle Sports and Recreation – a major sports and community center for SW St. Charles Co. that draws regional tournaments and serves as the feeder program for Francis Howell High School Football.
- A community of churches: Catholic, UCC, Lutheran and Baptist which serve the spiritual needs of the community, provide social activities, support a local food pantry, and more.
- Daniel Boone Elementary School – part of the top rated Francis Howell School District.
- Beautiful new home developments.
- 19th century homes and historic buildings.
- New Melle Fire Protection District – with 24 hour staffing serving 118+ sq. miles – largest (geographically) in St. Charles County
- St. Charles County Ambulance District Station – with 24 hours staffing
- An active Chamber of Commerce that works to promote commerce in the community.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting and recreational hall, and Blue Star Memorial Marker.
- Boone-Duden Historical Society Archives and Museum.
- New Melle/Melle, Germany Friendship Society and Immigrant Monument.
- New Melle Passion Play – a 30+ year community tradition that brings the story of the last days of Christ to life through a moving performance by local volunteers.
- New Melle Festival – a 50+ year tradition that celebrates life in New Melle with an annual parade, carnival rides, open air dances and more.
- Close proximity to the Historic Daniel Boone Home and the historic wine country of Southwestern St. Charles County.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing weekend outing, a fun evening out with friends and family, or that perfect rural setting to build your dream home, New Melle offers beautiful scenic vistas that provide a refreshing escape from urban hustle and bustle. Visit us today!
* The bulk of this article was originally written in 1999 by William “Bill” Schiermeier (1912-2003). Updated, January, 2014 and February, 2018 by Dianne Sudbrock.