In 2019, O'Fallon celebrated Money magazine's recognition – again – of our City as one of the nation's "100 Best Places to Live." How we got there is a tale of entrepreneurship and of business leaders who wore many hats.

German immigrant Nicholas Krekel was O'Fallon's first resident and first retailer in 1856, and in 1857, the first postmaster and first railroad agent, as well. He operated his store out of his house, the first home built in O'Fallon.

He settled here because his older brother, Judge Arnold Krekel (who also owned a newspaper), purchased land, plotted a town and donated some of the property for a new railroad line.

Nicholas Krekel was O'Fallon's first resident, first postmaster and first railroad agent
O'Fallon's rail station served as the nucleus for our growing community
The Krekel House, O'Fallon's first residence, as seen in the mid-20th century. Today, Cleo Bridal operates out of this historic building.
Arnold Krekel, one of our earliest residents, purchased (and donated) land that would become O'Fallon

O'Fallon in the early 1900s

In 1912, the City incorporated with about 600 residents. O'Fallon's first mayor, Fred Jacoby, built the first drug store and started the first telephone service, which he installed himself, including a switchboard in his store. Mayor Jacoby also started the town's first band and invented a grain reaper. 

In 1939, with only $50 in the general fund, Mayor Paul A. Westhoff, Sr., cast the decisive vote to build the City's first sanitary water and sewer system, launching an era of progress and expansion.

To help the City build the system, St. Mary's Institute donated $5,000. St. Mary's is O'Fallon's oldest corporation, founded by the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood to support their educational endeavors.

America entered World War II not long afterward and O'Fallon residents found jobs at the government's new TNT-manufacturing plant built near Weldon Spring.

Fred Jacoby served as O'Fallon's first mayor after the city incorporated
Like most American cities, O'Fallon was primarily a farming town in its early days
Our community has always celebrated veterans, as seen in this 1916 Homecoming Ceremony for soldiers returning from the Great War
When O'Fallon incorporated, only 600 residents lived within its borders. Today, over 90,000 people call O'Fallon home.
Main Street quickly became a gathering place for residents
Mayor Paul Westhoff helped modernize our city, and cast the deciding vote to build water & sewer infrastructure
The Sisters of the Most Precious Blood have called O'Fallon home since 1875, and helped our community continue to grow
During WWII, O'Fallon took part in Black Out Drills and raised money through war bond drives

Post-war growth and prosperity

By 1956, O'Fallon's population had grown to 1,357. The City's three-day Centennial celebration, which included a beard-growing contest, drew spectators from many neighboring towns. About this time, O'Fallon's first subdivisions were started. A sign was posted along the highway, "O'Fallon, a Good Place to Live." Many residents commuted to manufacturing jobs in St. Louis

Still, until the early 1970s, O'Fallon remained roughly 20 blocks square in size, mostly on the north side of I-70. The town was so small that if there was trouble, officers usually had an idea who caused it. And the area was so rural that officers occasionally got called out to handle stray cattle wandering across a road. 

As the city grew, so did the need for expanded water service, electrical service, fire protection, law enforcement and mail delivery. The city also boasted several civic organizations, social clubs, parks, and the town's first library.

Intelligent, planned growth has always been part of O'Fallon's DNA
Even in its early days, O'Fallon had a lot to offer new residents!
Many longtime O'Fallon residents remember the community's favorite pastime... skating on the Old Mill Pond
Even as O'Fallon grew, Main Street, Assumption Parish and the St. Mary's Motherhouse stood at the center of the community
The O'Fallon Historical Society at the centennial celebrations. That sign can now be found on the Log Cabin Museum in Civic Park.
Commerce grew during this period, including Lee's Confectionary pictured here. At the time, beer was just five cents a glass!
Pardon the tilt! This old picture shows O'Fallon's former City Hall
Alligator's Creek is hardly recognizable in this old photo, but was a popular summer gathering spot

A leader in St. Charles County

In the mid-1990s, O'Fallon began an aggressive program of City-wide infrastructure improvements that supported phenomenal residential, retail and manufacturing growth, resulting in a 25 percent increase in the number of available jobs. O'Fallon was officially a boomtown.

At the same time, a new industry based on O'Fallon's past emerged – tourism. Although, as a town, O'Fallon began with Arnold and Nicholas Krekel, the City's historic sites include early American and Native American history, a War of 1812 settler fort and Civil War history. 

Accordingly, City officials, citizens and business people moved to preserve and restore several buildings: Westhoff Grain and Mercantile Co., Westhoff Light and Power Co., O'Fallon's railroad depot, the Darius Heald Home (built circa 1884 and open for tours in the summer), an 1870s log cabin (now the O'Fallon Historical Society Museum) and the east, west and south wings of St. Mary's Institute educational building, which is now the O'Fallon Municipal Centre.

In 2006, Money Magazine for the first time ranked O'Fallon among America's 100 "Best Places to Live" and O'Fallon celebrated its Sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, with a year-long series of events spotlighting the City's history. 

In 2015, the O'Fallon Community Foundation and the City of O'Fallon opened the long-awaited reconstructed Jacob Zumwalt's settler fort, which sheltered families from Native American attacks during the War of 1812. Learn more about the reconstruction project.

Today, O'Fallon's borders have expanded to about 30 square miles and our population stands at more than 90,000. The same railroad line that started our City is still in operation.

Modern-day City Hall preserves the former St. Mary's Institute educational building
Zumwalt's Fort has been fully restored, and stands as the only War of 1812 settler fort in the state
Explore O'Fallon's history through the generations at the O'Fallon Historical Society's Log Cabin Museum
The historic Heald Home is open for tours and is a popular site for events and outdoor weddings

Learn more about O'Fallon's history