Don Jaster Miniature Bonne Terre



By TERESA RESSEL\Daily Journal Staff Writer
January 23, 2002

jaster_replica_depot.jpg (16265 bytes)
When rumors circulated years ago that the Bonne Terre depot would be torn down, Don Jaster decided to build a miniature of the building to go along with his antique electric train set. Daily Journal photo by Teresa Ressel

(Left - Don and Flo Jaster)

BONNE TERRE -- With little tools and a lot of patience, Don Jaster has built tiny replicas of some of Bonne Terre's oldest buildings.

Heritage Hall, or as Don calls it "the cash and carry building" is his most recent project. Others may remember it as the YMCA, the Company store, the bowling alley, city hall, or the St. Joe accounting and engineering department.

As a company store, Flo said it sold food, clothing, coal and supplies for miners.

"Every need was supplied by the store," Flo said.

All of Don's buildings are built of cardboard before he goes to the lumber yard for wood. Many of the other materials are found around the house.

Don used tongue depressors to form the roof on his favorite replicas, Bonne Terre's very first hospital and St. Peter's Episcopal Church.

"It just about drove me wild to make the tongue depressors stay on," Don said.

When Don needed to furnish his miniature barber shop [view #1 - view #2], he took a light bulb apart to use a piece that would look like a bottle of hair oil. When Don needed to furnish a miniature of his aunt's grocery store [a/k/a Southside Grocery], he took a VCR apart to use pieces that resembled miniature cans of food.  [other views: close-up of front exterior and aerial view of interior]

"It's amazing what he tears up to find parts for those things," said his wife, Flo who does most of the landscaping for Don's miniature buildings.

Don also has a tendency to start a new replica before finishing the last one.

"She gets irritated at me for doing that," Don said. Working on one project gets boring after awhile and when he becomes bored Don said he also becomes careless.

Don's interest in building replicas began several years ago when rumors circulated that the Old Bonne Terre Depot would be torn down. Fearing that it would be demolished, Don got out his camera and took several pictures of the landmark. [See above for finished Depot.]

Don, who has always enjoyed woodwork, built the depot small enough so it could be used with an electronic train set he received as a child.

Don and his wife of nearly 50 years, Flo spent several Sunday evenings driving around the town that they both grew up in taking pictures of buildings that meant something to them.

"When I have a notion to build one, I get the pictures out," Don said.

Once they decide on a building, they gather history on the buildings by reading books about the area and by calling the owners of the buildings.

"Most people have really, really been helpful," Flo said. "But sometimes it's hard to get information."

Flo called several people about an old log home that was recently demolished on Hillsboro Road.

"That old log cabin has got to have some stories," Flo said.

Don's replicas of Heritage Hall and the old log cabin will be on display at an April miniature show in St. Louis. Last year, Don displayed five Bonne Terre buildings at the miniature show.

Don and Flo have been building dollhouses and miniatures for the past 15 years, but don't sell any of their work.

"We didn't want to mess with it," Flo said. Flo and Don have given many of their miniatures to friends as tokens of appreciation.

Many of the Bonne Terre miniatures are on display at Mineral Area College's Tourism Center.

DailyJournal, Park Hills, MO., Wednesday, Jan 23, 2002.

By TERESA RESSEL\Daily Journal Staff Writer
November 26, 2002

BONNE TERRE -- If you didn't have a chance to see tiny replicas of many of Bonne Terre's historic buildings when they were on display at the college's tourism center, you'll have a chance to see them again.

Miniature artists Don and Flo Jaster of the Bonne Terre area have donated much of their miniature collection to the Bonne Terre Memorial Library.

The collection includes small miniatures of buildings that are still standing like Heritage Hall, the Library, and several churches [St. Joseph's Catholic Church and St. Peter's Episcopal Church]  . The collection also includes buildings that are no longer standing like Dr. Hicks Matkin's office.

Doris Smither, director of the Bonne Terre Memorial Library, said some people have come into the library just to see the replicas.

"It's really neat for the older people -- and the younger people like it, too," Smither said.

Smither said the miniatures have been placed high on the shelves to keep them from being damaged.

The Jasters have not donated all of the buildings on display at the library but they did donate most of it. There are five buildings which they want to keep for sentimental reasons -- for example, the miniature of Don's childhood home [ view #1 - view #2 - view #3].  [Note:  This is the home which burned in 1938 when Don was a child.  His mother and his brother died in the fire.]

Flo said they researched the history of the buildings as much as they could and tried to make the miniatures accurately depict the real buildings. Some of the miniatures like Don's childhood home [referred to above] were built from memory. 

Finding out the history of each building is important to the Jasters. Flo said they are still trying to uncover the history of an old log cabin that was located on Old Hillsboro Road between Hazel Run and Route Y. The Jasters took pictures of the old cabin just before it was torn down a few years ago and have made a miniature of how it may have looked when it was first built.

Flo said two of their miniatures are on display at the Miniature Museum of Greater St. Louis on Gravois Road across from Bevo Mill. One is a replica of a grocery store owned by Don's aunt several years ago. The other is Santa and his elves' Christmas log cabin.

Flo said the museum director saw their miniatures on the Jaster's Web site and asked them to display these two replicas in the museum. The miniatures will be on display at the museum through the first of the year.

Other Bonne Terre Miniatures

Anna Jaster Home - Great-Grandmother of Don Jaster
Old Farmer's and Miner's Bank
Small Neighborhood Firehouse
Dr. Son's Office
Dr. Evans' Office
Bonne Terre Post Office

View other Jaster miniature creations at:
Website of Don & Flo Jaster 
Don & Flo's Webshots Album

Click HERE to e-mail Flo Jaster with questions or comments
about Don's miniature creations.   

By TERESA RESSEL\Daily Journal Staff Writer
Daily Journal, October 22, 2005

BONNE TERRE - In 1938, he was the little boy who survived a house fire that killed his mother and brother.

The fire, several battles with cancer, and heart disease never kept Donald Jaster down.

But on Friday, Donald died at the age of 74 at Barnes Jewish Hospital shortly after undergoing surgeries for lung cancer and to repair the defibrillator for his heart.

He and his wife of 53 years, Flo, have been featured in the Daily Journal several times for the miniatures and replicas of historic Bonne Terre buildings they made together.

He spent quite a bit of his time building things with his hands that were once crippled by the fire that took his home and family when he was 7 years old.

Sharon Misplay, his daughter, believes Donald spent about a year in Shriner's Hospital after the fire. He received a train set after the fire. She believes the city gave it to him.

“When he was 14 years old, he started making houses to go with the train,” she said.

After that, he didn't really stop making things even through his heart attacks and battles with cancer. Misplay said before he died he was working on a replica of the old Bonne Terre Elementary School.

“It's only half-finished,” she said.

Donald's miniature buildings have been displayed at the Mineral Area College Tourism Center, the Bonne Terre Memorial Library and the Shepard House, which houses the Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce.

When city hall moves to a section of the old elementary building, those miniatures will be displayed there.

He and his wife worked together making replicas of the historic churches, the library, Heritage Hall, doctor's offices, a grocery store and a barber shop, as well as other buildings that meant something to him and his wife.

His interest in building replicas began when rumors began circulating that the Bonne Terre Depot would be torn down. Don got out his camera and took several pictures of the building. He built a replica that was small enough to be used with the train set.

He and his wife then began spending evenings driving around taking pictures of buildings and collecting as much history as they could on each building.

Although both struggled with illnesses, they built dollhouses and miniatures together for more than 15 years. Some were built from memory while others were built as accurately as he could get them.

He found many parts of his miniature buildings around the house such as in the form of tongue depressors for roofs on the old Bonne Terre hospital and St. Peter's Episcopal Church, and a part of a light bulb for a bottle in the barber shop, and pieces of a VCR for miniature cans in the grocery store. Flo did most of the landscaping and the accessorizing for the buildings.

Misplay said her dad made yard decorations for all seasons and holidays. He loved the holidays.

He also made dollhouses, doll beds, and other toys for his great-granddaughter.

“If he could make it with his hands, he did,” Misplay said.

She said she and other family members couldn't tell that his hands had ever been crippled. He had even learned how to play the organ.

When he decided to work at St. Joe Lead Company, no one thought he would last but he worked there for 35 years.

From looking at him, Misplay said no one would have known he had battled different types of cancers for sometime. She said he never complained.

“He was active to the end,” Misplay said. “He never slowed down.”

Her parents, who began dating when Flo was 14 years old, have always been active. She said they were active in a lot of things including scouting, camping, and square dancing.

“He just loved people,” she said.

Lisa Roberts, said she wants her grandfather to be remembered as the “sweet, honest person he always was.”

“He was a fighter from day one to the end,” Misplay said.

“He loved people more than himself,” Lisa's husband, Tracy, said.

His visitation will be held at 5 p.m. today, with prayer service at 6 p.m., at the C.Z. Boyer Funeral Home in Bonne Terre. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at the Boyer Chapel.


BONNE TERRE - Donald P. Jaster, 74, Bonne Terre passed away Oct. 21, 2005, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He was born March 9, 1931, in Bonne Terre.

He was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church and the Miniature Museum Society of Greater St. Louis.

He was preceded in death by parents, Frederick and Leona (Mouser) Jaster, son, Kenneth Ray Jaster, sister, Loretta Hoehn, and brother, Thomas Jaster.

Survived by wife, Florence (Pierce) Jaster, married June 1, 1952; children: Sharon, Mrs. John Misplay, Bonne Terre, Donald (Alberta) Jaster, Bonne Terre; grandchildren: John Eric Misplay and friend Ginger Richardson, Lisa (Tracy) Roberts, Kimberly Jaster and Michaelina Jaster, Marja Misplay and Marlo (Rhett) Anderson; great-granddaughter, Lacy Rae Roberts; sister, Evelyn Fleig.

Visitation 5 p.m. Sunday, Prayer Service 6 p.m. at C.Z. Boyer & Son Funeral Home, Bonne Terre. Services 11 a.m. Monday at C.Z. Boyer Chapel, with Rev. John Schneider. Interment, St. Joseph Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to American Cancer Society or Heart Fund.