Bill Eddleman

Host, Missouri Bicentennial Minutes

Bill Eddleman was born in Cape Girardeau, and is an 8th-generation Cape Countian. His first Missouri ancestor came to the state in 1802. He attended SEMO for two years before transferring to the University of Missouri to study Fisheries and Wildlife Biology. He stayed at Mizzou to earn a master of science in Fisheries and Wildlife, and continued studies in Wildlife Ecology at Oklahoma State University. 

Bill’s professional interests were in ornithology (the study of birds) and wildlife management. Upon earning his Ph.D., he worked for the Missouri Department of Conservation, did postdoctoral research at the University of Wyoming, and then joined the Natural Resource Sciences faculty at the University of Rhode Island in 1988. He moved back to Cape Girardeau to take a similar position in the Department of Biology at SEMO in 1995. He continued in the Biology Department and several administrative positions until retiring in 2016.

Bill has always had an interest in local history and genealogy. His familiarity with Southeast Missouri history was the primary reason he became Associate Director for the State Historical Society at its Cape Girardeau Research Center in 2017. At the center, he promotes donations to their manuscript collections, provides history-themed programs for groups in their 15-county coverage area, and assists patrons with research. His own historical research interests include mainly 19th-century Southeast Missouri history, especially the Civil War era and early settlement period. 

In his spare time, he serves as president of both the Missouri Birding Society and the Missouri State Genealogical Association. He and his wife Hope also reenact Civil War era history, and are active members of the Friends of Fort D in Cape.


Independence National Historical Park, U. S. Department of the Interior.

October 1820 marked the return of the Major Stephen H. Long expedition to Missouri from its explorations in the central plains. The scientists, artists, soldiers, and others of the expedition studied local animals and plants, described geology and countryside, created improved maps, held councils with Indian tribes, ascended Pike’s Peak, and named Long’s Peak in Colorado. Edwin James, geologist and botanist, chronicled the trip.

Wikipedia Commons

After the elections, the first General Assembly convened in the Missouri Hotel at Main and Morgan in St. Louis on September 19, 1820.

Members chose James Caldwell of Ste. Genevieve as speaker of the house, and John McArthur, clerk. Silas Bent was president pro tem of the Senate. Gov. McNair appointed all other state officials, including John D. Cook as one of the Supreme Court justices.

Missouri State Archives

The next step toward statehood was election of Missouri’s first Governor, Lieutenant Governor, members of the General Assembly, the U. S. House representative, county sheriffs, and county coroners on August 28, 1820.

Missouri State Archives

Welcome to the Missouri Bicentennial Minute from the State Historical Society of Missouri. The first Missouri Constitution, drafted mainly by David Barton, was adopted by the convention and not submitted to the voters for approval. Some historians praise the document as “a marvel of moderation and political sagacity,” and it remained in effect until after the Civil War.

(From Louis Houck, History of Missouri Vol. 3, p. 266.)

The enabling act passed by Congress directed Missouri to draft a constitution. The acrimonious debates in Congress in which northern interests proposed to dictate terms of the state constitution alienated even some Missourians who favored restriction of slavery.

The enabling act delineated the number of delegates by county, with 41 total delegates. Delegate election occurred on the first Monday and two succeeding days of May, 1820. While both parties presented candidates to the voters, restrictionists were in the minority. Thus, voters elected strong pro-slavery men.