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Tales from Days Gone By

Behind the big themes, celebrated figures, and dry dates of history are the interesting stories of life in the past and ordinary people. Southeast Missouri has a varied and rich history that you often don’t hear about in history classes. Join Bill Eddleman of the State Historical Society of Missouri to hear about these stories with “Tales from Days Gone By.”

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  • A petition circulated in early 1898 to secure public subscriptions for the purpose of building a bridge. Eventually the campaign raised $10,000—half from donations and half from revenue bonds.
  • The Cape Girardeau area is usually not an area that people envision as the setting for an international spying mission. However, it was just that when a spy visited the area in 1796. Georges-Henri-Victor Collot was a 46-year-old soldier in the French Army.
  • The morning of May 27, 1873, began as a quiet, peaceful day in Ste. Genevieve. The Ste. Genevieve Savings Bank cashier, Dudley Harris, and young Firmin Rozier arrived to open at 10 a.m. Concurrently, four men rode into town, hitched their horses, and headed toward the bank.
  • Pascola in Pemiscot County was a small town in the early 1920s, with a population of about 420. The platting of the village occurred in 1894 upon construction of the railroad from Kennett to Caruthersville. Settlers had lived in the area since 1879, but incorporation of the town occurred in 1899.
  • We learn a lot from letters written home during war time. Often these were summarized or printed in hometown newspapers. The 1st Wisconsin Cavalry spent much time in Cape Girardeau during the Civil War. One cavalry soldier wrote a friend, and the recipient shared the letter with the Watertown News, a Wisconsin newspaper.
  • Robert W. Leslie, who went by his middle name of Walker, was the oldest son of William H. and Mary Leslie of the Gravel Hill area in Cape Girardeau County near the Bollinger County line.
  • Before the studio system and national theater franchises came into being after World War I, movie makers distributed motion pictures in two major ways. In the roadshow system, film makers entered into agreements with individual theaters. Theaters then sold tickets to generate revenue for the film maker and the venue. By limiting movie showings, theaters could drive up demand for tickets and enhance their prestige.
  • George Rogers Clark built Fort Jefferson on the east side of the Mississippi five miles south of its confluence with the Ohio in 1779 to control access and consolidate his forces. Shortly thereafter about 1000 Chickasaw and Cherokee besieged the fort. The defenders ran low on food, so a group of men stole out at night, crossed the river, and went 12 miles to Matthews Prairie in present day New Madrid County, Missouri. The goal was hunting buffalo.
  • Few traces remain today of what was the largest town in Carter County in 1920. Midco lay two miles north of Fremont and housed the Mid-Continent Iron Company smelter and chemical plant.
  • The demand for higher education in Missouri increased after the Civil War. Children of families from an expanding middle class aspired to prepare for better careers, but many could not afford the costs of university education.