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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 of Days Gone By.”

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  • Among the many useful inventions developed at the turn of the 20th Century was the adding machine. One of the most widely-used of these was invented in Missouri and initially manufactured in Poplar Bluff—the Dalton Adding Machine.
  • During the early years of the Third District Normal School (1876-1893), three educational leaders held the post of principal. The title was later changed to president.
  • A grave marker in the Mount Pleasant Methodist Church Cemetery, also called Campground or Camp Grayson Cemetery, in Perry County states, “IN MEMORY OF/BENNETT MURRAY/BORN FEB. 18. 1823/Captured and wounded/by the Confederates/OCT. 11. 1861./Recaptured by the/Guerillas and killed/JULY 3, 1864/AGED 41 Y. 4 M. 15 D.”
  • Zewapeta appears on maps in a location north of Commerce in Scott County, Missouri. Because Commerce is 39 and a half miles north of the mouth of the Ohio, and the locations on maps place Zewapeta at River Mile 41 or 42, the location is too far upstream for Hamtramck’s estimate. Nonetheless, it is only an estimate.
  • The chronic need for trained teachers in Missouri gave rise to the normal school movement. The movement gained momentum in the 1850s, was delayed by the Civil War, and came to the forefront thereafter. The state legislature created a third normal school district in Southeast Missouri in 1873 after establishment of the first two schools in Kirksville and Warrensburg.
  • The story of transportation improvements in the mid-1800s until World War I is a story of railroads. Routing of railroads made the difference between prosperity if a line went through a town or stagnation if the railroad bypassed it. By 1900 electrified lines offered a new option that lacked smoke or diesel emissions and offered rapid acceleration, fast braking, and the ability to change direction without turning a locomotive around.
  • The Farm Security Administration, or FSA, proposed an experimental demonstration project to point families toward better farming methods in 1937—LaForge Farms.
  • Steamboats on Missouri rivers meant high profits because they moved more freight faster than the earlier pirogues, keel boats, and flat boats. Balanced against this lucrative trade was the capricious nature of river channels, with shifting channels, movement of silt and sand, and rapid variation in flow. Crumbling banks, fallen trees, or ice could sink boats in an instant.
  • The War of 1812 in Missouri bore little resemblance to the war most of us hear about in history classes. Most Missourians who served were frontier militiamen such as a young man from near Caledonia—George D. Strother.
  • Residents of parts of southeastern Missouri were shocked to hear of the actions of a criminal gang during the late spring and early summer of 1881. Four men who had met socially, Jesse Myers, Robert Rhodes, James Hamilton, and Frank Brown were the primary members.