History Blog 

Mules, corn cob pipes: Missouri legendary lore

Missouri’s mule and corn cob pipe. Cartoon published in the Chickasha, Oklahoma newspaper, Nov. 5, 1909. Newspapers.com MARY LOU MONTGOMERY Montgomery.editor@yahoo.com Published in the Feb. 29, 2020 edition of the Hannibal Courier-Post Will Potter, 27, lamented the loss of a mule on his father’s farm in Fabius Township, Marion County, Missouri, back in March of 1896. He found the lost mule behind a straw rick*. The animal had fallen into a rotten place in the straw, and had subsequently starved and fretted to death. Mules were key to agricultural production back in Potter’s day. It would be nearly another decade before the early American two-cylinder tractors would begin to replace horse and

3 men, 3 Civil War stories of service to their country

George Hudson Sherwood, Martin Steffan and Charles A. McGlothlin each trained at Camp Butler, near Springfield, Ill., after enlistment during the Civil War. The training camp was torn down at the war’s end. Today, Camp Butler National Cemetery is all that is left of the former military training ground. Photo contributed by Heather Gibson, Springfield, Ill. Hudson Sherwood’s grave is marked at the Washington (state) National Cemetery. Find A Grave photo. 3 men, 3 Civil War stories of service to their country MARY LOU MONTGOMERY In 1899, George Hudson Sherwood was a blacksmith living in his hometown of Winchester, Sangamon County, Ill. During the same time frame, Martin Steffan was a barber li

Scotland County, Mo., family members born performers

Archie Royer and Mystya Steffan (of Memphis, Mo.) was published in the Topeka State Journal, Topeka, Kansas, on March 30, 1907. Newspapers.com Lizzie Allen Steffan of Memphis Mo., spent at least two seasons traveling with the Hagenbeck animal show in the early years of the 20th Century. Her daughter, Mystya Steffan, would game acclaim for her vaudeville and acrobat stunts during the same era. Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus poster Wikipedia. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY Mart Steffan married a girl with stars in her eyes. The son of a long-time, German-bred barber in Memphis, Mo., Mart (short for Martin Steffan Jr.) chose for his wife Lizzie Allen, the daughter of Barlow Allen, a respected farmer from Scotla

During ‘wingwalker’ era, daredevil stunt goes awry

R.W. Shrock 1929 Decatur, Ill., Herald May 7, 1929 genealogybank.com MARY LOU MONTGOMERY On Oct. 5, 1924, veteran pilot Rolland Washington Shrock, 37, was alone in the cockpit of a “Hisso-4,” flying over the Mississippi River at Hannibal, Mo. His “flying circus” partner, 19-year-old Leonard Dean, was purposefully and precariously dangling from the airplane’s landing apparatus tethered by a rope. It was a scene the two had practiced many times before, but not over the greatest of all North American rivers. As Shrock swooped the airplane down over the waterway, Leonard Dean dove to his death from the open-air plane during an aerial stunt, while thousands of onlookers on the ground watched in h

Young telegraph operator blamed for fatal rail crash

The St. Louis Post Dispatch published a series of illustrations featuring Clay Brown, the M.K.&T. Railroad telegraph operator at Paris, Mo., on the fateful early morning of Sept. 23, 1907. Here are three of those illustrations: Illustration 1 shows Brown napping as Train 443 passes the depot at Paris, Mo. Illustration 2 shows Brown when awakened by a dispatcher inquiring if Train 443 had passed. He answered “no.” Illustration 3 shows Brown in a panic after he learned that two trains were on the same track, going opposite directions. Accessed via Newspapers.com Third and final installment of 1907 Moberly train wreck series. MARY LOU MONTGOMERY Unlike last weekend’s tragic helicopter crash in

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