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Got questions?

Is there a historical fact or myth about Columbia, Missouri you’d like investigated? Is there a house whose history intrigues you? Did you ever wonder if there is a rhyme or reason to the way our streets are named?

If you ask, I’ll try to answer in upcoming blog posts. You can also subscribe to this website so you’ll get a note every time I update it.

Here are some questions that came from the full-house audience at the 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 19 presentation at the Columbia Public Library. The presentation, “Columbia’s Hidden History,” covered secrets and myths about Columbia’s history.

You can email me your questions or leave them in the comment box below.

Question: The presentation debunked the idea that the Guitar mansion at 2815 Oakland Gravel Road should have ever been called Confederate Hill. Or did it? I’ll be looking for proof via historic newspaper articles, a book written on David Guitar and other sources. Got ideas or proof either way? I’d love to hear about it!

Question: Some research shows that Nadine Coleman, a historic resident of what some call the “Fairytale house,” at 121 West Blvd., North, has connections to the historic home in Booneville, “Ravenswood.” Here’s more information on Ravenswood in a 1973 National Register of Historic Homes nomination form.

Question: Winterton Curtis, the man people claim testified at the famous 1925 Scopes trial (except he didn’t), wrote a book called  “A Damned-Yankee Professor in Little Dixie.” I’ll look into whether I can link to a copy of the book so you can read his account of life in Columbia and the development of the Westmount area, an area some refer to as the Old Southwest. He writes about the early 1900s, describing the streets becoming muddy traps, the start of the city’s utility and of a trolly bus system that served the Stewart Road area.

Question: Changed addresses and street names facts wanted. You might know that some streets of Columbia have been renumbered which is why the historic home of Laura Matthews, Boone County’s first court stenographer, is now numbered 206 S. Glenwood but was once 104 S. Glenwood. So when and why were the streets renumbered? And how do streets get their names? Is there any system and/or list of Columbia’s streets?

Question: People wanted to know if the Haden House had ever been a house and who lived there.

Question: Where did author John Williams live? Author of John Williams who received his doctorate in English from MU in 1954 wrote a book titled, “Stoner.” Originally published in 1965, it has been translated into French and in 2013 it was seeing a resurgence of interest in Europe, according to this Oct. 20, 2013 article in The New Yorker. So where did Williams live when he resided in Columbia?

Question: Missing metal house? An audience member asked about Columbia’s metal house. I’ve learned it was a Lustron, a steel house, and I’ll be searching to find out where it was, where it is now and what its history was.

Question: Where did the economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen live? The scholar lived 1857-1929 and in Columbia from 1911-1917. One of his more well-known books was “The Theory of the Leisure Class,” and “Conspicuous Consumption: Unproductive Consumption of Goods Is Honourable.” Where did he live in Columbia?

Question: Log cabin? Some people mentioned that they’d heard the house at 1312 W. Broadway had a log cabin inside.

Here is information about the house provided by the City of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission:
“At the core of this late 19th century, house is a two-room log house believed to have been built in the 1840s.

“When the house was new, it was the center of a 150-acre farm on the western outskirts of Columbia. The original log house was probably built by Edward Camplin, a successful Boone County businessman who owned the property from 1828 to around 1848. The land and cabin had several owners in the late 19th century, including James and Mary Conley, who bought it in 1892. The Conleys built the present house around the original log house.

“E. B. McAllester and his wife bought the property in 1921. It served as their family home for many years and was later developed into a nightclub and restaurant called “Springdale Gardens,” after the springs that were located behind the house. Springdale Gardens was in operation in the 1930s and 1940s, and was described in a 1950s newspaper article as having been “a favorite dinner party spot for Columbians.” Historical sources differ on who developed the nightclub. It may have been done by the McAllesters, or by Mary Williams, who leased the property from them around 1938.

“By the 1950s, the Camplin House was in poor condition and threatened with demolition. In 1954, local architect Hurst John purchased the house and approximately 40 acres of the original farmland to the south. He made several updates to the house, and replaced an early one-story wrap around porch with the existing two-story front porch and columns. He kept an acre of land to go with the house and divided the rest of the property for the Spring Valley housing development.”

Again, send me your questions by email or in the comments below and I’ll answer them in the future.

Events, General, Get involved

Research resources

Researching history can be fun and here is a resource list to help you get started, as I promised everyone who turned out for the Columbia’s Hidden History talk at the Columbia Public Library at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19.

Don’t forget you can send me your suggestions for research and myth busting at dobrien387@gmail.com

Some important things about research:

  • This is not a definitive list. You’re never done learning and I’m not either. If you have a source or resource you’d like added to the list, just email me at dobrien387@gmail.com.
  • If you want to access the resources at the Boone County Historical Society, The Genealogical Society of Boone County, the MU Archives, the Missouri State Historical Society, call ahead to make sure the archivist or librarians there will have time to help you and/or the organization is open.
  • Remember, it’s OK to ask for help and people at these organizations want to help people do research whether you’re an average Jane or Joe or a journalist like me.
  • Most important — just do it. The worst thing that could happen to you is you’ll become addicted to historical research and what’s so bad about that?

 

Events

History and the Loch Ness monster

A few years ago I visited Loch Ness in Scotland. Yes, I wanted to see Nessie. In fact, I had kind of hoped there might actually be a Loch Ness monster.

But in Loch Ness, I learned that the people who said they’d seen the Loch Ness monster had many years ago admitted it was just an elaborate hoax.

So what does the Loch Ness monster have to do with Columbia historic homes?

At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19 at the Columbia Public Library I’ll be giving a presentation busting some the myths about Columbia’s historic homes and revealing some of Columbia’s hidden history. I’ll also show how I found the information and will offer a resource sheet in case you want to do your own detective work.

What myths would you like investigated? What kinds of hidden history are you interested in? I’m still working on setting up my presentation so there’s still time to weigh in.