CoMo200, Events, Get involved, Uncategorized

Six ways to get involved in Missouri’s bicentennial

This article published Feb. 13 in the California Democrat outlines six ways to get involved in helping Missouri mark its 200th anniversary in 2021.

Get quilting! — One quilt block per county will be put together to create a Missouri Bicentennial Quilt. Learn more here. The deadline is Sept. 2.

Got pictures? — I know you have a shoebox full of great photos of Missouri. Time to sort them out. The Missouri State Historical Society is looking for 200 good photos. Learn more here.

A penny for history — School kids are being asked to collect pennies to help fund conservation efforts to of founding documents. This is a project of the Missouri Humanities Council. Learn more here. So far, there are only schools in Cape Girardeau and Kansas City list.

What makes a community a community? — If you’ve got ideas about what makes your Missouri community unique, this is the project for you. Groups and individuals are being asked to “document local traditions, creative expressions, meaningful place and organizations and institutions of significance, the article explains. Learn more here.

Missouri Encyclopedia — What bothers me the most about living in Missouri is how cool our state is and how few people seem to know that. This project is a step in the right direction. This is a project to create a Missouri encyclopedia. There are guidelines for writers and here’s an example of an article. This project really needs our local historians. For gosh sakes, Annie Fisher isn’t even listed … yet. Here’s your chance to touch the future and show people the Show-Me State.



Boone County Bicentennial, Events, Get involved, Uncategorized

Help Boone County celebrate 200 years

Here’s an easy way to get involved in the celebration of Boone County’s 200th anniversary. On Saturday, Feb. 16,  local artist Stacy Self will be visiting Ashland to gather information for a mural to highlight the communities in the county.

Several sessions throughout Boone County will be held in the next six months, starting with this one at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Southern Boone County Public Library, according to this Boone County news release  and this Feb. 12, 2019, Columbia Missourian article.

Once completed, the mural will be displayed in the Boone County History and Culture Center.

For more information about the mural or other Boone County bicentennial plans, contact: Janet Thompson at or 573-886-4309.

Black History, Uncategorized

Black history is our history

James T. Nunnelly made Columbia a better place to live by taking part in the sit-in at the Minute Inn.

Read about the 1960 event in this “The Sit-in at the Minute Inn: A Columbia native and the civil rights protest that shaped him,” published on Nov. 18, 2018 in Vox magazine. 

As the plaque says on the side of the Missouri Theatre, lest we forget/never again.



Slave labor part of Stephens Lake’s heritage

If you’ve ever enjoyed Stephens Lake Park, you’ve enjoyed the fruit of the labor of slaves.

According to this history of Grindstone Nature Area, the area that is now Stephens Lake Park was cleared by slave labor in 1823.

The history of Grindstone Nature Area includes that nature was also owned by the Gordon family as well until 1959, according to this online document on the Grindstone Nature Area.

The document states that David Gordon came to the Columbia area and “by shrewd management and hard work laid the fortune for considerable fortune.” Some might say his amassing of land and fortune involved more than shrewd management.

The document notes that “slave labor was used to burn brick, fell trees, saw lumber and complete the mansion” that was once on the property of what is now Stephens Lake Park. on the Notable Properties list, it is still historic in its own right. This link is to a document that outlines the history of David Gordon, Marshall Gordon and this tract of land owned by the Gordon family from pioneer days until 1959.

This history states when David Gordon moved to Columbia he brought with him “many slaves.” Those slaves, it continues, “In 1823, slave labor was used to burn brick, fell trees, saw lumber …” for a mansion that once stood near Stephens’ Lake. The mansion burned in 1998.

If you’d like to read about the mansion built by slave labor, here’s a link to the National Register of Historic Places which describes it.

This un-dated blog post on Boone History quotes a 1935 newspaper article about Jim Williams, one of the slaves who lived and worked on the Gordon property. The blog post states Williams was born on the Gordon land in 1959 and was 6 when he was freed. The article quoted describes Williams’ life on the Gordon estate. Williams lived in a cabin that was once land which is now Stephens Lake Park.

Why bring up the slave-labor past of Stephens Lake? I want to appreciate all the people who labored to make Columbia the place where I love to live, even the people who often don’t make it onto the pages of our history books.

So, if you’ve ever enjoyed Stephens Lake Park, take time to appreciate the people who made it the beautiful place it is today.


Canceled: Tonight’s meeting for CoMo200 Celebrate

Uh-oh. The meeting to work on planning the 2021 celebrations for Columbia’s 200th birthday has been cancelled. Too many task force members being away on vacation is being blamed.

The canceled meeting had been set for 7 p.m. July 25 in the Walton Building at 300 S. Providence Road.

You can still review what happened at the June 27, 2018 meeting by going to this link. It will take you to the agenda that has a link to a draft of the minutes of that meeting.

If you want to keep up with when the meetings are for this planning group — officially called the Mayor’s Task Force on Bicentennial Celebration Planning — here is a link to the city’s calendar that lists all the city’s meetings.



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.