Black History, Cemeteries, CoMo200, Events, Missouri Preservation, Tours, Women

Events: Sandbagging, bicentennial, History Comes Alive

  • Today Wednesday, May 22, 2019 – until?  The Rocheport Merchants Association has posted on Facebook that volunteers to help sandbag are being sought. Check out the RMA’s Facebook page “>here
  • 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23, 2019 — Get involved now, enjoy the Bicentennial in 2021! Right now, the Mayor’s Task Force on the Bicentennial Celebration is making plans for our city’s 200th birthday. Every person’s input is needed to make this a truly inclusive event. The Taskforce’s next public meeting will be held in the Walton Building at 300 S. Providence Road. What? Haven’t heard about this upcoming big bash? The task force was launched in February of 2018.  It announced three goals for its plans: diversity, creating a lasting tribute to the 200 years of Columbia’s history and having a fun celebration.
  • 1-4 p.m. Monday, May 27, 2019 — History Comes Alive. This free, family friendly event is in its third year. Held at the Columbia Cemetery, the event features repeated performances all afternoon of experienced actors including Ed Hanson portraying well-known Columbians. Here’s a video of Cindy Mustard of Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery on Paul Pepper and Friends. This year’s event will include portrayals of entrepreneur and former slave Henry Kirklin, architect Mary Louise Hale Lafon, suffragist Helen Guthrie, businessman Jefferson Garth, educator and legislator David H. Hickman and entrepreneur Frederick Niedermeyer. This event is sponsored by Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery, a nonprofit.
  • June 19-June 21, 2019 — Missouri Preservation’s annual conference will be held in St. Joseph, Missouri this year. Missouri Preservation, also known as the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation. Headquartered in St. Louis, it is a nonprofit dedicated to education, advocacy and assistance. Its conferences highlight preservation efforts and provide education and networking opportunities. Anyone can attend. The conference costs between $75 and $230 depending on how much of the conference you plan to attend. Register here.
Black History, Cemeteries, CoMo200, Events, Get involved, Historic Hours, Historic Preservation Commission, News Roundup, Sacred Spaces, Women

Events: Park meeting, preservation, DNA, birthday party and cemetery gets lively

Get out the slow cooker and shuffle your take-out menus, you’re going to be busy this month!

  • 7 p.m. Monday, May 6, 2019 — Columbia City Council is meeting and the expansion of Flat Branch Park is up for discussion. The meeting will be held in Council Chambers at 701 E. Broadway. How’s history connected here? The park expansion is part of plans to celebrate Columbia’s bicentennial in 2021, and park construction is set to start next year. At the heart of the matter is more parking for the commercial building at Providence and Broadway owned by Mark Stevenson. The building is the former Ice House, which has been at the heart of a building controversy before. The building has been saved, but now the question is how much parking where. Tonight’s meeting will cover the four different options highlighted in this article, “Parking spaces at center of debate in Flat Branch Park expansion project,” published in the Columbia Missourian on May 5, 2019.
  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2018DNA for Genealogists, a program featuring international genealogy consultant Kathleen Brandt will be held at the Columbia Public Library. Free and open to the public, the event announcement states Brandt will help people unscramble DNA which test might be right for you and help people look for their ancestry including Native American or Jewish ancestry.
  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2019Historic Preservation Commission meeting. in Conference Room 1C at City Hall. This group helps guide the city’s preservation efforts. It meets monthly and topics on this month’s agenda include demolition permits, a follow up on 917, 919 W. Broadway and 14 N. West Blvd., and plans for a window workshop. This meeting is open to the public.
  • 5-8 p.m. Saturday, May 18155th Birthday Party for John William “Blind” Boone in the historic Boone house at 10 N. Fourth St. The free event will include food and music and an opportunity to see the stunning restoration of this Victorian home.
  • 1-4 p.m. Monday, May 27, 2019History Comes Alive. This free, family friendly event is in its third year. Held at the Columbia Cemetery, the event features actors portraying well-known Columbians. This year’s roster includes agricultural entrepreneur Henry Kirklin, architect Mary Louise Hale Lafon, suffragist Helen Guthrie, businessman Jefferson Garth, educator and legislator David H. Hickman and entrepreneur Frederick Niedermeyer. This event is sponsored by Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery, a nonprofit.


Black History, CoMo200, Events, University of Missouri, Women

I’m obnoxious. Here’s why

And I want you to get on the same bandwagon I’m on — working to get black history included in our upcoming 2021 bicentennial celebration of Columbia, Missouri.

In fact, I don’t just want you to get involved, I need you to get involved because a lot of history, black and otherwise, hasn’t made the history books. Or any books.

When Brent Gardner, chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Bicentennial Celebration Planning, kicked off the group’s work, the first thing he did was outline the goals of the group. And the first goal was to be inclusive. (Insert my joyous YES! here.)

This is where you come in. Do you know someone who hasn’t made the history books? Perhaps a person of color who made history but hasn’t gotten the media or history coverage he or she deserves? Maybe a woman? We all know J.W. “Blind” Boone. Some of us know who Ann Hawkins Gentry is. But who were the people who immigrated here during the various waves of new citizens? A friend of mine lives in a house once owned by Hungarian immigrants. What is their story?

This is where you come in

I’m a member of the CoMo200 History Working Group and our charge is to develop a list of people who should be lauded.

Our group meets the third Tuesday of the month in City Hall. This month its March 19. The meeting is open to anyone who wants to help.

Can’t attend but still have ideas or names of people who have been missed in the mainstream narrative? Send them to me. Leave a comment. Send a smoke signal. We need your input because we it’s all of our history, not just those who made the first few rounds of the official narrative.

Yes, I’m obnoxious.

Some might say I’m persistent. Either way, I’m OK with that since it’s for a good cause and I’ve gotten results. What’s the cause and what has been the results?

Everywhere I go, I tell people I’m looking for those who are missing from history so they can be recognized in the upcoming 2021 Columbia bicentennial celebration.

Everywhere. Like when I attended an event for the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture founded by Adam Saunders, Dan Soetaert and Bobby Johnson. While chatting with Saunders, I mentioned my mission. The center helps people garden within the city and also donates significant amounts of produce to the local food pantry.

Then Feb. 26, 2019, an article written by Billy Polansky of Urban Ag was published in the Columbia Daily Tribune. Coincidence or results? Who cares. I now know about one more person who belongs in our history, but might have been missed.

Maybe you missed it, too.

Here’s a link to an article about Henry Kirklin. In case you don’t want to click to the article, Kirklin was born in 1858 as a Boone County slave, and freed when he was 5. He went on to found his own business selling fruits, vegetables and plant starts. He also taught at MU’s horticulture department, even though because of the laws at the time, he couldn’t go inside any of the university buildings. Instead, he taught white students about pruning and propagation outside.

Kirklin has a page at the State Historical Society of Missouri.

But how many other people have we missed? I have missed out on knowing about?

Tell me. I want to learn about the people who didn’t make the history books, the people that surprise us. That’s what I want to be the lasting mark of our city’s 2021 bicentennial.

Tell me, who’s missing from our history?





Historical Homes, University of Missouri, Women

Romance, mistakes and hidden history

Watch out guys! If you think getting your beloved flowers is going to cut it after this, you might be mistaken.

The house at 206 Bingham Road is going to put you to shame. Built in 1928, the Tudor Revival features the intertwined initials of architect Harry Satterlee Bill and his wife Florence Harrison Bill. Yeah, their love is literally built into the house. Chocolates ain’t gonna compare to that.

But this is also a blog post about another kind of mistake — mine.

When I listed the historic homes on this page, I mistakenly listed the owners as Harry Satterlee Bill and his wife Florence Henderson Bill. Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader, I was alerted to the mistake and corrected it today. But the great news about making mistakes is you get to learn from them and I did. According to this website Find a Grave, Bill wasn’t even Bill’s name. The document on Find a Grave states that Bill’s original surname was De’Bill. Further, the website includes the information that he was born  “Harrie Satterlee De’Bill, according to the census records of 1880-1900 and his 31 May 1900 passport application.”

And that is what I love about research. Just when you think you’ve found the truth, more information is uncovered which puts things into perspective.

That brings us to some hidden history. It probably wasn’t just romance that made the Bills put their initials into their home, it was reality.

While Harry Satterlee Bill’s accomplishments are documented in, well, documents, and buildings, his wife’s contributions are less well known. In some cases, even her first name gets lost when she’s referred to as Mrs. Bill, as was traditional at that time. Note Harry Satterlee Bill lived from 1876-1946, and Florence Harrison Bill lived from 1879-1958.

As for Mr. Bill’s accomplishments, he was one of the city’s most prominent architects. His work includes his home at 206 Bingham as well as the home at 211 Bingham and the addition to the Central Dairy building at 1104 Broadway. He was also a professor of architecture at the University of Missouri for 17 years and helped to found the Mid-Missouri Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Yet, his wife did more than keep the home fires burning. According this 2017 document created for Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission, Florence Bill took care of the construction details for their home. If you’ve ever even done a kitchen renovation (yes, this is the voice of experience), you know how many details there are in any construction project, so this was no little task.

But there’s more. According to information found on the Missouri Historical Society website, the collection of the Harrison Family Papers includes nine manuscripts for publications in the Bulletin of the Missouri Historical Society.

So as we head into the Valentine’s Day season, along with appreciating the people you love in your life, you might give some thought to the women who went before and didn’t get the gratitude they deserved. And maybe you want to keep it to yourself that Harry Satterlee Bill went way beyond candy hearts in proclaiming his love for his wife Florence Harrison Bill.

No way any of us can beat that.

Black History, Books, University of Missouri, Women

Six degrees of connection: Lucile H. Bluford

History is all about connections, change and, I hope, progress. Lucile H. Bluford isn’t from Columbia, Missouri but she’s connected to Columbia, Missouri.

A book about this journalist, Black feminist and civil rights advocate was published on April 23, 2018 and I apologize for not publicizing it then. To buy it direct, click the title: “Lucile H. Bluford and the Kansas City Call: An Activist Voice for Social Justice.” The book is authored by Sheila Brooks, Ph.D., and Clint C. Wilson.

Lucile H Bluford and the Kansas City Call book cover, used with permission.
Lucile H Bluford and the Kansas City Call book cover, used with permission.

So who is Bluford and how is she connected to Columbia?

Born in 1911 in Salisbury, North Carolina, Bluford was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, where her father moved the family when he took a position to teach there in 1918. She wrote for her high school newspaper at Lincoln High School and wanted to attend college to study journalism but at the time, the University of Missouri wouldn’t admit African Americans, according to the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Several connections to the University of Missouri

Bluford’s first connection is one of disconnect. Because MU wouldn’t admit her, she attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, and graduated in 1932 with high honors.

The next connection is again another of disconnection. In 1939, she “applied to the University of Missouri School of Journalism to do graduate work. She was accepted into the program, but when she went to Columbia to enroll, she was turned away. University officials had not known that she was African American. Just the year before, Lloyd Gaines, an honors student from Lincoln University, had sued the Univesity of Missouri to be accepted into its School of Law. After his case when to the United States Supreme Court and the court ruled in his favor, Gaines mysteriously disappeared,” according, again, to entry on Bluford entry on the State Historical Society of Missouri website.

But Bluford did not disappear. She filed several lawsuits against the university and in 1941, the state supreme court ruled in her favor — but the School of Journalism shut down its graduate program pleading a lack of faculty and students due to World War II.

Finally, there are three positive connections to MU. In 1984, the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism recognized Bluford and awarded her with the Honor Medal for Distinguished Serice in Journalism.

In 1989, the university awarded her with an honorary degree.

2018, MU named a residence all for her, an event which received significant media coverage. 

More connections: Brian Brooks

Brooks, professor emeritus of MU’s School of Journalism, called Bluford, “Little known outside the Missouri-Kansas area, Lucile Bluford nonetheless is one of the true heroines of the U.S. civil rights movement,” according to the book’s website.

Another connection: Clint C. Wilson II – School of Journalism Honor Medalist

The book co-author, Wilson, was given the School of Journalism’s Medal of Honor for Distinguished in Journalism in 1999. Wilson is professor emeritus of journalism, communication, culture and media studies at Howard University.

The book itself, according to a blurb in the October 2018 issue of the Missouri Historical Review, publication of The State Historical Society of Missouri, “attempts to place Bluford in historical context, in art by surveying black women journalists-activist predecessors such as Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Ida B. Wells, Charlotta Amanda Spears Bass, Mildred Dee Brown and Daisy Bates. The latter half of the book includes a quantitative analysis of reportage and opinion pieces on various civil rights issues written by Bluford between 1968 and 1983.” 

So while I don’t know if there’s a historic house in Columbia where she lived while she tried to attend the University of Missouri, Bluford and the book is connected to Columbia, through the historic racism and the progress made in Columbia shown by the University of Missouri recognizing her work even if belatedly.

Cemeteries, Columbia College, Events, Sacred Spaces, Stephens College, Tours, University of Missouri, Women

MU’s first female journalism graduate portrayed

The late Mary Paxton Keeley spoke from the beyond through an event sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery.

Keeley, MU’s first female journalism graduate, said through this interpretive event she was on the steps in 1909 when Walter Williams opened the doors to the what is reported to be the world’s first School of Journalism.

She described her work at the Kansas City Post, as well as her teaching journalism and creative writing at Christian College, now Columbia College, and how she once bicycled through the streets of Columbia before her death at 100.

Other famous Columbia residents portrayed and videos of the performances were posted on the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery Facebook page.

Here are the names and links to the videos on YouTube:

Other portrayed were Victor Barth, Richard Henry Jesse and Robert Beverly Price

The scripts were written by Chris Campbell, executive director of the Boone County History and Culture Center. The event was sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery.

See the news coverage of the event for more information:

May 28, 2018 — Columbia Cemetery comes alive for Memorial Day, Summary: Re-enactors at Columbia’s oldest cemetery portrayed historical figures buried there including James L. Stephens, Victor Barth, Richard Henry Jesse, Mary Paxton Keeley, John Lange Sr., Robert Beverly Price and Brig. Gen. Oden Guitar. The event was sponsored by the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery.

May 28, 2018 — Columbia residents learn when History Comes Alive, Columbia Missourian. Summary: Hundreds attended the second annual History Comes Alive event at the Columbia Cemetery.

Events, University of Missouri, Women

Black women fighting for equality

Strong women fighting for equality isn’t new. At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, MU History Professor Keona K. Ervin will discuss her book, “Gateway to Equality: Black Women and the Struggle for Economic Justice in St. Louis.”

The event will be held in Fisher Auditorium in 88 Gannett Hall.

According to an announcement from the State Historical Society of Missouri, one of the sponsors of the event, her talk will cover these historic times:

“From the Great Depression to the 1960s, the city of St. Louis experienced significant decline as its population and industrial base stagnated while its suburbs expanded. To combat ingrained racism, crippling levels of poverty, and substandard living conditions, black women workers in St. Louis formed a community-based culture of resistance, fighting for fair and full employment, a living wage, affordable housing, political leadership, and personal dignity… and … effectively grounded working-class struggle in movements for racial justice and set the stage for the defining campaigns of the explosive 1960s.”

The lecture by Ervin is part of a series is sponsored by the State Historical Society of Missouri’s Center for Missouri StudiesUniversity of Missouri’s Division of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity; and the Missouri Humanities Council.