Another view of history

During the student protests against racist event in the fall of 2015, some people shook their head and privately wondered — and even some publicly asked — why were students and residents were so angry, so willing to react and protest.

Perhaps one answer lies in Columbia’s history. This article published in the December 2016 issue of the Columbia Business Times shows a view of Stewart Bridge, now gone, replaced with a portion of Stewart Road. This bridge was the site in 1923 of the lynching of James Scott. For decades his death certificate said he was lynched for rape, although he never had had his day in court. It wasn’t until 2010, the article notes, that his death certificate was corrected to read that he died due to hanging by assailants.

You might be shaking your head — wasn’t that so long ago? Shouldn’t that be forgotten? And yet, my grandfather came to this country due to unrest in Europe in 1914. He never forgot and our family still talks about why he came here to escape the war and violence there. Of course, my family has the privilege and benefit of being able to talk about that war and violence, but how do people talk about lynching? The death of a man without a trial? Perhaps they don’t. And perhaps it’s time we do.

That’s why I’m thrilled to see the recent media coverage of this crime, this subversion of our country’s rule of law. It’s only when we as a society talk about what really happened can we heal. A page on this website lists seven different articles or series on the lynching, but I’m sure I’ve missed some. Are seven articles enough to expose the racism inherent in a crime like this? Have we as a city as a culture done enough to warrant the phrase never again? Does this help make sense of strong reactions against racism?

I don’t know, but I do know I appreciate the work of writers and photographers like Grace Vance who wrote and photographed this piece and the generosity of Brenna McDermott, editor of the Columbia Business Times, who gave me permission to reprint the article via the pdf posted.

December 2016 — Stewart Road/Stewart Bridge, Columbia Business Times. Summary:  This piece highlights the fact that a portion of Stewart Road was once Stewart Bridge, the site of Columbia’s last public lynching. Written and photographed by Grace Vance, the piece shows both the view of today and of the past. A pdf of the article is posted with permission from Brenna McDermott, editor of the CBT

Twain did it, now you can do it. See the 1867 Italianate Chancellor’s Residence

But will cost you $15, which will go to a good cause. The Chancellor’s Residence at 501 N. Ninth St., is on the Women’s Symphony League Holiday Homes Tour set for 1-4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2, 3 and 4, 2016.

You can buy tickets at this website: Women’s Symphony League Holiday Homes Tour.

The Residence is one of five buildings on the tour, two at MU. The buildings are:

  • The home of Melissa and Josh Holyoak, 2709 Chapel Wood View
  • The home of Megan and Daniel Hoyt, 5307 E. Tayside Circle
  • Providence Point, University of Missouri President’s Residence, 1900 Providence Point
  • The Chancellor’s Residence, 501 S. Ninth St.,
  • Brouder Science Center, Columbia College, 705 Rangeline

Mark Twain dined in the residence in 1902 when he was on campus to receive an honorary degree, according to this MU document about the house. President Harry S Truman stayed there in 1950 and Eleanor Roosevelt stopped in for a rest there in 1959.

Now, the Foley family calls it home. But so does another resident, according to rumor and some accounts.

The house, documents recount, was finished in 1867, and is the oldest building on the campus of the oldest public university west of the Mississippi River.

In 1867, MU President Daniel Read moved in with his family and his wife Alice died there in 1874. This undated publication of the Columbia Missourian includes a video clip of Anne Deaton, wife of the former Chancellor Brady Deaton and a former resident of the Residence. She relates in the video an account of the grandfather clock that didn’t work chimed unexpectedly and the elevator would run without an occupant, incidents she attributes to Alice Read’s ghost.

The Residence, the article notes, is included in the recently book, “The Haunted Boonslick: Ghosts, Ghouls and Monsters of Missouri’s Heartland,” by Mary Barile.

Perhaps there are other hauntings. Until April 27, 2016, the Residence was occupied by R. Bowen Loftin, the chancellor who resigned the fall of 2015, ousted by student protests over what they called the university’s lack of response to racial incidents. His move out was covered and his sentiments highlighted in this June 27, 2016 Columbia Missourian article.

There have been other opportunities to take a peek at the resident of current Interim Chancellor Hank Foley and his wife Karin. They hosted an open house Sept. 24, 2016 with free admission.

But this weekend will give you a chance to see the Residence spruced up for the holidays and an opportunity to support music in Columbia. The proceeds from the holiday tour goes to the Women’s Symphony League, which supports the Missouri Symphony Society that brings a wide range of music to Columbia, Missouri.

It’s not as a nice a deal as Twain received with dining there and receiving an honorary degree, but it is an opportunity to see a historic home at its finest.

And that’s a good deal.

Did you miss this good news?

Downtown historic Columbia, Missouri might just be getting bigger. Here are some news articles about John Ott and Alley A, his firm’s plans for 300 N. Tenth St.

The former Koonse Glass building is on the other side of the historically acknowledged downtown area of Columbia. The building at Tenth Street and Park Avenue could soon house a grocery, possible cafe and cooking class venue. This will, I hope, extend and enhance the downtown vibe.

While many might bemoan the continued building of high-rise apartments, this could be a sign that more people living downtown means more opportunities to repurpose the buildings. As history and life moves on, one type of business may leave downtown, but there is always another wave of businesses moving in.

What examples of types of businesses moving in or out of the downtown do you remember?

Here’s a round-up of news about 300 N. Tenth St.

  • Nov. 10, 2016 — Board of Adjustment OKs repurposing Koonse Glass building, Columbia Missourian. Summary: The building at 300 N. Tenth St. (Park Avenue and Tenth Street), was given a variance on set-back requirements for the creation of a new entrance. The building is now owned by John Ott and managed by his firm Alley A. It formerly housed Koonse Glass, a company founded in 1967, according to this article in the Columbia Business Times. Note: Koonse Glass has moved to a new location. Here’s a link to Koonse Glass‘ new company website.
  • Oct. 8, 2016 — Root Cellar grocery relocating to old Koonse Glass building, Columbia Missourian. Summary: Grocery owned by Jake and Chelsea Davis will move to 300 N. Tenth St., building the fall of 2016. The article states, “The Davis’ chose the new location, once a feed and seed store, partly because of its history and their interest in historic preservation. The couple plans to use the larger space to host gardening and cooking classes and store more goods on site.”
  • May 13, 2016 — Developer plans restaurant space at former Koonse Glass building, Columbia Tribune. Summary: John Ott plans to turn the building at 300 N. Tenth St., formerly occupied by Koonse Glass into a building with a cafe, art gallery or retail space.

 

Why not nominate your home for Notable Properties designation?

Worried about restrictions? Think your home isn’t grand enough? Fearful of extra taxes? Shrinking from publicity? Fear not.

If these are reasons you are avoiding or someone you know is putting off nominating a property to the Columbia’s Notable Properties list, that’s balderdash.

Modest homes like a Cape Cod at 1252 Sunset Drive has been named to the list. Worried you’ll have to keep up appearances? Bah. The house on the list at Garth and Worley, a shotgun house, isn’t even at that spot anymore! Concerned you won’t be able to do as you like with your house? The Annie Fisher house at 2911 Old Highway 63 South was torn down in 2011, without nary a petition or protest to mark its passing.

2911 Old 63 S., Annie Fisher House, demolished 2011

2911 Old 63 S., Annie Fisher House, demolished 2011

Here’s a brochure about what it means to have a property listed.

So am I going to nominate my home? Yes, I just might, but it might not meet the criteria. My house is older than 50 years, at least part of it. An addition was added at some point, but this opportunity gives me a chance to do some digging, and as a journalist, that digging is what I love.

It might not meet the other criteria such as whether anything of local, regional or national note ever took place here, unless I can count starting this blog with its 43,488 followers. As for the unusual or notable architectural qualities, I think as a ranch style, one of the country’s most popular forms, that might make it worthy.

Think you might want to give it a try? Here’s the application form.

With less than two months for nominations to Columbia’s Notable Property list, this article in the Columbia Missourian frets that only one property has been submitted for consideration.

So what is holding you back?

 

Under your feet tour Saturday, Oct. 15

W.E. Edwards established the Edwards Brick & Tile Company in 1896 in Columbia, Missouri.

W.E. Edwards established the Edwards Brick & Tile Company in 1896 in Columbia, Missouri.

Love history? Love knowing about what other people miss? Here’s your chance to learn about history literally under your feet and to learn about something most people never think about — the building techniques and materials of brick streets.

A free tour is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, and will be conducted by Patrick Earney, a professional engineer and member of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission. The tour will start from the City Hall Key Sculpture at the corner of Eighth and Broadway, 701 E. Broadway.

See you there – wait? You can’t go? Here’s some information about the event and Columbia’s brick streets.

Tour information

Brick streets worth saving, Columbia Tribune, Dec. 1, 2012.

City of Columbia brick street background information, Oct. 21, 2015. Complete with a cool map!

From this site, a brief history, including some financial information and a bit about Columbia Brick and Tile, one of the eight brickworks Columbia, Missouri once boasted.

Finally – a blast from the past. This February 1994 report discusses the brick streets of the East Campus as an area where University of Missouri faculty once lived. The report includes historic maps. It’s a long download, even with a fast connection, but a great read.  A Final Report of Survey of the East Campus Neighborhood, Columbia, Missouri, Osmund Overby, Howard Marshall, Scott Myers, Debbie Sheals, Ray Brassieur.

Lynching: History finds a home

One of the reasons for this blog is to mark history, and historic homes are, in a way, a marker of history. But for a long time, there wasn’t a marker for a major historic event in Columbia, Missouri: the lynching of James Scott.

lynching-marker09302016

This article, reprinted with permission from George Kennedy and the Columbia Missourian, is about giving one man’s life and a lynching the historic marker in the real world and in our historic knowledge.

GEORGE KENNEDY: Repairing old wounds while another opens

Oct 6, 2016

Two events last week reminded Columbians how far we’ve come along the road of racial reconciliation and how far we still have to go.

The first was the ugly confrontation that began when a group of white MU students, apparently drunk, insulted two female members of the Legion of Black Collegians. It escalated when white fraternity members shouted obscenities at LBC members who had responded to a call for help from the women. Black students replied in kind.

MU police officers arrived, separated the angry groups and made no arrests. The university suspended the Delta Upsilon fraternity while at least two campus offices investigate.

News coverage beyond Columbia included references to the turmoil of last fall and ongoing efforts to improve the University’s racial climate.

Two days later, I stood with 100 or so onlookers beside the MKT Trail at Providence and Stewart Roads to witness the unveiling of a marker that commemorates the 1923 lynching of James T. Scott.

The new plaque reads, “Lest We Forget: Lynching at the Stewart Road Bridge.”

We must not forget, among other things, the roles played by journalists, students and community leaders.

Mr. Scott was a 35-year-old decorated veteran of World War I, a janitor at the university and husband of one of Columbia’s 15 black teachers. He was a member of the Second Baptist Church.

In April 1923, he was accused of raping the 14-year-old daughter of a University professor, arrested and jailed. She identified him as her assailant, but there was no evidence to support that. Later, she would identify a different man.

Patrick J. Huber wrote in the Summer 1991 issue of the Missouri Historical Society magazine, “Columbia’s most influential paper, the Daily Tribune, provided the spark that ignited the town’s smoldering outrage.” He quoted Tribune editor Edward Watson as pointing out that three black men were currently in jail accused of separate rapes and urging, “This trio should feel the ‘halter draw’ in vindication of the law.”

Huber continued, “Less than eight hours after the newspaper hit the street, white Columbia residents responded to the Tribune’s plea for justice.”

A mob estimated at about 2,000, including 200 or so students, stormed the jail, dragged out Mr. Scott and led him, with a rope around his neck, to what was then the bridge carrying Stewart Road over the Flat Branch.

A prominent citizen, later identified in court by two MU journalism students who were present at the lynching — one reporting for the Kansas City Star and one for the St. Louis Post Dispatch — put a longer rope around Mr. Scott’s neck and threw him off the bridge. His neck was broken and he died.

The New York Times published a front-page story with the headline, “Missouri Students See Negro Lynching, Co-Eds Join Crowd Which Cheers the Storming of the Columbia Jail.”

Huber recounts that the newspaper published by the School of Journalism, then called the Columbia Evening Missourian, “took a determined stand against mob violence.” In an editorial two days after the lynching, the Missourian wrote, “The lynching cannot be undone, but Columbia can, in part, clear its name if speedy action against those who committed the crime is taken.”

Only the man identified by the students as the killer was tried. A jury including several prominent citizens needed just 11 minutes to find him not guilty.

The plaque of remembrance was sponsored by the Association of Black Graduate and Professional Students, which of course didn’t exist in 1923. That in itself was a sign of progress.

So was the pairing of Clyde Ruffin, now pastor of James Scott’s church and First Ward representative on our City Council, and Mayor Brian Treece, both of whom spoke about the importance of remembering our past and learning from it.

I hoped the fraternity members were listening.

Say no to racism tonight, Sept. 30, 2016

This evening, I’m taking the action I can to not just say no to racism, but hell no.

Tonight, a memorial will be set to mark where James T. Scott was killed in a lynching. An MU janitor, he was accused, but never found guilty, of assaulting a Columbia girl. He was never given a chance to prove his innocence.

The date was April 1923.

The event will take place at 5 p.m., starting with an unveiling, and a reception at 6 p.m. at 518 Hitt St., in the Leadership Auditorium on the second floor of Memorial Union on the campus of MU.

I’m white and I think about the fact that my grandfather risked his life unionizing in the 1920s. But he didn’t get killed. I wonder how I would feel about my grandfather if he’d been killed by a mob for something he didn’t do.

It wouldn’t have been me killed, but it would have still affected me.

Then I think about how that murder affects all of us in Columbia even today, just as it did then.

Then I think about how it must have affected another black man, J.W. “Blind” Boone. His home has recently been dedicated as a historical home and community center.

That home, at 10 N. Fourth St. is seven blocks — one-half mile — from the place where the last lynching in Columbia took place. A 10-minute walk. What must it have felt like to be a black man, a famous black man who toured the country, a black man who was wealthy and accomplished, as was Boone, to live a 10-minute walk from that murder?

I have no idea. And if you are white, you probably don’t either. But I think Scott could have been my great-grandfather, and how would I see the world today if that had happened to my relative?

 

Today, you can see Boone’s house, and remark on his amazing life and talents. And sometimes, like recently, you can see the results of what led to the death of James T. Scott.

So tonight, I’ll be at the event so people can see that we’re just saying no to racism, we’re saying hell no.