Under Spanish control, Louisiana was divided into two districts. The northern part, Upper Louisiana, was divided into five districts: St. Charles, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Cape Girardeau, and New Madrid. After the 1803 purchase by the United States, they kept this division. The new District of Louisiana came under the over site of the Governor and the three Judges of Indiana Territory early in the fall of 1804, a session of the legislature that passed a law  retaining the old Spanish subdivision thus Arkansas fell into the District of New Madrid.

        Morgan’s Arrival

The area that turned into New Madrid County came from a Spanish Land Grant given to Colonel George Morgan who arrived in the New Madrid area with emigrants mainly from Maryland and Pennsylvania during the winter of 1789. Flat boating down the Ohio and into the Mississippi Rivers with his American companions, he selected a site to establish a community, New Madrid. In the United States, Morgan had been a man of influence and had a high position.

However, he became angry and resentful of the federal government. Having acquired a large tract of Indian land in the west, enough to make him independently wealthy, Morgan was denied ownership. United States policy at the time did not recognize the validity of an Indian land transfers to individuals. The government did not recognize the right or power to authority to set aside, sale, or trade any land. Morgan’s claims invalidated, he was practically penniless.  His appeals to the federal Congress for redress was denied.

As a hunter, trapper, and outdoorsman, in his earlier year, had traveled in the far west. Angry at the United States government, he made plans for revenge. He planned to build a settlement in Spanish territory. Included in his plan was also acquiring personal wealth. His plan to help build up the power of Spain along the Mississippi River was detailed in a letter to Don Diego Gardoqui, the Spanish minister at Washington. Morgan stressed the importance of colonizing the Spanish Territory west of the Mississippi and inducing settlers form America to emigrate there.

Gardoqui liked his scheme and gave Morgan a land grant consisting of 12 and 15 million areas of land. His grant reached from Cinqui Homme (a township and community in southern Perry County Missouri near the Headwaters of Whitewater River) to the mouth of the St. Francis River near Helena, Arkansas) a distance of some 300 miles. It stretched from 12 to 15 miles away from the river.

Morgan made and got further concessions from Gardoqui. It was agreed the Americans would be exempt from taxes and allowed the right of self-government. Hoping for a good profit, it was agreed Morgan had the right to sell any part of his holding; he planned to sell small plots to the incoming settlers. Morgan was to encourage Native American to settle within is holding. In doing this, he was a bright future in the fur trade as well as protection against the Osage Indians.

The land Morgan decided to settle on was about 12 leagues (a measure of distance varying in different times and countries; in English speaking countries, a league is about three miles) below the mouth of the Ohio River formerly called L’Ance la Grasse. The land here on the banks of the Mississippi, for some distance were high, dry, and suited for corn, tobacco, hemp, cotton, flax and indigo.  Rising gradually from the Mississippi the area is fine, dry, agreeable and healthful.

Beaver’s Causeway was a road, more likely a trail, described in the plans for the town of New Madrid in 1789. A causeway can be described as a road, particularly one built through marshy ground or shallow water. This one is thought to be named so because the road was built by beaver lodges.

When Morgan arrived at “L’Anse ala Graise”, (New Madrid) he was greeted by Francois and Joseph LeSieur, two Canadian trappers and traders that had come to the area in 1783 from Canada. Not only had they been the first Europeans in the area, but were now perhaps some the most influential men in the Mississippi River Valley.

Fort Celeste, at New Madrid, was built by the order of Spanish Governor Miro after he came to the New Madrid Territory in 1789. Miro wanted to take over Colonel Morgan’s work in building New Madrid.  The governor named the fort after his wife.  However, the fort was destroyed during the earthquakes of 1811-1812.

St. John’s Bayou was a large bayous starting in Scott County near the southern edge of hills before they entered New Madrid County from the north and empties into the Mississippi River just east of New Madrid. St. John’s Bayou had been rechanneled and controlled into a drainage ditch passing through Sikeston just west of the air port and the Bootheel Golf Club. After hitting the hills east of Benton it goes under Interstate 55 to end about halfway to Commerce.

The early name of the stream was Chepoosa Creek or Chapoosa River. This probably a name applied by LaSalle to a group of Indians along Kaskaskia River to which the name Chepoosa is sometimes given, or to the group collected by his invitation at Kaskaskia, for some chief or leader. LaSalle visited the race or tribe of Chepoosa in 1677. White settlers changed the name to Sound River and also so called by Kitchen and Hutchen in 1966. The stream was changed by the earthquakes in 1811-1812 and later drained.

Terrein Moville was a large slough that flowed into St. John Bayou receiving its name from early French settlers. This name is only used by Goodspeed; the spelling terrein is the French spelling of terrain while moville is probably a corruption of mobile. Terrian Mobile would mean “moving soil or quicksand. This slough was another victim of the 1811-1812 Earthquake.

Another early landmark destroyed by the Earthquake of 1811and1812 was Bayou de Boeuf in the northern part of New Madrid County. Probably it was named by early French settlers. Translated, the name means Buffalo Bayou.

        French Settlers

Bayou Fourche was two miles south of present day New Madrid. It flowed past Big Mound, a large Indian mound near New Madrid called La Grande Cote by the French settlers of the area. Before 1811, it was used by the Indians as a signal or look-out mound, not as a burial site. At the mound, the bayou split into two branches, one emptied into Lake St. Ann and the other into Lake St. Mary. French settlers so named it because of the two branches.

Francois Derousser owned land in eastern New Madrid County near New Madrid. In 1800, Bayou St. Henry bordered his holdings. This bayou was probable named for the saint of some member of his bailey; possibly St. Henry (972-1204), a German king, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire that was canonized in 1146. This was another casualty of the earthquake.

Bayou St. Thomas was also destroyed by the earthquake. This was a small stream in the central part of the New Madrid County close to New Madrid. Colonel Morgan’s 1789 plans for New Madrid show in on his map. This stream, sometimes called St. Thomas River, was probably named by early traders for St. Thomas, the apostle.

Beaver’s Causeway was a road, probably more a trail, in 1789 leading away from the young settlement of New Madrid. A causeway is a road, particularly on built through marshy ground or shallow water, and may have been so named because the road was believed to have been built by beavers.

        American Influence Begins

Taylor’s Slough was a large slough in the southern part of New Madrid County (now in Dunklin County); named by the early French settlers Lique Terrible because of the size and depth of the swamp. It was considered a bad place because of the mosquitoes and fevers. After the Taylor family moved into the area, the location became Taylor’s Slough. Before 1811, there were two branches on the west side of the slough knows as New and Old Slough.

The river was important to New Madrid in 1790 because of the trade it brought. While it was known in the Eastern United States, the community’s location was fuzzy. One report placed it in Tennessee. “Notes of a Journey from Philadelphia, Tennessee 1790” published in Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, quoted that “flour was exchanged for furs” at the following prices per skin: bear, $1,wildcat, 65¢, otter. $3, beaver, $1, buffalo $10.

In 1811, the western bank of the Mississippi had only been under United States ownership for eight years. Only a few town and settlements by American were in the New Madrid Earthquake Zone. There may have been 5,000 settlers of European and African descendants in and around the periphery of the region.

The population of the New Madrid Earthquake Zone was increased by the addition of between ten to fifteen thousand Native Americans. Hundreds of Indian settlements, villages, towns, and hunting camps ranged in size from a dozen to 400 or more. Numerous Indian villages of considerable size dotted New Madrid Seismic Zone. Several large Indian settlements were in the Blytheville, Arkansas area as well as further south near Lepanto and Marked Tree. A Number of Shawnee and Delaware villages were encircling Cape Girardeau on the north, west, and south, as well as throughout the county.

        Cape Girardeau

Cape Girardeau was first a French settlement dating from the 1720’s settled when Jean Baptiste Girardeau (also spelled Girardot and Girardo) crossed the Mississippi from Kaskaskia in Illinois to the Missouri side. He quickly established a trading post between Indians and French boatmen on a scenic rocky prominence overlooking the river.

In general, the chief employment of the French people consisted in raising cattle, hunting, fishing, and trapping. As group, they accepted the Indians as equal marrying into their tribes. Most of the Frenchmen came from Canada. Very few of them spoke English.

Some 73 years later, Louis Lorimier, a 65 year old French fur trader from St. Louis, landed just downstream from Cape Rock to establish another trading post he named “Cape Girardeau.” This town bearing a French name was founded by a devout Catholic that was a faithful subject of the king Spain. He had trouble supporting democracy as he deeply believed a monarchy was the only “approved” form of government.

Cape Girardeau was made prosperous by steamboat. In the decade between 1820 and 1830, steamboat traffic assumed a large grown with Cape Girardeau’s business community experience remarkable growth. However, it was not until 1853 that a bank was established there when a state bank in Jackson open a branch in the river town.

To the west and south of Cape Girardeau travel was extremely difficult. Thus, it became the trade center for a large area as it was the easiest river point the people from the interior could reach.

The large area of the Little River Swamp (Nigger Wool Swamp) had the cut off many settlers from the river, leaving them a hard journey to get supplies. While the early settlers were almost self sufficient, they still needed flour, sugar, gun power, and other basics.

Between 1900 and 1910 the population of Cape Girardeau nearly doubled reaching 8,585. The town supported over 150 businesses. There were a Number of general and department story with every form of mercantile establishments represent. Woodworking establishments manufactured lumber, staves, boxes, sash, and doors. Factories were making shoes, lime, brick, cement, flour, cigars, ice cream, and candy, as well as small industrial operations.

First incorporated as a village in 1808; in 1843, the legislature incorporated as the City of Cape Girardeau with a special charter providing for a mayor and seven councilmen.

When Lorimier first came to the area he had a smoothing effect on the natives in the area. Before his arrival, there had been war between the tribes, the Shawnees, the Delaware, the Osage, and between other tribes that were passing through. Warfare between the different cultural groups had been a common feature of Native American mores since the introduction of the bow and arrow. Yet, Lorimier was able to calm the differences while they were in the area

        King’s Highway -“El Camino Real”

The King’s Highway, the Spanish called “El Camino RReal” when they laid it out in 1789 to followed an assortment of Indian trails. Before the Europeans formally used the route, it was known as the “Shawnee Path.  It passed close to Shawneetown, Missouri, 20 miles north of Cape Girardeau, a Shawnee village in 1811. A large town for its time, it was about the same size as Cape Girardeau. In the French, it was called “le Lesser Village de Suavage,” or “The Smaller Village of the Savages.”

Improvements were made in the El Camino dirt road in 1807. Then it was elevated to the status being the “first north-south highway in Missouri Territory.” Roughly, Interstate 55 and U.S. Highway 60 follow the original route from New Madrid to St. Louis. Cape Girardeau and Sikeston both have streets named “Kingshighway.” This was one of the first roads in Missouri, if not the first.

With the opening of the Kingshighway a Number of small settlements sprung up. Some were in what became Scott County. The first of these were in the Sikeston vicinity by Edward Robertson and a son-in-law Moses Hurley. Near Benton, Captain Charles Friend settled his family on a Spanish Grant. He too became an Indian trader.


European Settlers and Early American

Early Settlers

Morgan’s Arrival

French Settlers

American Influence Begins

Cape Girardeau

Kings Highway - El Camino Real



The St. Francis Basin appears to have been at center of a large prehistoric population. The core of this settlement in Missouri seems to embrace the alluvial district of Pemiscot, New Madrid, Dunklin, Scott, Stoddard, Mississippi, and the Lowland of Cape Girardeau counties. Starting at the Ozark and running toward the Arkansas state line is a collection of mounds assembled in a six to five mile strip. Pemiscot County containing the largest Number of these prehistoric mounds; these mounds ranged from a few feet in height to the largest in the state at 400 feet long, 250 feet wide and 35 feet tall with a southern approach.

The Cairo Lowland, west across the Mississippi from where the Ohio joint to create the Lower Mississippi River Valley, during prehistoric time, was one the most heavily occupied area of the Central Valley. Lilbourn (New Madrid County) and Towosahgy (Mississippi County) are two of the largest civic ceremonial sites in the Cairo Lowland.

Native Americans lived in the Mississippi River Valley for at least 12,000 years. Much of their historical record has been buried or destroyed due to flooding, earthquakes, and modern farming methods. Between the movement of the Ohio and Mississippi River, modern farming methods, and the seismic active, their record is scarce. These early people were nomads subsisting on hunting and foraging. Some 10,000 years ago, these wanderers started establishing more stable communities and developing the characteristics recognized by archaeologists.

        Tchula Period

During the Tchula period, 100 years before the birth of Christ, was larger early-woodland culture. The Pascola Phase started in the foothills of the Ozarks, covered the Western Lowland and Crowley’s entire Ridge in Missouri, along with over half of the Morehouse and Little River Lowland. The Burkett Phase included the Cairo the Matthews or East Prairie Lowland, and a tiny part of Sikeston Ridge.


Marksville-Hopewellian (Middle Woodland) cultures had been one of the most studied Native American cultures in the Mississippi River Valley. This Woodland Era culture started developing around 100 A.D. and was the forerunner of the Hoecake phase In the Bootheel, its present was a small areas east of Sikeston Ridge north of New Madrid.

        Coles Creek Period

About 1000 A.D., the Coles Creek Period started. This phase was a late Woodland development. Largely, this phase was mainly in the Western Lowland west of Crowley’s Ridge. Another group of settlement was west of Sikeston Ridge.  However, the most intent settlements were in the Little River Lowland south of New Madrid. Several years later, the Mississippian Period developed from this society.

        Hoecake Phase

Hoecake villages were sedentary agricultural communities of four of five acres. Food supplies were more readily available. Forest was generously and more dependent in supplying food. Maize (corn), persimmons, acorns, pecans, wild grapes, and tubers; houses were rectangular, single-set post with few interior features.

The Hoecake phase was only one of several stages of people coming together to organize for mutual protection, to preserve family structure, and mutual aid. It was one of the largest to be centered in the Morehouse Lowland Sikeston, the Matthews or East Prairie Lowland, and Little River Lowland This development is considered Early Woodland Era.

Archaeologist, when talking about the Hoecake phase of the Baytown period of Native American settlements, in the area, during the Late Woodland era between 400 and 600 AD, called it the Morehouse Lowland. The phase is defined by the use of shell embedded clay-tempered ceramics temper by fire. During this period, the bow and arrow became in general use. With this development, inter-tribal warfare became more common.  After 1500 years absents, mound building was again started.

        Cairo Lowland

During pre-historic times, the Cairo Lowland just west of where the Ohio meets the Mississippi River was one of the most heavily occupied areas of the Central Mississippi Valley. Lilbourn and Towosahgy are two to the largest civic-ceremonial sited in these lowlands

Major early studies by Stephen Williams’ at Crosno (1955 with no radiocarbon dates), Lilbourn and Towosahgy by Chapman in 1977, and various land-leveling projects in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. These investigation prompted several sets of phases maned, each slightly different, are used to describe the prehistoric sequence. In general, early Burkett and La Plant phases were followed by widespread Late Woodland and Mississippian settlements. So intense has recent site destruction of these prehistoric occupations been that satisfactory subdivisions of these later periods may never be established.

More radiocarbon dates have been produced in the Cairo Lowlands than any other major area in Southeast Missouri. Many of these radiocarbon dates came from studies at Towosahgy and in the New Madrid Floodway. Of the 67 recent dates available about 97 percent came from Lilbourn, 21 dates, and 11 from Towosahgy, with 14 from the New Madrid Floodway project and with another 20 coming from land-leveling. Of these, one date pertained to the Archaic period, with 16 related to Woodland culture and the remainder was from Mississippian settlements.

        Mississippian Culture

The earliest widespread early Mississippian complexes occurred primarily east of Crowley's Ridge. This complex was first isolated in the Upper St. Francis River drainage area at the Old Varmey River site in Missouri. It was placed it on the Malden Plain. The Varney River, before the Earthquake of 1811-1812 connected Little River and the St. Francis River near the Missouri-Arkansas state line. Yet, many sites have been found northward through the Little River Lowland and up both sides of Sikeston Ridge in to the Morehouse Lowland on the west and Cairo Lowland on the east.

The Shawnee, an Algonquian word corrupted into Shawnee to mean “southerners,” had a history of migration. The Ohio River Valley may have been their original home. Forced out by the Iroquois, the Shawnees traveled eastward through the area now called South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. During the 17th century, still on the move they entered Tennessee, the Delaware County, then on to Kentucky and back into the Ohio Valley. After becoming British allies during the Revolutionary War, they cross the Mississippi River to settle in the Spanish controlled New Madrid District.

The most sophisticated cultural development was the Mississippian society. They developed after the Plum Bayou people and other groups in the Mississippi Valley combined the domesticated plants of the eastern agricultural complex of North American with corn and other domesticated plants from Mexico (corn, tomatoes, potatoes, yams, cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe, watermelon, pinto beans, kidney beans, lima beans, jalapeños peppers, bananas peppers, maple sugar, cranberries, strawberry, pineapple, chocolate, or vanilla. No one outside of American had ever smoked tobacco before Columbus trip to the New World. And no one but certain Indian tribes had ever worn cotton clothing).

            De Soto

In 1997, in Charles Hudson published, Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun: Hernando de Soto and the South’s Ancient Chiefdom, (pages 285-307) after studying all the archeological material available and following, as close has he could to the path the Spanish took across the Southeast United States, professor of Anthropology at the University of Georgia offered a theory that is generally accepted by Archeologist.

Hudson had de Soto crossing the Mississippi River in southern Crittenden County, Arkansas, at Horseshoe Lake. He crossed the river early morning, June 18, 1541with the river in full flood. He concluded that Casqui on Parkin, Cross County, Arkansas, on the St. Francis River.

As parts of their belief system the people at Parkin were expecting a warrior God, thus the Spanish were welcomed as the son of the Sun. When de Soto was presented two blind men to heal, he put off doing that by explaining about the death of Jesus and his resurrection. Still the chief of the Casqui press for a sign from de Soto. Specifically he asks for help against his enemies and relief from the drought so the children could have food. De Soto promised a sign the next day June 3rd. Next day, the chief still was complaining about the delay in receiving a sign he wanted. The Spanish were touched when the chief began weeping.

Droughts were one of the greatest hazards faced by Mississippian agriculturalist. Between 1565 and 1575, some part of southeast United States went through a dry period. Even in the decades before this the residents at Parkin suffered from lack of rainfall. Suffering in 1541 was evident.

After constructing a large cross, the Spanish placed in on the summit of the largest mound. A procession was formed including the Spanish as well as Indians. A crowd estimated at over a thousand watched as an emotional religious service followed.

Before sunrise the following day, the area was drenched by hard rain. After that the Native Americans declared themselves the Europeans’ vassals. De Soto told them to worship the God in heaven and ask what they needed. Before long, it was confirmed that Casqui and Pacaha were and had been enemies for a long time. The chief at Parkin wanted help destroying his enemy on Wappanocca Bayou.

Pacaha was on the Bradley site connected to Wappanocca Bayou in Crittenden County, Arkansas. This was to the east of Parkin on the Mississippi River. The villagers at Pacaha escaped the invasion to an island in the river. After being captured and returned to their village, de Soto played one side against the other.

After hearing of gold to the north from two traders captured at Pacaha, de Soto sent two expeditions northward into Missouri.

For some two weeks in July, a detachment of some 30 horsemen and 50 footmen went to the northeast. After traveling eight day through a wilderness and swamp, they came to a wide expanse of land that had no trees, only grass (Malden-Kennett Prairie?). The grass was so thick and tall that even men on horseback had trouble traveling through it.

They finally came to the province of Caluza; a small grouping of six or seven huts made of reeds or rushes sews together then stretched of a framework of poles. When it is time to move, the family simply rolls up is mats, take the pole framework down and carry them to the new location. These small settlements moved frequently.

These groups lived, they told the Spanish, by hunting and fishing instead of staying stationary long enough to plant crops. In the area several other groups lived a similar life style. They move frequently to follow the wild game, especially the deer.

The Indians of the Caluza did not thank the land further north had many settlements because the weather was too cold and because of the large number of buffalo, agricultural fields could not be protected from them, thus those people lived by hunting buffalo.

The returning Spanish upon reaching Pacaha were famished. During their exploration, they had to live on green persimmons and ears of immature corn.

A second expedition sent by de Soto was sent north. This expedition was prompted by information gained from Indians captured at Pacaha. They were traders of salt and other materials. They told the Spanish that a mountain range 40 leagues north was where the salt came from. Also that area, they claimed, was rich in a yellow metal. This caught the attention of de Soto. These were probably the Ste. Francois Mountain where deposits of salt, copper and other minerals could be found.

Hernando de Silvera and Pedro Moreno volunteered to go verify what the Indians are taking them to view. The Spanish carried pearls, deerskins and beans acquired at Pacaha along with some European trade items as well to appease the native they meet. Two of the traders went along to act as guides.

 Eleven days later, probably somewhere in Southeast Missouri they returned bringing crystalline rock that was mined, not the results of evaporation. They also carried a quantity of very good grade copper. Like the other de Soto expedition, they reported the land did not have much population.

It is possible that Silvera and Moreno had reached the northernmost towns with inhabitants in the central Mississippi Valley. Archaeological sites have been found on the Little River in northeast Arkansas and Pemiscot Bayou in Southeast Missouri. Like the lowlands of Arkansas, the Southeast Missouri lowland had mostly been abandoned around A.D 1400-1450. Five sites are clustered on the levee ridge of Pemiscot Bayou. At least one flat-topped mound was on four of these sites. Before they could be professionally excavated, most of these sites were destroyed by farmers and looters.

At one of these sites, the Campbell or Cooter location, a substantial number of early Europeans artifacts have been recovered by collectors.  A  Clarksdale bell (about 1 5/8 inches in diameter to hang from leather strip) and at least 24 glass chevron beads. No more such 16th century artifacts of Spanish manufacture have been found north of this.

        Indian Mound Builders

Between A.D. 900 and A.D. 1200, the people in this area (settlements from Memphis to St. Louis) went from being part-time gardeners that still depended on the old reliable wild foods – nuts, seeds, meat, and fish – to becoming almost full-time farmers balancing their vegetable diet with some wild game. And their population exploded.

Fifteen miles northeast of New Madrid is the Towosaghy Indian Mound, a Mississippian city. They flourished there between 100 and 1400 A.D. The “Lilbourn Site,” a mile west of New Madrid, is another large Indian Mound believed to be from the Kent phase. Scattered throughout the Little River Valley are a Numbers of smaller Mississippian mounds.

Another enormous Middle-Mississippian site, known as the Langdon Site is five miles north of the Arkansas state line in Dunklin County. It lies on a sandy ridge between Little River and the St. Francis River. Within in this complex are at least 32 mounds and the site of an enclosure village without mounds. In the 1830’s, the site was bisected by the main north-south road connecting Kennett and Hornesville.

Keshotte Island was in Little River near the Missouri-Arkansas state line. According to legend, the island was named for an Indian who was murdered there by another Indian, Chuckalee.

The Mississippian Culture lasted until shortly after the first European (De Soto) brought their diseases to the natives in the mid-1600. Their immune systems were not tuned to handle them. Thus common European childhood diseases ended the highest developed Native American culture in the southeast and Lower Mississippi River Valley. Another theory has the decline in population due to a prolonged drought that affected the corn crops. It may be possible that both conditions contributed to end the Mississippian Period in the Mississippi River Valley.

First Settlers

Tchula Period


Cole-Creek Period

Hoecake Phase

Mississippian Culture

De Soto

Indian Mound Builders

        Europeans Name the Land

In Douglass’ History of Southeast Missouri: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its people and its Principal Interests tells of the basic water pattern and stream in Little River Valley before the quake. This account was written in 1893 by Godfrey LeSieur and published in the Weekly Record of New Madrid.

        St. James Bayou

“St. James Bayou has its source in Scott County near the southern limit of the Scott County ills and flowed south through Scott, Mississippi a part of New Madrid counties. It received its waters from cypress ponds and lakes, principally those in Mississippi County. It emptied into the Mississippi River about ten miles northeast of New Madrid.

        St. Jones Bayou

”St. Johns Bayou, which was from ten to fifteen miles west of S. James, flowed parallel to it. It received its waters from lakes and also from connection with Little River just south of the present town of Benton. This bayou was about forty miles long and emptied unto the river at the east side of the town of New Madrid.

        East Bayou

“Eight miles above its mount it received East Bayou. At the point where these two join, the Spaniards, during their occupation of the county, built a water mill, and on a prance of St. John’s called Little Bayou, which connected with the river, the branch built a mill in about 1790. This mill site and, indeed, the entire bayou have disappeared, having been carried away by the river. Both of these bayous, St. James and St. John’s were named by Francois and Joseph LeSieur.

        The next stream east of St. John’s Bayou was Little River, called by the French Riviere Petite. It was about seven miles east of New Madrid. About eight miles above New Madrid it flowed for a distance of a mile from a ledge strewn with boulders of bog ore.

“It received the following tributaries from the east: Otter Bayou, which drained the lakes in the north part of the district, the Decypri, a cypress swamp which leaves the Mississippi River at New Madrid and flows into cypress lakes and then into Little River. Two miles south of New Madrid, Bayou Fourche left the Mississippi River, entered Lakes St. Marie and St. Ann, then flowed past La Grande Cote or the Big Mound, and entered Little River. In the early days a ferry across this steam was maintained near this mound.

        Bayou Portage

“Four miles further south, Bayou Portage flowed out from the Mississippi River, running to the southwest and entering Little River one mile south of Weaverville. This bayou was frequently used for the purposes of transportation. Barges and keel-boats were accustomed to come to the St. Francois and little rivers to Weaverville and then pass up through Bayou Portage to the Mississippi.

“In time of low water it was necessary to make a carry across the ridge which separated a part of the bayou from the Mississippi. This carry was usually made to a point on the river where there was an Indian village; this place was afterward called Point Pleasant. This strip of high ground over which the carry was made came to be called the Portage also.

        Bayou Carondelet

Bayou Carondelet was a small stream in the center of New Madrid County. Jean Baptiste Peltier settled there in 1790. The name he gave the stream was probably in honor of Baron de Carondelet Governor Intendant of the Providences of Louisiana and Florida. Peltier established two flour mills on the streams of New Madrid County for the purpose of manufacturing flour for the King’s storehouses. The Earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 destroyed the bayou.

        Cushion Lake

“Four miles south of Point Pleasant a low place in the banks of the river allowed the water to flow into a lake which from its grassy banks, was called Cushion Lake. The outlet from Cushion Lake to Bayou Portage was called Portage Bay. It is upon the bank of this bay that the present town of Portageville is situated. Between Cushion Lake and the next large bayou there were a Number of small tributaries which flowed from cypress likes into Little River. Pemiscot Bayou drained the lakes and swamps of Pemiscot County and also received water in three different places for the Mississippi River, and finally flowed into Little River.

“The tributaries of Little River on the west were principally those that it received from the S. Francois River and will be mentioned in connection with the St. Francois. The St. Francois, for the most of its course within the low lands, made its way east of Crowley's Ridge; it entered the law lands from the hills of Upper Louisiana, coming into this section further west and south than Little River.

“It received many tributaries from the west, but sent out many outlets from its western side to Little River. The first of these western outlets was in the early times called Laque Terrible, it is now called Taylor’s slough. It left the St. Francois River four miles south of Chalk Bluff, then continued southeast and connected with Little River near the mouth of New Rover. From Taylor’s slough, or Laque Terrible, as it was formerly called, two branches made out on the west side, the first of these was called New River, and the second Old River.

        Varner  River

“Varner River”, which was formerly called Chilletecaux, makes out from the St. Francois, runs to the east, then south and then west, and joins with the St. Francois again. The island thus formed was the last refuge of the buffalo in this section of the country. This island was divided by a small stream which connected the S Francois with Varner River. It was on this stream that there was a located the Indian village of Chilletecaux. Five miles south of this village there was another permanent bayou known as Buffalo Creek, which finally emptied into Little River.”

European’s Name the Land

St. James Bayou

St. Johns Bayou

East Bayou

Bayou Portage

Bayou Carondelet

Cushion Lake

Varner River

To know the physiographic makeup of the Southeast Missouri Lowland and how it developed is hardly necessary to appreciate what the Little River Drainage District did.  However, knowledge of natures work adds a deeper dimension in understanding the peoples wrestle with nature. So what forces formed, reformed, and reshaped the Missouri Bootheel that the Himmelberger’s and other early settlers found when they came in the the1880’s and 1890’s.

The Lowland of Southeast Missouri are located in the northwestern part of the lower Mississippi embayment and located entirely within the Coastal Plains Province. Essentially they are a broad, flat plain sloping gently to the south bordered with northerly running remnants of uplands and terraces. The Mississippi Alluvial Plain extends from the confluence of the Ohio River in Southern Illinois with the Mississippi south to the Gulf of Mexico.

The St. Francis Lowland (Chabohollay was the English spelling of Shoboli, “the Smoky,” Choctaw name for the St. Francis River) includes Little River Valley which is located east of Crowley’s Ridge (Bluff Hills Ridge), and part of the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

The 1838 T. G. Bradford map of Arkansas referred the area that would become Morehouse Lowland as “The Great Swamp.” Except or a strip of land in Arkansas along the Mississippi River., this Lowland ended where the St. Francis River joined the Mississippi. However, the Delta did not stop here it continued down Arkansas’ eastern edge and went deep into Louisiana.

Tanners’ 1833 New Map of Arkansas with its Canals and Roads shows an unnamed river running north from Arkansas stopping before reaching as far north as New Madrid. Morris and Breese 1845 Arkansas map showed Little River not leaving the Bootheel.

Little River is a 148 mile tributary of the St. Francis River. Its location is in Southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas. The Little River’s course through the Missouri Bootheel has been diverted to a man-made channel, though traces of its original course still exist. In Arkansas the river passes through the Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge and joins the St. Francis River at Marked Tree.

Along with the St. Francis River, it is part of the Mississippi River watershed. Big Lake was formed December 16, 1811 about 2:30 A.M by an (estimated 8 point-zero on the Ricker Scale) earthquake centered just to the east a few miles near the Mississippi County town of Del, Arkansas. Also formed at the same time was Tyronza Lake the Sunken Lands on the St. Francis River, and the Blytheville Dome.

The floodway leaving the Big Lake area is roughly one mile wide enclosed by ten foot levees. Running through the floodway is Ditch Number 1, Ditch Number 9, Left Hand Chute of Little River Right Hand Chute of Little River, and Little River. Again Little River has lost its identity. These water-ways run together, separate only to join again. The most dominate channel is Right Hand Chute of Little River.

Near the southern end of the St. Francis Sunken land and Marked Tree Floodway Project, another Arkansas Game and Fish Commission project, the Floodway enters the St. Francis River and enters the Mississippi near Helena, Arkansas. Water that entered Little River near Cape Girardeau, Missouri, travels 231 miles to become part of the Mississippi.

In Missouri, before drainage ditches diverted them Little River was joined in the north by the Castor River, Crooked Creek, Hubble Creek and the Whitewater River These streams all became part of the Headwater Diversion Channel which stretches west to east some 40 miles from near Greenbrier in Stoddard County to the Mississippi River just south of Cape Girardeau.

Hoping to encourage development, the Missouri transferred large tracts of these lands to the counties. Counties always in need of monies to support the local government hoped their ownership would encourage more aggressive actions by local developers to buy the land especially as it would be to the county’s benefit. Not only would they be able to collect taxes for developed lands, the money from their sale would also go to the county governments.

     Lowllands Developed

The beginning of this Lowland begins some 50 million years ago with an ancient ocean reached north to near where the Ohio River now meets the Mississippi. This extended arm of the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi Embayment, covered the entire area. Oceans levels were higher due in part to less ice being locked up in the polar ice caps.

Just to the west of our study area, near Ironton, and Farmington are rock formations known as Elephant Rocks. Estimates say they were formed one and a half billion years ago when hot volcanic ash and gasses spewed in to the air. After they cooled igneous rock formed.

Taum Sauk Mountain is the highest point, at 1,772 feet, of the St. Francois Mountains in Southeast Missouri. This range of Precambrian igneous mountains borders the Ozark Plateau on the east and is one of the oldest exposures of igneous rock in North America.

Near Dexter, in Stoddard County, 25 different colors of naturally occurring sands have been found at the northern edge of the Bootheel. Speculation says the sand colors were formed when this landlocked area was seashore.

Pollen, radiocarbon-dated some 3,000 years ago, was preserved and found in 1976 in the swamp near Advance, Missouri. Principal feature make up of the pollen found in Old Field Swamp was a grass-dominated herb which suggested the lower water levels and drier climate in Southeast Missouri lasted from 8,700 to 6,500 years B.P. These relatively dry conditions continued until at least 5,000 years B.P. which fostered the growth of this pollen producing plants.

At this time Mastodons were the dominate animal in the area.  Remains were trapped in the swampy area just south of St. Louis near Imperial. Two others have been found in Northeast Arkansas. These remains are in the Arkansas State University Museum in Jonesboro. These grew to be eight feet tall or higher. These were not dinosaurs. Speculation has them crossing the Alaska’s Bering Strait and here 30,000 to 10,000 years . . the end of the Ice Age. Some may have co-existed with man, who may have arrived here 12,000 year ago.

In Bollinger County, At Marble Hill, west of Cape Girardeau a half hour drive, dinosaur remnants were trapped in a seismic fault south of town. This duck-billed Hypsibema Crassicauda probably weighed ten ton and was 10 feet and eats plants some100 million years ago. Old Field Swamp provided the first pollen evidence of vegetational changes along the southern border of the Prairie Peninsular chronologically similar to those in the northern and northeastern margins of this Lowland.

During the decline of the Wisconsin Ice Age, ending about 12,500 years ago left a radically altered topography of North America north of the Ohio River. With glacier ice melt and outburst floods, massive amounts of sediment were carried southward as the ice melted. Soil grind from rocks by the moving ice was picked up along with soils from the northern part of North America was carried southward by melt water to slowly filled the depression east of Crowley’s Ridge thus to create the basis for some of the riches farmland in the world.

In Southern Illinois signs of the southern edge of glacier debris are still observable. At Giant City State Park, near Carbondale leftover boulders are still visible. Fern Clyffe State Park near Marion, along “Goreville Hill on I-57, and the beautiful “Garden of the Gods” near Harrisburg where signs say it took the glacier a few hundred years to melt.

            Physiographic Subdivision

Southeast Lowland are made up of four physiographic subdivisions: (1) The Advance Lowland,  also known as the Western Lowland, between the bluffs of the Ozark province and the lesser slopes of northeasterly oriented Crowley’s Ridge extended from Cape Girardeau southwestward into Arkansas; (2) Crowley’s Ridge extends from Bell City into Arkansas; (3) The Morehouse Lowland are southeast of Crowley’s Ridge but merging on the north with Advance Lowland; and (4) farther to the southeast are the Mississippi Lowland. North or the Little River Lowland and east of the Sikeston Ridge are the Cairo Lowlands. At different times, maps have applied different names and given them diverse sizes.

Today, the Lowland of Southeast Missouri cover an area of approximately 4,100 square miles and includes all or part to ten counties.  The difference between the highest and lowest point in the Lowland province is about 340 feet. The Lowland elevation at the southern edge of the Ozark province is 335 feet and decreases to a low of 240 feet in southern Pemiscot County. Maximum elevation on Crowley’s Ridge is about 580 feet one mile south of Bloomfield, and that on Benton Hill Ridge is about the same.

In 1941 Flint showed that the course of the Mississippi River between St. Louis a Cape Girardeau, several times in the past, was blocked by uplifts that created the Ozarks. The continued course of the Mississippi created the Advance Lowland and latter provided a course for the St. Francis River east of Ash Hill in Butler County and Little River east of the Kennett Malden Prairie

The Kennett-Malden Prairie rises some ten to fifteen feet about the Little River Bottomlands. This Ohio River formed terrace runs north and south several miles west of Little River. This sandy ridge extends from just below Dexter to the state line near Hornersville in Dunklin County Running from five to ten miles wide the soil is a rich sandy loam which the very productive. Bernie, Malden, Clarkton and Kennett are the larger communities located here.

Headwaters for the Little River are in the St. Francis Mountains in Southeast Missouri. It flows south through New Madrid, Pemiscot and Dunklin Counties into Arkansas. This range of Precambrian igneous mountains raises over the Ozark Plateau foothills. These heat formed range is one of the oldest exposures of igneous rock in North America. In official Federal records, the range is spelled as Saint Francois Mountains, but often spelled St. Francis  Mountains after the anglicized pronunciation both the range and St. Francois County.

Precambrian is the name which describes the largest part of time in Earth’s history.  Not much is known about this period despite its makes up seven-eighths of the earth’s history.  Formation spans from the formation of the Earth some 4600 Ma (million years) ago to the beginning of the Cambrian Period when macroscopic hard-shelled animals first appeared in abundance, about 542 Ma, making up about 88% of geologic time.

Geographers concerned with eco-regions with generally similarity ecosystems place the Little River Valley areas within the St. Francis Lowland.  They define the area, west to east, as between Crowley’s Ridge and the Sikeston Ridge; running north to south from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to where Crowley’s Ridge forces the St. Francis River into the Mississippi River. At the south end of Sikeston Ridge and to its east is the Mississippi Lowland.

        Crowley's Ridge

        Crowley’s Ridge is losses formed (small partials of sand piled up by wind action) and runs 200 mile with an average height of 400 feet. This unusual formation rising above the Lowland is an aggregate that includes the subdivisions of the Bloomfield Hill and Benton Hill, extends from Commerce, Missouri to Helena, Arkansas.

Crowley's Ridge about 12 miles wide in the north and in places reached heights of 250 feet above the eastern plains. In the southern one-half of the ridge its average width is three miles worn away as water rushed southward. The consequences were from a Number of cut-fill cycles as the water came only to retreat.

During these series of cutting away the land then filling area again, the rivers (now the Mississippi and Ohio) cut two great canyons or trenches that averaged about 200 feet deep. The deepest part of these cuts, in part, is under the Sikeston Ridge; cut when the Ohio ran west of Crowley's Ridge.  Early on, they ran parallel to each other until they joined south of present day Helena, Arkansas. At another time, the junction of the two rivers was some 400 mile south of its present junction at Cairo, Illinois to meet at Natchez, Mississippi.

In 1902, Himmelberger Harrison Lumber Company at Morehouse, in an effort to increase profits to his operation drilled a dry oil well. The make-up of the areas will was revealed by the drill core. The top lay was 30 feet of clay then 110 feet of coarse sand, ten feet of gravel, 40 feet gumbo or brown clay, followed by 40 feet brown quicksand, eight feet of cement gravel, then 197 feet gumbo, one foot of rock followed by another 20 feet of gumbo, 224 feet of white sand, 40 feet of limestone, 15 feet of sand, and 35 feet of limestone.

        Wisconsin Ice Age

During the decline of the Wisconsin Ice Age, massive amounts of sediment were carried southward as the ice melted. Soil grind from rocks by the moving ice was picked up along with soils from the northern part of North America was carried southward by melt water to slowly filled the depression thus create some of the riches farmland in the world.

Over the years, the unconsolidated soils from the northern United States (31 states) and two Canadian provinces covering 1,000,000 square miles was carried south to fill the extended arm of the Gulf of Mexico. As the Morehouse and Mississippi Lowland filled, the soils became richer as vegetation incorporated with yearly deposits of flood water to form rich topsoil over 100 feet in places.

A clay based (gumbo) soil dominate the region. The landscape is relatively flat, so rain and overflow water stood for months, even years. However, as floodwater push across the floodplain and slowed down the heaver soil drop out leaving scattered deposits.

The forest included species typical of sandy areas such as river birch mixed with cypress, oaks, and hardwood bottomland species leaving a large, mainly mixed hardwood forest growing out of the swamp. As this rich vegetation was incorporated to form topsoil that became some of the riches in the world. However, herculean effort was needed to make the area useable.

The portion of Bluff Hills ecoregion found within the Mississippi Alluvial Plain is locally known as Crowley's Ridge. It is a disjointed series of loess-capped low hills with greater relief than the surrounding Lowland. At its base are Tertiary sands, gravels and materials that were not removed by the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

The Lowland west of Crowley’s Ridge, Western Lowland, between Advance and Popular Bluff handled the earlier Illinoisan ice age melt to leave the Mingo Swamp and Wildlife area. Run off from glacial deposits during the late-Wisconsin Ice Age pushed between Crowley's Ridge and the Sikeston Ridge, or at least runoff from their melting rushed between them reforming the landscape leaving a giant swamp.

        Sikeston Ridge

Sikeston Ridge is a two miles wide topographic terrace with an average height of 20 feet above the Lowland was a deposit left by the Ohio River. Its formation happened many years ago when the Mississippi River flowed west of Sikeston. This Southeast Missouri Ridge runs from about Haywood City, Scott County, just north of its namesake and runs southward to just north of the Mississippi River town of New Madrid.

        Kennett-Malden Prairie

The Kennett-Malden Prairie was also a product of the Ohio River from during its depositing stage when it filled the Eastern Lowland. An alluvial fan spread across the valley east of Crowley’s Ridge. It ranged from below and west of Kennett, Malden, and Dexter to Cairo, Wickliffe, and the Chickasaw Bluffs. When the Ohio River deserted the Cache Valley (Illinois) for its present course, it left an alluvial fan which lay undisturbed until the Mississippi River took that course.

Sometimes called the Malden Plain, the Kennett-Malden Prairie runs into Arkansas where the deposits are buried by more recent alluvium deposits of the Mississippi. These buried deposits are erosional remnant of late Pleistocene braded stream leavens as the running water slowed down. Being relative dry as they rose some six yards above the Mississippi flood plain, they attracted settlement during the prehistory period and beyond.

        Eastern Lowland

The Eastern Lowland begins near the community of Delta, including the “Bell City-Oran Gap” on the east side of Crowley’s Ridge. The layered rock outcroppings on the low hills near Chaffee and Oran appear smooth and petted. An alert viewer and see this was once a wide, shallow river bottom. The Ohio River may have even joined the Mississippi River at Morley, between Benton and Sikeston, for a time (some think this took place at Commerce).

Southwest of the current confluence of the Ohio River and Mississippi River is the Crowley’s Ridge separation of the Eastern and Western Lowland. Here, glacier runoff deposited sand and light dusty soils. Rivers eroded some of this sandy alluvium to form a newer and lower flood plain in a portion of the valleys. Thus, older and higher floodplain surfaces that have been left are terraces.

At the close of the first glacial period, uplifts in the north marked the beginning of the Mississippi River near where Cape Girardeau now stands marks the area where the Mississippi River entered the province.  Influenced by regional structures, the river turned westward. The Ohio River flowed southwestward then southward through the Cache Lowland (Illinois) along the eastern perimeter of Crowley's Ridge. During the earliest period of this phase the Mississippi eroded the Advance Lowland along with the much wider Morehouse and Charleston Lowland and underlying area of the Sikeston.

        Water Gaps in Crowley's Ridge

Four water gaps have been cut through the Crowley's Ridge in different places to connect the Advance Lowland with the Morehouse and Mississippi Lowland to the east. These are Thebes Gap, the Bell City-Oran Gap, the Castor River Gap, and the St. Francis River Gap.

The Mississippi River finally turned through the Ridge that separate its valley from that of the Ohio through what is now the Bell-Oran water gap. This cut is between the two towns became the water course later, after being abandoned by the Mississippi River, for the Whitewater-Little River (east of the Kennett-Malden Prairie), Castor or, St. Francis (east of Ash Hills), and Black Rivers. During this time, the Ohio and Mississippi rivers may have joined for a while, so some speculate

Thebus Gap, being the most recent water course through Crowley's Ridge, being cut between Benton Hills and Shawnee Hills of Illinois. At its greatest width it is barely one mile wide and seven miles wide. Ground evidence shows while the gap now drains the highland, it is a minor north flowing stream. About 11,000 years ago, this was a minor gap with partial flow of the Mississippi through it leaving the main waterway east of the ridge. By 9,500 A.D. the main channel had moved east of Sikeston Ridge. The old Mississippi River channel between Crowley's Ridge and Sikeston Ridge is now Little River.

Southwest of Ardeola, the Caster River Gap served that river before canals drained that river. This gap was about ten miles long and varied in width from on-mile on the southeast and widened to one mile in the northwest.

The St. Francis River Gap is southwest of Campbell where it forms the northwestern border between the Missouri Bootheel and Arkansas. Crowley's Ridge is low and narrow at the location of this cut being widest to the northwest.

The relationship between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers has never been a stable or satisfactory one. Where they meet some eight miles below Cape Girardeau the Ohio is the larger stream, yet its floodplain was several feet lower than the street whose name it takes. With this mating, the Mississippi had to abandon the eastern end of the Advanced Lowland and the whole of the Morehouse Lowland to enter the Ohio Valley at Commerce through the Bell-City Gap. This change happened in recent times; so recently the river has yet had time to fully adapt the small valley to it size.

Little River’s Geographic Past First Settlers

Lowland Develop

Physiographic Subdivision

Crowley's Ridge 

Wisconsin Ice Age

Sikeston Ridge

Kennett-Malden Prairie

Eastern Lowlands

Water Gaps in Crowley's Ridge 


Government Service



            Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) became one of the most popular of all the New Deal programs. In March of 1932 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) became president more that 25 percent of the population was unemployed, hungry and without hope.

Up until this time leaders of the Federal Government considered down-turns in the economy just a part of the economic cycles. The working man had no help from the government. The leaders preached aid would not be welcome by the laboring force, in fact, they would be offended. Their spirit of independence would be insulted. President Hoover, going against his principals, did give some of the industrial leaders monies that was supposed to have “trickled down” to their workers the help relive their hunger. Business leaders used this relief money to pay dividends.

On March 21, President Roosevelt sent to a joint session of Congress an employment bill. Eight days later the CCC came into existence. To finance it, the states were allotted one-half billion dollars. The money was to be spent to improve state and federal lands. Unemployed men between 18 and 25 from relief families were offered employment.

Separate programs operated for veterans and Native Americans. Veterans usually served in veterans groups. Spanish American War and World War I veterans were authorized in May of 1933; these enrollees had do\\not age or marital restriction. Thus some 250,000 veteran were able to rebuild lives.

A total of 200,000 African-Americans enrolled in the program. After 1935 they were segregated but received equal pay and housing and supervision under black leadership in 143 segregated camps. No women were enrolled.

Besides easing the unemployment situation, the CCC had a second goals, that of conservation our natural resources. Between 1933 and 1942, the life of the CCC, nearly 3 billion were planted, they constructed over 800 parks nationwide while upgrading most states parks, forest fire fighting methods were updated, and a network of service building and public roads were build in remote areas.

The idea of the CCC was tried on a smaller scale when FDR was governor of New York. Conservation had long been an interest to the President. More than any other New Deal program, the CCC is considered an extension of Roosevelt’s personal philosophy.

With the formation of the program’s legislation, FDR promised the law would provide 250,000 jobs. While maximum enrollment was 300,000, however, during the nine year course of its functioning over 2.5 men participated. During this time they were provided with shelter, clothing, and food. Of their $30 pay, $25 was sent home to their families.

Each enrollee volunteered an upon passing a physical exam and/or a period of conditioning was required to serve a minimum six-months with an option to serve as many as four periods or up to two years if outside employment is no available. Enrollees were eligible for “rate” positions to help with camp administration, senior leader, mess steward, store keeper, and two carks assistant leader, company clerk, assistant educational advisor and three second cooks. These men received additional pay ranging from $36 to $45 per month depending on their rating. Each camp was a complete community, including a newspaper.

Approximately 55% of enrollees were from rural communities, a majority of which were non-farm. 45%came from urban areas. Levels of education for the enrollee average 3% illiterate, 38% had less than eight years of school, 48% did not complete high school. 11% were high school graduates. At the time of entry, 70% were malnourished and poorly clothed. Few had work experience beyond occasional odd jobs. The CCC program is credited to a 55% reduction in crimes among young men. During the life of the program, 40,000 men learned to read and write.

The CCC camp was divided into work sections of 25 workers. Three-hundred possible types of work projects were performed. These jobs fell into ten general classifications. Structural improvements: bridges, fire lookout towers, service buildings: transportation; truck trails, minor roads, foot trails, and airport landing fields; erosion control: check dams, terracing, and vegetable covering; flood control; irrigation, drainage, dams, ditching, channel work, and rip rapping: forest culture; planting trees and shrubs, timber stand improvement, seed collections, and nursery work: forest protection: fire prevention, fire pre-suppression, firefighting, and insect and disease control: landscape and recreation; public camp and picnic ground development, lake and pond site clearing and development: range; stock driveways and predatory animals: wildlife; stream improvement, fish stocking, and food and cover planting: miscellaneous; emergency work, surveys, and mosquito control.

At least three CCC camps were located in the Bootheel. Basically, the men in these camps were involved in soil conservation. During the 1937 flood along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, these camps contributed part to the 1,240,000 man-days of emergency work. The Little River Drainage District benefited from the CCC labor. Drainage ditches were cleared of vegetation and channels were cleared.

The first and largest CCC Camp, Number 3729, was within the town of New Madrid. Operation started here June 29, 1935.

The Hayti Camp Number 3741 was located five miles southeast of town. It opened July 8, 1935.

Delta-Advance Camp Number 3748, four miles northwest of Delta opened July 16, 1935. On April 17, 1936, CCC workers were filling holes in the Division Channel Levee.

High water was still a threat to the Bootheel during the spring of 1937. Early May found emergency workers rushing to Charleston to close a levee break hundred of CCC and Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers joining local volunteers to help strengthen the levee against a second flood. On May 8th the river crested at 48-feet and the levee held.

In 1939, the CCC programs faced a major challenge. Changes both in the U.S. and in Europe especially after the growing threat of war boosted the growth of the economy. The president’s Lend-Lease program made jobs more plentiful in the armament industry and application for the CCC declined.

This New Deal Program was never officially terminated. Congress provided funding for shutting the remaining camps down in 1942 with the equipment being relocated for the war effort.

            Army Air Force Training Camps

In 1939, the military situation in the world, especially in Europe, became a real worry for President Roosevelt. In Asia, the Japanese invaded Mongolia in China. The use of air power by the China attracted FDR’s attention. However, in Europe, Hitler’s use of air power as it looked eastward at his neighbors gave the President a new cause for worry. Aircraft was being used in a new and deadly way in that they were, along with tanks and mechanical armor, as support for ground forces.

Roosevelt started talk to the auto and steel industries, and they were slowly converting to wartime production. In 1934 the American armed forces had 15, 621 aircraft of all types. During the next two years the number of aircraft increased by 1,242; 1937 saw the number increase by 1,709 to bring the number to 18,572; next year the number of all types of aircraft increased another 1,624.

 In 1938, the president made a push to increase the air power of the United States. Converting from civilian to military production by the American industry did not take long. While air plane production only increased by 2,190, it was more than any year before except between 1928 and 1929 when production rose by1,582 aircraft. In 1940, with industry making a conversion, 28,801 air planes rolled off the production lines. During the next year, production rose from 51,185 to 152,152, close to a 400% production jump. This is more airplanes that Germany had destroyed and damaged for the war which totaled 116,875. Total losses for the United States were nearly 45,000 during the war.

On April 3, 1939, Congress allocated $300-million ($4,860,000,000 relative value 2011) request by Roosevelt to expand the Air Corps half of this was to purchase planes to raise the inventory from 2,500 to 5,5.00 aircraft with the rest for new personnel, training facilities and bases.

Over the winter of 1938-1939, Arnold transferred a group of experienced officers to his headquarters. This group became an unofficial air staff assigned to lay out a plan that would increase the Air Corps to50,000 men by mid 1941.

Plans were made for increased aircraft production along with restructuring the Air Corps into total combat units, the raining of new personnel and construction of new bases. New combat groups were created by detaching cadres for the existing 15 existing groups to be the foundation for new groups with older experienced providing the basis of an average o9f three new groups. Expanded training programs were to replace the experienced personnel transferred to form the new groups.

The initial 25-Group Program for the air defense of North America as developed in April 1939 called for 12,00 pilots. On February 1940, the ten new combat groups were activated. Following the German successful invasion of France and the Low countries in May, 1940, a 54-Group Program was approved. The training program was failing to keep up with plans because of delays in acquiring the new infrastructure needed to support the, sites for which had to be identified, negotiated and approved before construction.

The Army Air Forces Training Command (AAFTC) (1943-1946) was a command of the United States Army Air Forces. This command was created as a result of the merger of the Army Ari Forces Flying Training Command and the Army Air Forces Technical Training Command

Pilots, navigators, mechanics, and other support personal were needed quickly to put this crafts into the air and keep them there.  Airfields and training schools popped up all over the county teaching a vast assortment of skill. The United States, Army Air Forces USAAF) established numerous airfields in Missouri to train pilots and aircrews.  

Missouri had ten such airports. In Southeast Missouri, three such major airfields were developed. There was Harvey Parks Air Field in Sikeston, Harris Airfield in Cape Girardeau, and Malden Army Air Field. In addition, several secondary fields were used to practice touch-and go landing and provide a place to land in case of an emergency.

Sikeston’s Harvey Parks Army Air Corps Training Base

By 1938, General “Hap” Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Corps, had seen the air arm of the military as the future of warfare. This foresight also recognized that the United States Army Air Corp was sadly unprepared for war in both the number of aircraft and officers. With the army’s ability to train only 750 pilots a year, the air corps needed to train 100 times that number in order to defeat the Axis powers, a conflict he knew was coming.

Oliver Parks was the energy behind getting the Army Air Force Training Station in Sikeston. Parks as fonder of the Parks Air College in St. Louis convinced General Arnold that the program at his civilian flight school could train military pilots for combat missions. Thus, General Arnold asked Parks and other flight schools operators to help fill the training void with their schools.

Civilian flight schools were training military pilots before Congress authorized this military/civilian partnership in June of 1939.  The eight businessmen that operated these flight schools did so at their expense without any guarantees of reimbursements from the government.

In June of 1940 ground was broken for the Missouri Institute of Aeronautics (MIA), a satellite of the St. Louis Parks Air College. The MIA was named for Oliver Parks’ brother who was killed in a plane crash. The Sikeston airfield opened in April, 1940, it was 6,600 by 5,280 feet of open turf field located two nautical miles (a nautical mile equals about 6,076 feet compared to a stature mile of 5,280 feet) northeast of the Sikeston central business district.

According to the contract, the government supplied students with training aircraft, clothes, textbooks and equipment. Schools were responsible for instructors, training sites, and facilities, aircraft maintenance, quarters, and mess halls. From the Air Corps, schools received a flat fee of $1,179 for each graduate and $18 per flying hour for students eliminated from training.

 On September 10th, three months after opening, the first class of 32 flying cadets entered the MIA’s ten-week primary flight training program. Here cadets were taught basic flight using two-seater training aircraft. At peak strength there were 56 schools in operation teaching fundamentals of flying.

Even after it had an official military designation, the Sikeston facilities were classified as a contract flying training unit assigned to the United States Army Air Forces Gulf Coast Training Center. The official military designation came in 1942 as the 309th Army Air Force Flying Training Detachment. Two years later it also became the 256th AAF Base Unit.

At first the cadets trained in Stearman PT-17 biplanes. In October of 1942 the Fairchild PT-19 single wing trainer arrived at Sikeston. In August, 1942, a simulator was added to the training which allowed for instrument training.

Three expansions were added to the facilities that included an administration building, classroom/academic building, mess hall a hospital, four barracks, three cadet hangers, a flight control building, a recreation building and sports facilities.

At the height of its train the MIA had 520 cadets and 170 planes. Of the 7,000 hopeful pilots entering training at Sikeston 5,000 graduated. During training, the pilots had several auxiliary air fields they could use. One of these auxiliary air fields may be listed twice under different names. Matthews, which was the sight of 15 accidents; West Auxiliary had 3 accidents; South Auxiliary, 1 accident; North Auxiliary, 1 accident; Bertrand Auxiliary, 5 accidents; Kewanee, 2 accidents. Harvey Parks had much more traffic, therefore the most accidents with 30 either on sight or within 12 miles of the field. All the listed fields were turf.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Samuel Johnson

A native of Lawton, Oklahoma, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Samuel Johnson was the most decorated P-47 Thunderbolt pilot of World War II. He passed Eddie Rickenbacker’s World War I record of 26 kills with 28. At one time he was credited with 28 kills, later reduced to 27 after some confusion about who really earned credit for that victory. Flying over Europe he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Distinguished Flying Cross Purple Heard, and three Air Medals besides several area service metals. 

Johnson began his military experience at Kelly Field in San Antonio. After Pearl Harbor, he was sent to Sikeston for Primary Flights training. The second flight training was called “Primary Flight Training” and their third assignment was called “Basic Flight Training.” At Sikeston he flew the Fairchild PT-19A, a 175 horsepower low-wing monoplane, and the flying open-cockpit Stearman PT-18, a 225 horsepower biplane.

At MIA, he did nearly 60 hours of Primary training in the more agile PT-18 Kaydet practicing aerobatic maneuvers; the snap roll, the slow roll, the barrel roll, and ect. All the training that included more than 175 landings was in the open-cockpit POT-18 in the dead of winter.

In February 1942, with the change in USFFA regulations requiring aviation cadets to be unmarried changing, Johnson married Barbara Morgan, his high school sweetheart. This marriage took place on February 21 at Benton immediately after Primary Flying Training.

He was interested in training as a multi-engines (bombers) pilot with plans to fly for commercial airlines after the war. His request was denied and he reported for more fighter aircraft training.

As a member of the 56th Fighter Group, 61 Fighter Squadron in Bridgeport, Connecticut his unit received the first production P-47B Thunderbolts as they effectively test flew a new fighter as they trained. Modifications were made as a result of more than 40 crashed with18 fatalities to make the P-47 an exceptionally rugged airframe and effective aircraft.

After making one combat run, Johnson still did not officially qualify as a P-47 combat pilot. Along with several other pilots, he was sent to fighter pilot’s gunnery school at Llanbedr, Wales for a two weeks course. They practiced shooting at towed target sleeves. His high score was 4.5%; passing was 5%. He slipped through the crack to become the second highest scoring ace of the European Theater of Operations) by a fighter pilot who technically should have washed out of flight school and never did qualified as a fighter pilot.  Gavreski who was the highest scoring ace almost washed out of fling training in 1941. Gabby Gavreski also flew with the 61st Fighter Wing, but in a different squadron.

Malden Army Airfield: 1942-1948

            The Air Corps/Army Air Forces Flying Training Command was established January23, 1942. Its mission was to train pilots, flying specialists and combat crews. About March 15, 1942, it was redesigned after n the army Air Forces became an autonomous arm of the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF).

Facing the challenge of a massive war time expansion, the command struggled. With the rate of expansion of housing, and training facilities, instructors as well as procurement of aircraft and other equipment the Army Air Force somehow did the job. During 1942 fifty new location for air fields were selected to implement the announced 75,000-pilot program. Local civic groups and congressman all lobbied for new bases.  

After a potential site was located, there was the negotiation for the land. Find alternate fields, build facilities (barracks, hangers, runways, repair facilities, medical and food facilities, fueling necessities, and, ect.), acquire trained personal and supplies from the quartermaster.

In the fall of 1941, an USAAF flight school site chosen at Malden was four miles north of the main business district. The 2,900 acres chosen had a few houses barns, trees, and cotton fields. Formally known a Malden Army Airfield (MAAF) and was activated on January 6, 1943 and assigned to the Eastern Flying Command as a basic (Level 1) flying training airfield.

Elevation was 264 feet with three asphalt runways; sea level, hard runways all 5,000 by 150 feet running N/S, NE/SW, and NW/SE.

Colonel Roy T. Wright, project officer, supervised construction, then maned commanding officer. Lt. Colonel Colbert Carmichael, executive officer and Major Howard J. Caquelin became adjutant. Major Webb C. Minor, Director of Training welcomed the first class of cadets in April or 1943.

In July of 1943 the first class of cadets graduated. Their training had included a rigorous basic training course including learning to land at night, to fly in formation, the use of the two-way radio, identification of enemy aircraft, and interpretation of weather forecast. The BT trainers were used in teaching navigation.

The BT trainer nicknamed “The Vibrator” by pilots because of their tendency to rattle the canopy and vibrate during flights. This was the basic trainer most widely used during World War II. The BT trainer was used in the second of the three stages of pilot training (primary, basic, and advanced) and was considerable more complex that the primary trainers.

Flying training was conducted by the 319th Aviation Group (Basic). Squadron were 1069, 1070, and 1072 Flying Training Squadrons were equipped with Fairchild PT-19’s as the primary trainer. On base were also PT-17 Stearmans, and a few P-40 Warhawks.(The Curtis P-40 Warhawk was an American single-engine, single-seat, all metal fighter and ground attack aircraft. It was used by most Allied powers during WWII and became the third most-produced American fighter, after the P-51, had P-47; by production en in November 1944, 13,738 had been built. The British and Soviet’s called a version of it the Tomahawk and another version was known as the Kittyhawk.

In later years of the war, Malden Army Air Base was the also used to train troop carriers and glider pilots. At its height, the military population MAAF was 3,000.

The facility was inactivated 15 June 1944 with the facility being transferred to I Troop Carrier Command. Here, its new mission was to train Troop Carrier Groups for missions in the Pacific Theater and the planned Invasion of Japan. The war ended before they had any pilots trained.

Dexter, was one of the six local auxiliary airfields in the vicinity for use in emergency and overflow landings. Elevation was 315 feet, with two asphalt runways; 4,500 x 100 feet running N/S and 4,500 X 300 NE/SW. Accident report show nine accidents accursed here. Dexter Auxiliary Field #1 was. It was located one mile southeast of the city. This field later became Dexter Municipal Airport.

Parma was the location of auxiliary field #2. At 286 feet above sea level, the runway for this airfield was turf some 5,700 x5,640 feet. No accidents were reported here. This airfield, located 3.8 miles north of town, no longer exist.

Auxiliary Air Field #3 was at Risco and was located two miles west of town. No evidence of the airfield remains. At 276 feet elevation, the runway was a 5,500 x 5,125 foot field. One accident was reported in this area.

Gideon Auxiliary Field #4 was 0.8 of a mile southeast of the city. Now the Municipal Airport has two asphalt runways, both 4,500 feet long, one runs N/S, the other NNW x SSE. No reported accidents in the area.

Advance Auxiliary Field #5 is another World War II airfield with no physical evidence remaining. One accident happened near here. At an elevation of 355 feet, it was located 0.8 of a mile west-south-west of the city.

Campbell, the site of Malden’s auxiliary field number six (has also been listed as #2) is now the city’s airport. It is located 3.5 miles east of Campbell with an elevation of 284 feet. The runway was turf; 7,380 by 4,800 feet. Two accidents were reported as happening here or close by.

At the Malden AAF, or within three miles of the base, there were 51 accidents. Flyers from Malden has accidences in Southeast Missouri at Harvey Park, Sikeston, Broseley (2 same day), Popular Bluff, Dudley, Frisk, and Bernie.

With inactivation, Malden AAF was turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers early in 1946. Then it was transferred to War Assets Administration who conveyed the facility to the Local government as an airport in 1948.

             Maiden Air Base 1951-1960 Anderson Air Activities

With the United States entering the Korean Conflict in 1950, once again the United States needed quickly to prepare for war.  The United States Air Force found it again needed more pilots than were available.

 Malden with its existing facilities was reactivated in 1951. Hangars had to be emptied of their stores of corn and hay before an intensive rehabilitation and remodeling brought the hangers and barracks up to government requirement.

The World War II Malden Army Air Force Base was reactivated on 11 July 1951 as Malden Air Base under the oversight of the U.S. Air Force Air Force Training Command. The mission, basically the same as when it opened in 1942, that of training pilots due to a shortage in the Air Force due to the Cold War. A civilian contractor, Anderson Air Activities of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, had a contract to oversee nine bases throughout the country to trained pilots.

To head Anderson Air Activities at Malden was its founder, E. Merritt Anderson. An experienced pilot and aviation expert, Anderson had served as president of the Aeronautical Training Society, president of the Wisconsin Aviation Trades Association and vice-president of the National Aviation Trades Association. He served as an advisor on the (Wisconsin) Governor’s Aviation Legislative Committee and on the Steering Committee of the Beech Aircraft Corporation.

Anderson Air Activities opened its civilian personnel office at Malden Air Base on June 24th, 1951.

On July 11, 1951, the 3305th Training Squadron (Contract Flying) was officially designated and assigned to Malden Air Base.

The first pilot trainee arriving in August included aviation cadets, student offices, and European North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) students. Class 52-F was a mixed lot including 47 officers, 41 cadets, and 11 foreign students.

Everyone trained at Malden received 130 hours of flight training along with 167 hours of military training over a 26 weeks period. Also included in their training was 250 hours of academic subject including aircraft engineering, navigation, radio communication, weather, principles of flight, flying safety, flying instruments, aural and visual code, comprehension, and were require to pass an examination.

During the early years, students at Malden Air Base flew the small PA-18 and graduated to the T-6. This single-engine advanced trainer was used to train pilots of the United States Army Air forces, Navy, Royal Air Force and during World War II and into the 1950’s. During the Korean War and, to a lesser extent, the Vietnam War, were used as forward air control aircraft, as such, were designated T-6 “Mosquito’s.”

Flying skills were proven in night flights to Paducah, Kentucky along with other locations in the Midwest. Flying beneath the Ohio River Bridge at Cairo, Illinois, was not a part of the official training program was surely discouraged.

When officials announced, in 1957, the replacement of the T-28, a small plane, only 33 feet long with a wingspan of 40 feet 1 inch, with a top speed of 343 mph, with a twin jet T-37 trainer, a smaller aircraft, only 29.27 feet long with an wingspan of 33.79 feet, but with a thrust of 1,025 pounds, the Air Force decided the cost factor was too high. Therefore, Malden Air Base did not receive the new trainers.

With other training bases expansions they were able to meet the requirement of the Air Force. Thus, in late 1959, the government announces Malden Air Base would close in 1960.

            Jack Swigert

Many of the personnel training at Malden Air Base went on to make careers in the Air Force. Two however, stood out.

John Leonard “Jack” Swigert, Jr. (August 30, 1931 – December 27, 1982) was a NASA astronaut and one of the 24 people to have flown to the moon.

As a member of the Air Force from 1953 to 1956, he graduated from Pilot Training and Gunnery School before being assigned as a fighter pilot in Japan and Korea. After active duty, he joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard then the Connecticut Air Nation Guard, serving as a jet fighter pilot in both.

He was an engineering test pilot for American Aviation before joining NASA. From 1957 to 1964, he was also an engineering test pilot for Pratt and Whitney. He logged 7,200 hours flight time which included more than 5,725 in jet aircraft.

Joining NASA in April of 1966, Swigert was one of 19 astronauts chosen in the third group accepted and became part of NASA Astronaut Group 5. This was after he was overlooked in the second astronaut selection.

 He served as a backup member of the astronaut support crew on the Apollo 7 mission.

His next assignment was to the Apollo 13 backup crew. When the scheduled command module pilot, Thomas K Mattingly was exposed to German measles, 72 hours before launch time, Swigert replaced him.

Apollo 13, launched on April 11, 1970 was programmed for tens and was committed to our first landing in the hilly, upland Far Mauro region of the moon. Because of a failure of the Apollo 13 cryogenic oxygen system 55 hours into the flight, the original flight plan was modified in route to the moon. With instructions from Houston ground controllers, Swigert and fellow crewmen James A. Lovell, spacecraft commander and Fred W. Haise, lunar module pilot, converted their lunar module “Aquarius” into a effective lifeboat. This emergency activation and operation on lunar module systems conserved both electrical power and water in sufficient amoun6s to assure their safety and survival while in space and the return to earth.

During his first space flight, Mr. Swigert logged a total of 142 hours, 54 minutes.

Resigning from NASA and as staff director on the U.S. House of Representatives on Science and Technology, Swigert became Vice President of B, D. M. Corporation in Colorado. In 1982 was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Before he was sworn in, he died on December 28, 1982.

            Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr.

Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr. (October 2, 1935 – December 8, 1967) was an officer in the U.S. Air Force and the first African-American astronaut.

By age 20, he had a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry and had distinguished himself as
Cadet Commander in the Air Force ROTC (Reserved Officers Training Corps). In 1955, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve Program.

In 1954, he became an Air Force pilot after completing training at Malden Air Force Base. At the age of 25 he was an instructor pilot in the T-33 training aircraft for the German Air Force.

By age 30 Major Lawrence had earned a Doctorate Degree in Physical Chemistry from Ohio State.

The following year, he had two roles in the Air Force; that as pilot and as a research scientist for the Air Force Weapon’s Laboratory at Kirkland Air Force Base , New Mexico. By his 31st birthday, he was senior pilot with over 2,500 flying hours with 2,000 of those in jets.

During the mid 1960, it was observe that when a F-104 Starfighter Jet was flown with its landing gear extended, speed brakes down and drag chute open it increased the force of drag. This observation made it possible to test various theories regarding the gliding of a space vehicle to a landing on earth similar to the landing of the X-15 test aircraft. Major Lawrence was a major factor in this research.

As a test pilot, Major Lawrence flew several research flights in the F104 trying to test various theirs associated to un-powered flight. These flights led to the design of the Orbiter that permits it to glide from space to a landing after a space mission. The Orbiter, unlike a passenger jet aircraft it does not have engines mounted at the rear or under its wings that a pilot can use to control the aircraft. At an altitude of approximately 200 miles, the Orbiter “breaks out of its circular orbit” and glide back to earth for a landing.

The manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL), originally referred to as the Manned Orbital Laboratory, was part of the U.S. Air Force’s manned spaceflight program designed for military reconnaissance space plane project. The project was developed from several early NASSA and Air force concepts for manned space station to use as reconnaissance platform.

The MOL program became public knowledge December 10, 1963 and cancelled in June of 1969. This was at the height of the Apollo program when it became evident unmanned Corona reconnaissance satellites could accomplish the same thing and be much more cost effective.

Atop a Titan III booster and topped with a Gemini Spacecraft, the Douglas-built MOL station would support a crew of 2o during long duration military surveillance missions.

After two tries, Major Lawrence was accepted as a cadet into the MOL program. He was part of Group-3 being chosen in June of 1967. Others in the group; James A. Abrahamson, later to become Director of Strategic Defense Initiative; Robert T. Herres, who became Vice-Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff; and Donald H Peterson, Mission specialist on the STS-6 and make one flight on the April 1983 sixth flight of the Challenger.

Before Major Lawrence would make a flight, he was killed December 8, 1967. He was flying backseat as the instructor pilot in an F-104 Starfighter at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The flight was to test a trainee learning the steep-descent glide technique Major Lawrence help prefect. The trainee, Major Harvey J. Boyer, making a steep approach flared too late. The aircraft struck the ground hard, the main gear failed, it caught fire and rolled. The front-seat pilot ejected and survived with major injuries. After a moments delay to avoid hitting the front seat, the back seat ejected sideways, killing Major Lawrence instantly.

Had Lawrence lived, likely he would have been among the MOL astronauts who transferred to NASA after the programs was cancelled, all of whom flew on the Space Shuttle.

It is both fitting and proper that Major Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. be remembered for the gift of his talents to the early development of America’s space program. The early development and evolution to the American space program because men like him took risk and some paid with their lives.

            Harris Army Airfield, Cape Girardeau

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, now a city owned facility started life in 1943 as a United State Army Air Force (AAF) Training sight. Knows as Harris Army Airfield it was a primary (stage 1), pilot training airfield assigned to the AAF Flying Training Command, Southeast Training Center; later to become Eastern Flying Training Command.

Like Sikeston’s Harvey Parks. Airport, Harris Army Airfield was a contract flying Training center. It operated under contract to Cape Institution of Aeronautics, Inc. It operated under the umbrella of the St. Louis Parks Air College. Her civil instructors were under the control of USAAF 73rd Flying Detachment. The primary training aircraft was the Fairchild PT-19.

Located five nautical miles, six miles, southwest of the central business district of Cape Girardeau, the airport covers 557 acres at an elevation 342 feet about sea level. Two runways help service the airfield. The AAF constructed a asphalt NNE/SSW 2,000 x 100 foot runway and use the rest of the land, 2,200 x2,500 feet, as a second runway.

Cape Girardeau Regional Airport also has two runways. The primary runway is a concrete covered 6,499 x 150 foot, expanse. The second airstrip is an asphalt/concrete surface of 3.996 x 100 feet.

Harris Army Airfield had three auxiliary air fields. All were turf fields. All are now closed. Benton was the site of 12 accidents; Chaffee had nine, with Lee, all the way across Missouri, recording seven.

            Blytheville Army Air Force Airfield, Arkansas

Just across the state line in Arkansas was the2,600 acre Blytheville Army Airfield (BAAF). Here more advanced training took place with pilots training on two-engine aircraft, to fly bombers, and cargo planes and female WASP pilots trained to be co-pilots as B-25 and other aircraft. BAAF had auxiliary airfields in Hornersville, Cooter, and Steel, Missouri, as well as Manila and Luxora, Arkansas. The Blytheville Army Air Force Base closed in 1945, to open again during the Cold War.

Cooter Army Airfield was designated as BAAF Auxiliary # 5. It was the only BAAF auxiliary in Arkansas to have paved runways. On the 699 acre irregularly-shaped property, southwest of Cooter, were two asphalt 4,000 foot runways, oriented north/south and northeast/southeast. Hangers were never constructed here. As Cooter Airfield closed in 1953, evidently, to field was used during the meanwhile in some capacity after the base in Blytheville closed.

The other Auxiliary fields supporting the BAAF Base were all sod fields. Hornersville reported the most accidents with 12, Cooter next with ten, Steel had five. Other accidents, in Missouri but not at a Blytheville support field were Hayti and Gideon both reported two. Advance, support field for Malden, reported three accidents related to aircraft from Blytheville AAF.

Government Service

Civilians Conservation Corps (CCC)

Army Air Force Training Camps

Sikeston’s Harvey Park Army Air Corps Braining Base

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Samuel Jackson

Malden Army Air Field 1942-1948

Malden Airbase 1951-1960 Anderson Air Activities

Jack Sevigert

Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr.

Harris Army Airfield, Cape Girardeau

    Blytheville Army Air Force Airfield, Arkansas

    Having grown up on Little River, I have been fascinated with it. Over the past several years, as a local historian, this area has been a special interest. 

     These areas have been treated much like step-children by Jefferson City and Little Rock. They seem to believe nothing has ever happened here.  Our history has been long and varied. Hope you enjoy my trip.  

    Near Puxico is the swampy Mingo Wildlife Refuge. One hundred and fifty year ago, most of the Little River Valley appeared that way. This valley covering two million acres was part of the largest wetland in America.

    Floods frequently intimated the Valley. Between 1815 and 2011, 15 major floods covered or threatened the area.

    Timber companies came in at the end of the 19th Century to clean cut the forest. Louis Houck, a Cape Girardeau lawyer and railroad builder, envisioned a rail network that covered the wetlands.

    Little River Drainage District (LRDD) Corporation was established in 1907 by an act of the Butler County (MO) Circuit Court. 

    Between 1909 and 1928 the LRDD dug nearly 1000 miles of ditches and constructed 30 miles of levees to drain 1.2 million acres of swamp and overflow land in Southeast Missouri. More dirt was moved than in building the Panama Canal.

    One surprise I had was the number of settlements in the area before 1811-1812. Another was the water connection between the Mississippi River and the St. Francis and I had no idea that Little River had enough current to run a grist mill.

    Norman Vickers


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    Little River's Geographic Past