Tywappit Bottoms

Tywappit Bottoms was an extensive swamp on the west bank of the Mississippi River opposite the mouth of the Ohio running from Scott County to St. John’s Bayou north of New Madrid on the south and extended westward to Little River. It covered what is now most of what is now Scott and Mississippi counties. The bottoms were then covered with great forests, interspersed with small prairies, numerous lakes and may sluggish streams. Cane grew to eight feet high and grew so thick it is hard to walk through.

Tywappit Bottoms were designated as the northern edge of New Madrid County. The line between New Madrid and Cape Girardeau counties was not specifically stated in the legislation. For New Madrid District, the northern line came under question. The line was finally drawn about five miles north of Commerce. The Mississippi River was the eastern border. An indefinite line determined the western border but the St. Francis River was generally considered the boundary.

Mississippi County is located in what was formerly Tywappity Bottom. Its 428.91 square miles run along the Mississippi River on the east, now reclaimed swamp lands is part of the alluvial plain of the Lower Mississippi River Valley, as such most of the county was subject to overflow in 1910. The soil has a sandy content, but not enough of hinder crop production. The best farm land and the most productive, is around Charleston which is located on a prairie

Over half the land was cleared by 1910 with 6,000,000 feet of lumber was exported from the county. The processing of flour supplies $871,075 made up most of the $1,587,301 of the manufacturing revenue for the county.

In 1813, Tywappity Township was formed. Included was the territory lay east of St. John’s Bayou It included most of the area of Scott and Mississippi County, receiving its name from Tywappity Bottoms.

New Madrid County

Before long, the District of New Madrid started being reduced in size. December 31, 1813, the Missouri Territorial Legislature created Arkansas County, Arkansas. This newly created county was one of five organized by Governor Benjamin Howard This newly created political subdivision embraced about nine-tenth of the present state of Arkansas.

What was left of New Madrid County after all the territory was removed, was a county in the middle of the Southeastern Missouri Delta. It covered an area of 680 square miles, or 434,560 acres.  With an irregular shape, it had a maximum length of about 33 miles and a maximum width of about 35miles.  Along the eastern border for about 40 miles runs the meandering Mississippi River.

Historical, New Madrid County is sometimes called the “Mother of Southeast Missouri.” New Madrid County was further reduced in size by the formation of Dunklin Mississippi, Scott counties as well as loosing territory to counties to the west. Then in 1851, with the formation of Pemiscot County, it obtained its present size and shape.

In November of 1814, New Madrid County surveyor Joseph Story laid of the town of Winchester. It was to be named after Col. Henderson Winchester who lived in the vicinity. Location unknown, however, the community was mentioned in the Scott County McMullin Cemetery history. Reportedly it was located 0.5 miles south of Sikeston before the town was founded in 1860.

In 1910, only about one-fourth of the New Madrid County was under cultivation. The primary economic unit was the family farm. In the northern part, corn and wheat were the basic crops. In the south, cotton was the main crop. Manufactured goods, lumber mainly, produced $1,682, 959. Eight-five teachers directed students in 50 school districts. A taxable wealth of $4,485,765 came from the county’s 19,488 residents.

As of the 1990 census, some historical communities no longer existed. Most of these were just rural post offices, county churches, schools, a fort, stage stations, mill or a river forge. The exact locations are unknown for Blue Ridge Church, Chepouse, Cody, Crumpecker, Dawson LaForge School, Dillingham Spring, Five Point, Hondin, Hurricane Ridge Churchy man School, Juanita aka Junita Krepin, Medal Nordlow, ,Oak Ridge School Peck and Imhoff Pioneer, Saint Mary School, Shelby Church and School, Spies Landing, and  Willa aka Wiley.

John Hardeman and the Bootheel

John Hardeman Walkers and his family came from Tennessee around 1810 attracted by the rich land around Little Prairie. Walker was only 18 years old when the earthquakes started, when others left, he stayed in the area of Little Prairie. He stayed to protect his investment in cattle and land. Then he started acquiring the deserted properties to become one of the largest landowners and influancal people in the region.  During 1821-22, he was sheriff of New Madrid County and later a judge of the county court.

The Little Prairie Col. Walker moved into in 1810 was a town covering some 200 arpents (0.85 acres) of land divided into plots of one arpent each. Located on the Mississippi was Fort Fernando. The village was prospering; in 1799 the population was 78 and had increased to 102 in 1803.

When the Territory of Missouri was established as a third class territory, Upper Louisiana, including Arkansas, had a population was not more than 10,000. In 1818, the Missouri population had reached around 40,000. During this time of mass migration, the Ohio River was one of the main routes west. This was the far west.

        Little Prairie and Formation of the Bootheel

In 1803 New Madrid District including the Little Prairie and Arkansas contained 1,300 settlers, two-third were American the other third were French Indians were not counted. Cape Girardeau has a white population and slaves of 1,470. Most were Americans along with a few French. An 1814 census of the white population produce this count; New Madrid had a population of 1,548 and Cape Girardeau, 2,062.

In 1818, the area of Little Prairie was under the jurisdiction of the Missouri Territory and administered from New Madrid. In January of that year, a petition was received in Washington for the Missouri Statehood. At that time the proposed southern border would place Walker’s property in Arkansas. He did not want to be under the Arkansas Territorial laws. This idea displeased the Czar of the Valley.”

He had influence in New Madrid County and fought to stay under Missouri law. Walker lobbied in Missouri and Washington D. C. for inclusion of the Bootheel within the boundaries of Missouri. On November 22, 1818, the territorial legislature of Missouri again asks for statehood, this request included the area of the Bootheel. By including the Bootheel as part of Missouri, the acquisition increased the total area by so 980 square miles (627,000 acres).

The Bootheel contains the head of the old valley of the Mississippi River that once ran west of Cape Girardeau through what is now the valley of Black River. Later, the Mississippi moved east of Crowley's Ridge to its present position. The southern border of the Bootheel coincides roughly with Pemiscot Bayou a natural high-water drainage system, before construction of the levee, with access from the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers into the St. Francis River Basin. Topographically, the area extends and exemplifies the geographic and cultural characteristics found in the Arkansas Delta.

        Post Earthquake Settlements

By 1820, eight years after the major quakes, people started returning to the New Madrid area; the population of the county grew to 2,296, about two-thirds of its former occupancy. Twenty-three years after the last big quake, 1835, New Madrid again attained its former population. By 1840, the county had a population 4,554 residents.

Winchester

In 1814, the village of Winchester was surveyed and laid out about a half mile from the future site of Sikeston. Winchester even became the seat of justice of New Madrid County for a very short period. After 1822, the village, for all intent and purposes, disappeared and the County seat was moved back to New Madrid.

Fanatical Pilgrims

Part of this population growth after the earthquake was due to the settling of a group referred to as “Fanatical Pilgrims They started in Canada, entered the U. S. by way of Vermont before heading southwest. The group included men, women, and children. They were seeking a “New Jerusalem”. Their proclaimed goal attracted a lot of attention as they moved westward. In 1817, their prophet led his group across the Mississippi River into New Madrid.

Up their arrival there, they had an emotional religious experience. They had found their New Jerusalem. The commune, dressed in strips, had collectively, a total of eight to ten thousand dollars.

Still New Madrid was still not quite right for their dream; something was missing. Wandering down river, they settled on an island in the Mississippi near Caruthersville. Their customs and lifestyle make the settlers in the area uneasy. After the earlier settles complained to the authorities, the Fanatical Pilgrims were driven from their New Jerusalem, at which time the group broke up and dispersed, some staying in the area.

  Cape Girardeau County

On October 1, 1812, the same day New Madrid County was created by the Missouri Territorial Legislature established Cape Girardeau County. The county was named after ensign Sieur jean Baptiste de Girardot, a French official.  The “Cape” part of the county’s name came from a rock outcrop overlooking the Mississippi River. The county’s southern region is alluvial bottom lands formed by Mississippi River overflow.

Approximately 83% of Cape Girardeau County is upland with the rest being Mississippi River Bottomland. The central part of the uplands houses isolated rolling plains.  Highly dissected plains make up the western and eastern parts of the county. Loess, thickest near the Mississippi becomes thinners farther from the river. Uplands in the county range from 400 to 600 feet with elevations near 800 feet near the Trail of Tears Park.

In 1905, the court of quarter sessions was organized for Cape Girardeau District with seven commissioners. They issued a license for a ferry across the Mississippi River to Louis Lorimier and Thomas W. Waters. Several petitions for roads were considered. Taxation was fixed; each house was taxed 25 cents, each head of cattle six and one-half cents each slave 59 cents, and each $100 worth of property was taxed 25 cents. On each able bodied single man without taxable property worth at least $400 was assessed a poll tax of 25 cents.

In 1813, the courts of common pleas and general quarter session of the peace were superseded by a court of common pleas. Its jurisdiction replaced the two former courts. For a short period in 1814, until a seat of justice was determined, the courts were held in Bethel Baptist Church on Hubble Creek. This was about one and one-half miles south of Jackson on the Thomas Bull Plantation.

    Big Bend

Big Bend was an important landmark that was probably named by early voyagers because of its natural feature. This bend in the Mississippi is two and a half miles north of Cape Girardeau. It was here that Girardot established a trading post as early as 1766.

    Big Lick

A salt lick on Ramsay Creek in the early days of Cape Girardeau County on land owned by Nicholas Revielle became known as Big Lick around 1801.

     Bainbridge

Bainbridge was a small settlement and ferry landing on the Mississippi River. The Bainbridge family established a ferry there before 1827. This became an important link with Kentucky. With the building of the Cape Girardeau Bridge in 1927, the ferry ceased to operate. 

     Jackson

Jackson was founded in 1815 in the highlands of the county, elevation 463 feet. The site set on land purchased from William H. Ashley. By 1818, the population was 300 or more. Although incorporated in 1819, the town had no organized government until 1828.

Jackson’s first established school was Jackson Academy in 1820. Because of the declining status of the school, in 1892, after the Methodist took control, the name was changed to Carlisle Technical School after a teacher, Rev .Wills Carlisle. When the Methodist released control in 1899, the Jackson Military Academy was organized later that year.

Jackson the seat of government was named in honor of Andrew Jackson. The county is now 586.29 square miles in size. The 2010 census population was 13,758 with five percent none-white. It is a principal city in the Cape Girardeau-Jackson Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area.

In 1910, Cape Girardeau County had a population of 27,621 residents with a taxable worth of $2,174,382. The value of manufactured goods that year was $4,150,667. Also the county exported over four-million feet of lumber, and a large quantity of limestone. The city of Cape Girardeau produced $2,773,432 in manufactured products, mainly shoes and flour. One-hundred-forty teachers directed students in 80 school districts within the county.

Cape, the River and Builder of Steamboats

At least one steamboat was built at Cape Girardeau in 1849. She was the side-wheeler, wooden hull 61 ton bell boat the Sampson. These crafts were planned for use in salvage work. Designed by James B Eads in 1842, they featured a diving bell. Because of the large Number of sunken craft in the Lower Mississippi, insurance company hired or used them to reclaim part of their losses.

In 1857, the side-wheeler Alfred T. Lacy was constructed at Cape Girardeau. He was one of the “Railroad Line” between St. Louis and New Orleans. From the deck of this steamer, Sam Clements learn the river as a cub pilot. Sixteen lives were lost near Island 16 April 26, 1860 due to a fire that destroyed to packet.

Right after the Civil War, the 1866, the center-wheel ferry Idona was built at Cape Girardeau. It was a 32 ton wooden hull vessel that went off the list in 1877.

Carrying these products to market was the Mississippi River, the St. Louis Iron Mountain and Southern, the St. Louis San Francisco, St. Louis Southwestern, and the Cape Gulf and Chester railroads. The city of Cape Girardeau was to become the headquarters of Little River Drainage District.

Cape Girardeau grew quicker than the rest of Southeast Missouri in large part because of the Mississippi River traffic. Many steamboats brought people and freight. The river also brought disasters to their door.

Not all of the boat engineers in the early years were equipped by training or personality suited for the job. Some steamboat owners, knowing the average life of their craft was short, in the face of boiler explosion, fires, and snags, had only four or five years, had them build cheaply. Thus they hired incompetent or second-rate engineers and people what would work for poor wages.

Yet many boat owners hired capable men with a sense of dedication to their work. For example, when the Talisman was rammed by the Tempest off Cape Girardeau on November 19, 1847, engineer Butler stuck by his engines as the pilot tried to bring the boat to the bank. With the water waist deep on Butler, the captain ordered him to abandon ship. The boat sunk within ten minutes. Butler refused to leave and died at his post. Loss of life during this mishap was 51, many of them deck passengers.

The General Pike was a side-wheeler built in 1851 at Cincinnati, Ohio, weighting 366 Ton. She operated mainly in the Louisville-St. Louis run for the U.S. Mail Line Company and commanded by Captain Isaac Jones On September 23, 1853; she was snagged and lost at Cape Girardeau.

The packet, James Montgomery had a complex life. A wooden side-wheeler built in 1856 at New Albany, Indiana at 536 tons. B. Russell was master in 1860 when she sank at New Albany in 15 feet of water. Three weeks later the Champion Number 4 was successfully raised. The James Montgomery sank again at Island Number 10 above New Madrid on January 2, 1861 with the Prince of Wales taking off her people. Again she was raised. On December 11, 1861, at Devil’s Island five miles above Cape Girardeau, she sank again. This was the final time.

The Continental hit the remains of the wrecked James Montgomery early in December of 1864 and sank, later raised and remained in the service of the St. Louis & New Orleans Packet Company until December 26, 1873. The 495 ton Paragon , heading upstream from Memphis to St. Louis on February 28, 1868, hit the wrecked James Montgomery tearing out her bottom and was lost. Water was two feet deep in her cabin and the hull badly twisted. Passengers remained on her roof for five hours until the Poor Boy came along and took them to Cape Girardeau.

In September of 1931 a U.S. snag boat removed a steamboat wreck below Cape Girardeau what was believed to have been the James Montgomery.

Of course, many steamers passed Cape Girardeau without any problems. She set on the banks along one of the busiest steamboat routes along the river; situated just north the mouth of the Ohio on the river just above the Lower Mississippi River Valley.

Three streamers carried the name Cape Girardeau. Steamboat War Eagle. after partially burning at the St. Louis wharf, was rebuilt and renamed Cape Girardeau. The 255 x 38 x 6 foot craft was owned by Eagle Packet Company and ran regularly in the St. Louis-Cape-Commerce trade under the oversight of Captain Buck Leyhe. In mid–July of 1910, she sank and was lost at Turkey Island about 50 miles below St. Louis.

The second Cape Girardeau was a side-wheeler that started life as the City of New Albany in 1892. This wooden hull craft was build for the Louisville and Evansville Packet Company made from parts from the former James Guthrie and sold in February 1899 to T. J. Moss Tie Company for the St. Louis Cape Girardeau trade and renamed New Idlewild replacing the Idlewild which had sunk in ice in 1893 at Kimmswick, Missouri.

The New Idlewild had been bought new by Eagle Packet Company and renamed Spread Eagle in 1894. The pilot was John N. Hamilton a former typesetter of the Hannibal, Missouri, Journal when Mark Twain worked there. She then ran the St. Louis-Alton-Grafton trade until 1910 when she became the Cape Girardeau to run the St. Louis-Cape Girardeau-Commerce trade. On October 21, 1916 she sank during a storm at Fort Gage below St. Louis. Within two hours, only the pilothouse was visible.

The third Cape Girardeau was a wooden hull stern-wheeler with a paddlewheel 22 feet in diameter with 28 feet buckets. Her engine came from Ferd Herold. While owned by the Eagle Packet Company she ran from Louisville to St. Louis starting in November 1923. On April 24, 1924, she was christened the Cape Girardeau. From 1925-1930 made the St. Louis New Orleans Mardi Gras trips. Sold in1935 To Green Line Steamer of Cincinnati who renamed her Gordon C. Greene.

Not all steamboats that were in the area of Cape Girardeau came to a bad end. The town grew and prospered thanks to the river traffic. Packets such as the Memphis,(also known as Belle Memphis) in1852, the Clara Dean in 1853, Jesse K. Bell on the 1856 St. Louis Louisville run, Adam Jacobs during her Memphis to St. Louis trips, The Idlewild on the St. Louis-Cape Girardeau-Commerce run, in 1892 when the steamboat Grey Eagle was making the St. Louis-Cape Girardeau-Commerce run, or D.H. Pike made the St. Louis-Cape Girardeau-Commerce trade.

Burfordville

Burfordville, another early Cape Girardeau county community, known early in its development as Bollinger’s Mill was located on Whitewater River. The mill operated there for many years was owned by Major George Frederick Bollinger one of the first settlers in the area about 1800. In 1900, it became an incorporated town.

Apple Creek

Apple Creek became the site of a mill and fledging community in 1824. Appleton was named for the creek at its door step. Alfred McCain constructed a grist mill there.

Pocahontas

Pocahontas was another early Cape Girardeau community. The first settlers came in 1856 and organized a village in 1861 to be incorporate in 1893. The town suffered a blow when the Cape Girardeau and Chester bypassed it to the north.

Oak Ridge

Ten miles northwest of Jackson in Apple Creek Township, the settlement of Oak Ridge started about 1852. By 1910, the Cape Girardeau town of 256 residents operated a large flouring mill. A public school with several stores and a bank was established with a capital stock of $10,000 in 1904.

           Scott County

The Missouri Legislature created Scott County December 28, 1821. Missouri’s first U. S. Congressmen was John Scott hence the name. Scott was the second county formed in Missouri’s Southeast Lowland. Scott County, when the first Europeans arrived, was claimed by the Osage Indians who residing in the area until 1808. Until around 1820, The Delaware and Shawnee tribes also roamed the region

The Benton Hills makes up the northern part of Scott County. Their elevation is as high as 600 feet. Mississippi River bottom land and flat lowland make up the rest of the county. The bottom land include back-swamps (thick clayey sediment) with mixed alluvium braided streams, natural levees, and recent alluvial deposits.

Scott County was part of the original New Madrid County. The county had 277,760 acres. In 1910 one-half of them were in cultivation. Manufactured products that year had a value or $2,115,796, most of this came from lumber products. Flour, feed, and meal accounted for another $1,226,556. The county’s population was 22,372 with a taxable wealth of $5,773,958. Their 54 school districts employed 103 teachers.

Gray’s Point

Gray’s Point was a small community on the Mississippi River in the northeastern part of Scott County. It has also been known as Chain of Rocks, and Graysboro. The original name was Cape La Crox (Cape of the Cross) by early French traders and explorers because this is where Father F. Joliet de Montigny erected a cross and so maned it in 1699. Later, because of the arrangement along the river of a grouping of rock, it became Chain of Rocks. Also some early maps name them Cape a la Bruche or Broche, meaning split-like.

With the white men’s first settlement it became Ross’s Point, given for an early settler. When Captain Wm. Gray, a steamboat captain, settled there, the area became known as Gray’s Point.

Goose Pond

Scott County had to lake or ponds known as Goose Pond. One was west of Sikeston and the other west of McMullin in the south central part of the county. Neither has appeared on maps and was drained around 1900. They were so maned because of the great abundance of wild geese that used them.   

Bushey Prairie

W. D. Bush settled in Big Prairie before 1800. The name may have come from a blend of the Bush name and the adjective “bushy.” Bushey Lake Ditch is east of Blodgett and runs into Big Lake in northern Mississippi County north of Charleston.

Bird’s Hill / Bird’s Island

During flood season when the Whitewater and Little Rivers unite Bird’s Hill becomes an island. Stephen Bird, settle there in 1805.

Benton

Benton, five miles northeast of Morley the first county, became the county seat of Scott Count in 1878. Captain Charles Friend made the first settlement in 1796. It was laid out is 1822 on land owned by Colonel William Meyers. The community was named after Thomas Hart Benton, one of Missouri’s first U. S. Senators. A county court house was built on the public square in1883; a two-story stone building.

Most of the houses in Benton were simple log cabins when the stone courthouse was built. The first frame house was built in 1830 by Joseph Hunter. He came to New Madrid in 1805 locating on a land grant near New Madrid but leaving the area after a short stay to move to Big Prairie not far from Sikeston.

Benton Ridge runs from Benton to Commerce and maned for the town of Benton.

In 1845, a Catholic Church was organized in Benton. A house used for worship was constructed on property given the church by a gentleman named Meyers. This church burned in 1850.

Benton was incorporated in April of 1860. The town lost its corporation and was not revived until November, 1880.

  Beechlands    

Beechland was a large plantation, also called Watkins Plantation, in the central part of Scott County. It was established about 1870 by Nathaniel Watkins, a half-brother to Henry Clay, who Governor Jackson as brigadier general of the first military district in Southeast Missouri, appointed in 1861. He was soon replaced by General Jefferson Thompson. Watkins moved to Scott County and established Beechlands, so named for the beech trees growing near the house, living there until his death in 1876.

Salcedo

Salcedo was a small community in the southern edge of Scott County that was established in 1895 when J w. Baker purchased land there. A rural school in the area was known as Baker School, but when Louis Houck ran a railroad there he changed the name to Salcedo in honor of Don J. Manuel De Salcedo, the King’s Lieutenant, governor of Texas and Brigadier of the Royal Armies of  New Madrid  in 1803.

Scott County was serviced, in 1910, by the Belmont branch of the St. Louis Iron Mountain Southern, the Cairo Branch of the Frisco system and the main line running from St. Louis to Memphis and another Frisco Branch, the St. Louis and Gulf. Crossing the southern part of the county was the St. Louis, Southwestern.

Power’s Island / Big Island

Power’s Island was three miles long island in the Mississippi south of the town of Commerce. By the early explorers with Cumings in 1836, it was known as English Island. However, since 1844, maps have shown it as Power’s Island. Its name came from an early settler that owned the island. Locally it was known as Big Island from its size and with Big Island School located there.

Caney Creek

The name Caney Creek first appeared on the 1837 map of Cane Creek. This is a large creek in the western part of Scott County empting into Little River. It derived its name because of the large amount of cane growing along its banks. 

Power’s Island, also knows as Big Island, and is three miles long in the Mississippi south of Commerce. The English explorer Cumings named it Big Island in 1836; however, since 1844 it started appearing on maps as Power’s Island, maned from the major landowner on the island.

New Hamburg

In the 1840’s the third town founded in the Scott County New Hamburg and was settled by German immigrants. In 1848, a place of worship was built out of logs. A church built of stone in 1857 replaced this structure. During the Civil War, this church burned.

Commerce

In 1788, German families settled in the Scott County area, near present day Commerce, to start a community called Zawapita with about 15 families before the name was changed to Commerce. Louis and Clark, on their way to the Pacific Ocean are reported to have visited Charles Finley an American, living in the area. From 1864 until 1878, Commerce, also long known as Tywappity Settlement, was laid out in 1823. The town started as a trading post on the Mississippi River Landing by 1803. In 1805, the first Baptist Church in Missouri was formed here.

Early on French settlers also settled in the area; elevation 328 feet. Commerce is apparently the third-oldest present site settlement in Missouri after St. Louis and St. Charles. In 1823, the circuit court ordered a board of commissioners to lay out lots. From 1864 to 1878, commerce was the county seat of Scott County.

Commerce was one of the few place in the Bootheel to have uninterrupted mail service during the Civil War as guerilla bands made delivery unsafe for northern carriers. Commerce along with the German settlement of New Hamburg was the two enclaves of Union sympathizers in Scott County.

On November 1, 1861, Colonel Oglesby landed in Commerce with about3000 men with his soldiers exchanging shots with M. Jeff Thompson. Then on December 29, 1861, Thompson raided Commerce. On February 21, 1862, General Pope landed with 140 troops but left a week later with a force consisting o 26,153 men.

The island in front of Commerce was known as Cat Island from at least the time of Mark Twain; however, it has been absorbed by Powers Island to the south. A Methodist congregation was established in 1825 and without a Baptist church until 1900.

Located on the higher ground of Crowley's Ridge at 482 feet above sea level, Bloomfield is another of the older communities of the Bootheel. The Stoddard County seat of government was incorporated in 1835.The 2000 census numerated 1,952 people, 791 households with 533 families, living within1.4 square miles. This is 477 more citizen than the 1900 population.

      Stoddard County

Stoddard County was established on January 2, 1835 and was named for Amos Stoddard the first American Civil Commandant of Upper Louisiana. Bloomfield became the seat of government. Dexter is the largest city in the county. The county was taken from Wayne counties.

Twenty-five miles from north to south and averages over 30 miles wide makes it is one of the largest counties in Southeast Missouri with about 840 square miles. About 25% of the county is in the uplands of Crowley's Ridge which runs through the middle of the county; the remainder is in the Western Lowland and Morehouse Lowland of the Mississippi River Delta on the east.

The area of the county lay between St. Francis and Little River and to the south of Mingo the Big swamp.

When the Louisiana Purchase was made, this area was part of the Cape Girardeau District. This District was soon divided into two administrative townships. That part east of Castor River became Pipe Township, later Stoddard County. This area stayed under the jurisdiction of Cape Girardeau officials until Stoddard County was formed.

Bloomfield and Dexter

The first settlement in Stoddard County was in 1832 at Bloomfield and was chosen as the seat of government. First meeting the county court was held at the house of A. B. Bailey, on February 9, 1835; in the southwestern part of town. An early division of townships were Castor, Pike, St. Francois, and Liberty.

During the Civil War, the court house was burned during Price’s 1864 raid. However, the county record books had been removed by Major H. H. Bedford and taken to Arkansas. After the war all the books were returned without lost of a single record.

In 1875, several towns and villages existed in Stoddard County. Castor River was the main water course in the county. On the smaller feeder streams, small grist mills were operating in 1875.

For years there was strong revelry between Bloomfield Dexter and Bloomfield. For a Number of years citizens of Dexter tried to have the courthouse moved their community. To do this, the people of Dexter, in 1895, got a law passed giving Stoddard County two seats of government with Dexter the dominate one. On the strength of this law, Dexter constructed a two story brick court house. After a few years, this arraignment was found to be unsatisfactory. After this law was repealed, Bloomfield again became the county seat.

In 1910 one-half of Stoddard County was still in thick, dense timber. The value of manufactured items was $1,676,351 mainly from flour, lumber cooperage and cotton. With a population of 27,807 the taxable wealth was $6,452,077. Their one-hundred and seven school districts employed 151 teachers.

Timber and cotton, both bulk products, when ready for market required railroads for transportation. Stoddard County had the services of the Cairo branch of the St. Louis Iron Mountain, the Frisco, and the St. Louis Southwestern.

Weaverville / Plank Road

In 1840, John Weaver purchased the land where Spanish Mill once set. This became Weaverville. Little River was still not navigable as the channel was blocked with fallen trees as was the old passed from Little River to the St. Francis River. The land, if not under water, was soft and spongy.

Around the time Weaverville was established; a pole road was build from Little River, at Weaverville, to Clarkton in Dunklin County. Weaver constructed a crude bridge across the stagnant Little River to join up with the 16 mile road that ended close to the St. Francis River. In wet weather, the pole roads were more passable than none pole roads as poles were laid touching side by side to cover the surface of the road lifting traffic out of the mud.

Weaver’s bridge soon became a toll–bridge. One day a traveler attended to cross the bridge without paying. This resulted in a heated argument which turned into a fight. During the scuffle, the traveler shot and killed Weaver. The disputed toll was a nickel. (According to the computer site Measuring Worth, that nickel had $1.30 buying power in 2010).

After bring destroyed during the Civil War, the Point Pleasant-Clarkton road was rebuilt as a Pole Road, or Corduroy Road, in 1873 by a company lead by Albert Rittenhouse, Andre Godair, and Lis Godair. The reconstructed road was 10 to 12 feet wide with “turn outs” or switches were used for passing.

The pole road, when rebuilt became a toll road. Use of the road cost $2.00 for wagons going west, $1.25 for regular freight wagons, $0.75 for travels on horseback, and $0.10 for walkers. Doctors and mail carriers passed free. Conveys of Teamsters hauling freight to the Mississippi at Point Pleasant included cotton, peanuts, whiskey, and salt pork. Return trips west were stable foods like salt, flour, sugar, farm supplies, and household goods.

People from Tennessee and Kentucky going west into Arkansas were the most frequent users. This was an important route for the settlement of Arkansas.

Another plank road was planned for New Madrid County. Starting at New Madrid, this road was to run though “Paw Paw Junction”, present day Lilbourn, to West Prairie, what is now known as Malden. Twenty-six year old Otto Kochtitzky was sent by the Missouri Land Commission to Southeast Missouri to survey a route for the Little River Valley and Arkansas Railroad.  He selected to build between New Madrid and Malden. The Blanton Plank Road Company sold their right-a-way, charter and franchise to the Glasgow Ship Building Company.

Their announced plans at first were to build a pole road from New Madrid to Malden. Before construction could be started, the plans changed. They filed a plan with the New Madrid County to build a narrow-gage railroad on this route. With the county court’s approval the company proceeded. Construction started in October 1876 and was completed in February of 1879 and connected to the Cotton Belt Railroad that was built on the higher Crowley's Ridge. Before long this stretch of railroad was rebuilt to standard gage railroad and later extended from Malden to Cairo. Afterward, the Cotton Belt Railroad purchased this connecting spur.

  Boekerton

In 1840, the New Madrid town of Boekerton was established four miles west of Portageville. Boekerton started life as Spanish Mill before being destroyed by the Earthquake of 1811-1812. In 1861 the Weaver family settled on the ruins and established Weaverville. This was the eastern terminates of the Pole Road between Clarkton and Mt. Pleasant.

In the late 1890’s an elementary school was established at Boekerton. In 1905 a post office set up and named after the prominent landowner, farmer, and lumberman, Boeker family. To bring lumber to his saw mill, Boeker build a five mile dummy railroad line into the woods. The 1912 flood destroyed much of the town and dummy rail line, which was not rebuilt. The post office was closed in 1921.

      Dunklin County

Dunklin County was created February 14, 1845 when Stoddard County was divided. In 1853, the northern boundary was moved from latitude 36 30 nine miles north. The territory included in this county, with the exception of the nine mile strip, was a part of the territory originally left in Arkansas, but was added to the Territory of Missouri through the efforts of J. Hardeman Walker. The name was to honor the Honorable Daniel Dunklin, governor of Missouri from 1826-1836. He came to Missouri from South Carolina in 1810 when he was 20 years old. He was elected to the first Constitutional Convention of Missouri in 1820.

On February 14, 1845, New Madrid County lost more territory when Kennett (Butler as it was then known) was selected the county seat of the newly formed Dunklin County. The county was named after Daniel Dunklin former governor of Missouri (1832-1836) who died the year before the legislature organized the county.

Established from territory from Stoddard County and New Madrid County; bordered on the west side the St. Francis River and the east by Pemiscot County and New Madrid County. On the north is Stoddard County with Arkansas on the south. Where the St. Francis River leaves the state into Arkansas is the lowest point in the state of Missouri. In 1853, the county was enlarged in the north by a nine mile strip and now contains 547.11 square miles.

As of the 1990 census, these historical Dunklin County communities no longer existed. Most of these maybe were just rural post offices, county churches, schools, fort, stage stations, mill or a river forge. The exact locations are unknown for Four Mile (10 in 1880 census), Lulu, Vincit (30 1880 census). Dunklin, with a population of 75 in the 1880 census is known to be located in the northeast part of the county, but exact map location is unknown

In 1910, Dunklin County’s manufacturing enterprisers produced $2,000,000 of production. Of this, Cotton brought farmers $510,000. Timber no longer was the leading industry. Cooperage production was third. Education was being to be more important in Dunklin County. There were 134 teachers in 74 school districts.

Branum’s Point

Branum’s Point was a settlement in the southeastern part of the county. In the 1830’s, Michael Barnum established a post office there and was active until 1904. A rural school here was maned for Jeff Barnum, descendant of the founder, was moved to Hornersville when Mr. Knsolving bought the land around 1910. Nothing remains of one of the oldest settlement in the county.

Buffalo Creek/ Buffalo Island

Buffalo Creek, in the southeast corner of Dunklin County, empties into Little River, like Buffalo Island was maned for the buffalo inhabiting the region. During high water, Buffalo Island formed by back water from Buffalo Creek and the St. Francis River. Both the Creek and Island name by James Baker and Wiley Clark early settlers.

  Cockle Burr Slough

This was a small swamp of slough in between Buffalo Slough and Big Lake (in Arkansas). Named by early settlers because of the Cockle burrs, pronounced and spelled “cuckle” by early settlers.

  Canaan Island

Canaan Island formed during flooding of the St. Francis River. It was named by early settlers that felt this was an opportunity become wealthy; that this was the land of Canaan., “God’s Promised Land.” It was not until about 1880 that it was settled.

Hornersville

Hornersville, in Dunklin County, was established in 1840 by William H. Horner in the southern part of the county in the center of the county near the Arkansas state line. Horner was the first merchants in the community. Before the Civil War its growth was slow. This spot was the northern limit of navigation on Little River.

With the coming of the Paragould Southeastern Railroad, the business community flourished. By 1912, there were a Number of merchants, several cotton gins, sawmills, and the Bank of Hornesville was charted in 1909. The Methodist and Baptist had established churches and a supported a school system.

Bridges Creek

In the northern part of Pemiscot county, east of Malden and north of Campbell was a small creek, on which A. D. Bridges Settled in 1844 which became Four Mile. Named by Mr. Bridges, Bridges Creek was drained in 1898.

  Cotton Plant

In the vicinity of Hornersville, was a small village whose start was with a store built by Judge E. J. Langdon and Billy O. Williams in 1848.At that time, a levee was being constructed on Buffalo Creek. When it got this name is not certain. It seems a stranger in the area noticed it was only cotton plants in that part of the county. Others say it was so name because it was the center of the cotton culture in that part of the state.

Cane Creek

Located in the northeast corner of Dunklin County, Cane Creek was so named for the abundance of cane growing along its banks. It was drained in 1900. In 1905 a rural school, along the eastern end of the creek and named for the creek.

Kennett

In the 1840’s Kennett was established in New Madrid County, and was soon to be part of the newly established Dunklin County. The community was located in the southeast corner of the of Missouri, 20 miles west of the Mississippi River and four miles east of the St. Francis River and Arkansas.

White settlers build log cabins in the area in the 1840’s. They called their settlement Chilletecaux after the Delaware Indian chief living there. In the late 1840’s they changed the name to Butler. As Missouri had another post office name Butler, there were mail delivery problems. So, in 1851, they named it Kennett, after the mayor of St. Louis, Luther M. Kennett. With the coming of the railroad in the 1890’s, and the development of the Little River Drainage District, the area started growing.

Around 1829, Howard Moor became the first white man to settle in Dunklin County. He settled on the Kennett-Malden Prairie just south of Malden to get out of Niger Wool Swamp. The first “clapboard” structure was constructed by M. Gibony in 1844 and used as a grocery store. As with the rest of the Bootheel at this time, settlers were few.

During the Civil War, the town was visited by both armies. Sometimes it was the stopover of non-regular-solders and other lawless men. At war’s end, only a small village was left. Rebuilding the population was slow. The town was too far from a railroad and the Mississippi. Most of the trade was with Girardeau, the nearest river point.

  Brown’s Ferry

The St. Francis River bordered the western edge of Pemiscot County. In the northern central area was Brown’s Ferry on St. Francis River. It was given the name of the family that operated it. Later the ferry was replaced by a bridge taking the name Brown’s Ferry Bridge.  

Four Mile Island

Four Mile Island was a in the northern part of Pemiscot County in the St. Francis River. It was named, like other island in the river by early settlers according to the approximated distance from the county seat, Kennett.

  Campbell (Four Mile)

A small town, Campbell in located in the north-central part of Pemiscot County. Major Rayburn and other, who moved from Four Mile, settle on what became the junction of the Cotton Belt and Frisco in 1844. They called it Four Mile with the arrival of the Cotton Belt Rail road. Major Rayburn, in1886, along with railroad officials laid out the town and named it for Alexander Campbell, Rayburn‘s friend, who was a member of the first county court.

Malden

In the northeast part of Dunklin County; one of the original townships, created in 1845 with the creation of the county, Cotton Hill Township, was a settlement named for an old trading post or settlement of Cotton Hill, which became Malden.

With the Cairo and Texas Railroad going from Cairo and Popular Buff, Dexter became the trading point for Dunklin County. With Malden, becoming the western terminus of the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway a short time later, which was to become the St. Louis Southwestern, Malden, became a more important trading center.

In 1891, E. S. McCarty and Associates constructed a rail line from Campbell on the St. Louis Southwestern into Kennett. Louis Houck soon acquired this line and eventually extended it to Caruthersville, thus given Kennett an outlet to the river. Later when the railroad was extended south to the Dunklin County seat, the population grew rapidly. In 1900 the population was 1,509 growing to 3,033 by the 1920 census.

In 1877, the Little River Valley and Arkansas Railroad were extended from New Madrid to end at Brom Beckwith’s cotton field. This became the western terminus of the railway encouraging a town, Malden, to be built there. On April 22, 1887, Malden as incorporated.

In 1880, Malden had along Main Street, four stores and five salons. March 19, 1889, the town was incorporated to become the City of Malden.

Cockrum
 
Cockrum wis small village in the southwest part of Dunklin County stated as a settlement around 1850 by Pleasant Cockrum and James Baker. A post office was located here until 1904.

Raglin Slough

In the southern part of the county was a large swamp, or slough. Indians claimed this slough, like many others, was once a large fissure which was elevated by the Earthquake of 1811-1812. In 1850, Monroe established a small settlement here. It became known as Ragline of Ragland Slough.

Bucoda

This was a small settlement in the south central part of Dunklin County and first named Byrds after a large land owner in the area, A. R. Byrd. A post office under the name Byrds was there from 1896 to 1915. Louis Houck was building a railroad in the area and wanted to use the name Arbyrd, Mr. Byrd objected to the double use of his name so a new name had to be adopted for Byrds, which was the terminal of Hock’s railroad. So they coined a new name by using the first tow syllables of Masseur Buchanan, Coburn and Davis, who were farmers on Mr. Byrd’s property. From1918 to 1929 a post office was located here.

     Mississippi County

Mississippi County was created on February 14, 1845 by the Missouri Legislature in the same piece of legislation that formed Dunklin County. Charleston was chosen as the seat of government of the new governmental district. Like the rest of the bootheel, most of the settlers, mainly farmers, came from Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia searching for cheap and fertile land.

The commissioners organized this territory, which was cut off from the southern part of Scott County, on April 21, 1845. They met in the store of Henry G. Cummings until a court house was built in 1852. Charleston was selected as the county seat. The boundaries

The first known settlement seems to have been about 1800 on a Spanish Land Grant near Bird’s Point by Joseph Johnson. Other early settlements in the county were on Mathews Prairie, called at the time St. Charles Prairie. Even while it was mainly swampland, Tywappity Bottom had several settlers make a home there.

St. James Bayou was the largest stream in the county cloying into the Mississippi River near the New Madrid County line.

  Bird’s Point

Bird Point, and early name, was a small but important ferry landing on the Mississippi River not far south of the Mouth of the Ohio. Under the Spanish government, in 1800, John Johnson received orders from the Spanish governor Henry Peyroux to settle the point. In 1805 Abram Bird purchased Johnson’s holding there. Early commercial records from between 1830 to 1835 spell the name differently, including Bird’s Landing, Byrd’s Landing, Illinois Point once, and only once was it called Bird’s Point.

Mathews Prairie

Mathews Prairie is a large prairie that was settled in 1801 by Edward Mathews from Lexington, Kentucky. This prairie was settled before Mathews arrived there. Indians also had settled on the raised section of grasslands. The Spanish called it Carlos Prairie or Charles Prairie, as early as 1770.

-Beckwith

Beckwith was a famous Mississippi River ferry landing. Newman Beckwith came here in 1812 from Virginia. On some maps it has been noted as Beckwith’s Landing or simply Beckwith’s.    

Black Bayou

Black Bayou was small tributary of St. James Bayou. It was dry except during high water. The name came around 1812 probably because for the dark appearance of the sluggish stare and the thickness of the forest.

Charleston

Located on U.S. Highway 60, Charleston, Mississippi County Seat is located a little north and west of the center of the county. The earliest know settler was Humphrey Warren who came to the area around 1830. In 1837, they town was laid out by John Rodney by Randol, Moore, and Barnard.

  Baldwinsville

This early settlement was started sometime between 1837 and 1844 them abandoned shortly after 1859. At times the village has been referred to as Baldwin’s Village.

Tywappity Bottom

Three railroads served the county in 1910. They were the Belmont Branch of the Iron Mountain (this was a road started by Louis Houch) the Cairo, Arkansas, and Texas Branch of the Frisco, and a main line of the St. Louis, San Francisco Railroad.

People were becoming more concerned about their children’s education. The county supported 74 school districts and 134 teachers in 1912.

  Bertrand

Bertrand is a Mississippi County village laid out in 1859 by Colonel H. H. Deal, S. D. Golder, and Wm. Billington and named for a capitalist interest in a railroad crossing here, Mr. Bertrand.

It was located on the Cairo Branch of the Iron Mountain Railroad six miles from Charleston. Elevation is 322 feet above sea level. The first bank in town was chartered in 1906 according to the 2010 census, less than two percent of the residents or non-white.

  Greenfield

Greenfield was a Mississippi River ferry landing and became a station on the Cairo, Arkansas, and Texas Railroad. In 1867 it was known as Birdville, after a prominent family, so the community would not be confused with Bird’s Point. The name Greenfield was used until 1879 to be forgotten.

  Medley 

This was a small settlement near Wolf Island and established as a landing site on the Mississippi River. From 1868 to 1910, a post office was active here. In 1918, the post office was reestablished and operated until 1930. The original settlement and school has long since been claimed by the river. L. B. Medley ran a ferry and general store there about 1884.

Anniston  

Anniston was a small town but large enough to support a post office between 1891 and 1893. At this time the community was known as Hainley’s Switch, named for mill owner Jocob Hainley, who had a log loading station Tennessee the Cottonbelt Railroad. When a post office was reestablished in 1895, the name was changed to Anniston.

Tarr’s Store 

This was a post office and trading post on Wolf Island in 1895. Thomas S. Tarr was storekeeper and postmaster. In reality, this post office was officially part of Kentucky, but it was locally considered as part of Mississippi County because of its location.

Wyatt

Located just outside the Bird’s Point – New Madrid spillway slightly north of the center of the Mississippi County, Wyatt was first settled by Sam Keen on what became Pevey Switch when the railroad was built in 1881. A few years later, a post office was established and named Manes for Ben Manes. The name was changed to Smithton, for I. N. Smith, Sr., in 1891. Postal authorities objected has the name had been preempted by a Petttis County post office. Therefore, the name became Hunter for a large landowner, W. H. Hunter, living in Benton, Scott County. From 1893 to 1895, this post office carried the name Payne. Then the name was changed again in1896 Wyatt for large lad over William Wyatt, honoring William Wyatt.

Point Pleasant

After the New Madrid Earthquake, in 1846, had begun rebuilding after being laid out and potted by Wm. Summers. By 1853; a post office was again located there. In 1860, a larger town was planned and platted. At first the caving was just south of the main part of town. Caving gradually extended up the river until many of the houses had to be moved away from the river. Then the caving grew in speed that the houses could not be moved fast enough to save them.

Because of the caving banks of the Mississippi River, the community never grew. When settlers realized this seems to be an on-going problem they could not solve, many of the residences moved to the growing town of Portageville which was becoming more important since the Frisco Railroad ran through it.

 Pemiscot County

Pemiscot, the last of the Bootheel Counties to be formed, was created February 14, 1851.  Caruthersville was the second community designated as the county seat. Pemiscot’s 512.41 square miles and was the last area taken from New Madrid County. The lowest point in the county, at 290 feet, is in the southern part of the county.

Pemiscot County established in 1851, from the southern part of New Madrid County. The name, Pemiscot, is thought to come from an Indian word meaning “liquid mud”. Early residents in the county used the Mississippi to reach markets. Roads were all but unknown.

Physiographical, Pemiscot County as part of the Mississippi River Delta has three main physiographic regions. In the eastern part of the county is the Mississippi River Flood Plain. It runs along the Mississippi River from New Madrid County to the Arkansas State line in the extreme southeast corner of Missouri.  Here the land level to gently undulating to include remnants of old channels and lakes left from frequent overflows. 

In the west is the Little River Basin. Originally the Little River carried drainage from Cape Girardeau, Bollinger, and Wayne counties from the eastern Ozarks as well as overflow from the Mississippi River. Two old natural levees systems intersperse throughout the county. Under natural conditions, an estimated ten-percent of the county was permanently ponded before the Little River Drainage District. Small, slow-moving, sluggish streams, for example, Elk Chute and Little River, frequently overflowed their channels during that time.

The St. Francis Level District was established in 1893. They started building levees from New Madrid to the state line. Early levee constructed were only partly successful. This was caused because the early levee was only seven feet high, later being built to eleven feet and taller.

In 1910, 30 million feet of lumber being exported from the county with only one-sixth of Pemiscot County in cultivation. Manufacturing produced $1,662, 959 that year. Lumber, followed by cotton, cooperage being the main products produced. The population was 19,559 with taxable worth of $3,369,219. The county supported 70 teachers in 48 school districts.

The first settlement in the county was Little Prairie located a short distance south of the present town of Caruthersville. A settlement started in 1794 by Francois Le Sieur settling there from New Madrid on a large Spanish Land Grant.

The Frisco rail system, including several Frisco Branches, was the only rail system in the county. The county supported 48 school districts in 1910 with 70 teachers.

  Pemiscot Bayou

Pemiscot Bayou in Mississippi County Arkansas was named for a band of Algonquian Indians originally from a river in Maine. During Spanish control, this group came into the area, possible as hunters. It is easy to believe, their hunting ground extended to include the northern part of present day Missouri. Colonial records sometimes call the Missouri band Abenakis, a generic term for Algonquian tribes of Maine and New Brunswick, meaning “easterner.”

The Democratic Party completely controls politics on the local level in Pemiscot County. Democrats hold every elected position in the county. As in most rural area of Missouri, voters in Pemiscot County generally vote for socially and culturally conservatives principle. Yet they are more moderate or populist on economic issues.

As of the 1990 census, these historical communities no longer existed. Most of these maybe just rural post offices, county churches, schools, fort, stage stations, mill or a river forge. The exact locations are unknown for Brinkerhoff Choctaw, Erwin, Fairbanks, Fourteen Bend, Hall, Kauffman, Keokuk, Littles, Saint Fernando Fort, State Line, Westbrook,(small settlement in southwest part of the county and site of a sawmill of John Westbrook.) and Wilbur.

  Shiloh Church Pemiscot County

 A rural church formed in the northern part of Godair Township, not far from New Madrid County in 1857 given a biblical name from I Samuel 3:3.

Wolf Island

Wolf Island, an unincorporated community in eastern Mississippi County. It is located on Route 77 some nine miles east of East Prairie.

The community was founded around 1792 and named for Wolf Island (Island Number5) in the Mississippi River, which is no longer an island, but part of Kentucky. It has been suggested the name for both the island and community came from the large number of wolves present there in the late 18th and early 19th century. Wolves have long since disappeared from the state.

Wolf Island was once a hideout for criminals. After leaving Cave-In-Rock in 1799, Samuel Mason’s gang of river pirates relocated to this island.

Cottonwood Point

Cottonwood Point, a small town established in Pemiscot County at the towhead of Island Number 18 on the Mississippi around 1830 as a ferry landing. In 1867 a post office was established after the town became a flourishing shipping point for furs. The name came from the formation of land that ran out in to the river at a point and from the cottonwood trees growing there

Braggadocio

Braggadocio is an unincorporated community in Pemiscot County and located eight miles west of Caruthersville. Founded in 1847,it was a flourishing village in 1865 with a post office since 1886.

There are three theories about the origin of the name. One is the first settler in the area was name Bragg, his wife’s name was Docio; combined for the name. Another suggestion, another is similar, a settlers wife Docio was such a beauty and he bragged so much about her, he was “Bragging on Docio.” Another idea, the most unlikely for these backwoods to know about, the settlement was named for the vainglorious knight and horse thief Sir Braggadoccio in Edmund Spencer’s The Faerie Queen. Mocking name of this type were fairl common in Missouri at this time.

  Portageville

The year 1848 saw beginnings of Portageville being established in the extreme southern end of New Madrid County. At that time Edward Meatte and Charles Davis established a small trading post there. Their establishment was a 20 x14 x16 foot log cabin. Attached to the trading post was a small log cabin used for the owners living quarters. After 1851 the business traded hands several times before Robert G. Franklin brought it. He later sold it to Bob LaFont then Dr. Harvey acquired it sometime later. At an unknown earlier time, the trading post became known as “Shin Bone”.

After the Civil War, the DeLisle Brothers Edward, Alphonse and maybe Umbrose, saw the potential of the small village and bought the store. They paid $100 for the store (which in 2010 had the buying power of $1,520 according to Measuring Worth) in cash, and two mules and a wagon.

Crosnel and Wiseman were the surveyors hired by the DeLisle brothers to lay out a village next to Portage Bay in 1888 or 1889. Having seen the narrow streets in Memphis they insisted the streets be wide enough for street cars.

The post office was established in 1872 and apparent named for the stream nearby. Along this watercourse roamed Portage Ponies. Some believe these were horses left by settlers that hurriedly left the area 60 years before during the violent earthquakes.

Gayoso

In April of 1851, the town of Gayoso was laid out in Pemiscot County northeast of Hayti on a bend in the river at the 850 mile marker north of Head of the Pass, Louisiana. It was named to honor Spanish Governor Don Manuel Gayoso of Louisiana. Although not a single house was standing on its 50 acres, it was designated the county seat. In 1854 a small frame building on the public square was constructed for use as a court house. It was in use until 1873 at which time George W. Carleton had it moved to be used as a stable.

In 1859, Robert E. Clowd the county’s first medical college graduate, moved from Point Pleasant to Gayoso.  This was three years after the first hotel was built.  And the same year a school was build and an Englishman was hired to teach there.

Like many communities situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, the changing current claimed Gayoso. With the removal of the seat of government to Caruthersville, what was left of the community has since faded in importance.

Cooter

The Pemiscot County town of Cooter was established in 1854. It was first settled as hunting and fishing camp on Pemiscot or Cagle Lake. Among the game shipped were coots, members of the duck family. Some say it was maned for this animal. Other say it was named for the Coutre family, early settlers in the area who are thought to have emigrated in the mid-1700 from France. From 1883 to 1890, the name of the town and township was spell Coutre or Couter in county records after a short stay at Ste. Genevieve, Portell Coutre traveled southward along the Mississippi. By 1795, he had a general merchandize store in the area of present-day Cooter.

In 1924 the post office department changed to name to Coutre to avoid confusion with Cooper in Gentry Count. After a year, the spelling Cooter was resumed.

The elevation is 262 feet. The community sets on 0.osquare mils of land. The 2000 census placed the population at 440 residents, of which 98.18 percent were white.

Caruthersville

The population of Pemiscot County grew after 1857 with the establishment of Caruthersville. Caruthersville (225 alt.) is the seat of Pemiscot county situated on a bend of the Mississippi River and now protected for flood by an earthen levee surmounted by a concrete wall.

The Eclipse, built in 1901, a part of the Lee Steamship Line of Memphis made a regular run to Caruthersville. This ended at 7:00 pm September 12, 1925 when the steamer hit a snag opposite Osceola, Arkansas, The crew and pass angers made it to safety over a sandbar.

July 29, 1946, the ferry crossing the Mississippi River collided with two oil laden barges near there. This night time accident happened 50 yards from the Missouri shore. Ten people, possible more were believed to perish in the collision. Thirteen others occupants of the ferry were saved after the ferry overturned dumping at least five vehicles and their passengers into the water.

Caruthersville, according to the 2000 Federal Census contained 6,168 residents living within 5.2 squares mile with the racial makeup of 66.08 percent white. The elevation is 276 feet above sea level.

When Missouri was added to the United States, the original border proposal was to be an extension of the 35⁰35’ parallel north and met the border between Kentucky and Tennessee. This would have excluded the Bootheel, placing it in Arkansas. As it is now, the Missouri Bootheel is the southeastern most part of the state. This part of the state boundary between Arkansas on the south and west, divided here by the St. Francis River, and Missouri runs along the 36⁰ north latitude formed a shape, in relation to the rest of the state, resembling the heel of a boot.

Bootheel

Included, strictly speaking, the Bootheel includes the counties of Dunklin, Pemiscot, and New Madrid. In the popular mind, the Bootheel often used to include the entire southeastern Lowland of Missouri, including all of the Little River Valley Counties included this part of the upper Mississippi embayment included parts of Butler, Mississippi Ripley, Scott, Stoddard and the extreme southern portions of Cape Girardeau and Bollinger counties. Sikeston and Kennett are the largest cities in technical Bootheel; Cape Girardeau is in the largest city in the Little River Valley.

The Bootheel is on the northern edge of the Arkansas –Mississippi Delta culture that had produced the Delta blues. A large black population makes it dissimilar to the rest of rural Missouri. Within the area is a unique rural black culture reflected in its music, churches, and other traditions of the South. The black population ranged from about 26% in Pemiscot County to 15% in New Madrid County, and 9% in Dunklin County.

Not so long ago, the Bootheel had a reputation for lawlessness. Remote settlement along the river banks and deep in the swamps miles from paved roads provided the environment for moon shining and bootlegging. Sawmill in the swamps, with extremely hard working conditions, attracted non-genteel types, course, and heavy drinkers as a workforce.

Most of Missouri’s citizens relate more to the mid-west in outlook, culture, and work ethic. However, the farther south in the Bootheel you travel, the more its citizens indentify with the South.

Economically the area is one of the more impoverished parts of Missouri. While there is some manufacturing in the area, the economy is primarily agricultural related. With an alluvial past, the rich soil is ideal for growing soybeans’, rice, corn, and cotton (the northern edge of the cotton belt is just about the New Madrid County line). Some “truck crops” are grown, especially various melons, especially watermelons, corn, squash, and tomatoes. Livestock is raised only on a limited scale, in contrast to most of the state.

Caruthersville had its origin in La Petit Prairie a French trading post whose site near Caruthersville was destroyed by the New Madrid Earthquake then washed into the river. Settled about 1794, when Francois Le Sieur, a fur trader that a decade earlier had established a post at New Madrid.  He was attracted by this wide, fertile bottomland.

In 1857 the town was laid out in Pemiscot County near the old village site of Little Prairie by G. W. Bushey and Col. J. H. Walker. Its name came from honoring Sam Caruthers, of Madison County. Early merchants included Harrison and Christie and Davison and Edwards.

  Sikeston

Sikeston in Scott County was established in 1860. This was the last community formed in the bootheel until after the Civil War (1855) before town was established. The “Baker House owned later by Lee Hunter, used as an early school. Today, the elementary school on that property carries his name.

The first landowner in the Sikeston area was a Frenchman, Francis Paquette In 1829; the Stallcup family acquired the land. John Sikes married into the Stallcup family in 1859, gaining control of the family holdings. In anticipation the completion of the Cairo and Fulton Railroad, Sikes in April of 1860, had a planned city platted and surveyed. He saw the Spanish King’s Highway as being a source of the outlaying areas for carrying freight to the railroad.

Sikeston, the largest community in Scott County was first settled in 1800 but not laid out as a town some 60 years later by John Sikes on the Cairo and Fulton Railroad.

Sikeston is located mainly in Scott County, yet, a very small portion of it is in New Madrid County. Its location is nearly half way between St. Louis and Memphis. Located on Sikeston Ridge uplift started from settlement dropped by the Ohio River some 9,000 years ago, it was raised slightly by the quakes of 1811 and 1812. The first house build in Sikeston, 318 Baker Lane, is believed to have been build five years before the Civil War.

 

After the Quakes become Quieter

Tywappity Bottoms

New Madrid County

John Hardeman and the Bootheel

Little Prairie and the Formation of the Bootheel

Post Earthquake Settlements

Winchester

Fanatical Pilgrims

Cape Girardeau County

Big Bend

Big Lick

Bainbridge

Jackson

Cape, the River and Builder of Steamboats

            Burfordville

Apple Creek

Pocahontas

Oak Ridge

Scott County

Gray’s Point

Goose Pond

Bushey Prairie

Birds’ Hill / Birds’ Island

Benton

Beachland

Salcedo

Power’s Island / Big Island

New Hamburg

Commerce

Stoddard County

Bloomfield and Dexter

            Weaverville and Plank Road

Boekerton

Dunklin County

Branum’s Point

Buffalo Creek / Buffalo Island

Cockle Burr Slough

Canaan Island

Hornesville

Bridges Creek

Cotton Plant

Cane Creek

Kennett

Browns Ferry

Campbell (Four Mile)

Malden

Cockrum

Raglin Slough

Bucoda

Mississippi County

Bird’s Point

Mathews Prairie

Beckwith

Black Bayou

Baldwinsville

Tywappity Bottom

Bertrand

Greenfield

Medley

Anniston

Tarr’s Store

Wyatt

Point Pleasant

Pemiscot County

Pemiscot Bayou

Shiloh Church, Pemiscot County

Wolf Island

Cottonwood Point

Braggadoccio

Portageville

Gayoso

Cooter

Caruthersville

 Bootheel

Sikeston

 


Comments

10/07/2014 6:09am

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Reply
01/20/2016 2:59am

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    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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