Hero of Ft. Davidson comes to Gallatin

Thomas Fletcher — a Union general, Missouri governor, and (almost) a Gallatin resident! Why would the first native-born Missouri governor be interested in Gallatin upon retirement? And why didn’t he stay? That’s what we’d like to know.

Thomas Fletcher — a Union general, Missouri governor, and (almost) a Gallatin resident! Why would the first native-born Missouri governor be interested in Gallatin upon retirement? And why didn’t he stay? That’s what we’d like to know.

Gov. Thomas Clement Fletcher purchased real estate in Gallatin in the early 1870s including land, a house and business building, perhaps as a plan to live in our fair city.

Tom Fletcher was one of Missouri’s most well-loved citizens after the Civil War. He was the first native-born governor, serving from January 1865 to January 1869 during our most trying period of reconstruction. Thomas was our first Republican governor, called a “Radical Republican.” In some Missouri counties he got 100% of the votes cast. He won election overall by a “landslide.”

President Lincoln brevetted Fletcher a brigadier general after commanding the Union Army as a colonel at the Battle of Pilot Knob, Missouri, Sept. 26-29, 1864. Col. Fletcher’s unit of less than 1,000 men faced General Price’s army of three divisions, more than 12,000, and checked the rebel advance and probably saved St. Louis from destruction or capture.

Col. Fletcher had served in the Union Army starting as an assistant provost marshal under Gen. Lyons before Lyons was killed at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. Fletcher became a colonel by election in 1862 when he organized the 31st MSM. Col. Fletcher was wounded and captured at the Chickasaw Bayou but exchanged in May 1863.

Col. Fletcher was at the fall of Vicksburg and the Battle of Chattanooga. He commanded a brigade in the Atlanta campaign. He organized the 47th and 50th MSM that faced Gen. Price at Ft. Davidson and commanded the 47th Regiment of six companies in the battle. They were outnumbered more than 10 to 1 but only withdrew after leaving as many as 1,200 rebels dead or wounded at Pilot Knob.

Later, Gen. Fletcher was with Gen. Sherman and was active in Sherman’s March to the Sea when the Republican Party back in Missouri nominated Fletcher as their candidate for governor.
Gen. Fletcher favored amnesty and abolishing the test oaths for voters that had served the rebels. This may have brought him rebel votes in 1865 and 1866 at two elections. Gen. Fletcher advocated free education for all children and schools to train teachers and farmers.

Thomas Fletcher was born in 1827 at Herculaneum, Mo., and made his home at nearby Hillsboro, Mo. In later years, Gov. Fletcher moved to Washington, D.C. to practice law and died there in March 1899. Gov. Fletcher had first joined the Missouri Bar in 1855.

In February 1871, ex-Gov. Fletcher purchased part of what is now John Leopard’s building and a house on the east half of out lot #14 that has been owned by the Wirt family. He gave $6,000 for the old Farmers Exchange Bank offices and $4,500 for the Wirt property. In January 1873, Gen. Fletcher purchased two lots in the Wirt’s Addition and two lots in the Brown’s Addition.

In 1876, Gen. Fletcher owned an 80-acre farm north of Gallatin and the land just west of Lyle Cemetery. Just why Gen. Fletcher was interested in Gallatin and why he did not stay remains a question.

Sources: compiled from articles published in the Missouri Historical Society Review and Who’s Who Encyclopedia

by David Stark

Distinguished Public Servant… Gov. A.M. Dockery

One of Gallatin’s most distinguished citizens, Alexander Monroe Dockery, was born in 1845 in a log cabin on Honey Creek south of town. From this humble beginning emerged an outstanding city, county, state and national official.

One of Gallatin’s most distinguished citizens, Alexander Monroe Dockery, was born in 1845 in a log cabin on Honey Creek south of town. From this humble beginning emerged an outstanding city, county, state and national official.

Dockery forwent a medical career to enter the banking business in Gallatin in 1874, establishing the Farmers Exchange Bank. It was soon recognized as one of the best rural banks in the state.

Always deeply committed to his community, Dockery served as a city councilman and in 1881 was elected mayor of Gallatin. He was soon caught up in the excitement and challenge of political life and in 1882 he ran for Congress and was elected. He served eight terms and was so popular and efficient that he was never opposed for re-election in all those 16 years. He authored many important pieces of legislation.
One of his recorded statements: “Unnecessary taxation leads to surplus revenue, surplus revenue begets extravagance, and extravagance sooner or later is surely followed by corruption.”

With the close of the 55th Congress, Rep. Dockery declined to run again. He came home in the spring of 1899 and announced himself a candidate for Governor of Missouri. Since the election was two years away, this gave him time to prepare for his campaign and attend to his ex-officio duties as a road overseer in Daviess County. For over 30 years he had devoted a part of his summers to the highways around Gallatin.
As a road overseer he wore no coat; he donned a big straw hat and a pair of pants. The word “pants” is used advisedly since in those days pants cost less than four dollars while trousers cost six dollars up. He always wore boots whether on the road or elsewhere.

One of his greatest achievements was to grade Lamma Hill, and make Gallatin accessible from the Wabash railroad station 180 feet below the town, and two and one-half miles away.
The day of his nomination for governor was cause for celebration in Gallatin. All business was suspended and a huge crowd gathered at the Rock Island depot to greet him on his arrival from the convention. The “colored” band, in full uniform, was there and “The Cab,” used to haul passengers from the depot to uptown Gallatin, was also positioned to haul him up Lamma Hill into town.

Instead of the usual team of horses, however, townspeople had fashioned a long rope and he was pulled to town by his supporters while the horses rested.

Dockery easily won the election and was inducted into office at Jefferson City January 1, 1901. His was an efficient and progressive administration and several Gallatin friends were appointed to key positions. The greatest sorrow of his life occurred in 1903 when his wife, Mary, died in the mansion. She had lived her life with the man she loved and was buried beside their five children who preceded them in death.

After serving his term of office, Dockery returned to Grand River country and the people who were dearest to him. He proved to be a most energetic and generous civic leader and assisted his town and county with several notable public works. In his declining years he became a self-appointed overseer for Union Township. He traveled the highways and byways in his road wagon drawn by an old gray mare, always seeking chuck holes and culverts in need of repair. His work force consisted of one negro gentleman, Mose Miles, equipped with a pick and shovel (which did not show too much wear).

During a trip to Washington in 1913 to attend the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson, he and Congressman J.W. Alexander called on the president. Wilson appointed Dockery as assistant postmaster general. Dockery spent the next seven years straightening out postal fiscal matters and improving its operation. He retired in 1919.
Gov. Dockery’s portrait hangs today in the courtroom of the Daviess County courthouse. He is remembered for his generosity in donating 15 acres of wooded land in the northeast part of town for a park which today bears his name. Seldom does a citizen stand so high in the esteem of fellow citizens. He was thoughtful, kind and courteous to all.

The first Gallatin High School yearbook, “The Gallamo,” was dedicated to A.M. Dockery. He had founded the high school library, served on the board of education, provided scholarships and other prizes. Perhaps as a reflection of his love for the children he and Mary lost, he established an annual Dockery Day on his birthday and all school children were admitted free to the Courter Theater to see a current movie.

Gov. Dockery died in 1926. Hundreds attended the services held at the Gallatin Methodist Church. He was buried beside his wife and children in a Chillicothe cemetery.

Our Town’s Namesake… Albert Gallatin

Gallatin, MO, takes its name from one of the early financial giants in American history. Born on Jan. 29, 1761 at Geneva, Switzerland, his full name was Abraham Alphonse Albert Gallatini.

Gallatin, MO, takes its name from one of the early financial giants in American history. Born on Jan. 29, 1761 at Geneva, Switzerland, his full name was Abraham Alphonse Albert Gallatini.

Gallatin graduated from the University at Geneva at age 18 in 1779. He came to the United States to offer his services to General Washington and the cause of human liberty.

Gallatin served as commander of Fort Machias in what is now the state of Maine. In 1782 he bcame a French teacher at Harvard and in 1786 settled in Monongahela of Fayelle County, PA. Gallatin purchased land in Virginia in 1784 and was naturalized in Virginia in 1785, but never resided on that property.

In 1786 Gallatined entered politics as an Anti-Federalist. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention in 1789 and drafted that constitution. He served for two years in the Penn State Legislature. While there he promoted improvemetns in state finances — so well formed that the state did not levy a direct tax for 40 years.

In 1793 Gallatin married and was elected to the U.S. Senate. Because of the date of his naturalization, he was removed from that office but was elected to the House of Representatives. He served in that office until 1801. That year President Jefferson made him the second Secretary of the Treasury.

When Albert Gallatin took his oath of office as Secretary of the Treasury in May, 1801, the national debt was over $82 million and annual total receipts were about $10.6 million. It is easy to see that the national debt then was far worse than we face today (1989) — nearly eight times annual revenue as compared to our present debt of three times our annual revenue.

It was Gallatin’s opinion that much of this debt arose because the Washington/Hamilton Federalists insisted in assuming the total war debt of the states at full face value, rather than at the market value of the outstanding obligations. He also said that $11 million had been wasted by assuming debts between the states since this resulted in a windfall to debt speculators and state treasuries.

When Gallatin first entered the federal service in 1795 as a congressman from Pennsylvania, the federal debt was pegged at $78.7 million. It was his contention that the debt would have held firm had not the Washington and Adams administration paid nearly $10 million in tribute and ransom to four Mediterranean pirate states. He encouraged the Jefferson Administration to stop paying the pirates and had the U.S. Navy hunt them down. Even allowing for the Louisiana and Florida purchases, which amounted to $15 million, President Thomas Jefferson and his Secretary of the Treasury reduced the federal debt by nearly half by 1810. Gallatin’s treasury system proved practical and successful and was essentially unchanged for nearly 100 years. On Oct. 1, 1894, the system was changed (and the author of that change was Alexander Monroe Dockery of Gallatin, MO).

Secretary Gallatin promoted economy in government expenses and made th country propserous until the War of 1812. The Treaty of Ghent, ending that war, is considered largely Gallatin’s personal triumph. For 7 years Gallatin served as U.S. Minister to France and made diplomatic misisons to the Netherlands and Great Britain.

In 1824 Gallatin declined the nomination for vice president and also declined to office of Secretary of State under President Madison. President Monroe offered him the office of Secretary of the Navy, and Presidents Jackson and Tyler offered him the office of Secretary of the Treasury. These offers were also declined in favor of younger men.

Gallatin did work on the recovery efforts needed after the Economic Panic of 1837. Galaltin wrote much about finance and currency. He was a language student much interested in the Indian languages and civilizations. He founded the American Ethnological Society and was president of the New Yor Historical Society when he died on Aug. 12, 1849, at Astoria, NY, on Long Island.

Thus, Albert Gallatin, a congressman from Pennsylvania, is the only man ever to serve in the treasury post under two presidents (Thomas Jefferson and James Madison). His statue stands today before the entrance of the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C. His farm at Friendship Hill, PA, became a national park with local officials from Gallatin, MO, participating in the opening ceremonies held there in 1992.

The county seat of Daviess County, first settled in 1837, chose to honor Albert Gallatin when it incorporated as a town in 1858. Gallatin, MO, developed into an important trade center after 1871 when the first of two railroads pushed through the area. Gallatin commanded statewide attention as members of the Mormon church organized stakes nearby. Differences eventually erupted into the “Mormon War” which unfolded near here. Gallatin was first thrust into the national spotlight as law and order began to prevail over the Wild West. The trial of outlaw Frank James was held here in 1883.

Agriculture drives this community’s engine. Pride in traditional Midwestern values has helped Gallatin produce a governor of Missouri, a U.S. Secretary of Commerce and federal judge, a pioneering female scientist, a best-selling novelist, a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy among others. And yet, none outshine the accomplishments of this town’s namesake.

In 1967 a postage stamp honoring Albert Gallatin was issued and the “first day of issue” ceremony was held here. Guests included Felix Schnaeder, the Swiss Ambassador to the U.S., True Davis, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, the Assistant Postmaster General, and a host of federal and state officials. The stamp has since been discontinued and is greatly prized by collectors.

Condensed from several sources, including research by David Stark of Gallatin, published in the Gallatin North Missourian Dec. 29, 1982

The Cruzens — Mother and son…

Many years before the “feminist” movement caught fire in America, a Gallatin lady was more than holding that banner high for Missouri females. Mary Edna Cruzen, demonstrating that dedication and intelligence were not restricted to males only, compiled an enviable career in government.

Many years before the “feminist” movement caught fire in America, a Gallatin lady was more than holding that banner high for Missouri females. Mary Edna Cruzen, demonstrating that dedication and intelligence were not restricted to males only, compiled an enviable career in government.

Mrs. Cruzen, left with two children to raise when her husband, Nat, died unexpectedly in 1931, soon established herself as an outstanding woman. She eventually served under two governors as labor commissioner and she is the only woman to have filled this post. And she did it half a century ago!

One of Mrs. Cruzen?s children, Richard, graduated from Annapolis and spent 38 years in the Navy, attaining the rank of Rear Admiral. Admiral Cruzen served as second in command on the Admiral Richard E. Byrd expeditions to Antarctica. Later he commanded at last two expeditions to the Polar regions. Mrs. Cruzen?s daughter, Mary, married an Army lieutenant who later became Major General Orville Walsh. General Walsh served during World War II on General MacArthur?s staff in the Pacific.

Mrs. Cruzen, whose large stately home still stands at 201 East Berry Street, was a highly respected citizen. Her front porch during summer was usually crowded with youngsters who couldn?t resist her cookies and lemonade.

Reprinted from the Gallatin Welcome booklet

Cravens a Respected Pioneer

J.Cravens, M.D., was one of the most highly esteemed pioneers of Daviess County. The county’s Confederate States of America veterans’ post selected Cravens for its chapter namesake.

J.Cravens, M.D., was one of the most highly esteemed pioneers of Daviess County. The county’s Confederate States of America veterans’ post selected Cravens for its chapter namesake.

John Cravens, son of Dr. Joseph and Mary Cravens, was born in Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Va., Oct. 28, 1797, where he was reared and educated. At the age of 19, he began the study of medicine under his father, and began practice some six years later.

After practicing with his father two years, he moved to Hardy County, Va., now West Virginia, and began practice at Petersburg. After remaining there one year, he moved to Pendleton County and opened an office in Franklin, the county seat. He was an active practitioner in that county for 10 years.

In 1837 he moved to Missouri and settled near Miami, where he lived 18 months. During that time he gave up the practice of his profession and changed his place of residence of Daviess County. He located near Gallatin in the spring of 1839, where he pursued farming and continued practicing medicine until 1850.

In 1850, he moved to Gallatin and gave his attention exclusively to his increasing practice. In 1857, he returned to his farm, one mile northwest of Gallatin. He continued the practice of medicine until the close of the war, when owing to his advanced age and impaired hearing he gave up the practice entirely, devoting his attention to his farm.

In 1842 he was elected presiding justice of the County Court, holding the office until 1846, and subsequently was twice elected to the same office. In 1861 he was appointed brigade-surgeon in the Confederate service under Gen. William Y. Slack. He was with Gen. Slack until his death at the battle of Pea Ridge, Ark., on March 6, 1862. After that he served as surgeon in various departments until the close of the war.

Dr. Cravens was united in marriage to Miss Rhuama Chaplin of Rockingham County, Va. They became the parents of 10 children. Six of those children were Caroline, wife of John Leopard of this county; Amanda, wife of Maj. W.D. McDonald of this county; Robert O., a resident of California; William of Springfield; Jeremiah C., an attorney at Springfield; and Edgar H. of this county. Elizabeth, wife of Philip R. Wirt, died in Gallatin on March 1, 1868; Joseph C. was killed by lightning on May 28, 1848; John, a practicing physician of Gallatin, died April 23, 1876; and Oscar, died in Gallatin on Jan. 26, 1855.

Mrs. Cravens was a devout member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South for over 60 years. Dr. Cravens was initiated into the mysteries of Freemasonry in 1826, becoming a member of Rockingham Union Lodge No. 26, Harrisonburg, Va. He was one of the founders of the first masonic lodge in Gallatin, and was the first worshipful master. Dr. and Mrs. Cravens were among the pioneers of Daviess County, and were highly esteemed by all who knew them.

1882 History of Daviess County book, pg. 530

J.C. Penney left a legacy in his hometown

Besides its friendly people and strong sense of community, Hamilton’s biggest claim to fame was one of the world’s most famous retailers, J.C. Penney.

Besides its friendly people and strong sense of community, Hamilton’s biggest claim to fame was one of the world’s most famous retailers, J.C. Penney.

James Cash Penney was born Sept. 16, 1875, in Hamilton, started his retailing career here and went West. He eventually spread a chain of department stores across the nation along with his competitors and colleagues, Sears Kresge, Woolworth and others.

The values he learned growing up in Hamilton became the foundation of his business and personal life. He never forgot his ties to the hometown, returning often for visits. He helped the community often both financially and by instilling residents with a feeling of pride in their community.

In the past two decades, Hamiltonians have actively sought to preserve Penney’s legacy. The J.C. Penney Memorial Library and Museum was built with donations, many from former penney Co. Managers, and dedicated in 1976. It attracts several hundred visitors from all over the U.S. each year. The basement of the building serves as a community room for meetings and receptions.

In 1988 his boyhood home was saved from razing and moved to the center of Hamilton. It sits on the site of the former railroad depot and has been renovated outside. The Penney House will be refurbished inside and serve as a welcome center for visitors. It will also be the main attraction in a new park.

Penney himself was instrumental in Hamilton’s economic development. As soon as his first employer, J. M. Hale retired, Penney opened the 500th Penney’s store in his hometown. He also bought a house in town, renting all but one room of it to the manager of the store. He kept that room for his frequent visits to Hamilton.

Local residents who knew him recall that on his visits to Hamilton, he’d often work in the store, sweeping the floor, stocking displays and waiting on customers.

He purchased a farm east of town and made it an agricultural showplace during the Depression. The farm was stocked with draft horses and Angus cattle. In 1938 he sponsored a field day at the farm, attracting some 8,000 people to view and judge for themselves the fine blood lines of the animals. This was a forerunner of Hamilton’s judging days, which the local FFA chapter holds each year.

J.C. Penney donated lots of money and time to special Hamilton projects, including the first library, the shoe factory, the high school and even Highland Cemetery.

Penney donated $10,000 to build the public library on the condition that local residents raise $5,000 to purchase the site and furnishings. The building was completed in 1920, the first free public library in the country.

Penney placed lots of importance on a good education. He donated money for building the new Hamilton High School in 1951 and for a junior high addition in 1956. The school was named J.C. Penney High School in his honor.

Penney donated money for an all-weather road to Highland Cemetery. He also contributed to the American Legion Memorial Park, made a gift to the Kidder Institute College Endowment Fund and was a stockholder of the Hamilton Bank when it opened in 1938.

The famous retailer believed Hamilton should have a factory, so he went to officials of the International Shoe Company and told them if they would establish a shoe factory in Hamilton, the Penney Company and told them if they would establish a shoe factory in Hamilton, the Penney Company would purchase the complete output of children’s shoes from it. The first pair of children’s shoes produced in that factory is now on display in the Penney Museum.

To celebrate the many contributions of Penney and to keep his legacy alive in Hamilton, local organizations cooperate to stage J.C. Penney Days every second weekend in June. The celebration features a lecture series on an economic development topic, an event which is always attended by Penney’s nephew, E.R. (Bob) Penney, a generous contributor to Hamilton’s Penney legacy. Bob was instrumental in establishing a Penney trust fund to maintain the museum building.

Talent contests, music, square dancing, a pet parade, flea market and craft show and other events combine to make Penney Days an enjoyable occasion for local and out-of-town visitors alike. The event continues to grow since the first one was held in 1987.

Source: Hamilton, Missouri — Community Guide, August 1990

A.M. Dockery — First Governor of the 20th Century

One of the best known citizens of Gallatin, MO, was Alexander Monroe Dockery (1845-1926) — Missouri’s first governor of the 20th Century. He is known as a  great Missourian who believed in the principles of Thomas Jefferson. He dedicated his public and political service to an advancement of these principles.

One of the best known citizens of Gallatin, MO, was Alexander Monroe Dockery (1845-1926) — Missouri’s first governor of the 20th Century. He is known as a  great Missourian who believed in the principles of Thomas Jefferson. He dedicated his public and political service to an advancement of these principles.

Mr. Dockery was born Feb. 11, 1845, five miles south of Gallatin. He attended several medical schools and practiced medicine at Linneus in Linn County and also at Chillicothe. Dr. Dockery gave up medical service in 1874, returning to his home town of Gallatin to become a director and cashier and secretary of the Farmers Exchange Bank.

Cashier Dockery served with T.B. Yates for 13 years. Mr. Yates was the bank president from 1874 to 1892. John W. Meade took the cashier’s job in July, 1886, and became president in July, 1899.

Dockery began his national career in 1882 when he was elected to Congress from the 3rd Congressional District. Congressman Dockery served eight terms in the House of Representatives (16 years).

In 1900, Congressman Dockery was elected governor of Missouri. He served one 4-year term. In 1913 Gov. Dockery was appointed Assistant Postmaster General by President Woodrow Wilson and he served throughout both of Wilson’s terms.

These are perhaps Dockery’s best noted stints in public service. But he also served in other modes and was well-known in Gallatin. He had a dignified yet simple bearing and charming character. He had an unforgettable smile and wink, a warm hand clasp, high ideals and outstanding ability. Dockery also had a great love for children, perhaps heightened by the loss of all of his own children.

Dockery was the son of the Rev. Willis E. and Sarah McHaney Dockery. His father was a distinguished minister of the Methodist Church. Alex continued in that faith and his funeral service was at the Gallatin Methodist Church. His body was placed at the Edgewood Cemetery in Chillicothe. Beside his children and his wife who preceded him in death.

Dr. Dockery married Mary E. Bird on April 14, 1869. All of the seven children born of this union died in infancy. Mrs. Dockery died at the State Executive Mansion in Jefferson City in January, 1903. She was the daughter of Greenup Bird of Daviess County.

Gov. Dockery was active as a Mason. In May, 1883, he was elected Grand Master of Missouri. Gov. Dockery was also elected Grand Master of Missouri Odd Fellows in May, 1910, then the only person in the state to hold both places of honor.

Dockery died in Gallatin at the home of Mrs. E.S. Gregory on Dec. 26, 1926. In an editorial published in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the following description was given to the “first Missouri governor of the 20th Century:”

“He was an honest and well-intentioned as well as able man. His humorous wink and the high-top boots he always wore are minor symbols of a vanishing political era in Missouri and may be called to mind longer than much more important things associated with other leaders.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch speaks of Gov. Dockery as a great Missourian. “For more than 40 years, then, he was a man of consequence in the Democratic party, and one whose qualities were esteemed by all citizens familiar with public affairs. Those qualities were substantial rather than striking. Mr. Dockery possessed an abundance of common sense and a scrupulous honesty against which no breath of suspicion was raised… a politician of the old school, who loved the game in all its aspects, a citizen of worth and character, his name belongs in the list of Great Missourians.”

The Farmers Exchange Bank had passed away a few months prior to Gov. Dockery’s death (in March, 1926) followed in less than a week by the Farmers Bank of Jameson and the Bank of Jameson. All closed by the state’s State Finance Commissioner.

Written by David Stark, Daviess County Historical Society

Gallatin Named After Financier Albert Gallatini

The Congressman from Pennsylvania turned U.S. Secretary of the Treasury helped the U.S. to end ransom payments to Mediterranean pirate states and reduced national debt even while the Louisiana and Flordia purchases were made. (information from the Daviess County Historical Society)

The Congressman from Pennsylvania turned U.S. Secretary of the Treasury helped the U.S. to end ransom payments to Mediterranean pirate states and reduced national debt even while the Louisiana and Flordia purchases were made. (information from the Daviess County Historical Society)

Gallatin takes its name from one of the early financial giants in American history. Born in Switzerland, his full name was Abraham Alphonse Albert Gallatini. As U.S. Secretary of the Treasury in 1801, Albert Gallatin inherited a national debt of over $82 million when annual receipts to the federal treasury totaled about $10.6 million. He encouraged the Jefferson Administration to stop paying tribute and ransom to Mediterranean pirate states.

His prudent public service helped reduce the federal debt by nearly half by 1810, even as the Louisiana and Florida purchases were made. Albert Gallatin, a congressman from Pennsylvania, is the only man ever to serve in the treasury post under two presidents. His statue stands before the entrance of the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C. His farm at Friendship Hill, PA, became a national park with local officials from here participating in the opening ceremones held there in 1992.

First settled in 1837, Gallatin was incorporated as a town in 1858. It developed into an important trade center after 1871 when the first of two railroads pushed through the area. Gallatin commanded statewide attention as members of the Mormon church organized stakes nearby. Differences eventually erupted into the “Mormon War” which unfolded near here. Gallatin was first thrust into the national spotlight as law and order began to prevail over the Wild West. The trial of outlaw Frank James was held here in 1883. Agriculture drives this community’s engine. Pride in traditional Midwestern values has helped Gallatin produce a governor of Missouri, a U.S. Secretary of Commerce and federal judge, a pioneering female scientist, a bestselling novelist, and a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy among others.

Famous Missourians of the North

For some visitors, a look at the early environments of people who become famous can amplify the remarkableness of an individuals' achievements. Here's a glimpse at the humble beginnings of famous Missourians from North Missouri — outlaws Frank & Jesse James, retailer J.C. Penney, World War I General John J. Pershing, President Harry S. Truman, author Mark Twain, and cartoonist Walt Disney.  (from an article by the Associated Press)

For some visitors, a look at the early environments of people who become famous can amplify the remarkableness of an individuals' achievements. Here's a glimpse at the humble beginnings of famous Missourians from North Missouri — outlaws Frank & Jesse James, retailer J.C. Penney, World War I General John J. Pershing, President Harry S. Truman, author Mark Twain, and cartoonist Walt Disney.  (from an article by the Associated Press)

Outlaws Jesse and Frank James made a living robbing banks and trains. Apparently, their mother also knew how to rake in the money, although in a legal if crass way.

Not long after an assassin shot Jesse James in 1882, Zerelda James Samuel began giving tours of the home where she raised her boys. She even sold souvenirs. For 25 cents, visitors could buy a pebble from Jesse's grave in the front yard. And when the rocks got low, she simply replenished them from a creek bed.

Zerelda Samuel may have been o­ne of the first Missourians to promote the birthplace of a famous — or in this case, infamous — native son. She certanily wasn't the last. Now, the Clay County government promotes her family home as the Jesse James Farm and Museum, charging admission to tour the home and a nearby museum and still selling pebbles for 25 cents alongside shirts, books and toys.

In the city of Hamilton, the municipal library shares a building with the J.C. Penney Museum, which offers tourso f the home where the busienssman was born. The federal aned state governmetns also run parks promoting the birthplaces of such famous Missourians as President Harry Truman, author Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) and educator George Washington Carver.

Other sites have been created to promote the childhood homes of Truman and Twain, whose families moved not long after their births, as well asl those of Walt Disney and World War I General John J. Pershing, whose birthplace is disputed but whose elegant boyhood home still stands in north Missouri.

Most of the houses passed from o­ne owner to another over the years, undergoing alterations and gaining more modern conveniences. Except for the James home, it was o­nly later — after their former residents gained fame — that someone seized o­n the tourism potential of the humble beginnings and repaired the deteriorating childhood homes as public showplaces.

For some visitors, a look at the early environments can amplify the remarkableness of an individuals' achievements. For others, the homes provide insight into the circumstances that shaped the famous figures.

Jesse James' boyhood home, for example, remains relatively secluded in the countryside northeast of the small town of Kearney. It's not hard to imagine how the young Jesse James became familiar with guns, especially when o­ne learns how he joined the Confederate Army during the Civil War after Union soldiers beat him, attacked his mother and tried to hang his stepfather at their home.

Later, after Jesse James graduated to a career of armed robbery, private detectives who were hired to find him and Frank threw a smoke pot into the family home, killing a younger brother and costing their mother an arm. No o­ne knows if Jesse and Frank James were even home at the time. Yet, the event helped shape public sympathy for James, who was repoted to have spared women, working-class men, and former Confederates from bullets during his holdups. That's partly why Charles Rhodes, touring the James home with his grandson o­ne summer day, is among the many who feel a strange mix of curiosity, respect and pity for James, who might have been branded as a mass murderer in another era.

“In my opinion, he got off to a rough start — that's what built him into a local hero. The Civil War was a hell of a place to be in Missouri. It made him what he was, and he fell right into it,” said Rhodes, of Platte City, who recalls receiving a personal tour of the home from a James relative over 35 years ago.

The family continued to give tours for decades after the deaths of Jesse James and his mother. For many years, Frank James even led the tours — perhaps telling of the gang's exploits after being acquitted of criminal charges in an 1883 trial held at Gallatin, MO. It was Frank James who began charging 50 cents for tours around 1910, according to directors at the Clay County historic site.

When Clay County began overseeing the James Home in 1978, the roof had sunk to chest-level, the wooden floors had become buried in dirt and the house was held uprght by ropes and trees. But after two restorations, 75% of the original materals remain. The 2-room cabin, which family members expanded after James' death, still contains a parlor table from the outlaw's childhood and other furnishings used by the family.

The grave site no longer contains Jesse James' body, which was moved to a traditional cemetery alongside his wife. But it is still stocked with pebbles.

The James home is perhaps o­ne of the most authentic birthplace sites. There is no home, for example, at the birthplace of George Washington Carver near Diamond in southwest Missouri. Instead, the National Park Service has constructed a replica log cagin foundation at the approximate site where Carver is believed to have been born a slave. Mark Twain's and J.C. Penney's birthplace homes both have been moved from their original foundations. Penney's home was transported from the country to downtown Hamlton and contains no original items other than a few family photographs. Twain's 423-sq.ft. birthplace home was moved from the tiny town of Florida to the shelter of a museum constructe in the nearby Mark Twain State Park. It, too, lacks any verifiably original furnishings, although it does include a cradle owned by the town that might have been used to hold Twain.

Truman's birthplace home sits o­n its original site in Lamar but lacks original indoor items, largely because the future president's family moved when he was just 11 months old. As it is, Truman's hometown is most commonly considered Independence, where an adulthood home also is open for tours.

While the original site and furnishings of a house may be important to historians, many tourists are simply looking for an impression of what life whas like in a famous person's formative years. Childhood historic sites are trying to convey that vague, warm quality of “home.” For General John J. Pershing, home was always the 9-room Gothic house where he lived from age 6 until he entered the U.S. Military Academy in his early 20s. Although his family had long since moved, Pershing still would stay in the home when he returne to Laclede as a general.

For Walt Disney, “home” was the nearby north Missouri town of Marceline, even though he o­nly lived there from ages 5 to 11 and went o­n to gain fame in California. That's because Disney's childhod doodlings gained form in Marceline, which he used as a prototype for some of his alter film and amusement park scenes. Disney's boyhood house is not open for tours, but its current occupants encourages visitors to walk o­n the property to a large cottonwood tree under which Disney would lie down to draw. A mowed trail with interpretative signs also leads to a barn — modeled after Disney's — where tourists are encouraged to scrawl messages o­n the walls.

HARRY TRUMAN BIRTHPLACE

Located just off U.S. Hwy 160 in Lamar, MO. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. No admission is charged. Operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, phone 417-682-2279. Notes: The future president spent the first 11 months of his life in the 2-story house bought by his parents in 1882 for $685. Four rooms downstairs and two upstairs, plus smokehouse and outhouse. Listed o­n the National Register of Historic Places.

J.C. PENNEY BIRTHPLACE HOME

Located in downtown Hamilton, MO, at U.S. Hwy 36 and Hwy 13. Open 9:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 4 p.m. weekdays. No admission is charged. Operated by the City of Hamilton. Notes: At the J.C. Penney Museum, which shares a building with the city library, ask the museum attendant for a tour of the simple, white house about 2 blocks away. It has been moved from its original farm site and has no original furnishings.

JOHN J. PERSHING HOME

Located from Laclede, MO, o­n U.S. Highway 36, go north o­n Missouri Hwy 5 into town and follow signs. Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is charged (kids 12 and under free). Operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, phone 660-334-6945. Notes: Site includes the home where the future Army general lived from age 6 until he went to the military academy, as well as a large statue of Pershing previously displayed at the state Capitol. Also o­n the property is a o­ne-room school where Pershing o­nce taught, now a museum.

JESSE JAMES BIRTHPLACE

Located a few miles northeast of Kearney o­n Missouri Hwy 92. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Admission is charged (children age 7 and under free). Operated by the Clay County Parks Department, phone 816-628-6065. Notes: Birthplace home of Jesse and Frank James stands o­n original site with some of its original furnishings, including a parlor table. Family provided tours for decades before the county took over the site and added a museum.

MARK TWAIN BIRTHPLACE HOME

Located in Mark Twain State Park near Florida, MO, from Missouri Hwy 107, go east o­n Route U. Open 10 am. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is charged (kids under age 6 free). Operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, phone 573-565-3449. Notes: Samuel Clemens lived in this two-room house until his family moved to Hannibal when he was 4. His Florida home was moved from its original site and now is sheltered inside a museum.

MARK TWAIN BOYHOOD HOME

Located downtown Hannibal. Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through August; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in September and October; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays in November and December. Admission is charged (age 6 and under free). Operated by the City of Hannibal, phone 573-221-9010. Notes: Samuel Clemens spent about nine years of his childhood in this home, where he derw the inspiration for such characters as Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Becky Thatcher. Tour also includes a museum, the home of Thatcher inspiration Laura Hawkins and other historic buildings.

WALT DISNEY BOYHOOD HOME

Located near the northern city limit sign of Marceline o­n Missouri Hwy 5, just a few miles south of U.S. Highway 36. Not open for tours, but property generally is open to the public. No admission is charged. Contact: 660-376-2332. Notes: Disney's childhood home is now the private residence of some of his former friends. Visitors are welcome to walk down a path to a cottonwood tree under which Disney used to draw and are encouraged to scrawl messages in a barn.

Retail giant J.C. Penney called Hamilton home

Hamilton, MO, has the distinction of being the birthplace and boyhood home of retail magnate J.C. Penney. The Penney Library and Museum houses memorabilia from his early years here until his death in 1971. (information provided by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce)

Hamilton, MO, has the distinction of being the birthplace and boyhood home of retail magnate J.C. Penney. The Penney Library and Museum houses memorabilia from his early years here until his death in 1971. (information provided by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce)

Hamilton, a rural community located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 36 and Missouri Highway 13, offers a variety of retail and service businesses as well as antique, collectible and gift shops. Hamilton has an AAA rated public school system, fine medical facilities, public library and several recreational facilities including a swimming pool, golf course, bowling alley and fishing lake.

Caldwell County Arts provies the area with cultural presentations throughout the year at the renovated Hamilton Community Arts Theater. Presentations range from locally produced musicals to country and bluegrass performances.

Hamilton has the distinction of being the birthplace and boyhood home of retail magnate J.C. Penney. The Penney Library and Museum houses memorabilia from his early years here until his death in 1971. The boyhood home of Mr. Penney, a modest 4-room cottage, was moved from its site east of Hamilton to its present location in a city park in downtown Hamilton. It serves as a tourist attraction. Located across the street is an expansion of the park bounded by a huge mural depicting the history of Hamilton and Caldwell County. Mr. Penney's 1947 Cadillac is o­n display at a service station o­n the south edge of Hamilton, a novelty which attracts the curious and car buffs.

Each spring during the J.C. Penney Hometown Festival, nearly 100 flea market and craft booths line Hamilton's main street offering their fares. The North Missouri Steam and Gas Engine Show attracts large crowds to Hamilton each August. Nearby are other attractions. The Caldwell County courthouse in Kingston is listed o­n the National Historic Register. Far West, a temple site for those of the Mormon faith, is located in nearby Mirabile. The historical displays to be found there are visited by thousands annually.

For more information about Hamilton, call 816-583-2168.