Walter Page Helped Build KC’s Jazz Tradition

Redevelopment of Kansas City’s rich jazz heritage is evident at 18th and Vine. You might be surprised, however, to learn that one of the bass players who helped build this tradition was originally from Gallatin, MO. Walter Page (1900-1957) called Gallatin home.

Redevelopment of Kansas City’s rich jazz heritage is evident at 18th and Vine. You might be surprised, however, to learn that one of the bass players who helped build this tradition was originally from Gallatin, MO. Walter Page (1900-1957) called Gallatin home.

He received musical training from Major N. Clark Smith at Lincoln High School and at the University of Kansas before leading the Blue Devils band during a time when its muscians included Count (then just “Bill”) Basie, Eddie Durham and Lester Young.

Bandleader Bennie Moten began hiring away talented members of the Blue Devils, and eventually Page himself went over to the Moten Band. When Moten died, Page stayed with a core of musicians who metamorphosed into the band led by Basie at the Reno Club. Page was a key member of Basie’s all-important rhythm section. Drummer Jo Jones often credited Page as a major influence and pragmatic music instructor.

Bennie Moten (1894-1935) might be considered the Godfather of Kansas City Jazz. The bandleader is remembered less for the recordings under his own name than for the roster of future jazz stars he employed and influenced. These include Count Basie, Harlan Leonard, “Hot Lips” Page, Eddie Durham, and Ben Webster among others.

Written by David Stark, Gallatin

More About “Wild Bill Elliott”

Most B-western historians today consider Wild Bill Elliott (born at Pattonsburg, MO) the successor to the realistic westerns of his hero, silent star William S. Hart, who retired in 1925, the same year, ironically, that Elliott made his first picture. On teh silver screen Elliott was Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Red Ryder, Kit Carson, Davy Crockett’s son, Daniel Boone’s grandson, and, of course most often — himself.

Most B-western historians today consider Wild Bill Elliott (born at Pattonsburg, MO) the successor to the realistic westerns of his hero, silent star William S. Hart, who retired in 1925, the same year, ironically, that Elliott made his first picture. On teh silver screen Elliott was Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Red Ryder, Kit Carson, Davy Crockett’s son, Daniel Boone’s grandson, and, of course most often — himself.

With his thin handsome face, hawk-like nose, flashig eyes and slender body, Bill was very different from the other more popular singing cowboys of the 1930s and 1940s. Even his resonant voice, characterized by his clipped speech, was distinctive. In the early days of his career, his clothing was simple in comparison to duds worn by other sagebrush stars. Later, he began wearing the tall hat with its brim appropriately turned up on both sides.

Although he never went looking for trouble, and in fact, usually did his best to avoid it — “I don’t want trouble with anybody unless I start it” — he looked like a man who could finish anything that anybody started, as he parted saloon doors, walked to the bar and belted a stiff drink before searchig out the man responsible for his brother’s death. During his brawls, Wild Bill didn’t always fight fair either, and at times when an opponent was on the floor, he would kick to finish the fight quickly. IF he needed information in a hurry, he wasn’t above beating the truth from a fillain while holding a gun on him. But after a gunfight in one of his early films, he innocently asked, “Why do you call me Wild Bill? I’m a peaceable man.”

However, Elliott’s trademanrk — and the touch that set him forever apart from the other B-western gunslingers — was the pair of sixguns strapped to his side, close to the belt line, worn buttforward with the handles out. After the cross draw, he would move the guns in a vertical line giving the impresion of throwing bullets. Bill was also quite adept with a bullwhip.

During his career, he was also most fortunate to have a thoroughly professional and highly competent technical crew supporting him, especially during his final years. Cameraman Ernie Miller supplied especially pictorial beauty and Lambert Hillyer (who was earlier an associate of Hart’s) directed several of his earlier pictures, and allowed Bill to experiment — and at times even playing an outlaw, though reformation was always a central part of the theme.

Elliott was born Gordon A. Nance on Oct. 16, 1904, on a farm near Pattonsburg, MO. He was the second child of Leroy Whitfield Nance (born Aug. 20, 1874) and Maude Myrtle (Auldridge) Nance (born Sept. 30, 1881) who were married on Sept. 4, 1901. The couple later divorced. The family also included an older daughter, Carmen A. Nance (born Oct. 30, 1902) and a second son, Dale A. Nance (born Sept. 8, 1908).

Gordon fell in love with horses and began riding when he was five and soon was proficient at roping, bulldogging and bronco busting. At 16, he won first place in rodeo riding at the American Royal Horse and Livestock Show in Kanas City, where his father was then employed as a stockyards commission buyer. After graduating from high school, Gordon attended Rockhurst College for a while, and then headed to Hollywood where he enrolled in the Pasadena Community Playhouse, and came under the direction of Gilmore Brown and did a variety of stage roles.

In 1925 he changed his name to Gordon Elliott and appeared in his first film, “The Plastic Age,” which starred Clara Bow and featured both Gilbert Roland and Clark Gable in small roles. Two years later he got a small part in “The Drop Kick” which was John Wayne’s initial motion picture. He also managed to land good-sized roles in “The Private Life of Helen of Troy” (1927) and “Valley of Hunted Men” (1928) before the “talkies” forced him back again to bit parts.

Meanwhile, in February 1927, Gordon married Helen Meyers with whom he had a daughter, Barbara Helen, on Oct. 14, 1927.

In 1931 (during the early years of the Depression) Elliott became a Paramount stock player, although the studio loaned his servies to other film companies as often as they used him in their own productions. Two years later, he signed a 5-year contract with Warner Brothers where he was employed in bit roles in dozens of films. In 1935 he appeared in over 20 pictures for the studio, including his first western, “Moonlight on the Prairie” where he garnered considerable praise as an opponent to Dick Foran.

In mid-1937, Gordon was loaned to Republic to work with Gene Autrey in “Boots and Saddles” and then to 20th Century Fox to do “Roll Along, Cowboy,” a Smith Ballew western. He was impressive enough in his parts for Columbia Studios to offer him the lead in their serial, “The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok.” Upon its completion, studio head Harry Cohn immediately signed the 34-year-old hard-working and personable Elliott to a contract to do a series of 8 westerns with the Larry Darmour unit — and changed his name to Bill Elliott. In the first picture, “In Early Arizona” the actor played a very fictionalized Wyatt Earp. Darmour had only produced four pictures, however, when Columbia took over the series. After first using Bill in another 15-chapter series called “Overland With Kit Carson” (with Trevor Burdette as a villain named Pegleg), they assigned him to producer Leon Barsha for the final four. Beginning with “Taming of the West” (1939), Elliott was cast as screen character “peaceable” Wild Bill Saunders with Dub Taylor as his sidekick, Cannonball.

Columbia then signed the actor to do a series of eight Wild Bill Hickok adventure pictures with Taylor again as Cannonball. Among Bill’s leading ladies were Iris Meredith, Dorothy Faty, Luana Walters, Betty Miles, and Mary Daily. In “Beyond The Sacramento” (aka Power of Justice), he worked with Evelyn Keyes.

The studio also employed Elliott to do an additinoal eight formula westerns for producer-director Oliver Drake with Tex Ritter (who had just left Monogram when his 5-year contract expired) as his co-star. Ther first picture (and what most critics feel was the best) was King of Dodge City, which also featured Taylor (who soon quit, however, and was replaced by Frank Mitchell).

In 1940 Bill was #10 on the Motion Picture Herald-Fame’s poll of Top Western Stars. He also placed every year in the Top 10 on the prestigious survey until 1954 (a total of 15 years) and was in the Top 5 a total of 10 times (#9-1941, #7-1942, #9-1943, #5-1944, #4-1944, #2-1946, #4-1947, #3-1948, #5-1949, #4-1950, #6-1951, #4-1952, #4-1953, #4-1954).

Although he and Tex were good friends, Elliott was not particularly happy about the double billing the two men shared and after eight pictures together, he left Columbia in late 1942 to go to Republic to replace Gene Autry, who had enlisted in the Air Force the previous summer (at the same time, Ritter also left Columbia to go with Universal, where he teamed with Johnny Mack Brown). Bill ended his association with Columbia with a 15-chapter serial entitled Valley of Vanishing Men, which was released in December 1942.

At Republic, Elliott was teamed with George “Gabby” Hayes, Anne Jeffreys and Roy Barcroft for a series of eight pictuers, beginning with Calling Wild Bil Elliott (released in April 1943). For the first time, Elliott the actor was now also billed as Wild Bill Elliott.

In the summer of 1944, Bill was the studio’s natural choice when Republic decided to revive the popular Red Ryder movie series (based on Fed Harmon’s comic strip hero), which earlier starred Don “Red” Barry in 1940. Gabby, then nearly 60, also appeared with Elliott in the first two pictures in the new series, but then went back to working with Roy Rogers. Bill especially enjoyed working with Bobby Blake (who played Little Beaver) in the series. Like Tom Mix, Elliott liked children and always insisted that the scenarist write a younster in the plot of his films at some point. The following summer Bill joined a number of other Western stars to do a guest bit — his only guest appearance — as himself in Rogers’ Bells of Rosarita.

After performing in 16 Red Ryder installments, Elliott was replaced by Allen “Rocky” Lane. Meanwhile, Bill was handpicked by Yates to substitute for Randolph Scott when he decided not to play the colorful highwayman SPanish Jack in Republic’s quality production of In Old Sacramento (1946), directed by Joseph Kane. The popular picture, which co-starred Constance Moore (was later re-issued as Flame of Sacramento) had earlier been filmed in the 1920s as Diamond Carlisle and in 1940 as The Carson City Kid (with Roy Rogers). Now billed as William Elliott, he became a Class A star and was right next to Rogers as the top B-western favorite of 1946.

As William Elliott, Bill did nine additional big-budget films for Republic including The Plainsman and the Lady (1946) and Wyoming (1947) where he was unfornately teamed with European-born skating star Vera Ralston (Yates’ wife). The cowboy star also dd two pictures for his own production unit — Hellfire (1948) with Marie Windsor and The Showdown (1950) — which was his last picture for Republic. During the late 1940s, Bill also tried in vain to interest Yates in casting him in a film based on Hart’s life.

Elliott departed Republic in late 1950 after eight years although the studio continued to re-release his earlier films. During that time Bill could also be heard on the “Wild Bill Elliott” western variety series on radio with the Andrew Sisters and Gabby Hayes.

Bill then signed to do a series of 16 outdoor films for producer Vincent M. Fennely at Monogram, in which he was again billed as Wild Bill Elliott. The first was The Longhorn (November 1951) directed by Lewis Collins.

After Fargo (the fourth picture), Monogram became Allied Artists, and for them the actor did an additional seven westerns. Although the production values were now lower — many were tinted in the sepia process — Elliott did gain a much more mature image, mainly due to Dan Ulman’s exceptional scripts — especially Kansas Territory (also directed by Collins), which featured Peggy Stewart as leading lady. Stewart, who had appeared with Elliott years earlier in his REd Ryder pictures, later told writer Paul Dollinger, “Truly I adored Bill Elliott. And Bill was sharp. He was like an attorney, and he befriended me an awful lot. He’d look after me.” Ulman also scripted Bill’s last “oater” for the studio — The Forty-Niners — in which he played opposite Virginia Grey. It was directed by Thomas Carr, who had also helmed other Elliott pictures at Monogram.

By the early 1950s, the B-Westerns were biting the dust due to changing economics, public tastes and, of course, television — which dealt the entire movie industry a very serious blow. Elliott’s last western was The Forty-Niners (released May, 1954). He completed his remaining studio obligations — five films — in a series of detective melodramas, the last of which was Footsteps in the Night (1957).

After his retirement from pictures at 53, Bill sold his Westwood, California home and moved to a ranch near Las Vegas in 1957. He also owned a ranch near Calabas, California, which raised horses and cattle. He became interested in collecting Western memorabilia and also studied geology. In the late 1950s he was employed as the national spokesman for Vicroy cigarettes. After moving to Las Vegas, he was persuaded to host a teleseries which offered his olf films. He also did two pilot films for television — “The Marshal of Trail City” and “Parson of the West” — but neither found a network sponsor.

Bill and Helen’s 34-year marriage ended in divorce in 1961. That same year he married Dolly Moore.

The great cowboy star died of cancer on November 26, 1965, in Las Vegas (where he is buried). He was 61.

Carmen Nance married Louis Green in 1931 in Kansas City and died two years later on March 2, 1933, at the age of 30. Maude Nance died on June 12, 1936. She was 54. Both women were buried at the Forest Hills Cemetery in Kansas City, MO. Leroy Nance died at 63 on November 15, 1937, and was buried at the Harwick Wheeler Cemetery, located 7 miles west of Pattonsburg. Dale Nance married Frieda N. Lewis (born June 15, 1908 in Australia) on May 13, 1938. The couple had two children — Bruce Dale (born July 20, 1939) and Dianne Audry (born October 28, 1942).

Reprinted from Yesteryear magazine, written by Dwight Bratcher.

Pattonsburg’s Gordon Nance as “Wild Bill Elliott”

Gordon A. Nance was born Oct. 16, 1904, on a farm near Pattonsburg, MO. In 1946, he was rated as the No. 2 Western movie star in America, topped only by Roy Rogers.

Gordon A. Nance was born Oct. 16, 1904, on a farm near Pattonsburg, MO. In 1946, he was rated as the No. 2 Western movie star in America, topped only by Roy Rogers.

Gordon was the son of Leroy Nance and Maude Auldridge Nance. He loved horses and was proficient at roping, bulldogging and bronco busting. At age 16, Gordon won first place at the American Royal as a rodeo rider.

In 1925 at age 21, Gordon used the stage name “Elliott” and appeared in his first film with Clara Bow, Gilbert Roland and Clark Gable. In 1927 he was in John Wayne’s first picture. That same year he married Helen Meyers. In 1935, Gordon was in 22 films, his busiest year.

In 1938 he changed his name to Bill Elliott and played Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, and Kit Carson. In 1939 he was joined by sidekick Dub “Cannonball” Taylor. Gordon was in the Top 5 Western stars for 10 years during the 1940s and 1950s. In 1943 he stared a series as Wild Bill Elliott and in 1944 played in the popular Red Ryder series with 16 installments, some with Bobby Blake as Little Beaver. Gordon also played in a series on the radio in the early 1950s. He made his last movie in 1957, a detective story named “Footsteps in the Night.”

Gordon retired at age 53 and moved to a ranch near Las Vegas. He remarried in 1961 to Dolly Moore. He died of cancer in 1965 at age 61 and was buried at Las Vegas.

The touch that set Bill Elliott apart from other “B Western” gunslingers was the way he wore his guns and by the way he not always made it a fair fight. Elliott wore his two guns backwards and high at the belt line. After the cross draw, he would move his guns, giving the impression of throwing bullets. Elliott sometimes used a bull whip and was known to kick a villain when he was down or to beat the truth out of a villain while holding a gun on him.

Gordon was slender with a hawk-like nose and flashing eyes. He had a distinctive, clipped speech and deep resonant voice. He didn’t wear flashy clothing as other movie stars did, but did begin to wear “the tall hat with a good roll” in later years.

Gordon was a true rodeo champion that became a western movie star. He had his own ideas about what and how a cowboy should act in the movies.

Written by David Stark, Gallatin, in August, 1993. Loren and Rose Clay of Pattonsburg supplied pictures, assisted by Forest Meadows.

Govenor Dockery — A Great Missourian

Words are not adequate to express the remarkable life of Alexander Monroe Dockery, called a great Missourian. Only a few facts of his life would be worth remembering.

Words are not adequate to express the remarkable life of Alexander Monroe Dockery, called a great Missourian. Only a few facts of his life would be worth remembering.

A.M. Dockery died in Gallatin at the home of Mrs. E.S. Gregory on Dec. 26, 1916. His wife and children preceded him in death. He was born Feb. 11, 1845, five miles south of Gallatin. Dr. Dockery went to several medical schools and practiced medicine at Linneus in Linn County and at Chillicothe. He gave up medical service in 1874 and returned to Gallatin, his hometown.

In March, 1874 Dockery became director and cashier and secreary of the Farmers Exchange Bank. Cashier Dockery served with T.B. Yates for 13 years. Yates was bank president from 1874 to 1892. John W. Meade took the cashier’s job in July 1886 and became president in July, 1899.

Cashier Dockery began his national career in 1882 when he was elected to Congress from the 3rd Congressional District. Congressman Dockery served 8 terms in the House of Representatives (16 years). In 1900 Congressman Dockery was elected governor and served 4 years. In 1913 Gov. Dockery served President Woodrow Wilson as Assistant Postmaster General throughout both terms of Wilson’s administration.

Gov. Dockery served in other modes of public service and was known in Gallatin for his dignified yet simple bearing. He had a charming personality, an unforgetable smile and wink, a warm hand clasp, high ideals and outstanding ability. He had a great love for children, despite losing all of his own.

Alexander 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 on that faith and his funeral service was conducted at the Gallatin Methodist Church. His body was placed at the Edgewood Cemetery, Chillicothe.

Dr. Dockery married Miss 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 and in May, 1883, was elected Grand Master of Missouri. He was elected Grand Master of Missouri Odd Fellows in May, 1910 — then the only person in Missouri to hold both places of honor.

In a 1926 editorial in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, the following description was given to the first Missouri Governor of the Twentieth 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 spoke of the late A.M. 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 earlier (March, 1926) followed in less than a week by the Faremrs Bank of Jameson and the Bank of Jameson. All closed by the Missouri State Finance Commissioner.

Written by David Stark, Gallatin. December, 1994

Governor Dockery’s Official Summary of Service

Alexander Monroe Dockery, physician, banker and Congressman for many years, was Missouri’s 30th governor. He announced for Governor in 1899 and on June 5, 1900, he was nominated by acclamation. Elected over Joseph Flory, Republican, and four other opponents, he served from January 14, 1901, to January, 1905.

Alexander Monroe Dockery, physician, banker and Congressman for many years, was Missouri’s 30th governor. He announced for Governor in 1899 and on June 5, 1900, he was nominated by acclamation. Elected over Joseph Flory, Republican, and four other opponents, he served from January 14, 1901, to January, 1905.

Several important laws marked his administration: A beer inspection law was revised; preference was given to Missouri stone in erecting public buildings; franchises of public utilities were taxed; the first law for the consolidation of school districts was passed; entire new election laws, both general and primary, were enacted; and the Legislature appropriated $1 million for the St. Louis Louisiana Exposition of 1904, the largest sum voted by any state.

In January, 1905, at the end of his term, he returned to his home at Gallatin. In 1906, he was given an honorary LL.D. degree by the University of Missouri. He was elected treasurer of the Democratic State Committee of Missouri in 1912 and 1914. On March 10, 1913, he was appointed third assistant Postmaster General, serving from March 17, 1913, to March 31, 1921. He died at Gallatin on December 26, 1926, and was buried in Edgewood Cemetery at Chillicothe.

Dockery was born near Gallatin on February 11, 1845, to the Rev. Willis E. and Sarah Ellen McHaney Dockery. He attended local public schools and an academy in Macon City, which was closed in the Civil War. He studied medicine at Keytesville and then entered St. Louis Medical College, graduating March 2, 1865. He began the practice of medicine at Linneus, MO, before moving to Chillicothe in 1868, where on April 14, 1869, he married Miss Mary E. Bird. He practiced medicine in Chillicothe seven years, and served as the appointed physician of Livingston County. In 1872 he was named to the board of curators at the University of Missouri, serving 10 years. He gave up medicine and on March 20, 1874, returned to Gallatin.

From 1878 to 1882 he was chairman of the congressional committee of his district. He served Gallatin as a city councilman from 1878 to 1881 and as mayor from 1881 to 1883. Thus, he was mayor of Gallatin when the county seat town hosted the nationally known trial of outlaw Frank James. He was elected as a Democrat to Congress in 1882, and served eight consecutive terms, from March 4, 1883, to March 3, 1899.

Tragedy marked Dockery’s children: Six died in infancy and two others at an early age — a daughter at seven, and a son at three. Mrs. Dockery died January 1, 1903, in the Mansion at Jefferson City and was buried January 3, 1903, with her children in Chillicothe. Mrs. Dockery’s death was the third in the Mansion: Governor John S. Marmaduke in December, 1887, and Carrie Crittenden, daughter of Governor Thomas T. Crittenden during his administration. Mrs. Dockery was the first wife of a Governor to die while he was in office. Mrs. Al M. (Kate S.) Morrow was hostess for the rest of Dockery’s term.

Reprinted from the Official Manual, State of Missouri, 1963-64, pp. 23-24.

Samuel Cox Takes a Ride

Samuel Cox of Daviess County tells about a 1200-mile ride he accomplished in 30 days during 1859 in order to avoid Sioux Indians. This feat, accomplished on the use of two good mules, is considered as extraordinary in Western history.

Samuel Cox of Daviess County tells about a 1200-mile ride he accomplished in 30 days during 1859 in order to avoid Sioux Indians. This feat, accomplished on the use of two good mules, is considered as extraordinary in Western history.

Stories from the U.S. Army’s days of the Old West tell how infantry units could normally out-walk the cavalry and artillery and often were well in camp each night before horses got there. The old Army standard for horses was to select a horse 15 hands and 1000 pounds with a small rider for a 16 mph pace (in an extended gallop). But the best rapid movement was an alternating gallop and trot averaging about 10 mph. The rate was limitd by the weakest animals and rest, feed, and water stops.

This knowledge simply magnifies the story of Samuel Cox.

In 1859 Cox covered over 1200 miles in 30 days, riding from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Nebraska City — the full length of the North Platte River and then some — by mule. His trek includes one leg of 125 miles without stops in order to avoid Sioux Indians.

Cox worked for Alexander Majors of Russell, Majors & Waddell. Prior to Cox’s journey, Majors reported that the best ride he could confirm was by Francis X. Aubery. In 1853, Aubery rode 800 miles frmo Santa Fe, NM, to Independence, MO, in 5 days, 13 hours or roughly 6 mph. Aubery had made the same trip the prior year in just over 8 days. Aubery rode horses in relay, taking an extra horse in lead. By contrast, Samuel Cox accomplished his trip by pack mule in lead, completing the trip without change of animals.

Pony Bob Hasham once rode 380 miles in 36 hours and, at one time, used up 15 horses in one hour trying to make a record trip. At age 15, William Frederic Cody rode 384 miles without rest but exchanged horses several times. Louis Remme once rode from Sacramento to Portland — 700 miles — in 6 days and made his own horse trades en route. The best Pony Express mail trip was 2000 miles in 7 days, 17 hours (10.8 mph).

Majors’ supply trains took about 6 months to make the same trip that Samuel Cox accomplished in 30 days. He was a lone rider and without companions or support, other than two good mules.

Written by David Stark, Gallatin, with Cox’s biography and book by Alexander Majors as sources.

A Newspaper Martyr — “Uncle Wes” Robertson

Gallatin Publisher Wesley L. “Uncle Wes” Robertson is known as Missouri’s Newspaper Martyr.

Gallatin Publisher Wesley L. “Uncle Wes” Robertson is known as Missouri’s Newspaper Martyr.

In the building still housing printing presses off the northeast corner of Gallatin’s business square, Uncle Wes was fatally shot at his desk about 4 p.m. on Dec. 23, 1919. He died about three hours later. His fate climaxed a bitter four-year feud with a disgruntled former city official over stories the 70-year-old editor had published in the Gallatin Democrat.

The newspaper had been leading an effort to rid the community of bootleggers. Hugh Tarwater sued the newspaper for libel following a report on a fine levied against Tarwater for being intoxicated. Damages claimed in the lawsuit totaled $20,000.

In those days, Gallatin, like most small towns throughout America, hosted a Chautauqua. Uncle Wes was on the program committee, and when one of the advertised speakers failed to appear with the crowd waiting in the hot August sun, he set about to fill in.

Imagine, if you will, this colorful, rotund, good-natured bundle of quick and often biting wit, leaning back on his ample haunches, inserting his thumbs into his suspenders and opening his remarks by declaring, “Had I known I would be called upon to speak, I would have worn my $20,000 suit!”

The plaintiff, who was in the audience, stalked from the scene red-faced and obviously enraged. Several weeks passed, building up to a fateful end.

The fiery editor had served as the official town Santa Claus for a number of years. Ironically, it was a chilly December afternoon just two days before Christmas when Gallatin’s longtime publisher was fatally shot as he sat at his desk. During the confusion, Robertson was shot two or three times, and Robert J. Ball, junior manager of the newspaper, was shot at several times but escaped without injury. Tarwater, 50, was immediately taken into custody.

The scene of Tarwater confronting Uncle Wes was one of four selected by the Missouri Press Foundation to be featured in the Missouri Press Heritage Collection. A print of the work by artist James Burkhart is displayed at Gallatin Publishing Company, 203 North Main, located next door to the scene of the shooting. Other heritage prints also on display depict “The First Wilderness Newspaper,” “The First Newspaper Press Arrives in St. Louis,” and “The Country Newspaper Office,” a typical scene during the 1930s.

Wesley L. “Uncle Wes” Robertson was editor and co-publisher of the Gallatin Democrat for over 25 years, the first president (1891) of the Northwest Missouri Press Association, president to the Missouri Press Association (1901), and is remembered as Missouri’s Newspaper Martyr. His funeral services, conducted by the Rev. G. B. Smith at the Methodist Church under auspices of the Masonic and Oddfellows lodges, was exceptionally large.

Reprinted from the Gallatin Tourism booklet (1989) and the Gallatin Democrat, December, 1919

Novelist of Note… John Selby

Gallatin has provided an exceptional number of nationally acclaimed leaders in business, government and the arts. One of its most widely recognized was novelist John A. Selby, whose books were popular in the nation’s bookstores for many years.

Gallatin has provided an exceptional number of nationally acclaimed leaders in business, government and the arts. One of its most widely recognized was novelist John A. Selby, whose books were popular in the nation’s bookstores for many years.

Selby was born in Gallatin in 1897. After attending Park College and the University of Missouri, he joined the Kansas City Star as a journalist and music critic. After 11 years there he was forced to resign because of ill health. The next three years he and his wife lived in France while he recuperated.

They returned to New York where John accepted a position as music and arts critic with the Associated Press. They made their home in Westport, Connecticut.

He was the author of ten novels and was also a lecturer at Columbia University where he taught courses in short-story writing. Later he joined Rinehart and Company as editor-in-chief, a position he held until his retirement in 1965.

Shortly thereafter he moved to Taormina, Sicily. His wife preceded him in death in 1945.

Mr. Selby returned to live in Gallatin for several months in 1972, but returned to Taormina where he lived until his death in 1980. He is buried there.

One of his most successful books was “Island in the Corn” in which many Gallatin readers believe he mirrored his hometown. His novel “Sam” was an All-Nations fiction prizewinner. Two others, “Starbuck” and “Time Was,” were also best sellers.

Gallatin�s favorite son… J.W. Alexander

Many prominent citizens comprise the annals of Gallatin, none more notable than Joshua W. Alexander — considered one of Missouri’s best lawyers not long after admitted into the Missouri Bar Association in 1875. His residence, built about the time of the 1883 Frank James trail held here, still stands and is occupied at 310 East Grand Street.

Many prominent citizens comprise the annals of Gallatin, none more notable than Joshua W. Alexander — considered one of Missouri’s best lawyers not long after admitted into the Missouri Bar Association in 1875. His residence, built about the time of the 1883 Frank James trail held here, still stands and is occupied at 310 East Grand Street.

Much Gallatin history is revealed in Judge Alexander�s resume. His first public post was as public administrator here in 1876. He served 21 years o�n the Gallatin School District Board of Education. He was Gallatin mayor two terms.

In 1892 Judge Alexander was instrumental in developing the contract which moved Grand River College from Edinburg in neighboring Grundy County to Gallatin. He then taught law to students attending the first college session here while serving as president of the Gallatin YMCA in the building which today houses city hall.

But Alexander�s notoriety was also achieved o�n a grander scale.

In 1882 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was in his freshman term when his hometown Gallatin was in the national spotlight as the 1883 trial of Frank James took place. He was quickly recognized for his abilities and became chairman of the House Appropriations Committee in just two years. In 1886 Alexander became Speaker of the House. He was known among his constituents for his labors in the interests of veterans of the Mexican, the Civil and the Spanich wars,�benefitting�their widows and orphans. He was also committed to his party’s pledges of tariff and currency reform.

From January, 1901 through February, 1907, J.W. Alexander served as Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit. He resigned this post to return to national politics, taking his seat in the 60th Congress.

When the Democrats gained majority control of Congress in 1910, Judge Alexander was named chairman of the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. In this Post he helped draft many important laws, including the War Insurance Act, a soldiers� and sailors� insurance law, a law to restore the American Merchant Marine, and the original act controlling wireless telegraphy. He was also appointed chairman of hte U.S. Commission to the International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea, held in London, England.

President Wilson unexpectedly elevated Judge Alexander to the position of Secretary of Commerce o�n Dec. 3, 1919.This responsibility placed the Judge in regular contact with the President and Secretary McAdoo. He was succeeded in this post by Herbert Hoover o�n March 4, 1921, when Warren G. Harding was President.

J.W. Alexander was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Jan. 22, 1852. His mother was Jane Robinson Alexander, born in England. Josh was an only child. He grew up as his family lived in Georgia, Oklahoma and Texas.

It was in June, 1872, that 20-year-old Joshua Willis Alexander came to Gallatin to visit classmates. He sought the company of the sons of Samuel A. Richardson, whom he met while attending Christian University at Canton, MO, near the Mississippi River. Evidently, Alexander impressed the Richardsons. He had achieved a Master of Arts degree and an LLD while in college and was on his way to California, perhaps to teach school. Mr. Richardson induced him to remain in Gallatin to study law in Richardson’s office. The decision proved significant.

J.W. Alexander was in public life for nearly 50 of the 64 years he called Gallatin home. He is perhaps Gallatin�s best example of integrity, pride and efficiency in community, civic and social service. He cast his first vote here, in an 1873 election. He married the daughter of Judge Samuel A. Richardson, Roe Ann, at the First Christian Church in 1876 and fathered 12 children. He practiced law in Gallatin off and on until his death. Apparently no record exists to chronicle all the business activities in Gallatin which involved J.W. Alexander; however, he served as the senior member of the law firm Alexander, Richardson & Allen in 1897 and he wsa owner and president of the Gallatin Savings Bank, part owner of the Windsor Hotel, and treasurer of Grand River College.

Upon his death o�n Feb. 27, 1936 at age 84, a huge crowd paid their respects during services held at the First Christian Church. His burial was in Brown Cemetery�with masonic rites.

Researched by David Stark, Gallatin, published in part in the Gallatin North Missourian, Nov. 15, 1995; also from the Gallatin Democrat, July 9, 1914.

Gallatin’s Dr. Icie Macy Hoobler a Renown Nutritionist Impacting Pre-Natal Care

Women played an important role in the development of north Missouri?s prairies since frontier days. Gallatin was the home of one of the most distinguished pioneers in nutrition and human health as our nation matured.

Women played an important role in the development of North Missouri’s prairies since frontier days. Gallatin, MO, was the home of one of the most distinguished pioneers in nutrition and human health as our nation matured.

Icie Macy Hoobler was among the first to recognize the role of nutrition in human reproduction and growth. She became nationally known, spending more than half of her life in Michigan to direct and guide programs that endure today in the educational, public health, and medical practices here and throughout the world.

Gallatin native Dr. Icie Macy Hoobler (1892-1984) was a scientific leader in recognizing the role of nutrition in human reproduction and growth.

In 1923, in cooperation with the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, she helped establish the Nutrition Research Laboratory of the Merrill Palmer School and was director of chemical and biological research. In 1931, the Laboratory was transferred to the Children’s Fund of Michigan. Dr. Hoobler continued as director of nutrition research until the Children’s Fund completed its work in 1954.

At that time, the original unpublished laboratory data was deposited in the Merrill Palmer School were Dr. Hoobler remained as a consultant.

It was in these laboratories, under her dedicated direction that some of the world’s classic studies in nutrition and human growth were conducted. She was the first to do metabolic studies on pregnant and lactating women. And the results of these studies provided the major data on which the National Research Council established its recommended dietary allowances for pregnancy and lactation.

A press photo of Dr. Icie Macy Hoobler (center) taken in 1947. Dr. Hoobler determined the most effective means of enhancing dairy milk with Vitamin D, which proved essential to the fight against rickets. Her analysis of breast milk composition unveiled its vitamin and antibody content and uncovered the lack of a mother-baby boundary for artificial compounds like alcohol or drugs. She carried out experiments in nutrition that allowed the government to formulate meals for poor children that cured scurvy and growth irregularities. Through her studies of the mother-fetus dyad, she determined the crucial role of pre-natal care in child and mother health.

Icie Macy Hoobler, an outstanding chemist, completed four academic degrees and was a member of 18 scientific societies. She was the first woman selected as chairman of a division of the American Chemical Society and was director of the Children’s Fund of Michigan for more than 20 years — not bad for a rural Daviess County girl who persevered in nutritional science at a time when females were not considered qualified to set foot in a research laboratory!

Dr. Hoobler returned to Gallatin in failing health. She was a member of Gallatin United Methodist Church. She died at Highlands Nursing Home in Gallatin on Jan. 6, 1984.  An obituary published by the New York Times on Jan. 13, 1984 reads as follows:

Dr. Icie Macy Hoobler, an authority on nutrition and child growth who was the first woman to head a division of the American Chemical Society, died last Friday in Gallatin, Mo. She was 91 years old.

Dr. Hoobler rose to prominence in the field of biological chemistry in the 1930’s, when she conducted extensive work on child development at Children’s Village in Redford, Mich. In recognition of her investigations on food chemistry and particularly for her studies of the effect of diet on the composition of mother’s milk, the American Chemical Society awarded her the Francis P. Garvan Medal honoring women in chemistry in 1946.

A native of Gallatin, she received bachelor’s degrees from the Central College for Women and the University of Chicago, a master’s degree from the University of Colorado, and a Ph.D. from Yale in 1920.

In 1923 Dr. Hoobler began what was to be her major life’s work at the Merrill Palmer Institute, a school in Detroit. Seven years later she became the first director of the research laboratory of the Children’s Fund of Michigan, where her studies of nutritional patterns of mothers and children won national attention. In World War II she was a member of the National Research Council’s Food and Nutrition Board.

Dr. Hoobler was a former president of the American Institute of Nutrition, a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Public Health Association. She was the first female member of the Detroit Engineering Society.

After retirement from active research, she was a founder of Grand Valley College in Michigan. In 1982 she moved back to Gallatin, MO. Her husband, Dr. B. Raymond Hoobler, a Detroit pediatrician, to whom she was married in 1938, died in 1943. There are no immediate survivors.

At the start of Dr. Hoobler’s career, the most advanced facilities screened milk for twelve chemical factors. By the time her studies were in full swing, over two hundred separate components had been identified and catalogued according to their changing concentration over the course of nursing. If Vitamin D milk is a commonplace now, while rickets, once the scourge of America’s slums, is not, much of the thanks for that must go to Dr. Macy.
In August of 1982, Dr. Hoobler published a book about her life’s work entitled “Boundless Horizons: Portrait of a Pioneer Woman Scientist.”

The following is taken from an online post written by Dale DeBakcsy dated Nov. 16, 2016. It is entitled…

Milk and Blood: Icie Macy Hoobler and the Science of Infant-Mother Nutrition. (Women in Science 77)

A young mother of the early twentieth century who couldn’t or didn’t want to breast feed was a creature entirely at the hands of bumbling chance.  Doctors of the era prescribed individually concocted replacement formula recipes based on a mixture of patchwork research, folk wisdom, and personal idiosyncracy.  The most scientific among them considered three factors and three alone: proteins, fats, and carbs.  The vitamin and antibody content of milk went blithely unmeasured until poor growth rates, scurvy, and rickets became so endemic in lower income households that a new, rigorous approach to infant nutrition, and the mother-fetus dyad, was required.  The woman at the head of that approach was a pioneer farm girl turned biochemist by the name of Icie Macy (1892-1984).

Her early life reads like a Laura Ingalls Wilder book.  Born on a remote form in Gallatin, Missouri in 1892, her first years were filled with the daily chores of rural life, with preparing food for preservation in the root cellar, harnessing horses for harvest, and occasionally mourning the passing of a beloved cow struck by lightning.  Dirt roads, outhouses, and country piety were the matter of her early memories – those, and a profound curiosity about nature’s workings.  How do seeds grow?  How does a chick develop and hatch?

For many country girls, that curiosity went spectacularly unfulfilled, but Macy’s parents believed stoutly in education and progress.  Her father was at the head of every effort to bring technology to Gallatin, laying down electrical lines and paving roads, and he insisted that, so long as his daughter had the drive to learn, he would do whatever he could to ensure her the means.  “In the future we may not be able to provide you with many material things or wealth,” her parents said, “but if we can encourage and provide an endowed education we are giving you something that cannot be taken from you.”

Like Florence Sabin, her first dream was a musical career but, again like Sabin, she came to a point where she felt mere technical prowess could take her no further.  She hated performing, and doubted her ability to meaningfully interpret the music beyond the correctness of the notes, and with her father’s blessing switched her major from music to English.  English, however, was a choice of convenience, as she came to realize her true passion lay in science, and in particular in the rapidly developing field of biochemistry. Her college career coincided with the heady days of the Vitamin Revolution, when the connection between vitamin deficiency and physical abnormality was being uncovered by a dedicated but often mocked cadre of scientists attempting to bring the insights of chemistry to the study of biology.

Macy was encouraged by her professors to not settle for a career as an underappreciated teacher, but to explore her gift for original research, and her early experiences in the classroom reinforced that decision.  Though she attempted to make light of it, the daily harassment she endured as a woman science professor burns through the pages of her memoirs:

In those years of my youth I blushed readily and radiantly.  My associates and students had great fun in stimulating my red face and neck.  At times I was forced to fight back to retain my womanly dignity and self-respect but usually I could muster some humor and accept the trauma without too much annoyance.  Most of the students assigned to my sections of freshman chemistry were older than the usual freshman.  Many were returning soldiers of World War I.  Some resented having a woman teacher much less a young blushing upstart of a girl.  Other students were less earnest and younger, were delighted to sit in the front row of seats looking up into the blushing face of their teacher, making wisecracks to increase the intensity of the color.  This was traumatic at times until I regained my self-respect and gathered courage and determination to demonstrate to the class that a woman chemistry teacher was capable of teaching, even grown men just back from war.

Even when she was free of disrespectful students, her battle with casual institutional sexism was hardly done.  As a researcher at a Pittsburgh hospital in 1920, she faced both of the undersung horrors of pioneering professional women: bathrooms and cafeterias.

It might sound trivial, but the roll call of absurd indignities experienced by early women scientists at the hands of these two facilities could fill its own article.  Macy’s case is a typical one.  Her hospital had bathroom facilities for male staff only, and so informed her that, if she needed a restroom, she would have to use a public toilet a half-block away.  That would involve leaving her post for an extended time and, since she didn’t want to get criticized for being absent, she did what so many women did in similar circumstances – she held it and only went to the restroom when absolutely necessary, developing an acute case of nephritis as a result that required months to recover from.

Meanwhile, in the cafeteria she was forbidden from eating with the male doctors, and regulations prevented her from eating with the nurses.  So, a place was eventually found with her at the worker’s cafeteria, except that her schedule didn’t match theirs, so she was reduced to eating whatever leftovers were to be had after their lunch, alone in an empty room.

She was, at this time, a doctor with a PhD from Yale, a highly gifted lab researcher doing important work in the emerging field of nutrition, and yet she was reduced to scavenging for leftovers, and ruining her kidneys, all for the sake of institutional prudery.  It was a low point in her career and, though the president of the hospital eventually interceded on her behalf to remove the worst of the impositions, better times didn’t truly come until an offer arrived from UC Berkeley to teach under the expert guidance of home economics giant Agnes Fay Morgan.

She was not long in that post, however, before a call came from the newly established Merrill-Palmer School in Michigan to head their nutritional research division.  That institution was established with the goal of improving the lot of children through a thorough study of the nutritional needs of mothers, fetuses, and infants.  It was an ideal job for Macy, with her focus on the intersection of children’s welfare, chemistry, and public policy.

Here, and at its successor institution, the Children’s Fund of Michigan Research Division, she served for five decades, driving research into the chemical components that make infants develop normally, and dispelling the haze of rumor and half-practice that dominated pediatric practice previously.

Not surprisingly, much of her research focused on the composition of breast milk to determine the links between the mother’s nutritional needs and the infant’s growth.  At the start of her career, the most advanced facilities screened milk for twelve chemical factors.  By the time her studies were in full swing, over two hundred separate components had been identified and catalogued according to their changing concentration over the course of nursing.

She put definitively to rest a prevailing slice of wisdom about the superiority of Jersey over Holstein milk and, more importantly, carried out tests about how best to enrich milk with Vitamin D while also conducting studies about the optimal amount needed to prevent rickets without a toxic vitamin overdose.  If Vitamin D milk is a commonplace now, while rickets, once the scourge of America’s slums, is not, much of the thanks for that must go to Macy.

But maybe it takes more to impress you than the eradication of a disease that grotesquely twisted the development of thousands of children annually.  Very well, then.  Macy’s studies of the effects of deficiency of all vitamins led directly to the development of nutritive supplements for the children of low income families that all but eliminated scurvy as well (some parents chose to use their children’s lemon allotment to flavor their cocktails, as it turned out, thus the “all but”).  550 children over the course of her study received some 280 tons of milk, 28 tons of vegetable soup, 5 tons of fruit, 2.5 tons of lemon juice powder/martini enhancer, and 300 gallons of cod liver oil (for its high vitamin D content).

Her studies of the varying composition of blood during an infant’s development led to the discovery of hemoglobin deficiency in many African American children which in turn led to improved anemia screening practices, while her studies of breast milk determined that, while a mother produces natural barriers to make sure her child does not receive toxic overdoses of vitamins, there are no such barriers for artificial chemicals or drugs.  These studies then prepared the way for an appreciation of the unique health problems facing children of alcoholic or drug-addicted mothers.

And not only all of that, but she also established a correlation between access to pre-natal care and the subsequent health and growth of the baby, the statistics from which contributed to the push for universal access to such care regardless of ability to pay, which lowered the birth risks to both mother and child and made our world of regular pregnancy check-up screenings a reality.

Somewhere in the midst of those vital studies, she married Dr. Raymond Hoobler.  She was 46, and he was 66, and seems something of a George Babbitt, but he treated her well enough and, most importantly, supported her fully in continuing her career.  They lived happily through the five years they had together before his death.  She never re-married but devoted herself increasingly to large-scale nutrition projects, including a trip to India where she records herself as being astounded to find that, yes, women of other faiths seemed to care about their children’s health too.  (Her unconscious assumption that virtue is a unique property of Christians is one of her memoir’s less charming aspects.)

She began in a world that barely knew what milk was and ended by not only exhaustively analyzing its shifting composition, and not only detailing the extent and limits of a mother’s chemical barriers, but perfecting methods to produce milk that would eliminate one of childhood’s most ghastly diseases.  Her work made care of the mother from the onset of pregnancy a priority, and showed the impact of food and shock on a child’s development, and her larger nutritional studies provided baselines for nutritive value that made governmental relief programs for poor children a targeted force for large scale good.

And yet, in spite of the massive boon her work was for civilization, my guess is that most of us haven’t heard of Ice Macy-Hoobler.  Because she worked with children, and child nutrition is a part of “women’s science,” and women’s science somehow doesn’t count.  Like Ellen Swallow, she was a researcher whose impact was measured in the millions of lives her work saved and enriched rather than in acclaim, and for her, if not for our own sense of justice, that was enough.

Icie Macy Hoobler served on the Grand Valley State Colleges Board of Control from 1960-1968. Until recently, the Icie Macy Hoobler Living Center was built in 1987 as part of the Grand Valley State University campus. In February, 2015, University officials approved the construction of a new housing and academic building which involved tearing down the old 50-bed Hoobler Living Center. A portion of the new building, North B, is now the new Icie Macy Hoobler Living Center.

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)

The namesake for the county seat of Daviess County, MO, is Abraham Alphonse Albert Gallatini (1761-1849)

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.