The Pure Missouri Post: November 2022
All that’s well and good (and sometimes a little odd) in the Show Me State
Here we are, back on track 🚂 (but less frequent)
Hello, Pure Missouri fans! I’ve spent most of this year building and publishing the KC Downtown Loop, a weekly online publication focusing on Downtown Kansas City, but I’ve been encouraged by many of you loyal Pure Missouri Post readers — and by others who have continued to sign up in recent months — to pick back up where I left off with this Show Me State-themed newsletter.
Beginning with this Nov. 13 issue, we will resume publishing The Pure Missouri Post on the second Sunday of each month. (I say “we” because I sometimes have an intern and I often work with freelancers or collaborators.)
I’ve made a few tweaks to the Post, too, and I’m really excited to introduce some of you to Unseen St. Louis, an amazing Substack written by Jackie Dana. In the “Show Me Links 🔗” section below, I’ll include a story most months from Unseen St. Louis that I know you’ll enjoy. This month, Jackie takes you along for a riverboat ride on the Mississippi River.
Donate to the cause (or don’t)
Also, because I’m now publishing two Substacks full-time as a freelance writer/editor, I’ve made it possible for you to subscribe to The Pure Missouri Post as a paid subscriber. But you should think of it as a voluntary donation, because everyone gets the newsletter for free, whether you pay for it or not. No questions asked. No pestering. No pay-walls. I tried to make the voluntary monthly rate for the Pure Missouri Post less than $3, but Substack won’t let me set it for less than $5 per month. So, that’s one option if you wish to donate: $5 per month.
A second option is to subscribe for a full year at $30 — which would be the equivalent to $2.50 per month. Not bad for 12 issues of Missouri history, art, current events, news, photos, oddities, and more.
You can even gift a subscription to someone on your Christmas list here:
A third option, for those of you who really enjoy the Pure Missouri Post (or are simply feeling generous), is the Founder’s subscription: $75 or more annually, and we’ll put your name (with your permission) on a “Founders” page of the Pure Missouri Post website along with other Founders. I’ll also send Founders a Pure Missouri T-shirt (one per subscription). And, if we ever do a special event or publish a special project, Founders will be first in line to know, along with other perks.
Again, I appreciate all of our readers, free or paid, so do what feels right for you. We’ve published more than 54 straight weeks of the KC Downtown Loop (and counting), and we’re now committed to publishing monthly issues of the Pure Missouri Post.
Contribute ideas and content to the Pure Missouri Post
Finally, help make this a truly “all-Missouri” newsletter. Feel free to send me Missouri-related content, links, and images for consideration in future issues. We’re looking for:
Photos you’ve taken around the state and have the right to grant permission to publish
Timely links to news articles and features of interest to everyone across the state
Ideas you have for the “Almanac” (on-this-date) history mentions
Links to Missouri artists and art galleries you admire
Your favorite quotes by Missourians, or about Missouri
For now, you can send items to me at email@example.com.
And now, on to the Pure Missouri Post….
Gasconade Bridge train disaster of 1855
In 1855, workers completed a stretch of the Pacific Railroad that connected St. Louis and Jefferson City, an event that was to be celebrated by hundreds of special guests of the railroad, including many prominent citizens of the state of Missouri and St. Louis.
On the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 1, 1855, as the new locomotive O’Sullivan passed through rural Gasconade County in the midst of heavy rain, the train and its 600 invited passengers on 11 cars approached the Gasconade River bridge, just east of the river town. The 760-foot wooden bridge was not completed, but it was made stable with temporary trestle and tested the day before with a train that hauled gravel.
However, when the O’Sullivan started to cross the bridge, the structure from the bank to the first pier collapsed, causing the locomotive and seven of the cars to drop through the timbers into the mud below. Three more cars rolled down the embankment toward the riverbed, and the last car remained on the tracks.
None of the cars, nor the steam engine, ended up in the water, but it remained a horrific, deadly crash. Hundreds were injured and at least 31 were killed. (In the days before paramedics, sterile wound dressing, and being able to maintain contact with victims after the tragedy, it is assumed more fatalities occurred after the accident.)
Among those dead were Thomas O'Sullivan, the train’s chief engineer; Henry Chouteau, a member of the family that founded the city of St. Louis (and cousin to François Chouteau, who founded what would become the city of Kansas City); and Thomas O'Flaherty, a member of the Pacific Railroad board of directors (and father of novelist Kate Chopin). There were only two women passengers on board.
The official cause of the accident was that the train was going too fast across a temporary structure, although a contractor at the site told the New York Times he thought the trestle design was flawed.
Not only was the bridge collapse a disastrous loss of life and injury to many, but it also ended St. Louis community leaders’ dream to have the transcontinental railroad run through its city and state. A bridge across the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Ill., opened the next year, paving the way for the transcontinental railroad to go through Chicago instead.
Josephine Silone Yates born in 1859
Josephine Silone Yates, who became America’s first black female college professor and the first black female to head a major college science department — right here in Missouri at the Lincoln Institute (now Lincoln University) in Jefferson City — was born this week, some time between 1852 and 1859 in Mattituck, NY. (There are numerous conflicting dates online, with most sources citing her birthdate as Nov. 15, 1859.) She had a reputation for having a brilliant mind even as a child, and was such a respected teacher and educational leader at Lincoln that Booker T. Washington tried to hire her as the “lady-principal” at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, but Yates declined.
In 1889, Yates married, moved with her husband to Kansas City, and became active in African-American women’s clubs and civil rights organizations. She served as the first president of the Women’s League of Kansas City, then later served for four years as the president of National Association of Colored Women. She became a nationally known activist and speaker, focusing on social-justice issues relative to African-Americans, and especially black women. Beginning in 1910, following the death of her husband, Yates taught at Lincoln High School in Kansas City. She died two years later, reportedly at the age of 53, after a brief illness.
Missouri Birthdays of Note 🎂
November 2, 1734, in Pennsylvania
Explorer and settler who lived the last 20 years of his life in what is now St. Charles County, Missouri
November 4, 1916, in St. Joseph
CBS television news anchor from 1962 to 1981
November 4, 1925, in St. Louis
Actress best known for her role as Raymond and Robert’s mom, Marie, in TV’s Everybody Loves Raymond
November 6, 1880, in Hannibal
First African-American athlete to win an Olympic medal: two bronzes at the 1904 games in St. Louis
November 9, 1931, in Illinois
Rangers, Angels, Royals, and Cardinals manager; World Series champion with St. Louis in 1982
November 18, 1953, in St. Louis
Cast member of Saturday Night Live, Showtime’s Weeds, and more
November 19, 1976, in St. Louis
Co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, Inc.
November 29, 1964, in Kansas City
Academy Award-nominated actor in Hotel Rwanda, in addition to winning two Grammy Awards and a Tony Award
November 30, 1927, in St. Louis
Emmy Award-winning actor who portrayed the character Benson DuBois on TV’s Soap and its spin-off, Benson
November 30, 1835, in Florida, Mo.
Best known as legendary author, writer, and humorist Mark Twain
SHOW ME LINKS 🔗
Unseen St. Louis
Writer Jackie Dana of the fascinating Substack Unseen St. Louis recounts a recent trip on the Tom Sawyer riverboat, a tour narrated in part by Missouri History Riverfront Takeover Cruise and led by the Missouri Historical Society’s Amanda Clark. Follow the link to Jackie’s Substack to see the Mississippi River from a different angle — and maybe even spot the remains of a shipwreck.
Benton art in Joplin
The complete collection of 91 Thomas Hart Benton Editioned Lithographs are now on exhibition at the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts in Joplin. Visitors can see the exhibition, on loan from the State Historical Society of Missouri, until March 5, 2023. More here from News Talk KZRG Joplin:
Captured in Osage County, this eagle will be nursed back to health and before being released in nearby Maries County.
Mizzou band to perform in Macy’s parade
The 137-year-old University of Missouri band — Marching Mizzou — will make their Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade debut on Nov. 24. In addition to the usual Mizzou fight songs and cheers, the band will perform a hit song recorded by a well known alumnus. KOMU-TV in Columbia has more:
P.S. - And speaking of Mizzou, Nov. 24 is also the 15th anniversary of “Armageddon at Arrowhead,” when ESPN GameDay broadcast live from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City to highlight #2 Kansas taking on #4 Missouri for the Big 12 North championship that night. Mizzou jumped out to a 21-point lead and then held on to win 36-28 when the Tigers sacked KU quarterback Todd Reesing in his own end zone with only seconds remaining in the game. As Mike Kelly, radio voice of the Tigers, said of the 2-point safety for MU: “Sack! Safety! Ball game! Bingo!” Mizzou would be ranked #1 in the nation until they were defeated by the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship game the next week, thus ending the Tigers’ national championship hopes.
Robin VanHoozer, Heroes, encaustic collage on paper, 20 x 12.5 inches
“Under a cosmopolitan exterior, he remained a solid Midwesterner — sensible, genial, beaver-busy, tolerant of all things but snobbery and sham.”
—Kathleen Hoover, author of Virgil Thomson: His Life and Music, on the Missouri-born composer/critic who made his name in New York (and abroad), but remained influenced by his heartland roots. Leonard Bernstein referred to Thomson as the “source” of twentieth-century American music. Thomson was born Nov. 25, 1896, in Kansas City and died in his New York City apartment in 1989. He is buried in a family plot at Slater, Missouri.
Thanks for reading and sharing this Pure Missouri Post. Stay well, be good, and keep in touch.
The Pure Missouri Post is a free publication. However, if you’d like to donate with a paid subscription, you can do so at $5 per month or as little as $30 per year.