Anyone with a desire to learn more about the history of the Franklin County area will want to sign up for the 14th annual Local History Class at East Central College. Organizer Sue Blesi is excited about the new lineup of presenters and presentations.
Each year the class offers new content not covered in previous offerings and quite a few people return year after year. Various historical societies and speakers will offer books for sale at the classes.
Blesi seeks out volunteer presenters from all walks of life who have knowledge about a particular aspect of area history.
Proceeds from the 2017 class will be donated to the Four Rivers Genealogical Society to help fund its wonderful research library, which is housed in the Washington Historical Museum and open six days a week from March 1 until Christmas.
Classes will again be held in the East Central Training Center at the southwest corner of the Union campus. It is a one-story building with its own parking lot, which makes it very accessible for people of all ages.
Classes will be held on eight Thursdays in March and April from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuition is $50 for the course or $12 per evening at the door, space permitting.
There will be two presentations each evening. To enroll, contact the Community Education Department at 636-584-6529. For more information, contact Sue Blesi at 573-739-9201 or email email@example.com.
The 2017 lineup of speakers and topics will be as follows:
March 2, 7 p.m. — Kenneth Sohn, World War II survivor, German prisoner of war, will relate some of his horrific war experiences and stories about the depravities of life in a prison camp.
March 2, 8 p.m. — Sue Lampe, knowledgeable genealogist with Four Rivers Genealogical Society, will talk about Newport, the original county seat for Franklin County. Lampe also will discuss the McDonald family’s role in the history of the county.
This presentation is particularly apropos considering the county will be celebrating its 200-year anniversary in 2019.
March 9, 7 p.m. — Dr. Marilyn Stewart will talk about her West ancestors who settled in the tricounty area of Franklin, Crawford and Gasconade counties in the early 1800s. The focus of her presentation will be her deceased uncle, the popular and well-known auctioneer Bransford West, who lived in the Spring Bluff community.
Dr. Stewart retired from teaching in the Rolla Public Schools 20 years ago and has been heavily involved in historic preservation at Cuba. She coauthored a book for the 2007 Cuba Sesquicentennial and has other history projects to her credit.
Her father was an avid genealogist and left a wealth of information to her which she will draw from to create this presentation.
March 9, 8 p.m. — Lee West, past president of the Greater St. Louis Archaeology Society and past recipient of the Missouri Governor’s Humanities Award for History and Archaeology, will present the Archaeology of Franklin County and the Meramec River Valley.
March 16, 7 p.m. — Wayne Winchester, a Pacific businessman, who owned Jenson’s Point for 25 years, will discuss the history of this Route 66 landmark. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as part of the Henry Shaw Gardenway Association in 1939.
It has been a scenic overlook for travelers on the old highway for many years. Now owned by the city of Pacific, Jensen’s Point has been restored and is open to the public.
March 16, 8 p.m. — Pacific native Jeff Titter, who has the distinction of being the youngest person to have served as mayor of Pacific and is now responsible for the countywide 911 system, will give a PowerPoint presentation of postcard scenes from Pacific and the surrounding area dating from about 1908 to 1915.
He will provide a narration based on his research.
March 23, 7 p.m. — History Class Organizer Sue Blesi will discuss connections between Franklin County history and the Maramec Iron Works at Maramec Spring, south of St. James. Her presentation will focus on road building, George and Phoebe Hearst, Samuel Massey and the Moselle Iron Works.
March 23, 8 p.m. — Washington Museum Director Marc Houseman will instruct attendees in Tombstone Probing and Straightening. Marc, who also is the founder and president of the Franklin County Cemetery Association, will focus on locating fallen and buried headstones and methods for straightening leaning headstones.
March 30, 7 p.m. — Steve Claggett, president of Four Rivers Genealogical Society, will talk about some of the long-forgotten place names in Franklin County, including rural post offices, country churches, schools, forts, stage stops, crossroads, stores, mills and river fords.
In the two centuries that have passed since the first settlers arrived here, many locales with names that have been lost during past decades have come and gone.
March 30, 8 p.m. — Retired teacher and Franklin County Researcher Suzanne Pautler became interested in area history when, as a youth, she lived in the Jeffriesburg area where her ancestors had settled in the mid-1800s. Pautler recently visited several villages in Germany where many immigrants lived before emigrating to Missouri in the mid-1800s.
You will get a glimpse of village life in Germany and the many differences the immigrants had to adjust to when they reached their new homeland.
April 6, 7 p.m. — Gary Thornhill, retired director of Public Works for the City of Washington, will present the life of his father-in-law, Major League Baseball Player Morris Martin.
Martin, who served in World War II, was a Purple Heart recipient. Martin played on several Major League teams with such greats as Yogi Berra, Stan Musial and Jackie Robinson.
April 6, 8 p.m. — Art Hebrank, geologist and site administrator of Missouri Mines State Historic Site in Park Hills, will detail the geological history of Missouri, including volcanic eruptions, continental floods, karst erosion, and when dinosaurs roamed near Cape Girardeau.
Nearing 50 years with either the Missouri Geologic Survey or State Parks, Hebrank is a noted expert on Missouri geology and mining history, and conveys his knowledge in a simple, entertaining fashion.
April 13 — Maundy Thursday. No class.
April 20, 7 p.m. — Dan Buescher, former Franklin County prosecuting attorney, will share details of the 1976 murder-for-hire of Pacific Attorney Joseph Langworthy. Richard Chandler was paid to do the deed by another local attorney, but was caught and sentenced to 50 years in the penitentiary without parole.
This long drawn-out case involved many players and twists.
April 20, 8 p.m. — Franklin County’s longest-serving sheriff, Gary Toelke, will present interesting details from several well-known cases he was involved in. These range from the murder of Ray and Janette Helling, transporting bank robber James Pardue to the penitentiary and the comments his charge made en route, and the shocking kidnappings of Shawn Hornbeck, Abby Woods and Ben Ownby, to a little-known Jesse Jackson assassination attempt.
April 27, 7 p.m. — Dr. Anita Mallinckrodt, retired professor of political science, taught at both George Washington University and American University in Washington, D.C., and at the University of Cologne in Germany. She will discuss how the floods and changing course of the Missouri River affected the lives of people living in the early Augusta community.
April 27, 8 p.m. — Cathie Schoppenhorst, historic interpreter at Boone Monument Village and co-chair of Marthasville’s Bicentennial Committee, will present an overview of the Founding of Marthasville and the Early Years. She will include mini-biographies of some of the key characters who contributed to the town’s rich history.