Anyone interested in learning more about the history of Franklin County will want to sign up for the 10th annual Local History Class at East Central College.

Organizer Sue Blesi is excited about the lineup of presenters, six of whom are new to the program.

“Without these wonderful volunteers, we would not be able to offer this class,” said Blesi. “We seek out people from all walks of life who have knowledge of a particular aspect of our history.”

All of the proceeds from the class are donated to one of the local historical societies.

The class will again be held on eight Thursday evenings in March and April from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Regional Training Center at the college. Tuition is $50 for the course or $10 per evening at the door, space permitting. There will be two presentations each evening.

To enroll, people should contact the continuing education department at 636-584-6529. For more information, contact Sue Blesi at 573-739-9201 or email

Following is a list of classes being offered:

‘Churches of the 1840s’

March 6, 7 p.m. — Carol Radford, who is president of the St. Clair Historical Museum, will present Churches of the 1840s. As the population of Franklin County began to increase during the 1840s, so did the number of churches. Some of the 20 or so churches organized during this decade will be highlighted.

‘Ads, Lawbreakers and Home Cooking’

March 6, 8 p.m. — Diane Disbro, manager of the Union branch of Scenic Regional Library, will present “Ads, Lawbreakers, and Home Cooking,” covering stories from the 1940s Missourian.

‘Family Photography in Early Franklin County’

March 13, 7 p.m. — Suzanne Pautler, Columbia, will present “Family Photography in Early Franklin County: From Homesteads and Boxcars to Studios.”

She will discuss early photography techniques and reveal how and where settlers and residents had their loved ones photographed in Franklin County in the 1800s and early 1900s. Many photographs of local residents will be used as examples of the work of local photographers.


March 13, 8 p.m. — John Stuart Fryer, a county attorney from Texas with area roots, will present “Missouri-to-Texas Connections in the Formative Years of Texas.” He will focus primarily on people from Franklin County, both under present-day boundaries and from when it was Upper Louisiana.

Tales of Death, Dying

March 20, 7 p.m. — Marc Houseman, director of Washington Historical Museum, will present, “So I’m Dead; Now What?” Marc will “enliven” us with tales of death, dying and burial traditions of 100 or so years ago in Franklin County.

Houseman is not only a historian, but a licensed funeral director and embalmer.

‘One-, Two-Horse Towns’

March 20, 8 p.m. — Sue Blesi, area historian, will present “Some of the One- and Two-Horse Towns of Franklin County.” She will augment her talk with available photographs.

‘Early Settlers’

March 27, 7 p.m. — Steve Claggett, president of Four Rivers Genealogical Society, will present “Early Settlers of Franklin County.” He will discuss the challenges facing settlers (pre-1840) and will explore the mysteries of the lives and living conditions of Benjamin Rogers and Isom Hinson, both of whom have dozens of descendants living in the area.

‘Came to Missouri Hidden in a Coffin’

March 27, 8 p.m. — Sue Blesi, area historian, will make two brief presentations, “Dr. Benjamin Jones, Whose Life Ended at the Poor Farm,” and “Hiram Roller, Who Escaped a Lynch Mob by Coming to Missouri Hidden in a Coffin!” Dr. Jones had a Hinson connection and there are many Roller descendants in the area or, are they really Rollers?

‘Black History in New Haven’

April 3, 7 p.m. — Researcher David Smith, will present “Black History in the New Haven Area.”

‘Depots Are Burning’

April 3, 8 p.m. — Bernard Brown, retired history teacher, will present “The Depots Are Burning!”

He will recount the Fall 1864 movement of the Rebel cavalry along the southwest branch of the Pacific Railroad from Cuba to Pacific and Washington. He will present firsthand information in the words of Confederate and Union commanders, and the reports, orders, messages and provost marshal’s records.

Newspaper articles will provide a view of the destruction of the railroad, the pillaging and looting along the railroad in Crawford and Franklin counties.

‘Bucklick School History’

April 10, 7 p.m. — Area history buff Penny Gerling Smith will present “Bucklick School History” with stories and photographs.

‘Rogerstown: First Franklin County Settlement’

April 10, 8 p.m. — George Bocklage, researcher with the Washington Historical Society, will present “Rogerstown, the first Franklin County settlement.”

Chief Rogers and his band of Shawnee Indians populated Rogerstown, and later, Indian Prairie, before white settlement and made a serious effort to assimilate into white culture.

‘Civil War History of Pacific’

April 17, 7 p.m. — Terry Wilson, former county commissioner and founder of the Hall of Honor, will present “Civil War History of Pacific.” He will cover the garrisoning of Pacific and General Cabell’s raid with his Arkansas Brigade.

‘Honor Flight Veterans’

April 17, 8 p.m. — Judge Larry Davis and Jim Tayon, two of the founders of Franklin County Honor Flight, will present “Honor Flight Veterans.” They will cover highlights in the lives of veterans and expect to bring a few along to share some of their experiences.

‘History of Harney Manion Renovations’

April 24, 7 p.m. — Debbie Depew, president of the Harney Foundation, will present “Renovation of the Harney Mansion.” Learn about the decades-long path back to life of the Gen. William S. Harney Summer Home in Sullivan. Close to death by demolition, concerned citizens slowly brought the 1856 structure back to meaningful use for the community.

Civil War Surgeon

April 24, 8 p.m. — Historian and Re-enactor Charlie Staats will portray Civil War Surgeon Maj. Charles Staats, a fictional character. His presentation of Civil War medicine and surgery will leave a lasting impression.