“Little Known Civil War Tales Were Presented at Historical Society Meeting.” The church annex was packed for MVGHS’s annual meeting. Glen Blesi posted this story, which ran in the Hermann, New Haven and Owensville news on July 22, 2010.
The annual meeting of the Meramec Valley Genealogical and Historical Society (MVGHS) was held on Wednesday, July 21 (2010), at the Pacific Presbyterian Church. As is the custom, a carry-in dinner was enjoyed before the speaker was introduced. Pauline Masson of the society put together the program.
The primary speaker was Margaret “Maggie” Brundick Koetting. She is a Pacific native who now lives in Newburgh, Ind. She is in the fifth generation of her family to reside at Pacific. Koetting did a marvelous job of researching Pacific’s Civil War heritage and presented her findings in a Powerpoint presentation. Several others aided her in giving brief talks throughout the evening.
Some of the personages covered in the meeting were William C. Inks, Col. Francis J. Herron and Brig. Gen. Sterling Price. It was brought out that William C. Inks had been the first to plat the town now known as Pacific in 1851. He named it Franklin. (The name was later changed because a town of Franklin already existed in Howard County.) When the Civil War struck, Inks was the town’s postmaster. He was mustered into service in September 1861 by Gen. Nathaniel Lyon and put in charge of the railroad. At that time there were four railroads west of the Mississippi River. The charge was later turned over to Col. Francis J. Herron.
Col. Herron brought his 9th Iowa Regiment to Pacific and established Camp Herron. He named it for himself. The camp’s location has been a subject of debate, with some believing it to have been at the silica plant. During the time the regiment was in Pacific, a malaria outbreak came upon the troops. A mansion on Saint Louis Street, known as the Blue Goose, was established as a hospital. It was situated at today’s Bank of America.
Col. Herron made many friends at Pacific and by December felt so comfortable at Pacific that he invited the town to a Grand Union Ball to be given by the officers.
Pacific served as a turning point in Confederate Brig. Gen. Sterling Price’s 1864 raid throughout Missouri. Price, whom Billy Murphy of Pacific says bought his commission from Gen. Lee for $200,000, had been sent from Arkansas to capture the federal arsenal in St. Louis. The Confederates needed Missouri on their side to keep President Lincoln from being re-elected. They also needed supplies such as mules, horses and wagons. The Union had all the manufacturing facilities. The Union Army learned of Price’s whereabouts at each step so were able to keep him in check. Price determined that he would not be able to go to St. Louis, but he wanted to go to Franklin (Pacific) because the railroads converged there.
After plundering and setting fire to several buildings in town, Price and his men were driven out of town by Union Col. E. H. Wolfe and his brigade. Billy Murphy, 80, told those assembled at the church of his own family’s involvement in Price’s raid. Price, whom Murphy referred to simply as a guerrilla, had camped at Signal Hill in Catawissa. Murphy’s great-grandfather, a card sharp known as Riverboat Dan, heard that Price was coming. Riverboat Dan hid his horses and mules in a cave and was able to save them. However, two of Murphy’s great-aunts were ravished by Price’s band of ragtag soldiers. Because of this incident, the aunts were shunned by the locals, who did not want their sons dating “used” women. They were exiled to Colorado, where they raised their families. Murphy is in contact with the descendants.
In addition to the colorful Civil War history gleaned from the meeting, attendees were able to hear of Zach Myers’ efforts in earning an Eagle Scout badge. Myers is raising money for the purchase of a cannon for the city of Pacific to place atop Blackburn Park Bluff. He presented figures of contributions from various businesses, organizations and individuals, and told how much is still needed. He was given additional funds during the meeting.
Missouri played a significant role in what the Union called the War of the Rebellion. After Virginia and Tennessee, it had the largest number of battles “across the five Aprils” of the war. There were 1,100 known battles or skirmishes here. During the upcoming sesquicentennial of the war, it is likely that many more colorful local tales of the war years will be researched and told such as those told Wednesday night in Pacific.
I have to tell you . . . as MVGHS Civil War chair I orchestrated this event, which was repeated at Pacific High School in March 24, 2011 and filmed in a video. The Pacific Tourism Commission, Pacific Chamber of Commerce and Pacific Partnership sponsored and funded the video.
The society is releasing a CD of the event this week. Cost is $15. Orders can be mailed to the MVGHS, c/o Scenic Regional Library, 119 W. St. Louis St., Pacific MO 63069. Make checks payable to MVGHS. All proceeds go to the MVGHS.
Orders mailed by Aug. 14 will receive free shipping. The video can also be picked up at the Pacific Library on Tuesday mornings during society member work sessions. For more information call Pauline Masson at 314-805-9800.