Franklin County has an 1818 Corporation that is spearheading the observance of the birth of the county 200 years ago. The county also has a Bicentennial Committee that will direct the 200th anniversary events and overall celebration.
The county commission has recognized both groups as the official bodies that will plan, finance the events and overall will be in charge of the celebrations.
The Bicentennial Committee is headed by Marc Houseman, president, and Dr. Debbie Depew, vice president. Committee members also are involved with the Franklin County 1818 Corporation.
Enter Terry Wilson, a former county commissioner, who is treasurer of the corporation. His mission is to raise money for the celebration. His job is no easy challenge. To raise money for the county bicentennial events, his task has to compete for the dollar with countless other fundraising campaigns. They are endless and one wonders if the endless requests for money by mail keep the Postal Service afloat.
Wilson is well aware of the other requests for donations, but somebody has to seek funds and he’s out knocking on doors of businesses, and other would-be sources of gifts. The cause certainly is worthy of consideration. Could the United Way next year include the corporation as a member agency for one year?
The many service agencies in the county should keep the County Bicentennial Corporation in mind in 2018-19. Perhaps some special fundraising events could be held by the organizations.
The committee has discussed a number of events it would like to hold in the next two years, beginning in the fall of 2018. Franklin County was established Dec. 11, 1818, by the General Assembly of the Missouri Territory, with an effective date of Jan. 1 of 1819. There have been boundary changes over the years.
Some of the ideas to mark the 200 years of the county:
Rededication of the site of the first courthouse at Newport, along with an old-fashioned picnic;
A traveling historical display telling the story of the county, its cities, other communities, and the development of the county;
An opening ceremony at East Central College;
Bicentennial Parade, probably in Union;
Historic bus tours of the county;
Historical music concert at ECC;
Historical displays and presentations by Scenic Regional Library;
Franklin County Days at Meramec Caverns and a history weekend at the Harney Mansion in Sullivan;
Placement of historical markers and story boards;
Development of a video on the history of the county, and promote tourism for the Bicentennial.
That’s a busy idea bag and more ideas are sure to come.
Unfortunately, it’s going to take a host of sponsors of the events to pull them off.
Since many of the early settlers of the county landed at Washington at the Lafayette Street location, from the Missouri River, perhaps a special marker should be erected there to recognize the location.
The main celebrations will be in 2019. It’s not too early for the planning of celebrations and fundraising.