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Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

"Bootheel" book coming soon through SEMO State U

Posted Thursday, April 12, 2012, at 3:19 PM

Sorry for not posting columns regularly of late, due primarily to final detail editing, picture-matching, and "re-editing" of book chronicling the life of early Bootheel "swamp" settlers, the bravery and toughness it took to survive the elements, the world-record dredging it took the drain the 6-county region now transformed into some of richest farm land in the nation.

It's been a five-year labor of love, including first-person drama of people surviving floods, panther attacks, influenza and back-breaking hard work of timbering and land-clearing.

Gray's Ridge, Trailback, Morehouse, Buffington and Canalou histories include heroic strong-stock people, such as the Harlans who helped clear the land around Gray's Ridge and Cline's Island.

Earliest Canalou in 1902, was opened "on stilts" above the swamp water that measured 3- to 10-feet in depth, with cane being so thick and trees so large, early settlers could not see but a few feet in any direction.

Initial motivation for the book on Bootheel history came when I was blessed to interview (the late) Florence Robinson Poe, at ages 105 and 110, before she died last year in Cape Girardeau, at age 112. Most remarkable, this woman whose memory could detail last week events, as well as details of life spanning three different centuries...

I've also been privileged, having grown up in New Madrid County and graduated high school at Gray's Ridge/Richland, to benefit from some of the best teachers and talented farmers in Bootheel history.

Details will be coming soon with complete "book title and front jacket cover," and announcement of book signing dates in Dexter, Sikeston, New Madrid, Malden, Kennett and Poplar Bluff.

I have loved my world-travelled newspapering career, made possible by the likes of the late Supt. of Schools Robert L. Rasche and school board member Hugh Parks. I personally thank SEMO U historian Frank Nickell for his vision, encouragement and faith that I could complete the task...!!



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Retired recently as world-traveled newspaperman, career made possible by late Superintendent of Schools Robert L. Rasche, about to have Bootheel life book published by SEMO State University. Loved farm life, but knew at five years old, didn't want to be a "cotton picker" when I grew up.