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Studying the old Bloomfield Road

Posted Friday, January 29, 2010, at 3:20 PM

This old photo was sent to me by M.A. Hart. It was taken at Dutchtown, MO. in the fall of 1918 by the first big rock bluff going east on 74. Hart's grandfather Martin Allen (M. A.) Hart is standing by the mules, his uncle Amos is sitting on the mule, grandmother Hannah Iona (Melton) Hart is standing behind the team. His Aunt Clara Hart is standing behind the seat of the wagon. Other members of the family who made the trip were M.A.'s father Joe, and his uncles Starlus, Roosevelt,Mart, and Amos. They had left the small community of Herald, White Co., IL. a few days before and continued on to Advance, Bloomfield, Dexter and on to Parma. M.A.'s Uncle Walt made the picture, and he says that is another story.
Second in a series

Several blogs ago, I wrote about the issues facing the old Bloomfield Road just southwest of Cape Girardeau. There are a number of us in Stoddard County who share a fascination with that historic road, which played an important part in the settlement of Stoddard and many counties to the south.

In fact, the Monday, Jan. 25 meeting of the County Historical Society was devoted to the study of that beautiful scenic highway. The road has been in the news recently, after the Southeast Missourian published a small article about the possible widening of that stretch of highway, which gets far too much traffic. These "improvements" would virtually destroy the road, turning it into nothing more than a modern racetrack for motorists hurrying in from the south.

The newspaper article might have gone unnoticed, but it seems that Bloomfield Road has a large following of residents and visitors who have fallen in love with its canopied trees and spectacular fall colors.

Most of the travelers who take Bloomfield Road in and out of Cape have no idea of the history that lies behind that stretch of highway.

Though I'm going to give a brief history of the road here, I admit that Southeast webmaster and blogger James Baughn has done a much better job on his blog "Pavement Ends." http://www.semissourian.com/blogs/paveme.... In fact, James has been invited to speak to the Sto. Co. Historical Society at their next meeting - 6:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 22 at the Stars and Stripes Museum in Bloomfield. James is equipped with all the "bells and whistles" that modern technology has - so I'm sure he will entertain us with a Power Point presentation to illustrate his talk. Mark your calendars NOW!

Bloomfield Road began as an Indian trail, which followed the high ground from Cape to the south. It has been called the "Shawnee Trail," the "Cape to Bloomfield Road," and the "Big Road." According to Jim Mayo, the road went all the way to Dunklin County. (Some of you may be aware that Stoddard County used to go all the way to the Arkansas line, before it was divided up between neighboring counties.) South of Bloomfield, the road was called "The Old Chalk Road."

According to Baughn, the road began at Sprigg and Good Hope in Cape, went past the old St. Francis Hospital, made its way to Bloomfield Street, and from there it wound out past Mt. Tabor school (beautiful stone building on the right just before you reach the trees which canopy over the road). Traveling along the bluffs, the road went to Dutchtown (keep to the bluff road) and then to Allentown, Route N, Hickory Ridge, Rum Branch, Toga, Lakeville, Tilman, Aquilla, and, finally, Bloomfield.

If these places are unfamiliar, click on James Baughn's blog, and he gives you a MAP (no kidding!) and photos along the route! (Oh, wow! It's great!).

As early as the 1830's, the road was used by stagecoaches; in fact, Advance residents remember an old stagecoach rest stop that used to stand by the gravel road going through Old Lakeville (now known as "Old Town," an unincorporated subdivision east of Advance.)

Ninety-five-year-old Paul Corbin says his mother remembers his family traveling by wagon from Greenbrier to Cape when she was about 8 years old. That would have been about 1904, since she was born in 1896. (See his blog on the NSC site.)

"They camped for the night at that spring on Bloomfield Road," Corbin said. "Then, the next day they would go into Cape, do their shopping, and come back to the spring, camp for the night - and then head back home. The trip took three days."

Corbin says that the road was all dirt when he first knew it. Then, later, it was gravel.

"It was the only way to get in to Cape from the south," Corbin said. "There was no bridge over that creek, so we had to follow it on the north side until we got to Cape."

To be continued in Part 3: The Civil War on Bloomfield Road

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I knew you would figure it out! Not this May, but the next! If you don't care please shoot me an email again at rcwgv4@umsl.edu. We had to switch our system and I lost your address. My apologies! Keep up the delightful reads Mrs. D.

-- Posted by 20/20 on Fri, Feb 5, 2010, at 10:40 PM

20/20 vision!

-- Posted by 20/20 on Fri, Feb 5, 2010, at 9:40 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Yes, I just figured that out! I was headed to bed, and I thought - "Of course! He's studying to be an opthamologist!"

Good pen name. You've told me - but I don't remember. When do you graduate?

Nope....think about the significance of "20/20" and maybe some initials of RW will help you out!!

-- Posted by 20/20 on Fri, Feb 5, 2010, at 4:47 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Oh, it's Ryne! I forgot your pen name. I thought you were Jonathan. He wanted me to write some more history about the Bloomfield Road. This weekend, I'll try to do some more.

It's good to see that you still check up on your old English teacher once in a while!

I've missed the significance of 2020. Obviously not the year you graduated!

Thanks for the history Mrs. D! Traveled this road thousands of times and I would honestly hate to see it widened. Hope all is well!

-- Posted by 20/20 on Thu, Feb 4, 2010, at 9:27 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Mmmmm...."Mrs. D"? ...Jonathan --- Is that you??

James, thanks for the nice write up in today's Southeast Missourian paper. Very informative.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Thu, Feb 4, 2010, at 1:10 PM

Just one minor point of clarification: The stone building along Bloomfield Road within the Cape city limits is Campster School. Mount Tabor School was a one-room log building. You can see a replica of the old Mt. Tabor school at the intersection of Bloomfield Road and Benton Hill Trace, behind the gate.

-- Posted by James Baughn on Thu, Feb 4, 2010, at 11:32 AM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Thanks for the correction, James! Actually, I was just testing you to see if you were reading my blogs.....!!!:)

Thanks gl, you saved my life (and reputation) again.

-- Posted by changedname on Sat, Jan 30, 2010, at 12:44 PM

Oh, I know what you're talking about. Corey puts the NSC stories on Facebook.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Jan 30, 2010, at 10:20 AM

As best I remember I was checking KFVS website around 4pm your time yesterday and there was a story that linked to the NSC site. Could it have been stored on the KFVS12 site?? I also could not find the NSC site yesterday. WOW, this internet stuff is confusing.

-- Posted by changedname on Sat, Jan 30, 2010, at 8:37 AM

Statesman readers, be sure you click on the North Stoddard Countian link on this page, so you can read Paul Corbin's account of a trip over Bloomfield Road around 1904. His mother and her family made the trip when they came to Southeast Missouri. Amazing!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Jan 30, 2010, at 7:25 AM

MD, I don't have the NSC on my laptop, I saw this on the KFVS website. Thanks for the info. I'll download NSC on my laptop, be home next week.

-- Posted by changedname on Fri, Jan 29, 2010, at 5:44 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Dexterite, I'm not sure I understand: You saw this blog on the Southeast Missourian site? How is that possible? The site is down "for repairs" right now, so I can't check it - but I wouldn't know how it could get there. (?)

Are we in the Twilight Zone?

MD, M.A. was reading my mind as I thought of that very picture when we were blogging about the old road, with GGPa and GGMa Hart and the kids in the wagon with the mules. I'm going to dig out my old topograhic maps and do some studying of the old route in between sessions of transferring compositions onto CD's. Love the story because I to have a familial tie to the old route. Thanks again, regards, kk

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Fri, Jan 29, 2010, at 3:41 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
kk, M.A. and I were talking about you at the meeting. Good to see that you caught this blog about your family!

Can you imagine traveling that old road in wagons? I'm not even getting out of the house today in a 4-wheel drive Jeep, if I can avoid it!!

Whatever I need to do can be done at home on a day like this! That's an 18-degree wind with an even colder windchill! If the snow were any heavier, this would definitely be a BLIZZARD!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Jan 29, 2010, at 3:28 PM

Thanks MD for keeping this article alive and on the front page.

-- Posted by changedname on Fri, Jan 29, 2010, at 2:25 PM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Are you thanking me for keeping my blog on the front page, Dexterite? Go to the NSC page to see Paul Corbin's new blog about the Bloomfield Road. I just posted it for him.

Wonderful story that his mother told him about traveling the "Big Road" around 1904.

This is priceless history!

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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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