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Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Adair County

Rural School Messenger

December 1916

In 1841 the legislature of Missouri created fifteen new counties. These counties were therefore seventy-five years old in 1916. Inasmuch as Adair County was among the fifteen that were created in 1841, arrangements were made to have some sort of a celebration of her 75th anniversary in the county during the fall of this year.

These arrangements were inaugurated by the Adair County Centennial committee that had been appointed by the State Historical of Missouri to arrange for the centennial celebration that will be held in Adair county in 1920-21, in common with the other counties of the State, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Missouri's statehood and admission into the Union. It was decided by this committee to make the schools of the county the agency for carrying out the celebration of Adair county's 75th birthday, and the plan was to have some sort of a program or demonstration in every school house in the county on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Some general suggestion regarding the celebration were offered to the teachers of the county, but each school was left free to plan and execute its own program. The expectation was, however, that the patrons of each district would become interested in the celebration and would be in attendance in large numbers when the program was rendered. In this way, the celebration was intended to be county-wide without estimation or any of the commercial features that often accompanying such events.

In order to give, an impetus to the celebration and to offer the teachers something tangible in the way of suggestions as to how it might be carried(f oil, a special Missouri program was arranged ranged for the evening of the Sixth Annual Rural Life Conference held at Kirksville early in November of this year. This program included addresses appropriate to the occasion, one, of which was by Mr. F. C.. Shoemaker, Secretary of the State Historical Society of Missouri, and another by Mr. Rollin J. Britton of Kansas City. In addition to these addresses, which pertained to the general history of Missouri, there was another number on  the program which presented by means of lantern slide's some of the phases of Adair County during her seventy-five, years of existence, and there was still another number which reproduced in moving pictures the Pageant of Missouri that had been given on the Normal School campus last May. Mr. T. J. Dockery, one of Kirksville's pioneer citizens, presided as chairman of the evening, and in his introductory remarks he told of many interesting things that occurred in the county in its early days.

During the program a beautiful large flag of Missouri hung in full view of the audience. This flag was made by the Art Department of the Normal School especially for this occasion. Very few in the audience knew before corning to hear the program, that Missouri had adopted by an act of legislature in 1913, an  official flag.

Besides the program on Missouri night, a collection of historical relics illustrating pioneer life in Missouri was brought together some days in advance of the Conference and put on exhibition in one of the rooms in the Normal School building. These relies were gathered from a great many different people in the county and included old tune household utensils and furniture, Jewelry, clothing, tools, spinning wheels, reels, flax hackles, wool cards, newspapers, posters, placards, books, etc. Anything that showed the manners and customs of the people in the State in times past was given a place in the collection. Some of the articles were of little real value, but most of them were of great interest; and Judging from the crowds that swarmed in the room where the collection was, it would seem that the exhibit was considered very much worth while by those who saw it.

The purpose of having the Missouri program and the collection of historical relics in connection with the Rural Life Conference was, as has been said, to bring before the teachers of Adair County who were in attendance, some concrete suggestions as to how they could plan and conduct a similar celebration of the county's 75th birthday in their own schools. But it was not intended to be of benefit to them alone. It was hoped that the teachers from other counties would get some suggestions that would help them in developing the, community spirit in their town and districts, and that everyone would have his interest aroused in the big state-wide celebrations that are to come in 1920-21 in honor of Missouri's 100th birthday.

The returns that are coming in from the teachers of Adair County concerning the celebration that was hold in November 29th in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the county are in a measure, fairly gratifying. So far reports, have come from thirteen different schools where the celebration was hold. No doubt other schools observed the event also, but they are a little slow in reporting what they did.

In Kirksville each of the four ward schools prepared a special program in which the pupils related stories concerning important events in the history of the county, sang a number of the old folk songs, and dramatized such things as all old time singing school or district school. Prominent citizens, who have long been living in Kirksville were invited to relate some of their reminiscences. The pupils in two of the schools brought together a collection of historical relics that illustrated the pioneer condition of the county. Tho these collections were not large, they created a great deal of interest on the part of pupils and those in attendance. Each school reported a very good attendance of visitors.

At Novinger a special program was prepared and carried out under the direction of a committee of high school students. Special attention was given to the history of the coal mine industry of the county, especially at Novinger. Unfortunately no visitors were present. This is the only instance of the sort that has been reported so far.

The celebration in Brashear was confined to a program in which the pupils and the patrons participated.

Very gratifying report have come from the Sloan, Radical Ridge, Troy Mills, Trinity, Mt. Carmel and Kohlmeyer district schools. Each of these schools had a program in which the pupils and patrons participated, and in four of them at least, a collection of historical relics was brought together. The programs at Radical Ridge and the Kohlmyer schools were devoted very largely to the history of the schools themselves and of the district. The Mount Carmel celebration differed from all the others in having a big basket dinner as one of the features. This drew an immense crowd. The report from Kohlmeyer is that every person in the district was present.

There, was no special program at Lone Star but the teacher reports that the classes in history were, given special lessons on local history on that day that were in keeping with the occasion.

That all these, school house celebrations were considered worth while is very evident from the expressions that have come from teachers and patrons who attended. It is expected that from these celebrations and from what was done at the Rural Life Conference, there will arise, a special interest in this part of the state not only in the forthcoming state-wide celebration of the 100th anniversary of Missouri's statehood, but also in the study of state and local history in the schools.

~E. M. Violette