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Cape Central High Photos

Ken Steinhoff, Cape Girardeau Central High School Class of 1965, was a photographer for The Tiger and The Girardot, and was on the staff of The Capaha Arrow and The Sagamore at Southeast Missouri State University. He worked as a photographer / reporter (among other things) at The Jackson Pioneer and The Southeast Missourian.

Come here to see photos and read stories (mostly true) about coming of age in Southeast Missouri in the 1960s.

Please comment on the articles when you see I have left out a bit of history, forgotten a name or when your memory of a circumstance conflicts with mine. (My mother says her stories have improved now that more and more of the folks who could contradict her have died off.) Your information helps to make this a wonderful archive and may end up in book form.

Rendville’s Hanging Tree

In my Ohio days, I spent a lot of time documenting dying coal towns. Rendville was one of them. It was one of the few town that had a sizable black population, partially because William P. Rend, a Chicago businessman who operated a coal mine there, paid black and white workers the same wages.

Click on the photos to make them larger. The black and white photos are square because I shot them with a 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 camera instead of my usual 35mm Nikon. I rarely used that format because it didn’t “feel” right to me.

Strange message on building

I never have been able to figure out this cryptic message on the side of a building means. “HOWE – West Virginia monkey with a white cap on. What’s he going to do when Halloween comes.” was what it said.

Ohio’s smallest town

A 2011 Columbus Dispatch story said that Rendville, population 36, was the smallest village in Ohio. During the 1880s’ boom days, the population was about 300 “coloreds” and about 1,500 whites. The town averaged one bar for every 25 residents.

By the 1890s, the mines were starting to go bust and the village was down to about 225 families, and they needed assistance from the state for food. In 1901, a fire wiped out sixteen buildings, including the town hall, at least one store and a Baptist church.

There was a brief economic uptick during World War I, but the depression hit Rendville hard. By the 1940s, the town boasted only two stores, one bar, a post office and a few over 100 hundred homes.

City Hall and hanging tree

I haven’t seen any printed references to the Rendville hanging tree, but three people within an hour made reference to it. It’s the tree to the left of the City Hall in this photo taken this month.

One man said it would be logical because the jail used to be located right behind city hall. Read this Rendville’s cemetery mystery to get a sense of what a small town it is.

Jackson’s hanging tree

Jackson MO Hanging Tree 03-26-2010Cape Girardeau County had a hanging tree behind the Jackson courthouse.

12 comments to Rendville’s Hanging Tree

  • Terry Hopkins

    hanging trees are every where…except in Cape…we have BIG river for now use for a tree!

  • Ken Roberts

    You had to grow up in Rendville to know what the message on that building meant. Mr Howell (not Howe) was the constable at one time. Funny looking man who rode around in his police car and wore a ‘white hat’. Kids were mocking him for ‘running them in’ after dark. Since Halloween was pretty much an all night affair in those days the question was..what you gonna do then Copper??!!

  • Betty Ashby Dexter

    I was born and raised in Rendville and I can remember playing hide and go seek in the hollow of that tree. I can’t remember it ever being called a hanging tree. I was born in a house that sat where the post office is setting. I remember the people who lived in all of those houses so well .Really good memories but it also makes me sad because they are all gone now.

  • My mother was born and raised here and a good portion of my family. As kids we & lots of family members went there ever other week to visit my grandmother and some other family members. Love those memories. We played in the jail, walked up to the school and on top of the hill. My great grandmother was Nation’s 1st Black woman appointed mayor .

  • It’s Great to live in this tiny community, and to find out that it has So much wonderful history to go along with it..! I’ve lived here for the past 11 or so years and this is the first time I’ve ever researched Rendville on line.. 🙂 imagine my surprise, to find out that it has so much to be said for such a small and quiet place.. 🙂 I’ve enjoyed reading about it and learning everything I can about my home and the historical buildings around it.!

  • I can remember a Man named Lincoln Estep who lived in Rendville with his family. Was he a relative of yours?

  • Jerry Jackson

    I a’m the one who wrote on the side of that building. Ken Roberts was right in his explanation to you. I think it was in 1958!!!!

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