Cato Cemetery Near Arab

Cato Cemetery 09-23-2014While wandering and wondering around Bollinger County looking for the Bootheel’s once wild and wooly Dark Cypress and the cemetery containing the mass grave of Confederates killed in the Battle of Mingo Swamp, Mother, my cemetery-spotter extraordinaire, saw this sign for Cato Cemetery.

The Battle of Mingo Swamp was fought on the plantation of Simeon “Slim” Cato, who died in what some historians have called a “massacre.”

Peaceful today

Cato Cemetery 09-23-2014I don’t know how far this is from the battlefield, but it’s a quiet place today. Large stumps show that it must have been dotted with big trees that have fallen to disease and old age over the years. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

Lots of Catos buried here

Cato Cemetery 09-23-2014There are lots of stones marking the final resting places of Catos. I didn’t find one for “Slim.” I don’t know if his body was ever moved from the mass grave.

Burial records

Cato Cemetery 09-23-2014I couldn’t find much history of the cemetery, but here are some partial listings of those interred there.

Narman E. Borders

Cato Cemetery 09-23-2014Narman E. Borders, who is “at rest, ” died at only “8 years, 10 mos and 21ds.”

The UsGenNet site says the cemetery is located in the southern end of Bollinger County, section 10, township 28, range 9, one mile east of Arab off highway C.

Battle of Mingo Swamp

Greenbrier / Zephyr Cemetery 09-23-2014The Civil War that was fought in our region wasn’t one of epic battles involving tens of thousands of massed troops. It was more like guerrilla warfare, bushwhackings and massacres, labels that differed depending on which side you were on.

One of our rambles took us to the Greenbrier/Zephyr Cemetery in southern Bollinger County. It’s not particularly easy to find, and the road leading to it isn’t all that easy to hit. You pretty much have to drive past it, turn around the first opportunity and head back in order to get the right angle. It’s one-way in, so be prepared to back up.

Mass grave for Confederate dead

Greenbrier / Zephyr Cemetery 09-23-2014Mother and I went looking for it because I had read about the Battle of Mingo Swamp and the mass grave in the cemetery. Here’s a version of what happened from Cletis R. Ellinghouse’s book, Mingo: Southeast Missouri’s Ancient Swamp and the Countryside Surrounding It:

The Battle of Mingo Swamp was fought February 4, 1863, on the south Bollinger County plantation of Simeon “Slim” Cato, a 58-year-old South Carolina native who died in the bloodbath with 28 others, all Confederate soldiers. It was the bloodiest single incident in the war in Southeast Missouri. Among the other slain were Confederate Capt. Daniel McGee and his first sergeant James A. Logan, who at the time resided at what later became Puxico. McGee was Cato’s nephew.

Confederates caught unawares

Greenbrier / Zephyr Cemetery 09-23-2014The Confederates, surrounded by Union soldiers, were completely unaware of what was about to happen to them. They were not within reach of their weapons when soldiers from the Twelfth Missouri State Militia Cavalry pounced on them in a vicious assault that left all of them dead or mortally wounded. “All but four too seriously wounded to be removed,” according to an account published in a St. Louis newspaper, which referred to McGee as “the notorious guerrilla chief.” In fact, all of them were killed outright or died of wounds without a single casualty on the Union side, which has prompted some to call the operation “a massacre.”

The remains of the Confederates, routinely called outlaws and guerrillas by Union officers, were carried by wagons and buried by kinsmen and neighbors at what is known today as the Greenbrier/Zephyr Cemetery, a few miles from where they were slain. Their mass grave was discovered many years ago. Uniforms, coats and button were found along with the remains of several bodies.

Other references

Greenbrier / Zephyr Cemetery 09-23-2014Depending on whose account you read, Sam Hildebrand was just a guy who wanted to be left alone and stay out of “the rich man’s war being fought by poor men,” or he was “The Big River Bushwhacker, Southeast Missouri’s notorious outlaw.” Others put him in the camp of those men who used the war as an excuse to settle personal affronts. His exploits rival any movie you’ve seen.

Most of us grew up hearing about Forts A, B C and D, but I was never taught about the major battle that was fought in the town. This is an account worth reading.

As always, you can click on the photos to make them larger.

 

The End of Summer

Greenbrier Dark Cypress Area 09-23-2014These rope swings at the Dark Cypress Access Area boat ramp near Greenbrier aren’t going to see a lot of use until next summer.

The Missouri Department of Conservation says the Greenbrier Unit of Duck Creek Conservation Area is in southeastern Bollinger county.

The Conservation Department purchased this 460-acre lowland swamp to preserve a small portion of the 2.4 million acres of hardwood bottomland swamps that once covered the southeastern part of the state.

Situated between Crowleys Ridge and the Ozark Plateau, the swamp formed after the Mississippi River abandoned its channel through the region and shifted east toward Cape Girardeau. Runoff from the Ozark hills, heavy rainfall and overflow flooding from the Castor River floods the surrounding swamp.

Dark Cypress Tales

Greenbrier Dark Cypress Area 09-23-2014I grew up hearing tales of the Dark Cypress. It was an area where hunters would go in and never come out. While we were down there, Mother told me that my grandfather had been shot accidentally while hunting in the Dark Cypress and the bullet remained in his neck until he died decades later.

 

Marble Hill Artesian Well

Artesian Well on 34 west of Marble Hill 11-07-2013A trip to or from Cape Lewallen wouldn’t have been complete without a stop outside Marble Hill to fill up canteens and water jugs from an artesian well on the south side of Missouri Hwy 34. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

Been on my bucket list

Artesian Well on 34 west of Marble Hill 11-07-2013Getting down to see if the spring was still flowing has been on my bucket (bad pun) list for a couple of years, so Mother and I took off to Bollinger County to see if we could find it. We headed west on Missouri Hwy 34 and thought it was near Woodland School, but we couldn’t spot it. There was a lot of road work going on, so we were afraid they might have “improved” it like, I think, Cape County is going to do to the spring off Bloomfield Road.

After driving four or five miles, we headed back toward town. There, just before the school, just like we remembered from the old days, was a nice paved parking spot right at the artesian well.

Listen to the sound of the water

I produced a short video showing where the spring is located and what it’s like. To be honest, I think the audio of the rushing water is better than the pictures. It’s worth 1:07 of your life.

Road to be dedicated December 17

Artesian Well on 34 west of Marble Hill 11-07-2013The pull-off gives you plenty of room to get off the road and would easily hold half a dozen cars parked side-by-side

The Missourian had a story that there will be a ribbon cutting December 17, 2013, to mark the completion of a project to add shoulders and curve corrections along that stretch of road.

What’s the history of the spring?

Artesian Well on 34 west of Marble Hill 11-07-2013I didn’t think it would be hard to find out when the well was drilled, how deep it is, how long it’s been flowing, etc., but I struck out. I figured if anybody would know, it would be Missourian blogger James Baughn who wrote about it in 2008. James is a pretty thorough guy, so surely it’ll be in his story.

He must have run into the same problem: about the only fact he had other than a Wikipedia definition of an artesian aquifer was that it was a test drill for oil and mineral exploration.

Cold and sweet

Artesian Well on 34 west of Marble Hill 11-07-2013When I went back down to Marble Hill to shoot the flags for Veterans Day, I made sure to bring along half a dozen gallon jugs to fill with the pure spring water for Mother to use in her coffee maker.

While researching this, I ran across a 1907 United States Geological publication called Underground Waters of Missouri – Their Geology and Utilization. It listed just about every source of water in Missouri and some of the surrounding states. This well, unfortunately, wasn’t one of them.

The section dealing with mineral waters, including Excelsior Springs, was particularly interesting. “When the the intelligent practitioner reads that a certain water is positively curative in an imposing list of diseases set forth in divers pages of testimonials from renovated statesmen, restored clergymen, and rejuvenated old ladies, and then learns from the analysis that it contains 2 or 3 grains of lime salts to the gallon, with the remaining ingredients required perhaps a third or fourth decimal point to express, he can hardly be blamed for tossing the circular into his wastebasket, with an objurgation upon quacks generally, and mineral springs quacks in particular,” Dr. Cook wrote.

OK, maybe mineral waters DO help

Artesian Well on 34 west of Marble Hill 11-07-2013Then, he conceded there COULD be some benefits: “There is no doubt that much benefit is derived from most of the health resorts connected with mineral springs or wells; and while a great deal of it is undoubtedly psychic, some is unquestionable due to the use of the waters. People who are broken down from overwork or who are troubled with many incipient diseases find at these resorts rest, which they perhaps can not get elsewhere; a change of air; a new environment; distractions from trouble; and they use, both internally and externally, perhaps a much larger amount of water than has been their custom at home; these, together with faith in the curative qualities in the water (since every wise physician recognizes faith as a helpful element in cure), form a stimulus to nature in the restoration of normal action to the functions of the body.

Just for the record, the spring waters not captured in canteens and gallon jugs, run into Crooked Creek.