Holland, Missouri

Holland 11-24-2015The two most prominent feature in many Bootheel communities include the city limits sign and the water tower. Holland, in Pemiscot county, is not exception. Click on the photos to make them larger.

Population 229

Holland 11-24-2015The 2010 population of Holland was 229 people in 98 households and 62 families. In the 2000 census, the numbers were 246, 96 and 71.

May have been named for J.W. Holland

Holland 11-24-2015

Place Names of Six Southeast Counties of Missouri identifies Holland as a town in the eastern part of Holland Township on the Frisco Railroad. The first known settlement, which was made in 1871, was known as Middleburg because it was midway between Upper Cowskin (later known as Covington), and Cooter.

The town was laid out in 1902 by J.C. Winters and J.W. Holland and named for the latter. A post office was established in the same year. No proof exists for Eaton’s statement that the town was so named because, like much of the country of Holland, it was built on reclaimed land formerly submerged; however, the selection of Mr. Holland’s name rather than Mr. Winter’s was doubtless influenced by the name of the country.

Unusual house

Holland 11-24-2015The first thing I saw when I drove into Holland was a pair of strange-shaped houses, apparently abandoned. My guide, David Kelley, said the builder was trying to provide housing with a bare minimum of materials. Instead of a single building, this one is a series of rooms joined together by hallways.


Principal Pritchard and Cooter

Cooter 11-24-2015From time to time you are going to see posts about places with funny names that you’ve probably never heard of. I’m trying to document the Missouri Bootheel, and it’s a real challenge because photography is all about “somethings,” and many of the “somethings” south of the Benton Hills have turned into “nothings.”

Many places on old maps have ceased to exist except as maybe a crossroads with a falling-down building marking where a general store once was. In a lot of cases, the water tower is the most visible sign of public life. This is Cooter, just north of the Arkansas border in Pemiscot County. As always, click on the photos to make them larger.

How Cooter got its name (maybe)

Cooter 11-24-2015There are several explanations for how Cooter got its name. The State Historical Society of Missouri gives this explanation:

The date of the first settlement is unknown, but evidence from a monument in Upper Cooter Cemetery shows that a settlement was made here before 1854. In 1856 this was a flourishing village. It was first settled as a hunting and fishing camp on Pemiscot or Cagle Lake. Among the game shipped were the coots, members of the duck family, and it is from them that the town is said to have received its name.

H.E. Doerner, of Steele, disagrees with this theory on the ground that an old map of the county, drawn by George W. Carleton between 1883-1890 gives the spelling Couter. He maintains that the town was named from an old family of that name, or that the township received its name first from the French word “coutre” or “couter” which he says means to cut, indicating that this township was cut from others. The French word couter, however, does not mean to cut but to cost and the significance Mr. Doerner attached to the word is lost. It is true that the township was first spelled Coutre or Couter in the county court records from 1883-1890, and the name of the town was so spelled by Goodspeed in 1888. Portell Coutre, a Frenchman, was a resident of New Madrid in 1795, and it is possible that he moved to this vicinity and the settlement was named for him. In 1924 the post office department changed the name to Coutre to avoid confusion with Cooper in Gentry County, but after a year’s trial the spelling Cooter was resumed.

Genealogist weighs in

Cooter 11-24-2015The Pemiscot County Gen Web leans to the Portell theory:

Houck’s History of Missouri, Volume 2, page 151, lists PORTELL COUTRE as a settler of New Madrid, MO. in 1795. The Encyclopedia of Missouri, page 218 of the Missouri Gazetter, says the town of ‘Cooter was named in 1854 for the Coutre family of New Madrid, one of whom was a merchant there in 1795.’

PORTELL COUTRE is the only Coutre family member identified by Houck as a resident of New Madrid in 1795 so therefore is the head of the family Cooter
was named for.

Cooter High School

Cooter 11-24-2015One bright spot is the well-kept Cooter High School, Home of The Wildcats. I was curious who Mr. Pritchard was, so I turned to David Kelley, the man who turned me on to this project. He remembered Delmar Pritchard as a former pro boxer who was built like a fireplug. When he served as a teacher in principal in Cooter and Steele, “he didn’t have any discipline problems,” Mr. Kelley said.

His obituary in The Steele Enterprise said he was born in Carroll County, Tenn., on November 30, 1909, and died May 6, 1984, at the Chickasawba Hospital in Blytheville. He moved with his parents from Tennessee to Pemiscot County in 1915.

He attended the Number Eight School and the Caruthersville High School, graduating in 1931. He graduated from college in Jonesboro, Ark.

Delmar “Kid” Pritchard taught school in Caruthersville, Micola, Hayti, Steele and Cooter. He also was principal and coached in Cooter High School. He retired from teaching in 1975. Mr. Pritchard was a self-employed farmer.

His students loved him

Cooter 11-24-2015I usually stay away from topix because it’s mostly filled with illiterate rants from people with more idle time than class or good judgement. I was pleasantly surprised when my Google search turned up these comments:

  • Love to hear some comments on the best Principal Cooter ever had. He was one of the sweetist and strictist person I knew. I loved him dearly and was glad to see the sign out in front of the school with his name on it. Now he was Mr. C.H.S.
  • I respected Mr Pritchard and all the teachers back when I was in school, 40 years ago, Only time I every got a lick from his Famous Paddle was when all of us Seniors got out on the Fire escape which was really dangerous, because it wasn’t very stable. He just tapped the girls, but when it came to the boys he let them have it. The way things are in school today, I think of my school day as being very memorable.
  • Mr. Pritchard was the best. He loved the kids and wasn’t afraid of the politics in the school system when it came to fairness and students getting what they deserved. It didn’t matter to him who you were or if you had a “name” or “money”. If you were the best and deserved whatever you got it and Mr. Pritchard was right there to fight for your rights. I will never forget him. He was a daddy to all the kids and loved them dearly.

He reminds me of assistant principal Wayne Goddard – Mr. G – at Central High School.

[By the way, Wife Lila pointed out that there were a lot of spelling and other errors in the post. I told her it was all cut and paste. For once, the mistakes aren’t mine.]



Dr. Hayes and Hayti’s History

Hayes Cemetery - Hayti - 11-23-2013Mother has some serious eagle eyes. She can spot a tiny cemetery on the side of the road faster than Curator Jessica. On the way back from interviewing Bishop Armour in Hayti for my New Madrid baptism project, Mother pointed out some tombstones alongside the road mixed in with some strip malls and commercial buildings. It was worth a U-turn.

Dr. Granville M. Hayes 1827 – 1899

Hayes Cemetery - Hayti - 11-23-2013A tall stone dominates the tiny Hayes Cemetery. It says, Through the foresight and generosity of this early settler from Kentucky, the Hayes family farm was transformed into what is now the City of Hayti. Dr. Hayes generously donated all the land now designated as our streets. He gave one city block to Pemiscot County for a Courthouse and another block was given to the people of Hayti for a school. Portions of two other blocks were given for a jail and a calaboose. It is estimated that Dr. Hayes donated 75% of his original farm to the people of Hayti. It was his dream to have a town with a city square with “Lights and squirrels just like Memphis.”   Dr. Hayes died at a medical convention in Chicago and was brought back home by train and buried in this cemetery, but there was no monument erected at his grave.  This monument is erected to honor Dr. Granville Hayes, Hayti’s namesake and founder and to commemorate the centennial of Hayti. Erected 1995.

History is like a bumper sticker

Hayes Cemetery - Hayti - 11-23-2013

I was talking with Dr. Lily Santoro about doing a presentation for her SEMO historical preservation class. I hope I can get across to the students that historical markers are like bumper stickers: they are a quick read, but they may not tell the whole story.

When I searched for Dr. Hayes, not a lot popped up, but what did was fascinating.

At the time the Hayes and their daughters donated the land, the Pemiscot county seat was located at Gayso, several miles to the east. Louis Houck (remember him) and J.E. Franklin were promoting a railroad from Caruthersville to Kennett. They reached an agreement that they would run this road through the Hayes land if they would lay out a town on it and deed every alternate lot to Houck and Franklin. Block 29 was dedicated to be used for a courthouse and the other stuff mentioned on the memorial.

Then, partially because of a conflict between the “wets” and the “drys, Caruthersville, not Gayso City / Hayti was made the county seat. The June 9, 1910, Hayti Herald bannered a headline, “Likened Unto An Octopus – Caruthersville Has Waxed Fat at the Expense of the County Which Like a Lamb, Lies Dumb Before Its Sharers.” [Editor’s note: I wonder if the paper meant “shearers?”] Anyway, you don’t get to read many stories today where the word “Judas” is used twice on the front page. They, obviously, weren’t happy at the way things worked out. If you like the days when newspapers had real fire in them, check out this link.

 Now it gets REALLY confusing

Here’s where it REALLY got confusing. Since Block 29 wasn’t used for a courthouse, there was a bunch of wrangling over who should get the land. The matter hadn’t been decided when The Hayti Herald weighed in again on January 26, 1911. It did a pretty good job of summarizing the issues, but this nice turn of phrase jumped out: “So the county has itself no power to act in the matter, even in a thousand years or a million years or when Gabriel blows his horn, except to use the property for courthouse purposes, for the reason that every lot that has ever been sold in the City of Hayti have been sold with reference to this plat.

 Supreme Court Judgement

I’m not even going to try to interpret the twists and turns of Williams et al. v. City of Hayti (No. 17705) as reported in the Southwestern Reporter, Volume 184. You can read the Missouri Supreme Court Rehearing Denied March 30, 1916, report for yourself. I made a wise decision to go into photography and not law way back in high school. Taking pictures doesn’t make my head hurt.

Dr. Granville didn’t get Hayti made into the county seat and he didn’t get his courthouse. Now that I know what to look for, I’ll have to see if he got “a city square with ‘Lights and squirrels just like Memphis.’”