When I was driving around the Bootheel a few years back, I kept running into what I call “ghost houses.” Those are places where you can tell by the way the trees are spaced or cleared that a house probably lived there long ago.
In the spring, there’s another clue: yellow flowers that someone planted years and years in the past.
I didn’t shoot many of them
I didn’t shoot the ones I encountered in the Bootheel because I was searching for things that were there, not things that were missing. I learned later, that the ghost houses would have been the perfect metaphor for counties that lost as much of 80% of their population when mechanical cotton harvesters came in.
I’ll look harder next spring
I’ll make a broaden my search next spring. These were spotted in one afternoon’s drive in 2018. None of them convey exactly what I wanted to show.
Who planted the flowers?
I have to wonder who planted these flowers so many years ago that they outlived the gardeners and the buildings they surrounded.
We’re used to seeing big clouds of smoke out west in the farming areas of Florida when the sugar growers burn off their cane fields prior to harvesting. They burn off the “trash” – the leaves – leaving behind the stalks from which cane sugar is extracted. The fires blaze hot enough that the Civil Defense director (old term, I know) said they would sometimes get a call from NORAD because a burning cane field satellite signature looked like a missile launch. “Just what ARE you guys doing out there?”
Anyway, Tuesday must have been the day for SE Missouri farms to burn off their fields AFTER harvesting. I spotted as many as five different fires going at one time on our way to and around Advance. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t any shoulder to pull off on to capture the best fires.
Good news and bad news
A farmer near Greenbriar said this has been a good year for crops. The beans and corn are doing exceptionally well. That’s the good news.
The bad new is that EVERYBODY’S crops are doing well, and it’s driving down the prices.
Someone on Facebook asked about the County Farm Home that was located at what is now North County Park. I mentioned that I had taken a photo of the small monument “IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO DIED IN OUT COUNTY FARM HOME” when I did a story about Memorial Park Cemetery on the other side of the highway.
This memorial has been erected as a tribute to all those men, women and children who were laid to rest in the Stoddard County Poor Farm Cemetery in Bloomfield, Mo.
From circa 1860 to 1967, these individuals were buried in the Stoddard County Poor Farm Cemetery because society deemed them poor, medically or mentally unhealthy. This memorial stands as a permanent reminder of those named individuals and unknown souls. We now recognize these people as our beloved ancestors who were lost but now are found.
May this site serve as their final resting place and a sanctuary of peace.
Gallery of the known
Here are closeups of the names in the memorial. There was one old individual stone in the grove that indicated that a J.R. Barnett had died in 1933.
World War II veterans are dying at the rate of 1,000 to 1,500 a day; Vietnam vets are leaving us at about 600 a day. Many of them are being buried in veterans cemeteries, which are running out of room. To help take care of that need, new cemeteries are being created, including one in Bloomfield.
The Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Bloomfield conducted its first interment on Sept. 29, 2003. The cemetery’s website says that the cemetery has an approximate capacity of 27,000 gravesites. The cemetery is located on 65 acres of the historically significant and scenic Crowley’s Ridge in the Bootheel of Missouri. The cemetery shares a common entry with the Stars and Stripes military newspaper museum and library.
How to get to the cemetery
The cemetery is located on Highway 25 on the southern edge of Bloomfield.
From Highway 60 take Highway 25 north exit toward Bloomfield. Travel approximately 4 miles north and the cemetery will be located on the west side of Highway 25.
If arriving from the north on Highway 25, travel through Bloomfield and the cemetery will be located at the southern edge of Bloomfield on the west side of the road.
We’ll do a story on the Stars and Stripes Museum soon (maybe even tomorrow).
Less than five minutes away is the Stoddard County Confederate Memorial. It has grave markers for 121 Stoddard County Confederate soldiers, nine civilian “political prisoners” and 22 non-Stoddard Countians who died in the Civil War. What’s unique is that each stone has inscribed on its back the cause of death of the person.