A Day in New Madrid

New Mardrid Mississippi River baptism 09-03-1967I shot a march and Mississippi River baptism in New Madrid in the summer of 1967. I spent a week in 2011 trying to identify the people in the photos, to no avail. The few adults that were named are all dead and nobody recognized the young folks.

Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center intern Jennifer Schwent volunteered that she had worked in a small museum in New Madrid and had some contacts who might be able to help. We journeyed to the Higgerson Landing Gift Shop where site director Riley Bock gave me some leads, but we struck out on names. He WAS able to help identify exactly where on Main Street one of the photos was taken.

Main Street 1967

New Mardrid Mississippi River baptism 09-03-1967Here is the group marching down Main Street in 1967.

Main Street 2013

Main Street New Madrid 08-06-2013The Claire Hotel Coffee Shop has become The Corsage Shop these days. The white building in the old photo is now the Main Street Market.

Higgerson School

Jennifer Schwent at  Higgerson Landing Gift Shop and Museum New Madrid 08-06-2013_7953I’ve put this project on the back burner until I get some others finished. Here, by the way, is Jennifer in front of a neat timeline of the Higgerson School she helped put together. It lists key events in the history of the one-room school and has photos of the teachers who taught there.

I like her because she argued successfully that this blog should be accepted as a resource in historical preservation classes at SEMO.

5 Replies to “A Day in New Madrid”

  1. I grew up in New Madrid and graduated from New Madrid high school when it was located on Scott Street. I would just like to say that New Madrid had more than black baptisms in the river and the Higgerson School. While I admire your coverage of both of those, there is more history than those two events in that little town. My grandfather Richard F. Baynes was an attorney there and he was a Colonel on the staff of Governor Guy Park. He also defended the last man that was hanged in New Madrid County and Riley could have shown you photographs of that event. I only mention those events because of my grandfather but there were civil war battles, the Lewis and Clark expedition, etc etc etc

    I admire your work and love your blog so please don’t take offense at my comments. I subscribed to your blog because of your coverage of Dr. Charles T Herbert who saved my life when I was a young child and he took care of both of my children.

    1. No offense taken. New Madrid was a bit out of my normal range, so I don’t have much on the town. A story on my bike blog managed to entice a Michigan bicycle rider to ride his bike all the way there. You can read his impressions if you follow the link at the bottom of the page.

      BTW, you might have to press Ctrl-F5 to refresh your browser to see new comments. I’ve deleted a duplicate comment you posted earlier.

  2. I lived in New Madrid until I was 15 then moved to Cape Girardeau. My maternal grandparents, Jack and Florence Masterson and my parents, John and Geraldine Rodgers were also baptized in the Mississippi River at New Madrid. I remember attending my parents’ baptisms and also another baptism of a black church as a child. It was huge and quite an event. There were even vendors on the levee for the crowd. All the people being baptized were dressed in white robes and they marched from their church down the levee to the public landing. I think this one was the AME church near the levee because I remember them coming from that direction.

    Dixie is right. There are many historic and interesting things in New Madrid. I really like their little museum which highlights the earthquakes and the Civil War. The movie on the earthquake of 1811-1812 gave me a lot of information.

    Please continue to expand our knowledge in so many ways. I love to read your comments on almost everything, especially your travels. Say hello to your wife for me please.

  3. There are also several Sears houses in New Madrid, as well as the first Methodist Church built West of the Mississippi. There is literally history all over the place.

  4. The lady with the tambourine was probably not local. I remember the pastor, Bishop Johnson, announcing that a woman had come from up north, I think Chicago, to lead the singing. This event was held in April of each year, if I remember correctly. Several ministers would preach, including Bro. Raymond Watson, a white man. Then, a couple of ministers would start baptizing those who came in long white robes. They tied the ladies robes at the knees, to keep things modest. In the parade from the church, there was sometimes a truck with benches that brought the older ladies. Not only New Madrid, but a lot of people from Southeast Missouri came about every year.

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