Doggett and Mount Tabor Parks

Cape County was given land for two parks with the stipulation that they be developed or the land would revert to the donors. Here’s the partial story of those two parks, both which have links to the Bloomfield Road controversy.

An Apr. 27, 1953, Missourian story that said that “Dr. Sylvester Doggett, who nearly 10 years ago gave the Cape Special Road District a provisional deed for a large tract of land at the intersection of Broadway and Highway No. 61 in Cape Girardeau for city park purposes, told The Missourian Saturday that he had engaged a law firm to bring a suit to have the deed annulled so the property would revert to him because the terms of the contract had not been complied with.

“Dr. Doggett said he had prepared the tract for park purposes before offering it to the township. Drainage and sewer service, electrical facilities and water connections had all been furnished and 40 papershell pecan trees were planted… The township was to develop the tract into a recreation or social park, like the Dennis Scivally Park out on Cape Rock Drive… Very little of anything has been done and the 10-year period is now drawing to a close, so he will go to court to get his land back.

“The tract faces 400 feet on Broadway and is 287 feet wide by 400 feet deep, thus making it total up to over three acres, ample space for such purposes with parking space for 30 or more cars. It is a valuable piece of property, Dr. Doggett told The Missourian, worth at least $40,000 and ‘if the township doesn’t expect to use it, I want it back so it can be used for other purposes.

“A granite marker with the name ‘Doggett Park’ facing Broadway is seen on the property.

Doggett Park possible armory site

Three years earlier, an Oct. 25, 1950 story said negotiations were underway by the city and representatives of the military affairs committee of the Chamber of Commerce for an approximate three-acre tract of land on Broadway at Doggett Park as the site of a proposed federal armory building.

The armory was eventually built at the corner of Independence and East Rodney.

Mount Tabor Park gift Ramsey, Giboney families

Doggett Park figures into another park gift that was lost.

A front page July 8, 1961, story told of the gift of 10.23 acres of picturesque wooded land at the southeast corner of Benton and Bloomfield Roads by the descendents of the Ramsey and Giboney families to the Cape Special Road District. The gift was for the specific purpose of developing the acreage into a public park.

“Funds are available for the park development program, Lindsay W. Simmons, chairman, said, from the proceeds of sale of the Doggett Park tract on west Broadway to the Masonic Lodge.

“The acreage given by the Ramsey-Giboney descendents fronts 813 feet on Bloomfield Road and 750 feet on Benton Road. It is all in woods and is part of the most scenic crossroads site in this entire area.”

Most scenic crossroads in area

“Trees leading to the intersection of the two roads form a bower over the road, giving it deep shade and an idyllic appearance to the motorist. Even on the hottest of days the drive through the intersection is cool, adding to the physical beauty of the spot.

“The 10.23 acres is said to be the site of Mount Tabor School, which historians say was the first English school west of the Mississippi River. It was established in 1799 by Andrew Ramsey, the first American to settle in the Spanish dominions. He and his family came in that year from Harper’s Ferry., Va., his lands adjoining those of Louis Lorimier, commandant of the Cape Girardeau territory. He was followed by Alexander Giboney and others to form the first purely American colony west of the Mississippi.

“A stipulation provides if the road district is abolished the County County must preserve the property for public use and if it fails to do so the ground will revert to family heirs.”

What happened to the park?

Feb. 16, 1971 – The Cape County Court formally approved abandonment of a section of Benton Hill Road.

May 5, 1978 – Cape Girardeau County Court has ordered all county parks closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in initial effort to curb problems resulting from night-time drinking parties being attended by teenagers; action was taken after Sheriff James J. Below brought to court’s attention party last weekend in Mount Tabor Park which was attended by about 300 people, many of whom were under age of 21.

Aug. 1, 1983 – Cape County Court today agreed to vacate the Benton Hill Road near the former Mount Tabor Park. The park, located just off Bloomfield Road, west of Cape Girardeau, reverted to private ownership earlier this year after the Cape Special Road District said it no longer wanted to maintain the park. Now that the property is no longer a park, County Court Presiding Judge Gene Huckstep said the court agreed to vacate the the county road which leads to the property.

Questions about the parks

It’s possible that these questions were answered in stories I didn’t find, but it’s worth posing them in case someone else knows.

  • How was it possible to sell the land to the Masons if the deed required it to be made into a park?
  • How much money was made off the property sale and how much of it went to the Cape Special Road District for the development of Mount Tabor Park?
  • Was all of the money spent on the park or was it diverted to other projects?
  • Why the rush to abandon Mount Tabor? Surely it couldn’t have been because of teenage keg parties. They weren’t exclusive to Mount Tabor.
  • A 1966 survey of the long-term recreational needs of Cape County said that picnicking was the third most popular recreational activity in the county (after swimming and pleasure driving). Five hundred picnic sites were needed in 1966 and it was projected that 1,000 would be needed by 1985. Mount Tabor was listed as a park that had picnic facilities. If the need was increasing, why give up the park?

Bloomfield Road a “scenic drive”

The 1966 Cape County Parks and Recreation Commission survey listed pleasure driving as the second most popular recreation in Cape County. Lee Enright, the landscape architect quoted in the story, said that at least 35 miles of scenic drives should be available to the public by 1985. He classified Bloomfield Road and Cape Rock Drive as existing scenic drives, totaling 13 miles. He also listed the Ten Mile Rose Garden between Cape and Jackson as a possibility.

I find it ironic that the Ten Mile Rose Garden was wiped out when Highway 61 was widened and that the trees that “form a bower over the road giving it deep shade and idyllic appearance” could disappear when Bloomfield Road is “improved.”

See yesterday’s story about a planning meeting being held May26.

16 Replies to “Doggett and Mount Tabor Parks”

  1. Ironic??? Dalhousie, mansions & big business…who cares about scenic drives when green backs are the only green those in control care about seeing! In my opinion, with no documentation nor facts to back me up! I would bet “the park on it”! Godspeed to the heirs! Mount Tabor & the Rose Garden are beautiful memories & I hope down the road Cape doesn’t become known as the City of “Concrete & Asphalt”,”Riverboat Gambling”, or worse yet “Lone Tree”!!!…just saying…

  2. Not sure who bought Mount Tabor park, but I have a pretty good idea.
    Another thing about Mt. Tabor Park, an old civil war trace ran through there.

    1. The Earl Norman family is the current owner of Mount Tabor park. It has nothing to do with Dalhousie Golf Club. That property was owned by the Evans family.

      Van and Libby are you coming to the meet Thurs. night at 6:30 at the Osage Center? We could use your help.

  3. We will be at the meeting… We live off Bloomfield and have always enjoyed our drive down Bloomfield, and the history of the land… Can you tell me the history of the cabin that was located in Mt Tabor park . I think it is still there, with the house built around it. Thank you, enjoy all of your articles and pictures.

  4. The issues outed in the past two days raise questions about the sales tax funding that the city council has used to lull the public into a sense of apothy when streets, parks and other governmental services are involved. As the residents do not see their property taxes increase, they tend to ignore these well planned expasions. It’s only in the 11th hour, when it’s usually too late, that a Paul Revere sounds the alarm.

    The bigger question here is what other projects are already underway beneath the public’s radar, funded by that unceassing flow of sales tax revenue.

    Of course one might ask how it is that the Parks Dept which gets as much from this faucet as Streets is not creating park space with its dollars equal to the amount of concrete poured.

    For a rundown of where the Cape portion of the sales tax is going, see the mayor’s recent comments at

  5. The cabin was moved from another location to the existing location by Mr. & Mrs. Norman. It had survived the New Madrid Earthquake. It was rebuild exactly as it stood including the original fire places. The small cabin by the gate is a reproduction of the Mt. Tabor school and yes there is an old wagon trace they have protected.

    Just remember that it is gated private property and roads out there. The troublemakers wore out the public’s welcome years ago.

    The Norman’s love the history of Cape County. I was lucky enough to work out there in the 90’s for a man that took care of the property. The boss always said if someone else would have bought the land it would be a subdivision.

    1. I wasn’t taking a swipe at Bob Norman. I didn’t even know who bought the property.

      What I do find distasteful is the idea that Cape County had a wonderful piece of property that could have been developed with an eye toward the city’s western expansion and they let it slip away.

      Yes, there were some wild parties out there. But that’s no excuse to abandon the park. There was a shooting at Indian Park in recent history, but they didn’t close it down. I worked at least one shooting at Capaha Park and they didn’t close it down. Twin Trees and Klaus Parks have been the site of keg parties, but they’re still open. Get the pattern?

      It’s nice that someone bought it who hasn’t planted houses all over it, but the bottom line is that it once was ours, and now it’s gated private property.

      1. Ken, since when has anything about the Cape government hierarchy done one damn thing truly dedicated to preserving history of the area. Those fools , for generations, have been all about ” accept the donation and then tear it down or let it rot away.” I am terribly disappointed in my old home town. Too bad there isn’t someway that all donations of this sort would be turned over as part of a privately managed public trust that kept the stupid politicians and rapacious university totally isolated from any decisions or lobbied recommendations.

        I can guarantee that as an alumnus of SEMo, if I am ever fortunate enough to win something like Powerball, they will be flat out of luck for any donations from me. I might reconsider for the art department, but only if I established a directorship for those funds, solely governed by me and by law, completely isolating those funds from any transfer to other usages and me as president for life of that financial protectorate with absolute veto power over any and all decisions on expenditures. If they can’t be trusted to keep their word, then treat them like it. Vote them out of office and corall the university by clauses on each donated property defining limits on how they are to be used and any conflict or violation resulting in instant reversion of the property to the former owners or their hired with all expenses Born by the university plus total forfeiture of any and all so called improvements including repairs or infrastructure to date on that donated building or land at no cost to the owner or estate. All increase real estate value increases to be abandoned by the township or university with no future claim allowed.

  6. very interesting ken, my mother and i are of the ramsey clan of virginia and the walkers of valley forge pa, the buchanans of virginia. you got me started in the family tree again i really didn’t know there was a connection to cape.

  7. In regards to Mt Tabor park – I guess one would need to find out who the board members were of the Cape Special Road District back in 1983 and ask them why they chose not to operate the land as a park any longer. FYI – the Cape Special Road District is not the City of Cape. Although there are streets in the City that are under jurisdiction of the Road District.

  8. From the Out of the Past:
    50 years ago: July 8, 1961

    A gift of 10.23 acres of picturesque wooded land at the southeast corner of Benton and Bloomfield roads by the descendants of the Ranney and Giboney families to the Cape Girardeau Special Road District is announced by district chairman Lindsay W. Simmons; the gift is for the specific purpose of developing a public park; the acreage is said to be the site of historic Mount Tabor School.

  9. Ken,et al, one other park that vaporized which was a picturesque park, was Wedekind Park, one of the State of Missouri’s Roadside Parks. It was situated along Kingshighway just north of Memorial Park Cemetary. It was a neat picnic spot that our family used to frequent.

    1. I addressed that in one of my many, fruitless, rants about Bloomfield Road:

      What DOES turn my crank, though, was the loss of Wedekind Park, near the intersection of Hwy 61 and I-55.

      The Missourian had a brief Jan. 19, 1961, that said the park and its small wooded area would be left undisturbed when the I-55 interchange was built nearby.

      Wonder where the park went? It was lost in 1992 to provide a new entrance for the Missouri Veterans Home and “for future developments at the location.”

      The “improvements,” which resulted in the loss of a historic wooded park, were financed by MidAmerica Hotels, Inc.

      Dan Drury, vice president of operations for MidAmerica Hotels, was quoted as saying, “Overall, you will see a safer traffic area than you have ever seen before. Our property is there also. This will benefit both of us.”

      MidAmerica Hotels owns property on all four corners at the I-55 intersection, The Missourian reported.

      Reader response used words like “rape,” “outrage” and “criminal.”

  10. In the section on “Mount Tabor Park gift Ranney, Giboney families” the name “Ranney” is a mistake. The family name should be “Ramsey” as later mentioned. A correction might need to be done here. “Ramsey” descendants would appreciate it.
    Thank you.

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