Why Does Silo Have Holes?

Silo north of Bertrand on NN 0 W Granite Rd 12-05-2015Road Warriorette Shari and I cruised Scott and Mississippi counties looking for photos to illustrate my Bootheel project. Late in the afternoon, when everything took on a golden glow, we spotted this silo on CR NN near West Granite Road north or Bertrand.

The recent cold nights must have killed whatever foliage had attached itself to the structure.

My silo ignorance is showing

Silo north of Bertrand on NN 0 W Granite Rd 12-05-2015One of the problems with documenting an agricultural area is that I know practically nothing about farming.

Would someone explain why this silo (and  couple others we saw in the same area) have holes running up the side? Click on the photos to make them larger.

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.]



I.H. Severn and Harry Truman

Severn tombstone - Truman Sig 08-07-2015I’m starting a new project. David Kelly, whose family has farmed in the Pemiscot county area for generations, asked if I’d like to work on a documentary about the Missouri Bootheel.

After spending most of the driving on back roads and getting a feel for part the area, I mentioned that I was surprised to not see more small churches and cemeteries. He said we were near one that had an interesting tombstone bearing a presidential signature.

Isaac Harmon Severn obituary

Severn tombstone - Truman Sig 08-07-2015The sun was coming from the wrong direction to get a really good shot (click on it to make it larger), so I’ll let an obituary posted on the Find A Grave site fill in the blanks. (It’s a lot longer than I’m posting here, so you might want to follow the link.)

If we were to die tomorrow, do you think perhaps the next day our family would receive a message of condolence from the president of the USA? For most of us, the answer is no. But for the family of Isaac Harmon Severn of Steele, who died here in 1949, the answer was yes. His friend, Harry S Truman was president of the United States and was told about Severn’s death (probably by their mutual friend Judge Roy Harper but that is uncertain). So Harry sent a telegram to the family expressing his sorrow at the death of his friend and political ally and that message continues to attract attention at a local cemetery.

Truman and Severn good buddies

Truman and Severn had been good buddies, “big political friends,” as some put it, and fellow Democrats, for some years. Severn, Harper, Max L. Kelley and others journeyed together to political rallies at such places as Springfield or Kansas City.

And so it was that when Harmon Severn died, HST reached out from Washington, D.C. to touch the grieving family. They appreciated that and decided to inscribe Truman’s message on Severn’s gravestone: “Please extend my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Uncle Harmon Severn, of whose passing I learned with deep regret. He was my friend through thick and thin and I shall always hold him in grateful remembrance.

Never forgot a friend

Harry never forgot a friend, it has been said, and he obviously never forgot “Uncle Harmon” – his friend in the deepest part of the Bootheel of the state that sent him to the Senate, a stepping stone to the White House.

Woodrow Davis, a grandson of Mr. Severn, remembers that the message from Truman was a telegram, so it would not have had a handwritten signature. However, the maker of the headstone was able to duplicate a signature from another source, and thus this attention-compelling stone.

“Give ’em hell, Harry”

There are those who think Mr. Severn might have been responsible for the slogan,”Give-em Hell, Harry.”

Severn used to yell out that phrase when Harry Truman would jar down on a particularly telling point while addressing crowds in pre-election gatherings in Steele. It may be that others did the same and that the phrase did not originate in this community, but some think it did. They recall political speeches at Main and Walnut when Mr. Severn shouted out the slogan while punctuating the air with his walking cane.

Severn took on the railroad

In 1910, Severn sued the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad Company for $175, the value of a mare he said was killed by a train that “omitted to either sound the locomotive whistle or ring the bell when approaching the road crossing at a distance of eighty rods therefrom.” He won the suit, but it was reversed on appeal because of confusion over whether the horse was killed in Cooter township or Virginia township.

I bet he punctuated the air with his walking cane when he heard the verdict.