A busy time for Butler County, as the County prepares for the Sesquicentennial.

     Butler County was formed officially February 27th, 1849, from Wayne County. Butler County was named in honor of Gen. William Orlando Butler of Kentucky--a soldier, farmer, lawyer, and politician.

In Poplar Bluff, the city, county and state officials have kicked off a year long celebration to honor the foundling of Butler County, Missouri. .

The Butler County Historical Society, county office holders, other organizations and residents was on hand Friday morning, February 26, 1999 as the proclamations were read. According to the master of ceremonies and local historian John Stanard, folks started settling in this county, "about 180 years ago, or possibly even before that time." "They drifted in and settled along Cane Creek and the Ten-Mile area up and down the Black River. A hardy few settled around Coon Island. These people existed primarily in harsh condition for about 30 years."

Gov. Austin King, appointed the three original county commissioners: Solomon Kittrell, Jonathan Sandlin, and John Stevenson. They held their first meeting June 18, 1849. State Representative Mark Richardson stated, "It's easy to feel the spirit of Solomon Kittrell and the others today." "It's easy to close your eyes and go back 150 years and visualize what we're looking back on."

The first county commission meeting--then called a county court--held nearly four months after the county was established. At the time of the first county commission meeting, a court house building had not been built. The home of Thomas Scott, in Cane Creek was the meeting place of this first commission.

A railroad was built twenty-three years after the county was formed. About 1874, a system of public schools was founded. The County Seat site was awarded to Poplar Bluff, and remains there today. On August 13, 1850 the commission ordered $200 be appropriated to build a courthouse.

Richardson read a resolution from the Missouri House of Representatives honoring the sesquicentennial. Standard read a Senate resolution in the absence of Senator Jerry Howard. The resolution for Butler County was read by Presiding Commissioner Joe Humphrey. Mayor Reid Forrester, presented a proclamation from the city of Poplar Bluff, recalling in the city's proclamation that Gen. Butler was also a Democrat vice-presidential candidate in 1848.

The Historical Society is planning a year of events to celebrate this 150th anniversary. Presiding Commissioner Humphrey said, "We're looking forward to this year. There are a lot of events planned and any way we can help, we would like to." Sam Giambelluca and Dale Gaebler, sesquicentennial co-chairmen, said they would like to get as may people involved as possible. "We're only going to be 150 years old one time," said Gaebler.

The high school students are among the first to become involved. They have been busy designing logos for the event and competing for awards for the chosen logo. A winner was selected from each school. Then the overall winner was chosen. John Stephens, a 16-year-old sophomore at Twin Rivers R-10 High School designed the overall winning logo. He won a $100 savings bond. A Poplar Bluff, 16-year-old sophomore Rachael Ebeltoff, and 17-year-old sophomore, Chris Allen from Neelyville, each won a $50. savings bond.

Giambelluca spoke of the activities to be held September 18 - 25. He said, "We're going to tie this 150 year theme into the Black River Festival and Butler county Fair." Also, Poplar Bluff is to have the homecoming that week on September 24. "We're planning a mammoth parade. We're going to invite all the high school bands in this Southeast Missouri area. There will be floats and a 50K run that morning."

A beard growing contest is scheduled to begin March 17. Dan Ward of L&M Barber Shop will be in change of the rules and this event. Authentic dress from the founding time period, also will be encouraged. A beauty pageant to name a sesquicentennial queen who will reign over the culminating event, a Queen's Ball, will be held at the new civic center on September 25th. Giambelluca said, "We're really working on that. This will be the climax to our activities." More events are being planned, and there will be continuos celebration day and night throughout the week of September 18-25, 1999 in Poplar Bluff, Butler County Missouri.

There are tentative plans to try to raise money for a statue or, more probably, a bust of W.O. Butler, for whom the county is named.  She did express concern that it might not happen because of lack of money.  Some of his descendants still live somewhere in Kentucky, and they plan to attend the celebration.

UPDATE JUNE 17, 1999

Sesquicentennial Events:

Saturday, September 11:
    1:00- Parade, followed by country and western singing at Clinton
    3:00- Beard judging contest- Clinton Park
    8:00- Stage company will present an original production  of history
of Butler County
    There may also be a marble shooting contest for ages 50 and over.
The time and place
    has not been established yet.
Sunday, September 12
    Picnic at Clinton Park, followed by gospel singing at 2:00
Monday, September 13
    7:00- Another performance of history of Butler County
Tuesday, September 14
    Butler County Queen Contest, probably at Tinnin Center
Thursday, September 16
   Talent Show- time and place not set yet
Saturday, September 18
     Old Car Show
     Games for children, probably at the stadium
    Sesquicentennial Ball- Tinnin Center


This page placed her by Mary Hudson mahud@rollanet.org
March 1, 1999