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Friday, May 6, 2016

Bootheel history highlight of Malden seminar

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Staff Photo/ Courtney Luke Local historian, Paul Arnold recently presented "Highlights of Bootheel History" at the Malden Historical Museum. He reviewed the traditions, cultural traits and genealogy of the Missouri Bootheel.
Recently, a "Highlights of Bootheel History" seminar was held at the Malden Historical Museum.

Local historian and Malden High School History teacher Paul Arnold presented a detailed account of the traditions, landscape and events which helped to shape today's Missouri Bootheel.

Those in attendance, which included current and former residents of Malden, were educated in the cultural traits, dialect and history unique to the area.

During the lecture, Arnold presented the information that prior to the earthquakes of 1811 and 1812, the area was not overly wet as the swamp land for which the area was known, were a result of those quakes. Prior to the earthquakes, the Cherokee people were the dominant inhabitants. White colonization occurred after the earthquakes because the land was inexpensive.

The high ground, such as Holcomb's Island and the area now known as Clarkton, was settled first.

The Bootheel did not have many plantations and few slaves. The land was not suitable for large plantation production.

Around the time of the Civil War, 90% of the population of Dunklin County did have Confederate sympathies. Many of the settlers had moved to the area from Virginia and North Carolina.

Union soldiers that patrolled the area were from Wisconsin and had no qualms about going into the swamp area to chase criminals. Much of the local fighting was of the guerilla warfare nature and few major battles occurred.

Years later, advertisements were placed in Indiana newspapers and brought in another influx of homesteaders.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the African American population increased in the Bootheel as many southerners stopped off on their way to the industrial cities of the North seeking jobs.

Many of these new occupants lived in the rural areas where they worked as share croppers or farm hands.

A few decades later, technology diminished the need for manual labor and the rural population began to relocate to the local towns.

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