Rural Missouri - August 2012 - (Page 8)

Reenactors fire muskets during the Independence Day celebration at Missouri Town 1855, a historic site in Jackson County where 19th-century Missouri is brought to life. Exploring yesterday today Missouri Town 1855 turns back the hands of time for future generations by Heather Berry hberry@ruralmissouri.coop began in 1861. encroached upon what was then rural Missouri Town 1855 is set up as a Lee’s Summit. Most of the structures, self-guided history site. Staff and voldating from 1823 to 1860, were set unteers dress in period clothing and to be demolished. Instead, they were work as if they live in the 19th cendonated to the county. By 1986, the tury. They help enhance the visitor’s county had preserved 25 buildings. experience by answering any ques“All but one of the buildings are tions about the time period. from counties in western Missouri,” “I used to teach social studies and says Gordon Julich, superintendent tried to bring history to life for the for Jackson County Parks and Recrekids,” says fullation Departtime employee ment’s historic Mark Lewis. sites for the past “Now, I work 21 years. “We’ve here and bring taken great care history to life for to restore and the people who furnish them as visit our site. It closely as posdoesn’t get much sible to their better than this.” original state.” Gary Sutton, Seven paid the site’s adminemployees and a istrator, says the long list of dediemployees and cated volunteers volunteers do comprise the this because they townsfolk who love history. help bring this “For some village to life employees, this for more than is a job that’s a 30,000 visitors hobby. For otha year. A few of ers, it’s a hobby them “live” here, that became a at least from job,” says Gary, 9 a.m. to 4:30 who’s been an p.m., to help recemployee for reate what life in 14 years and a farming town Carlene Hale, a 15-year volunteer at also serves as an was like before Missouri Town 1855, makes deviled eggs interpreter durthe Civil War -a homemaker would have in 1855. ing special events. “Ask any of us. We collect historic things. We study and research. We love history, and we love what we do here to help preserve it.” Gary says Missouri Town 1855 was almost named “The Crossroads,” since the area would have been a crossroads for travelers, farmers and suppliers back in the day. But the county decided on Missouri Town 1855 as the moniker of the fictitious town because all the buildings are from Missouri. So why choose 1855? “Well, it was a good year. The political climate was still peaceful, the land was good, farmers were doing well and prospering,” says Gary. “And it was a few years before people started shooting each other as the Kansas Border War began.” Missouri Town 1855’s visitors have a little walk from the parking area to the actual village — but it’s as if that brief time is needed to cast off the hurried lifestyle of today so visitors can appreciate the simplicity of life as it was more than 150 years ago. The staff and volunteers use the same tools and methods pioneers would have used in 1855. If something needs plowed, they use a horsedrawn plow. If something heavy needs moved, it’s likely that Pete and Newt, the town’s 4,000-pound oxen team, will pull the load. The town mercantile is stocked with items people needed back then — handmade soap, basic food goods, work shirts, slates, school primers and tin cups. olling pastures, antebellum structures and split-rail fences are first to greet visitors as they stroll down the gravel road into town. Sheep graze on a grassy knoll near the mercantile. Down by the town tavern, chickens scratch in the dirt outside their house under the shade of a tree. The ring of the blacksmith’s anvil fills the air as he prepares shoes for the village horse. A pioneer woman cooks dinner over the hearth in her cabin home. Fiddle music from the tavern’s porch floats through town as kids play hoops and stilt walk near the barn. This is Missouri Town 1855, where history comes to life. If you ask most people if they’d like to visit a history museum, the answer might be a rousing, “No way.” But ask if they’d like to step back in time and see what life was like in the mid1800s, and you might pique some interest. Visitors to Missouri Town 1855 in Lee’s Summit are treated to 30 acres of living history that brings the 19th century to life for people of all ages. Missouri Town 1855 was started by the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department in 1963 as a way to preserve historic western Missouri homes and buildings. This history could have met its demise as housing and business developments R 8 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - August 2012

Rural Missouri - August 2012
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Exploring yesterday today
Forget 10,000 casts
A hundred years on the hunt
H2O & Go
Hearth and Home
Out of the Way Eats
Bloody August
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Locomotives in the landscape
Neighbors
Just4Kids

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