History of Northeast Missouri
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

Literature of the Land

 

By Edgar White, Macon

The section represented in this history has produced some writers who are known wherever books and papers are printed. It has produced many who have enjoyed a state and national reputation. The average Missourian is an impressionist. If he can't write a story he can tell one. The art seems his by birthright. Samuel L. Clemens (''Mark Twain'') found his real mission when he began to put on paper stories told him by Missourians. The New York Sun once said of him that when ''The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" was printed, his standing as a writer of humor was assured. The ''running gears" for the yarn were related by Judge John A. Quarles, Clemens' uncle, to the village folk at Florida, Missouri, and many years afterwards, while in the far west, ''Mark Twain" put the flesh and blood and sinew on, and a ripple of laughter ran 'round the world. While in other lands, amid a new people. Clemens saw as perhaps he never did here, the possibilities of Missouri character for fascinating fiction.

Northeast Missouri writers have given to the public history, fiction, humor, poetry, and technical work that will stand the most critical analysis. In the great white-topped ox wagon of the pioneer was always a Bible and oftentimes a history of the American Revolution and Shakespeare and Scott. Later his children read the lives of American and English statesmen, promptly selecting their ideals, and being able to give their reasons therefor. Many a log cabin contained quite an extensive library. While the state was making history the germs were sown that ripened into the substantial literature of yesterday and today.

The splendid, far-reaching valleys of northeastern Missouri, the majestic river that ripples against its eastern shores, the towering hills, the fertile prairies, the alert, active characters one sees everywhere, all these are like a beckoning hand, inviting narration. The impulse is irresistible. It is like placing before the artist a beautiful form to reproduce on his canvas.

That the writers of northeastern Missouri have risen to the situation is attested by the large list of books they have written. If the section is not known from, ocean to ocean it is not the fault of the men who wielded the pen. They have covered the ground, and they have done it with an earnestness and a loyalty that are as touching as the subject is important.

Mark Twain and His Works

To the little hill village of Florida, in eastern Monroe County, belongs the distinction of being the birthplace of Mark Twain. November 30, 1835, was the date of the future humorist's entrance into the world. John Marshall Clemens, the father, was a native of Virginia. He was of a roving disposition, moving from one locality to another, always in search of a place where he could grow up with the boom. Having tried various settlements in Kentucky and Tennessee, he moved to Florida in 1833, became a merchant and justice of the peace. In 1839 he moved to Hannibal, where he lived, until his death, March 24, 1847. Mark Twain went to school at Hannibal, and afterwards learned to set type in the office of the Journal, a paper published by his older brother, Orion. Printers who worked in the office with Mark Twain are quite certain they never discovered any outcroppings of the genius which was to develop later, unless mischievousness was an indication. Orion did the editorial work, and until he had become broken down in health by writing too late at night, it is said has compositions were excellent. The old printers who remember Mark Twain as a companion of the ease say they do not recall his having written anything for the paper. In those days, Mark Twain's ambition - like that of nearly every other normal boy in Hannibal was to go on the river.

Literature never appealed to any of them as a man's work. To be really great, one must be either a pilot or a pirate. Letters were at the foot of the professions.

At the age of twenty Mark Twain took passage in the "Paul Jones" for New Orleans. He had read somewhere that a party organized to explore the headwaters of the Amazon River had failed to complete its purpose satisfactorily, and he set out with thirty dollars in his pocket to finish the job. At New Orleans he learned the next ship for the Amazon River would not sail for short of ten or twelve years, and that even if it sailed in the morning he didn't have money enough left to pay his passage out of sight of New Orleans. So he prevailed on Horace Bixby, pilot of the Paul Jones, to teach him the river for $500, to be paid out of his first wages.

In time, under Mr. Bixby's skillful tutorage, Mark Twain became a first class pilot, and, during the years of his after life, he always referred to that accomplishment with peculiar pride. The men of the river he never forgot. His fame as a writer was well established before ''Life on the Mississippi," was published in 1883, but that work greatly enhanced his reputation. It is said that the Emperor of Germany once told Mark Twain that he regarded that as his best book.

Mark Twain admits in his fascinating river story that he stole his pseudonym from Colonel Isaiah Sellers, whom he refers to as ''that real and only genuine son of antiquity." Colonel Sellers was an experienced riverman. Whenever there was any controversy among the pilots and Colonel Sellers would happen along he would always settle it. He was the high court on river disputes. He knew so much more about the craft than the other pilots did that they became jealous of him. The old gentleman, while not of a literary turn, yet was fond of jotting down brief paragraphs containing general information about the river, and handing them to the New Orleans Picayune. These he signed ''Mark Twain," a term used by the leadsman indicating ''twelve feet."

Colonel Sellers would prove all his points by referring to conditions before the other pilots were born, and they had no way to answer him.

It chanced one day that the Colonel printed a paragraph in the Picayune which seemed to lay him open to ridicule. Young Clemens took advantage of the opportunity and tried out his first attempt at humor on the ancient mariner. He showed what he had written to several of the pilots, who grabbed it and rushed to the New Orleans True Delta with it.

Clemens said that he afterwards regretted it very much because ''it sent a pang deep into a good man's heart." There was no malice in it, but irresistible humor, and it made all the rivermen laugh. From that day henceforth Colonel Sellers did the young pilot the honor to profoundly detest him. He never sent another paragraph to the newspaper and never again signed his name ''Mark Twain" to anything. When Clemens heard of the old man's death he was on the Pacific Coast engaged in newspaper work, and as he needed a nom de guerre, he confiscated the one which had been used by Colonel Sellers. Feeling himself bound to maintain the reputation so long held by the original owner of the name, Mark Twain wrote: ''I have done my very best to make it remain what it was in his hands, a sign, symbol and warrant that whatever is found in its company may be gambled on as being the petrified truth.''

Mark Twain left the river in 1861, when his brother. Orion, was appointed Territorial Secretary of Nevada. Orion, who always took a fatherly interest in Sam, took him along with him. The trip overland to the far west and the wonderful experiences there Mark Twain told in his first book, ''Roughing It.'' At one time he and a mining friend, Calvin Higbie, struck a blind lead and were millionaires for ten days. According to the law those locating a new claim had to do some active development work within that time. Both Higbie and Clemens understood the importance of this, but it happened that Clemens was called away to attend a sick friend and that Higbie had gone into the mountains on very urgent business. Neither knew of the other's mission and each left word for the other to be sure and do the work required by the law before the ten days were up. They returned to their mine just in time to find a new company relocating it.

While in the depths of the blues over his loss of a fortune, Clemens was tendered a position as city editor on the Daily Territorial Enterprise. That fixed his career and from the hour he entered the sanctum of that live western newspaper his pen was never idle. Some of his earlier work, and Clemens frankly confesses it, was rather wild and woolly; he wrote all sorts of yarns, without much regard to their foundation, but he was always interesting and the people loved to read his work. From Nevada he drifted to San Francisco, became very hard up again, and was created special ambassador to write up the Sandwich Islands for the Sacramento Union. His work on the Islands began to show the real mental status of the man. While humorous in the main, there was a great deal of solid information given. The beautiful descriptive sketches be sent his paper could only have been produced by a literary genius. The reception accorded them by the public caused the production of "Roughing It."

"Innocents Abroad" followed. This was a narration of a voyage made by Mark Twain and a shipload of American sightseers to Europe and portions of Asia and Northern Africa. That time the humorist traveled as a plain citizen. None of the great men of Germany, France, Great Britain or elsewhere thrust through the crowd to shake his hand. But after the quaint and humorous "Innocents Abroad" was published, and one or two other works of equal originality and merit, the crowned heads of the old countries were eager to extend the welcoming hand to the distinguished American when he touched their shores.

"Tom Sawyer," "Huckleberry Finn," "Gilded Age," "The Prince and the Pauper," "Life on the Mississippi," "A Tramp Abroad," etc., all became successful books, and were read with pleasure everywhere.

In 1884 Clemens established the publishing house of C. L. Webster & Co., in New York. The failure of the firm, after it had published General Grant's Personal Memoirs, and paid over $250,000 to "his widow, involved Mr. Clemens in heavy losses; but by 1900 he had paid off all obligations by the proceeds of his books and lectures.

The Missouri General Assembly of 1911-12 appropriated $10,000 for a statue of Mark Twain to be erected at Hannibal.

The Clemens home on Hill Street, Hannibal, was built by John Marshall Clemens in 1844. It was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. George A. Mahan and dedicated to the city of Hannibal, May 7, 1912. The dedicatory exercises occurred May 15. A large crowd of citizens and people from abroad attended. The presentation address was made by Mr. Mahan. Mayor Charles T. Hays accepted on the part of the city. Other addresses were made by Walter Williams, Dean of the School of Journalism of the University of Missouri, and the Rev. Ben-Ezra Styles Ely, Jr., D. D.

The old house has been repaired and strengthened, though every outward feature has been faithfully retained. It is used as a sort of Mark Twain Memorial House, and contains many interesting relics and souvenirs of the dead writer. On a bronze tablet is the bust of Mark Twain, and underneath it these words: ''Mark Twain's life teaches that poverty is an incentive rather than a bar; that any boy, however humble his birth and surroundings, may by honesty and industry accomplish great things. George A. Mahan.''

There are some who think that when Mark Twain exiled himself from Missouri, he lost his love and veneration for the state of his birth. Those who knew him best, however, will never believe this. He visited Hannibal several times after his place had been fixed among the literati, and on each occasion showed the warmest affection for his old friends and his native state. If any greater proof were needed, the record stands in his own words, as he lay upon a sick bed, near the close of his life, when engaged upon his autobiography. While the shadows crept about him he looked through the gloom and sketched a picture of the old state as he had seen it in his boyhood days, and for tenderness and beauty no writing he ever did surpassed it. It showed where his heart was, and the unexpected depth of his feeling.

Mark Twain died at Redding, Connecticut, April 21, 1910.

Eugene Field

Eugene Field, who was born in St. Louis, September 2, 1850, enjoyed an advantage which Mark Twain did not, that of a good university education. This gave a smoothness and sureness of touch to his work that caused it to excel Mark Twain's earlier efforts. While attending the Missouri University Mr. Field wrote a poem which he styled ''Sketches from College Life, by Timothy Timberlake." It was descriptive of a college prank, the capture and painting of the college president's horse, ''Bucephalus." Although several words were misspelled and but little attention paid to commas, one of Field's college chums, the late Lysander A. Thompson of Macon, begged the author for the manuscript, frankly telling Field that he knew one day he would be a famous writer and poet, and that he wanted as a souvenir what he understood to be Mr. Field's first real effort at poetry. The manuscript is still preserved by a relative of Mr. Thompson's. It has been submitted to several who were closely associated with Field in newspaper work, and they unhesitatingly pronounce it a genuine Field manuscript. Of course its main value is the fact, as asserted, that it was Mr. Field's first venture of the sort. It was highly appreciated by the college boys, and even members of the faculty forgot the stern call of discipline to smile at the young poet's good natured and clever rhymes.

Leaving college, Field threw his whole heart into his chosen life work. At the outset of his career he was employed by newspapers at St. Louis. St. Joseph and Kansas City. From the start his newspaper work was distinctive. Turning up sensations against men in public life never appealed to him. He would satirize them, but it was in such a way that he made friends of the men at whom his shafts were directed. While Jefferson City correspondent for a St. Louis newspaper. Field wrote a poem about Judge Samuel Davis of Marshall, a thing so cleverly done, and withal so kindly and good-natured that while the whole state laughed at it, Davis enjoyed it as much as anybody. Davis was the young legislator from Saline County. Rats had been particularly bad out his way, and he introduced a bill authorizing county courts to pay a bounty on rat scalps, if they desired. This was grist for Field's mill, and he utilized it well. Judge Davis, the victim, said he regarded the poem dedicated to him as one of the finest things Field ever wrote.

Field left Kansas City to enter the service of the Denver Tribune. There he originated a column of humorous paragraphs which he called ''The Tribune Primer." Papers everywhere instantly started copying from this column, and in a short time the Tribune was the best known paper in the country.

From Denver, Field went to Chicago, where he took a contract with The News to furnish daily a column of solid agate paragraphs, which he headed ''Sharps and Flats.'' These enjoyed the same popularity that was accorded "The Tribune Primer."

While residing in Missouri, Field attended all the gatherings of the State Press Association. Of an intensely social disposition, he was the life and soul of such occasions. And never did he suffer a meeting to go by without creating some laughable feature not on the programme.

Field was a lover of childhood. When attending a press association, if he happened to run across some youngsters on the street, he wouldn't hesitate to leave the editors to mix with the small chaps and show them new games.

This poem, written by Field after the death of his little boy, shows the heart of the man who is loved by all the little folks of Missouri and known as "The Children's Poet."

"The little toy dog is covered with dust
But sturdy and staunch he stands.
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
And his musket moulds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new
And the soldier was passing fair;
That was the time when our little Boy Blue,
Kissed them and put them there.''

Between times, while engaged on newspaper work. Field wrote the following books, which are yet enjoying great popularity: ''Love Songs of Childhood;'' ''A Little Book of Western Verse:'' ''A Second Book of Verse;'' ''The Holy Cross, and Other Tales;" ''The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac." With his brother, Roswell Martin Field, the poet made some good translations from Horace, "Echoes from Sabine Farm."

Mr. Field died in Chicago, November 4, 1895.

Rupert Hughes

Perhaps among the living writers born in Northeast Missouri, the one best known by the public of today is Rupert Hughes, now residing at Bedford Hills, New York. Mr. Hughes was born at Lancaster, Schuyler County, January 31, 1872. He is a son of Judge and Mrs. Felix Turner Hughes. For many years Judge Hughes was president of the Keokuk and Western Railroad. He is now engaged in the practice of law, and resides at Keokuk, Iowa.

Rupert Hughes was educated in the public schools of Keokuk, which he attended from 1880 to 1886, inclusive, then went to St. Charles College, the Western Reserve Academy and Western Reserve University, graduating in 1892, taking A. B. degree. Then he spent a year in graduate studies at Yale University, finishing with the degree of A. M. His first newspaper experience was that of a reporter for the New York Journal, a position he successfully filled for six months. But literary work was more to his liking, and he accepted a position as editor of Storiettes, then became assistant editor of Godey's Magazine and also of Current Literature. From 1898 to 1901 he was assistant editor of ''The Criterion," a deluxe publication demanding the highest standard of literary workmanship.

During all this time Mr. Hughes contributed extensively of fiction, verse, essays and criticisms to the leading magazines. From May. 1001, to November, 1902, he was in London with the Encyclopedia Britannica Company, and from the latter date to May, 1905, in New York with the same concern as chief assistant editor of "The Historian's History of the World."

In January, 1897, Mr. Hughes joined the Seventh Regiment. During this country's war with Spain he was acting captain in the 114th Regiment. He 'resigned from the army in 1910.

But few writers have been as industrious with their pens as Mr. Hughes. He has written an astonishing number of high-class stories and popular plays for a man of his years, and is still keeping up the tremendous output. Following are some of his books: ''American Composers," ''The Musical Guide," ''The Love Affairs of Great Musicians," ''Songs by Americans," ''Gyges' Ring," ''The Whirlwind," ''The Real New York," ''Zal," and ''The Gift Wife."

Among Mr. Hughes's dramatic works are these: "The Bathing Girl," "The Wooden Wedding," "In the Midst of Life," (in collaboration with Dr. Holbrook Curtis: "Tommy Rot," "Alexander the Great." (in collaboration with Collin Kemper;) "The Triangle," "All for a Girl," "The Transformation," (played for five months by Florence Roberts, then for two years under the name of "Two Women," by Mrs. Leslie Carter;) "Excuse Me." This last play ran successfully during two hundred and fifty performances in New York, and met with the same encouragement when presented by three companies touring the United States. Next year (1913) two companies will travel this country with it. Arrangements have been made for the production of "Excuse Me" in France, Germany, England, Italy, Russia, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Mr. Hughes yet finds time to write short and serial stories for the Saturday Evening Post, Holland's Magazine and many other standard publications of the United States. 

Walter Williams

Walter Williams, dean of the School of Journalism of the University of Missouri, is the author of "Some Saints and Some Sinners in the Holy Land" (1902); "How the Cap'n Saved the Day" (1901); "The State of Missouri" (1904); "History of Missouri" (1908); "Missouri Since the Civil War" (1909); "From Missouri to the Isle of Mull" (1909); with John Temple Graves and Clark Howell, of "Eloquent Sons of the South" (1909); with Frank L. Martin, of "The Practice of Journalism" (1911)'.


Missouri Editors and Visitors at Journalism Week, University of Missouri

Henry Clay Dean

Henry Clay Dean, lecturer, lawyer and writer, was born in Virginia, in the year 1822; moved to Iowa in 1850, and to Missouri some ten years later, locating on a farm in northwest Putnam County. After the War Between the States, his home was referred to as "Rebel Cove," its owner being a stanch adherent of the southern cause. Previous to the war Mr. Dean had been chaplain of the United States Senate for a time.

Soon after coming west Mr. Dean became a national character. He was regarded as a matchless platform speaker, and unsurpassed as a pleader at the bar. The argument closing the ease is where Mr. Dean's talents shone brightest. He rarely examined witnesses himself, preferring to leave that part of the work to his associate counsel, but his marvelous memory enabled him to retain and use with effect the evidence introduced.

With a wonderful library at command in his country home, Mr. Dean read and wrote constantly. His writing was like his platform speeches, brilliant, forceful and abounding in beautiful metaphor. He was also a past master in withering sarcasm. No one who heard him speak ever forgot the magnetic Henry Clay Dean. Mr. Dean published a strong work entitled "The Crimes of the Civil War." This attracted a great deal of interest at the time of its issuance. When Mr. Dean died he left ready for the press the manuscript for a book, of which the following was the title page:

The Voice of the People in the Federal Government
Being an inquiry into the abolition of the abuse of executive patronage and the election of all the chief officers of the federal government by the direct vote of the people whom they serve.
By Henry Clay Dean
Liberty will be ruined by providing any kind of substitute for popular election.
Necker. In one volume.

This exhaustive work was intended for the political guidance of the public over twenty years ago, but Mr. Dean happened to have his hands full of legal business and lecture engagements at the time he finished the manuscript, and he neglected to publish it. Those who have read the writing say that now a vast majority of the American public, irrespective of party, endorse Mr. Dean's position in this last important literary work of his life, but at the time of its writing many prominent Democratic friends advised him not to publish it, as it was twenty years too soon to dare enunciate such views. At the same time they admitted the teaching was sound, and that it would eventually be a controlling issue in this country. It was characteristic of Mr. Dean to think ahead of his time. Some of the things for which he was criticized for advocating on the platform, are today regarded as results of practical statesmanship.

A great many of Mr. Dean's speeches on murder trials or on political questions were reported and printed in pamphlet form. These were given to anybody for the asking. The money feature of his work never interested him. He might have coined his splendid talent into dollars and died wealthy, but he seemed to be impressed with a higher idea; that he was called upon to elevate the people, and to enable them to use their suffrage more intelligently. His big library in his country home was his pride. It was stocked with a double tier of books extending nearly to the ceiling, on all sides, save where the windows were. While they were apparently jumbled together in an unsystematic mass, Mr. Dean was never at a loss to pick out instantly any volume he wanted.

Upon one occasion a young man requested Mr. Dean to advise him regarding the books he should read as an initial education in the law.

"Take the Bible first," said Mr. Dean. "You will find lots of sound law in it, and the most perfect rules of justice that obtain anywhere. Then take a thorough course in Latin from my good friend, Professor Jake Hill, for he knows Latin as few men do. Next read up on Campbell's Philosophy of Rhetoric. Then dive into Gibbon's History of Rome. Follow that with Hume's History of England, Macaulay's history of the same country, and Green's History of the English People. This done and well done, you will be qualified to begin the study of law!"

Those who enjoyed the pleasure of listening to Mr. Dean speak would never doubt that he had fully followed his own prescription as to reading.

Mr. Dean was tall, straight and soldierly-looking. Shortly before his death he was sitting out on his porch with his friend and physician, Dr. A. J. Eidson. Mr. Dean had been quietly interrogating the doctor about his symptoms, and at last had forced from him the reluctant admission that the hour of his death was so close that it could almost be fixed. Then the orator of "Rebel Cove" said calmly:

"Do you see that large elm down there in the grove, doctor?" indicating with his hand. "I've watched it grow from a tiny sprout. It has stood the assault of hailstorms, of hurricanes and of lightning, and now it reaches up above all the rest, strong, sturdy, unafraid, like my life has been. That tree, doctor, is to be my headstone. You will see to it?"

Mr. Dean died at his home February 6, 1887.

William F. Switzler

Colonel William F. Switzler (1819-1906) of Columbia, was the author of the following works: "Commerce of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers," "History of Statistics and Their Value," illustrated History of Missouri," ''Wool and the Manufacturers of Wool" and "The History of Boone County." The latter, although very complete, was sold at a modest figure and enjoyed a wide circulation in the county it described.

During his later years Colonel Switzler devoted the greater part of his time to the preparation of a work entitled: "A History of the Missouri University." His eagerness to complete this seemed to add the necessary years to his life. It was intended to crown his long and able toil with the pen, and is said to be a thoroughly accurate and complete history of Missouri's great educational institution. The work has not yet been published.

Another ambition of Colonel Switzler's, one which was partly carried out, was to publish a volume on "Eminent Missourians." Seventeen of these sketches by his pen have been printed in the Globe-Democrat, He afterwards sent them to his friend, M. C. Tracy, of Macon, who is now engaged in the completion of the work.

One of the noticeable faculties of Colonel Switzler was his almost marvelous memory. Especially did this appear when any matter concerning Missouri was under discussion. He could tell you not only the name of every county in the state, but why it was so named, when it was organized and its important features. It has been said of him that he was so well acquainted with men and events that he could sit at his desk, without a reference book about him, and write a first-class history of Missouri entirely from memory.

Lexington, Kentucky, was the birthplace of Colonel Switzler. When he came to Missouri he was in his seventh year, locating in Howard county. In 1841 he removed to Columbia, where he practiced law, and then became editor of the Columbia Patriot. The Columbia Statesman was established by Colonel Switzler in 1843, and in August of that year he was married to Mary Jane Royal, a niece of General Sterling Price.

Colonel Switzler published the Columbia Statesman forty-six years. In 1866 and 1868 he was nominated on the Democratic ticket for Congress. Notwithstanding the general disfranchisement of his friends, he defeated his opponents, George W. Anderson and D. P. Dyer, but was refused a certificate of election each time.

In 1885, Colonel Switzler temporarily abandoned newspaper work and writing to accept the position of chief of the bureau of statistics tendered him by President Cleveland. Retiring from that office, Colonel Switzler returned to the work that was always closest to his heart, writing stories of Missouri and its people, and occasionally lecturing on those subjects. He died at Columbia, May 24, 1906, in his eighty-eighth year.

Homer Croy

Homer Croy is a tall, good natured youth who is making his literary way in the metropolis of the nation, and Northeast Missouri claims him, for it was while attending the State University at Columbia that his pen began to write things that sparkled. Soon after leaving the University, Mr. Croy diligently besieged the goddess of fame, and though for some time she turned coyly from his knocking, he was so hopeful and persistent that at last she threw her arms around him, and set him on a pedestal before he was twenty-eight. While attending the University Mr. Croy was a regular contributor to a number of high-class magazines and humorous publications. Going from Missouri to New York, he had hard traveling for a year or so. He frankly admits there were times when it took all his diplomacy to convince his landlady and tailor that destiny had a good place picked out for him if they would only be patient like he was. So he kept pegging away, never losing confidence in himself. He established friendly relations with all the big magazine editors, and never let them forget that it was his business to produce grist for their mill. Then he founded the Magazine Maker, and in six months made it an invaluable friend and aid both to editors and writers everywhere. Having successfully established his magazine, and demonstrated that he couldn't be stopped, Mr. Croy was recently tendered a good position in the editorial department of Judge and Leslie's, which he accepted, and is climbing right along.

Mr. Croy is a graduate of 1907. Within five years he has ascended the rounds from newspaper reporter to magazine editor, and has a right to feel pretty well satisfied with himself, for a man yet under thirty.

Andrew J. Eidson

Dr. Andrew J. Eidson (1837-1903) referred to as the friend and physician of Henry Clay Dean, long resided in Schuyler County. He has to his credit many poems of more than average merit, and these appeared from time to time in the press. One of his poems that attracted pretty general attention is entitled: "No Children's Graves in China." It was inspired by the story of a missionary from China, printed in the Central Baptist, of St. Louis. It described the pagan practice of throwing dead children to the fishes.

The poem was used extensively as an inspirational battle-song for increased missionary effort in the Celestial Empire. It follows:

No children's graves in China,
The missionaries say;
In cruel haste and silence
They put those buds away;
No tombstones mark their resting,
To keep their memory sweet;
Their graves unknown, are trodden
Bv many careless feet.

No children 's graves in China,
That land of heathen gloom;
They deem not that their spirits
Will live beyond the tomb.
No little coffin holds them,
Like to a downy nest.
No spotless shroud enfolds them,
Low in their quiet rest.

No children's graves in China
No parents ever weep;
No toy or little relic,
The thoughtless mothers keep.
No mourners e'er assemble.
Around the early dead,
And flowers of careful planting
Ne'er mark their lowly bed.

No children's graves in China
With sad and lovely ties,
To make the living humble.
hem to the skies;
No musings pure and holy,
Of them when day is done;
Be faithful, missionary,
Your work is just begun.

Dr. Eidson's name occupies an honored place in a work called "The Poets of America,'' printed by the American Publishers' Association, of Chicago in 1890.

Nelse J. Scurlock

Perhaps the strongest poetical genius that ever resided in Northeast Missouri was Nelse J. Scurlock, whose death November 14, 1903, was like a tragedy. His body was found on the highway near Glenwood one frosty morning, but a few days after Mr. Scurlock had written a touching production that was somewhat prophetic, and which he entitled: "The Living and the Dead."

There are some very eminent men of letters who have denominated Mr. Scurlock the real poet laureate of Missouri, and they say they are perfectly willing to stand on the volume printed after his death by his friends and admirer, the Rev. Chas. N. Wood.

Mr. Scurlock was a country lad. He never went to college, but he enjoyed the benefits of a classical education by going to a district school teacher who had been an instructor in a first class college. Professor Joseph Barbee taught the classics in the original and from him young Scurlock received the inspiration which gave his work a dignity and power approached by few other poets.

Scurlock's "Ode to Edgar Allen Poe'' was so rich in expression and so well-constructed that it would have appealed to Poe himself. "Right Here in Old Missouri" covers all those essential features of the state's pride that were omitted by the officially adopted Missouri song. "Fishin' 'Long Old Ellum Crick," breathes the homely philosophy of the real backwoodsman of Missouri, and rings as true to nature as the trees of the forest and the wide rolling meadow. "October in Missouri," "The Gates of Life," "The Isle of Peace," and "The Enchanted Garden" are among the other poems illustrating the splendid education and the harmony of this rustic poet, who only contributed for country newspapers, with never a thought of receiving a cent for his work.

"Living and Dead," next to the last of Mr. Scurlock's poems, appears in the final part of the handsome volume of the poet 's work, published after his death:

Living and Dead

Hope for the living, fruition, the dead
After the sexton's work, why all the roses?
One down the way of the cactus must tread,
Ever and ever the other reposes.

Smiles for the living, aye, smiles like the dew,
For the dead, sorrow, serene and uplifting;
These rest from trials, where old things are new,
Those on the mad current darkly are drifting.

Tears for the living, tears, deep from the heart,
Memories holy for all the departed;
Death is a Gilead balm for each smart,
Life is a school for the hosts brokenhearted.

Nothing but good of the living be said
Rome was barbarian, wrong in her praises;
Eulogy reaches not out to the dead,
Fair speech is help to those lost in care's mazes.

Peace for the living, peace like the May morn,
Flags waving welcome, unvexed by war's thunder,
Peace like the dead's, until nations unborn
O 'er the great crime of their ancestors wonder.

Mr. Scurlock was born near Glenwood, Schuyler County, February 14, 1859.

  Northeast Missouri| AHGP Missouri | Books on AHGP

Source: History of Northeast Missouri, edited by Walter Williams, Volume I, Lewis Publishing Company, 1913

 

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