Downtown Cape Girardeau has a rich history that spans all the way back to its earliest beginnings circa 1793. Take a look at some important dates from the past and learn how they correspond to some present-day happenings in #DowntownCG!
Monday, the 23rd
1806 – After roughly two years in the wild Louisiana Territory, Lewis and Clark returned on this date to St. Louis, bringing with them an abundance of information on western natural landscapes and their inhabitants. Nearly three years before the homecoming in St. Louis, the expedition paid a visit to Cape Girardeau on November 23, 1803. Currently, the Red House Interpretive Center serves as a historic site that exhibits the expedition’s visit, life in Cape during its time as a trading post, and the life of Louis Lorimier. The site is open on Saturdays in May through October from 1pm – 4pm. Be sure to check out the beautiful historic gardens while you’re there!
Tuesday, the 24th
1954 – President Eisenhower sent US Army men to aid in escorting the African American “Little Rock Nine” into the previously white-only Central High school in Little Rock, Arkansas. After the May 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision saying that “separate, but equal” was unconstitutional, high schools across the country were then forced to integrate. This includes Cape Central High School. In fact, 24 African American students attended classes at Central for the first time at the beginning of the fall semester on September 7th. While no riots took place here in Cape, the students did not receive the same level of support or acceptance as they had in the all-black John S. Cobb school.
Wednesday, the 25th
1897 – Famous Southern writer William Faulkner was born in Mississippi. His pieces include The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and short story “A Rose for Emily” (a creepy, classic short story perfect for the Halloween season). SEMO’s Kent Library has one of the most extensive Faulkner collections and attracts scholars from around the world. Check out one of his books or short stories in honor of his 122nd birthday!
1989 – The Vision 2000 group put up a welcome sign on the second median of Morgan Oak Street as part of the city’s strategic plan. In 1989 at the time of the sign ceremony, the old bridge, currently the Old Mississippi River Bridge and Scenic Outlook located on the outskirts of the River Campus, was still in use. The sign featured a red rose and read “Welcome to Cape Girardeau, City of Roses on the River.” A picture of the sign can be found in the Southeast Missourian’s archives.
Thursday, the 26th
1898 – Composer George Gershwin was born in New York City. With the piano as his instrument of choice, Gershwin went on to become a well-known jazz artist. He created music for musicals such as Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, and Porgy and Bess. Speaking of musicals, the River Campus is offering performances of The Three Musketeers musical Wednesday through Sunday, September 25th-29th. I’m so excited to see the talented River Campus students to show off their sword fighting skills in this adventurous tale!
Friday, the 27th
1917 – 102 years ago Cape Girardeau began feeling the effects of the First World War firsthand. On this day in 1917, a group of 8 men (4 of which from Cape Girardeau) made up the second round of local soldiers sent to Fort Riley in Kansas. The leave taking of these men was rather somber, especially compared to the fanfare the first round of men received. According to the Southeast Missourian archives, these 8 men were “Earl Burke of Cape Girardeau, Thomas E. Miller of Oak Ridge, Thomas E. Ervin of Whitewater, Alvin G. Farrar of Cape Girardeau, Edwin H. Vandeven of Cape Girardeau, Emmett L. McBride of Cape Girardeau, Walter M. Mirly of New Wells, and Winslow Ross of Neely’s Landing.”
This information primarily came from the Southeast Missourian’s archives and Britannica’s “On This Day in History” webpage.