Here are the answers to my earlier quiz about the 200th anniversary of the incorporation of Cape Girardeau.
1. What was Themis Street named after?
Themis was the Greek goddess of divine law. The name was frequently connected with justice and courts in ancient times, making it an appropriate choice since Themis Street led to the public square set aside by Lorimier for a courthouse. Today, the street still lives up to its namesake by leading to the Common Pleas Courthouse.
2. Approximately how many acres were included in the original incorporation?
The 1808 incorporation included roughly 127 acres, or to be more precise, "one hundred & twenty six acres and ¾ nearly" according to the petition. Or, to be even more precise, the petition specified a north-south distance of 3058 feet 9 inches and an east-west depth of 1773 ft 2 inches.
3. Which of these streets has kept the same name throughout the last 200 years?
The "Street of Independence" appears on the original plat. Broadway was Harmony St. (see question 7), Main was German St., and William had the poetic name of "Street of Fortune." Other streets retaining the same name throughout two centuries include Themis, Water, Spanish, Lorimier, Merriwether, and Bellevue.
4. What street marked the western boundary of the original 1808 town limits
As confusing as it may sound, Middle Street marked the western boundary. However, it was called "Street of Honor" back then. When the city later expanded, the boundary was pushed to Pacific Street and then West End Blvd., leaving Middle Street in, well, the middle of the city.
5. Which of these streets was NOT named on the original town plat?
Even though most of the early settlers in the Cape Girardeau District were Americans, the town did not have an American Street, but it did have names for other groups. Spanish Street still remains; Main was German Street; and Fountain was first called Indian Street.
6. Who has the oldest marked grave in Old Lorimier Cemetery?
Charlotte P. Bougainville, Louis Lorimier's wife, died March 23, 1808, and was buried on land set aside by Louis for a cemetery.
7. What was the original name of Broadway?
Broadway was known as Harmony Street for many years. Even today, city maps still show a Harmony Street extending from the point where Broadway curves north near Houck Stadium. The street gained importance over the years, earning the name Broadway, because it connected with the toll road to Jackson.
8. How much did it cost to buy the first town lots?
The first round of lots sold for a fixed price of $100.
9. At the time of the 1808 incorporation, Cape Girardeau was under the jurisdiction of which territory?
In 1808, what is now Missouri was part of the Territory of Louisiana, established March 3, 1805, with the seat of government at St. Louis. An act passed in 1808 authorized the incorporation of towns and villages; Cape Girardeau was one of the first to take advantage of the new law. During the brief time between the Louisiana Purchase and 1805, the area was attached to the Territory of Indiana. The Territory of Missouri wasn't created until 1812.
10. The Cape Girardeau post office was established January 1, 1807. Who was the first postmaster?
Joseph McFerron was the first postmaster. He also served as the clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, which approved the 1808 incorporation.
11. Cape Girardeau was re-incorporated as a city in 1843. Who served as the first mayor?
Edgar Mason was the first mayor. The other men were also mayors, but they came later. Cape Girardeau has Mason, Lacy, Thilenius, and Whitelaw streets, which is probably not a coincidence.
12. When was Cape Girardeau County officially established?
October 1, 1812, marked the official creation of Cape Girardeau County as one of the original five counties of Missouri. Before then, the area was known as the "Cape Girardeau District." For a short time, the western boundary of the county extended almost to modern-day Kansas, including portions of 16 or so counties that were later carved from this mammoth area.
Very brief history of Cape Girardeau
If you weren't able to make it to the Red House Interpretive Center this morning for the incorporation celebration, here is my presentation as Understudy Town Crier of the last two centuries of city history in 100 words or less:
Jackson snatches county seat
Third District Normal School
Long-distance telephone call
President Taft's visit
Flood of '27
West Park Mall
Blizzard of '79
Flood of '93
And finally... me telling you this