Newest chapter in visual story tells of statehood in 1821

Friday, June 25, 2004

The latest addition to the Mississippi River Tales murals is about Missouri statehood, which took place in 1821. The whale and lighthouse represent the state of Maine, while the riverboat and Mississippi River represent Missouri. Maine and Missouri came into the Union as part of the Missouri Compromise, which balanced the number of free states and slave states in the Union. Maine entered the Union as a free state and Missouri as a slave state.

The two states are divided by a line that represents the boundary created by the Missouri Compromise, which prohibited slavery in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory north of the southern Missouri border, with the exception of the state of Missouri.

The grizzly bear is in the mural because there are two of them in the Missouri state flag, representing strength and bravery.

The flag's creator, Cape Girardeau's Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver, is in the lower-right half of the mural. Watkins Oliver was the wife of former state senator R.B. Oliver. She and Mary Kochtitzky designed and sewed the flag at the Oliver house at 740 North St. in Jackson in 1907.

Missouri's flag was adopted in 1913.

The green figure to the left is Mike Fink, a larger-than-life character who worked on the river boats traveling on the Mississippi River. He was also an expert marksman and the mural depicts him about to shoot a tin cup off the head of a volunteer.

There is a story, whose truth is unknown, that says Fink once shot an object off the head of a man who promptly fainted. The brother of the man, the story goes, thought Fink had killed his brother and then shot Fink, killing him.

--Southeast Missourian

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