Special edition marks 100 years

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The kickoff to a year-long celebration of the Southeast Missourian's 100th anniversary is four days away and counting. In a special centennial edition on Sunday, the Southeast Missourian news staff will take you on a 40-page spin through local history.

Last week I previewed some of the sports stories. Here are questions from the other sections. (For answers, see the bottom of this column.)

History questions

1. The day before the first public school opened in Cape Girardeau, an armed man stood guard at the doors. Why? And what happened?

2. When did trolley service end in Cape Girardeau?

3. The Southeast Missourian printed the second "extra" in its history in 1949. What event caused the special edition? (Hint: The first "extra" reported the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.)

4. How many people turned out to listen to nationally known evangelist Billy Sunday's sermons during his first visit to the city in the mid-1920s?

5. Who was the first-sitting U.S. president to visit the area, and how much did he weigh at the time?

6. On July 20, 1955, a "dance and stage show" at the A.C. Brase Arena was held to raise funds for the Southeast Missouri Chapter of United Cerebral Palsy. Who was the headline performer?

7. How did the newspaper cover black residents of the community in its early years?

8. What was the first book placed on a shelf at the new Cape Girardeau Public Library in 1980?

9. This patriarch of Cape Girardeau's most famous family died in 1996. Who was he?

10. What landmark building almost fell to the wrecking ball in 1977, but now stands, beautifully restored and a regular host to scintillating music performances?


1. According to a 1935 story that looked back on that remarkable weekend in 1867, an armed protester sought to block students from entering the school. He was thwarted, however, when school proponents also armed themselves and slipped into the building, eventually overpowering "the school enemy." That school building was eventually razed and rebuilt in 1935, and stands today as Cape Girardeau's city hall.

2. On Aug. 10, 1934, the era of trolley travel ended in Cape.

3. A devastating tornado on May 21, 1949, was the subject of banner headlines on the newspaper's special morning edition the following day. "Fifteen persons were killed and 112 were injured by a tornado which early Saturday night ripped through the city with a 350-yard swath extending from the west city limits to the Mississippi River." Seven more individuals would eventually die from their injuries, bringing the total death toll from the storm to 22.

4. Roughly 250,000 people turned out to hear the famous preacher, who returned again in 1933, two years before he died.

5. President William Howard Taft visited Cape Girardeau on Oct. 26, 1909. He weighed more than 300 pounds at the time. Residents were awakened by phone calls at 4 a.m. in order not to sleep through the arrival of the president, who came by boat, docking at 6 a.m.

6. A young Elvis Presley drew 300 to the performance, playing what the newspaper described as a combination of "country music with modern-day bop."

7. Coverage of black issues was a disgrace in the early years of the Southeast Missourian. Most of the coverage was limited to crime, accident reports and obituaries. It wasn't until the 1950s that the Southeast Missourian began expanding its coverage with regularity.

8. A Bible was the first book placed at the new library.

9. Rush Hudson Limbaugh died April 8, 1996, at the age of 104. The nation's oldest practicing lawyer at the time, his influence on the region was deep.

10. Historic Old St. Vincent's Catholic Church was designated a chapel of ease in 1977 and placed under the jurisdiction of St. Mary's Cathedral Parish, saving it from the wrecking ball.

For more information about these stories and thousands more, be sure to pick up Sunday's newspaper. We're proud to be kicking off a year-long celebration, and we invite you to join in the fun.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. He can be reached at jrust@semissourian.com or by calling 573-335-6611.

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