Ex-Butler County commissioner publishes history of the county

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Daily American Republic

Robert Manns recently wrote the book "A Fond Look Back," about the history of Butler County. He will be at the MoArk Railroad Museum in Poplar Bluff today and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. to sign copes of the book.By Lonnie Thiele ~ Daily American Republic

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- A new book about Butler County is full of interesting trivia:

Factory workers from Poplar Bluff made boots for the U.S. Army during World War II. Qulin was full of saloons around the turn of the 20th century that led to many brawls, shoot-outs and killings that practically filled the local cemetery. It was 280 years after the first explorer set foot in Butler County before the first settler arrived. The first 10-key adding machine was manufactured in Poplar Bluff.

Robert Manns, 69, local historian and former county commissioner, said he spent a year compiling information for "A Fond Look Back," which covers the history of Butler County primarily in the 1800s and early 1900s.

The 75-page hardcover book was published by Stinson Press in Poplar Bluff. Many of the chapters are about early Butler County communities.

"I tried to take most of the cities in the county and see who the first settlers were and describe how they made a living," Manns said. "I start out with archaeology, Indian fords, early caves. Then I talk about the early life on the Black River and the early days. Then I get into railroads."

Manns has donated several copies of the book to local libraries, city and county officials and the historic commission.

Several chapters in the book are from a series of articles he wrote for the Daily American Republic.

Manns, who was born and raised in Butler County, in Chapter 12 writes about growing up on the family farm south of Poplar Bluff: "As a teen-ager, I had a cotton pick-sack. On Saturdays and days off from school in the fall, I caught a truck early in the morning at Fifth and Park to go pick cotton.... I remember killing my first goose on Swanner's Lake. That was the same day I fell through the ice there."

The book was released two weeks ago and since then Manns has scheduled several promotions. From 6 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Manns will appear on "Perspectives," a KFVS-12 TV show hosted by Mike Shain. Manns will be at the MoArk Railroad Museum in Poplar Bluff today and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. to sell and autograph books. He plans to visit all of the senior centers in Poplar Bluff within the next two weeks.

The book sells for $15.

"Five dollars of that goes to the MoArk Railroad Museum for repair of the building," Manns said.

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