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A History of Livingston County, Missouri

Published by The Livingston County Centennial Committee

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Story of the Centennial

There are two groups of people who look forward to birthdays, those who are very young and those who are very old. This fact holds true for counties and cities as well as for people. Even as early as 1924, many of our citizens were talking of the celebration we might have in 1937, but it was left to the Chamber of Commerce, through its secretary, Mr. Harry Graham, to start the work definitely. At the Chamber of Commerce meeting of June 18, 1935, he spoke of the Mark Twain Centennial to be held at Hannibal, Missouri, and voiced the hope that Chillicothe would plan a program for 1937 when our county and city would be one hundred years old. From July, 1935 to July, 1936, the matter came up at intervals. A committee reported favorably on the Hannibal Celebration, and ideas grew for a Centennial Celebration here. At an open session for members and ladies, an interesting program, together with a suggestion for a twin celebration in September, stirred the community to further action. Enthusiasm spread, and by September, a committee had met with the American Legion and a date had been set for the celebration, September 13-18, 1937.

At a Special meeting in the Chamber of Commerce rooms, a committee of ten representing the American Legion and the Chamber of Commerce further discussed the matter of a Centennial Celebration. At this time Mr. Beardsley presented his idea for a pageant, How to divide the responsibility of the Centennial Celebration came before the group, whereupon the American Legion consented to take the responsibility of all activities at the Kitten Ball field. The two highlights of attraction there are to be the pageant and the horse show.

Work toward the big event continued. At a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, following a report from Mr. John Sigler's committee on investigation, a committee headed by Mr. W. G. Keath extended to Dr. Potts an invitation to act as general chairman of the Centennial. An endorsement came from the American Legion. A call to all civic organizations and clubs to send a representative to an open meeting at the Strand Hotel, brought to light the marked interest which each organization felt in planning a celebration. At this meeting Dr. Potts was elected general chairman. Early in February, with the consent of his Church Board, he accepted the office, and further reported that the work of the organization was progressing. Thus the Centennial was definitely taking form,

In a few days Dr. Potts called the first meeting of the General Committee at the Strand Hotel. An Executive Board was elected and a General Committee appointed. By the latter part of the mouth, extensive plans were taking form. At a dinner at the Leeper Hotel at 6:30 p.m., Monday, February 22, there gathered a group of 114 interested citizens including sixteen of the seventeen members of the Executive Committee. After the singing of "America," an opening prayer and community singing, Dr. Potts; opened the business meeting by introducing Mr. William B. Jennings, who in turn introduced the speaker, Mr. Frank T. Russell, Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of Hannibal, Missouri. Miss Alice Randall sang and Mr. Jerry Thistlethwaite read an article, "The First Hundred Years." After the various committees reported, the meeting was closed with a prayer.

Front now, reading left to right: Ed Switzer; Fred W, Gunby; C. C. Cooke; F. M. McCall; Claude T. Botsford; Wm. B. Jennings; Edgerton Welch; Dr. Louis M Potts; Jerry Thistlethwaite; Giles Theilmann. Second row, left to right: Mayor G. C. Carnahan; B. T. Clark; Allen O. Glore. Top Row: Miss Faye L. Stewart; Mrs. H. M. Grace; H. S. Beardsley; and Wm. G. Reath,

Several called meetings of the Executive Committee followed this successful gathering. The next open meeting, a "Diamond Banquet," honored our citizens who had lived in the county seventy-five years or more. In order to promote interest, Dr. Potts, General Chairman, promised to pay for all "Seventyfivers" over the number of twelve. The meeting, held April 8, 1937, included 133 persons, 38 of whom had lived in the county for seventy-five years or more. The two addresses of the evening were by Mr. Allen Moore, who spoke on "Looking Backward"; and by Mr. Giles Theilmann, who spoke on "Looking Forward". This was one of the most talked of and successful assemblies.

A number of business meetings followed during the month of May, and the various committees reported work going forward in their respective groups.

By June, 1937, the pious of the Centennial with its various committees had developed until the project might have been likened to a highway map where first is drawn the main highway from which highly necessary roads lead to every home.

The Executive Board has found Dr. Potts an able leader. A budget of $5,000 has been allowed and is being realized. Senator Bennett Champ Clark will be present at the Celebration one day, during which he will address the people and will crown the Queen of the Centennial. The Centennial has adequate working space in the Gunby Abstract and Loan Company. Mr. W. J. Gunby donated the use of these rooms, including the expense of electricity. It is the profound interest of such people as Mr. and Mrs. Gunby that makes our Celebration possible.

The office secretary for the Centennial, Mrs. Gilbert Olenhouse, has worked faithfully for each committee. A museum has been planned for the display of furnishings of various sorts common to early settler households. There will be a horse show, sponsored by the American Legion, and two big parades, one sponsored by the Schools and Cultural Committee and put on by the school children of the county, and another sponsored by the merchants. Each day there will be an hour of church service. Several church leaders from as many denominations will be present to address the people. Historical material from all over the county has been collected and arranged by the Historical Committee. The Constitution-Tribune is planning a gigantic edition of their paper. "Wooden Nickels," advertising the Centennial, have been purchased by the American Legion and are being circulated by the merchants of the county.

Dr. Potts is to be congratulated for promoting this stupendous undertaking which time and money and, most of all, the loyal support of the citizens of the county have made possible.

Dr. Louis M. Potts, General Chairman of the Livingston County Centennial Celebration, has given many hours of his time to make the Centennial a success. Keeping in touch with the numerous committees is no easy task, but Dr. Potts has organized his tremendous work until every committee is functioning in such manner that the happy outcome of the task cannot be questioned.

Mr. John G. Sigler is the able First Vice-Chairman, whose sound advice and hard work mean much to Livingston County's happy birthday.

Mr. C. C. Cooke, the Second Vice-Chairman of the Committee, has co-operated in the extensive plans which the committee is bringing to a successful close.

Mr. Fred W. Gunby, Secretary of the committee, has not only kept accurate and full records of each meeting, but he has furnished valuable materials and ideas for this and minor committees, The Centennial is indebted to Mr. Gunby, who with his father, Mr. W. J. Gunby, has given office space that this project may succeed,

Mr. Edgerton Welch, Treasurer, has kept careful account of the expenses such all undertaking entails. This is no easy task which Mr. Welch has accomplished.

Mr. Claude T. Botsford, Chairman of the Finance Committee, has done a tremendous work in creating in the people of the county a desire to give of their money toward the celebration. Without money the celebration cannot succeed, and Mr. Botsford, with an efficient committee, has arranged for a glorious Livingston County birthday party.

Mayor G. C. Carnahan is representing the City of Chillicothe. He has instilled in the leaders of many other towns and cities such interest in our celebration that not only Livingston County but many other important communities of the state will be members of our gathering in September.

Mr. H. S. Beardsley has undertaken the responsibility of a pageant greater than anything of its sort the county has ever known, but with the help of a splendid committee, this great pageant has been planned, and work toward its completion is well under way.

Miss Faye L. Stewart, Chairman of the Historical Committee, has managed the gathering of local data so efficiently that the records of even the smallest schools and churches, as well as of the largest institutions of our county, are now available. This. seemingly impossible task has been accomplished through an efficient committee, of which Miss Stewart is a highly qualified leader.

Mr. Jerry Thistlethwaite, Chairman of the Publicity Committee, has taken the work of advertising the Centennial far and near. The excellent response to the work of this committee shows how well they are doing their work.

The Chamber of Commerce, without whose help it would be almost impossible to hold the celebration, is ably represented by two members, Mr. F. M. McCall and Mr. B. T. Clark. These two men are each capable and willing to undertake the difficult work assigned to them.

Mr. Allen O. Glore is Chairman of the Amusement Committee. He has arranged interesting programs for all types of people, ranging from those who prefer the sedate to those who enjoy the ridiculous.

Mr. H. R. McCall, Chairman of the Schools and Cultural Committee, has the responsibility of filling the demands which are always made upon schools and other educational organizations when work for civic and community progress is under way. With the help of an industrious committee, Mr. McCall has arranged an extensive program for the Centennial,

Mrs. H. M. Grace, President of the City Federation of Women's Clubs, is Chairman of the Museum Committee. An elaborate display of clothes, furniture, musical instruments and jewelry is among the many interesting features of the work of this committee.

Mr. William B. Jennings, Committeeman at large, has found himself called upon to serve in various ways, and in all of them he has met with well earned success. Mr. Jennings is peculiarly fitted for this work because of his recent experience with the Mark Twain Centennial at Hannibal, Missouri, from where he moved to Chillicothe a short time ago.

Mrs. Gilbert Olenhouse, Office Secretary for the Livingston County Centennial, has written innumerable letters, answered countless questions, arranged many meetings, and has typed the manuscript for the Centennial Booklet. It would have been difficult to find a secretary more interested in Centennial work than Mrs. Olenhouse has been.

The General Committee for the Livingston County Centennial is as follows: Members of Executive Committee, Father B. S. Owens; Reverend M. Q. Stevenson; Jack Boucher; Allen Moore; V. E. Stephens; Roy Moore; Mrs. John May; Mrs. Ila Summerville; Mrs. W. G. Engelhardt; Mrs. B. T. Clark; Mrs. J. W. Biggerstaff; Miss Marie Miller; Mrs. Jewell Kirby; Mrs. I. W. Waffle; Mrs. J. G. Sigler; Mrs. J. F. Heiser; Mrs. Manford C. Meador; Judge Lee Tiberghien; W. C. Hutchison; Elmer Kerr; J. S. Condron; Mrs. L. P. Carlyle; Mrs. John Timmons; Jim Roberts; Joe E. McNabb; Ed Raulie; L. F. Bonderer; Mrs. Jewell Jeffries; Mrs. Ben Ritchie; Mrs. Kenneth Hubbard; Mrs. Claude Hackett; Mrs. Walter Johnson; Mrs. Gordon Darling; Miss Grace Simmins; Mrs. Ray Damerell; Mrs. W. T. Cady; Mrs. D. C. Sidden; Mrs. Chas. Austin; Mrs. R. D. Russell; Mrs. E. E. Merriott; Mrs. Clifford Case; Mrs. R. R. Garr; Mrs. D. A. Watson; Mrs. John Slattery; L. W. Brown; Sam McDowell; Fred Cornue; Prentice Barnes; J. A. Wisdom; Eugene Lee; Dr. Donald M. Dowell; Mrs. Lawrence Henry; Mrs. Kitty Shepherd; and Mrs. Chas. Sidden.

For each township a committee of three has served efficiently to create an active interest in the Centennial. These committees follow: Rudy Grouse; Mrs. Ed Raulie; Mrs. James Morgan; Mrs. Clyde Sei fert; Lloyd Flenniken; Joe McNabb; C. D. Busick; Ray M. Smith; Abner Cunningham; Miss Helen Howes; Mrs. James Baxter; Ashford J. Stamper; T. E. McCoy; Arnold McDonald; Mrs. Opal Dickman; Mrs. Minnie Carlyle; Mrs. Austin Taylor; Austin Taylor; E. F. Kerr; Jesse Hopper; Mrs. Orlando Phillips; Mrs. Victor Waits; Mrs. Emmett Raney; F. E. Smiley; J. F. Winans; Mrs. Edith Kissick; Mrs. Grace Draper; Harry Stevens; Harry Brown; and Earl Deardorf.

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