Saturday, September 10, 2016

Missouri: St. Joseph

Missouri River, Remington Nature Center, St. Joseph, Missouri. June 2016.

After leaving Hiawatha's Davis Memorial on my road trip back to Missouri from Colorado, I stopped at the Remington Nature Center in St. Joseph.

What a beautiful place. Of course, just about anything along a river is special.

The center incorporates ecology, natural history, and human history in its exhibits.

The human history exhibits prompted unanswered questions for me: 

  • Why is there no mention of slavery or black American life in the area during the 1800s? 
Per the 1860 census, Buchanan County (wherein is St. Joseph) had a total population of 22,000. People who were enslaved comprised 2000 of this number. "Free colored" people comprised about 50 of the 22,000 total. Any history of a community should include such information. It is a form of acknowledgement. Recognition. Respect.

  • The exhibits that focus on the Civil War make no mention of slavery. Why? 

  • Who provided the labor to build the railroad that went through St. Joseph in 1859?
My limited research attempts haven't revealed much. However, in the 1880s, there were labor strikes in which white and black rail workers aligned against Chinese rail workers regarding pay and job security. In the 1850s, some railroad companies owned people as slaves or they "rented" enslaved women, men, and children to build the railroads. 
  • Who provided the labor to build the Missouri River bridge in 1873? 

The exhibits were well designed and interesting. I don't want to take away from that. But it's time we take more care in telling the stories of all of our residents' forebears, not just some.

Wide, accessible walkway along the river

The heading says it all. I took a slow walk along the river during my visit. I spied a handsome bird surveiling the land and river.

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