By Linda Emley
As 2013 winds down, I’m busy looking forward to what’s coming to Ray County in 2014. It’s going to be a great year to add many pages to our history books.
I hope by now everyone knows there will be a Civil War reenactment Oct. 24-26. The Ray County Historical Society is hosting the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Albany at the Ray County Museum and Fairgrounds. We are hoping this will be one of the biggest events in Ray County and expect thousands of people.
Another big event will be Sept. 19 when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of our courthouse cornerstone dedication. It will be a day none of us will forget because we are working with the Ray County Commission to make the event as historically correct as possible. It was a big day in 1914 because the previous courthouse wasn’t torn down. It was moved a few blocks south and would have been blocking the southwest intersection of the square during this ceremony.
Another big event was the first issue of the Richmond News in 1914. There will be some interesting stories about this piece of history.
Add our Mushroom Festival, the Ray County Fair, Outlaw Days and some other surprise events and we have a busy year ahead.
Reflecting on 2013, one of our most memorable events was the 2nd Outlaw Days. Robbie Maupin’s black powder accident was one of those things we’ll never forget. Robbie and I have been working on the Battle of Albany event since the fall of 2011, and we are still on schedule despite his down time. He is doing much better and will be back in the saddle soon.
A few weeks ago we attended a Christmas party in Missouri City and presented a program on our reenactment. Robbie’s already planning the next Outlaw Days and wants to add a noon show on the Battle of Albany.
Another event was the Richmond Mushroom Festival snowstorm. It was nice to see the “show must go on” attitude save this annual event.
One of my highlights for the year was when our museum received the Richmond Chamber of Commerce 2013 Achievement Award. It was a surprise and a very humbling experience to know someone appreciated our efforts to preserve history. My job at the museum and my “Postcard” stories are a perfect match because I can’t imagine having one without the other.
The museum has added many new and exciting artifacts, but anyone who’s spent more than a few hours there knows my favorite addition is our fully functional jukebox. I love it so much and have spent more than a few days in thrift stores looking for old 45s to add to our collection. I’ve mastered the art of swapping 45s and making our juke box come alive.
It was added to our new basement conference room and we’re making plans to start hosting special events there. One that’s upcoming is line dancing lessons while our jukebox plays.
As for me personally, I had some changes in my life and many days that were filled with a nice variety of special events and museum-related parties. I’ve spent my normal share of time walking the cemeteries of our county and a variety of other areas. Looking back, one of my favorite days this year was a 10-hour road trip to northern Missouri to visit cemeteries. It was a hot summer afternoon more like a journey than a day trip. I spent several months planning our visit to make sure we saw all the graves on our list and we ended up finding more than we could imagine. It was a priceless day that only cost the cost of gas and dinner at Wendy’s on the way home. I’m sure this sounds like a boring day to anyone but a genealogist, but we lucked out and found the Darlington Opry playing its last Saturday night gig and got to be a small part of this local history. I even got to hear the dial tone on a real pay phone. When was the last time you saw a pay phone any where?
OK, that’s enough about 2013. It’s time to jump in our time machine and go back to the Richmond News in 1964. How was Richmond bringing in the New Year? Found this in the Jan. 2, 1964 issue of the paper.
“New Year’s Shoot. If New Year’s revelers were astounded when they awoke to gun shot blasts Wednesday morning, it was explained that the annual pigeon shoot was under way around the courthouse. The pigeon shooting has been a New Year’s day tradition here for the past several years. The county court gives its OK for the shoot, but its the duty of the Richmond City Police to keep the shooters in line. The shooting carried over into the night and early this morning. The courthouse lawn was covered with dead birds.
“Irvin Blaine, the courthouse custodian, said that a half truck load of dead starlings were hauled away this morning. He said the birds started to roost in every tree in the courthouse yard after the weather here turned cool. The birds come in to roost at about 5 o’clock in the evening and leave around 7 in the morning.”
I’ve heard this “pigeon” story before, but after reading this first-hand account, I’m looking at it in a new light. It’s crazy that we thought it was OK to shoot birds on the courthouse lawn. I want to know how many windows were shot out Jan. 1, 1964. And I never dreamed it would last into the night.
Did you notice that the Richmond Police were in charge of the event? Since my previous story about the Richmond Police was lacking so many details, I enjoyed finding a story that mentioned one of their duties.
On the same page of this Richmond News, I found another story titled, “Arrest Made Early New Day.” On Jan. 1, 1964 two local police officers, Perry Neal and Delvern Gilliland, arrested a man with a 16-gauge single-barrel shotgun who’d been threatening police. Now I have two more names to add to my list of former Richmond Police officers. Piece by piece we will someday have the rest of the story about the Richmond Police Department.