Column: Marybeth Niederkorn: Cards from the wall (5/4/24)


These “election cards” were found in the wall of the 1908 courthouse during remodeling and are now part of the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center’s collection.

Submitted

One of my favorite aspects of my job as director of the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center in Jackson is what I call the “show and tell” of it. So often, we’ll get a phone call or visit from someone who found “some neat old thing”, and they want us to see it. We love this. We can’t always take it as a donation, but we can usually suggest a more appropriate facility for it.

This particular donation, though, came to us on a sunny Thursday afternoon, not long ago. The door opened and a familiar-looking person popped in. He introduced himself as the builder on the 1908 courthouse project across the street, and said, “We found these in the wall, figured you’d want them.”

And we did!

I pulled most of this information from the Missouri Blue Books at the Archive Center and from death certificates online at the Missouri Secretary of State’s Local Records program.

Henry Putz for county treasurer, 1928

Henry’s name is a familiar one for anyone who spends much time at all in the county’s record books, as I do. He was born in Pocahontas in 1871 and died in 1952. He was elected county treasurer in 1928.

Possibly Albert Spradling, undated

I think this card is for Albert Spradling, and it looks like he was running as a Democrat for prosecuting attorney, possibly, given the fragments we have to look at. Still, Albert Spradling I was born in 1878, married Alma Willer, and died in 1945. He’s buried at Memorial Park Cemetery. Spradling surprised many when he won the Democratic nomination for prosecuting attorney in August 1910. However, he lost in the general election to Republican J.H. Doris. Spradling had a distinguished law career, at any rate.

William L. Bohnenkamp for judge, 1930

He was born in 1885 and died in 1969. I did not find him listed as a judge in 1931. At the time, the County Commission was referred to as the County Court (not confusing at all!), and the commissioners were known as judges. In 1931, the presiding judge/commissioner was William Kies, Norbert Sewing was over the first district, and Charles Wilson was over the second district. The judge over the then-28th circuit (Cape Girardeau County is now part of the 32nd judicial district) was Democrat Frank Kelly.

Emil Thilenius for recorder, undated

I can’t be certain he was not elected Recorder of Deeds, but Emil Thilenius was born in 1869 and died in 1932. He’s buried at New Lorimier Cemetery in Cape Girardeau.

Frank Nettles, MD, for coroner, 1908

Frank Nettles was an interesting person. He did win the election for coroner in 1908, when he was about 36 years old – he was born in 1872 in Grand Tower, Illinois. The Weekly Tribune newspaper ran an obituary for him when he died in 1914, noting that he had practiced medicine in Cape Girardeau for more than nine years, and had lived here more than 20 years.

Dr. C.A. Poe of St. Louis County for Congress, undated

This is probably Chester Arthur Poe, born at Bloomfield in 1887, died St. Louis 1945, buried in Stoddard County. I couldn’t immediately come up with whether he was elected to that office, but I did find that he was the Cape Girardeau County coroner in 1919.

Otto Willa for assessor

I couldn’t find much of anything on Otto Willa, aside from his birth and death years, 1869 and 1939 respectively, and that he is buried at Zion United Methodist Cemetery.



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