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An Oxen Team taken in Bloomfield, MO 1909

Donated by Bill Gibson, Dexter, MO
Contribued by: Ruth Ann Godwin

Migrated to Stoddard County
Migrated to Michigan
Migrated from IL
Wilson's History - 1875-76
Butler County MO
Link to web site US Migrations

Question: "Why did our ancestors come into South East Missouri from Southern Illinois?"

    Answers to the S. Illinois Question:

  1. I know my Great Grandfather told a story that some men came through town (Hamilton Co. Illinois) recruiting men to cut timber for a lumber company.  He left with them.  This would have been about 1899-early 1900.  I know he was gone by June of 1900 because he was not on the Ham Co census with the rest of his family.  But he had said that he was sent to the Louisianna swamps to cut timber.  I think the lumber company was based out of Stoddard.  This week I found that he had indeed been down in Louisianna and married my Great Grandmother in West Carroll County in 1903.
  2. In 1905 a group of landowners met in Cape Girardeau and discussed 
    the creation of a drainage district. These land owners realized the vast 
    potential if this area could be used as farm land. 
    In 1907 legislation was passed and the Little River District was 
    incorporated. The dream these landowners had in 1905 we can witness 
    today as  we drive across the Bootheel part of our state. 
    The Great Western Land Company, had a part in clearing So.E. Mo., my 
    grandfather, Robert Luke Ledbetter, moved his family from Souther Illinois 
    to work in this drainage project.  He remained and farmed the land.
     Mary Hudson

Question: "Why have so many of our ancestors moved from South East Missouri, into Michigan?"

    Answers to the Michigan Question:

  1. This migration up here to Michigan was mostly due to ol Henry Ford starting to hire a ton of new people. It gave alot of folks a new start. Grampa (John William Baker b Saline Co Ill 1897) + Gramma (Bertha Mae Rister b 1900 Acorn Ridge Mo) came up after the floods of '37.  They eventually opened a boarding house during the '50s & '60s that had ALOT of folk come thru from the Harrisburg Ill area. All with the same purpose. Get a job in the auto plants. Best, Steve.
  2. "My father, my brother and myself were all born in Stoddard County and my mother was from Arkansas. In 1950 we moved to the Pontiac, Michigan area so my Dad could find work there. When he first started he made $1.50 per hour, that is $60.00 before taxes for a 40 hr. work week." Phyllis Maulding
  3. Good jobs were what brought people to Flint.  Farming was very, very hard and crop failures devastated many families.  Coming to work for the auto manufacturers meant a more or less steady paycheck.  Part of my family came to Flint from Gibson in  Dunklin County.  When they moved they just shut the doors of their house and came on up.  When the shops slowed down and they were laid off, they would come back to Gibson for awhile, then return to Michigan when work was available again. Marie Miley Russell

  4. Another part came from Stoodard and New Madrid Counties.  The first one up here was Harley Miley, who came to drive trucks hauling auto parts.  Most of the family followed, including Rev. Obed "Obe" Miley, who founded the First General Baptist Church in Flint.  He had preached at Taylor Baptist before coming up. Marie Miley Russell
  5. People who came up here lived wherever they could.  My grandmother's parent's rented out a chicken coop - several men lived there (but no chickens did :-) until they could find a room.  There was very, very little company housing and what there was was so crowded people would not believe it.  (At the museum here, there is a copy of a letter a man wrote home that says that he had to sleep at night with his feet hanging out of a window. The man advised his family not to come up until more housing had been built.)  Most stayed with relatives who were already here.  I have family who came to Flint from Arkansas, Missouri, and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  There are places in Burton, just outside of Flint, known as little Arkansas, little Missouri, etc.  An interesting note is that although many people stayed here for the rest of their lives, Flint was never "home." Home was always where they had come from. Thought someone might be interested. Marie Miley Russell
  6. Many of my family members came to the Flint area from Stoddard and Butler Counties, to work in the auto industry.  There were many plants opening in Flint and in Pontiac, just south of Flint.  They are still in the area and I am the third generation to work for the auto company. Joli
  7. 1) for a job at General Motors; and 2) money. My Father (Theodore C. Martin, son of WILLIAM MILO MARTIN of Dexter, MO; grandson of JOHN CLEVELAND & MAUD MARTIN (ICE) of Dexter, MO) and his brothers RUSSELL MARTIN, CLYDE MARTIN, and LEE A. ("DICK") MARTIN ) told me that they all had gone to Michigan "for awhile" to make alittle money; then when they were laid-off at General Motors; they would just go back down to their farms. Some stayed with G.M.; most didn't. The most impressive thing I was told about that period of time was that when everybody from Stoddard County and surrounding areas went to Flint, MI; they had no place to stay!! Apparently, a family that had gotten to Flint, MI in one of the 'earlier' migrations had a house on Industrial Avenue (right across the street from the Buick plant). My Father said that EVERYBODY who came up here from that region passed through their doors at one time or another! The family's name was : BERRY. When the people got to Flint, and had no place to stay; word-of-mouth somehow got them to the BERRY'S house and they were "put up" until they had a place to live! Laura L. Horton (Martin)

  8. To all of those interested in the migration to Stoddard County, I have a book 
    called Wilson's History & Directory for SE MO & Southern, IL with a copyright 
    of 1875-1876.
    It covers most of the counties in these parts of the two states. 
    NOTE: a link to a few pages are at the top of this site under Wilsons history
    The following are some excerpts from Stoddard County.
    "For some unknown reason, the map makers have persisted in locating grand swamps and 'lakes' in this county, which have no existence except in imagination.  Some of the most valuable farms in this county are located in theses lacustrine regions.  The soil of the uplands is a light clay loam of a high degree of fertility, suitable for wheat, corn, potatoes, and tobacco, and fairly for cotton..."
    "The timber of Stoddard County has attracted more attention of late that any other product.  The magnificent growth of trees covering our bottoms and hillsides has supplied choice timber for fencing five hundred farms and building fifteen hundred houses, besides quantities of lumber and staves for shipment, to say nothing of the timber used for firewood and burned to get it out of the way in clearing, and yet hardly an impression has been made on the supply.  Some dozen saw-mills have for several years supplied the home demand for lumber, and now that a railroad is completed, numerous mills have been established to manufacture lumber for shipment.  In the uplands the timber consists of oak, a dozen or more varieties; poplar, walnut, hickory, elm, ash and gum.  In the bottoms there are, in addition to the above, cypress, catalpa, hackberry, holly, &c.  As a sample of the size attained by trees, it may be mentioned that one white oak on the line of the recently constructed railroad made one hundred and twenty-five railroad ties."
    It talks about all the industry in that area, physical attributes, geographical, financial status of the county, etc.
    One other interesting thing it mentions is, "A heavy immigration is now pouring into the county, and for the purpose of assisting strangers in finding homes an Immigration Society has recently been formed at Bloomfield."

    Of interest about the swamp areas - Swamps to Cotton, by; Jeff Joiner - With Photos

    © 2010 This page created and placed here by: Mary A. Hudson , Oct 1999 for MOGenWeb