Lately, local history has been a topic of conversation in Calloway County as 2022 marks three milestones: the creation of the Murray Independent School District 150 years ago; the founding of Murray State University a hundred years ago; and the county’s bicentennial.
In honor of the bicentennial, the Calloway Tax Court is sponsoring a commemorative history book. Local author Bobbie Smith Bryant, with assistance from the Calloway County Genealogical and Historical Society, is the editor and organizer of the project. Community members are encouraged to submit articles and photos for publication by September 1.
At a press conference announcing the project in March, Imes County Executive Judge described his vision for the publication. “We are a community. That’s what I want this place to be: a community of people, not just buildings and structures, ”he said. “I mean it should be regardless of color or orientation: we’re a community, and that’s what you have to preach rather than diversity. We are diverse, but we don’t need to be divided.
A specially created website – Celebrating Our Success, Envisioning our Future – provides guidelines for writers, information about the Bicentennial Project, and historical resources that reflect past efforts to compile a Calloway story.
The resources include links to community stories that have been published in the past. They offer a limited view of the people and their accomplishments, with white men given almost exclusive credit for the good things that happened in Calloway County. Women are mentioned in passing and minorities are basically invisible.
The upcoming bicentennial is an opportunity to add to these incomplete stories by submitting stories about local people, places and events that bring the past to life. Two storytelling approaches are offered on the website.
Randy Patterson’s “When the Bell Tolled Again” recounts the aftermath of a steamboat sinking in 1845 by New Concord. The bell was recovered from the wreckage and over time was used for a church and a school. Patterson’s story describes the unique way the bell rang in a final tribute to Mr. Joe Montgomery, a patriarch of his small community in Calloway County.
Bobbie Smith Bryant’s play describes a shocking event that happened when a cast of actors came to Murray. Ellen Bolen Schoonover, the company’s principal lady, wore flesh-colored silk tights that were both shocking and captivating to the audience. According to the Calloway County History of 1931, “… this was the first time that ‘the feminine form in all its seduction was revealed to a Murray audience’.
If, as writer Franz Kafka said, “A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us,” then the Calloway Countians must seize the bicentennial opportunity and contribute stories that go below the surface and truly represent the community. in all its diversity.
Submission guidelines are set out on www.calloway2022.com, including a list of possible categories to cover. Athletes, leaders of all kinds, outlaws and bad guys are worthy subjects. One-off events can also be covered. Whatever the subject, there should be a connection to Calloway County, whether by birth or by residence. Whatever achievements are presented, they should reveal the impact on the community. A key question to ask before submitting an article is, “Does this have to be in a Calloway County history book as it celebrates its bicentennial?” “
Stories on topics of interest are limited to 500 words, with biographies no longer than 300 words.
There is still time to share your ideas and submissions for the book. If you want to write something, you can. If you would rather not write but have an idea of something to include, please contact Bobbie at [email protected]