Local History Classes at East Central

The 19th annual local history classes will be held in March and April at East Central College in Union. The Thursday evening classes will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will include 16 different topics presented by volunteer speakers, all related to Franklin County history.

The classes are held in the Training Center on the ECC Union Campus. To reach the training center, drive straight across the campus to the “T” in the road and make a left to the one-story handicap-accessible building with its own level parking lot. The registration and book sale table will be located just inside the door.

How to Register

To sign up for the eight-week, 16-speaker course, you can do so through the Community Education Department at ECC by going to their website Local History – Community Education - East Central College and completing the online community education registration form or by calling 636-649-5803. The cost is $60. It is also possible to attend a couple of classes by paying $12 at the door per evening, but we encourage people to sign up for the whole course to support the college that supports us!

All of the proceeds from the class will be donated to Four Rivers Genealogical Society, which is located in the Washington Historical Museum at Fourth and Market streets. They are open 1 to 4 p.m., six days a week, from March 1 until Christmas and have maintained a great genealogy research library, maintained by helpful volunteers, for about 35 years.

The schedule of classes follows:

March 2: 6:30 p.m. Katie Dieckhaus will present Missouri River Steamboats, relating stories of 19th century adventurers, pioneers, and trailblazers. Safely navigating the Missouri River required ingenuity and an enterprising spirit! Dieckhaus serves as executive director of the Washington Historical Society Museum.

March 2: 7:30 p.m. Kelly O’Malley will present the History and Renovation Progress for the Red Cedar Inn in Pacific, a structure that will soon house a visitors center and museum. An area native, O’Malley is a graduate of St. Francis Borgia High School and serves as director of tourism for the City of Pacific. Former Pacific Mayor Jeff Titter, who spent many hours working toward obtaining a permanent home for the museum, will assist O’Malley.

March 9: 6:30 p.m. Dave Bevfoden will present Union Area History, using 8 mm film (that will be shown on the screen) taken by his grandfather, Marvin Means, in 1954 as well as more recent photos. Marvin Means owned Aholt’s Grocery and the Shopper newspaper. He filmed major events in the Union area, including firemen’s training, building Union Lake, the Christmas parade and much more.

March 9: 7:30 p.m. Bill Boland will give a PowerPoint presentation of the History of Leslie, including historic photos and sharing his memories and information others have shared with him. Boland owned the feed store at Beaufort after his father retired from the store.

March 16: SPRING BREAK. No class

March 23: 6:30 p.m. Lynn Wagner, will cover three little-talked-about murders in the Franklin County area, including Blackwell, Sorensen and Helms. All three involve women accused of killing their husbands. Wagner is a lifelong resident of the county and is President of the Franklin County Historical Society. A long-time researcher, she is the daughter of a police officer, to which she attributes her interest in crime and punishment.

March 23: 7:30 p.m. Mary Wilding will present the History of Berger. Wilding is the daughter of well-known bird carver Clem Wilding and a native of Berger.

March 30: 6:30 p.m. Area historian and author Sue Blesi will present Born into Slavery, They Later Took on Leadership Roles. Come learn about an entrepreneur who planned a town and built a railroad station, some who were successful educators and more. Did you know there were Black Masons? Sue has researched area history for 35 years and written several books and countless newspaper columns and articles.

March 30: 7:30 p.m. Area historian and author Steve Claggett will present History of the Four Rivers and Their Impact on Franklin, Gasconade and Surrounding Counties, including serving as early highways, bridges, fords, mining, transportation, floods, drownings and development attempts. Steve has served as president of Four Rivers Genealogical Society for many years and written several books.

April 6: 6:30 p.m. Larry Hagedorn will bring an antique St. Clair Fire Truck to this session. He will cover the struggles involved in establishing a fire department at St. Clair and neighboring towns. Hagedorn is retired from the St. Charles Fire Department, but began his career as a volunteer for the St. Clair Fire Department when he was still in high school

April 6: 7:30 p.m. Suzanne Pautler will present Immigrating to and Settling in Jeffriesburg – The Rise and fall of Small Communities in Franklin County. Pautler’s interest in genealogy, technology, photography and teaching merged to equip her for investigating both her family’s history and the places where they lived.

April 13: 6:30 p.m. Sandy Gurnow will present her research on the Labadie Community, including the Old Labadie Academy and other schools in the area, the Bethel Church and Cemetery, Labadie Cave, Boles and St. Albans. She is presently president of the Wildwood Historical Society and vice president of Four Rivers Genealogical Society. Gurnow has written a beautiful book on Labadie history.

April 20: 6:30 p.m. Retired Prosecuting Attorney Dan Buescher has been a popular fixture in this class for years. He will talk about various Facets of Washington History based on his wonderful memories, including schools, segregation, buildings and much more.

April 20: 7:30 p.m. Retired Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke entered law enforcement as a military policeman in the Missouri National Guard in 1971, served as a deputy for eight years, and as Franklin County Sheriff for 28 years. He will discuss Crime Scene Investigations and the Criminal Justice System from the 70s to Present.

April 27: 6:30 p.m. Sue Blesi will present A. J. Seay, the Franklin County Judge Who Took His Courtroom to the Crime During a Pacific Railroad Strike. This presentation will cover Seay’s life from pioneer days in Virginia to the hardships his family faced in Missouri, his attempt to attend Steelville Academy which was thwarted by the loss of his father and several siblings, his eventual success as an attorney and the amazing career he after leaving Missouri.

April 27: 7:30 p.m. Prosecuting attorney Frank Jenny comes to our class a second time, all the way from Franklin County, Washington, to present Paul Mueller and the Class the Stars Fell On. Mueller was one of Union’s most distinguished sons, valedictorian of the 1910 graduating class, a 1915 graduate of West Point (classmate of Omar Bradley and Dwight D. Eisenhower), served in WWI and was promoted to the rank of major general in WWII in charge of the Wildcat Division, reportedly the source of Union’s athletic team name, the Wildcats. Frank Jenny is the grandson of a well-known Franklin County Missouri prosecuting attorney by the same name!