Alan & Teri's Travels travel blog

Pershing Boyhood Home

Start Mileage: 47695

We couldn’t wait to leave the AOK Campground and were out by 9:08 am. It might have been nice to take in some of the attractions in St. Joseph, but tired from wind chime interrupted sleep, we just wanted to get out of the area.

We continued east on Route 36 and encountered lots of road construction. With the low population density in the area, T wondered out loud why this road needed to be expanded to four lane.

We stopped at The General John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site in LaClede which interprets the life of one of America’s war heroes

John Joseph Pershing, throughout life known as “Jack”, was born September 13, 1860. The Pershing family moved into the house in Laclede when John was six and stayed there until 1885. There is little in Pershing’s boyhood history to suggest that one day he would become a national war hero. His typical boyhood included fishing, hunting and mischief making. Chores on the family’s two farms introduced him to strenuous labor early in life.

In the panic of 1873, the Pershings lost all their holdings with the exception of the home and one of the farms. John and his brother James, gained the complete responsibility for the farm when their father took a job as a traveling salesman.

Pershing also accepted a teaching position at Prairie Mound School and eventually saved enough money to attend Kirksville Normal School (now Truman State University) where he received his teaching degree in June 1880. He returned to Prairie Mound School until the fall of 1881. It was then that he saw a newspaper article concerning the competitive exam for entrance into the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. He qualified and was nominated to West Point where he graduated in 1886.

Between 1886 and his military retirement in 1924, Pershing fought his way up through the military ranks. His first assignment was with the Sixth Cavalry at Fort Baynard , NM against the Apache Indians led by Chief Geronimo. He fought with the Sixth Cavalry in 1891 on the Dakota-Nebraska border where Chief Sitting Bull was killed, and the Tenth (Black) Cavalry in the Battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War in 1898.

In 1900, he was assigned to the Philippine Islands, as was an observer of the Russo-Japanese War in Manchuria in 1905. In 1906 he was promoted to captain brigadier by President Theodore Roosevelt. He returned to the Philippines where, in 1909, he became governor of the Moro province, thoroughly defeating the Moros. In 1914, Pershing took command of the American forces on the Mexican border in the campaign against the revolutionary leader Francisco “Pancho” Villa.

In 1917, he was sent to France as Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. His tasks included organizing, training and supplying an inexperienced force that quickly grew to more than two million. In 1919, he was named the General of the Armies of the United States (one rank above five-star general) by a special act of Congress.

During his military career, Pershing was a professor at the University of Nebraska and an assistant instructor at West Point. Here, he was given the name “Black Jack” because of his previous affiliation with the black cavalry. He married Frances Warren in 1905 and had four children, three of which perished in a fire along with Mrs. Pershing in 1915. Pershing won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1932 for his memoirs, “My Experiences in the World War”. He died on July 15, 1948 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with highest military honors.

A statue of “Black Jack” sculpted by Carl Mose in the 1950's stands by the house and is surrounded by the Wall of Honor, a semicircle of granite tablets inscribed with names of war veterans.

The tour was interesting and informative. We really enjoyed the three seater privy.

The Missouri Park Ranger who gave us the tour mentioned that Marceline was the hometown of Walt Disney and they had an interesting museum there.

On her advice, we stopped in Marceline and toured the Walt Disney Hometown Museum. The museum is housed in the restored 1913 Santa Fe Depot and is the recipient of a unique collection of Disney Family artifacts. Its exhibits focus on the Disney family, Walt’s early years in Marceline and the influences he gathered there.

By his own account, Walt Disney’s happiest childhood memories were of his time in Marceline and at the farm. He had a tree that he called his dreaming tree. When he was constructing Disneyland, he made the decision that every visitor would walk down Main Street USA, a street inspired by this town. To quote him: “To tell the truth, more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than ever happened since or are likely to in the future.”

The Uptown Theatre here has been in continuous existence since 1930 and has hosted two Disney premieres. The Midwest premier of The Great Locomotive Chase was held here in 1956. Both Walt and Roy Disney attended. The Disney Company held The Spirit of Mickey world premiere here in 1998.

In 1968 the US Postal Department issued the Walt Disney commemorative stamp from this site. The entire Disney family attended this event along with thousands of dedicated Disney fans. On August 23, 2004 the Post Office was renamed the Walt Disney Post Office.

The mural in the lobby was commissioned as part of the 1930's Federal Arts Projects. Painted by Joseph Meert, considered one of Thomas Hart Benton’s best students, it depicts Marceline’s 1930 economy.

We watched part of the movie at the museum, but really had to get back on the road again to make Hannibal at reasonable time. We enjoyed the chat by the volunteer tour guide but really wished she had cut it a bit shorter...

We camped at Injun Joe Campground in New London, MO just south of Hannibal.

This is a pleasant campground with nicely spaced campsites that allows campfires.

We were impressed with the attitude of the owners who told us they had to be away for a few days and when they returned they found a bunch of campground fee envelopes inside their door. Campers had just paid the fees rather than trying to get a “free” night’s lodging. I guess for the most part, we are honest people.

We’re beginning to feel the eastern humidity and T is NOT FOND of it.

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