September 12, 2011
September 2011 Meeting
Scott County Historical & Genealogy Society meeting on Thursday, September 15th, at 7:00 p.m. at the Riverside Regional Library in Benton, MO.
The guest speaker will be Lonnie Thiele, author of the book, “That Son Of A Gun Had Sense-Mule Stories from
the Bootheel Area During the 1930’s and 1940’s Era.” Mr. Thiele is from Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
He changed careers at age 45 from finance to journalism. He worked at the Linn County News, a weekly newspaper at Pleasanton, Kansas, from 1989 to 1994 as editor. From there he went to the Holden-Image Progress at Holden, MO for a year as city editor. In October 1995, he accepted a job as a general assignment reporter at the Daily American Republic in Poplar Bluff. While there, he also covered the agriculture beat and in 1998 he wrote a four-part series on farming with mules, and the series helped him win his first Missouri Press Association annual award. In his nine years at the DAR he won three MPA awards and two Associated Press awards, plus many of his stories were picked up by the AP for regional coverage.
After doing the series on mules he realized then there was a lot of interest in mule stories, and in January 2007 he started interviewing people throughout the Bootheel area for their mule stories. I chose the Bootheel area because in the 1930s and 1940s this area led the state in the number of mules. In 1935 there were more than 26,000 mules in the three Bootheel counties of New Madrid, Dunklin and Pemiscot combined.
After six months into the research he decided to set two parameters, (1) to only interview people who actually farmed with mules and (2) to only interview people who farmed in or within 30 miles of the boundaries of New Madrid, Dunklin and Pemiscot counties. He interviewed 84 people for about 90 stories. The stories are told in narrative form. he ends each story with a short bio and mug shot of the person telling the story. There are stories from 11 different counties in the Bootheel area, plus five stories from Northeast Arkansas. The first printing came out in November 2010, and a 2nd printing is due out this month (September). He has added three mule stories in the 2nd printing, one of these came out of Scott County.