The Missouri Bootheel is the southeasternmost part of the state of Missouri, extending south of 36°30' north latitude, so called because its shape in relation to the rest of the state resembles the heel of a boot. Strictly speaking, it is composed of the counties of Dunklin, New Madrid, and Pemiscot. However, the term is locally used to refer to the entire southeastern lowlands of Missouri located within the Mississippi Embayment, which includes parts of Butler, Mississippi, Ripley, Scott, Stoddard and extreme southern portions of Cape Girardeau and Bollinger counties. The largest city in the region is Kennett.
Missouri is a state in the Midwestern United States. With over six million residents, it is the 18th-most populous state of the Union. The largest urban areas are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia; the capital is Jefferson City. The state is the 21st-most extensive in area. In the South are the Ozarks, a forested highland, providing timber, minerals, and recreation. The Missouri River, after which the state is named, flows through the center of the state into the Mississippi River, which makes up Missouri's eastern border.
In geography, latitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the north–south position of a point on the Earth's surface. Latitude is an angle which ranges from 0° at the Equator to 90° at the poles. Lines of constant latitude, or parallels, run east–west as circles parallel to the equator. Latitude is used together with longitude to specify the precise location of features on the surface of the Earth. On its own, the term latitude should be taken to be the geodetic latitude as defined below. Briefly, geodetic latitude at a point is the angle formed by the vector perpendicular to the ellipsoidal surface from that point, and the equatorial plane. Also defined are six auxiliary latitudes which are used in special applications.
Dunklin County is a county located in the Bootheel of the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the population was 31,953. The largest city and county seat is Kennett. The county was officially organized on February 14, 1845, and is named in honor of Daniel Dunklin, a Governor of Missouri who died the year before the county was organized.
The Bootheel and the Oklahoma-Kansas-Missouri border near the 37th parallel north form the two biggest jogs in a nearly straight line of state borders that starts on the Atlantic Ocean with the Virginia–North Carolina border and extends to the tristate border of Nevada, Arizona and Utah.
Oklahoma is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning "red people". It is also known informally by its nickname, "The Sooner State", in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans, and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City.
Kansas is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States. Its capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita, with its most populated county being Johnson County. Kansas is bordered by Nebraska on the north; Missouri on the east; Oklahoma on the south; and Colorado on the west. Kansas is named after the Kansas River, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native Americans who lived along it banks. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the (south) wind" although this was probably not the term's original meaning. For thousands of years, what is now Kansas was home to numerous and diverse Native American tribes. Tribes in the eastern part of the state generally lived in villages along the river valleys. Tribes in the western part of the state were semi-nomadic and hunted large herds of bison.
The 37th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 37 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Until the 1920s the district was a wheat-growing area of family farms. Following the invasion of the boll weevil, which ruined the cotton crop in Arkansas, planters moved in. They bought up the land for conversion to cotton commodity crops, bringing along thousands of sharecroppers.After mechanization of agriculture and other changes in the 1930s, many black families left the area to go North in the Great Migration. These counties have predominantly white populations in the 21st century, although a few have significant minorities of blacks.
The boll weevil is a beetle which feeds on cotton buds and flowers. Thought to be native to Central Mexico, it migrated into the United States from Mexico in the late 19th century and had infested all U.S. cotton-growing areas by the 1920s, devastating the industry and the people working in the American South. During the late 20th century, it became a serious pest in South America as well. Since 1978, the Boll Weevil Eradication Program in the U.S. allowed full-scale cultivation to resume in many regions.
The Great Migration, sometimes known as the Great Northward Migration, or the Black Migration, was the movement of six million African Americans out of the rural Southern United States to the urban Northeast, Midwest, and West that occurred between 1916 and 1970. In every U.S. Census prior to 1910, more than 90 percent of the African-American population lived in the American South. In 1900, only one-fifth of African Americans living in the South were living in urban areas. By the end of the Great Migration, just over 50 percent of the African-American population remained in the South, while a little less than 50 percent lived in the North and West, and the African-American population had become highly urbanized. By 1960, of those African Americans still living in the South, half now lived in urban areas, and by 1970, more than 80 percent of African Americans nationwide lived in cities. In 1991, Nicholas Lemann wrote that:
The Great Migration was one of the largest and most rapid mass internal movements in history—perhaps the greatest not caused by the immediate threat of execution or starvation. In sheer numbers it outranks the migration of any other ethnic group—Italians or Irish or Jews or Poles—to [the United States]. For blacks, the migration meant leaving what had always been their economic and social base in America, and finding a new one.
When Missouri was admitted to the Union, its original border was proposed as an extension of the 36°30′ parallel north that formed the border between Kentucky and Tennessee. This would have excluded the Bootheel. John Hardeman Walker, a pioneer planter in what is now Pemiscot County, argued that the area had more in common with the Mississippi River towns of Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis in Missouri than with its proposed incorporation in the Arkansas Territory. The border was dropped about 50 miles to the 36th parallel north. It follows that parallel about 30 miles until intersecting the St. Francis River, then follows the river back up to about the 36°30′ parallel just west of Campbell, Missouri.
Kentucky, officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state located in the east south-central region of the United States. Although styled as the "State of Kentucky" in the law creating it, (because in Kentucky's first constitution, the name state was used) Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth. Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 Kentucky became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th most extensive and the 26th most populous of the 50 United States.
Tennessee is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Tennessee is the 36th largest and the 16th most populous of the 50 United States. Tennessee is bordered by Kentucky to the north, Virginia to the northeast, North Carolina to the east, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to the south, Arkansas to the west, and Missouri to the northwest. The Appalachian Mountains dominate the eastern part of the state, and the Mississippi River forms the state's western border. Nashville is the state's capital and largest city, with a 2017 population of 667,560 and a 2017 metro population of 1,903,045. Tennessee's second largest city is Memphis, which had a population of 652,236 in 2017.
John Hardeman Walker was an early landowner in southeast Missouri, most famous for convincing the United States Congress to place the Bootheel in Missouri instead of Arkansas.
According to an apocryphal story in various versions, the Bootheel was added to the state because of the request of some Missourian to remain in the state "as he had heard it was so sickly in Arkansas"; "...full of bears and panthers and copperhead snakes, so it ain't safe for civilized people to stay there over night even." Another legend has the adaptation made by a lovestruck surveyor to spare the feelings of a widow living 50 miles south of the Missouri border, but unaware of it. At one time, the area was known locally as "Lapland, because it's the place where Missouri laps over into Arkansas".
During the American Civil War, a number of battles took place in this area, most notably the Battle of Island No. 10.
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.
Until the early 20th century, the district was largely covered by wetlands and swamps, but otherwise was a wheat-growing area of family farms. Lumbering was important in the 1890s until the most valuable trees were taken.
In 1905, the Little River Drainage District built an elaborate network of ditches, canals, and levees to drain the swamps, as people believed that the highest use was for agriculture. They did not understand about the important function of wetlands in modifying river flooding.
From 1880 to 1930, the population in the area more than tripled as many workers were brought in. Cotton became the chief commodity crop.Meanwhile, the boll weevil ruined the cotton crop in Arkansas, and planters moved into the Bootheel, bought up the new lands or leased them from insurance companies that had invested in the area, and recruited thousands of black sharecroppers as workers.
In contrast to the other cotton-growing areas of the South, where blacks had been disfranchised around the turn of the century, they were allowed to vote in Missouri and played a political role in this area.In the main, political power was held by white power brokers, especially Democrat J. V. Conran from the 1930s to 1960s. He worked closely with blacks in the region. An ally of Senator and President Harry S. Truman, Conran packed the ballot boxes but did bring efficiency and government services, and helped improve economic and social conditions.
During the Great Depression, the Farm Security Administration said that the Bootheel was a "paradox of rich land and poor people." In 1935 three-fourths of all farms were operated by tenants, most of them black.Radicals in the Southern Tenant Farmers Union organized protests by hundreds of sharecroppers in early 1939, alleging that landlords had evicted masses of tenants because they did not want to share federal AAA checks with them. The Farm Security Administration, a New Deal agency, responded by providing low-cost rental housing for 500 cropper families. It awarded $500,000 in grants to 11,000 families in 1939. The protest fizzled out as Communist and Socialist elements battled for control.
Available samples from the Bootheel and most of the southeastern Missouri counties demonstrate late Tertiary (more than 1.8 mya) to Quaternary (1.8 mya to present) geology, much younger than neighboring highlands. The lowest point in the state is in southwestern Dunklin County along the St. Francis River near Arbyrd, at 230 feet above sea level. The bootheel area is notable for being the epicenter of the 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes, some of the largest earthquakes ever felt in the United States.
As glaciers receded towards the end of the Ice Age and turned ice into liquid, the Mississippi River grew longer and wider. Over time, the silt deposits of the Mississippi created some of the most fertile soil in the world, ideal for agriculture. The areas around the Mississippi are composed of thick regolith that is around 100 metres (330 ft) thick. The Bootheel lies in the flood plain between the Mississippi and St. Francis rivers; so the land is very flat. Since clearing and drainage of wetlands in the early 20th century, it has been predominantly developed for agricultural purposes. Prior to the 20th century, it was mostly unsettled swampy forestland.
Between 1893 and 1989, developers cut about 85% of the native forests in the region; most clearing was done in the early decades of the 20th century. The entire landscape was transformed into farmland by extensive logging, draining of the watershed, channelization, and the construction of flood control structures. High levees along both river courses, an extensive system of drainage ditches and diversion channels, and controlled lakes, pumping stations and cutoffs protect the area from flooding. The soils are predominantly a rich and deep glacial loess, alluvial silt, and a sandy loam, well-suited for agricultural use.
But the levees have changed the nature of the rivers, and cumulatively have aggravated flooding problems. They also prevent regular silt deposits, as they have increased the speed of the rivers. The reduction in wetlands has reduced important habitats for many species of migratory birds and a variety of fish and animals.
Flooding is a major concern along the Mississippi River. With such a large river basin and the vast discharge of water, the river makes the towns along its banks highly susceptible to frequent flooding. The National Weather Service reported that from 1980 to 2002, nine floods in the United States had total losses exceeding one billion dollars. In terms of monetary loss and effects on society, the Great Flood of 1993 was the worst.
Earthquakes have long been frequent in the area. The New Madrid Fault Zone (pronounced /
|“||Great fissures opened the earth, geysers show mud and rocks hundreds of feet in the air, new hills and ridges heaved up out of the ground, and the river itself ran red with brimstone and sulfur. Whole islands in the river disappeared, the forests went under, the tall oaks snapped like twigs, and violent winds tossed bundles of fallen timbers. Deafening thunder rang to the heavens. Animals went crazy; thousands of birds hovered and screamed.||”|
The states of Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana felt the brunt of this quake, ruining lives and leaving residents in fear of aftershocks and possible larger quakes. To this day, the New Madrid Seismic Zone is still active and frequently produces small earthquakes. Scientists have estimated that a strong earthquake is inevitable and is overdue. Residents of the area are aware of the risk, but critics say they are not well prepared for a disaster. William Atkinson, author of The Next New Madrid Earthquake, writes:
|“||The area is well overdue for a moderately powerful tremor- which will cause major damage and undoubtedly some casualties...With each passing year, the inevitable earthquake is becoming more powerful, while the state of readiness in the Mississippi Valley remains woefully inadequate.||”|
Given the population in the area, even a moderately sized earthquake would be disastrous.
The Bootheel (pronounced Boothill in the region) is on the edge of the Mississippi Delta culture that produced the Delta blues. Its relatively large black population makes it distinct from the rest of rural Missouri. The area has a unique rural black culture reflected in its music, churches and other traditions. The black population ranges from about 26% in Pemiscot County, to 15% in New Madrid County, and about 9% in Dunklin County.
The Bootheel once had a reputation for lawlessness. Remote settlements along the river banks, miles from paved roads, provided an ideal environment (and market) for moonshining and bootlegging.[ citation needed ]
Culturally, the Bootheel is considered more Southern than Midwestern. It was settled largely by people from the South, both black and white. It is part of the Mid-South, a region centered on the Memphis metropolitan area. Definitions of the Mid-South vary but in general include west Tennessee and Kentucky, north Mississippi, northeast Arkansas, and the Missouri Bootheel.The locations of the region's television stations reflect this:
Economically, the agricultural area is one of the more impoverished parts of Missouri. It does not enjoy the benefits of tourism as do areas of the nearby Ozark Mountains. There is some manufacturing, but the area is primarily agricultural. Because of its alluvial past, the area's rich soil is ideal for growing soybeans, rice and cotton. Some truck crops are grown, most notably various types of melons, especially watermelons. A limited amount of livestock is raised. In contrast to much of the rest of Missouri, there are few fences.
No large cities are located in the Bootheel. Sizable towns include Kennett, the birthplace of singers Sheryl Crow, David Nail, and Trent Tomlinson; and Sikeston, the birthplace of professional athletes James Wilder, Brandon Barnes, and Blake DeWitt. Sikeston's city limits fall within both Scott County and New Madrid County. Cape Girardeau and Poplar Bluff are often considered to be part of the Bootheel due to the influence the two cities have had on the development of the region, but neither is located within its geographic boundaries.
Hornersville, a small town in southern Dunklin County, was home to William H. "Major" Ray, a one-time 19th-century circus "midget". He later became known as the representative of the Buster Brown shoe brand. He and his wife, Jennie, are buried in a cemetery in Hornersville.Caruthersville is the county seat of Pemiscot County.
The small towns of Senath and Arbyrd are also located in Dunklin County. They are home to a locally celebrated ghost light, sometimes called the "Senath Light" or "Arbyrd light". It occurs between these two towns and closer to Hollywood near the Lulu Church and Cemetery.
The Missouri Bootheel is the home of two members of the musical group the Kentucky Headhunters, Doug and Ricky Phelps. They received their education at Southland C-9, the consolidated schools of Arbyrd and Cardwell, Missouri. They performed at the Cotton Pickin Festival in the small town of Arbyrd; a place where they spent much time while growing up. They both performed as Brother Phelps, and then Doug came back and performed with The Kentucky Headhunters. This festival is a major attraction and draws a huge crowd for a town of only about 550 people. Other prominent acts at Arbyrd include T. Graham Brown and The Bellamy Brothers.
Also in the northern part of Dunklin County lies the town of Malden, the home of country/rockabilly singer Narvel Felts. Felts' music has played worldwide, as he continues to tour.
Pemiscot County is a county located in the southeastern corner in the Bootheel in the U.S. state of Missouri, with the Mississippi River forming its eastern border. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,296. The largest city and county seat is Caruthersville. The county was officially organized on February 19, 1851, and is named for the local bayou, taken from the Fox dialect word, pem-eskaw, meaning "liquid mud". This has been an area of cotton plantations and later other commodity crops.
New Madrid County is a county located in the Bootheel of the U.S. state of Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,956. The largest city and county seat is New Madrid, located on the northern side of the Kentucky Bend in the Mississippi River, where it has formed an oxbow around an exclave of Fulton County, Kentucky. This feature has also been known as New Madrid Bend or Madrid Bend, for the city.
Mississippi County is a county located in the Bootheel of the U.S. state of Missouri, with its eastern border formed by the Mississippi River. As of the 2010 census, the population was 14,358. The largest city and county seat is Charleston. The county was officially organized on February 14, 1845, and was named after the Mississippi River.
Wilson is a city in Mississippi County, Arkansas, United States. The community is located in the Arkansas Delta and is surrounded by fertile cropland historically used to produce cotton. Wilson started as a company town in 1886 by Robert E. Lee Wilson, who would build a cotton empire and run it from the city. The Wilson Company would become so successful that all of the town's buildings were rebuilt in Tudor Revival architectural style following Wilson's son's honeymoon to England in 1925. Wilson did not incorporate until 1959. Lee Wilson and Company remained in the Wilson family until 2010. The community has seen a rapid decline in economic activity and population since the advent of mechanization on the farm, reducing the need for manual labor to produce cotton. The population was 903 at the 2010 census. The town is incorporated and does not have an owner.
Cardwell is a city in Dunklin County, Missouri, United States. The population was 713 at the 2010 census. The current Mayor of Cardwell is Becky Austin.
Caruthersville is a city in and the county seat of Pemiscot County, Missouri, United States, located along the Mississippi River in the Bootheel region of the state's far southeast. The population was 6,168, according to the 2010 Census.
The Mississippi Embayment is a physiographic feature in the south-central United States, part of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. It is essentially a northward continuation of the fluvial sediments of the Mississippi River Delta to its confluence with the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois. The current sedimentary area was formed in the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic by the filling with sediment of a pre-existing basin. An explanation for the embayment's formation was put forward by Van Arsdale and Cox in 2007; movement of the earth's crust brought this region over a volcanic "hotspot" in the Earth's mantle causing an upthrust of magma which formed the Appalachian-Ouachita range. Subsequent erosion caused a deep trough that was flooded by the Gulf of Mexico and eventually filled with sediment from the Mississippi River.
Little Dixie is a historic 13- to 17-county region of mid-to-upper-mid Missouri along the Missouri River, settled at first primarily by migrants from the hemp and tobacco districts of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. Because Southerners settled there first, the pre-Civil War culture was similar to that of the Upper South. The area was also known as Boonslick country.
Route 164 is a state highway in the Missouri Bootheel. The route starts at U.S. Route 412 in Cardwell. The route travels eastward across the bootheel, and it goes through the towns of Arbyrd, Hornersville, Rives, and Steele. It becomes concurrent with US 61 briefly in Steele, and intersects Interstate 55 (I-55) east of the city. The route ends east of Cottonwood Point, near the Mississippi River.
Route 108 is a short highway in the Bootheel of southeastern Missouri. Its eastern terminus is the Arkansas state line at Arkansas Highway 77, about six miles (10 km) south of Arbyrd, the only town on the route. Its western terminus is at U.S. Route 412 (US 412) about two miles (3 km) north of Arbyrd. Although signed as an east–west route, the route follows mostly north–south roadways. The route was designated in 1930, and was extended east in 1972.
State Route 19 or the Tina Turner Highway is a road in Haywood and Lauderdale Counties, Tennessee, United States. State Route 19 is 42.81 mi (69 km) long.
Golddust is a rural unincorporated community in Lauderdale County, Tennessee, United States. It is located on the banks of the Mississippi River. Golddust is one of the earliest European-American settlements in Lauderdale County.
State Route 180 is a secondary south–north highway in Haywood and Lauderdale Counties, Tennessee, United States. State Route 180 is 12.52 mi (20.1 km) long.
Route 84 is a state highway in the Missouri bootheel. The route starts at Arkansas Highway 90 over the St. Francis River on the Arkansas–Missouri state line. The road travels eastward to Kennett, where it becomes concurrent with U.S. Route 412. East of Kennett, the concurrent routes travel eastward on a divided highway to Hayti Heights, where the concurrency ends. Route 84 travels through Hayti Heights and Hayti, and it crosses Interstate 55 (I-55) and US 61. The route then travels southeastwards to Caruthersville, and bypasses the central area of the city. In the southern part of Caruthersville, Route 84 ends at an interchange with I-155 and US 412.
The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is a Federal-State partnership whose mission it is to improve the quality of life for the residents of the Mississippi River Delta Region. The Delta Regional Authority serves 252 counties and parishes in parts of eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Led by a Federal Co-Chairman appointed by the President and the governors of the eight states, the DRA fosters partnerships throughout the region as it works to improve the Delta economy. DRA funds can be used to leverage other federal and state programs.
Missouri's 25th Senatorial District is one of 34 districts in the Missouri Senate. The district is based in Southeast Missouri and includes all of the counties of Butler, Dunklin, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Ripley, Stoddard, and Wayne.
National Weather Service - Memphis, TN is a local weather forecast office responsible for monitoring weather conditions in the U.S. Mid-South region for counties in Eastern Arkansas, the Missouri Bootheel, Northern Mississippi, and Western Tennessee. The current office in Memphis maintains a WSR-88D (NEXRAD) radar system, and Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) that greatly improve forecasting in the region. Memphis is in charge of weather forecasts, warnings and local statements as well as aviation weather. The name of the doppler radar (WSR-88D) used by this office is MEG. Jim Belles is the Meteorologist-In-Charge (MIC) of this office.