John Hardeman (1794-1860) — also known
as J. Hardeman Walker — of Missouri. Born in Fayette County,
Tenn., March 3, 1794. Uncle of John Walker. County judge in Missouri.
Principally responsible for the expansion of the southern border of
Missouri to include the "Bootheel" region. Died in Caruthersville,
Pemiscot County, Mo., April 30, 1860. Interment at Eastwood Memorial
Methodist Church, Caruthersville, Mo.
How did the state boundary of Missouri
come to include the "Bootheel"?
The inclusion of the "bootheel" in the boundaries of
Missouri has been credited to John Hardeman Walker, a landowner and
influential citizen of southeast Missouri. Walker was born in Tennessee in
1794 and came to the New Madrid area of the Territory of Missouri at the age
of sixteen. When the New Madrid earthquakes began a year later, in December
1811, many of the area's citizens moved away. Walker, however did not leave
the area and his cattle-raising enterprise; instead he acquired more
property and soon became known as the "Czar of the Valley." His extensive
landholdings were located in Little Prairie, near present-day
Caruthersville. This area fell under the jurisdiction of the Missouri
Territory as administered from the town of New Madrid.
In January 1818, the United States
Congress received the first petition requesting permission for the Missouri
territory to organize a state government; other petitions were presented
over the next couple of months. At that time, the southern boundary for
Missouri was fixed at 36 ° 30 ¢. Walker and the people of Little Prairie
realized this line would place their lands some twenty-five miles south of
the Missouri border. Little Prairie would be under the jurisdiction of the
Arkansas territorial government, not the state government of Missouri.
Walker, who preferred the area, and his holdings, to be under the protection
of Missouri state laws, lobbied in Missouri and Washington D.C. for
inclusion of the "bootheel" within the boundaries of the state of Missouri.
On November 22, 1818, the
territorial legislature adopted a memorial to the United States Congress for
the admission of Missouri to the Union. The new memorial described a more
extensive boundary than that proposed in the earlier petitions, fixing the
boundaries to include the Little Prairie area as follows:
"Beginning at a point in the middle of
the main channel of the Mississippi River at the 36th degree of north
latitude and running in a direct line to the mouth of the Black river, a
branch of the White river; thence in the middle of the main channel of the
White river to where the parallel of 36 degrees and 30 minutes north
latitude crosses the same; thence with that parallel of latitude due
The boundary outlined in this
memorial was not adopted, but if it had been, the State of Missouri would
have been much larger, including parts of southern Iowa, eastern Kansas, and
northeastern Arkansas. The United States Congress amended the memorial
boundaries, but agreed to include the area known as the "Bootheel" within
the new state.
On March 6, 1820, when the
Territory of Missouri requested admission to the Union with the modified
boundary in the southeast corner, the request was granted. The Missouri
Enabling Act describes the southern boundary as follows:
".Beginning in the middle of the
Mississippi river, on the parallel of thirty-six degrees of north latitude;
thence west, along that parallel of latitude, to the St. Francois river;
thence up, and following the course of that river, in the middle of the main
channel thereof, to the parallel of latitude of thirty-six degrees and
thirty minutes; thence west, along the same, to a point where the said
parallel is intersected by a meridian line passing through the middle of the
mouth of the Kansas river ."
increased the total area of Missouri by some 980 square miles (627,000
History of Missouri: From the Earliest Explorations and Settlements Until
the Admission of the State into the Union. Volume I. Chicago: R.R.
Donnelley and Sons Company, 1908.
History of Missouri. Volume I. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing
Company, Inc., 1967.
Missouri: Day by Day. Volume I.
Edited by Floyd C. Shoemaker. Columbia [ Mo. ]: State Historical
Society of Missouri, 1942.
*Back drop picture taken at Hot Springs, AR
** Small pictures are two separate paintings of the
"Arkansas Traveler" which hangs in the Governor's Mansion Banquet Hall in
Little Rock, AR
Gideon Seniors 1959
Copyright © 2001 by
[Gideon Seniors 1959].
All rights reserved.
06/03/09 15:20:37 -0700.