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Mistakes that made county history

Mistakes that made county history

June 13th, 2019 by Quinn Wilson in Local News

Rotary Club guest speaker Tom Clapp presents on the "Drunken History of Callaway County" at Wednesday's meeting. The speech covered moments of foolishness in Callaway County's storied history.

Photo by Quinn Wilson

A podium decorated with half-empty pints of O'Doul's proved the perfect set dressing for Tom Clapp's "Drunken History of Callaway County."

Former Kiwanis president Clapp spoke at Wednesday's meeting of the Fulton Rotary Club. During his humorous lecture, he highlighted what he considered some of the historical "stupidity" of Callaway County.

"I've grown up in this county and have seen and witnessed more than I want to," Clapp said.

One anecdote the native Callawegian covered was the death of the county's namesake, Capt. James Callaway.

Clapp recounted how Callaway was warned by his commanding officer to not cross the Loutre River because of the threat the Native Americans would pose.

While attempting to retrieve stolen horses, Callaway crossed the Loutre River and was subsequently killed by the Native Americans. Six years later, when the county was settled, it was saddled with the name of a "stupid person," according to Clapp.

"We've been doing stupid stuff ever since, and I don't think it's going to change," Clapp joked.

Another bite of history Clapp recounted was the "Kingdom of Callaway" story.

Col. Jefferson Jones, leader of the Callaway County Militia, seceded from Missouri to form the "Kingdom of Callaway" with himself as its king. Clapp added he's performed as Jones some 46 times.

Clapp claims Jones' "stupid" move came when he decided to let the Kingdom's guard down and "throw one heck of a party" after signing a peace treaty, only to be invaded three days later by the Union army.

"Now, was that a brilliant tactical move by Jefferson Jones? Or was he just stupid?" Clapp asked.

Current Rotary Club President Debbie Laughlin said she's known Clapp since her college days in Fulton and was delighted to hear his speech.

"I've always thought he was hysterical, and he never fails to make me laugh," Laughlin said.