] Around Columbia: June 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Princible at Lang Middle School

Today is the last day for Shelli Adams as principal for Lange Middle School. Shelli is leaving to finish her dissertation for her doctorate and she is being replaced by Dr. C. Bernard Solomon. Dr. Solomon is moving over from his position as assistant principal at Oakland Junior High

Photo of C. Bernard Solomon and Shelli Adams taken on 29 June 2009 in the administrative office of the John B. Lane Middle School, Columbia, MO
I would like to wish Dr. Solomon the best of luck at his new school and the soon to be Dr. Adams the best of luck as she completes her doctorate. As principal Adams was accessible, efficient, and ran a large organization with grace and good humor. You need all of those qualities in a middle school.

When our daughter transitioned from Shephard Elementary to Lange we were concerned about the move to a much larger school. Fortunately we have been pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the faculty are and how good of a princible Shelli Adams was.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rocky Fork Primitive Baptist Church and the Mordecai (Mordica) Family

Located North of Columbia is the historic Rocky Fork Primitive Baptist Church. I have many relatives, from the Mordica side of the family, buried there. These relatives are descendants of Moses Mordecai, before the name became anglicized, and before most of the family had unfortunately become assimilated.

The Mordecai family has been in Missouri for over 150 years and is mentioned in the book Missouri Pioneers Volume I, by Audrey Woodruff and Nadine Hodges, the History of Boone County, Missouri published by the Boone County Historical Society and which is currently out of print but available online, at least in parts, from Google Books. Also, the Daniel Boone Regional Library has two copies in Columbia and one in Ashland.

This is an excerpt about Moses Mordecai from the Jewish Encyclopedia online:

American trader; founder of the Mordecai family in America; born in Bonn, Germany, in 1707; died in Philadelphia May 28, 1781. He went to America about 1750 and settled in Philadelphia, where he engaged in the brokerage business. On Oct. 25, 1765, Mordecai signed the celebrated Non-Importation Agreement, by which the merchants refused to import goods until the repeal of the Stamp Act. In 1777, after the outbreak of the Revolution, he signed an agreement to take the colonial paper currency sanctioned by the king, instead of gold and silver.

The family is also mentioned in Ways of Wisdom: Moral Education in the Early National Period by Ruth H. Block; Journal of Southern History, Vol 69, 2003 and the book Ways of Wisdom: Moral Education in the Early National Period by Jean E. Friedman published in 2001 by the University of Georgia Press (ISBN-13: 9780820322520) and here is a synopsis of that book from the Barnes & Noble web site:

In Ways of Wisdom, Jean Friedman traces how Jacob Mordecai and his family, German American Orthodox Jews*, adopted the Anglo-Irish enlightened pedagogical system developed by Richard Lovell Edgeworth and his daughter Maria. In 1808 Mordecai founded the Warrenton Female Academy on the enlightened principles described in the Edgeworths' guide, Practical Education, and he enlisted family members to teach and manage the school. Rachel Mordecai, inspired by her father's progressive methods, initiated an Edgeworthian experiment in home education on her young stepsister, Eliza. Rachel's diary, reproduced in full in Ways of Wisdom, chronicles the moral instruction of Eliza. While retaining the traditional didacticism of wisdom literature, the diary also describes Eliza's resistance to enlightened discipline and method.

Our family history is indeed the age old history of assimilation of the Jewish people witnessed by the fact that my relatives are buried in church cemeteries rather than a Jewish burial ground.

Some Mordecai/Mordica graves:

This is at the very back of the cometary on the western border:

Located at the back of the cometary are many stones, or markers, which have been removed but not discarded. My father tells me that these are foot markers that were put at the foot of the grave in addition to the more familiar headstone.

More footmarkers with initials?
Standing at the western end of the cemetary looking east.

Our disrespect for the dead manifests itself in many ways. The most recent event was when St. Mary's Church in Wimbledon, the one in England of tennis fame, sold parking on grave sites for 20 pounds in the annual money grab that occurs during the famous Wimbledon tennis match. When pictures of cars parked in a cemetary on graves were released along with the story (I first heard of it on the BBC) this statement was released which is basically an after-the-fact-we-got- caught "apology:"

Reverend Mary Bide said that although the cars look ‘odd’, they were only parked in the oldest part of the graveyard and funds raised would make a ‘valuable contribution to the Church and the Diocese’.

But the church has since apologised for the car parking arrangement and has stopped the use of the churchyard.

‘Over many years, during the Wimbledon Championships, the parish of St Mary Wimbledon has offered this service to the public,’ a church spokesman said.

In other words this was not a money making scheme but rather a public service and it was okay since it was an old part of the cometary.

I was also appalled years ago when a cometary was moved, including the digging up of thirty graves and the remains for re internment, to accommodate the expansion and development along Smiley Lane in the North part of Columbia which continues unabated:

The next two pictures are of those graves that were moved:

The rest are just some miscelanous photographs:

The reference to Orthodox Jews in the book is an odd one since the division into formal branches I think is a slightly more modern distinction which, although emerging at the time period under discussion, was not yet formally a term in common usage. There were just Jews at various levels of observance. This is my understanding from that fascinating historic period when Judaism in America succumbed to the schism aliment so common in American Christian denominations. My understanding is that the term orthodox was used disparagingly by progressive elements in Judaism (which the author correctly identifies as coming largely from Germany) but that it was latter adapted by the traditional "Orthodox" movement as a convenient shorthand.




Evidently the church web site is no longer maintained. However, Google's cache still had a copy of the history of the church and I was able to get it so the history would not be lost. It is located on scribd at this URL: http://www.scribd.com/doc/17427294/RF-History-1971-Mae-Wayland in pdf format.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pinnacles Youth Park in Northern Boone County

Heading north on Highway 63 about eleven miles outside of Columbia, located about a mile east on a well marked access road, is the 27 acre Pinnacles Youth Park. The Missouri Department of Conservation has a compact but extremely informative page on this natural area which is highly recommended.

It was the site of a recent family outing. After realizing I had been neglectful by not taking my two youngest children to this very attractive area I decided to do so last Sunday afternoon. When we were making plans my oldest daughter informed me she did not remember having ever visited either so she came along with us. It may be well over twenty years since I visited it myself. I also decided to do a photographic survey of the grounds as well as the more scenic vistas.

The Bluffs

These are the bluffs which have been the scene of much mischief (foolishly alcohol related) as well as injuries and if the rumors are true even two deaths. Missouri rock is not good for climbing. I know my own brother broke his ankle here and when I worked at a group home one of the residents badly hurt her ankle at an outing climbing the bluffs pictured below.

Not all of the area is bounded with the scenic bluffs.

There are several well maintained lanes for hiking along the bank on the west side of the creek with various paths leading down to the water. Bring bug spray. The bluffs are all on the other side and you have to cross the creek to get to them.

This is what is known as switch cane (Arundinaria gigantea tecta see: http://mdc.mo.gov/conmag/2002/10/30.htm)

The Overhang

I do not know what else to call it. This is the most interesting feature. It is an overhang created by the water during heavy rains when the area becomes flooded. This is about a quarter mile, maybe less, from the main area and I do not recall having visited this part of the nature area before. I think many people overlook it but it is well worth the walk. There were no bats, at least none that I saw, under the overhang but there were plenty of swallows.


There is a bathroom and a large main shelter at the entryway where the parking lot is located.

There are also several smaller shelters.