Defending a way of life: an American community in the by Michael J. Cassity

By Michael J. Cassity

Publication by way of Cassity, Michael J.

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Sample text

These are the people of Sedalia and Pettis County who shared their community and their lives and their understandings of the ways of history with me and did so asking nothing in return. Those people who sat in a cafe talking with me, who walked down dusty paths showing me places and marks of the past with a nearly sacred meaning to them, who took me into their homes to show me patterns of construction and wear that reveal something of the lives and character of those who came before them, who Page xv opened strongboxes hidden deeply away to share important documents of their heritage, who walked with me through pastures and fields reconstructing the lives of people who walked the same ground a century or so beforethose people have given more than can ever emerge on the written page.

Indeed, given the depth of the problem of individual motivation, such documentation, if available, could only hint at, or even obscure, the answers to the questions. Several points are clear, nonetheless. One is that this was not a part of a literal frontier safety-valve in which the poor of the urban East found refuge on the frontier. These people, their economic well-being aside, came not from the urban society, but a society beginning that process of urbanization, a conceptual point at which the tensions of social change are exceptionally visible and acutely feltas careful observers like Charles Tilly have noted.

Pin Hook, however, had more; it stood clearly as the most prominent of the early villages. Nestled in the valley of Muddy Creek, the site of Pin Hook remains one of the most picturesque of the county. By 1832 the site had so developed that it could claim a water mill operated by Thomas Wasson, two stores, one operated by Marmaduke and Sappington out of Arrow Rock, the other by Clifton and Watson Wood, and a smithy. 7 In 1833 the state set aside Pettis County from the other counties that had previously contained this area and it also designated St.

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