Leaves sit atop a brick pathway in Scott County. However, these will not be easily blown off or brushed aside. Instead, they are sturdy, metal and affixed to a monument in Benton, Mo. It got me thinking that like these leaves, this small town was not going anywhere.
The town of only 850 people right before you dip into Missouri’s Bootheel has a stunning tribute to its historical beginning, agricultural roots and community sacrifice.
A sign outside of the county courthouse tells of the beginnings where Osage, Delaware and Shawnee tribes “roamed the area into the 1820s.” The oldest road in Missouri was used by the Spanish, the French and the Native Americans in the late 1700s and ran through Scott County.
It was called “El Camino Real” by the Spanish or “Rue Royale” by the French, both meaning “The Royal Road” or “The King's Highway." A large granite marker placed by the Missouri Daughters of the American Revolution still stands denoting the highway.
Southern settlers came to Scott County in the 1790s. It was the second county formed in what was noted as the Southeast Lowland Region in 1821, and was named after Missouri’s first congressman, John Scott.
This area was rich in agriculture and proud of it. A large, black metal sign tells of its cotton, soybean, melon and grain production. It notes how it was one of the largest drainage systems in the U.S. in 1905, including the Mississippi and Little River districts.
Then there is the Scott County War Memorial, dedicated in 1922. There they placed names of community residents who lost their lives in World War I and World War II. And here is where you will find the metal leaves.
I found it fitting that these leaves, unlike those that hung from the nearby tree, may be fallen, but they truly never wilt or fade away. It is a testament to the lives that built this small town, this southern Missouri county.
Their ingenuity is what started infrastructure construction, agriculture production and water conservation. Their sacrifice, whether through hard work, tough decisions or war time, should never be brushed aside. Man, I love Missouri.