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Southside annexation presentation kicks off local history month

A presentation of the annexation of Southside St. Joseph kicked off Local History Week.

Posted: Jul 23, 2019 10:07 AM
Updated: Jul 23, 2019 10:10 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- There was plenty of Southside pride circa 1889 when it was a booming kind of place. 

"They were making a lot of money. There were a lot of immigrants bringing a lot of different cultures down there," said Kim Schutte, with Friends of St. Joseph.

Schutte presented the history of Southside annexation Monday night at the downtown St. Joseph Library kicking off a celebration of Local History Month.

"History is important," Schutte said. To know who we are today, we need to understand who we were."

Toward the end of the 19th century, Southside was full of saloons, restaurants and people who had recently come to the country. They were blue-collar, working class laborers who worked hard and played hard.

"Southside was outside the city limits, so there were limited regulations. The saloons could stay open 24 hours," Schutte said. The "Saloon Element" was an organized effort opposing annexation."

However, city leaders in St. Joseph were attracted by the south's growing population, vibrant business which included the Livestock Exchange and packing houses. 

"In exchange for annexation, Southside was promised police, better roads, fire service and education," Schutte said. 

After much disagreement and debate, Southside officially became a part of St. Joseph in 1899. Some might find it ironic that nearly 120 yeas later, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

 "It was a straight party line," Schutte said. "They said nasty things about each other. The elections were all about mud slinging and calling each other names. There was class warfare, it was rich versus poor."

There is another long lasting trait that runs deep inside those who live Southside today. 

"They're very proud of that Southside Pride thing," Schutte said. "You still see this in people doing things their own way."

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