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Books are a very important part of our lives and national heritage. For the sake of argument, books are not limited to physical, printed editions. For those who have switched to e-books or “read” audio books, remember, each book, whether fiction or non-fiction, must first be written or “created.”

Throughout the year, there are many unofficial, designated special occasions that bring recognition to a person, place, or thing. November is National Novel Writing Month, April is National Poetry Month, and the third week in January is National Book Week. In May, there is even a National Children’s Book Week.

But who writes all these books, and when?

Thousands of people have written books and have done so for centuries. Our forefathers (and mothers) have written about America’s colonial days, our war for independence, and each and every war we’ve had since then. There are biographies, historical fiction, science fiction, and poetry.

Not all books were written long ago or by authors now gone. At least a dozen writers live in Cooper and Howard counties. To them I dedicate this column.  


Source: Elizabeth Davis

Women Authors:

  • Ann Betteridge

  • Florence (Winky) Friedriches

  • Anita Crews

  • Elizabeth Davis

  • Cindy Koch

  • Eva Ridenour

  • Linda Runnebaum

  • Anna Skjei

  • Mary Ann Snapp

  • Judy Stock

  • Barb Thoma

  • Casey Wendleton

There is no way any one person can know every author, so my apologies for all the names I’ve missed.

Source: Elizabeth Davis


George Caleb Bingham

George Caleb Bingham is best remembered as a 19th century artist who left behind a visual record of American history.

Bingham was born in Virginia on March 20, 1811. Although he grew up in a slave-holding family, he and his family’s roots were firmly tied to generations of New England ministers. In 1819, Bingham’s family moved to Franklin, Missouri. There, they opened an inn and purchased a tobacco farm in Arrow Rock.

Four years later Bingham’s father died and his mother, one of the best educated women of the day, opened a girls’ school to support the family. Bingham hired out as a farmhand as soon as he was old enough to help, but it was soon discovered he was asthmatic. With few options before him, he became a cabinetmaker apprentice near Boonville, first to Jesse Green and later to Justinian Williams. He learned precise craftsmanship and by 1834, Bingham was using that craftsmanship as a portrait painter.

A self-taught American primitive artist, Bingham wanted more. In 1836, he went back east to study at the Philadelphia Academy. While there, he was able to see originals of America’s greatest—Benjamin West, Washington Allston, etc. After only a few months, his work became more sophisticated. Always seeking to improve his art work, Bingham then went to Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1856 to continue his studies. At the time, Dusseldorf was the center of the western art world.

Prior to the Civil War, when future Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson was campaigning for slavery, George Bingham was campaigning against it. Bingham believed “slavery should not be expanded, slave families should never be separated, and all slaves should be gradually emancipated.”

When the Civil War began, Bingham enlisted as a captain in Van Horn’s US Reserve Corps. After being defeated in September 1861, they were disbanded according to the terms of their surrender. A few months later, on January 4, 1862, Union Governor Hamilton Gamble appointed Bingham state treasurer for Missouri. After the war, Bingham was able to continue his art while he served as Missouri’s adjutant general and in other appointed posts. George Caleb Bingham died in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 7, 1879.


Source: Historically Yours, by Elizabeth Davis


Florence (Winky) Friedriches – Painter, graphic arts, metal work, dress design


Wayne Lammers – Photography

Edwards Family

Two generations of photographers

O. D. Edwards came to the United States and settled in Boonville in 1859.

Edwards became a skilled photographer and made a fine living during the Civil War, photographing soldiers on both sides. His success lasted for the better part of 50 years.

Louis Edwards, his son,  followed in his father’s footsteps. He graduated from Boonville High School and attended the Singleton Academy before becoming as skilled in photography as his father. He was known for quality work at reasonable prices.

William L. Tanner

William L. Tanner, the oldest of twelve children, was born in Illinois on September 24, 1880, the son of Louis and Christina (Kraft) Tanner. Louis Tanner was a native of Switzerland and came to the United States with his parents at the age of 14. He served in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

After the war, the family moved to St. Louis where they operated a manufacturing business. Later they relocated to Lost Prairie, Illinois. In 1886, the family returned to St. Louis.

William Tanner left school at 13 and went to work in a gents’ furnishing store until the age of 19. At that time he took up the study of photography and worked with Gustav Schneidt who had learned the art in Germany.

On June 5, 1905, Willian Tanner married Miss Emma Georgiana Schneidt, the daughter of his employer, and the union was blessed with one son, William Louis, Jr.

In 1911 Tanner began working in the studio of O. C. Conkling. He became a traveling salesman for Hyatt’s Photo Supply Company in 1914 and stayed in their employ until he moved to Boonville in 1916.

On March 23, 1916, Tanner opened his own studio in the McCurdy Building in Boonville where he had what we call today a Grand Opening. It was quite a new way of doing business in the early 1900s. And each lady attending received a photograph of herself—54 in all.

Tanner’s studio lasted just under three years. On December 23, 1918, it burned down and he lost almost everything in the fire. However, a successful business doesn’t stay down long.

Tanner reopened Tanner Studio and Art Shop at 305 Main St. on February 26, 1919. Occupying two floors and the basement, it was the “the last word in modernity. The nitrogen lighting system, with a battery of eight lights, of strength of 8000 watts, is used and renders reliance on daylight as an adjunct to photography unnecessary. Posing can be accomplished at any hour of the day or night…studio is equipped with the finest model of camera in existence fitted with an automatic adjustment, and which uses films instead of plates. Perfectly appointed dressing rooms have been provided for patrons.”

A new department of the studio was handled by Frank Swap, a local artist. For those who were interested, portrait painting was also available.                                                                                                                  

Source: Johnson, W. F. , History of Cooper County, vol. I, c/1919, page 498

Maximilian Schmidt (1865-1935)

Maximilian Schmidt learned the trade of a jeweler and watchmaker.




  • Ann Betteridge - Author of the 400-page workbook “Discover Cooper County by Looking Back”, was given personally to each Cooper County third grader by the author, along with a fun history lesson. Ann presented this book, which she had researched and written, to the children for over a period of over 20 years, until her untimely death.

  • Gladys Darby

  • Elizabeth Davis

  • Jim Denny

  • Bob Dyer

  • Florence ”Winky” Friedriches

  • Jeanette Heaton

  • James Higby

  • Wayne Lammers

  • Helen Mitzel (1901-2006)

  • Mary Pat Holmes 

  • Sam Jewett

  • Maryellen McVicker

  • Patrick Overton

  • Bonnie Rapp

  • Judy Shields


  • Wayne Lammers

  • Maryellen McVicker

  • Ann Betteridge

  • Bob Dyer

  • Jim Dyer

  • Judy Shields

  • Elizabeth Davis

  • Jeanette Heaton

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