Last summer, Janet Koetting, Judy Hoelscher and Gwen Braun delivered a presentation at St. Margaret of Antioch Catholic Church, captivating the visitors who packed the room with history, stories and pictures about the church, school, businesses, families and community that make up their hometown of Osage Bend.
"9:30 (p.m.) came and we hadn't discussed the (Osage) river yet," said Doris Schmutzler, Cole County Historical Society board member, with a laugh, noting the community is surrounded by the river on three sides. "So they promised us we could come back and do another program talking about the river."
Part 2 of last year's program on the Osage Bend community, beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the St. Margaret church hall, will conclude the society's 2018 "Getting to Know Your Communities" series.
Koetting, Hoelscher and Braun will return to present the final segment of their yearlong journey researching their community's rich history related to the Osage River. However, they will first give an overview of the Native American Osage tribe, the river's name from the French trappers and traders, the town's name, early settlers from Virginia and those who helped establish the area back int he 1860s, the church, Osage Bend schools and prominent early settlers.
"We had a former governor lived out there the only bachelor governor in the state of Missouri and the only governor to ride his horse into the Governor's Mansion. We also had Maj. Gen. Lewis Bolton of the Bolton House in the area, Maj. Thomas Lockett, an editor of the Jefferson City Press, a former mayor of Jefferson City and a Cole County clerk," said Koetting, whose family lineage dates back to 1912 in the Osage Bend area. "We'll also talk about a couple of newsworthy events and catastrophes that happened in our area, and then we'll get into the river."
Hoelscher, whose family's ancestry dates back to the 1880s in Osage Bend, said this portion will talk about a plane and helicopter crash, the river control and fun times in the community, which all feature "the water" at some place.
"I will talk about the flooding and the travel up and down the Osage River, mainly from Osage City area up to Tuscumbia," she said, noting ferries, steamboats, barges and other vessels were commonplace along the river for many years and used for work and recreation.
"As you can see in this picture, which is near St. Elizabeth on the Osage River, not all boats were used for work or travel. This one is interesting because they would outfit them sometimes so they could have a party on the river, grabbing a soda pop and putting a band on it with the ladies all dressed up," Hoelscher said. "There is a cave seen here, and that is where Gen. Crabtree supposedly hid some Confederate soldiers, which is documented."
The photo from the early 20th century contrasts with other work boats and local ferries that will be a part of the ladies' presentation. Most of these photos and much of the Osage Bend history came from Albert and Quentin Veit, whose ancestors were some of the first in Osage Bend and had lived in the area most of their lives.
"The Veit family was a big help and there were many others that helped, too," Koetting said, noting Ameren, the Missouri Department of Conservation, Cole County Historical Society and the church's parish book were some of those contributors. "The Veit family really helped with the early history of Osage Bend as well as a lot about the river, which is the highlight of this program."
Koetting and Hoelscher own recollections of the Osage River include hearing stories of older family members skating across the frozen water during cold winters before Bagnell Dam was built and fond memories of their own families fishing and gigging, or splashing around in the nearby creeks.
They will end the program with a salute to veterans from the Civil War to present, discussing both the crossings of the Osage River during the Civil War and three soldiers — two Union and one Confederate — who were from Osage Bend.
Schmutzler said the information from Koetting, Hoelscher, Braun, the Veit family and others has been vital to the program and to the continued history of the county's original historic communities highlighted in the annual series. For the presenters, they encourage visitors to bring their stories, pictures and artifacts to show and tell at the event, and know this information is valuable not only to those who are from Osage Bend, but those who hope to learn about it in the future.
"A lot of the people who come out and see something or hear something, it will trigger something in their mind that will take them further to do more research on for their families or in their own history," Hoelscher said. "A lot of our people who live in Osage Bend love it because they see themselves in that history. It is part of them."
Guests to the program are encouraged to bring old photographs, memorabilia, scrapbooks, family histories and stories to share. The program is free and open to the public.
St. Margaret of Antioch Catholic Church Hall is located at 12025 Route W. From Jefferson City, take Route B to Wardsville and turn south on Route W to Osage Bend. The church hall faces East Bend Road. For more information, contact the Cole County Historical Society at 573-635-1850.