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Retrace Henry Schoolcraft’s Ozarks exploration with Dr. Bob Kipfer

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Members of the Friends of the Garden were guests at Bull Creek Mill in 2014.

Members of the Friends of the Garden were guests at Historic Mill in 2014.

Who was Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and what can we learn from his Ozarks journal?

Dr. Bob Kipfer, a retired physician noted for his passions as a Master Naturalist as well as Ozarks history, will interpret Schoolcraft as he explored the Ozarks almost 200 years ago. This 90-minue presentation begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 7. at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center
4601 S. Nature Center Way in Springfield. The event is free but registration (417-888-4237 will assure you a seat at the renovated Springfield Conservation Nature Center .

“As a 25-year old explorer, Schoolcraft walked through the Ozarks in search of opportunities for mining. The Ozarks journal that he published after his 90-day, 900-mile walk remains one of the great pre-settlement guides to Missouri landscapes,” says Trevor Harris, a producer at KBIA, the National Public Radio affiliate in Columbia. For more information about the program, you can reach Harris at 573-882-6129. Public Radio station KBIA (91.3 FM) in Columbia is sponsoring the program in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Missouri Department of Conservation Wildlife Regional Supervisor John George and Outdoor Skills Specialist Brian Flowers will be on hand to discuss natural history and the changes to the landscape in the almost 200 years since Schoolcraft walked across the Ozarks.

Dr. Bob Kipfer

Dr. Bob Kipfer

“The first thing we really know about this place is from Henry Rowe Schoolcraft,” says Kipfer, former president of Friends of the Garden. He and his wife, Barbara Kipfer, have a home near the site of Historic Bull Mills. You can learn more about Springfield resident and re-enactor Bob Kipfer and his wife, Barbara in a broadcast story and photos by Scott Harvey, KSMU producer, at:

Schoolcraft (March 28, 1793 – December 10, 1864) served as a U.S. Indian agent  beginning in 1822 in Michigan, where he married Jane Johnston, the daughter of a  Scotch-Irish fur trader and Ojibwa mother. His wife taught him the Ojibwe language and the maternal culture of the tribe. She is now recognized as the first Native American literary writer in the United States. His studies of Native American cultures, as well as for his 1832 expedition to the source of the Mississippi River. He is also noted for his major six-volume study of American Indians in the 1850s.

A drawing of Pitosi by Henry Schoolcraft

A drawing of Pitosi, in Washington County, is by J.S. Stout, published by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft after his exploration of the Ozarks.

From November 1818 to February 1819, Schoolcraft and his companion Levi Pettibone traveled from Potosi, to what is now Springfield, then down the White River into Arkansas, making a survey of the geography, geology, and mineralogy of the area. Schoolcraft published this study in A View of the Lead Mines of Missouri (1819). In his book, he correctly identified the potential for lead deposits in the region; Missouri eventually became the number one lead-producing state. (French colonists had a lead mine outside St. Louis developed in the 18th century.) He also published A Journal of a Tour into the Interior of Missouri and Arkansaw (1821), the first written account of an exploration of the Ozarks.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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