Ozarks explorer Henry Schoolcraft to be portrayed in Historium program


Retired physician Bob Kipfer, portraying explorer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, will present a program at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Ozark County Historium celebrating the bicentennial of Schoolcraft’s journey into the Ozarks. The event is free and open to everyone.

In celebration of the bicentennial of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft’s journey into the Ozarks, the Ozark County Historium will host a free event featuring the intrepid explorer himself. At 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, all are invited to come hear the adventurer speak about his travels through the portion of the territory that would eventually become known as the Missouri Ozarks.

 For 90 days in 1818-19, before Missouri was even a state in the Union, Schoolcraft and his traveling companion, Levi Pettibone, explored the wild, unsettled country on foot, covering about 900 miles, in search of potential mining opportunities. They camped in various locations in what is now Ozark County. 

The pair, sometimes referred to as the Lewis and Clark of the Ozarks, were ill-equipped and suffered extreme hardships as they explored unmapped territory, yet they survived. In 1821, Schoolcraft published his journal of their expedition, called A Journal of a Tour into the Interior of Missouri and Arkansaw. It was the first written account of exploration of this area.

 Schoolcraft (also known in the Springfield area as Dr. Bob Kipfer) will speak about his experiences, particularly the natural resources such as wildlife, water and forests he noted and how they differ from what exists today, after 200 years of increasing human impact.

 Dr. Kipfer is, in his 21st-century life, a retired physician who is a Master Naturalist and an Ozarks history enthusiast. His interest in Schoolcraft was sparked by the discovery that part of the journey took place on property now owned by Dr. Kipfer and his wife along Bull Creek in Christian County. He has represented Schoolcraft at numerous events, including at the Springfield-Greene County Library and at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center.

 In the afternoon on  Dec. 6, Schoolcraft will speak to students in grades 4-8 at Gainesville Elementary School.

This morning event is free and open to all. Seating at the Historium is first come, first served. For more information, contact the Historium at 679-2400 or janettaber@gmail.com.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423

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