History Comes Alive: Odon Guitar & James L. Stephens

Posted on Friday, May 11, 2018 by Tim

Photo of Columbia CemeteryOn Monday, May 28 from 1-4 p.m. the Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery will be hosting their second annual History Comes Alive event to teach attendees about notable citizens buried in this historic cemetery. Seven different “famous” former residents of Columbia will be represented by various talented actors  in period dress who will explain why they were important to local history. The actors are being directed by Chris Campbell, executive Director of the Boone County History and Culture Center. Monica McMurry of Stephens College Theatre Department is in charge of costumes. You will be guided to each of their graves to experience these brief monologues.

In a previous post we talked about Victor Barth and John Lange, Sr., and in this installment we will discuss Brigadier General Odon Guitar and James L. Stephens.

General Odon Guitar was born in Richmond, Kentucky and graduated from the University of Missouri in 1846. At this time the University of Missouri was all male and classes were still held in Academic Hall. He was a member of the first class to attend the land grant institution. After graduation, he joined the First Missouri Volunteers in the Mexican-American War under Doniphan. Later he would become a General in the Civil War. In 1865 he married Kate Leonard of Howard County, Missouri. Both of these families were prominent in mid-Missouri history. By profession he was a criminal lawyer in the city of Columbia. He died in Columbia in 1908 and his wife of 42 years didn’t die until 1926.

James Leachman Stephens was born in Garrard County, Kentucky in 1815. His was an early family who came to reside in Columbia. He not only ran a large plantation on the east side of town, but he also had a mercantile business that was very successful. Being a slave owner at the time, he sold many of his products at his mercantile without having to barter for it. He was very active in the Baptist movement in both Kentucky and Missouri. He married Amelia Hockaday in 1844 and they became parents of a fairly large family. One of their sons was well-known Edwin W. Stephens. James Stephens’ claim to fame in our area is that he saved the local Female Baptist College when it was in financial ruin by giving a donation in 1869, which kept the school afloat. In return they re-named it Stephens College. Stephens died at his home in Columbia in 1902.

photo of reenactor
Photo by the author of 2017’s event.

Off-site parking is available for this event: all of the Columbia Public Library lots will be available, as well as the RE/MAX  parking lot and a small lot east of the cemetery. The Friends of the Historic Columbia Cemetery is thankful for the partnership of Columbia Parks and Recreation and the Daniel Boone Regional Library. This event is completely free and open to the public. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather conditions. Hats, sun glasses and perhaps a folding lawn chair and bottled water should be considered.

Come learn about what makes Columbia, Missouri so unique. We look forward to seeing you!

They need help setting up and taking down for this event. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact cindymustard2@gmail.com.

 

Image credit: HornColumbia, Columbia Cemetery via Wikipedia (license)