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January 3, 1978 Around Adair with Ed Waggener

The article below first appeared in the January 3, 1978 issue of the Daily Statesman. Topics included some Adair County trivia, some Columbia trivia, the upcoming local inauguration ceremonies, and some words of wisdom from Rev. Eldon Trubee. --Pen

By Ed Waggener

A bit of geographical trivia
What do Greenfield, Iowa; Kirksville, Missouri; Stillwell, Oklahoma; and Columbia, Kentucky, have in common? They are all the county seats of the Adair County in their respective state.

Our Adair County, I would guess, is likely the oldest of the four Adair Counties in the United States.

But it is the smallest of the four:
  • Adair County, Kentucky, has 370 square miles of land area.
  • Adair County, Iowa, has 569 square miles.
  • Adair County, Oklahoma, has 570 square miles.
  • Adair County, Missouri, is the largest, with 572 square miles.
We're second smallest in population
In numbers of people, our Adair County is the second, with a 1970 census of 13,037. Adair County, Iowa is the smallest. It has 9,487 people. Adair County, Oklahoma, had 15,141 in 1970. And Adair County, Missouri, had 22,472.

I have never been to any of the other Adair Counties, but I mean to go.


Adair County, Missouri, is located in the north central part of that state. Adair County, Iowa, is located in the southwest part of that state, and Adair County, Oklahoma, is on the eastern edge of Oklahoma.

It's a different story with Columbias
Nearly half the states have Columbias. They're in 18 other states, as well as Kentucky, and many of the states without a Columbia have a Columbus or a variation of Columbia.

There are plain and simple Columbias in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

I've seen five of them: This Columbia, and Columbia, Tennessee and South Carolina, and North Carolina, and Illinois.

I went to Columbia, North Carolina, once, because I learned that it was one of the few county seats in the southeastern United States which does not have a newspaper. It's located in Tyrrell County, on the coast. It's a very small town. The main industries there are raising pine trees and fishing.

Columbia, South Carolina is, of course, the largest Columbia. It's the capital of the Palmetto State, and the principal city near Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I went there with the Campbellsville National Guard. We were there one summer to play with our cannons.

Columbia, Tennessee, is just south of Nashville, in Maury County. It's a much larger Columbia than ours. It's progressive and would make a fine sister community to emulate.

Columbia, Illinois, is most like our Columbia of any I've seen. It's in Monroe County. The county seat of Monroe County is Waterloo. Columbia, Illinois, is just south of East St. Louis. Like Columbia, Kentucky, it is a river town - it's on the Mississippi. Linda and I went through Columbia seven years ago after we had delivered a typesetting job to a printer in Anna, Illinois. It was a college catalog for Shawnee Junior College - a big job - and to celebrate, we went on to St. Louis. It was the Fourth of July, and the Columbians were having a fine celebration. Of the Columbia's I've seen, it is most nearly like our own.

Columbia, Maryland, is a whole new town
Columbia, Maryland, is a whole new town. It's under 10 years old, I believe, and was started about the same time Reston, Virginia, was founded. It would be a good town for the city leaders to see to study if the new city incorporates elements we need here.

I don't know much about the other Columbia's, except that Columbia, Missouri, is an important city, being the home of the University of Missouri and Stephens College. Students from Adair County have attended both these institutions.

The point of it all
Maybe there is no point in knowing all these Columbia and Adair County tidbits of information, but somehow, I wish I knew more about the other counties and the other communities which share the names of our town and our county.

I hope that someone - whether or not this newspaper is able to do it or not - sets up some correspondence with the other counties and towns. Maybe some of the school kids could get more information.

And, at Inauguration time, it's a good time to consider every aspect of our Adair County-ness and Columbia-ness.

It might tell us more about ourselves
Knowing a little more about the other Columbias and the other Adair Counties might tell us a little more about ourselves. I would like to see a phone book from Columbia, Illinois, to see if there are any common family names with those in Columbia, Kentucky.

I've wondered, too, if Adair Countians from Kentucky, had anything to do with the establishment of Adair Counties in Iowa, Missouri, and Oklahoma. We had several migrations to those areas, especially before the turn of the century. Some went out west and came back. The late S.F. Coffey was one who went to Oklahoma and returned. And, I believe, the late J.W. Walker was in Oklahoma for a while.

But Adair County, Kentucky, influence may have nothing to do with it. It could simply have been a matter of wanting to be the first in the alphabetical listing of counties. Each of the four Adair Counties has that distinction.

And it could have been that the founders of the other three Adair Counties just wanted to honor a great Revolutionary War hero.

Another big idea for Columbia
This Inauguration Celebration has spawned more Grand New Ideas for Columbia than has ever been though of before. There have been proposals for two new fine arts centers, one for the schools and another for the town. And Rev. Eldon Trubee, pastor of the Columbia-Union Presbyterian Church, has another big idea worth working to achieve. He's a relative newcomer to Columbia, and he likes to argue with me when I suggest changes. He comes from a town in Ohio where some of the changes were simply growth - not progress - he says, and he is cautious about promoting growth just for the sake of growth. But he sees a need for Columbia to develop a civic center here. It would be a costly project, he says, maybe costing $2 or $3 million. But it would be a tremendous drawing card for conventions, regional meetings, trade shows, and sports events. It would bring people to Columbia, and it would mean a great boost to Columbia's developing hospitality industry.


This story was posted on 2020-01-12 11:11:10
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