The first European settlement in what would become Callaway County was in 1808 at Cote Sans Dessein, along the Missouri River. At this time the area was part of Louisiana Territory, which the United States had purchased from France in 1803. Cote Sans Dessein was originally chosen as the site of Missouri’s permanent state capital, but after questions regarding title to the land were raised, the location was moved to Jefferson City.
Callaway County was created in 1820 out of a section of Montgomery County and named after Captain James Callaway, who was killed by Indians in 1815. The town of Elizabeth, located on Ham’s Prairie, became the county seat. In June 1825, George Nichols founded what would eventually become the City of Fulton. Originally named Volney, after French author Count Constantin Volney, many in the community were unhappy with the name as the man’s beliefs were much different than those living in the town. So two months later, the town’s name was changed to Fulton, named after Robert Fulton, the inventor of the first commercial successful steamboat.
In 1861, leaders answered the call to defend Callaway County when word arrived that Union troops had advanced to a nearby county. Colonel Jefferson F. Jones, from eastern Callaway County, assembled troops to protect the county. Forces were limited as many were already defending the country, but Jones marched the troops eastward to meet the approaching companies.
The successful defense was merely an illusion. Tree logs, erected by the troops, resembled artillery in the shadows of campfires and deterred Union troops. Talks continued several days and secured a mutual cease fire agreement between the United Sates and Callaway County. Elated from the successful defense, citizens proclaimed their county The Kingdom of Callaway, a reference that remains today.
The early residents of Fulton, incorporated as a city on March 14, 1859, came from a predominately southern culture. The coastal and upland southerners that settled on the land brought with them slaves and established an agricultural economy. This connection with southern heritage was no better shown than in 1875 when Jefferson Davis, former president of the Confederate States of America, came to Fulton to give a speech. More than 10,000 people showed up to hear Davis talk at the old fairgrounds, now Westiminster College’s Priest Field.
When the first history of Callaway County was compiled in 1884, the die had already been cast as far as the type of community Fulton was to be. The Missouri General Assembly had voted to establish an asylum for the insane in Fulton (February 26, 1847), the first mental health facility west of the Mississippi; the General Assembly agreed (February 28, 1851) to establish a school for the education of the deaf in Fulton; in 1842 the Presbyterian Church had opened a female seminary later known as Synodical College; in the fall of 1851 the Church established the all-male Fulton College, now known as Westminster College; and Fulton was the seat of county government.
The Christian Church moved their Orphan School to Fulton in 1890. Whether or not they were influenced by the already existing colleges is not known, but Fulton’s bid of $40,000 and the offer of ten acres of land was surely a factor. This school, which had previously been located at Camden Point, Missouri, later became William Woods University.
The Fulton area owns national acclaim thanks to a novel written by Fulton native Henry Bellamann. Henry Bellamann was born in Fulton in 1882. He was raised and attended college here. Fulton is said to have been Bellamann’s model for the fictional town of the novel Kings Row. “King’s Row” generated questions about the resemblance it had to individuals and situations around the area. In 1940, producers created a movie based on the book. The cast included Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan and Betty Field (the actual suit worn by Ronald Reagan, is on display at the Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce).
Residents of the Kingdom of Callaway credit the colleges and institutions for the cultural enrichment which they appreciate. History molds much of the diversity. Yet, exciting times await performing and visual arts. Sir Winston Churchill’s speech set the pace that continues to target Westminster College as a history trend setter.
The internationally known Winston Churchill Memorial and Library in the United States invites visitors to investigate this noted statesman and his famous Iron Curtain speech. The 1946 address built a legacy enticing such world leaders as Lech Walesa, Margaret Thatcher, Harry S. Truman, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald W. Reagan, George W. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev and NATO representatives to Westminster College.
With the removal of the Berlin Wall, Churchill’s granddaughter acquired a section of it to create a sculpture, entitled “Break Through” to commemorate the Iron Curtain speech. Visitors view it on the quadrangle at Westminster College. The Memorial includes the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. With the utmost attention to detail craftsmen, dismantled this magnificent structure in London, England and rebuilt it on Westminster campus to revere the Sir Winston Churchill visit. Today, this architectural masterpiece provides an impressive setting for worship services, weddings and special celebrations.
In 1979, the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation of Kansas City, Missouri established the Crosby Kemper Lectureship. Lectures encompassing a variety of topics generally delivered by notables from throughout the world add unique roots to the cultural attractions. Through the misfortune of a fire William Woods University lost its arts building.
In 1996 an electrical fire destroyed the arts building, facilitating the construction of the Gladys Woods Kemper Center for the Arts. This center replaced the art building and links the art gallery and Dulany Auditorium. The complex offers institution and performance opportunities to enhance the existing learning environment and contribute a broader cultural dimension for students, the community and visitors.
Museums and displays depict beginnings in the Kingdom of Callaway. The Fishback Museum spotlights history of the Missouri School for the Deaf. The Kingdom Expo and Antique Car Museum emphasizes transitions in transportation. Photos, genealogy research and history books headline the exhibit at the Historical Society. In addition, the Fulton Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center features a display of “King’s Row” memorabilia.
Points of Interest
Backer Auto World Museum – Located in historic Fulton, the heart of Callaway County and Missouri and situated just seven miles south of the junction of Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 54, at the highway HH exit, Auto World is an 18,000 square foot facility which houses the foundations collection. In addition to vintage cars, Auto World contains exhibits and collections of memorabilia and attractions depicting the history surrounding the automobile, here in Missouri. The museum is open Sunday – Saturday during April thru December from 9 am to 5 pm. For further information, visit their website at www.autoworldmuseum.com.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury – The story of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury is a story of survival – in the midst of rebellion, plague, fire, and war. Despite many calamities, this church has been an active place of worship for more than 800 years. Museum is open Monday – Sunday from 10 am to 4:30 pm (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s Day). For further information on pricing and tour times, you can visit their website at www.nationalchurchillmuseum.org or call 573-592-5369.
Henry Bellamann/”Kings Row” – Come and take a look at the suit that was worn by actor Ronald Reagan in the movie, “Kings Row” at the Fulton Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Center. And while there check out the selection of brochures that are available for area businesses and sites. Hours are Monday – Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. The Fulton Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Center is located in the downtown Brick District at 409 Court Street, Fulton, Missouri. For further information, visit their website at www.callawaychamber.com.
Kingdom Of Callaway Historical Society & Museum – Welcome to the home of artifacts and printed memories from the early 1800’s to our present time. The museum has many authentic items that are sure to help you visualize what life was like back in those time eras in Callaway County. The Historical Society also give visitor’s access to genealogical records from Callaway County. The records are comprised of family histories and indexes for: census, marriage, obituary, cemetery records and probate records. The Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society & Museum is open Tuesday- Friday from 10 am to 4 pm and every third Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm. They are closed in January. Cost is free! Located in the downtown Brick District at 513 Court Street, Fulton, Missouri.
Mildred M Cox Gallery – Visit the Mildred M Cox Gallery for all of their special exhibits. All exhibits are free to the public. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday from 9 am to 6 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm when William Woods is in session. To see specific exhibits dates and times go to www.williamwoods.edu.
National Churchill Museum – Explore the life and times of one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century whose example lives on into the 21st! The National Churchill Museum offers individual tours, group tours, traveling exhibits, venue rentals, public programming, educational programming and so much more. Also available is the Berlin Wall Exhibit and the Art Gallery. The museum is open daily Monday – Sunday from 10 am to 4:30 pm (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s Day). For further information on pricing and tour times, you can visit their website at www.nationalchurchillmuseum.org or call 573-592-5369.
1851 Underground Tap & Grill
Bek’s Restaurant/Coffee and Wine Bar
Busy Corner Café
Fulton Country Club
Lulu’s Frozen Yogart
Sault’s Drug Store Soda Shop
Serenity Valley Winery
Sir Winston’s Restaurant & Pub
The Post Office Bar & Grill
Brick District Farmers Market
Saturday’s May-October; 9am -12noon
Courthouse Lawn, 5th & Court St
C & R Market
Center Court Office Supplies & Gifts
Divine Shoes & Accessories
LaCrosse Lumber Company
Orscheln Farm & Home
RCW Gifts of New England & Equestrian Apparel & Tack
Red Cross Pharmacy
Rock Garden Antique Barn
Sault’s Drug Store
Smockingbird’s Unique Gifts & Accessories
Sutherlands Home Improvement Center
The Mattress Store
Unique Designs Florist
Well Read Books
Westlake Ace Hardware
B &B Theatres
Callaway County Public Library
Fulton Bowling Center
Fulton Country Club
Heartland of Missouri Tourism Center
Meadow Lake Acres Country Club
Tanglewood Golf Course
Cedar Creek Resort
Holiday Inn Express
Loganberry Inn Bed & Breakfast
The Travelier Motel