Missouri became a State in 1821, after a tortuous debate over the issue of slavery, foreshadowing the Civil War. Because since the mid-1700s trailblazers like Daniel Boone had been settling in its beautiful Missouri River valley. That had attracted a young German attorney, turned writer, to see what had drawn so many settlers. Gottfried Duden was obsessed with Missouri. And after he visited and saw – he wrote a book. A Report on a Journey was published in 1829 in Germany, filled with descriptions that people referred to as “A Garden of Eden” and called Duden “the dreamspinner” because of his glowing descriptions.
In the decade that followed, at least 120,000 Germans came to the United States, and at least one-third of them came to Missouri! And amazingly, three-quarters of those 40,000 Germans settled in Saint Charles County! Even more amazing, is that those Germans soon wrote letters home, to inspire their families and their friends to join them! While I can say that there were as many reasons to immigrate as there were Germans…one was the beauty. The familiarity, the way it looked a lot like home. For over a century, they have been coming. While it is one of the fastest growing counties, it has worked so hard to maintain this beauty and its history!
Steve Belko and the Missouri Humanities Council’s German Heritage Corridor has already confirmed what everyone knew, this is the most beautiful area of the United States that is rich with our precious heritage! The Missouri Legislature agreed on that in 2017. Magnificent Missouri and the Katy Land Trust have been working for years to preserve this precious state resource. St. Charles County is one of the most historic in the state!
On January 11, 1865, Arnold Krekel signed the Missouri Constitutional Conventions Proclamation ending slavery here in Missouri. Krekel, was born in Germany in 1815, served as President of Missouri’s Constitutional Convention when slavery was abolished in Missouri on January 11, 1865. He emigrated with his family to Dutzow, Missouri in November of 1832. The young man moved to St. Charles and attended the St. Charles College where he studied law. He worked as a surveyor and became a Justice of the Peace as well. In 1844 he graduated the bar and opened his law office. Krekel became the St. Charles County and city attorney from 1846 to 1850. He was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1852. In 1855, he purchased 320 acres of land, and platted the town of O’Fallon. There his brother Nicholas Krekel, built the first house, and established the town’s Post Office. They established O’Fallon as a town on the Wabash Railroad, with Nicholas the agent.
Arnold Krekel was editor of the St. Charles German newspaper, Der Demokrat from 1850 until 1864, and when the Civil War began, Krekel served in the Union Army, as Lt. Colonel of a regiment of Missouri volunteers. When the Civil War began, Missouri’s plans for gradual emancipation infuriated the Radical Republicans, who wanted slavery abolished immediately. They took their grievances to Lincoln, who refused to take sides in Missouri’s politics, which infuriated them even more. Provisional Governor Gamble offered to resign, but the First Constitutional Convention would not accept it. Gamble died in office on 31 January 1864. Missouri’s radicals arranged for elections and for a new Constitutional Convention in November 1864, where they elected Thomas C. Fletcher Missouri governor.
Constitutional Convention of 1865
Arnold Krekel, a Democrat, was elected President of the new Constitutional Convention that met in the Mercantile Library in St. Louis on January 6, 1865. On January 11, 1865 the convention, by a 60 to 4 vote, abolished slavery in the state with no compensation for slave owners. A month later the convention also adopted the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution to abolish slavery throughout the U.S..
On March 6, 1865, Krekel was nominated by President Lincoln to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, and confirmed on March 9, 1865. Krekel later taught law at the University of Missouri Law School in Columbia from 1872 to 1875, and continued to as a Judge for the Court until his retirement on June 9, 1888.