Shortly after moving to Bloomfield, Missouri, in June 1965 I heard about the old "Civil War Fort" on the hilltop west of town. I walked and mapped its still visible perimeter and realized that Stoddard County had played an important role in early area history because of its location on Crowley's Ridge, which had provided a natural highway through the great swamps.
With no definitive long term objective in mind, I began researching the history of Stoddard County. I began by interviewing Albert Phelan, the ninety year old grandson of a confederate officer who had once commanded the rebel garrison at Bloomfield.
Before the advent of the age of railroads most towns of historic import were located near navigable streams. Landlocked communities had to depend on horse drawn wagons to market their produce and supply their import needs: a slow and laborious journey over roads that were often impassable.
The outbreak of the Civil War made Bloomfield a very strategic location because it commanded the only practical avenue of approach by the confederacy to the "Little Dixie" area in the Missouri River valley. General Grant himself visited Bloomfield and recommended that a major fort be constructed there.
In the latter months of the Civil War, this fort was constructed on the ruins of Bloomfield's courthouse square. I had stumbled onto a piece of lost history! Only "out post K" on the hill west of town had survived in local memory.
In 1970 I wrote, "History of Stoddard County." All the profits from two subsequent printings by the Stoddard County Historical Society went to the society in which I served as secretary for several years. My "little pamphlet" turned out to be a best seller! It can be found in such unlikely places as the New York City Public Library and many other metro libraries across the U.S.
Long out of print, there has been continuous demand for another printing of the "History of Stoddard County." In addition to local interest, calls and letters have continued to come in from other states requesting a copy.
The one most certain thing in this life is that everything changes in time. History is the story of mankind's march through that time. As an individual we are what our memory consists of. As a town, a county, a nation, we are the collective memory of all. Without our past we would not know who or what we are or where we came from.
In this third printing I decided against any revisions or additions and elected to publish it in its original form except for the addition of a table of contents.
Robert H. Forister