The Missouri Bootheel is located in the southeastern area of Missouri, and its shape in relation to the shape of the state resembles the heel of a boot. Bootheel is made up of the New Madrid, Dunklin, and Pemiscot counties. However, the name locally refers to the whole southeastern lowlands of Missouri and parts of Mississippi Embayment, which include counties such as Scott, Butler, Ripley, Stoddard, and even the extreme southern parts of Bollinger and Cape Girardeau counties. Kennett is the largest city in the Bootheel.
Up until the 1920s the region was a wheat growing area and was made of family farms. However, after the boll weevil beetle had invaded and devastated cotton crops in Arkansas, the farmers moved to the region and bought lands and converted into cotton crop farms. The mechanization that was experienced in the 1930s drove many black laborers towards the North in what came to be known as the Great Migration.
How Did the Bootheel End Up As Part of Missouri?
It is believed that the Bootheel in Missouri came into existence as a result of a certain Missourian who declined to relocate to Arkansas claiming that it was not a decent place for civilized people. He went ahead to say how most of the Arkansas's region was occupied by bears, dangerous panthers, and snakes hence according to him it did not seem safe for people to live. According to history, Missouri Bootheel was created as a result of political pressure that came from rich landowners of Arkansas who wanted to cut ties with the government in St. Louis so they could govern themselves. However, affirmation goes to a certain landowner and cattleman by the name John Hardeman Walker. He is the major reason as to why the Bootheel existed. The Madrid earthquakes of both 1811 and 1812 created permanent changes which displaced a lot of people and led to their migration. Walker opted to remain behind, and he acquired a lot of wealth. Following a petition applied by the Missouri government to become a state, Walker realized that the boundary fixed between Missouri and Arkansas would be a disadvantage to him as he was on the verge of losing much of his land and property to the Arkansas government. He then went ahead and lobbied the Missouri and Washington D.C government to have the Bootheel included within the boundaries of Missouri.