Fifty years ago, McDonald County became the McDonald County Territory, an inde-pendent political entity, because of an omission by the state’s highway department.


Fifty years ago, McDonald County became the McDonald County Territory, an inde-pendent political entity, because of an omission by the state’s highway department.

On Saturday, a skit depicting those times was held in front of an audience on the Pineville Square.

“They (McDonald County) were left off of the map in Jefferson City and that really hurt the tourist business,” said Alberta Anders, with the McDonald County Historical Society. “So it was kind of a tongue and cheek sort of thing, but it turned into quite a thing, and people were asked for a passport to come into McDonald County. We actually did get hurt by Jefferson City and they became a aware of the fact that we are here.”

“In 1960, the state highway department changed the name of U.S. 71 to Missouri Highway 75 from Anderson to the Arkansas state line,” Daily News staff writer Wes Franklin wrote in his “History Guy” column May 8. “Then it was changed again to Missouri Highway 59. When the state highway map was issued in 1961, the only McDonald County towns included on it were Anderson and Lanagan.

“Needless to say, a lot of people were furious. In fact, they were so angry they decided to demonstrate their displeasure to the state in a way that couldn’t be ignored: They created McDonald Territory, an independent political entity. Noel — not the county seat of Pineville — was established as the capital. A territorial government was formed and a territorial militia raised. At its height, this imitative paramilitary force numbered around 300. They set up roadblocks at all the entrances into the county and required drivers to show an issued passport.”

As the audience watched, McDonald County residents recreated the events, as people from the north – with Franklin leading the way – came down to the county to stop the secession. The re-enactment included gunfire being exchanged in the street.

During the event, there was talk of McDonald County joining Arkansas. Another option considered was forming a 51st state of McDonald County, part of Arkansas and Oklahoma.

“We love Missouri and we wanted to stay in Missouri,” said Anders.

And in the end of the skit, Missouri Supreme Court Justice Mary Russell came to Pineville and read a Missouri House of Representatives resolution and a speech to the residents.

“Good afternoon, on behalf of my colleagues at the supreme court of Missouri, we are pleading with you not to secede,” Russell said. “We need McDonald County in this state. You are so very important, you are a beautiful county, you have wonderful representation in Jefferson City.”

After the reading of the resolution, someone from the crowd asked Russell if McDonald County was back on the map. Russell responded in the affirmative, and the audience roared its approval.