Blame it on Arkansas? – How and Why Did Missouri Get a Bootheel?
I tend to be a history buff. For that reason, I decided I needed to know how and why Missouri ended up with a bootheel. The answers are varied and some are hysterical even blaming Arkansas for the appendage on the bottom of the Show Me State.
I went to several sources to discover why Missouri has such an odd-shaped heel including the Wikipedia page for it. They mention two facts about who, why and when Missouri attained its current shape. Here are the highlights:
When Missouri was admitted to the Union, its original border was proposed as an extension of the 36°30′ parallel north that formed the border between Kentucky and Tennessee...John Hardeman Walker, a pioneer planter in what is now Pemiscot County, argued that the area had more in common with the Mississippi River towns of Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis in Missouri than with its proposed incorporation in the Arkansas Territory.
That's fine and likely accurate, however my favorite theory about how Missouri got its bootheel included this:
According to an apocryphal story in various versions, the Bootheel was added to the state because of the request of some Missourian to remain in the state "as he had heard it was so sickly in Arkansas"; "...full of bears and panthers and copperhead snakes, so it ain't safe for civilized people to stay there over night even."
I would like to shake the hand of whoever came up with the Arkansas theory. That's classic. How does Arkansas feel about this? According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas (insert your favorite Arkansas joke here), many people in Missouri have suggested giving the bootheel to Arkansas. That may be true, but not likely meant the way people in Arkansas take it. "Giving someone the bootheel" probably includes a kicking of the backside.