Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 46
Published in the Warrensburg Gazette for June 8, 2000

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

Two memorable events occurred in Warrensburg in the early 1870s - George Vest made his famous speech at the Old Drum trial and John William "Blind" Boone began his career as a musician. It is coincidental that events relating to each will occur within a week of each other.

The June 8 premiere of the movie "The Trial of Old Drum" has been well publicized and will undoubtedly be well-attended, as one would expect of an event sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. Less well publicized but perhaps of greater importance to the community as a whole is a June 14 meeting of a group of citizens interested in revitalizing what was once "Blind" Boone Park.

"Blind" Boone, according to history, was an exceptional musical talent who could play anything by ear. He is regarded as one of the pioneers of rag time music, but he also composed a wide variety of pieces. Unfortunately, much of his work has been lost because it was never written down or the piano rolls were not preserved. However, some of it is being resurrected by modern rag time musicians, several of whom played recently at the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia and the J.W. "Blind" Boone Festival in Columbia. His history and some compositions are available on the internet at

Boone, born in 1864 of a mother who was a "contraband" or runaway slave, is connected with Warrensburg because he lived here during his early childhood, he began his musical career here, and Warrensburg benefactors financed his initial schooling at Missouri School for the Blind. Back in the days of segregation, Warrensburg created a park for its black citizens and named it after "Blind" Boone. By the 1960s the park, located between West Pine and the railroad tracks (don't bother to go looking for it because you'll never find it unless you know exactly where to look) was abandoned as an organized entity; much of was a nice hayfield last June.

It is ironic that the City is spending large sums on new parks such as West Park and the recently donated park out by Lion's Lake while neglecting a park dedicated to a famous resident of Warrensburg - a park that could be the core of new festivals & activities (money making activities, even - have you been to a rag time festival? ).

If you're interested in sharing or just hearing ideas for revitalizing "Blind" Boone Park, stop by the West Side Community Building, 507 N. Water, at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, June 14th. For additional information, contact Sandra Irle at the Teehaus,121 N. Holden, downtown Warrensburg, 660-429-1525.

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