The Broom - enemy of spiders and friend to witches. Every household, rich or poor, black or white; every business, merchant or doctor, blacksmith or pub owner, since the dawn of domestic history, had this simple tool for a simple task. The broom is functional and efficient at sweeping floors free of dirt and debris and for some, sweeping away the past or evil spirits.
Poplar Heights Living History Farm is celebrating the Broom with a Broomcorn Festival July 30. The Seelinger Broom Works will have its Grand Opening and visitors can watch brooms being made, visit the blacksmith, mill and Threads, make a length of rope, kids can pan for gems and all can sample German foods. There will be a live band concert at noon. It’s a free family event.
In the aftermath of the severe destruction of western Missouri counties in the Civil War, settlers moving into this wasteland found a need for a well-made broom once they settled down into their new homes. To fill this need, an extensive cottage industry of broom corn raising and broom making grew up along the Missouri/ Kansas border. The Seelinger Farmily of Poplar Heights were German immigrants. They joined with other new settlers to form this cottage industry from Charlotte township in Bates County, east to Montrose where broomcorn, seed, and finished brooms were shipped across the country on the KATY and east to Clinton
Western Missouri soil was ideal for growing broom corn. By 1875 just 10 years after the destruction of the Civil War, Missouri was in the top six broom corn producing states. By 1899, more than half the total product grown in Missouri was in the counties of Bates, Benton, Henry and St. Clair.
The new Seelinger Broom Works is funded in part by a grant from Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area. For more information call 660-200-5620.