The winter break is a time when even the most ardent of history buffs take a break. Lyndon Bode, presiding commissioner of Marion County, is taking no such holiday from history today - Dec. 23 - when Marion County marks the 190th year since it was organized.
"I kind of watch these things," said Bode, who holds a bachelor of arts degree in history and political science from Culver-Stockton College. "Especially with Marion County history, I like trying to find out different details."
According to Bode, the county is named for Francis Marion, a South Carolina plantation owner and of greater significance, a Revolutionary War general, who was nicknamed the "Swamp Fox."
"He’s got quite a history," he said. "He did a lot of things back around the time when the United States was first formed."
According to Bode, the character portrayed by Mel Gibson in the 2000 movie "The Patriot" was modeled after Marion.
"It’s not a total portrayal," said Bode. "You know how movies are, they always add some things."
Missouri is not the only state to have recognized the Revolutionary War hero. A total of 16 states have a county named with Marion in mind.
"It (Marion’s name) was well liked at that time as places were being organized," said Bode. "He was well thought of to have that many counties named for him. There are even some cities that start with Marion."
Marion County, Mo., covers 479 square miles and features all or part of three incorporated cities – Hannibal, Palmyra and Monroe City – that account for a majority of the county’s 28,239 residents as of 2010.
Not counting city streets or state-maintained roads, Marion County features roughly 70 miles of blacktop, plus 430 miles of gravel roads. And while not county property, Bode says it’s worth noting the county features multiple bridges across the Mississippi River.
"We’re very fortunate," he said. "Traffic comes from all different directions into Marion County. That helps us be a really diversified county."
While the county’s 190th anniversary is not being formally observed this year, Bode hopes that will be different 2026.
"Over the next 10 years we’ll work on it and think about it. If people have ideas or bits of history, let me know or one of the other county commissioners know. We’ve got time to plan," he said.
Reach reporter Danny Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org