Small town, big history
by Jim McCarty
through Gallatin, the county seat of Daviess County, and you can almost
feel the history seeping from every weathered crack of every old building
in town. Few Missouri towns can claim so much connection to our states
Gallatin is a great destination for a day trip. Take your time strolling
the streets and youll quickly spot one of Missouris best
painted ladies, the 106-year-old Ray Home pictured at right.
The well-maintained Victorian was built by a prominent banker named
Anderson Taylor Ray.
The Ray House isnt the only historic structure. Gallatin is home
to Missouris lone surviving rotary jail. Sometimes called the
Human Squirrel Cage, the jail featured an octagonal structure
with an inner revolving deck divided into eight pie-shaped cells. To
let prisoners in or out the jailer turned a hand crank to rotate the
cells. Woe to the prisoner who had their arm stuck through the bars
when the jail turned!
Gallatin can honestly claim to have had its bank (present day True Value
Hardware) robbed by the James Gang. In fact, Frank James would be tried
here, although the present 1908 courthouse wasnt around for the
occasion. During holidays the courthouse, with its unique hand-wound
Seth Thomas clock, is the focal point for many activities.