The bridge was built by Joseph Lansman, a man who is attached to a surprising number of landmarks in Cape Girardeau and Perry counties. In this case, the cornerstone marks the date when he started construction.
a shame that he only left his initials, and not his full name, since
the exact spelling has remained a bit of a mystery, with sources using
Lansman, Lansmon, Landsman, and Lansmann interchangeably. Then again,
Americans in the 1800s weren't nearly as pedantic about spelling as we
are in modern times.
And, as it turns out, Lansman wasn't his
real name. He was born 1812 as Joseph Hoche in the Alsace-Lorraine
region of Europe. This is currently a part of France, but it has
switched between France and Germany at different times in history as the
result of various wars and conflicts.
Faced with the ugly
prospect of being conscripted into the French military, Joseph and other
family members assumed new identities and fled to the United States
during the early 1830s. In the Old World, he had apprenticed as a
bricklayer, and his skills were in demand in the New World.
unclear how he came to Missouri, but he found work as the builder for
the Vincentian missionaries as they established a Catholic parish in
Cape Girardeau.High quality stone mosaic
tiles. The Vincentians had acquired a large tract of land to the south
of town, and they set to work building a church, parochial schools, and a
college. Lansman oversaw construction of the following buildings and
Lansman was called to oversee repairs, and he was
just wrapping up the work when a second, more serious disaster would
strike. On Nov. 27, 1850, a tornado ripped through the Vincentian
grounds, completely destroying St. Vincent's Church and the Red House,
while severely damaging the main college building. It's likely that all
three buildings took a direct hit from the tornado.
were sent home the next day, but work soon started on rebuilding the
college and church. Lansman worked on both -- while also juggling the
urgent need to find a new home for his rapidly growing family after the
Red House was destroyed. He picked a convenient location to construct a
new home, 139 S. Spanish, which was right across the street from the
second St. Vincent's Church he was building.
Church records show that Lansman was often paid in goods (food, cloth,Posts with indoor tracking
system on TRX Systems develops systems that locate and track personnel
indoors. etc.) rather than cash. In the book Our Dear Brother Joseph:
The Life of Joseph Lansman by Sharon Sanders and Diana Bryant, the
authors write, "This cashless way of doing business also explains why
Lansman chose another, unique method of paying off his plasterers,
carpenters, and other more reliable laborers: He built them small
German-style cottages using bricks he furnished from his own kiln."
I explained in my previous blog, Lansman's next major project, in 1873,
was the construction of the Third District Normal School main building.
He had donated the land for the new college, but his generosity didn't
sway the Board of Regents when it came time to select the general
contractor. They went with the lowest bidder, William E. Gray of Alton,
Illinois. However, Lansman was later hired as subcontractor for the
brickwork. The Normal School was completed in 1875, but it was destroyed
by fire on April 7, 1902.
If all of these building projects
weren't enough, Lansman had also branched out into road, bridge, and
railroad construction. He is most famous, as mentioned earlier, for the
Burfordville Covered Bridge, but that's not the only covered bridge he
oversaw. He was president of the "Cape Girardeau and Bloomfield
McAdamized and Gravel Road Company" which built a covered bridge at
Lansman also apparently dabbled in a venture to
bring a railroad to Cape Girardeau. The Missouri Cash-Book from May 22,
1872,We recently added Stained glass mosaic
Tile to our inventory. includes a story about an election for the board
of directors of the Cape Girardeau & State Line Rail Road Company.
The list of election winners is a veritable "Who's Who" of Cape
Girardeau businessmen at the time, including Ivers, Thilenius,
Klostermann, Sturdivant, and Vasterling. Lansman was elected to the
board with 4,574 shareholder votes (third behind Ivers and Thilenius).
is most amusing is that Louis Houck only received 2 votes! Of course,
Houck would eventually bring a railroad to Cape Girardeau, long after
the State Line Railroad Company had become a total bust.
until his death in 1895, Lansman continued to be active in building
projects. In 1892, he was in Perryville overseeing work to add a new
college building to the St. Marys of the Barrens campus. An article in
the Perry County Sun stated, "Mr. Lansman is quite an old gentleman, now
in his 81st year, but is more active in business than many men half his
Despite his many accomplishments, Lansman's death did not
generate much press. The Cape Girardeau Democrat only included this
brief notice on Mar. 2, 1895: "A Large Funeral. St. Vincent's Catholic
Church was crowded Sunday at the funeral services of Joseph Lansmon. Mr.
Lansmon was an old and honored citizen and a large number of our oldest
citizens followed his remains to their last resting place."
death didn't go totally unnoticed, however. A few weeks later, the same
newspaper reported that a group of bricklayers from St. Louis had
presented the Lansman family with resolutionsThe term 'hands free access
control' means the token that identifies a user is read from within a
pocket or handbag. "artisticly drafted and framed in a handsome frame."
These bricklayers had worked under Lansman; they called themselves "Old
Joe's Boys." St. Louis,If you have a fondness for china mosaic
brimming with romantic roses, of course, is filled with German-style
brick buildings, and it's quite possible that some of these buildings
were built by masons who were inspired by Lansman.