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Important Historical Figures

Two important politicians have made their homes in Lebanon. Richard Parks Bland, a native Kentuckian, represented Missouri in Congress from 1872-1899 and was a leading Democratic candidate for president in 1896. Phil Donnelly was a hometown boy who became the first man in Missouri history to serve two terms as the state’s governor. Donnelly occupied the Governor’s Mansion from 1945-49 and again from 1953-57 (consecutive terms were prohibited at the time).
Notable onetime residents include Walter Reed and novelist Harold Bell Wright, author of “The Shepherd of the Hills.” He served the First Christian Church as pastor from 1905-07, the time period when his most famous work was published. Wright set his next book, “The Calling of Dan Matthews,” in the fictional town of Corinth. The book was wrote in a three story home on Adams Street, and Lebanon residents recognized many similarities with their town, and weren’t happy with the depiction of their city.

Present Day Lebanon

Today Lebanon is an energetic, thriving town of over 14,000 residents. Lebanon has continued to thrive as a small community, catering to travelers along the edge of the Ozarks. A number of these travelers come to the area because of Lebanon’s proximity to Bennett Spring State Park, and its approximate one million visitors per year. A note of possible interest is that, according to Bob Shotts the county surveyor, Mercy Hospital sits on the highest point in Laclede County.
In 1983, Governor Kit Bond dubbed Lebanon the "Aluminum Fishing Boat Capital of the World;" with companies such as Tracker Marine, G3 Boats, Lowe Boats, Landau Boats, and Osagian Canoes all having factories here. Other major employers are Emerson Climate Technologies (Copeland), The Durham Co., Carmeco, DTE, Detroit Tool Metal Products, and Marine
Electrical Products.
A local success story is that of Shepherd Hills Factory Outlet. In 1972, Rea and Ida Reid started a small Case Knives store on the west edge of Lebanon. With just one employee, Ida worked to put her two sons, Randy and Rod, through the University of Missouri’s engineering school in Rolla. Today Ida has 100 employees, seven stores throughout the country, a catalog division and Shepherd Hills is the largest Case Knives dealer in the world. Sons Randy and Rod? They work in the business.
The Reids’ story says a lot about their community – Lebanon, Missouri, where friendly people work hard to make things happen.
If you would like more historical information you can contact Charlene with the Laclede County Historical Society at (417) 531-3954.