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Ilasco in Ralls County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Ilasco Missouri

A 20th Century Company Town / Immigrant Village

 

— with a peak population of 3,000 residents —

 
Ilasco Missouri Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 14, 2020
1. Ilasco Missouri Marker
Inscription.  

The Atlas Portland Cement Company built the first large cement plant west of the Mississippi River shortly after the turn of the 20th century and named the area ILASCO, an acronym for the materials used to produce cement. They started production in 1903 and employed up to 2,500 workers in the early years. Needing a labor force larger than the area could provide they sent recruiters to eastern and southern Europe. The men, some as young as 16, came from Romania, Slovakia, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Croatia & Ukraine. The newly arrived immigrants unable to speak the English language needed to live near the cement plant. Company housing was made available but soon numerous homes, business and churches were built nearby, many of them on company land and the Village of Ilasco grew to a peak population of about 3,000 residents with a post office, court house and jail. The immigrant population of Ilasco retained much of their own culture, cuisine and traditions as they joined with the local residents to create a unique and sharing community with a multitude of languages. The immigrants were proude to be Americans and understood the importance of a

Ilasco Missouri Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 14, 2020
2. Ilasco Missouri Marker
The Methodist Church is in background
good education and wanted their children to achieve the American dream in the land of freedom and opportunity. The Ilasco Cement Plant produced the cement for the Panama Canal, the Empire State building, locks and dams on the Mississippi River as well as contributing to the overall growth of the country. During different periods of economic troubles in the United States, the Cement Plant had to stop or cut back on production and some workers and their families moved elsewhere for jobs. In 1958 it was voted to consolidate the Ilasco Schools with the Hannibal School District, resulting in closing and tearing down the Ilasco Schools. In 1962 the Cement Company decided to no longer renew the land leases for homes on company land and to offer a buyout to Ilasco residents not on company land. New Highway 79 was to go through the center of the town. This was the final blow to the community and a way of life in the Village of Ilasco.

Ilasco was named for the materials used to produce cement:
Iron, Limestone, Aluminum, Silica, Calcum, and Oxygen

[Photo captions, left side, clockwise from top left, read]
• The Atlas Portland Cement Company built company housing for the workers with one located north of the plant called Pump House Hollow and one south of the plant called Company Row.

•

Ilasco Missouri Immigrant Nation Flags image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 14, 2020
3. Ilasco Missouri Immigrant Nation Flags
Early Ilasco housing - Circa 1906

• A Slovak Lodge meeting of the "The Young Folks Circle" - Circa 1918

• The Churches were an important part of Ilasco's religious and social life. Members of different denominations even attending other churches['] services and functions if their own priest, pastor or minister was not available for services. Of the five original churches in Ilasco these are the two that still remain [Holy Cross Catholic and Saverton-Ilasco Methodist]

• A partial view of Ilasco's business section - Circa 1906

[Photo captions, right side, clockwise from top right, read]
• The Ilasco store and tavern building, located on private property, was often the meeting place for the community and even Harry Truman made a campaign stop at the Tavern in Ilasco.

• A 1912 Romanian funeral in Ilasco in front of the Romanian Hall.

• Education was important to the residents of Ilasco but some students were forced to quit school at an early age to help support their families. In 1926 Ilasco had its first High School graduating class with only 3 students. The last Ilasco High School graduating class was in 1959 with 18 students and the Ilasco Grade School closed in 1962.

• Early Romanian handcrafted headstones located in Marble Creek Cemetery 1/2 mile south of Ilasco.

• The Josh Cook, an Atlas Cement Company Barge, used to ship cement

Ilasco Missouri Flags - Croatia Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 14, 2020
4. Ilasco Missouri Flags - Croatia Marker
At far left in Flags photo
to build the Panama Canal.

[Photo captions, bottom, from left to right, read]
• A 1936 plant safety celebration at the Atlas Cement Company with women in their native European dress.

• Cement Plant Workers - Circa 1922

• Eastern and Southern Europe

• Women workers at the Cement Plant during World War II.

• 1918 Slovak wedding at the Ilasco Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Church
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceSettlements & Settlers.
 
Location. 39° 40.282′ N, 91° 18.578′ W. Marker is in Ilasco, Missouri, in Ralls County. Marker is at the intersection of State Highway 79 and Ilasco Drive, on the right on State Highway 79. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hannibal MO 63401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Schools of Ilasco (a few steps from this marker); Ilasco (a few steps from this marker); Churches of Ilasco (a few steps from this marker); Monument to the Immigrants (a few steps from this marker); Ilasco Bridge (a few steps from this marker); "Ilasco" Walk of Memories (a few steps from this marker); Ilasco Veterans Memorial (a few steps from this marker); Ilasco Schools (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ilasco.
 
Also see . . .  Immigrant Community of Ilasco, Missouri

Ilasco Missouri Flags - Ukraine Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 14, 2020
5. Ilasco Missouri Flags - Ukraine Marker
Second from left in Flags photo
. (Submitted on September 18, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Ilasco Missouri Flags - Hungary Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 14, 2020
6. Ilasco Missouri Flags - Hungary Marker
Third from left in Flags photo
Ilasco Missouri Flags - Poland Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 14, 2020
7. Ilasco Missouri Flags - Poland Marker
Center flag in Flags photo
Ilasco Missouri Flags - Romania Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 14, 2020
8. Ilasco Missouri Flags - Romania Marker
Third from right in Flags photo
Ilasco Missouri Flags - Italy Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 14, 2020
9. Ilasco Missouri Flags - Italy Marker
Second from right in Flags photo
Ilasco Missouri Flags - Slovakia Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., September 14, 2020
10. Ilasco Missouri Flags - Slovakia Marker
At far right in Flags photo
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 18, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 47 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 18, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on September 20, 2020, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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Oct. 21, 2020