by Ann Chrissos
Marland Bates, the great grandson of Missouri’s second governor Frederick Bates, was born in Centaur, Missouri on February 27, 1916. He had an older sister, Violet Bates who lived to be 84 years old and an older brother, Henry Elroy Bates who was born on April 22, 1914. The three siblings initially attended Wild Horse Creek grade school where their mother was a teacher. Their family lived on a farm, which later became part of Babler Park. This provided the ideal setting for horseback riding. One day, while riding his horse Dolly, Marland came upon a still for moonshine liquor. An angry armed man confronted him, but he and Dolly managed to escape unscathed. During the Depression he and his brother made deliveries for a pharmacy, did odd jobs for Charles Lindbergh, and worked at Curtis Wright. Marland was drafted into the Army during World War II where he served in the 42nd Rainbow Infantry Division. They landed at Marseille in August 1944 and captured it, then headed toward Germany. At one point during the march across southern France he and a buddy accidentally strayed behind the German line where they encounter two German soldiers holding guns pointed at their chests. Marland traded crackers, cheese and cigarettes for their lives and for the surrender of the Germans. On April 29, 1945 Marland’s division liberated the Dachau concentration camp. After the war, Marland went to work at McDonnell Aircraft Corporation until he started his own dump truck service. Eventually he purchased and operated Lakeside Harbor in St. Charles County, Missouri.
Marland’s father, Henry Edward Bates, was born in the Ozarks. Henry was a railroad engineer who drove the Wabash Cannonball from St. Albans to 18th Street in St. Louis during Marland’s early years, later he purchased a farm on Wild Horse Creek Road and built and operated a general store. Following a fire at the farm he sold the property to the Babler brothers.
Marland’s mother was Bertha Eatherton Bates. She attended Harris Teacher’s College in Fredericktown, Missouri and taught at various schools while caring for her three children.
All of Marland’s family is buried at Laurel Hill Memorial Gardens, 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri.
Marland Bates was interviewed 27 March 2007 by Ann Chrissos.