STRASBURG, Mo. — Cass County has been hosting a weary world traveler.
Jean-Yves Bart, who hails from France, is compiling a book based on towns that share the name of his French hometown: Strasburg. That includes the tiny town that sits just south of Lone Jack on State Route 58. It’s home to fewer than 200 people.
You might say his game lies within a name.
Bart, 34, calls Strasbourg, France his home, where this busy traveler works as an English translator. Bart is spanning the globe, visiting 16 cities worldwide, all of which are named Strasburg, including the small town in Cass County, population 141.
Bart points out the differences in spelling. Most American cities spell their name “Strasburg,” having dropped the original German spelling of the title. The European vistas lean toward the original spelling: “Strasbourg.”
Strasburg, Missouri, is a quiet place with plenty of room to farm and raise a family. Since Bart, the explorer from Europe, arrived last week, the town has felt a sense of pride that stems from his visit.
“J’ai vraiment apprécié ma visite à Strasbourg, Missouri,” Bart said Tuesday, expressing in French that he enjoyed his visit to Cass County.
In any language, Bart, who is often a freelance employee at Strasbourg University in France, said rural Missouri made him feel at home. Of the 16 Strasburgs he intends to visit, he believes the one in Cass County is the smallest. Eight of them are in the continental United States. Bart said he’s already been to Strasburgs in North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Colorado, which was his first stop.
As he travels and studies, Bart collects knowledge, photos and comparisons, searching for common threads between his hometown and the towns that share its name. Bart intends to compile it all in a book that should be complete by the year 2023.
“It’s a celebration of the power of a name and the power of words of a language. I can go to all of those places, which don’t have much in common,” Bart told FOX4 on Tuesday.
Bart’s photos show his visits to churches and schools in Cass County, and although he doesn’t sense a common thread between this town and his hometown, he says his book will convey Show Me State warmth.
“I don’t know if a random American person would show up in a French town. I don’t know if he would get as good a reception. Probably in some places,” Bart said.
The warm-fuzzy feeling around Strasburg, Missouri’s city hall is hard to miss. Members of the town’s board of aldermen, including Therese Brayton, Strasburg city clerk, are excited to see what Bart will use from his visit.
“It’s almost like saying we’re being put on the map,” Brayton said. “There are only 16 of us in this world. That makes it even sweeter that we’re important enough that he would want to travel here to visit with us and to find out our origins.”
In fact, Bart said he intends to spend the same amount of time in each destination — around four to five days — called Strasburg as he travels. That way, he said, each destination gets it proper respect, no matter how small they may be.
Bart plans to hit five American cities in all before returning to Europe. That will bring his running total to eight Strasburgs he’s visited. Bart left Cass County on Tuesday afternoon, as he set out for Strasburg, Illinois.
Click here to see Jean-Yves’ Facebook page where he’s posting photos from his travels.