Railroads’ Impact Cannot Be Overstated

The impact of the railroad in the development of rural America cannot be overstated. Nearly all towns in Daviess County were built around railroad depots. Transportation for developing commerce depended on trains, both to ship farm products and livestock out as well as to bring manufactured goods and products here. Trains impacted the very fabric of every community, bringing national figures like William Jennings Bryan here or delivering disadvantaged children from the cities seeking opportunities in rural Midwest small towns via the “Orphan Trains.” And in 2017, railroads still impact decisions here as Daviess County seek ways to replace bridges on low-traffic roads using railroad flat cars.

An important stop on the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (CRI&P) Railroad was at Altamont, MO. The Rock Island built 13 houses for workers, eight of which were still in use as residences over a century later. (1914)

The influence of railroads here began soon after the Civil War. By 1869 a narrow-gauge railroad called the Chicago Southwestern was rolling through Daviess County. Then in 1898 the Rock Island took over, making Altamont the site of the largest coal shoot between Kansas City and Chicago. For many years Altamont was the railroad’s headquarters for bridge gangs, line crews, coal chute workmen, water works, section crews, round house operators, car repairmen and depot agents — working around the clock. The Rock Island built 13 houses for railroad workers, eight of which still stand in Altamont today. Meanwhile, the Omaha & Chillicothe Railroad was in operation in 1871, putting “Pattonsburgh” on the map in northwest Daviess County.

This is the Wabash Train Depot at Gallatin, MO, looking southward from the junction of the Wabash and Rock Island tracks in the Grand River bottoms east of town. This post card photo is not dated.
This undated post card scene shows the train depot of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific at Gallatin, MO. The Rock Island bisected Daviess County from east to west.

Gallatin’s prominence was fueled in no small way as the crossroads of two railroads. The impact of rail commerce led to the relocation of a college from Edinburg, MO, to Gallatin (1893-1918). Nationally known McDonald Tea Room built its reputation by attracting salesmen traveling on the railroads who then boosted the restaurant’s reputation across the country. The stopover at Gallatin allowed vaudeville entertainment acts from Chicago one last dress rehearsal before performing for audiences at Kansas City – much to the delight of Gallatin folks hungry for amusement at local meeting halls.

This Rock Island Railroad Bridge spanned the Grand River at Gallatin, MO. During times of high water, the locals would measure water’s depth by counting the large granite blocks supporting the bridge’s steel trusses. (date unknown)

The Rock Island depot at Winston has survived because it was turned into a community museum by the Winston Historical Society. Railroad tracks bisecting the county were torn out during the early 1970s; the last Rock Island train came through in March, 1973. Other depots are now non-existent or in a state of slow decay.

Of all the water tanks, coaling docks, depots, tunnels and turntables built to support the rail lines, only one track is still active here today – the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific near Lock Springs in the extreme southeast corner of Daviess County. Just south of the county on this same line is the newly constructed 110-car shuttle-loader grain storage facility, built by MFA Incorporated and MFA Oil Company. The new facility, capable of handling 14 million bushels of grain annually, opened in 2017. It provides direct access to the Union Pacific Railroad and four-lane Highway 36 to Interstate 35.

Crowds gathering at the local train depot were common occurrences for decades throughout America. This crowd gathered at the Wabash Train Deport, just outside Gallatin, MO, along the Grand River near MFA Exchange (grain bins in background). Circa 1950s
In its latter years of operation, railroad depots were no longer built to please passengers but were constructed for utilitarian purposes. This small garage served as the Wabash Depot at Gallatin, MO, in 1966.

 

RAILROAD GHOST TOWNS

Perhaps no railroad impacted North Missouri more than the construction of the Hannibal-St. Joseph Railroad south of Daviess County. The railroad anchored the Pony Express to St. Joseph, MO, and changed commerce routes by freight wagon not just in Daviess County but throughout the entire region. Wherever trains rolled, communities developed …or else obliterated.

Local communities which became ghost towns due to decisions made by the railroads include:

  • Jackson Switch… Blake… Once about halfway between Jamesport and Gallatin, Jackson Switch was renamed as Blake when the Chicago & Southwestern Railroad designated it as a flag station for its passengers
  • Pattonsburgh… Elm Flat… About 1835 Matthew Patton built the first water-mill in Benton Twp. on Big Creek. Patton Mill later changed to Pattonsburgh. The spite of a railroad official, in charge of the 1871 construction of the Omaha & Chillicothe Railroad, doomed the town when the tracks skirted the river bottoms to arrive at high ground three miles to the southeast. The tracks then illogically turned back south to end on the bank of Big Creek in a low, undesirable site thickly covered with elm trees. A box-car depot was erected, named Elm Flat. Businessmen removed to the “Flats,” and thus removed the name “Pattonsburgh” on the map.
  • Boxtown… In 1825 business coming up the river from Brunswick created a trading center on Lick Fork Creek at a grist mill called Boxtown in Harrison Twp. But then the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad laid tracks just two miles to the south, eliminating Boxtown’s future.
  • Old Greasy… For over 40 years the settlement between Springhill in Livingston County and Mill Port in Daviess County was known as Old Greasy. In 1871, the St. Louis & Omaha Railroad bypassed this settlement, making way for the rapid development of Lock Springs
  • Victoria… This Jefferson Twp. community, named for the English queen, saw its trade diverted when the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad was built. Victoria ceased to exist as early as 1880.
  • Bancroft… Located in Lincoln Twp. in northeast Daviess County, this town gave way to Gilman City about 1890 when tracks for the Omaha & Quincy Railroad were laid just a mile away.
Miles of railroad within Daviess County in 1902: Quincy, Omaha & Kansas City — 13.13 miles; Wabash — 35.81 miles; Rock Island (main line) — 28.26 miles; Rock Island, St. Joseph branch — 7.07 miles; Kansas City, Peoria & Chicago — 6.39 miles. Railroads connected Daviess County to the rest of the world. By rail, St. Joseph, Omaha, Leavenworth and Kansas City were within a few hours; St. Louis and Chicago were within a night’s run.

 

SHIPPING LIVESTOCK

Very little land in northern and northeastern Daviess County was purchased by private owners before 1850. Most of the better land in the county was sold under the Pre-emption Act of 1841 for $1.25 per acre, or donated to help develop the railroads. The last recorded cattle drive from Daviess County occurred in 1849. Railroad shipping greatly impacted the agricultural economy here.  N.B. (Pole) Brown became a great cattle shipper when the railroads came. Brown is reported to have shipped 2,000 carloads of cattle during 1870-1880. In 1880 he shipped 400 carloads of cattle from Daviess, Harrison, Gentry and Nodaway counties. Since one carload held 40 head of cattle, Brown would have shipped 16,000 head of cattle during this one year.

 

Written by Darryl Wilkinson, Gallatin Publishing Company 2017

Gallatin Skate Center Built in 1964

June, 2017 — Judy Elbert will be selling between 75 and 100 pairs of roller skates from the Elbert’s Skating Rink. The collection includes white high-top ladies’ skates and black three-quarter-top men’s skates and children’s skates.

After years of unuse, the Gallatin Skate Center is getting cleaned up to house a flea market. Approximately 75 to 100 pairs of leather roller skates are being offered for sale by property owner Judy Elbert. Although in storage for 25-30 years, these skates can be easily reconditioned for use.

The skates will bring back lots of memories for those who can recall gliding along the wooden floor in an endless circle and leaning into corners while going perilously fast. Others will remember the bumps and bruises from spins and flips and zigzags gone wrong, and may still have the scars to prove it.

The roller rink, located on the south edge of Gallatin, was once a popular activity for children, teenagers, and adults.

The skating rink has not been in business for many years and Judy said she has only sold a few skates in the past.

“People who used to skate at the roller rink would ask to buy a pair just for the childhood nostalgia,” she said.

Recently, when James Hawks asked to rent the lot bordering the rink for a flea market, he suggested that Judy put the rental skates up for sale.

“They’re still usable; they have good wheels; they’re all in pretty good shape,” Judy said. “They’ve been sitting for 25-30 years so they’re a little dusty. But they’re made of good leather and can easily be cleaned and reconditioned and put back into use.”

Edward Elbert (Judy’s father-in-law) and N.C. Bennett were partners in the building of the roller rink. N.C. was the contractor, and it was built it in 1964. Mr. Elbert and Mr. Bennett ran it together for five years. Mr. Bennett eventually lost interest, so Mr. Elbert bought his share. Mr. Elbert ran the roller rink until he passed away in 1975. After that, his wife Margaret Pauline ran it for the next two years.

Carl and LaJoy Abbs leased and renovated the skating rink in 1977.  After that, Bonnie Lowe had a video business in the building for a number of years. That was the last time the building was rented out.

This photo, dated June 22, 1977, accompanied the newspaper article announcing the re-opening of the Gallatin Skate Center. Shown, from left, are youngsters Roger Woody, Teresa Frost, Kim Abbs, Kelly Elbert, Beth Schweizer and Slade Elbert with adults Carl and LaJoy Abbs who leased the rink. These young people — plus Jim Elliott, Mark Abbs and Chris Elbert who were not present for the picture — cleaned 787 ceiling tiles, and rebuilt 192 pairs of skates, including 1,536 wheels and 23,296 ball bearings, for the center’s re-opening.
Carl Abbs offers a steady hand to Denise Focht. Carl and his wife, LaJoy, reopened the center to the delight of many throughout the Gallatin community.

By far, the Elbert’s Skating Rink heyday was in the mid to late 60s.

“During those years, it was quite popular with the young people around here; there was skating every night,” said Judy. “On Friday and Saturday, there was an early night and then a late night session. Whole church congregations and other organizations would rent the building for skate parties on Sunday.”

Eddie Elbert was still running the rink during the heyday. “He loved skating, even when he was in his seventies,” Judy said. “He’d skate with the kids and have a wonderful time.”

Judy’s late husband Spence was also involved with the skating rink and would go down every night after working at the department store and stay until the rink closed.

Part of the fun at roller skating rinks involved contests testing skater prowess, as demonstrated here by Todd Evans in 1977.

Speed skating around Stacy Kirkendoll is Jerry Barlow in this photo snapped during the re-opening of Gallatin Skate Center in 1977.
Jessica Eskridge, left, was all smiles rolling onto the skating rink.
The skating rink was a favorite place for area youth to meet and make memories to last a lifetime. Shown are childhood buddies Denise Focht, Stacy Kirkendoll, Shelly Williamson and Candi Love. By 1980, Gallatin Skate Center housed a video business and skating rolled into nostalgia.
Youngsters enjoying their roller skating are Jason Love, Loren Adkins, and Alan Wood (1977).
Friendships strengthen as youngsters depend on each other to learn how to skate. Shown here is Jenny (?0, Stephanie Bradley and Amber Burns in 1977.
Debbie Pittzenbarger and Shelley Fales demonstrate “skating low,” a skill necessary to compete in The Limbo contests.
Roller skating served up plenty of humiliating moments… but all in fun. Here Alan Wood weathers a spill yet still laughs at himself in such a splitting predictament.
Candi Love demonstrates how the athletic agility of girls can rival that of the boys in roller skating. (1977)

Arbelia Opera House – Gallatin, MO

In a 2-story building situated on the southeast corner of the Gallatin business square, the Arbelia Opera House once operated on the second floor above a saloon on the first floor. It was so named for the wife of John Townsend, who built the building about 1890.

In a 2-story building situated on the southeast corner of the Gallatin business square, the Arbelia Opera House once operated on the second floor above a saloon on the first floor. It was so named for the wife of John Townsend, who built the building about 1890.

1912 — The Townsend Block, at the SE corner of the Gallatin business square

A wide stairway provided the entrance, dividing at the top to provide access to and from the side of the room. There was a balcony all along the rear and opposite there was an adequate stage. Dressing rooms were on either side. There were side curtains and drop curtains. The lights along the front of the stage at first were kerosene lamps with reflectors, but these were later replaced with electric lights. Side lamps with reflectors were also placed along the sides the the stage attached to the wings and later replaced with ceiling electric lights.

In those times companies called “road shows” traveled throughout the country. Bookings far ahead were necessary and companies presented fine, high type entertainment. Lifelong Gallatin native Kathrine Brandom recalled how, as a little girl, she frequently sneaked up the stairs to watch the theatrics. Gallatin proved to be a convenient stop where traveling thespians en route between Chicago and Kansas City could manage a “practice performance.” They would come into town on the train, brought to the hotel by bus where they would remain usually for two to three days.

The leading lady was always most attractive and the leading man — sometimes a villain, true to type. Their fine costumes were transported in old-fashioned trunks and taken immediately to the opera house upon arrival. Costumes were quite beautiful and expensive.

These presentations were considered the ultimate in entertainment, featuring the finest of talent. The opera house would be filled to capacity.

The Townsend building housing Arbelia Opera House burned about 1910, a tragedy marking the end of this type of cultural and educational advantages for people living in this area.

Mr. Townsend also built one of the finest homes in Gallatin where he and his wife raised two sons and one daughter. The home was later the residence of Mrs. Preston Robertson and some time after the Townsend family had gone, it became the home of Gov. A.M. Dockery, who made his home with Mr. and Mrs. E.S. Gregory. This home burned during the winter of 1926.

— Daviess County Historical Society

Winston coal mine once a busy place

A one-time major Daviess County industry played out to oblivion in 1958. At a county tax sale, the Winston coal mine failed to produce one interested bidder with only a tax bill of $317.10 pending. That wouldn’t have been the case in earlier years.

A one-time major Daviess County industry played out to oblivion in 1958. At a county tax sale, the Winston coal mine failed to produce one interested bidder with only a tax bill of $317.10 pending. That wouldn’t have been the case in earlier years.

Efforts to mine coal in Daviess County dates back as far as 1871 when an effort was made to form a company soon after a vein of fuel was discovered on a farm belonging to John S. Hughes. This failed, and nothing was done until about the turn of the century when the first shaft was sunk at a depth of 345 feet.

Lack of capital, cooperation and interest soon halted that venture. But in 1934 J.O. Elliott of Cameron opened the shaft, extended it and struck a 36-inch vein of fine quality bituminous coal. This effort ended in failure when litigation over the property forced its sale to satisfy creditors.

Winston Coal Mine 1937

The Winston Coal Company was formed in 1936 and a new larger shaft was sunk 300 feet from the old shaft. These were connected and new hoisting machinery, cutting equipment and a double caqe were installed. Improvements increased output to 200 tons a day for a time. There were as many as 50 men employed at the mine and Daviess County coal was trucked into all sections of Northwest Missouri.

In its later years of operation, the property changed ownership frequently and attempts to operate the mine profitably failed. Eventually, federal inspectors would no longer approve the shafts for safe working without costly repairs which the business could no longer support.

— from the Sept. 4, 1958, edition of the Gallatin Democrat

1924: Gallatin’s New Water Tower

In 1924, Gallatin’s water tower was badly in need of repair. A special city council meeting was called to consider the needed repairs. An examiner, Mr. Gill, who’d previously inspected the tower, was present to report on its condition. The report called for a new bottom and the replacement of the two top rings of the plate. He gave a $700 bid for the project.

In 1924, Gallatin’s water tower was badly in need of repair. A special city council meeting was called to consider the needed repairs. An examiner, Mr. Gill, who’d previously inspected the tower, was present to report on its condition. The report called for a new bottom and the replacement of the two top rings of the plate. He gave a $700 bid for the project.

The insurance factor was also another concern. Gallatin was a fourth class town, but unless certain specifications were met on the water tower, the town would drop to a fifth class town which would increase the fire insurance rates.

In order to meet the necessary requirements, the city had to install a water tower which could furnish a steady stream of water for five hours at a pressure of 60 pounds without any pumping being done. A few additions to the mains were also needed as well as an extra thousand feet of fire hose and new connections on the fire plugs.

An approved water tower needed to have a 75,000 gallon tank set on top of a 135-foot structure just south of the business square. When completed, the new water tower would hold enough water and provide 60 pounds of pressure which would make it possible to furnish a high pressure stream of water on a fire for five hours. In comparison, the old water tower only held 40,000 gallons of water, was only 110 feet high, and only gave a gravity pressure of 30 pounds.

Two weeks later many citizens were both upset and worried as they thought the insurance rates were going to take an immediate increase. Mr. Gill returned and assured them it wasn’t the case. He said the present water tower, the mains, and the fire fighting equipment were sufficient unless there was a large fire which was very unlikely. He also said the water tower should be built on a steel structure and have a 75,000 gallon capacity. He approved the fire truck, but urged that the fire hose and fire hydrant couplings be standardized and the fire plugs painted an orange yellow so they could be seen better at night and on dark and snowy days.

Stating it was a “have to” case, the following week the city called for an election to vote $10,000 bonds for a new 75,000 gallon water tower. Changes had been made to plans submitted a month earlier and now two $10,000 bonds were on the ballot including the former bonds for the tower and the latter bonds to extend the trunk line sewers. The old tower could continue to be used until the new structure was completed which would take about 30 days. An election date was set for mid-June.

Upon voter approval, the Pittsburg-Des Moines Steel Company was awarded the contract for constructing the water tower for $7,450. In addition, the company would receive $200 for removing the steel from the old tower.

By late December 1924, the water tower was working fine, but the people still had a water shortage. The two pumps that had been used to pump the water from the reservoir weren’t powerful enough to pump the new water tower full of water since it was higher and more pressure was needed.

A new pump was purchased for $1,800 and once it was installed it’d put the city in first class condition. The people wouldn’t know they were working on the tower because the water wouldn’t have to be shut off unless it was at night when they were trying to fill the tank.

The water tower was filled in March 1925 by the employees of the light and water departments working in shifts to see that the pumps were kept running. The findings were that the pumps were good enough to supply the city with an abundance of water. As a result, the order for the new pump was cancelled which saved the city the expense of buying a new one.

However, building a new water tower didn’t solve the water problem. By 1926, the water supply continued to be short. Many were still concerned that if a fire should occur, there wouldn’t be a sufficient water source to extinguish it.

After much consideration it was decided to look into the matter of digging a new well. The city contacted George Austin of Kansas City who had a good reputation for his work. A contract was soon issued and work would start immediately.

After studying the situation, it was decided the best place to dig a new well was just north of the present well which was 27 feet deep. Judging from the present well, a new well would furnish enough water for all purposes and Gallatin would have one of the best water systems in this part of the state. The driller would use a 46 inch telescope casing going down between 50 and 60 feet or until they hit solid rock. When completed, the bottom of the casing would be 18 inches. It would have a concrete curb which would be above the high water mark and also have a concrete screen and a gravel filter.

The contract price was $45 per foot. The city was to pay $900 when the well was completed and make payments of $100 per month in deferred payments with 6% interest.

The well was completed in September 1927. From all appearances, the well would be a good one as the city superintendent had the pump operating for eight hours which filled the 75,000 gallon tank. At that rate, the water was being used at the rate of 150 gallons per minute. There was some concern as to the new well draining the old well, but from all appearances there wasn’t any need to worry as the water level of the new well was only lowered 26 inches in that length of time. As the well was used, it was believed the water flow would increase and the city would have an abundance of water. It would also save the city money as it wouldn’t require a man at the power house at night as plenty of water could be pumped during the day.

At a city council meeting in October 1927, Mr. Austin presented the city with a bill for $2,670. After reading the contract, the city council and the city attorney decided the amount was incorrect as to the amount of footage that was dug. A compromise was made and the city only paid $2,112.

The cost of the well was to be paid out of the proceeds of the light and water fund. There wasn’t to be any increase in city taxes.

Wilburforce School (1866-1957)

In November 1866, the Gallatin School District met to discuss the educational opportunities for the county’s black students. It was believed these students would do better educationally if they had their own school. A teacher, Miss Celia Calahan, was hired and the school opened; however, she had to wait until the money was collected before she received her pay.

In November 1866, the Gallatin School District met to discuss the educational opportunities for the county’s black students. It was believed these students would do better educationally if they had their own school. A teacher, Miss Celia Calahan, was hired and the school opened; however, she had to wait until the money was collected before she received her pay.

The students came from all parts of the county because there weren’t enough of them to warrant having more than one school. The first school session was taught for four months; two of these months were taught in a rented room from Captain Ballinger while their school was being built.
In 1870, there were 96 black children attending Daviess County schools. Also, 50 of these lived in the Gallatin district and attended school there. The remaining 46 black children were scattered over 13 townships, but less in any one township to warrant an organization.

In 1871, the black people kept their school open three years by donations. However, by 1874 there were 66 children attending the school.

In 1898, the Wilburforce School surpassed the Gallatin school with three graduates from the Wilburforce school graduation while the Gallatin school graduated only one student. A large audience of Gallatin’s citizens filled the Arbelia Opera House to witness this graduation. One portion of the program was furnished by the Wilburforce orchestra.

The school was still in operation in 1933 and three students graduated from their eighth grade class. At commencement there was a capacity crowd. One of the outstanding features of the night was the portrayal of birds and insects by the undergraduate classes.

The Wilburforce School operated until the 1956-57 school term when integration became a factor and black elementary graduates attended the Gallatin High School. This change meant additional educational opportunities for the black children because all of them had the chance to attend high school for the first time. After 1957, elementary students went to the elementary school. In later years, some people thought the schoolhouse was torn down for the lumber.

At this point it might be of interest of how early teachers from other schools were paid. H.W. Euyart from Benton township taught the first three months in the summer of 1837, and three months the following winter. He was paid two dollars a student in currency of the county; sometimes he received payment in corn of which he made his own meal using a bowl shaped dish he’d made by burning a hole in a log. Other forms of payment were deer skins and honey. It was the exception rather than the rule to be paid in cash.

— researched by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin

Hope Funeral Home Served Generations

In 1917, Harry Hope and wife Lenna moved to Gallatin and acquired an interest in the L.T. Killam & Co. Undertaking business and changed the name to the Gallatin Undertaking Company (G.U.C.). The Hope Funeral Home was born.

In 1917, Harry Hope and wife Lenna moved to Gallatin and acquired an interest in the L.T. Killam & Co. Undertaking business and changed the name to the Gallatin Undertaking Company (G.U.C.). The Hope Funeral Home was born.

At first it was a two-fold business with half being a furniture store and the other half being an undertaking business.

In 1918, the business announced they would liquidate their furniture business and devote their time to the undertaking business. At this time, they were still advertising broadcloth, best grade steel caskets, steel vaults, marble tombs, and high-grade burial garments.

The announcement also stated that there wouldn’t be any charge for embalming or for any kind of hearse — motor vehicle or horse drawn — or car for the family.

Lenna Hope, also an undertaker, became the first lady embalmer in Daviess County and one of the few in Northwest Missouri. Mrs. Hope devoted most of her work to taking care of the women and the children while Harry would cater more to the men. In one of their sale promotions they advertised five points:

1. Service
2. Low prices on the best funeral supplies
3. The best equipment money could buy
4. Arrangements taken care of
5. Years of experience in the undertaking business.

In 1925, the furniture store was no small business and advertised everything from large pieces of furniture to baby buggies.

Stub Richesson joined the firm. At first his duties were mainly in the furniture store, but he soon graduated to the funeral business.

The furniture store had a seven day sale and all merchandise was sold below cost as they didn’t want to move it or store it. They gave people a chance to move it for themselves and at a large savings.

Two advertised items were $350 Baldwin piano for $200 and a $550 Baldwin player piano for $350.

The Hopes always tried to stick to their motto “A square deal for everyone is the basis of everything we make.” They moved to a new location on the south side of the square, truly making it “a square deal.”

Harry Hope died in 1941, and Stub acquired one-half interest in the funeral home. Mrs. Hope received her 50 year pin from the Missouri Funeral directors Association in 1967.
In 1969, Steve and Jan Helton returned to Gallatin after Steve completed his mortuary science education and got his embalmers license.

Steve and Jan purchased the funeral home in 1982, making it the third generation of Hope’s services.

— researched by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin

Hope Funeral Home was located south of the Gallatin United Methodist Church, facing north on Van Buren Street. Harry Hope purchased the inventory of the Gallatin Undertaking Company in 1917 and then operated one of the oldest funeral homes in Northwest Missouri. L.O. “Stub” Richesson married into the family, operated a furniture business and acquired half interest in the funeral home upon Harry’s death in 1941. In 1969 the third generation of Hope’s starting serving Daviess Countians when Jan and her husband, Steve Helton, returned to Gallatin and purchased the funeral home in 1982. (photo circa 1940s)

1953 Drought, One of Many Challenges

The noteworthy drought of 1953 had an unusual beginning. In June, 1953, a “million dollar rain” delighted county farmers because conditions were excellent for the growing of corn and soybeans already planted and creating conditions for planting yet to be done. That same storm, however, also caused destruction. In Daviess and its neighboring counties, hail damaged rural power and telephone lines. Near Trenton it hailed for 15 minutes and hailstones piled 18 inches deep against the fences. Wheat fields were beaten to the ground, and many head of livestock lay lifeless.

The noteworthy drought of 1953 had an unusual beginning. In June, 1953, a “million dollar rain” delighted county farmers because conditions were excellent for the growing of corn and soybeans already planted and creating conditions for planting yet to be done.

That same storm, however, also caused destruction. In Daviess and its neighboring counties, hail damaged rural power and telephone lines. Near Trenton it hailed for 15 minutes and hailstones piled 18 inches deep against the fences. Wheat fields were beaten to the ground, and many head of livestock lay lifeless.

By July, a bumper crop of wheat was harvested and 94 freight cars shipped out of Daviess County — there was still wheat in the fields! One farmer harvested 53 bushel of wheat per acre.

However, these good times soon ceased. By September, all of Missouri was declared a drought disaster area. If the average monthly rainfall in this area for the last three months were continued for another nine months, this area would’ve been the driest spot in the United States.
The shortage of roughage feed was the biggest problem facing the state. A $5,500,000 Drought Relief Program helped provide low cost hay to the farmer. The drought affected almost all of country to some degree and almost every farm family in Daviess County felt its effects. Southern states were hurt even worse.

Farmer were allowed to purchase feed grains and feed supplements at reduced prices and to obtain emergency loans. The governor sent a committee to the northern states in an effort to locate badly needed hay. The state couldn’t purchase feed but it could locate a source of supply and arrange for its purchase. Many tons of Daviess County hay had been shipped to the southern states the previous year and in the spring of 1953. Now, the tide had turned and Daviess County farmers were in dire need of hay.

The Missouri Drought Emergency Program in Daviess County was eligible for 9,717 tons of hay. Anyone needing hay was required to make application at a local county agent’s office. The hay could be purchased for $17 to $20 a ton from the northern states. The government paid one-half to the transportation and dealers handled the hay at cost. Dealers handling the product in the Daviess County area were the MFA Exchanges at Gallatin, Pattonsburg and Coffey; Henry Green at Lock Springs; Reed Produce at Jamesport; and Owings Mill & Produce at Gallatin. Compared to the state, 175,000 tons of hay had been shipped to the drought stricken areas.

Bob Owings (center, holding truck dolly) owned and operated a feed and grain business located on East Van Buren Street. He also farmed and later became a presiding county judge serving Daviess County in the 1980s.

Farmers were entitled to obtain enough feed when added to that on hand to give them two tons for each unit of livestock on their farms. Many farmers had taken loans from to the government’s CCC program and was to be repaid when the crop was delivered to the receiving site at the specified time. Now, due to the drought’s grip, many were paying off their loans and keeping their corn for feeding purposes.

People throughout Missouri suffered extensive damage to the foundations and footings of their homes and other buildings due to the shrinkage and cracking of clay-type soil. This loss constituted an allowable deduction as a casualty loss by the Internal Revenue.

In November, a grave digger at the Hickory Grove Cemetery had to use three sticks of dynamite to loosen the soil. The digger said he’d dug approximately 600 graves in 37 different cemeteries in a span of 11 years. He said the toughest part of the digging came just after removing the topsoil; you’d hit a layer of hard clay and it was usually full of cracks. If a person was lucky he could pry off big chunks of it and save a lot of time digging. At one time, he’d removed a piece of this clay hard-pan in one piece that was 14 inches across and about 21 inches deep. It was so heavy he had to place two boards in the hole and roll it up to the ground’s surface.

There were many similarities and differences in the drought of the 50’s and the droughts during the Great Depression. The dry weather produced species of grasshoppers, corn ear worms, and beetles. There were sprays and insecticides to use at this time, an improvement over the Depression days.

The flow of water in Grand River was small, but at no point was it as low as during the Drought of 1934. When a good rain came, one man exclaimed, “I never dreamed I’d be glad to have a muddy barn lot, but I am.” In 1954, the Grand River was carrying five times the amount of the record low of August 1934, and the east branch of the river at Trenton had nine times the flow of same month in 1934.

Another unusual fact occurred in 1954 when a record breaking low temperature was recorded in the month of May. Temperatures dropped below freezing. Gallatin’s temperature was 34 degree F while some temperatures in the region dropped below freezing.

— researched by Wilbur Bush

Reasons for a Cap Factory

The April 30, 1953, edition of the Gallatin Democrat questioned whether Gallatin was ready for a cap factory as proposed by Lambert Manufacturing Company. A checklist of 40 statements was published, and readers were to ask themselves whether they agreed or disagreed. Some of the reasons on this checklist were:

The April 30, 1953, edition of the Gallatin Democrat questioned whether Gallatin was ready for a cap factory as proposed by Lambert Manufacturing Company. A checklist of 40 statements was published, and readers were to ask themselves whether they agreed or disagreed. Some of the reasons on this checklist were:

1. Most high school graduates remain in town
2. There’s a Chamber of Commerce with a “live-wire” manager
3. Town entrances are free from junk shacks and billboards
4. Teacher’s salaries are better than the state average
5. There’s at least one doctor per 800 people in the county
6. Newcomers quickly feel they’re part of the town
7. Schools have plenty of room for students
8. It’s easy to find a parking space in the business section
9. There ‘s at least one restaurant that serves outstanding meals
10. Good zoning keeps factories away from residential areas

History of Daviess and Gentry Counties

Daviess County history written by John C. Leopard and Buel Leopard; Gentry County history written by R.M. McCammon and Mry McCammon Hillman; illustrated. Historical Publishing Company, Topeka-Indianapolis, 1922.

Daviess County history written by John C. Leopard and Buel Leopard; Gentry County history written by R.M. McCammon and Mry McCammon Hillman; illustrated. Historical Publishing Company, Topeka-Indianapolis, 1922.

PREFACE

It is the aim of the editors of the History of Daviess County to present in substantial form an authentic history of the county and its people, to which the present and future generations may refer with confidence and satisfaction as the years come and go, and that it may be a matter of permanent record for all time. It is not an easy matter to write the history of such a county as Daviess. Much more research was required than was anticipated as every effort has been made to secure accuracy. Many events had an influence in shaping the destiny of this county.

The chief sources of material were the county records, newspapers, reports of the state departments, the history of the county published in 1882, “Early Days on Grand River and the Mormon War” by R. J. Britton, the Memoirs of Major J. H. McGee, “Memories” by John F. Jordin, and “Recollections” by H. C. McDougal.

The writers have made requests for information upon various subjects of a large number of men and women, almost all of whom have responded willingly and promptly. To them the writers feel greatly indebted and while it is impossible to mention them all, this must not be taken to indicate a lack of appreciation of their efforts.

Among those who have been especially painstaking in supplying information are Mrs. Mary Cruzen, Samuel F. Sperry, Sr., George W. Williams, S. W. Brandom, W. C. Gillihan, C. H. Longfellow, H. J. Hollis, E. A. Martin, Mrs. W. W. Ament, Dr. M. A. Smith, and Mrs. J. W. McClasky. THE EDITORS, Gallatin, Mo., June 1, 1922.

This historic document is published online by the Internet Archive at the following website address:

http://www.archive.org/stream/historyofdaviess00leop/historyofdaviess00leop_djvu.txt

John Jordin: “Memories” Published 1904

A story of early times in Daviess County, Missouri, and character sketches of some of the men who helped to develop its latent resources. PUBLISHED FROM THE NORTH MISSOURIAN PRESS GALLATIN, MISSOURI.

A story of early times in Daviess County, Missouri, and character sketches of some of the men who helped to develop its latent resources. PUBLISHED FROM THE NORTH MISSOURIAN PRESS GALLATIN, MISSOURI.

“Memories” by John F. Jordin is a treasured account describing early times in Daviess County, MO. It includes character sketches and insights about local history, published from the North Missourian Press at Gallatin, MO, in 1904.

The text of this historic work is published online by Internet Archive at the following website:

http://www.archive.org/stream/memories00jord/memories00jord_djvu.txt

Baptists’ Beginnings: Kenney Chapel

The First Baptist Church of Gallatin was constituted and organized on a Saturday in May, 1853. Elders R.C. Hill and Franklin Graves composed the ministerial council. A constitution sermon was preached by Elder Graves and the church organized.

The First Baptist Church of Gallatin was constituted and organized on a Saturday in May, 1853. Elders R.C. Hill and Franklin Graves composed the ministerial council. A constitution sermon was preached by Elder Graves and the church organized.

In August, 1857, Elder T.R. Robertson was called to care of the church until a pastor could he called. In February, 1861, Elder T.R. Ferguson was called to take charge. A building committee was formed and donations were sought. However, the committee never made any report due to the Civil War. Ministers were required to swear a very rigid oath to the Union which many ministers refused to do. For a time many preachers quit preaching; others dared to continue preaching without taking the oath at risk of arrest and imprisonment. Among the number who kept preaching was one or the older pastors, Elder B.F. Kenney, who was arrested by the Sheriff of Daviess County, and was compelled to pass at least one night in a county jail.

In May of 1872 a building committee was formed for the purpose of erecting church. After a year of meetings held in log cabins and outdoors, work was started on the church in the fall of 1873. The church was to be made of brick. Progress was slow. One year later the walls were up and covered and floors were laid, but the building wasn’t entirely completed until 1877. The cost was $2,500. T.M.S. Kenny filled the pulpit until Jan. 22, 1874, when Elder T. Montgomery was called and accepted the pulpit.

In February of 1875 the church once again called T.M.S. Kenney for one year, and on Aug. 7, 1875, the name of the church was changed from the First Baptist Church of Gallatin to the Kenney Chapel Baptist Church. The church was connected with the West Fork Association and, at that time, had 80 members. The church was dedicated on Mav 16, 1881.

This post card photo of First Baptist Gallatin is a “Photoette” made by C.U. Williams of Bloomington, IL (circa 1921). The church was located two blocks south of the southwest corner of the Gallatin square. It was dedicated June 4, 1911. A home for the pastor was purchased in 1914. Later, in 1922, membership at this location was 245 with a Sunday School enrollment at 225.

Grand River Baptist Church

The Grand River Baptist Church, once located on a two acre plot one and one-half miles northeast of Jameson, has a meaningful history. In the early 1970’s, the once heard songs, sermons, and times of fellowship had ceased to exist. At that time the building was weather beaten and the once luscious green grass had been in part changed to underbrush and a growth of small trees. Like many small country churches, they were forced to close their doors because of larger farms, newer methods of technology and transportation, and a declining membership. To many, it was only an eyesore and a relic of the past, but not to a few remaining members, namely Voris O. and Imo C. Brown and Delbert I. Pearson. Their hearts and dreams still focused on it as a past part of their lives and they started an endeavor that many local people thought was worthless and time consuming.

The Grand River Baptist Church, once located on a two acre plot one and one-half miles northeast of Jameson, has a meaningful history. In the early 1970’s, the once heard songs, sermons, and times of fellowship had ceased to exist. At that time the building was weather beaten and the once luscious green grass had been in part changed to underbrush and a growth of small trees. Like many small country churches, they were forced to close their doors because of larger farms, newer methods of technology and transportation, and a declining membership. To many, it was only an eyesore and a relic of the past, but not to a few remaining members, namely Voris O. and Imo C. Brown and Delbert I. Pearson. Their hearts and dreams still focused on it as a past part of their lives and they started an endeavor that many local people thought was worthless and time consuming.

The Grand River Baptist Church had been housed in three separate buildings in its history. The first place of worship was a log cabin built on an acre of land in 1842 and given to the Church by Benjamin and Susannah Smith in exchange of one dollar. It was a frame structure and was finished at a cost of $1,000.

The second was a traditional country church and had two separate doors, one for the men and one for the women. It was erected in 1866 toward the end of the Civil wAr. The lot was given to the Church in exchange for $20 by James Nicholas and Nancy Netherton.
The third and last building served as their place of worship until church was discontinued and the doors locked. It was constructed during the upheaval of World War I and dedicated on Sept. 18, 1918. Unlike most country churches, it had a large frosted Gothic window and seven smaller ones. Double doors in the corner of the building opened into a small foyer with two entrances into the sanctuary.

The church body was mission minded because out of its membership, thirteen men had been called to become Baptist ministers. It’d also helped constitute seven Baptist churches and three Baptist associations. The churches constituted were as follows: in Gentry County on August 19, 1843, Union Baptist Church, constituted on Dec. 28, 1846; South Big Creek Baptist Church in Grundy County; and five Baptist churches in Daviess County being the New Salem Baptist Church in Victoria, organized on June 28, 1846; South Big Creek Baptist Church, later named Crab Orchard Church, on December, on Dec. 5, 1846; Lick Fork Baptist Church in 1851; Hickory Creek Baptist Church, in 1869 and the Jameson Baptist Church, in 1892.

The Church body was constituted by eight pioneer Baptists on Dec. 14, 1833 in a Grand River Valley log cabin located in the northern section of Ray County which later became Daviess County. The church was first named as the United Grand River Baptist Church, but the name was later changed to the Grand River Baptist Church. For several years the small congregation attended monthly Saturday afternoon worship services followed by business meetings and the Sunday morning worship services.

Often an interim minister, who traveled on horseback or on foot throughout the state, assisted with the services. As time passed, more Baptists traveling in covered wagons or on horseback settled in Grand River valley and some of these became active in the church.

The Grand River Church sent messengers to the Fishing River Association, but when the association endorsed the anti-mission policy the Church ceased its affiliations with association from 1834 -1838; however, members continued to develop a strong and progressive church organization Christopher Nation was chosen as the standing moderator of the church and later became the first pastor and served from 1837 to 1844.

In 1871, Dr. J. Cordon Kingsley, president of William Jewell College, requested the Grand River Church building be moved to the William Jewell College campus in Liberty. When restored and redecorated, the building was to serve as a chapel for the students at the college. Records and other items relating to its history were also moved as well as the churches four minute books which are some of the oldest continuous Baptist records in Missouri. It also contains one of the church’s first communion sets, the only hand-made pew used in the second church building, Copies of song books and two pulpit Bibles are preserved, one purchased in 1866 and one presented to the church in Jan. 1888. In addition, all the glass in the east, south and west walls of the building came from the First Baptist Church in Trenton, Mo.

A request to the Grand River Church also came from members composing the Baptist church organized in Gallatin to send their pastor and some members to meet with the church in 1871 to reorganize the church as belonging to them The two associations established being West Fork Baptist Association and the Daviess County Baptist Association. In 1845, in the log cabin meeting house of the Grand River Church, the West Fork Association was organized by three churches — Grand River Church, Union Baptist Church in Grundy County and Friendship Baptist Church in Gentry County.

In 1978, assisted, by the youth of Harrison Baptist Association, their directors, and friends in the Jameson community, and the few remaining members restored the building and grounds. Soon after its restoration they sponsored special Christian services; and on Aug. 14, 1983, they celebrated the Church’s sesquicentennial Anniversary with approximately 100 in attendance.

In April, 1991, the church building was disassembled and moved to the William Jewell College campus in Liberty, Mo. Beverly Ward of Jameson remembers the building being torn down board by board, the boards numbered, loaded and hauled on trucks, and then reassembled. They took all the pews and the pulpit. The chapel was intended to serve as a training center for ministerial students; it is still a popular choice for weddings.

— Information from Imo Brown of St. Joseph, whose father, Hadley, and grandfather, Thomas Brown, were principal carpenters of the building; old newspaper clippings; historical books from the Daviess County Library; a small booklet from William Jewell College, and a personal interview several years ago with Beverly Ward of Jameson, Missouri. As historian and church clerk Imo C. Brown wrote in a booklet concerning the last or third Grand River Baptist church by writing: “This present church building has stood in the Jameson community for over seventy years …. it will soon stand on the William Jewell College campus, both as a place of worship and as a monument to the era of the Missouri Baptist country church, the first Baptist institution in the State of Missouri”

Pilot Grove Baptist Church

Many new settlers to Daviess County chose the Pilot Grove Creek area to settle. Pilot Grove Baptist Church organized in 1840 and was the second church organized in Daviess County. At first services were either held outdoors or in members’ homes. The church building was built of logs in 1845 at a cost of $100. By the time the Civil Wars ended, many church members felt the need for a bigger church. Membership had grown to over 160, and some members thought the church should be closer to their homes.

Many new settlers to Daviess County chose the Pilot Grove Creek area to settle. Pilot Grove Baptist Church organized in 1840 and was the second church organized in Daviess County. At first services were either held outdoors or in members’ homes. The church building was built of logs in 1845 at a cost of $100. By the time the Civil Wars ended, many church members felt the need for a bigger church. Membership had grown to over 160, and some members thought the church should be closer to their homes.

In 1880, the Pilot Grove No. 1 Baptist Church built a new 32’x48′ frame building north of the log church at a cost of $800. The church was located near the southwest corner of Lincoln Township in Daviess County. For some time it went by the name of Woods Chapel Baptist Church and still later was to be known as the Corner Church. It is located two miles east and three miles south of Gilman City on the Bancroft prairie.

Pilot Grove No. 2 (1886– 1973) was established when the membership of the Pilot Grove No. 1 had grown to the place that several members felt a new church would be more beneficial to those living south of the parent church. Thirty-seven members left the main church to build a new 30×40 wood frame church on 1-1/2 acres deeded by George Bear. Lumber for the building was sawed by the members and friends. The first service was celebrated on Dec. 24, 1887. Other names considered for the new church were Mt. Vernon and New Harmony.

At first the church flourished with services lasting all day. Sunday School and worship services were held in the morning followed by dinner, afternoon church, and evening services. The church was furnished with kerosene lamps and walnut pews. An organ was added in later days followed by a piano. Baptismal services were either held in a creek or in a pond.

As time passed, the changing times affected attendance as farms got bigger and more and more members moved away. Members voted to close Pilot Grove No. 2; the building was auctioned and a beautiful memorial from the foundation stones was erected.

On Oct. 28, 1979, the old building was completely destroyed by fire. The members decided to build a new church on the old church’s site. Basement work was started on Dec. 14, 1979, and dedication services were held on May 25, 1980. While the building was being constructed, the congregation held their services at the vacant Primitive Baptist Church in Gilman City.

Disappearance of 1-Room Schools

In the school year 1917-18 there were 196,000 one-room schools operating in our country which represented 27% of all the country’s school buildings. By 1930, the number had dropped to 114,000; by 1952 there were 51,800; by 1954 the number of schools had dropped to 45,000 …and the number was sinking at a rate of 10 a day.

In the school year 1917-18 there were 196,000 one-room schools operating in our country which represented 27% of all the country’s school buildings. By 1930, the number had dropped to 114,000; by 1952 there were 51,800; by 1954 the number of schools had dropped to 45,000 …and the number was sinking at a rate of 10 a day.

McClury School in Daviess County, 1839

Town schools had more to offer students. The one-room schools were replaced by classes of equal age peers in addition to better transportation, better trained teachers, and better school facilities and materials. Cost was also a factor. School boards found it was cheaper to transport pupils than to maintain out-dated school systems.

Problems mounted. The number of incoming school students in 1955 exceeded the rate facilities built and new teachers trained. The number of students in the elementary schools at this time was approximately 1,200,000 more than the previous year. Taxpayers paid $250 for every new pupil in a public school plus extra expense for books and supplies.

In many parts of the country, instruction was on a make-do basis. Nearly 1,000,000 grade school students across the nation received one-half day instruction. Most of the others sat in crowded classrooms where 2/3 of them exceeded the recommended class size of 30 pupils.

In order to help solve this problem in the Gallatin school system, a new age limit was set for the first grade entrants by changing the age limit for admittance from January 15 to December 1. At the time, it was thought that those students who started early were retarded during the first grade and seldom “caught up” in later grades. Surveys showed students enrolled at age five instead of age six didn’t make as rapid progress.

A personal interviews revealing some experiences of those who attended one-room schools in Daviess County are as follows:

  • Edgar Muller, Gallatin (interviewed on Dec. 11, 2003) — Edgar Muller attended the small country school named Haw Branch, located southwest of Gallatin on an acre of land donated by the landowner. The school was taught by a lady who rode her horse to school. The school had an iron stove and a pot was placed on it for soup made daily for the children. The school year lasted eight months. The first four grades were taught every year, while the four upper grades were rotated every year so all the fifth and sixth graders were taught together. The seventh and eight grades were taught in the same manner. During his eight years at the school, Edgar had the same teacher for four years. At the end of the eighth grade, a student had to pass a county examination test before he or she could advance to high school.
  • Norma Johnson (interviewed on May 8, 2004) — Norma’s family donated an acre of ground for a school to be built. When she was in the elementary grades, there were 42 students in the eight grades taught by one teacher. She was also responsible for keeping the building clean, the school warm, etc. The children arrived by walking, riding horseback, or by horse and buggy. They left their horses tied, but brought their own feed for them. When Norma was in high school, she lived eight miles away. In order for Norma and her sister to attend, they worked for families in lieu of paying their room and board.
  • Justin Holt, Gallatin (interviewed on July 9, 2004) — Justin attended Fairview School where grades 1-8 were taught by a teacher about 20 years old. Justin had to walk 2-3/4 mile to school because the school didn’t have busses and most families couldn‘t afford to use them if they did. Kids learned from each other; every Friday students completed in ciphering matches in spelling, math, and sometimes history. Not many of the children were lucky enough to go to high school. Those who did rode horseback or boarded in town. In 1939, there was a paneled truck available to transport the children. There were wooden benches along its sides.
  • Pearl Robinson (interviewed on Sept. 1, 2003) — Pearl’s neighbor had to let her children take turns going to school. They had to ride a horse, but didn’t have enough for everyone to ride. If there was both a third grader and a fourth grader in the family, the third grader went to to school one year and the other stayed home. Then the following year, the one that stayed home the previous year went to his/her grade and the one that had gone the previous year now stayed home.
  • Wilbur Bush, Gallatin (January, 2010) — Wilbur attended a small school in Leonard, Mo., for the first three years of his schooling. Grades 1-4 were taught in one room by one teacher; grades 5-8 were taught in another room by one teacher. There was a study hall and several high school rooms and the superintendent taught one or two classes. There wasn’t any kindergarten nor special classes in art or music. There wasn’t any indoor plumbing; the water supply consisted of an outside well. Water was packed to a fairly large, glass drinking fountain inside the building. The gym was located above a large store two blocks from the school. Wilbur’s first grade class had three students. The teacher rode to and from school by means of a bus. Sometimes, the bus left early and a high school student was sent into the room to supervise.

— written by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin

This road map of Daviess County locates rural schools throughout the county in 1940. The map was prepared by the Missouri School of Mines at Rolla, MO [revised in 1941]

Courter Theater Lives On

After being dormant for over half a year, Courter Theater in Gallatin initiated a new series of live performances in February of 1984. A country music group, “Blaze of Glory,” performed admission free — but a free will offering was requested to help diminish debt and encourage future use of the theater.

After being dormant for over half a year, Courter Theater in Gallatin initiated a new series of live performances in February of 1984. A country music group, “Blaze of Glory,” performed admission free — but a free will offering was requested to help diminish debt and encourage future use of the theater.

Much work went into the preparation for this event. Bill Hass, president of a 22-member association of shareowners in the Courter Theater Corporation, described the investment made in repairing the theater building. Furnaces were repaired, auditorium seating was refurnished and secured to the floor, new electrical wiring and lighting was installed, and the movie screen was moved to allow more space for stage performers. A new soft drink machine was added to the concession stand and extensive cleaning was done throughout the building.

Courter Theater has been operated by a non-profit group of civic-minded individuals since 1965. There has been times when use of the theater was disrupted, the longest period perhaps being since the last theater operator (John Schweiger) resigned.

Bridge Builders Stumble into Lewis Mill

A pre-Civil War gristmill featuring what appears to be a walnut water turbine wheel has been uncoverd almost by accident during new bridge construction on the Grand River west of Jameson, MO.

A pre-Civil War gristmill featuring what appears to be a walnut water turbine wheel has been uncovered almost by accident during new bridge construction on the Grand River west of Jameson, MO.

The archaeological find qualifies the site for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Work is expected to continue for the next three weeks. The unusual water wheel and mounting will be removed and could eventually be available for public display.

Originally, no extraordinary archaeological work seemed to be needed. A site survey was completed as required by the bridge construction contract. Nothing of note was revealed. At first no written confirmation of the Lewis Mill either by local sources or at the State Historical Society in Columbia were known to exist.

But when construction began to set new bridge supports, artifacts obviously from a grist mill turned up. The new construction work damaged a portion of the mill. But by damaging it, work crews saved it.

Renewed archaeological work indicated the historical integrity of the site. State Archaeologist Michael Weichman came from Jefferson City to assess the situation. His recommendation went to Don Newman of the Federal Highway Commission. It was obvious that something significant was being uncovered but funding for such work was already approaching the $10,000 lid which was part of the new bridge contract.

A consensus between the Federal Highway Commission, state officials, the Daviess County Commission, and the bridge contractors (Cooke, Flatt & Strobel) allows the archaeologica work to continue. An additional $10,000 (following the 80/20 split between federal and local revenue sources) was approved. The paperwork, which normally precedes approval of such additional work, will be completed later.

“We didn’t anticipate this at all,” said Archaeologist Dr. Gary Rex Walters of Triad Research Services, Columbia. “Even when the state archaeologist called and I reviewed our initial survey once again, there was nothing to indicate what we’re finding now. It’s like unraveling a catastrophe backwards. Each day’s work may put an entirely new perspective on what we find. So, the story changes and will continue to change until we have completed our work.”

From four to nine feet of earth and debris covered the site. The excavation floor is now about five feet below the river channel. A cofferdam diverts water away from the work although water seepage requires the area to be pumped at least once daily.

Lewis Mill Exposed (1989)

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of a wooden building 15’x40′ located on the downstream (south) side of the dam to house the gears and power mechanism. A stone wall built along the river bank measures 66 feet in length and is of typical pre-Civil War construction: parallel walls filled solid with rubble. The dam itself is now readily apparent; the cut once anchored a timber walled spillway. The stone dam probably extended the width of the river. Old timers of the area recall the dam’s use as a horse or foot crossing for years after any trace of the actual mill structure was evident.

The excavators believe the Lewis Mill was two or three stories tall with the grinding performed on the upper floor. Stone walls indicate the store being the full 66-foot length with some evidence of interior stone walls still evident. Additional use of stone was used for retaining walls. Most unusual is the water turbine wheel. Apparently the wheel was powered by centrifugal force. The water was channeled into the center of the wheel and forced outward through the open ended water wheel paddles. There may also have been a flywheel apparatus designed to assist the centrifugal forces involved.

The wheel had no spokes. What served as its spindle won’t be known until the wheel is removed. Apparently the wheel balanced on a center upright spindle and wear is evident on the encompassing timbers. The wheel sets clear of the shale bedrock, resting three feet below the top of the walnut floor joists.

“The wheel is tapered from center to outside perimeter,” Dr. Walters points out. “The wheel is made of two layers of wood and is cross-pegged, so we’re fairly sure it was designed to add power to the water turbine wheel.”

A 16-foot walnut shaft was among the first artifacts uncovered. Archaeologists think it may have been originally positioned vertically from the water turbine’s hub. An opening in the shaft may have allowed for re-positioning of the steel and wooden flywheel as needed. Gears and shafts then transferred the power for various uses elsewhere in the 2-story stone building.

Dr. Walters says this may be the only authentic water wheel from a mill in the Midwest. How the mill was constructed is of greater interest to the archaeologists than how the milling mechanism worked. The builders of this mill chose this particular location west of Jameson because of the advantages of a rock ledge and flowing river. “They sculptured their mill in the slate shelf,” he said. “It’s most evident at the dam where the slate is cut deeper on the downstream south side.”

Large walnut beams were positioned as floor joists. They are notched, indicating bracing and wall works. The stone wall rises from the level of these walnut beams up the bank, indicating at least a 2-story structure. A natural dam of slate was left under the floor joists to divert water back into the river channel. “The walnut beams we’ve uncovered are hand hewn, suggesting a building period of the 1830s,” says Dr. Walters. “We still have much to uncover. We’ve found some mill blocks that have been sawed. We know it wasn’t unusual for a mill to grind grain as well as to cut lumber.”

All the walnut beams have been trimmed. If bark or portions of the exterior were intact, age verification within one to three years could be made by tree ring analysis. There is much left to speculation at this point — the exact age, many details of building construction, the work mechanism, and even the style of water wheel (overshot, undershot or breast design). Two sets of grinding stones have been uncovered. The smaller stones are Bhur stones, originating from France. The larger stones are native granite but not necessarily from this immediate area.

The Lewis Mill may have been constructed according to a design by Benoit Fourneyron (1827). This metal tirl, with wooden hub, was descovered during site excavation. The tirl spun as water poured downward at a precise angle from a stationary wooden wheel positioned above. The shaft turned by the tirl was probably geared to mill stones in the milling room atop the entire mechanism. This action (reversing the direction of rotation of the water in a downward flow) could generate as much as 125 revolutions per minutes, compared to about 60 revolutions of the older wooden water wheel powered by direct stream source.

Initial research of historical sources offered no verification that the Lewis Mill ever existed. Local historian David Stark says the Lewis Mill wasn’t even built by the brothers Lewis.

Records at the Daviess County courthouse (Book L, page 384) indicate an October, 1864, land transaction which includes the gristmill. The land with the mill sold for $1,000 from the estate of Beder Marshall Butler to Erasmus Lewis of Cravensville. B.M. Butler acquired the property from Nathan Butler and wife, and Nelson Butler and wife, in September, 1856. There is no mention of the mill on this ledger entry.

In 1875 William H. and John C. Lewis and wives conveyed the property with the mill for $2,400 to James L. Lewis and wife, James C. Lewis and wife. On this record the mill was specifically identified as the Lewis Mill.

Dr. Walters did an extensive search through genealogical records and accounts located at the State Historical Society in Columbia. The only written account appears in the most recent Daviess County history book (1985), penned by Jack Tingler. Otherwise, written accounts of the Lewis Mill are not known.

“Given what we know about the fate of other pre-Civil War mills, the market which kept this commercial venture operating diminished with the arrival of railroads into the area,” Dr. Walters says. “A mill operation like this would go broke within a couple of years of rail service. Since the Jameson railroad spur arrived in the early 1870s, we think this mill was abandoned.

State Archaeologist Michael Weichman speculates a different fate for the mill. While on site Thursday, he suggested that some catastrophe must have occurred. “Why else weren’t these iron works and millstones salvaged?” he asks. “There is no evidence of a fire. So, perhaps a flood occurred, or driftwood knocked away a part of the building and caused a collapse. But why wasn’t there any mention of this mill in the 1882 History of Daviess County?”

State records show that navigation ceased by 1870 as the lower reaches of the Grand River choked with silt. Some old timers recall stories of an 1883 flood. This combination, flood water and silt, most probably buried the mill intact. Pilings from the old bridge now being replaced helped to divert water away from the mill site. The river channel today is higher than it was at the time of the mill’s operation — more evidence of the plow’s effect on the rolling prairie. Soil erosion and the possibility of high water makes the archaeological work underway now a bit more urgent.

“If we should get a big rain to cause the river to rise, our work here is probably ended,” Dr. Walters said. “The old bridge pipelings are gone. Most of what is exposed now would wash away or silt would simply bury what we’ve uncovered. That’s why we are removing these artifacts now. Normally, a removal after excavation would occur only after reports (and time delays) to Washington, D.C. were reviewed. But all parties involved agreed to expedite the work here.”

Another concern involves the completion of the new Lewis Mill Bridge project. The bridge crew plans to reshape the cofferdam today. It will be used to station a pump truck to supply water for the new bridge construction overhead. Completion of the new bridge is not expected to be delayed by the archaeological work.

Construction of the new Lewis Mill Bridge is a federal grand project. Costs of the excavation, up to $10,000, is included in the bridge contract. Arguably, 80% of the artifacts may be federal property since federal tax dollars are funding 80% of the bridge project. Dr. Walters expects that almost everything uncovered will ultimately go back to the county. Whether this means a historical marker on site, a community museum or material going to the dump will depend on what people living here want to do. In the meantime, the artifacts will be stored at the Leland Stitt farm adjacent to the mill site.

Nobody really knows what a pre-Civil War grist mill built in north Missouri looked like, according to Dr. Walters. “Today there is quite a bit of interest in historical archaeology. Ten to 15 years ago on a project like this, these remains may have simply been pushed aside. Some wood preservation will be performed on the wheel and accompanying mount pieces. All pieces recovered from the excavated portion of the site will be recorded. Although the walnut beams look sturdy, they have no structural strength. Careful measurements will be taken so that if any reconstruction occurs for a display, the reconstruction will be accurate.

— written by Darryl Wilkinson, editor & publisher of the Gallatin North Missourian

Winston and its Rock Island Train Depot

In 1871 a new railroad station was built by the Rock Island Railroad on a high point in Daviess County, halfway between Gallatin and Cameron. At this point a community began to take shape around the depot. At first the town was named Crofton, in honor of one of the donors of the land for the town. But in 1872 with the arrival of a post office, the town changed its name to Winston.

In 1871 a new railroad station was built by the Southwestern Branch of the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railroad on a high point in Daviess County, halfway between Gallatin and Cameron. At this point a community began to take shape around the depot. At first the town was named Crofton, in honor of one of the donors of the land for the town. But in 1872 with the arrival of a post office, the town changed its name to Winston.

This blank check was circulated prior to the time the community of Emporia, MO, later became Winston, MO. [courtesy Dorothy Olson]
Winston was incorporated in 1878. The town grew rapidly, having three and sometimes four doctors, three attorneys, drug stores, general merchandise stores, grain and lumber dealers, livery stables, a newspaper, a millinery shop and a hotel. The population at one time grew to exceed 600, but by 1937 the population dwindled to 400 and by 1978 those living at Winston numbered less than 200.

Mr. and Mrs. Ebberdeen [courtesy Greg Lawson of Edwardsburg, Mich. The couple were friends of his great-great-grandmother who is buried in the Winston Cemetery in 1922, Ephrium Kuhns]
The Winston depot lives on in James Gang legend and lore as the site where the 1881 train robbery commenced. Ten years earlier, when the depot was new, the first station agent was T.F. Jefferies, a native of Somersetshire, England. Two sets of tracks were to the front of the depot and were used for switching cars. Another set of siding tracks ran on the north side of the depot building.

The depot stands at the south edge of Winston, at the junction of Highway 69 and Route Y. The legal location is as follows: NW 1/4, Sec. 3 Twp 58, Rng 29.

The building sat vacant when a historic inventory was conducted at various sites located throughout Northwest Missouri. Its interior and exterior condition was listed as “poor.” The building was used to shed road maintenance equipment.

Eventually, the Winston Historical Society organized and converted the depot into a community museum. The organization organizes and hosts an annual festival, Jesse James Days, at the adjascent city park and at the depot.

— sources: Omar Baxter and Harl A. Garner of Winston; Daviess County Centennial edition; and a historic inventory report prepared by Mary Virginia Croy for the Daviess County Historical Society (1978)

This is the Rock Island train depot in Winston, MO, where James Gang members embarked in order to pull off their 1881 robbery. The depot was built in 1871 on a high point in Daviess County, halfway between Gallatin and Cameron. The first station agent was T.F. Jefferies, a native of Somersetshire, England. Two sets of tracks fronted the depot and were used for switching cars while a set of siding tracks ran behind the depot. (date unknown)
This is the interior of the Winston Rock Island train depot when restoration by the Winston Historical Society commenced in 1989. The township previously used the depot as an equipment storage shed.
This railroad stone culvert located east of Winston, MO, is commonly associated with the James Gang robbery of a Rock Island train in 1881. Before this, a wooden trestle was used instead of this huge stone arch.
A rare view of the “dump” taken from inside the railroad stone culvert east of Winston, MO, circa 1930. [Barb Caldwell, Winston Historical Society]

Grand River College – A Historical Account

Grand River College was a co-educational institution, andis said to be the first college in Missouri to admit women on equal terms with men. It opened to the public in 1850 at Edinburg, Mo., and maintained there for 40 years. But because Edinburgh was an inland town, the trustees decided to remove to another location and enlarge its facilities. Gallatin was selected.

Grand River College was a co-educational institution, andis said to be the first college in Missouri to admit women on equal terms with men. It opened to the public in 1850 at Edinburg, Mo., and maintained there for 40 years. But because Edinburgh was an inland town, the trustees decided to remove to another location and enlarge its facilities. Gallatin was selected.

Gallatin citizens agreed to furnish the college site and erect a builting to cost not less than $15,000 within two years. The community also agreed to further support the institution with funds. Five acres, known as the Jaems Bolin tract, adjoining the city on the south, was the site selected for the college.

Built in 1893, the college became an alma mater for hundreds of students. The college had seven departments and degrees were granted in Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Arts. It was first operated by Pope yeaman, then directed by the Hatton Brothers.

Around 1900 an addition was added to the east end of the original building which housed the college president and his family, and also the women students. At a later date, a men’s dormitory was built across the street west of the main building.

Grand River College became Grand River Academy and served as a preparatory school for William Jewell College when William Jewell College agreed to pay off the mortgage and provide an endowment for the institution. The school was directed at that time by Dr. Dow. In 1909 a $6,000 dormitory was erected but the Academy closed the following year in 1910.

The school reopened in 1914 as a school for girls. A full 4-year course was offered. During the fall of 1918 an attempt was made to make Grand River College an accredited military school for the Student Army Training Corps. Before the government acted upon a petition, the college burned down in 1918. This terminated this institution of higher learning which served Gallatin and the surrounding area.

— taken from the History of Daviess County Schools (AAUW 1976); Daviess County Centennial Edition (1937); and from a historic inventory prepared by Eddie Binney for the Daviess County Historical Society in 1978

This postcard shows Grand River Academy, postmarked 1909. Grand River College became Grand River Academy and served as a preparatory school for William Jewell College when William Jewell College agreed to pay off the mortgage and provide an endowment for the institution. The school was directed at that time by Dr. Dow. In 1909 a $6,000 dormitory was erected but the Academy closed the following year in 1910.
Grand River College 1909

Gallatin’s Christian Church

The Christian Church of Gallatin was organized in June, 1843, with 41 charter members. Services were held in the courthouse until the Civil War when the courthouse was taken over by the militia. The congregation then met in the Methodist and Cumberland Presbyterian Churches. Attendance dropped and meetings were discontinued during the war, but the church later reorganized in 1865 with 23 members.

The Christian Church of Gallatin was organized in June, 1843, with 41 charter members. Services were held in the courthouse until the Civil War when the courthouse was taken over by the militia. The congregation then met in the Methodist and Cumberland Presbyterian Churches. Attendance dropped and meetings were discontinued during the war, but the church later reorganized in 1865 with 23 members.

 

Christian Church in Gallatin, MO

In 1866 a large frame church building was erected for $4,000. Then in 1898 a brick church building was erected nearby. A commodious basement was added in 1921 and an educational building in 1963. John Kirkendoll was the builder of the latter.

In 1921 the total membership of the church was 512 with a Bible school enrollment of 450. The young married class met in the theater for Sunday School because of large attendance and inadequate space in the church building.

The Christian Church Bazaar and the church’s chicken dinners have always been big days. Ladies raised their own chickens and usually prepared two with trimmings to donate for the dinners, along with potatoes and a pie. Much of the food was raised and canned by those participating in the event — pumpkin for the pies, cream and butter, canned green beans, corn and other vegetables.

The lowest price remembered for a meal was 30 cents. This later increased to 50 cents. Women would cream leftover chicken, make biscuits and then serve for supper for 35 cents per plate. Often the work continued until 11 p.m. or later until the kitchen was finally clean. There was quite a discussion on whether to raise the meal price to 75 cents and may thought the price of the meal went too high when the price was eventually raised to $1.