Old Bloomington Trail

Ad Pages-East columnist Chuck Haney, who also authors the monthly “Slice of Life” feature in that publication, was contacted by email by Sandy Sappington in regard to the Old Bloomington Trail that they were researching. They seek help from the people of Linn, Livingston and Daviess counties in regard to any information about the Old Bloomington Trail which ran across northern Missouri. Since that time the Sappington’s (Howard and Sandy) and the Livingston County Historical Society also have published information in two articles in the newspaper in Chillicothe and one in the Brookfield paper.

Ad Pages-East columnist Chuck Haney, who also authors the monthly “Slice of Life” feature in that publication, was contacted by email by Sandy Sappington in regard to the Old Bloomington Trail that they were researching. They seek help from the people of Linn, Livingston and Daviess counties in regard to any information about the Old Bloomington Trail which ran across northern Missouri. Since that time the Sappington’s (Howard and Sandy) and the Livingston County Historical Society also have published information in two articles in the newspaper in Chillicothe and one in the Brookfield paper.

With the permission of Mrs. Sappington we are using her article to Mr. Haney as a Slice of Life feature in both the East and West editions of the Ad Pages with a combined circulation of 21,000.

Here is her letter:

“I thought you might like to read some of the background about the covered wagon trail, the Bloomington Trail, we are researching.

“We were intrigued about the trail two years ago when I read a sentence in the History of the Gateway to the Green Hills 1976, which ran across northern Missouri that was used by so many covered wagons that the wagons were so close together that the front animal could touch the back of the wagon in front of it and stretched as far as the eye could see.

“Years before, we had seen the swales, or ruts left by the Santa Fe Trail wagons in Kansas so we wondered if there could be swales to be found here. We found that yes, there are still swales to be found here, but it takes the community to tell us what they know about trail history.

“We’ve had great success in tracing the trail in Linn County. We ran an article in the newspaper at Brookfield and asked if anyone had heard of the Bloomington Trail and if so to let us know. That began many weeks of people calling and writing us about family histories, about seeing it in the description on their land abstracts, or sharing stories of the stagecoach relay or maybe an inn. With the information told to us and using what we had already learned, we know that the Bloomington ran from Hannibal to St. Joseph and so far we have been able to trace it across from Macon and Linn County to Linneus.

“The trail was first an Indian trail, and then used by fur trappers and bee tree hunters. Then when settlements sprang up, it was the connector between them. It was called the “Old Trail” and the when Bloomington became a crossroads in what is now Macon County, it was called the Bloomington Trail.

“In 1822 the new legislature passed a law that all the counties would have a road to connect the. This northern tier of counties was not even organized, but by 1837 they were. So with just a few minimum improvements, the trail was then called Old State Coach Road; it was also called the Bloomington to Plattsburg road.

“The most traffic was during the 1840-1850’s when people went to the California gold fields and to Oregon territory for free land and used it to cross Missouri and hook up with the Santa Fe and Oregon trails in St. Joseph. We know it was still being used in the 1880’s because we have been told a family history that says they used the Bloomington Trail when the came here from Ohio.

“It is our hope that people may remember hearing family histories about the trail and right now we are focusing on the area between Linneus and Chillicothe. We know it came into Linneus behind the old school building; it followed Jefferson Street north of the courthouse, past a stable used as a stage stop then on out of town.

“It went through where Cleo Munsterman has small lakes behind his home, behind where the county poor farm was located and watered at a spring at the bottom of that hill. It crossed Locust Creek then followed where fence row is now and came out close to the junction of B and Y three miles west of Linneus. One history books says the trail forked one mile west of Linneus, one fork went to Trenton, it doesn’t mention the other fork but we assume it went to Chillicothe since it was connecting the county seats.

“This is where we have no more information until it crosses Medicine Creek (now Muddy Creek) where we believe there was a stagecoach stop and perhaps a cemetery used by the travelers on the trail. Today this is near Livingston County road 232 at Roger Bernskoetter’s then Collier’s Mill was on the east bank of Medicine Creek west of the stage stop.

“One history book calls this area the Medicine Swamp and tells the story of a stagecoach caught in a flood in about 1857 and the local settler had to send oxen to pull them to dry land. The trail came into Chillicothe on east Jackson Street. We are working that section now.

“We believe that people in the community may know just a part of this story, but when we put several parts together we can have more history to pass down. We want to ask this of your readers: Do you know of any stories, know about Collier’s Mill, did it have it own community? We have been told there may have been an Indian settlement near there at one time. If your family had land near where the trail may have passed is it described on your abstract? D you know of any small settlements as we have found they sprung up about every 15 miles to meet the needs of travelers.

“Our goal is to trace the trail as it leaves Chillicothe, crosses the Grand River on a ferry and goes to Springhill, Cold Springs, Millport and on to Gallatin. Would you contact us if you have any information? As long as we receive information from the readers we will pass it on.

Thank you and the Ad Pages for all your help with this project.”

Howard and Sandy Sappington, 1310 Miller Street, Chillicothe, Mo. 64601. Phone 660-646-6098 and email [email protected]

Origins of Gallatin’s Dockery Park

Gallatin’s city park bears the name of Governor Dockery who donated 14 acres of land for public use (1906). The park was located on the bluff of the Grand River in northeast Gallatin, along the main way into Gallatin from train depots nearer the river. Later, 6 acres was added to the park.

Gallatin’s city park bears the name of Governor Dockery who donated 14 acres of land for public use (1906). The park was located on the bluff of the Grand River in northeast Gallatin, along the main way into Gallatin from train depots nearer the river. Later, 6 acres was added to the park.

Governor Dockery served as president of the park board for many years. The asset was maintained by a 2 mill tax.

Much of the cultural life of Gallatin centered around the annual Chautauqua held every August in the park. This 9-day event attracted traveling groups of entertainers, and harkened to the type of entertainment used at Chautauqua, New York.

Attractions remembered at the annual event in Gallatin included an eminent wizard of the world’s master magicians, Robert Wassman; a noted author, lecturer and educator, Dr. Burris Jenkins; and popular films featuring Fatty Arbuckle. There were acrobatic acts and musical presentations, animal acts, and gifted soloists. Many of the people who appeared in Dockery Park became celebraties of national and international acclaim.

The Hockensmiths were among the many families that attended Chautauqua held in Dockery Park, Gallatin, MO, each summer for a number of years. This photo taken in 1918 shows William Hockensmith, Olive Myrtle, Mary Margaret, and Grace holding Charlotte.
Dockery Park entrance

 

Residents purchased season tickets and brought tents to the park along with furniture for light housekeeping. Lumber for tent flooring could be rented from the local lumber yard. A stock tank provided drinking water, with tin cups wired to the tank rim. Soft drinks could be purchased, along with peanuts and other snacks and foods.

Stone offices were built to provide shelter for the ticket sellers at both entrances to the park.

— taken from “A Historical Inventory of Daviess County, pp. 103-105.

The Daviess County Courthouse

Daviess County’s first court house was a private residence — the home of EHsha B. Creekmore. Here both the county and circuit courts met. At the march term of the county court, 1838, the question of the erection of a court house and jail was discussed, and the following order was made:

Daviess County’s first court house was a private residence — the home of Elisha B. Creekmore. Here both the county and circuit courts met. At the march term of the county court, 1838, the question of the erection of a court house and jail was discussed, and the following order was made:

“It is hereby ordered by the court that Philip Covington be and is hereby appointed Superintendent of the court house and jail which is to be built in Gallatin, and that he draft a plan of said building and report to this court at its next regular term.”

On March 26, 1838, this plan was presented and approved and an appropriation of $6,000 made for the erection of the building. May 25, 1838, was set as the day on which the contract for the building would be let to the lowest bidder. The order further provided that the contractor should be bound in a sufficient bond for the completion of the building within three years, and that one-third of the payments be made annually.

Mr. Creekmore’s home being outside of the county seat, the court, in May, 1839, ordered that court from that time on should be held in Gallatin. Mr. Creekmore was paid $13 for house rent for circuit court. He was treasurer for the first eighteen months, and he evidently paid no attention to the court order that business was to be transacted at the county seat, for he later made that statement that for the first half of his term of service he received no salary and that he was finally dismissed because he persisted in keeping his office at home instead of in Gallatin.

Just when the contract for the court house was let is not known, but at the March term of the county court, 1839, a contract with Thomas N. Aubrey, Robert P. Peniston and William P. Peniston was rescinded, and “Philip Covington, superintendent of said courthouse is hereby authorized to give up the bond for the completion of said building to the said contractors on the receipt of his obligation for the payment thereof.” Evidently Aubrey and the Penistons had taken no steps towards carrying the
contract into execution.

The court then tried two men — Jacob Stollings and W. C. Livcy. Their plans were accepted in March, 1840. The specifications provided that the foundation was to be three feet thick, the brick wall of the first story to be 18 inches thick, second story 13 inches thick ; the building was to be four square, two additional windows in the upper story, one over each door, the wall and the roof were to be painted Venetian red, doors to be painted a beech yellow, the door and window casings and sash to be painted with white lead. The window blinds were to be green and the window
frames were to be put in plain and arch braces and mouldings to be put in afterwards. The contractor was to be put under bond to put up the walls and roof in one year and the remaining part in two years, each part payable when completed.

Daviess County’s first courthouse, authorized in 1940, erected in 1843, and torn down in 1886. Architects: Jacob Stollings and W.C. Liney (from Illustrated Historical Atlas of Daviess County, Missouri 1876)

In writing of the building of this first courthouse, J. F. Jordin says: “So it was that these sturdy old pioneers with the entire revenue amounting to but $286.44 started boldly to build a $6000 courthouse and a $400 jail. But there were giants in those days! Men who were in the habit of doing impossible things, men with civic pride who realized that their lot had been cast in a land rich in latent natural resources and with brave hearts and willing hands they approached the task of proving themselves worthy of such a heritage. * * * * Coonskins were current money of the realm and at 50 cents apiece it would have taken 12,800 coons to pay for these public improvements.”

Work was begun in the summer of 1840. The enterprise seems to have been backed financially by Benedict Weldon. Various changes were made in the plans, more time was granted, there were changes in contractors, and finally on May 1, 1843, the following court order was made:

“Now on this day come Joseph L. Nelson and prayed the court to receive the court house as finished (except the repairing of two windows which have been broken since the completion, one bolt on each of the outside doors, repairing the plastering in second story and penciling chimneys) and that the court would order the Superintendent to deliver to him the said Nelson the bonds executed to the county by Benedict Weldon for the completion of said house. Whereupon the court proceeded to examine the house, after which mature deliberation being thereupon had, it is
ordered that the house be received as finished with the exceptions above named; that Tobias Miller, the superintendent, deliver up to said Nelson the bonds of Benedict Weldon aforesaid.” The total cost of the courthouse was $8094.55 Its dedication went uncelebrated. A writer in the Gallatin Democrat of Oct. 8, 1908, gives the following description of the building:

“The old courthouse was square, probably 40×40, no record existing of its exact dimensions. There were two double door openings, one each on the west and south. The courtroom took up the entire lower floor. The rostrum was on the north side built high so that the feet of those on it were above the eye level of the seated spectators. The courtroom was furnished with wooden benches. Here it was that James S. Rollins and R. M, Stewart, candidates for governor, met in a joint debate and would have pummeled each other with their fists but for the prompt intervention of
friends.

“The stairway leading to the second floor was at the southwest corner. There were four rooms upstairs, one too small for practical use on account of th(e stairs, but was the office for many years of the early day lawyers beginning with the late John A. Leopard. The probate office was in the northeast room, the recorder’s in the northwest and the sheriff’s in the southeast.”

A single story, two room structure was built about 1858 just east of the courthouse and in it the circuit clerk and recorded, the offices being under one official at that time, and county clerk’s offices were established. There were no vaults in the offices and the records were kept in desks or racks having little or no protection.

A wooden tower surrounded by a balcony and ornamented with a brass ball the size of a washtub topped the building. On gala days the band occupied the balcony and the tower was decorated with flags. This cupola was a constant source of trouble. It would leak. As early as 1849 the court paid $85 to have it guaranteed waterproof for two years and in 1870 the total repairs on the courthouse amounted to $1500.

As early as 1865 we find the local papers complaining of the condition of the courthouse. The old building grew more and more unsatisfactory and in 1883 the Frank James trial was held in a building owned by Judge Alexander on the west side of the public square on the site now occupied by the Payne Furniture Company. On June 12, Mr. Lamkin, of the Gallatin Democrat, had published this statement: “It is said that Governor Crittenden and Phelps, General Shelby and other eminent men will be in
Gallatin to attend the James trial, and it is enough to make every citizen of Daviess County blush with shame to be compelled to point to this miserable abode of bats and owls and say to these eminent visitors, “This is our courthouse.” After the trial the county court entered into negotiations with Mr. Alexander, and the building was arranged to accommodate the circuit court and one or two county offices. The old court house was torn down in 1886, but the side building remained for several more years.

In 1890 the building owned by Judge Alexander burned and the Probate records were destroyed. The present building on the same site was then erected.

Several propositions to vote bonds for a new courthouse were voted down. In 1889 a proposition to erect a $50,000 courthouse was rejected by a majority against of 223 votes. In March, 1902, the county court, on the petition of the required number of taxpayers ordered an election to be held on April 22, on the question of erecting a new courthouse at a cost of not to exceed $75,000, to be paid for in bonds payable in five and due in ten years, to be paid by a levy of not to exceed 25 cents on the $100 valuation. A very light vote was cast and the vote stood 1526 for and 1118 against,
but since a two-thirds majority was necessary, the proposition was lost.

In September of the same year, a petition was presented to the court asking for a vote on the question of issuing bonds not to exceed $70,000, bearing 4 per cent interest and maturing in five years. At the election on Nov, 4, the vote stood 1821 for and 1054 against, Washington, Jamesport and Lock Springs precincts having a majority against.

The voters having twice within a year rejected propositions for building, the county court felt justified in making a contract for the use of the Alexander block for a period of seven years.

The question was still kept before the people by the press, and in 1905 petitions were again circulated for another submission of the proposition. It was proposed to build a $75,000 courthouse, to be paid for by a special tax of four direct levies of 20 cents each rather than by issuing bonds. More than 500 singned the petition and it was presented to the county court by D. H. Davis. Accordingly, December 9th was set as the day of election. Mass meetings were held all over the county. This time the vote was 2299 for and 803 against. Only four townships failed to give the proposition a two-thirds majority, and two of these went more than two to one against.

An advisory committee was appointed by the county court in February, 1906. The members were Frank Ray, W. T. Smith, H. R. Hill, R. E. Maupin, W. C. Pogue, John R. Handy, W. P. Minnick, D. H. Davis, W. H. Kindig, E. G. Brown, J. H. Wise, Grant McCrary, E. M. Foley and Moses Mann. The court selected as a building committee A. M. Dockery, C. M. Harrison, J. W. Meade, Boyd Dudley and Weasley L. Robertson.

This Shultz Studio photo shows the laying of the cornerstone for the Daviess County Courthouse in 1906. Former Missouri Gov. A.M. Dockery of Gallatin is standing next to the cornerstone. Dockery was involved in nearly every local event of note. He was cashier and secretary of the Farmers Exchange Bank for 13 years before entering politics and elected office.

In April, 1906, architects submitted plans to the county court, but decision was deferred for a time. The plans and specifications of P. H. Weathers were adopted, and in August the contract for the construction of the building were let to M. T. Lewman, of Louisville, Kentucky, at $69,625. Work was begun early in November, with J. W. Alexander, Superintendent of construction, and M. E. Pangburn, accountant.

Snow scene in city park on May 3, 1907. During the construction work on Daviess County’s new courthouse, shown is part of vault walls and material (newspaper clipping)

In April, 1907, the foundation was pronounced satisfactory. The cornerstone of the building was laid on May 24, 1907, the Masonic lodge having charge of the ceremony. On Monday, August 31, 1908, the court formally accepted the courthouse and final payment was made to the Louisville Company.

Members of Masonic Lodge led a ceremonial procession as part of the setting of the cornerstone of the Daviess County Courthouse on May 24, 1907. This scene unfolded on the east side of the Gallatin square.

The formal dedication took place Oct. 5th. In the morning the cornerstone of the Y. M. C. A. was laid, the Masons having charge. In the afternoon the meeting was called to order by Judge George A. McWilliams.

HISTORY of DAVIESS AND GENTRY COUNTIES, MISSOURI. DAVIESS COUNTY BY JOHN C. LEOPARD AND BUEL LEOPARD. HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY,
TOPEKA — INDIANAPOLIS. 1922

 

This card, postmarked Dec. 24, 1906, depicts groundbreaking for the Daviess County courthouse.
The west side of the Daviess County Courthouse, looking toward the east, in 1978. [Carneal study, Northwest Missouri State University]
Daviess County Courthouse, from southwest looking northeast (1992)

Lock Springs, MO

A trip on Highway 190 to the bottoms of the Grand River takes you to Lock Springs. Hills will family names like “Pepper Hill” and “Reeter Hill” are out beyond “Blacksmith Corner.” An impressive memorial to one of Missouri’s favorite sons, Jerry Litton, stands in contrast to business buildings long past their prime. Some might say Lock Springs is no longer much of a town; its population hovers at half a hundred. It wasn’t always so.

A trip on Highway 190 to the bottoms of the Grand River takes you to Lock Springs. Hills will family names like “Pepper Hill” and “Reeter Hill” are out beyond “Blacksmith Corner.” An impressive memorial to one of Missouri’s favorite sons, Jerry Litton, stands in contrast to business buildings long past their prime. Some might say Lock Springs is no longer much of a town; its population hovers at half a hundred. It wasn’t always so.

A barber shop in Lock Springs, MO (date unknown)

In the early 1900s Lock Springs boasted of two hotels, a blacksmith shop, a lumber yard, drug store, drygoods store, grocery, a stove bolt factory, axe handle and barrel & stave factory — and a newspaper! It was home to more than 300 people.

A blacksmith shop in Lock Springs, MO (date unknown)

The town pump was covered by a bandstand. Town musicians, complete with uniforms, offered concerts.

Three springs ran out of a hillside at the edge of the Grand River bottom. For hundreds of years Osage Indians made an annual trek across the bottom land to the northern plain to hunt. A favorite camping spot was near these three springs.

In 1839 John D. Lock received a government grant of 320 acres which contained the three springs. Early white settlers began identifying the area as “Mr. Lock’s springs,” where women came by wagon to wash wool fleece while making cloth. Hence the town’s name.

Mr. Lock died in 1869. His land was divided and sold to Joseph Offield and Nathaniel Houston. In 1870 a hamlet called “Old Greasy” (because of its location near a particularly trecherous hill road) was moved — all three houses and one small store — to Mr. Houston’s portion of the ground near the springs. In 1872 Houston had the town of 14 blocks platted. A post office was established in 1871.

— Written by Peggy Wickizer for a 1995 Lock Springs Historical Calendar

The Wabash Train Depot at Lock Springs, MO (date unknown)
Lock Springs Presbyterian Sunday School (1898-99, thought to be the only Sunday School in town and all came): Front row — Estel Smith, Clyde Minnick, __ Brown, Frank Litton, Willie Conner, Molly Grimes Eads, Winnie Pomeroy, Flay Litton Hosman, Maggie Stout House, __, __, __, __, __, Grade Porterfield, Dora Litton; Thom Houson, John Stevens, Mrs. Frank Moore, Tom Minnick, Lizzie Houston, Ermma Minnick Merrett, __, Lore Houston, Mollie Regina AStarrett, Allie Bray Litton, Emma Litton Platte Del Regan, Andrew Horeston, Jane Minnick, __, Clive Smith, Hester Stokesberry, Berilla Smith, Norma McClure Litton, __, Mary Gaston, Dallas Houston, John Minnick, __, Mary Broodeshire McClure. [courtesy Elizabeth Minnick]
Lock Springs as presented in the 1898 Daviess County Plat Book

Old Glory originated in Excelsior Springs

“Softly draped with folds unstirred by even so much as a breath of summer breeze. Old Glory, OUR FLAG, the flag of destiny, rests, waiting!

“Softly draped with folds unstirred by even so much as a breath of summer breeze. Old Glory, OUR FLAG, the flag of destiny, rests, waiting!

It symbolizes the soul of America, standing in silent prayer before the Father of Light, receiving His guidance and protection through another perilous journey. It is the morning prayer of the American people, the prayer that arms them to the problems of the day with courage and cheer. Before it, America stands in reverence, realizing her sacred duty to mankind and her glorious destiny.”

In 1940, when the world was in a turmoil, Fred Tripp of Beloit, Wisconsin, was 71 years of age. He looked out his hospital window at McCleary Hospital in Excelsior Springs and was inspired by the flag flying atop the post office across the street. Mr. Tripp never in his life had a painting lesson, yet he produced a masterpiece, an inspiring, compelling expression on canvas of what he felt in his heart and soul about the Flag of his Country. He presented this six foot oil painting to the hospital.

Motivated by the spirit of patriotism that was sweeping the country in 1940, McCleary Memorial Hospital produced full color lithograph reproductions and presented one to each of their many former patients all over the United States. Its distribution reached the 200,000 mark when World War II broke out.

With the outbreak of war, the demand for the picture increased beyond the Hospital’s capacity to reproduce it, so its distribution was turned over to a commercial enterprise. Since that time, “Our Flag” has become the most widely distributed flag picture in the United States, with copies hanging in many Washington congressional offices, the office of Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, as well as in homes all across the country.

Prints of the Tripp Flag are available in two sizes at the Excelsior Springs Historical Museum located at 101 Broadway in Excelsior Springs.

The small 6″ x 11″ print is priced at $15 and the large 11″ x 22″ print is priced at $25.

Origins of Wallace State Park

In 1932, the State of Missouri purchased 120 acres of virgin timber land located approximately five miles southeast of Cameron. This land was to be used to build a state park which would be named Wallace State Park. The land was owned by the George O. Wallace estate and brother of W. J. Wallace.

In 1932, the State of Missouri purchased 120 acres of virgin timber land located approximately five miles southeast of Cameron. This land was to be used to build a state park which would be named Wallace State Park. The land was owned by the George O. Wallace estate and brother of W. J. Wallace.

The plans called for the construction of an artificial lake of approximately 20 acres in size. It was to have a depth to range to 30 feet to be used for boating and bathing. The 120 acre tract of land was purchased for $5,349. A dam was scheduled to run across Deer Creek, which ran through the tract.

Entrance to the park was to be made through the stately old elm and other native trees. These trees had guarded an old trail since the early Mormans had used it traveling to their then thriving city of Far West, four miles from the tract. The lake was to be encircled by heavy timber and a winding trail would lead to the lake, the clearing for the caretaker’s home, campsite, and the sloping beach to the water line.

The land on which the park was to be located was a historic spot. It was originally owned by James Wallace shortly after the Civil War and passed from him to his two sons, George O. Wallace and William J. Wallace. Mrs. George O. Wallace whose father was Samual Wilhoit, was a pioneer and was born on a tract adjoining the park. Her father homesteaded this tract.

Researched by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin (2003)

Historical Tapestry for Gentry-Worth Counties

You may be surprised to learn that Grant City, the county seat of the smallest county in Missouri — Worth County, is the boyhood home of famous bandleader Glenn Miller. But then, there are many surprises when you visit the Gentry-Worth county area.

You may be surprised to learn that Grant City, the county seat of the smallest county in Missouri — Worth County, is the boyhood home of famous bandleader Glenn Miller. But then, there are many surprises when you visit the Gentry-Worth county area.

Glenn Miller was a shoeshine boy in the cleaning parlor of Grant City bandmaster John Mosbarger. Miller acquired his first horn from Mosbarger, and became a member of the local town band. The rest is history that lives on as each new generation is attracted to the Big Band Sound.

Another surprise is located on the west edge of Grant City. A unique stone sculpture stands tall among cemetery monuments there. It was dedicated by the GAR as a Civil War memorial. The sculpture was made by Dell Eighmy,Sr., from an 8-ton stone shipped from Bedford, IN.

If monuments are of interest, make sure you stop in Albany, MO, to photograph the memorial for the servicemen of World War I located on the courthouse lawn. Directly south of the Gentry County courthouse in Albany is an elaborate fountain dedicated to servicemen who lost their lives in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Albany also has an authentic log cabin located near the town square and the impressive Carnegie Library.

Tri-County Museum is the only museum in the Gentry-Worth area. The old King City depot, along with a freight caboose, have been moved to the site. The museum hosts periodic events of regional interest.

Two works of the nationally reconized artist and sculptor, the late Clive Rickabaugh, can be seen in the town of Sheridan in Worth County. A mural, depecting the beginnings of the town as Defiance on the bank of the Platte River and then as the town of Sheridan to the west, covers one wall in the Farmers State Bank building. Carvings of The Last Supper and other religious figures are at the Christian Church.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Stanberry in Gentry County is the brick streets more than 100 years old. The busienss area surrounds a large city park with its old fashioned bandstand, croquet court and park equipment.

A colorful past is a common thread weaving through each of the communities in Gentry and Worth counties. Albany was originally called Athens until it was discovered that Clark County, MO, also had a town called Athens. It took a special act of the legislature in 1857 to rename the eventual county seat of Gentry County to Albany.

Denver, originally known as Fairview, is the oldest town in Worth County. Its earliest beginning was a water-powered mill on the east bank of the East Fork Grand River. Although no trace of the mill exists, many buildings built in the early 1900s are cement block. The blocks were individually cast on location, offering a unique and seldom found example of early day construction. Notable is the cement block bandstand, built in 1913, located in the town park.

Also located in Denver is the original town jail and the remains of the old Denver Bathhouse. Adjacent to Denver is the Denver Access Camping and Fishing Area, operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The oldest town in Gentry County is Gentryville, settled in 1835. The old Field’s Trace Trail ran through this area, and many Indian artifacts have been founds.

The first business house was erected by Francis B. Robidoux, the son of Joseph Robidoux who founded St. Joseph in 1843. To the north and east of Gentryville is the Mount Zion Presbyterian Church, the first church built in the county. The remains of the first white settler in the county, Isaac Miller, rest in the adjoining cemetery.

The northwest boundary of Worth County not only lies on the Missouri-Iowa border but also marks the boundary of the Platte Purchase. Treaties authorizing the purchase from Indian tribes of a territory known as the Platte Purcahse were ratified by Congress on Feb. 15, 1837. This addition extended Missouri’s northwest boundary to the Missouri River. This meant the addition of six counties to the state. Most settlers into the area hailed from Clay and Clinton counties.

History relates that news of the Platte Purchase touched off general jubilation since settlers had been waiting for a chance to claim farms in rich land. The purchase also opened a shorter western route to the Missouri River for formers in existing northern counties to ship produce. They previously had to take a southward trip to a port at Liberty.

The lands had been home to the Indian tribes such as the Sac, Fox and Iowa. But the buffalo had practically disappeared from the prairies of the area by the early 1800s. Raids on hogs and cattle at settlements neighboring the territory were common. Treaties for the purchase were signed at Fort Leavenworth, KS, in 1836, and the Indians were given $7,500 for the area which is comprised today by Atchison, Nodaway, Holt, Andrew, Buchanan and Platte counties.

Reprinted from “Treasure the Times,” a tourism publication by Gallatin Publishing Co. 1988

Authentic Log House at Lions Roadside Park

An authentic log house was moved from rural Daviess County in 1991 to display the lifestyle of early pioneers.

An authentic log house was moved from rural Daviess County in 1991 to display the lifestyle of early pioneers.

The house was reassembled, log by log, with tools and techniques from the late 1800s. Using augers, pins, square nails and broad axes, members of the Gallatin Lions Club have preserved an important aspect of our early county history.

The cabin floor plan, with one room downstairs serving as living quarters and one room upstairs for sleeping, was common for settlers in this area. Furnishings are also typical of the pioneer era.

The Painted Lady of Gallatin

It is a large two and one-half story Victorian dwelling that attracts the immediate interest of all those who recognize its Queen Anne Revival style. Other than the Daviess County courthouse, the home, historically known as the A. Taylor Ray House, is the only residence in the county to receive designation in the National Register of Historic Places.

It is a large two and one-half story Victorian dwelling that attracts the immediate interest of all those who recognize its Queen Anne Revival style. Other than the Daviess County courthouse, the home, historically known as the A. Taylor Ray House, is the only residence in the county to receive designation in the National Register of Historic Places.

The house was built in 1897 by Mr. and Mrs. A. Taylor Ray with a family member, George Tuggle, as architect. The Queen Anne style was an architectural smorgasbord of that era. The octagon tower, for example, is just for looks and the ornate porch is lavishly decorated with spindles, pendant brackets and Doric pillars.

Other features include hand-blown curved glass bow windows to add light and style. Fireplaces warmed each room, 18 from the basement to the attic), many carrying out a particular theme. one is adorned with wood-carved gargoyles taken form Greek mythology, meant to protect the house from harm —  and evil demons. The staircase is a prime example of the woodworkers’ art, as is the woodwork and trim through-out.

There are stained glass windows in the entry and on the stairway and colorful ceramic tiles here and there.  In keeping with the Victorian thinking of the time, the home has a parlor and sitting room and even a stairway for servants.

The house is also known as the “Old Tuggle Place” since Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Tuggle acquired the house around 1950 following the deaths of the Rays. The two families were related.

While owned by Mr. and Mrs. Due during the 1990s, the “Painted Lady” benefitted from an extensive enhancement program  in keeping with National Register guidelines.

The house is located one block south of the site of the once nationally famous McDonald Tea Room, at 212 West Van Buren.

Historic Homes at Weston

Six historic homes await you at Weston, Missouri.

Six historic homes await you at Weston, Missouri.



McNair Home, 720 Fourth Street Built in 1906, by William Calvert, this three-story, adapted four-square home was considered a retirement home in the "city." Mr Calvert was a polished gentleman farmer and an outspoken Democrat. He and his wife, Nora Calvert, raised three children, Lewis Cass, Fannie and William George. Lewis Cass would go o?n to become o?ne of Weston’s most noted doctors. He continued his practice into the 1950’s. In 1936, President Harry S. Truman spent the night in what is now the dining room. Mr Truman was in Weston to support the local school superintendent in his campaign for the county office. As you enter through the oak front door with the oval beveled glass porthole, notice the white oak and yellow pine floors with six-inch casements and woodwork. The front entry way displays an English handmade rocking horse with genuine horse hair. This unique piece is crafted of 18 different woods carefully plied together. The 1880’s walnut hall tree and umbrella stand are local treasures. In the living room, a Persimmon wood and marble mantel is a piece rescued from a Quality Hill mansion. This warm and friendly room also displays an early 1800’s Victorian game table with beautiful hand-carved legs and an 1850 English mirrored buffet. Ms. McNair will also display her collection of over 40 bobbins and spools, collected from various parts of the United States. The dining room, a favorite part of the home, will reflect a cheery Victorian Christmas. A hand-tatted tablecloth gracing the center table belonged to Ms. McNair’s great-grandmother. This room also features a late 1800’s English chiffarobe converted to a wine cabinet. The kitchen has undergone extensive renovations. What was o?nce a stubby dark pantry has been opened into an interesting bay that extends from the ground level up to the third floor. As you leave the home through a side door, continue to your right into the driveway. Gazing upward, you will notice the semi-circular stained glass window o?n the north wall. This wonderful piece was salvaged from a Victorian era church in Fayette, Missouri.

Lindemeyer-Blunt House, 627 Blackhawk Street In 1846, this land was purchased by W.G. Noble, an early merchant and o?ne of Weston’s original City Fathers. The land was granted by President Polk with a purchase price of $5.00. In 1848, he brought his bride to Weston and built this lovely home. In the late 1870’s it was purchased by Henry C. Turner. When he passed away in 1912, his wife, Missouri Tennessee Turner, inherited the property. It remained in the Turner family for many years and was later purchased by Fred and Ruth Lindsey Lindemeyer. They resided in the home until Ruth’s death in 1972. Following "Mr. Fred’s" death the home was purchased by their great-niece. The present owners, Doug and Sue Blunt, are o?nly the fourth family to won the property since its construction in 1848. The original Federal-style, two-story house was built with the front facing the Missouri River to the southwest. The original front porch has been remodeled and is presently being used as a sunroom. The back porch was enlarged and is now a second bathroom and utility room. Sidewalks lead the way from either porch to the "summer kitchen." It remains in its original state to the west of the hand-blown glass cuts. The ceiling and floor braces are 2 x 8 inch hand-hewn ash. The walls are four-brick thick and were made in the brick factory in Weston. In the early 1870’s the front portion of the home, facing the street, containing the present living room, master bedroom and dressing room were added o?n as a "parlor" and living room being divided by French doors. The two front doors are original to the structure with the exception of the leaded windows crafted by a local glass smith. The Blunt’s are avid collectors and will present "Christmas in the 1800’s" with interesting antique items throughout the home.

Benner House Bed and Breakfast, 645 Main Street The Benner House Bed and Breakfast was built in 1898 by Mr. George Shawhan, owner of the Shawhan Distillery, known today as McCormick Distillery. Listed o?n the National Register of historic Places, this lovely Victorian home is a fine example of steamboat Gothic architecture. In the 1900’s the home was purchased by Mr. Charles Benner, a gentleman farmer, who preferred to live in the "city." The home remained in the Benner family until 1986 when it was purchased by Ken and Karen West and converted into a bed and breakfast. The present owners, John and Julie Pasley, have continued with the traditions of the early 1900’s . The home is beautifully decorated with antiques and turn-of-the-century pieces. Upon entering the home, o?ne immediately steps back in time. The double wrap-around porches, gingerbread detail and large windows overlooking the verandas, enhance the spaciousness of this lovely old home. Original hand-carved oak and beveled glass grace the front doorway along with brass lighting fixtures leading the way up the hand-carved oak staircase. To the right is the sitting room with a ? bath. All the rooms have ten-foot ceilings, six-foot windows, oak woodwork and pine floors. To the left is the parlor with the original tile fireplace and gas logs that are dated 1902. The pump organ is dated 1911, and if o?ne pumps hard enough, it works. The dining room is furnished with a beautiful Eastlake oak table and marble sideboard. The kitchen has oak cabinets with blue-stained glass panels. The original wainscoting has been used as a backsplash. There are four guest rooms upstairs, all with private baths. Descending the staircase, note the dust catchers in the corners, the housekeeper certainly appreciates these. The hall bathroom o?n your right contains a beautiful claw-foot tub, pedestal sink and water closet. The back bedroom has a old white iron bed with a warm cozy quilt made by John’s grandmother. The next bedroom has a lovely three-piece bedroom set made of chestnut and boasts the color pink. The front bedroom provides an overview of downtown Weston. Lending to the comfort of this cozy room is a yo-yo quilt and oak bedroom set. Across the hall, an unusual brass bed has become a favorite with guests. This room overlooks Main Street. In the hallway you will find a lovely cherry love seat and an oak printer’s desk that belonged to John’s parents. All of the photographs in the home are members from both sides of the family. Note the hallway photo of Julie’s mother, who served in WWI. She brought the sword home as a souvenir. As you exit the house through the kitchen, the beauty of this wonderful old home extends into the backyard gardens, where a hot tub and deck have been added. To the side of the home is a beautiful water garden.

Kemmerer-Wilson House, 635 Main Street Built in 1843, this Greek Revival cottage, at 633 Main Street, has been owned by several of Weston’s notable families. Early o?n the home was owned by Lorenzo Dow Bird, o?ne of the town’s first attorneys and an original city father. For more than 60 years it was home to the Kemmerer family. "Miss Rose" Kemmerer was a favorite school teacher and a noted musician. Fashioned of rock, hand-hewn Missouri walnut logs and clapboard siding, the simple saltbox is distinguished by an expansive columnar porch and a multi-paned, transom entry way. Anchor stones at the front walk were original carriage stepping stones. Originally designed in the "dog trot" style…a center hall running from front to back with rooms o?n either side, reveals the periodic updates of the families who resided here. The Greek Revival window and door millwork add a classic to the formal living areas. An original converted gas lamp in the front hall displays a fleur-de-lis design that is repeated in decorating touches throughout the cottage. The Master’s bedroom o?n the right presents an interesting effect with a mahogany four-poster bed, an antique mahogany wishbone dresser, an Americana trunk and small "tuck-away" closet. Gracing the scene is a Dresden Plate quilt and pillow. A warm and friendly parlor features a carved walnut love seat in vintage red silk. Silver and china accessories are displayed o?n antique walnut and mahogany tables. As visual reminders of Weston’s river port days, this room also displays a hand painted fire aboard with tobacco leaf motif, a small pine trunk decorated with an early Weston scene and the Ernst Ulmer print of Weston…The Landing o?n the Missouri. An early center hall reconfiguration created the present-day dining room. The circa 1840 cherry drop-leaf table is set with English china and American silverplate in anticipation of the family’s Christmas Eve supper. Hickox chairs await the diners. The circa 1870 built-in corner cabinet displays hand painted china. The study, kitchen and a small bedroom were reclaimed from the open porch that extended the full length of the house. The floors of the porch, which originally sloped to encourage drainage from rain and snow, remain as reminders of this long-ago configuration. The Kemmerer-Wilson cottage invites guests to enjoy "A Dickens Christmas." In 1843, the year the house was built, Charles Dickens wrote his celebrated classic, A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story. Natural and man-made materials that were available in that time period have been used to interpret the holiday season. Each room also features the quaint German tradition of the decorated tree with an unique theme.

The Baker Building, 519 Main Street ?On tour for the first time is the second floor apartment at 519 Main Street. Built in an alley way in approximately 1879, this three-story brick building, is a nicely restored example of Georgian Colonial Revival architecture. The beautiful arched windows were very popular after the Civil War. The building still features hardwood floors, 12′ ceilings and walls three bricks thick. Although more commonly known as the Baker Building, it has been speculated that this structure was designed by Jacob Mettier as an extension of his building next door. The first well documented owner was Julian Baker in 1889. Mr. Baker operated Baker’s harness and Saddle Shop at this location for 45 years. The second floor was originally designed as an apartment and later served as a lodge hall. In the 1930’s this became the Murphy’s Apartments with living quarters o?n all three floors. In 1987, the building was renovated and the main level and basement were o?nce again turned into store fronts. The upper two stories remained apartments. The current residents, Gary and Elizabeth Wenig, are following the traditions of early merchants by living above their shop. True to the time period of the structure, an elegant Victorian theme prevails throughout the apartment. A back bedroom, with magnificent arched windows, also provides a lovely view of Weston’s City Park. Front room window seats furnish a cozy spot overlooking the downtown historic district. This has also become a favorite resting place for the family pets, Ginger, Peach and Turbo. For this special tour, the entire apartment will be decorated to reflect a real Victorian Christmas. o?n display will be period clothing and vintage laces from Elizabeth’s private collection. Entering the property through a small alley, you will notice the winter version of the lovely backyard water gardens. Follow the luminaries next to the historic Methodist Church o?n Main Street.

French’s Loft, 420 Main Street Located in the downtown historic district, and new to this year’s tour, is the pre-Civil War loft at 420 Main Street. Owners, Russel and Terri French recently renovated the building that also houses the McCormick Country Store o?n the main floor. In the mid-1800’s many of Weston’s early merchants were German immigrants. The downtown area, which was considered quite stylish for its time, resembled the villages in Germany and other parts of Europe. With limited transportation, most of the business owners also resided in the downtown area. Second and third floors were often used as apartments and offices. Prior to the Civil War, this spacious 1800-square-foot loft was the home of B.F. Freeland, an early merchant, who conducted a dry goods business o?n the main floor. In 1866 A.H. O’Dowd purchased the building and extensive changes were made to the original structure. Mr. O’Dowd dealt in furniture and provisions with undertaking as a specialty. Through the years the second floor loft also provided living quarters for several grocery store owners. Today, restored to its original form, exposed hand-hewn ceiling beams and original brick walls add warmth and charm to a mixture of traditional and collectible furnishings. Entering the loft, up an original oak staircase, you’re welcomed by a friendly kitchen joined with a cozy sitting area. A wood-burning parlor stove adds a pleasing effect to an already delightful atmosphere. Light and airy with white glass cabinets and clever cinder block walls, the kitchen also provides a bird’s-eye view of the towering steeples of the historic Holy Trinity Catholic Church. A short hallway descends into a chic, yet simple dining room where soft lighting, muted tones and traditional artwork compliment the beauty of rustic walls and ceilings. Crown molding, topping a quaint bedroom enclosure, enhances the unique style. A large, raised living room, with lush neutral carpeting, classic striped sofas and paned glass windows, creates a soothing environment distinguished by a variety of plant life. A small balcony joins the front of the loft to provide a romantic overview of the historic downtown area. Left behind by the southern influence of Weston’s early settlers, a picturesque alley way with a New Orleans flavor, provides an entrance to the loft. Follow the luminaries to Thomas Street, east of Main Street.

Source: Christmas in Weston brochure, 1997 Candlelight Homes Tour, Sponsored by Weston Development Company

Watkins Woolen Mill

More than 100 years ago, the Bethany plantation, now part of the Watkins Mill State Historic Site, was a bustling center of activity for rural communities in Clay County, Missouri.

More than 100 years ago, the Bethany plantation, now part of the Watkins Mill State Historic Site, was a bustling center of activity for rural communities in Clay County, Missouri.

In its heyday the plantation, owned by Waltus Watkins, included an elegant home and a three-story mill where wool was spun into yarn, woven into cloth and blankets, and sold in bolts at the small general store located on the first floor. A church and octagonal school building were built adjacent to the plantation, which also had a brick kiln, sawmill, gristmill, and blacksmith shop.

The story of the plantation and of Watkins Mill begins in 1830 when Watkins, a native of Kentucky, joined many other young men of the period in a move westward. Watkins settled in Liberty, Missouri, and, after an unsuccessful attempt at cotton milling, he purchased 80 acres of land in the northwest corner of Clay County and turned his interests to agriculture.

Watkins, new occupation proved more successful than his milling venture, and his land holdings ultimately encompassed several thousand acres.Watkins, however, never gave up the idea of textile production and in 1861, at the age of 55, he launched the major venture of his life — the Watkins Woolen Mill.

Like the plantation home he built earlier, the mill was constructed of brick, handmade at the site, and was supported by timbers cut from his land. The mill contained more than 50 machines, which had been shipped by steamboat from the East via the Ohio, Mississippi, and the Missouri rivers.

The boiler, which measured 30 feet in length, and the steam engine to power it were shipped from St. Louis to the river landing at Missouri City, and, like the other machines, were hauled some 20 miles to the mill site by teams of oxen.By May of 1861, Watkins Mill was ready for operation.

During the Civil War, Watkins did a steady business selling blankets and cloth. After the war he turned to trade, and by the late 1860s the factory was running at nearly full production, consuming some forty to sixty thousand pounds of woolen fleece annually.The mill continued to prosper through the 1870s.

Although it remained in business off and on for years, it never again reached its former level of production. Finally, in the late 1880’s, the increased competition and availability of ready-made clothing forced the mill out of business. In the 1950s, the mill was acquired by the Watkins Mill Association and opened to the public. In 1963, voters of Clay County passed a bond issue to purchase the mill and surrounding acreage, then turned it over to the state of Missouri.

In 1966, Watkins Woolen Mill, the only fully equipped 19th-century textile mill left in the country, was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Today, the state historic site, which includes the mill, plantation house, school, church, and outbuildings, and the adjoining state park are administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Parks and Historic Preservation.

What to See… Watkins Mill is the country’s only 19th-century textile factory with its original machinery intact. The mill is open to visitors all year, with the exception of Christmas, New Year’s Day, Easter, and Thanksgiving. Tours are given Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on winter Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and summer Sunday’s from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Special group tours may be arranged by contacting the historic site office. A nominal fee is charged.

Watkins Home… Built in 1850, portions of the old Watkins home are open to the public. Many of the original furnishings remain. An unusual walnut staircase leading to the second floor enhances this home, built in the Greek Revival style of architecture.

Other Buildings… Mt. Vernon Church (1871) and the Franklin School (1856), an interesting octagonal building, have been restored. In addition, the fruit-drying shed, summer kitchen, and a smoke-house have been restored and are now open to visitors. Source: Watkins Woolen Mill brochure, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Historic Preservation, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102

Hyde Mansion Bed and Breakfast

Rescuing a mansion that had been sitting empty for 10 or 12 years seemed natural to Robert and Carolyn Brown of Trenton. (Source: The Princeton Post-Telegraph, Vol. 120 No. 15)

Rescuing a mansion that had been sitting empty for 10 or 12 years seemed natural to Robert and Carolyn Brown of Trenton. (Source: The Princeton Post-Telegraph, Vol. 120 No. 15)

The two, who are in real estate themselves, learned the Hyde Mansion was for sale through another real estate agent and decided to look at the property. “I told Robert it would be the perfect bed and breakfast house,” Carolyn said.

The couple purchased the mansion, located at 418 E. 7th, in 1988 and began to renovate the property that was planned and constructed by former Gov. Arthur Hyde. Even though the mansion was “perfect” for a bed and breakfast home, the business almost did not get started.

“We had to redo two walls in the basement before we could even start,” Robert said. “That really wasn’t the problem though, we just got worn out by trying to do all the main floor ourselves.

“After a couple of months rest, we just hired more help so we wouldn’t get so tired,” he said.

The main floor of the colonial-style mansion consists of a parlor, dining room, kitchen, family breakfast room, family den, office and master bedroom and bath. The upstairs holds the bedrooms with baths and a common room for all guests to use. Carolyn picked out the paper for the entry hallway walls first and the color scheme of mauve, blues, ivory and blushes are used throughout the house.

Upon entering through the front door and hallway, one gets a glimpse of the front parlor which is done in ivory walls, with marble inlaid tables, settees, chairs, a grand piano and wood-burning fireplace. The light fixtures in the hallway, parlor and throughout the house are original with gold plating.

“They didn’t spare any money on the house,” Robert said. “The floors are hardwood and each room has a double dry wall. The siding is redwood and all the dimensional lumber is Douglas fir that was handpicked and shipped in.”

The home, built and designed by a Kansas City architect, cost $125,000 to build when the Governor decided to plan the family home. Even though the Governor died in 1947 before the mansion was finished, his wife, Hortense Cullors Hyde, made the decision to complete the home.

“We were able to add all the bathrooms without changing the structure of the home,” Robert said. “There is a 12-inch gap between the floors that allowed us to do that.”

The home had all the modern conveniences of the day, and in the master bedroom, there is a button built into the wall where Mrs. Hyde could summon the upstair maid or a live-in companion.

“It really has been fun to try to keep everything as original as possible and still make this a comfortable bed and breakfast inn,” Carolyn said.

Each of the upstairs rooms has a color television, queen-sized bed, chairs or couches, phones and personal bath.

“The Governor’s Suite has two rooms that are connected by a hallway,” she said. “It makes it nice for two couples who want privacy and yet want to be able to visit.”

At the end of the hallway is a round table and four chairs with lots of books in which to browse.

“The exit at this end of the hallway also allows people to come and go as they want without bothering us,” she said.

The back stairway also opens onto a screened porch with the perfect lounging furniture. In the morning, the guests are treated to a huge country-style breakfast. Eggs are fixed as the guest wants and served with sausage, ham or bacon. Muffins, biscuits, toast and fresh fruit as well as breakfast drinks also are offered.

“We used to have a cook,” Robert said, “but now we do it ourselves. We enjoy it, but really do need some help now that summer is arriving.”

The kitchen is Robert’s specialty. He was a meatcutter for years and definitely knows his way around the kitchen. “These are the original cabinets,” he says, pointing with pride.

The Browns had a body man come from Kansas City and sandblast the cabinets and then repaint them. Their son, Greg, took off every piece of wallpaper and painted the upstairs, and all the woodwork has been sanded and painted. Robert also is proud of the fact that even though they do not have to have hotel management standards since they live in the house, the Hyde Mansion meets all specifications.

“We have a hand sink and a three-bay sink in the kitchen, circuit breaker plugins, separate baths, 18 smoke alarms and two exits from each floor,” he said.

The Browns also renovated the basement to handle the laundry and have a separate kitchen there.

“We have a laundry chute from each floor,” Carolyn said. “We also have two washers and dryers to handle the loads.”

Although the Browns cook the breakfast and register the guests, their housekeeper is responsible for the rest. Nancy Taul does all the washing, cleaning and making of the beds.

“We still run the real estate business as well as this, and we just don’t have the time,” Robert said. They both enjoy spending time with their many guests, and also love to be in this mansion that they have re-created. Pictures, two by Mercer Countians grace the walls. It only seems fitting since Gov. Hyde was born in Princeton and his wife’s family, the Charles Horace Cullors lived between Princeton and Trenton in Buttsville.

Ann Albers Dusenbery has a colored pencil drawing of the mansion hanging in the dining area, and Dr. Byron Axtell has an oil of daffodils hanging in the parlor. Books are found throughout the house as well as numerous knick knacks to make the guests feel at home.

“We are not like a motel,” Carolyn said. “We offer the privacy of one but the added extra touches of home.”

Source: The Post-Telegraph, Volume 120 Number 15, April 6, 1992

Where Presidents & Gangsters Stayed

On election night, Nov. 2, 1948, President Harry S. Truman paid a surprise visit to The Elms resort in Excelsior Springs to escape the mounting tension surrounding his close race with Thomas Dewey. But today, you don’t have to be in a presidential race to enjoy the seclusion and charm of The Elms. Recently expanded and refurbished, the resort offers a haven of serenity just 30 minutes north of Kansas City.

On election night, Nov. 2, 1948, President Harry S. Truman paid a surprise visit to The Elms resort in Excelsior Springs to escape the mounting tension surrounding his close race with Thomas Dewey. But today, you don’t have to be in a presidential race to enjoy the seclusion and charm of The Elms. Recently expanded and refurbished, the resort offers a haven of serenity just 30 minutes north of Kansas City.

After its renovation last year, the three-story resort resembles the same sprawling stone-and-timber resort that Franklin Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller and Al Capone once sought out as a retreat from the public eye. With that era in mind, the 152 guest rooms and suites were appointed to evoke the elegance of bygone days.

The Elms is rooted in a history of alternative healing because of the area’s mineral springs. Once believed to have healing powers, the waters are still used by the redesigned spa, which helps rejuvenate guests. The Spa offers Swiss and Vichy showers; mud, seaweed and aloe wraps; massages; whirlpools; and mineral baths.

The resort also features casual and fine dining options, two lounges, a fitness center, salon services, jogging track, sauna, steam rooms, pool, whirlpool, hiking/biking trails and a challenge course, with a climbing wall and rope course.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is the focal point of all the buildings and activities of Conception Abbey/Seminary College. It stands as a monument of the dreams and religious fervor of the forebearers of the monastic community of conception, and the early settlers of northwest Missouri. But it is more than just a monument, for it serves a living community of monks, students, and guests as a place of spiritual renewal.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is the focal point of all the buildings and activities of Conception Abbey/Seminary College. It stands as a monument of the dreams and religious fervor of the forebearers of the monastic community of conception, and the early settlers of northwest Missouri. But it is more than just a monument, for it serves a living community of monks, students, and guests as a place of spiritual renewal.

The Basilica is used daily for private prayer as well as the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist.

The Basilica owes its origin primarily to the inspiration and energy of Conception’s founder and first abbot, Frowin Conrad (1833-1923). Abbot Frowin came to Conception from the Swiss abbey of Engelberg with just one other monk in 1873. By 1879, the young Benedictine community was large enough for him to begin planning a permanent monastery and church. The first drawing of such a plan in the Abbey’s archives goes back to that year. In the same year, Abbot Frowin wrote in his diary: “The church and monastery should be built as much as possible in the simple, straightforward and dignified romanesque style.” As early as 1873, he indicated he wanted the church in this style because he felt that its noble simplicity was better suited for a monastic community.

The church’s foundation was begun in 1882. Difficulty in funding the project, and in finding an architect who understood romanesque architecture, delayed completion until nine years later when it was solemnly dedicated during a torrential rainstorm on May 10, 1891. In spite of the weather, it was a glorious day for both monks and the local parishioners. The monks – especially Abbot Frowin – had toiled to raise the $150,000 needed to build the 48,000 square-foot church. The parishioners contributed to the cause as they could, often hauling stones and brick side-by-side with the monks. It has been estimated that it would now cost ten to fifteen million dollars to build such a church!

In 1893, during one of his visits to Engelberg, Abbot Frowin received a telegram from Prior Pius Conrad at Conception. The church had been struck by a tornado. The news devastated him. We can only imagine his relief when, a few weeks later, he learned that only the north transept had been badly damaged and that repairs were already underway.

There was a silver lining to the cloud of the church’s near destruction, for in the two years since its dedication, three young artists had joined the community. Since a large part of the building had to be replastered, why not, a young Fr. Lukas Etlin suggested, redecorate it in the innovative, Egyptian-inspired style of art being developed at the German monastery of Beuron? Abbot Frowin had long been an admirer of the type of monastic and liturgical observances which originated at Beuron.

With the Abbot’s blessing, a band of several monks repainted the abbey church – borrowing elements from Beuronese decorative style and from contemporary victorian stenciling techniques. The final result in 1897 made for a breathtaking panorama. In the end though, Abbot Frowin had to agree with one of the Basilica’s critics when he wrote,” I would agree with your judgement about our church, that, with regard to the paintings, it is somewhat overdone. If we were to begin again – which God forbid – some things would be simplified.”

The most striking feature of the Basilica’s interior is its collection of colorful Beuronese murals. The four transept murals are copies from the Life of Benedict cycle originally painted at the abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy. The eighteen murals in the central axis are copies from the Life of Mary cycle painted in the church of Emaus Abbey in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The originals in both monasteries were destroyed during World War II, leaving Conception’s murals as perhaps the most complete set of replicas.

The church’s towers were completed in 1897. One tower houses five bells – the smallest being the oldest (1891) and the largest, weighing 3800 lbs, having been acquired as recently as 1941. The other tower contains a long-abandoned water tank.

Electricity was installed in 1916, and , apart from the construction of a new “temporary” sanctuary in 1963 in anticipation of the renewal of the Church’s liturgy, little has been done to the building.

Pope Pius XII conferred upon the abbey church the title of “minor basilica” in 1940, recognizing its artistic merit, the quality of the liturgy celebrated within its walls, and the fact that it was visited by many pilgrims. It is one of thirty-four minor basilicas in the United States, the fifth (and first west of the Mississippi) so-designated. The title “minor basilica” is an honorary one, connoting a special relationship to the Apostolic See in Rome and to the original major basilicas of that ancient city.

For some, the monastic community has been aware that the Basilica needs extensive repair. The renewal of monastic and liturgical life over the last twenty-five years gave greater urgency to the project. During almost the entire decade of the 80s, the monks were involved in numerous presentations by liturgical and artistic experts, discussions, studies, and surveys concerning their worship space.

After careful and prayerful deliberation, the community settled on the shape they want the Basilica’s renovation to take (calling it a “renewal” because, much like the renewal of the Church in general mandated by Vatican II, the renovation retains familiar elements, goes back to earlier architectural and liturgical elements, and also has some innovations).

The planned renewal will preserve and enhance the Basilica’s romanesque architecture and Beuronese art. The floor plan will be adapted to contemporary ecclesiastical directives. And the space will be simplified and lightened – thereby reclaiming Abbot Frowin’s original desire for the noble simplicity of a romanesque church.

(Note: The material for this historical overview was provided by Bro. Samuel Russell.) Source: Tower Topics, Vol. IV, No. 4. Conception, MO Winter 1990

Antique Seth Thomas Clock

What does the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Daviess County Courthouse in Gallatin have in common? Both have an original, hand-wound antique Seth Thomas clock. The antique tower clock atop the courthouse has helped keep Gallatin on time since 1909, a year after the courthouse was completed.

What does the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Daviess County Courthouse in Gallatin have in common? Both have an original, hand-wound antique Seth Thomas clock. The antique tower clock atop the courthouse has helped keep Gallatin on time since 1909, a year after the courthouse was completed.

The four faces of the clock still operate off its original weight and cable system. A similar Seth Thomas antique clock,? housed in the Smithsonian Institution, has been electrified. So, even some of Daviess County’s ol’ timers aren’t aware of the uniqueness and value of their courthouse timepiece. It is o?ne of the oldest working clocks of its type left in the United States. Quite often, as it tolls the hour and half hour from its 1,200-pound brass bell, the sound can be heard four miles from town.

Two view the clock o?ne has to climb 93 steps into the clock tower. The massive weights which power the mechanism are located below the huge brass bell, and the clock itself, o?n an even higher level, is reached by a short flight of narrow steps.

The clock was purchased by the Gallatin Commercial Club for $1,500 — a lot of money in those days. And the McShane all-brass bell cost another $1,429.69. It measures 38 inches in diameter. Both were presented to the county by John W. Meade on Jan. 2, 1909. Accepting the gift were George A. McWilliams, presiding judge; William E. Naylor, south judge; and William E. Smith, north judge; and H.F. Lawrence, county clerk.

All four faces of the clock are operated off the same mechanism. The weights which drive the mechanism weigh 2,250 pounds. Back in 1921, o?ne of the cables broke and about half the weights plunged through two floors of the building.? The following is an account of the incident, published in the April 21, 1921 edition of the Gallatin North Missourian entitled "Crash at the Courthouse — Big 1600 Pound Clock Weight Breaks Loose and Plows Through Two Floors Tuesday:"

"About 10 o’clock Tuesday morning occupants of the courthouse throught a bolshevik bomb had been turned loose, or the furnace had blown up, when one of the big 1600 pound weights of the courthouse dome clock broke loose, crashed through the top and third floors, and landed on the second floor. The crash made a terrifc noise, and the populace didn’t know at the instant what had happened. Very forunately, the weight hung close to the corner, and no one was near on either floor. Had the mishap happened during a session of court the odds are that two to one someone would have been caught in its downward path.

"The big weight is made up of about two dozen smaller weights, these fitting into an iron slot arrangement, and hooked to a wire cable. It was the cable that gave way. The weights did not separate until landing on the second floor. They made a clean cut hole in the six-inch concrete third floor, big enough for a person to go through.

"There are two of these 1600 pound weights operating the striking apparatus. The big clock goes on keeping time just as if nothing had happened. It will cost a right neat sum of money to repair the building damage. It is mighty lucky that no one was killed."

It seems that nothing stops the courthouse clock… as long as it’s properly wound. About the only repair to the actual clock involves teh striking mechanism, and occasionally replacing the wooden hands for the four exterior clock fases.?Pigeons have always been a problem. They like to ride around o?n the wooden hands and there have been times — like when the clock reached 9:43 in the afternoon! — they became stuck between the hands and had to be rescued.

Such indignity for old Seth Thomas!

A crank, similar to one used to crank a Model A Ford, is used to wind the clock — a weekly chore. Clockkeepers in most recent years include Buster Gordon, Bill Walker (who accompanied his father, Ted Walker, weekly to wind the clack)?and Eric Corwin. Public access to the clockworks is somewhat limited. On the third floor of the courthouse, one must ascend a staircase, usually kept locked, to a fourth floor basically used as attic storage.? The massive weights are encased here, and you can see the reinforcement railroad iron, concrete and wooden shaft built to guard against a repeat of the 1921 crash. Another narrow, steep flight of stairs leads to the solid brass McShane bell. The last leg of the journey (up into the dome with the clock) is by ladder.

Crash details taken from the April 21, 1921 edition of the Gallatin North Missourian

Abbey buildings steeped in tradition

The Abbey, located at Conception, MO, in Nodaway County, is a minor basilica, meaning the church is a place where the Pope could come to live or say mass whenever he is in this country. It also houses a special collection of Indian artifacts from as far away as North and South Dakota, including the first wooden tombstone of the Sioux medicine man Sitting Bull and very rare photographs of Sitting Bull, Gall and Red Cloud. (article written by Ken Hansen)

The Abbey, located at Conception, MO, in Nodaway County, is a minor basilica, meaning the church is a place where the Pope could come to live or say mass whenever he is in this country. It also houses a special collection of Indian artifacts from as far away as North and South Dakota, including the first wooden tombstone of the Sioux medicine man Sitting Bull and very rare photographs of Sitting Bull, Gall and Red Cloud. (article written by Ken Hansen)

Every morning at 6, the bells of Conception Abbey ring, calling the Benedictine monks to morning prayer. This ritual has been followed faithfully at Conception for the past 100 years and has been followed by the monks of St. Benedict for the past 1,400 years.

The Abbey, located at Conception, MO, in Nodaway County, is a curiosity to many people, but it can hardly be called a relic. It is a living, breathing and, in many ways, quite modern organization.

It is a conservatory of art, philosophy, history and Christian thought. It is an educator of young men. Most of all, it is a place for prayer and meditation.

The Abbey was founded in the 1870s by Swiss monks who came to the area at the invitation of Bishop Hogan of St. Joseph. At the time, the Benedictines were fleeing the threat of suppression by the newly formed government of Switzerland. It is almost ironic that they chose Missouri for their home.

Although there was a large Catholic community in the area, Missouri’s own anti-cleric law, called Drakes law, had been declared unconstitutional by the by the U.S. Supreme Court less than 15 years earlier.

The heart of the physical plant at Conception abbey is the church building. The twin-towered structure is of Romanesque design which among other things, is supposed to provide better acoustics for choral liturgical singing, which is an important part of Benedictine life.

Architecture of church buildings often contains subtle messages. The Abbey church is no exception. The center square of the cross-shaped church, where the main altar now stands, measures 33 feet on each side. The church is constructed of six of these modules, each corner of each module being marked by a round pillar. The overall dimensions of the church, 198 feet long by 99 feet wide, are multiples of the number 33.

Thirty-three is the traditional number of years of Christ’s life on earth. It has even been suggested by some that the measurement of a rod, 16 ? feet, was devised from this common unit of measurement used in church construction. The word rod is a derivative of the word root, which means cross.

To the left of the main altar stands an umbrella; to the right, a bell symbols of the fact that the church was given the title of minor basilica in 1941 on the 50th anniversary of the church’s dedication. The title, which is mostly an honorific one, signifies the church as a place where the pope could come to live or say mass when he is in this country.

The church building is interconnected with three other buildings which form a quadrangle with an open courtyard at its center. These buildings house the monks’ quarters. This design is common to many European monasteries.

Other buildings include classrooms, offices, housing for the students and separate quarters for some of the day workers who live at the Abbey. one large building houses the monastery’s printing business which provides a good share of the funds to run Conception Abbey.

One of the newer buildings is a fitness center which houses a pool and gym. The facility was built mainly for the students, but the monks use it, too. Good physical health is a part of the Benedict.

The Abbey library contains 95,000 volumes, in addition to 2,400 old and rare books and manuscripts which the monks brought with them from Switzerland. The range of reading material is broad. Besides the religious books and periodicals one would expect to find, there are editions of “Rolling Stone” and the latest in science fiction paperbacks. On the third floor of the library is a special collection of Indian artifacts contributed to the Abbey by its members who have been assigned to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. For over 100 years the members of the Abbey have served the reservation which lies along the Missouri River in North and South Dakota. Among these exhibits is the first wooden tombstone of the Sioux medicine man Sitting Bull, who was killed at Standing Rock in 1890. Several other very rare pictures of  Sitting Bull, Gall and Red Cloud are included in the exhibit.

Part of the monastery support system is a large apple orchard and almost 900 acres of farmland tended by the monks. The farm has 300 tillable acres. The livestock consists of over 100 head of cattle. The Abbey’s dairy was closed in 1976. — written by Ken Hansen

Fort Osage — A National Landmark

Fort Osage, as suggested by Lewis and Clark in 1804, was built to guard traffic along the Missouri River and control the fur trade with Native Americans, particularly the Osage, Kansa, and Iowa tribes. The reconstructed fort became a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and is designated by the National Park Service as a site o­n the Santa Fe and also the Lewis and Clark Trails. (information from the Jackson County Parks and Recreation)

Fort Osage, as suggested by Lewis and Clark in 1804, was built to guard traffic along the Missouri River and control the fur trade with Native Americans, particularly the Osage, Kansa, and Iowa tribes. The reconstructed fort became a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and is designated by the National Park Service as a site o­n the Santa Fe and also the Lewis and Clark Trails. (information from the Jackson County Parks and Recreation)

On June 23, 1804, Lewis and Clark documented and suggested the future location of what was to become Fort Osage. Four years later, William Clark with 80 volunteer dragoons from St. Charles and the regular garrison under the command of Captain Eli Clemson, erected a fort a few miles upstream o­n a high bluff overlooking a large meander of the Missouri River, in what is now the village of Sibley in northeast Jackson County. Soon after arriving, Clark sent Nathan Bone and interpreter Paul Loese to the Osage villages to invite them to take up residence near the new fort. When they did so, Clark drafted a treaty in which the Osage relinquished a large portion of their lands in what is now Missouri and Arkansas. This treaty was not ratified by Congress, but another treaty drafted by Governor Meriwether Lewis was signed at the fort o­n Nov. 10, 1808, and was ratified thereafter.

Closed in June, 1813m, during the war of 1812, Fort Osage was reopened in 1815 after the war was over and garrisoned until 1819. George C. Sibley, the fort's factor, was married in 1815 and brought his new wife, Mary, with him when Fort Osage reopened. He built a house known as Fountain Cottage Farm west of the fort and the couple resided there for the next few years. (Mary Sibley is now recognized as the founder of Linderwood University in St. Charles). In 1822 the U.S. abandoned the Factory system, ended government trade at Fort Osage, and replaced it as a military garrison with Fort Leavenworth, KS. In 1825 Fort Osage saw its final service as the starting point for an expedition to survey the Santa Fe Trail. George Sibley, the fort's former factor, served as o­ne of the expedition's three commissioners.

Because of its role in the westward expansion of the United States, the Fort Osage site was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and more recently designated by the National Park Service as a site o­n the Santa Fe and Lewis and Clark Trails. Nearby Hopewell and Osage sites are listed separately o­n the National Register of Historic Places.

For more information about the reconstructed fort, open to the public under the auspices of Jackson County Parks and Recreation, go to  www.historicfortosage.com

Disney’s Boyhood Home at Marceline

Main Street in Marceline served as the model for many of Walt Disney's film locales and theme parks, and today you can walk in his footsteps in the charming town during its Hometown Toonfest.

Main Street in Marceline served as the model for many of Walt Disney's film locales and theme parks, and today you can walk in his footsteps in the charming town during its Hometown Toonfest.

Marceline hosts Walt Disney's Hometown Toonfest every September to celebrate Walt's boyhood in this rural community that influenced his work so much. Cartoonists, fans, families, scholars and Disney enthusiasts come to Marceline for a day of fun. Festivities include a parade, live music, food, crafts, pie-eating contests and an international exhibition of original cartoons. Plus, the Toonfest stage venues will present vignettes of Walt's life in Marceline.

Other festival attractions vary. Recently the Toonfest featured a cartoon symposium in the historic Uptown Theater. In 2003 the leadline speaker was Mort Walker, whose Beetle Bailey comic strip appears in 1,800 newspapers worldwide. Walker displayed his work and talked about life as a cartoonist. Other guests included Bill Amend, creator of the comic strip FoxTrot. The symposium regularly features speakers with ties to Disney.

Festival goers can also participate in the Rural Olumpics. Farm chores that Walt endured as a child have found new life as games for the whole family.

While in Marceline, visit the Walt Disney Hometown Museum, located in the former Santa Fe Depot. The museum featuer artifacts and exhibits from Walt's life in marcline and his remarkable career. In addition, more than 20 other Disney related sites can be visited throughout the region, including the Disney farm and the Walt Disney Dreaming Tree. For more details about this annual festival, call 660-376-9258.

Catfish the attraction to the 138-mile Platte River

Record-breaking, skillet-filling catfish are among the attractions this Northwest Missouri river and its tributaries have to offer. (From a series of articles by the Missouri Department of Conservation entitled the Show-Me River Showcase)

Record-breaking, skillet-filling catfish are among the attractions this Northwest Missouri river and its tributaries have to offer. (From a series of articles by the Missouri Department of Conservation entitled the Show-Me River Showcase)

Some people think of the West when the Platte River is mentioned, but Missouri also has a Platte River. Anglers in this area recognize it as a pretty fair catfish stream.

The Platte River flows 138 miles from the Iowa state line through five Missouri counties to its confluence with the Missouri River north of Kansas City. Within its watershed are numerous public lands providing many outdoor opportunities.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) maintains 12 stream access sites along the Platte in addition to five Conservation Areas (CA) consisting of a total of more than 5,000 acres.

CAs along the Platte offer everything from deer and turkey to rabbits, quail and pheasants for hunters. Hikers will find miles of trails leading to excellent birdwatching, mushroom hunting and plenty of rolling topography providing lovely scenery.

Part of the Happy Holler Lake CA, northeast of Savannah in Andrew County, is situated o­n the 102 River, providing access to this Platte River tributary. Camping is allowed at designated sites o­n the area.

The largest CA in the watershed is Platte Falls, north of Platte City. This 2,333-acre tract is split by nine miles of the Platte River. Anglers may spend days bank-fishing along the Platte without seeing another angler or fishing the same hole twice.

Floating this stretch is made possible by the ramp at Sharp's Station Access at the upper boundary of the CA. Steep, muddy banks require careful negotiation.

Archery and shotgun ranges are available o­n Platte Falls. Because of nearby urbanization, hunting is limited to shotguns and shot shells. Deer may be taken by archery methods o­nly.

Contact MDC's office at 701 N.E. College Drive, St. Joseph, MO 64507, or phone (816) 271-3100 for more formation o­n CAs.

From MDC's Sheridan Access in Worth County, downstream river travelers will find rocky riffles, sand bars and a considerable amount of stream channelization. These obstacles don't prevent the determined angler from enjoying catches of channel catfish, flathead catfish and carp.

Crop fields along the Platte River can provide memorable hunting during the fall. Upland game and waterfowl abound. Woodlots and streamsides sporting oaks provide action for squirrel hunters, and lowlands grow thick with willows and soft maple — appealing resting places for deer. Be sure to get permission when hunting private land, and treat landowners with courtesy.

Below Agency Access in Buchanan County, the Platte returns to its natural course for the most part. The stream widens, but it's still pretty much a johnboat or canoe stream. Boaters will find it necessary to carry their craft from parking lots to the stream at MDC accesses, except in Platte County, where Schimmel City Access and Sharp's Station have concrete boat ramps. There is a skid ramp (not for vehicle use, designed to slide small boats to the water) at Humphrey Access, also in Platte County.

MDC's Rochester Falls Access in Andrew County is o­n Highway 169 east of Savannah and St. Joseph. The access is outfitted for camping and picnicking, and there is ample opportunity to fish.

The shelf rock formations for which the area is named cross the stream at the upper end of the property. A small warm-season grass planting is another point of interest, recalling the appearance of this region during pre-settlement times. Saxton Access in Buchanan County has the distinction of being the place where a state-record fish was caught. o­n July 15, 1992, Anthony Winans of St. Joseph outlasted a 55-pound 12-ounce grass carp that fell for a prepared bait. Who knows what other behemoths may lurk in the waters of the Platte?

Tributaries of the Missouri River have a tendency to produce memorable catches. If Winans' catch isn't enough to pique your interest, seasonal white bass and crappie fishing may provide the incentive to explore the Platte.

Take a “walk” with Harry Truman

Harry Truman was so fond of walking through his hometown of Independence, MO, that the city has honored him with a trail of his own.

Harry Truman was so fond of walking through his hometown of Independence, MO, that the city has honored him with a trail of his own.

The city completed the Truman Historic Walking Trail in 2003 as a tribute to the eventful and triumphant life of its most famous resident. The 5-mile trail links 43 memorable places in Truman's life, with a customized brass plaque at each site describing its significance.

While he remained in good health, Truman took almost daily walks through the Downtown Independence square area, past his barbershop, the church where he and Bess were married and to his office in the Truman Presidential Museum and Library. He enjoyed strolling the tree-shaded streets of his beloved neighborhood where he lived, was invited to dinner and stopped to play cards. “I walk early to get a chance to think over things and get feady for (the) work of the day,” Truman o­nce said.

Many of the sites he passed are included o­n the trail, which is designed to be a self-guided experience. Along the way are homes of Truman's friends and associates and several landmarks, including Truman's courtroom in the historic Jackson County Courthouse and Clinton's Drug Store where he held his first job.

To pick up a map of the trail, stop by Fire Station No. 1 at 223 North Main o­n the square. The building now houses the Truman Ticket Center and offices for the National Park Service, which conducts tours of Truman's nearby home. Or call Independence Tourism at 1-800-748-7323. For more details, visit  www.visitindependence.com