Reprinted here with the permission of the "Cedar County Republican Newspaper".
Cedar County places we've never been...and a few we have
by Aaron Sims
While rural areas of southwest Missouri are experiencing a growth in population as city residents flee the hustle and bustle of urban life, small communities are not. Rural residents work and trade in nearby towns and communities.
A few independent businesses dot the countryside, but fewer country stores exist today than at any time since the region began to be settled in the mid-1800s. Where stores and trading posts were established, communities began and usually other businesses sprang up near by. Blacksmith shops were common in local communities, later replaced by mechanics¹ garages, and one-room schools were scattered across the county.
As our society became more mobile, small communities began to fade. General stores could not compete with larger stores in nearby towns as they could not carry the wide variety of merchandise or buy in bulk to lower prices. Cars became more sophisticated and "shade tree" mechanics could no longer repair autos as easily without high-tech equipment. School and post office consolidation also helped in sounding the death-knell for many communities.
When the schools and post office closed, the community almost ceased to be. In this, the third of a series, we look back to remember 22 communities and country stores of Cedar County, winding down our alphabetical journey. We thank the late Arthur Paul Moser for his work "A Directory of Towns,
Villages and Hamlets of Missouri," the source of much of our information.
Mollie was a name submitted to the U.S. Postal Department by Jake Dixon to rename his store and post office, located about 5-1/2 miles west of Dunnegan, in northeastern Cedar County. The community also was known as Jaketown. The name Mollie was chosen to honor a woman in Dixon's family.
Mount Enterprise was located 10 miles southwest of Stockton, near the site of White Hare. The community at one time consisted of a school, church and several homes, but all were destroyed during the Civil War. The community was never rebuilt.
Mount Langdon was a trading post about a half mile southwest of Pleasant View, near a mill on Cedar Creek. The origin of the name is unknown.
Omer or White Hair (or White Hare) was founded in the 1830s. At the time of settlement, the area was in Barton County and was the first post office in what would become Cedar County. David Hunter was the first postmaster and is credited with being the person chosen to lay out the community of Lancaster
‹ which would later become Fremont and later Stockton. During its heyday, White Hair (the origin of the name White Hair is unknown) included a lodge hall, church, schoolhouse and several homes. The name was changed to Omer in 1883 when postmaster Clem Jordan submitted three names for the post office
and the postal department chose the name of Omer. The name most likely was taken from someone in the community, as Omer was a common Christian name in the late 1800s. The last postmaster was James E. Crutcher. The post office was discontinued April 30, 1907, and the mail was diverted to the post office at Jerico Springs. Remnants of the community still can be seen near the end of Highway Y, where
the former store building, a cemetery and a few homes remain.
Osiris was founded in 1900 by J.M. Biddy, who submitted names for a post office to be located in his store, 4.3 miles northwest of Jerico Springs. Saying he wanted a name that was uncommon, he chose Osiris from Egyptian mythology. Osiris was the god of light, health and agriculture. The post office closed in 1906. A store has been in operation in the area for more than 100 years, with several families operating the mercantile throughout the decades. The store still is open today, owned and operated by sisters Elaine Reynolds and Ruth Green, and is the only store of its kind remaining in Cedar County. The
sisters began running the store in 1977, taking over for their parents who had purchased the business in 1940.
Pacetown, Pepperville or Sandridge, was named for Ike Pace, a minister at Pleasant Ridge. A store operated in the community, located a mile west of Filley, from 1904 through 1955. Pace tried to name the community Pepperville because he said it wanted it to be a "hot place," but area residents insisted upon calling the community Pacetown. The name Sandridge was given to the area before a name was decided upon by Pace, and was so named because it was on a sandy ridge.
Peggy's Store was located about six miles southeast of El Dorado Springs just off Highway 32 on what is now Highway U. The store operated for many years and was named Peggy's Store because the proprietor, Mr. Reeves, had a peg leg.
Pleasant View was the name of a trading post near the site of Zinn's Mill on Cedar Creek. The town was given the name for its location and view of the surrounding countryside. The community was located about two miles south of Hackleman Bridge on what now is Highway 39 and was founded in 1846 when Adam Eslinger owned the land. Around 1860, a dam was constructed on the creek and a mill erected. The mill and log dam burned around 1885 and was rebuilt. A post office was established in 1889, operating until discontinued in 1937, despite being nearly wiped away by flood waters in 1927.
Rookins was a store located on what is now Highway J, about a mile north of the intersection of J and N highways, or just south of the St. Clair County line. Frank Hillerman first opened the store and a mill operated nearby for some time. The store remained open, with a number of operators, until the
1970s, long after most others had closed.
Roundtop or Williams Store was a store located about a mile east of the intersection of J and N highways, about five miles east of Caplinger Mills. The store was built by Jasper Williams, and a mill was located across the road from the store. The mill was powered by a two-cylinder tractor and ground corn only. A larger mill was built later that also ground corn, wheat and other grain.
Rowland was located about seven miles south of Stockton and was named for R.P. Rowland, who established a post office in 1908. The post office was short-lived, being discontinued a few years later. A store operated in the community for several years, but by the early 1970s the store, school and
post office buildings were gone.
Silvercreek was a trading post in the 1800s in Washington Township. The exact location is unknown.
Taylor's Store or Williamsburg was a trading post named after the proprietor, Mr. Taylor. The location previously was named Williamsburg after Jasper Williams who lived near the store before it was bought by Mr. Taylor. The location was about five miles east of Stockton on what now is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-maintained road leading to the Friendship Hills/Crabtree Cove public use area of Stockton Lake.
Tingley was the location of a store established in 1897 northeast of Jerico Springs and named after a long-time area resident and preacher, Henry Tingley. The store closed by the mid-1930s.
Tom Town was the location of a typical country store about four miles east of Stockton. The store was operated by Tom Engleman from the late 1920s to the 1940s.
Umber was a postal community and store near Cane Hill established about 1897 when a room was added to the home of Harrison Higgins to house the post office. The store was started a short time later by Tom Hugh, and the community began to thrive, eventually hosting at least two stores, a church, a blacksmith shop and a school. The community prospered for about 45 years, but now is under water, covered by Stockton Lake. New housing developments and the village of Umber View Heights are near the
original community location.
Virgil City is located at the extreme western edge of Cedar County on the Cedar and Vernon county line; part of the community actually is in Vernon County. The community was laid out in 1869 by James Henderson and Bartlett R. Conyers and once had a population of about 300 residents. The town, in its
heyday, boasted two hotels ‹ both with bars ‹ a wagon maker¹s shop, a blacksmith shop, a drug store, churches, a cider mill, an apple dryer, a harness shop, a school and several other stores. Speculators sold land in and around Virgil City on the prospects of the railroad extending east from Nevada to the town. The announcement of El Dorado Springs receiving the railroad began the decline for Virgil City, which had been as large as Stockton. Within a few years, only a few businesses and homes remained.
Wagoner, located southwest of Stockton at the end of what is now Z Highway, was first settled in the mid-1800s and was a thriving community. Postal service began in the 1860s and continued until mail delivery was moved to Stockton and Jerico Springs in 1916. A store operated in the community under various owners from the community's beginnings until the last store closed in 1971. Beginning in the late 1920s or early 1930s, area residents gathered at the store to listen to radio broadcasts. In 1952, store owners Frank Whalen and his wife purchased a television and Saturday night gatherings to watch TV and visit were common. School consolidation closed Cedar Bluff School District No. 63, and bussed
children to Stockton, but a strong 4-H program continued in the former school building which was purchased by the community. Today all that remains of Wagoner is the Wagoner Cemetery and a few homes in the area.
West El Dorado Springs or Nine Wonders was a point of interest around a cluster of springs about a mile southwest of the original El Dorado Springs. In 1882, H.A. Blake and N.C. Mitchell devised a scheme to build a city to rival El Dorado Springs and purchased 700 acres of land surrounding the springs of Nine Wonders. The men laid out a town site and park, and built an amphitheater and several businesses and homes. Blake and Mitchell hoped to capitalize on the railroad that was planned for the area. However, it was soon discovered that pipes for the nine springs all came from the same spring and the tourist trade was never realized. The men later declared bankruptcy and the property was purchased by N.H. Cruce
and a number of years later was annexed into El Dorado Springs.
Willowville was a store established in the early 1900s by Mose Gash on what is now Highway U about five miles southeast of El Dorado Springs. The name most likely was taken from the willow trees that grew along the nearby stream. The store, and later a mill, operated until the early 1930s when both were
closed during the Depression. The store was later reopened and operated until the late 1940s.
Worthington's Store was operated in one room of the home of Charlotte Worthington, who also operated a telephone exchange. The store was located about six miles east of the junction of U and 32 highways, southeast of El Dorado Springs.
Youngtown or Jungtown was a short-lived store operated by Frank and Erma Young about two miles east of Caplinger Mills on a dirt road off what now is Highway N. The store was in operation for only a few years.
In the next installment of our series on Cedar County places remain. Next
month we take a look back at the beginnings of Stockton, Jerico Springs and
El Dorado Springs.
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