The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas on October 10, 1950 · Page 88
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The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas · Page 88

Blytheville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 10, 1950
Page 88
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TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1.0, 1950 BlATHEVILLE (AttK.) COURIER NEWS SECTION E—PAGE THREE Sreele Was Founded on 80 Acres Bought for Two Mules and Wagon Extension of Log .Railroad Brought A, Town into Being U someone today were to offer the city council .of Steele, Mo., two mules and a wagon for the 80 acres of land which , embraces that part of the city immediately east of the Frisco Railroad, council members probably would, sadly shake their heads and notify the nearest insane asylum. Ycl thai is the exact amount paid foMhis choice bit of land by one of the founders of Steele in the late 1880's. In U500, a timber firm known as the Cunningham Brothers decided to extend their log road from ca- ruthcrsville, Mo., to what is now Blythevllle. When John R. Kelley. a prominent lumberman of Big Sandy, Term., heard of the road, he realized that it extended through or near 80 acres for which he had given a wagon and and a pair of mules, several yeprs before. Mr. Kelley had heard of the excellent limber prospects In Southeast Missouri, and having never seen his Pemiscot County possession, he decided to go to Missouri , iJ and have a look. ?^ When he arrived he discovered that his land was located on ihr east side of the new railroad, and he also discovered that the owner of the land on the other side of I the track, Jessie N. VanHoy, had Ipid off '•iwn lots and was ped- \ dling them lor $10 and $15 each. i The Tennesscean became enthus- ' h lastic over the prospects of building a to\vn in the then swamp wastes • '- and laid off two blocks of his own i '' on the opposite of the tracks and \ offered them for sale at from $15 to $25 each. ; Offered Free Lot ';. He offered a lot free to anyone •locating in the town with as much 'ps a $2,000 stock of merchandise, but this offer was never token up. V one of his lots was purchased by Mrs. Mary A. Campbell for J20, ' jyhcrc Mrs. Campbell operated the : own's first hotel and boarding ibuse for several years. She sold the lit In 1D20 for $5,000. Tile first post office for this com- mmity was on the farm of L. L. Skele, which was located Just west v of the present site of the town. AK Vhcn the railroad came the post ' office was moved into town and brought with It the name of the man 'on 'whose farm it had been first located. The town of Steele was first incorporated on Oct. 9, 1901, upon a petition presented to the County Court of Pemiscot Comity by two-thirds of the taxable residents of the town at that date. Included-In this group were R. E. Mangrum, Thomas I. Brocks, T. A. Bostic, Mary A. Campbell, George W. Dillinder. James R. Davis. W. J. Coburn, V. T. Mahan, J. L. Williams, J. W. McClanahan, P. T. Jackson and George W. Treece. .Tackson First Merchant Mr. Jackson was the first merchant to locate in Stceie, and Mr. Treece became the town's first postmaster. The original corporate limits of , the town extended from the bank of old Bailey Lake to the east side of the railroad. Early business places of the new (own included the Sixmford and Treece store, Dob Laden's' saloon and Bill Coburn's blacksmith shop. Wet ' weather brought n problem of mud which was partly solved by fjkvocden sidewalks built about four '•^icet off the ground. ITUt for several months in the year, the town would overflow from rain and rowing a boat from one end of Main Stree£"to l!.c other was a common recurrence. These months were cal!:J "gumboot" sca- -on by the mud-wary citizens. 1923 Steele High School '.&£z^2'^~:^^*^ Steele Methodist Church Stceie Baptist Church The coming of the drainage program which completed the first dredge ditch in 1910 solved this overflow problem, and "gumboot' 1 season passed into history. What once was the bed of Bailey Lake is today one- of the most exclusive residential districts of the city known as Echols and Cobb Addition. The new town, surrounded by what seemed an unlimited supply ol virgin Umber, grew rniritUy. A sawmill made its appearance and Steele soon had three general t stores, three livery stalbes anil I three bnsy saloons. Lumber Was Hig Business For several years, lumber U'HS the big business of the area with fur, fish and fro;;s not fa!' behind. The value of land was measurec by the timber it contained nnci timrjerle.v land wns consiclercc worthless However, at the rate the timber was cut down, the people began U) ever, so the wise ones begnn looking about them for other livelihood. The drainage program solved the problem, and the cleared territory was slowly converted to farming. This land, once thought worthless, became one ot the prize agricultural sections of the country. By 1920, the town was still one of the fastest growing towns in the section and by 1030 it showed a population of 1,200. a Gl'per cent he old Mount zion church, which nci stood near the site ol Sleele many years ,\vns held ' shortly fter the town became incornorat- :l. The purpose was lo select a site > build a school house that would e convenient to all the cominunl- les. Wishes Differed Several sites were under consld- irntion. Some persons 'wonted it in Steecl, while, others wanted it at i more central location for all the "omniunities. A unique agreement was reached nt the meeting. Near the edge of Steele on a high knoll, covered with heavy timber and surrounded by vater. lay the slowly decaying body of a dog. Persons who opposed locating the •school in Steel proper agreed for it :o be located "as near steel as the dead dog and not a damn foot farther." A two-room frame structure was erected on the agreed spot and opened in )903. This is the present site of one of Steele's grade schools. This building served its purpose for several years, and later two more rooms were added. In 1912. the original building was torn down and an eight-room t brlck building was buit in its place. This school is still in use today, although it has been remodeled at various times. In 1023, a S40.000 three-story high school building was erected and Its completion made ironic indeed the words of George W. Treece, a member of the school board who spoke at the dedication of Stecle's first school building in 1003. Saw No Further Expansion At a dinner In 1003 celebrating the completion of the first two- room building, Mr. Treece said: "Et seems that the board has been very liberal with the money of the taxpayers of this district In the construction of this building. However, we were looking to the future and building £6r future generations —we now have a building that will serve the people for years to come —nil the school building this district will ever need." Mr. Trcccc served the school district faithfully for many years and today his name is carved on the cornerstone of the high school build- Two Apartment Houses Planned Insurance Agent Urges Relief from Shortage of Housing From the Mig. 3. 1923. edition of Ilio Blythevllle Daily Courier: L. r, Spauleltm; o( Wichita, Kan., who has been hoarding at, the Blythevllle hotel with his family, because he cannot find even one room, told the Courier Thursday lie means to secure plans and make strenuous effort to organize ft stock company to erect two apartment houses, one In the east end of the city and one In the central west side. He believes the plan Is most feasible at this lime because of the scarcity of houses and rooms of any description. He asks the question "Why should not such a plan pay good dividends, since it Is not a question of rent, but rooms?" He says lie would pay any price as ngninst paying board but lie cannot find anything that looks like a room. Me believes Dlytheville is ready for two well apportioned and commodious apnrt- ir.euts, wUh «mplc space about for playgrounds for children, In four runt five room suites. The Courier has long believed that such a plan snotild be promoted since there Is no limit to what most people will pay for such rooms, when there are none of any kind available. We are hopeful that the gentleman will be successful hi his efforts to interest a number ot oi.r people, even if In small shares ot stock, believing It will be a lifesaver to Blythevillc as well as paying investment Mr. Spaulding represents the Mu- ruai Health and Accident Assn., of Omaha, and Is associated In this city with J. L. Russell, who should be a valued asset In putting over the apartme_nt proposition. If any South Side Grade School Caruthersville's History Goes Back Full Century In 1951, J'cmiscot County, Mo., will celebrate the lOOLh anniversary of Ha becormnir an organized county and the celebration probably will be centered around its county seat, Cnrutncr.svine. For Caruthcrsvtnn played an tm- p .rtanl part In the settlement: of the. Missouri bootheel county nntl its growth through the' past 100 ypars. The a dual date the part of Missouri which Is now Cai'uthcrsville wns settled Ls not .known .but the cr.y Is believed lo have been an outgrowth ot a small community known as Little Prairie, which formerly was a Spanish fort. l,UUc Prairie probably was settled by Spaniards hack in the days before the Louisiana Purchase In 1803. Early historical in formation on this section of the imtlon is scant but available records reveal Unit one Is interested In Inking a small amount ol stock the Courier will be glad to have such a one call find WL V.IH get, them in touch with the plans nnd Mr. Spaulding, tended from Carulhersville to Bly- thcvillc and which brought Steele Into existence in the early 1900 f s is today part of the Frisco's Memphls- St. Louis trackage, and places the city within easy reach of both places. In addition, U.S. Highway 61 also runs through the heart of steele as do two state roads, N and Z. The city water Is provided from deep wells which are city owned and electricity is provided by the Ark-Mo Power Company, Already a gas frnnchtse has been granted and soon Steele will be one of the many towns In Southeast Missouri and Northeast Arkansas enjoying the advantages of natural gas for the first time. Steele's mayor today is Charles H. Bates and its four aldermen, two of which are elected for each of its two districts. Include W. W. Flood, Euloe Campbell, V. G. Morgan and Cecil Brown. Other city officers ere W. H. Tcmpleton, Jr., water commissioner; Henry Lovelace, police chief and W. D. McDanfels, chief of the volunteer lire department. Max L. Kelley is the town's postmaster, and Is one of the veterans Col. George Morgan, a meml>er of General George Washington's staff nt Valley Forge, probably was responsible for the settling ot Pcinl- scot County. Col. Morgan, the story goes, hart been a Spanish sympathizer antl Mdcd several Spanish explorers In their treks through the then im- settled part of the United Stntci wesl ot the Mississippi River. After the surrender ot Cornwalllj at Yorktown, Morgan Is sntd tn hav« quit Washington because the general was averse lo giving him R desired appointment, nnd he decided to go west Into the vast unexplored land. Through the Spanish minister at Ihe American capita], which was then Philadelphia, Col. Morgan wa« granted n princely domain of 12,000,000 acres along the west banks of the Mississippi River extending southward from a point opposltft the mouth of the Ohio River to th« mouth of the St. Francis River, Tn 1788 Col. Morgan came In his domain and established a city which lie called New Madrid in honor of the Spanish capital. He connected his city with Stc. Oencvleve nnd St. Louis on the north and with the lAttle Prairie settlement on the. south. Little Prulrie was. at that time, believed to have been a Span- tsh fort. I.fSlrur Fustics South In 1T91 a French settler of New Madrid by the name of Francois I^cSicnr pushed south from New Madrid in search of his own land. f First Baptist Church increase Cor the decade, tiy 1930, Stceie hart paved .street 1 ;. water and sewage systems, a cotton compress, six cotton gins, two banks and three churches. Its six ccton gins were handling over $2.030.000 of Pemiscot County's annual $5,000,000 cotton crop. School houses existed in the Stceie vicinity long hefcrc the town existed, but when the new town was incorporated In l&Ol not a single .school house stood within its limits. A meeting of members of the va- of the town. He is the son of Jumps He is said Vo have h\iUt ti log cabin realize that H wouldn't last for- \ rious communities in the area at- ing—a building he thought never be needed, As the years passed, even more buildings were needed, and today Steele is the center of one of the largest consolidated school districts in the state. In addition to the original grade school and high school building, the system now Includes a new 16-room red brick grade .school, a gmynasi- um which seals 500 and contains three classrooms, a home economics hut and n red brick vocational agriculture building. This system Is in the hands of 44 instructors headed by Superintendent Riley J. Knight. School board members include Frank Huffman, president; Hobart. :. Kelley. the Tennessee lumberman who traded his mules and wagon for part of the towivslte years ago. Also Is Writer Mr, Kelley also Ls an accomplished writer and has had several articles and poems on early Southeast Missouri published in various magazines. Today he Ls considered by the Stecle townspeople as the historian of Hint area. Several civic and fraternal organizations have sprang up in Steele down through the years, ' Probsbly the two oldest are the Steele Book Club and the Rotary Club. The Bsok Club, a women's organization, came Into existence hack n 1935 for the purpose ol sponsor- g a city library. Today, it has accumulated hundreds of volumes and set up exccl- cnt library facilities in the City Flail. Officers of the club arc Mrs. Lucille Dates, president; Mrs. Frtmkle recording secretary and Mrs. Francis Haggard, corf&spond- n$ secretary. The Rofry club was organized Wells, vice-president: Thelbert Bl- ship, Ralph Hall, Royal Sanders, Fred Franklin and two non-member officers— Mary A. Frakes, treasurer, ami Leon Earls, secretary. i School Term Split Hie high school lias sponsored band for the past 10 years and a sponsors both boys and girls basketball during Uie winter season am oftball during the summer. The school term Is split Into two o.s.sions, one nmnlng from July un- Scptcmbcr and the other from November until May. Probably the carl'cst church in he vicinity and certainly the bes nown was tbe old Mount Zloi Church wMch was built In the 1850*: list outside the present site o 3tccle \ The building was torn down long go and today the aHc where U ncc stood Is used as the city's cemttcry. Tod a y the c Ity possesses seven churches including Methodist. Bap- isl Church of Christ, Assembly of God, Pilgram's Holiness and two for Negroes. The latest census check disclosed Steele with a population of 2,350. Its industries include two alfalfa mills, and four cotton gins. There are at least four more gins within a radius ol two miles of the city. The city today boasts an J80.00Q fire-proof factory building contain- in 1937 and today S. W. Hollcnbeck serves as its president and J. C Kinnin^ham as its secretary. The city also h*s an active post of the Veterans of Fnrelin Wars which Ls headed by Post Commander Leslie Barren. Clarence Potcct Is the post quartermaster. Two years ago this organization completed an 18 by 80 foot hut lo be used for a meeting and rccroptiot place. This building Is wooden on n wide open prairie many miles downstream from New Madrid. Fie ts believed to have been one ot the first settlers in the I'emiscol County and Cnrutheisvllle area. Records covering Ihe span of years between nsi and I8f>l when Pemiscot County was organized, could not be located but It is hc- lievtd that other Frenchmen and Spaniards followed LeSlcur south and settled near his borne. Along about the lime of the great earthquakes of 1811 and 1012, John Walker Is satd lo have owned extensive plantation near the Little Prairie settlement where he nayctl an Influential role in the urlher settling of Pemiscot County. Walker Sponsored lloolliccl Walker, it is said, was responsible :or the Inclusion of the "boothecl." ns a part of Missouri when it became a slate In 1820. Another man instrumental in the settling of Caruthcr.svlllc and Pemiscot County was a newspnpcr edllor by the name r>f Carutticrs, for whom (he city of Caruthcr.sville named. Mr. CarNlhers was said to have come to Pemiscot County from Fredricktown, Mo., but it has not Hastwood Memorial McUiodisl Church in a number of new residents. I er.sville alone has four cotton gins Hoiick Uailrond Kxpami.s | and a large compress to accomo- Louls Hoiick of Cape Girardcau date the farmers in Its immediate owned a number of railroads vicinity. I'npululion Changes The growth of Caruthcrsville since the turn of the century Is marked by its changing population- It has grown from the 350 residents In 1896 to '1,750 in 1930, 6,612"in 1Q1Q and iifl78 nt present. Canither.svillc today is the second largest city in the Missouri boot- hcei, a thousand or so behind Slkcs- ton, which is located 50 miles to the north. CanUhev.valle lends the county in educational facilities with public elementary nnd high schools for both white ami Negro children. And in iuuiiiJon to tho public schools, throughout southeast Missouri ft ml he began to extend his lines U) include Cnruthcrsvillc in 1893 nnd completed the expansion in 1805, In IfiflO the construction of the i lirst public school In Caruttmrsvillc was completed. The school brought' still more residents Inlo Cnruth- tfi'villc and the young town began '*o prow. Alter the turn o! the century, industries befian lo pop up throughout Pemi:;cot County, There were JY luuniicr of saw mlHs located over the county for in Ihosc days, lumber was the chief source of Income. Ilox P'.irlnry Opened In 1012 the Dlllman brothers carnal to Caruthcrsville and opened the ' Carulhersville'.s Catholic Church also first industry of any sire, n box I operates a grade school. been ascertained just how he fii;- ired In the sailing ol the county. Peir-Sscot County was leynlly organized bv nn act of the stwto, legislature Feb. ID, 1851, and according to a.ailable records, tbc county hud rvo specified county scat during Vts first six years. In 1957. Albion Crow, William Ray res and William S. Moslcy were appointed as commissioners to locate a county scat. They met April 23, 1857 and bought from James A frame with .asbestos shingle .siding M cFarland 50 acres of land on'the ing 24,000 square feet of Moor space and consists of a modern kitchen and recreation room. i C. of C. Is 3 Years Old Newer organizations Include the Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club, both of which were organized about three years ago. O. L. Story Is president and H. A. Farrls Is secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, while Cleo Garret is president and Jack Rciter secretary of the Kiwanis. The city also ha.s Masonic and Odd Fellow lodges and their Enst- rn Star and Rebecca auxiliaries. Several banks have lived and died in the city of Stceie, but only one weathered the financial storms. This bank, The Bank of Stecle, organized in 19W, exists today as Steele's only bank and claims the distinction or being one of the three or four banks in the territory be twccn St. Louis and Memphis I/ survive the depression of'the earl ianks of the Mississippi River and named the proposed town Gnyosn honor of Governor Gayoso of )iiisiantt. RACKET STORE—Decorated for the Yulctide season, the Racket Store operated here by the lat E. A Fisher is shown above as It was photographed on Christmas Eve, 1906. J. H. Fisher, E. A. Fisher brottr, and hts wife are shown standing ncai the center of the phcto, Al far ri^ht behind the counicr j unt11 is IK late MY. Fisher. At far left t* Max Jones, a clerk. Thft others are unidentified. that It is anxious to activate at the earliest opportunity. This bnilrt- "ng was occupied by a shoe company recently. K Road Now Frlwrt That old log road which was ex- '.'^ | fnctory. They purchased limber from surrounding areas and manufactured wooden boxes and finished lumber for the market. Dunng World War n the box factory changed in nils and it became known ns the Ilnhnch Venerr •uinhcr Company. The firm Is still in operation In Carulliersvillc lo- j day furnishing Inbnr for 125 dent.s with on annual payroll of 5250,000. Other industries have followed the lx>x factory to Caruthersvillc, A number of small ones have located there in recent years but in 103-1 the city got its biggest, industry, a shoe factory, The Brown Shoe Company o! St. Ixniis npcned a branch liic'ory there that year and it has been in operation since. Today it hirrs 450 rm- ployecs and has an annual payroll Fifiecri churches arc located at Citnilhfisvtllc as places of worship for Us citi/cns. And the churches represent 15 denominations. 'Hie I9")0 census shows Charles County, in southern Maryland, gained in population for the first linn in 1(10 years. Gayoso, which eventually was vashed away by the constant, widening of the river, was located five 1 mtte.s north of what Ls now Caruth- irsvillc on tt bend in the river. In 1898, however, because the river was gradually eating away Gayoso, U became necessary to move ,hc county seat. CaruthersviHe antl Haytlt which had been settled only hort itira. bid lor the honor anil an election was held, Caruthcrs- viile won by a deciding vote and the county seat was moved there. C&ruthersvllle population then was only about 350, High waters of 1882, 1R83 and 1884 caused many residents lo leave the county Tor higher ground, Bui In 1801 the young town and county began lo .take steps lo make Its land safe from the floort- waters. thirties. A levee was started that year to Steele still is a growing city and u n k with Ihe one being constructs numerous building projects are being conducted In Us vicinity. It ].* today considered the agricultural capital of South Pcmlscol County. lo the south In Arkansas. It was completed about 1895. The building of the levee coupled with the coming of Ihe railroad In 1805 brought of approximately Sl.400.000, Another Industry located at Ca- ruthcr.sville is the Chris Craft Boat Corporation, manufacturers ot boots of all types. The l»at company em* ploys 312 workers and has an annual payroll of approximately $312,000. Among the smaller Industries located ill Caruthcrsviile arc Ihree sand and gravel concerns, an automobile, Iruck and Iractor re-building firm and Iwo large machine shops. But In spile of its industries, the chief source of income for Caruth- crsvlltc and Pemiscot County today Is agriculture. The land of the Missouri bootheei is some of Ihe richest n the Mississippi River Delta, making Pcmiscol Comity one of Missouri's garden spots. Like all other delta arras, cotton is Ihe county's chief crop. It's rich land nnd climatic conditions arc Ideal for cotton production. Cotlon gins dot the county to process the cotton produced by the county's fanners each year. Caruth- KAKLY MINISTER—The Rev. Francis C. Morris (above) came, lo Osccola in .Ihe 1850's to become the pastor of'Mississippi .County's . first Presbyterian Church. Members of his family wore pioneer settlers and were AC live In the growth of the county,

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