Public Transportation Comes to Bollinger, Cape & Wayne Counties

I found this advertisement in the December 6, 1945 Wayne County Journal- Banner newspaper. Public transportation has always been a problem in the Eastern Ozarks of Southeast, Missouri but Scofield Bus Lines tried to address the problem.

Bus ad for Southeast MissouriBus ad for Southeast Missouri 06 Dec 1945, Thu Wayne County Journal-Banner (Piedmont, Missouri)

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The Merger of Lutesville & Marble Hill

17 Feb 1986, Mon St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri)

The February 17, 1986 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on the possible merger of the towns of Lutesville and Marble Hill, Missouri. The two tiny towns separated only by Crooked Creek were probably unfamiliar with the vast majority of its readers.

The paper reported:

“In a move to blend progress with local sensibility, two adjacent towns in southeastern Missouri are seeking to merge without either one having to give up its name.

The two are Lutesville and Marble Hill in Bollinger County. They propose to achieve their compromise with an old trick of punctuation- the hyphen. Assuming the voters approve, the new town will be Lutesville- Marble Hill, population 1466.”

The previous fall voters in Marble Hill voted (209- 4) to merge the two towns under that town’s name. However, voters in Lutesville narrowly defeated (97-3) merging the two towns under the name Marble Hill.

The proposed name of Lutesville- Marble Hill was the result of a compromise, as residents of Lutesville were concerned about losing their town’s identity.

The Post-Dispatch also reported that:

“Commission members have said a merger would make the area more attractive to industries. International Hat Co., the area’s largest employer, employs about 135 in its plant in Lutesville.

Both communities also benefit from an industrial park in Lutesville , an airstrip in Marble Hill and a regional park in Lutesville.”

In the years since the article was written, Lutesville lost its identity (the only trace of it being Lutesville Ford) and both towns lost the hat factory and most recently the airport.

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Buried in Bessville: Tales of an Indian Chief, a Haunted House & the Lost Treasure of a Mexican Prospector

16 Jul 1909, Fri The Democrat-News (Fredericktown, Missouri)

The July 16, 1909 issue of The Democrat- News (Fredericktown, Missouri) carried a fascinating, yet outlandish tale of buried treasure in the Bessville, (Bollinger County) Missouri area.

According to the paper, it received several reports of area residents meeting the ghost of an Indian chief, near a haunted house, where a murder had taken place years before.

From the Democrat-News:

“The general quarry around Marquand at this time is “anything about the haunted house.” It seems that this house is located one half mile north of Bessville and was owned by Andrew Whitener some 5 years ago.

Strange and weird tales are now being told of happenings in the vicinity of the house, one of which is that about 19 months ago a lady living in the house started to Marquand on foot, when about a mile and one half from Bessville she was accosted by an Indian chief who informed her that near Union church on Crooked creek a large amount of money is buried, the “chief” described the spot very minutely; after imparting this information the “chief” vanished into air.

It is said that Will Collins met this spirit chief and had a talk with him and he also told Will about the money and where it was buried and went with him to the spot and told him to dig; two more living in the vicinity of Bessville have run across the “chief” and money has always been his theme.

It is said that the “Chief” held quite a lengthy conversation with one of the people living in that community and imparted to him the following story as to how the money came to be buried in that particular location.

“Many years ago the Mexicans would travel from their home country to Mine La Motte , the trip being made to get lead, which was hauled to the river and sold , one old Mexican prospector named Juan Jesus de Gareero had been particularly fortunate and had accumulated a large amount of money, he had a handsome daughter who had shared with him in the privations and hardships endured while working at Mine La Motte, he started for his old home in Mexico with his daughter, intending to live in comfort for the balance of his days.

When he left Mine La Motte, he was followed and when near the spot where this house stands he was set upon, killed and robbed and his daughter outraged and killed by the men who had followed them. It is said that he carried his money, which was in gold coin, in three old pots which were sealed up and slung across a mule which carried their other luggage.

The robbers after securing the treasure had a falling out had a falling out amongst themselves as to a division of the coin and one night before a division has been made and while the money was still in the pots, one of the Mexicans stealthily arose and killed his three companions, throwing their bodies in the waters of Crooked creek. He then fearing to take the money with him buried it in the sands of Crooked creek.

On his way back to Mine La Motte he stole a horse, was captured by a posse and hung and his ill gotten money, never did him any good and it is said to be the spirit of the murdered Mexican who hovers around the country in the guise of an Indian Chief.”

Be that as it may, several parties have prospected in the vicinity of Union church, three holes have been dug, one of which is about 14 feet deep; it is also said that the spirit of the girl is often seen around the place: one party states that she saw the girl at the house and that she was dressed entirely in black with a bible in her hand, the vision was also seen by other parties.”

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Bucky: Marble Hill Missouri’s Famous Deer

Bucky, Marble Hill Rescue DeerBucky, Marble Hill Rescue Deer 14 May 1969, Wed The Daily Standard (Sikeston, Missouri)

The May 14, 1969 issue of The Daily Standard newspaper (Sikeston, Mo.) published an update on “Bucky” a deer that had been injured near Marble Hill, Missouri and rescued by a local couple. The “Bucky Report” appeared in newspapers across Missouri.

The “Bucky Report” provided the latest updates on the deer as well as a bit of background on the circumstances that made the deer famous:

“Bucky is all right. He is happy in his new home and already has made many fine friends. He is getting only the best of food and care and sends his love. He says he misses you all.

Bucky is a deer not quite a year old who was found south of Marble Hill with a broken leg after he had been run over by a mower. Mr. and Mrs. Tom Runnels took the fawn into their home and arranged to have the broken leg set.”

The report continued:

“As Bucky grew , he became more of a pet of the Marble Hill community rather than a one – family deer. But Bollinger County conservation agent Tom Wilder began to worry that when Bucky grew antlers, he might puncture some of the citizenry since he already playfully butted people.

Bucky’s friends regretfully agreed that Buck must go, so it was decided he would, so to speak, be sent to a camp- more specifically, the Charles W. Green Wildlife Area near Ashland.

It was a sad day in late March when they came for Bucky who didn’t resist as he was crated. There were moist eyes and tremulous “goodbyes” to Bucky who made a silent farewell to Marble Hill. It was rumoured a single tear trickled down his hairy cheek.”

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Hope for the Northern Portion of the Belmont Branch

24 Apr 1973, Tue The Daily Journal (Flat River, Missouri)

The April 24, 1973 edition of The Daily Journal newspaper reported on efforts to save the northern portion of the Belmont Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad from abandonment. The paper reported:

“L. J. Miller of S.F.C. Homes Incorporated at Farmington has filed suit in the Circuit Court in St. Francois County seeking an injunction to forbid the abandoning of service between Bismark and his home factory just west of Highway 67 south of Farmington.

Another suit has been filed by a Joint Committee For Transportation in Madison County which is a cooperative organization formed to oppose the abandoning of the Belmont Branch.”

The Daily Journal also reported that:

“The S.F.C. Homes suit is based on what Miller claims was a verbal assurance that the rail line would be continued indefinitely to the factor site adjacent to Highway 67.”

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Last Chance for the Belmont Branch

23 Sep 1972, Sat The Kansas City Times (Kansas City, Missouri)

The September 23, 1972 issue of the Kansas City Times reported of a “Hail Mary” pass of sorts by those who opposed the abandonment of the Belmont Branch by the Missouri Pacific railroad.

According to the Times:

“The Interstate Commerce Commission has been asked for a rehearing on a proposal by the Missouri Pacific Railroad to abandon a branch line serving four counties- Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Madison and St. Francois.

The counties and businessmen along the route expressed opposition to abandonment at a 3 day hearing in May, 1971. The examiner ruled that the railroad be allowed to abandon the line, and last September, 1 a commission review board voted to uphold the ruling, with the order to be effective October 3.

Opponents of abandonment of the 65-mile Belmont Branch line say the railroad did not want it to show a profit. They say the service is vital to the economy of the four counties and 16 towns on the line.”

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Uncertain Future For Belmont Branch

Belmont Branch AbandonmentBelmont Branch Abandonment 23 Oct 1970, Fri The Daily Journal (Flat River, Missouri)

The Daily Journal newspaper, in its October 23, 1970 issue, reported the bleak future of Missouri Pacific railroad’s Belmont Branch.

The Belmont Branch, originally built by the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern railroad, connected St. Louis and southeast Missouri with the Southeast United States beginning at Bismarck and terminating at Belmont where it connected with a ferry on the Mississippi River.

When the Belmont Branch was completed in 1869, the line was an important means of transporting area timber, mineral and agricultural resources but by 1970 was struggling to turn a profit. Despite this fact it was still a valuable resource for communities along the line that hoped to attract industry through their rail connection. As the Daily Journal noted, one of those industries was Ozark Steel Fabricators, located in Farmington.

“While the historic site of the proposed abandonment of the Belmont Branch Line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad is discussed, stronger opposition to the proposal is expected to come from communities and industries served along the 65 mile stretch of railroad, including Ozark Steel Fabricators in Farmington… the historic line runs from Bismarck to Whitewater, which is located north of Jackson. It is the only rail service for the communities such as Fredericktown, Lutesville and Marble Hill.”

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Lutesville Soldier Dies in Vietnam

David Keith PomeroyDavid Keith Pomeroy 26 Aug 1968, Mon The Daily Standard (Sikeston, Missouri)

The above photo was published in the Daily Standard’s (Sikeston, Mo.) August 26, 1968 issue. This particular scan is not the best quality, but it is all I could find.

Army Pfc. David Keith Pomeroy was killed on February 18, 1968 while serving in Vietnam. The Daily Standard reported:

Mrs. Faye Pomeroy of Lutesville, in a ceremony at the Bollinger County Bank, Monday received posthumous awards honoring her husband, Pfc. David K. Pomeroy.

Making the presentation was Lt. Col. J. J. Reedy, commanding officer of the fifth U.S. army advisory group in Cape Girardeau.

The awards included the bronze star and purple heart medals, good conduct medal, combat infantryman badge, national defense service medal, Vietnam campaign ribbon and the expert badge with rifle and pistol bar.

A detailed description of Pfc. Pomeroy’s service is included in the clipping below.

David Keith PomeroyDavid Keith Pomeroy 26 Aug 1968, Mon The Daily Standard (Sikeston, Missouri)

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No More Passengers on Freight Trains

The December 23, 1909 Democrat – News ( Fredericktown, Missouri) announced that only the southbound local freight train of the St. Louis , Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad, would carry passengers between Bismarck and Glen Allen. The paper cited that the railroad now had two passenger trains running north and south daily and that the public should patronize them.

Passenger service, Glen Allen , MissouriPassenger service, Glen Allen , Missouri 23 Dec 1909, Thu The Democrat-News (Fredericktown, Missouri)

My Address to the Wayne County Historical Society

I was invited to speak to the Wayne County [Missouri] Historical Society on April 5, 2021 and I have to say that I’ve never met a more welcoming, friendly and generous group of people. I would like to thank David Bollinger for the invite and all of those who came to listen to me speak. I had a great time and met so many great people afterwards. Wayne County, you really know how to make a guy feel welcome!

Below are some photos I took of the Luna Museum, located at 108 W. Elm Street, Piedmont, Missouri.

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