Elmer, Missouri
Early History
(And some info about Mercyville)
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Elmer History

In The Beginning
  Pre-Mercyville History 
     A Sketch of Mercyville
        Mercyville's Misfortune=Elmer's Gain

          Railroad Causes Mercyville to Split 
            Growth Came Quickly for Elmer
             Family Businesses = Elmer’s Success 
                   Elmer and the Civil War
                      Elmer - A Social Hub
                         Plat Map of Elmer
                            Elmer Becomes a City
Great Bank Robbery of Elmer
   Elmer's Famous Baseball Team
       Elmer's First Author
           Gold Discovered near Mercyville
               Elmer's Earliest Soldier
                   Jesse and Frank James - in Elmer?
                       Elmer's First Concert Band
New Water System Upgrades Elmer
   Elmer's Corn Shucking Champion
       1897 Plat Map of Macon County
           War Hero from Elmer
                1913 Old Settlers Reunion Event

 In The Beginning

The purchase in 1803 of the vast territory west of the Mississippi River, by the United States extending through Oregon to the Pacific coast and south to the Dominions of Mexico, constitutes one of the most important events that ever occurred in the history of this great nation.  It gave to our Republic additional room for expansion and stupendous growth.  This country was unsettled, wild and magnificent.  Not unlike the people who migrated to it in order to tame it. 

The total population of the Territory, as shown by the United States census in 1810, was 20,845.  The population would grow fairly rapidly from this time on and territorial organizations would soon develop.  Congress organized Missouri as a Territory on July 4, 1812, with a Governor and General Assembly.  The first counties were formed.  After much debate and deliberation regarding the “Missouri Compromise”, Missouri was admitted into the union as a state on August 10, 1821.  It consisted of fifteen counties.  Additional counties would be formed and organized over the next 20 years until a total of 114 counties would ultimately make up the state of Missouri.

The fifty-seventh county to be organized within the state was Macon County, achieving that status officially in 1837.  Naturally, people were beginning to settle there prior to that time.  These people tended to be poor but very strong willed.  They survived in a territory that was harsh and demanding.  Most migrated from Virginia and Kentucky, some with intermediary stops before finally arriving in Macon County.  What they lacked in worldly conveniences, they made up for with grit and determination.  Soon the county was subdivided into townships, twenty-four in total. 

Two townships in particular are central to the development of the towns to be named Mercyville and Elmer, those townships being Walnut Creek Township and Easley Township.  Walnut Creek Township derived its name from a creek that flows through the northern portion of the same.  It is supposed that Fisher Rice was the earliest settler in the township; he came from Kentucky in 1834.  Two or three years afterwards Gabriel Lunday from Illinois, Amos Williams from Kentucky, Nicholas Gunnels from Kentucky, and A. B. Griffin from Kentucky, located in the township.  A little later, between 1840 and 1845, James L. Herron from Ralls county, Missouri, Enoch Johnson from Kentucky, Ignatius Burnes, from Ralls County, Missouri, Moses Lovern from Kentucky, Charles W. Truitt from Ralls county, Jeremiah Biswell from Kentucky, William Huckaby from Virginia, James Banning from Randolph county, Missouri, Joseph Bailey from Ralls county (originally from Shenandoah County, Virginia), and John Bigsby from Kentucky, emigrated to Macon county and settled in Walnut Creek township. 

Easley Township is one of the northwestern townships in Macon County and is located just north of Walnut Creek Township.  The township was named after Judge William Easley, who emigrated from Kentucky about the year 1838.  He was one of the judges of the county courte from 1852 to 1856.  Among other old settlers were David Williams and Thomas Williams from Kentucky, George Cood, James Cook and Leo McDavitt from Kentucky, James Broyles from Ennessee, John McDavitt and Joseph Sears from Kentucky. At a later date came Milton and Marion Truitt, John Roan, Dr. William B. Llly, Colton B. Sears, J. Hendrickson and others.

Over the next 180 years or so, people would come and people would go, as the population of the country would shift restlessly.  But these brave and industrious men and their families would civilize and develop a wild country, establishing roots that would endure to this day. And so begins the piecing together of a puzzle, a puzzle with many pieces, some still missing, that placed together weave a colorful story.  The story draws together characters from many parts of the world, finally centering its plot in Walnut Creek and Easley Townships, Macon County, Missouri.  From there the characters again begin dispersing to remote places, but still having the common roots that will bind them together forever. 

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 Pre-Mercyville History

(summarized from Elmer Centennial, 1987)

The town of Mercyville was legally surveyed, and laid out in blocks and lots, in 1865.  But, before that, there was a settlement, of sorts, dating to 1850-1854.  This was more of a gathering together of settlers on the eastern slopes of the Chariton River bottom.

Easley Township was surveyed, by the Federal Survey Office, out of St. Louis in 1836.  At that time, there were many people living in Southeast Easley Township and a few in the Northeast Walnut Township.  This 1836 survey showed numerous "fields", but did not locate houses, scattered about on the more fertile, well drained areas.  Most of the area was covered with large virgin timber.  A large part of the Chariton River Bottom was labeled as swamp, and there were several lakes, such as Fish Lake and Buck Lake which still exist today.

Occasionally the survey indicated what was called "Prairies and Barrens".  The "Barrens" were fairly large tracts of land on which there was no timber.  Most were located east of what was to become Elmer, beginning east of the present route 3 and extending on east to a mile beyone the country store known as Plainview.  

As written in the Elmer History, 1976, Mercyville was originally known locally as "Goosetown".  No doubt this came about by the locals raising large numbers of geese for food, barter and market, and possibly they drove these geese up and down main street to the southwest corner of town where, it seems, the business area was located.

But before there was a Goosetown, which seems to have begun in the early 1950's or before, there was a settlement of an unknown number of families to the northeast of Mercyville, as now platted.  A unique feature of this area was the large (3'x4'x4') block of red granite located north of, or more likely in the center of, the village.  Such an area was then known as the "Commons" as it was equally owned and shared by all who lived in the settlement.

This granite block has a hollowed out area in the center top and the corners are rounded.  It is nearly perfectly square.  This was used by all to "grind" the various grains which was a staple of the early settlers.  The block of granite is still in the area being located in the front yard of the "Maggie Patrick" place.

The most interesting aspect of this "pre-Goosetown" is that there is in evidence the limestone foundations of some five cabins.  There is also the remains of a well which was constructed of cut, shaped and formed limestone slabs - larger than a brick but smaller than the common concrete block.  Each is curved to fit the radius of the well.  The well is now filled with dirt, rocks and - could it be valuables?  Old accounts of early American families hint that valuables were sometimes placed at the bottom of the well for safekeeping against possible Indian raids or, commonly, white man raids looking for an easy cache of money, copper, silver or gold.  

By 1870, Mercyville was beginning to develop.  The 1870 Atlas shows eleven houses, or business places, in Mercyville.  Also that year, there were three general stores, one steam powered grist and saw mill and four saloons located there.  There were no churches in the developing town, but the 1870 Atlas shows a small church as being located east of and a little south of Frank and Maggie Patrick's home.

The first school house was built in 1854 and the teacher was J. W. Cook.  There is also a school shown in the atlas as being located east and a little north of where the Elmer Cemetery is now located.  This was near the Shirley Cemetery and could possible be the one built in 1854.  

And so, the town of Mercyville begins to develop.  More history about this town follows.

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  A Sketch of Mercyville 

(Reprinted from The Elmer JOURNAL, 1909)

 The difficulty of the early history of Mercyville lies in this that there is no absolutely correct data to figure from the history is traditionary therefore I can only write the early part from hearsay, the place was surveyed and platted by H. B. Foster a civil engineer about the year 1866. The land was owned by Allen Fletcher and Thomas Truitt.  In 1884, the town contained three general stores, one steam mill, one blacksmith shop and two saloons; no churches.The first store was put up by Henry Cook. Milton and Marion Truitt built the first mill in Easley Township and located it in Mercyville in 1854. It was a grist and saw-mill.

The first Postmaster was Thomas Herron (although some records list C. T. Shirely as the first Postmaster), the second was Simpson Tate, an uncle to the Simpson Tate of Elmer, none of the first settlers remain, some went to new parts because they were imbued with the spirit of adventure, others of them sleep here near the scene of their early labors and their pride awaiting the restitution of all things.

This place was formerly known as Goosetown but in time the citizens concluded it should be christened anew.  It should have a higher sounding little something at least above the aquatic name of Goosetown, so old Pap Williams, the village blacksmith proposed a game of cards to settle the matter, Pap was successful, his wife bore the euphonious name of Mercy, this name was then given to the town amid the plaudits of the residents who had collected themselves at the place where refreshments were dished out, they then proceeded to celebrate the event.  Several went home minus a piece of ear, blackened eyes and broken heads, the place now became famous or infamous as the most outlandish place on the map of the state, but let that pass we will draw the veil of charity over the scene the reader shall be spared the terrors of this memorable town for the scenes enacted here combined the horrors of a prize fight with being buried alive.

So matters moved along up to the time about 1887 when the Sante Fe was in course of construction, the place was then invaded by a different class, rough but an improvement on the rougher citizens who occupied the place before but the citizens as whole were not an unruly class, they were good and useful people.  Uncle Simp Tate of Elmer was one of the early citizens who did much to further the interest of the place he is today a useful and good man but the weight of years has pressed heavily upon his as his mind has become so much enfeebled as to leave the past almost a blank to him, he has reached almost the highest point in the journey where the eye of hope looks from time to eternity in contemplation of glories yet to be revealed. Old William Hodge was a quiet and good citizen and there were others of whom time and space forbids comments. 

About this time Dale & Son began a mercantile trade here which was successful to a great degree.  T. I. Murry was in the drug trade and kept one article called snake bite cure of which he was an inveterate hater, it was almost impossible to get it even on a prescription.  Mike Archer was the grocer he was a peculiar man but a diamond in the rough.  He (in the language of Ingersoll) has gone down to silence and pathetic dust but his name will live in the hearts of his pupils for he was also the school teacher.

About this time 1888 the town of Elmer was laid out and settlement commenced but the merchants here rebelled, they said we will hold the old fort and so great was their attachment for it they even went so far as to pay the money out of their pockets to pay a mail carrier themselves in order to retain the Post Office here but alas avarice and the hope of gain triumphed over all, then set in the decline and downfall of the ancient village, the place was turned over to the moles and bats. It was a scene of desolation, gloom pervaded the place, people passed each other without salute, their faces were sad and dejected, their eyes were fixed and staring; their clothes were in rags, they presented whatever is mournful in life.

But hush! Hark! A new hope springs up, we hear rumors of a new railroad whose terminus is Mercyville, the old place assumed a different aspect, the citizens pricked up their ears, they met each other with a smile.  Our hopes were soon realized, the I & St. L railroad was a reality, it was the salvation of the place. Values on property arose to a sublime height.  Now all is peace and satisfaction.  We have a nice depot here and our facilities for shipping are as good as neighboring towns.  Mercyville is situated in the Chariton Valley, the eternal fertility of which will outlive all the towns and settlements which have been founded along it and nourished by its wonderful soil.  Small wonder there is a move on foot to straighten its torturous course when this is done it will outrival the proud boasts of the fertility and productiveness of the famed valley of the Nile but here I must desist from further speculation imagination must drop its wing since I can no further penetrate the dark vista of the future of the place. 

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  Elmer Thrives Thru Mercyville’s Misfortune

(Reprinted from the La Plata Home Press, June 9, 1993 edition)

By Debbie Clay, Editor

In most communities, the coming of the railroads through northern Missouri meant prosperity and growth.  Unfortunately for Mercyville, they quickly became the exception with the construction of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad.

Prior to the railroad, Mercyville enjoyed moderate success.  Their closest neighbors for business competition were a comfortable distance away.  Local Businesses received loyal patronage from those who lived in the area.

Places of business in Mercyville included the usual variety of restaurants, saloons, grocery and general merchandise stores.  The town had one of the area’s first grist mills, built in 1854, by Milton and Marion Truitt.  That same year saw the construction of a pioneer school house, followed by the community’s first house of worship in 1858.  Other businesses included a blacksmith shop, a physician, a drug store, and their post office.

The 1887 construction of the ATSF railroad brought a crowd of new faces to Mercyville.  Among them were a class of men most considered rough.  Apparently, these personalities didn’t mix well with the rougher class from Mercyville, and had quite a lot to do with the town dividing.

While the track was under construction, a dispute arose among locals that eventually spelled the death of the old community. When the railroad company built their depot along the track near Mercyville, argument prevailed whether or not to move Mercyville closer to the tracks for better transportation.  There were those who wanted to move, and an equal number who were opposed.  After Bill Shares and Bill McGee each donated 25 acres by the new track for the location of a new town, the community of Mercyville was divided.

The new settlement was established surrounding the new depot.  The ATSF depot was named Biddle station, and the founders of the new town followed suit in naming their town.  Soon they realized there was already a town in Missouri named Biddle, and changed their community’s name to Elmer.

As the new community developed, merchants in Mercyville rebelled.  Mercyville and Elmer began an intense battle against one another.  Merchants in Mercyville vowed to hold the fort in the old town.  They went so far as to pay a mail carrier out of their own pockets in order to retain their post office.

Eventually, the hope to gain failed and greediness prevailed.  Business firms began transferring to Elmer, bringing a decline in the old settlement.  Before long, as Elmer grew, Mercyville became a scene of desolation and gloom. 

By the year 1904, most businesses who had originally opened in Mercyville had moved to Elmer.  That year an election was held to consolidate the Mercyville and Gunnels schools with the Elmer school district.

When rumor circulated of a new railroad leading north and south through Mercyville, new hope was stirred.  Soon, the Iowa and St. Louis Railroad was a reality, and property values began to rise.  A nice I & St. L depot was erected in Mercyville, making their shipping facilities as good as neighboring towns, including Elmer.  But once again, the success was squelched.

The I & St. L had originally planned to cross the ATSF tracks, and continue south.  But a fierce court battle broke, and ATSF refused to allow the I & St. L to cross their tracks.  Since the railroad company couldn’t afford to burrow their line under, or bridge over the ATSF track, the line stopped at Mercyville.  Because the line dead ended at Mercyville, the company didn’t last long before the track was removed, once again spelling doom for Mercyville.

Since that day, when it was realized that the old settlement would never gain on its own, Mercyville was quietly swallowed up by their young neighbor, leaving Elmer and a quiet valley where Mercyville once thrived.

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 Railroad Causes Mercyville to Split

First in a series on the history of Mercyville and Elmer, Missouri (Reprinted from the April 28, 1993 edition of The Home Press, La Plata, Missouri)

By Debbie Clay, Editor

According to the adage, older is wiser.  That says nothing of the value of energy and resolution possessed by youth.

In at least two instances during the turn of the century, settlers in northern Missouri saw the old pitted against the new, when rivaling railroad communities fought for prosperity.  The battle of Mercyville versus Elmer was one such battle.

In a recent series on the history of Gifford, Missouri, it was shown how two rivaling railroad settlements, North Gifford and South Gifford, fought for the business patronage and respect of area residents.

In this series, detailing the history of Mercyville and Elmer, Missouri, facts will be shown that parallel the situation in Gifford.  In both cases, two rival railroad communities, each within a mile of each other, established trade along new railroad lines laid around the turn of the century.  In each case, the first town to settle, was the town to fade, leaving way for the expansion of their rival.

In Gifford’s case, North Gifford was the first to settle.  They were followed by a settlement less than a mile south, called South Gifford.  The younger town had the advantage of learning from the older town’s shortcomings and eventually caused the demise of the older settlement.  This battle for the established community took place in the early 1900’s.

Several years prior to the birth of North and South Gifford, was a similar situation between the communities of Mercyville and Elmer.  Again, the rivaling settlements were born of the anticipated prosperity from an incoming railroad.

Also, as was the case in Gifford, the younger town learned from the mistakes of the older town.  Mercyville was eventually forced into succession, and faded into history.  All that remains is Elmer, Missouri, and an empty valley which once was Mercyville.

Although the battle between the communities of Mercyville and Elmer arose with word of the coming railroad, Mercyville had been around long before the railroad was even a thought.  Mercyville could actually be called a gold rush town.

The history of Mercyville is somewhat vague, and most accounts of its history must rely on old records and newspapers.  Few people remain who can claim much knowledge of the old town.

The area of the Chariton Valley which later became Mercyville was first settled around 1837.  The town itself, first known ad Goosetown, is believed to have been laid out in 1865-66 by H.B. Foster, a civil engineer.

Before much time had passes, settlers in the young town opted for a new name.  A unique method of choosing a new name was decided, and the town was named through a card game.  A man by the name of Pap Williams, the community’s first blacksmith, suggested a game of cards to settle the matter.  Williams was successful and won the honor of choosing the new name.  Williams was said to adore his wife, whose name was Mercy.  Thus, he named the town for her: Mercyville.  Mercy was no doubt loved by the majority, for records show that all celebrated the new name.

In the spirit of celebration, many men got carried away with their drinking and attitudes flaired.  Recordings of the celebration indicate that several went home minus a piece of ear, with a blackened eye, or a broken head.  After this famous celebration, the place became known famous as the most outlandish place on the map of the state.  Fortunately, time healed that reputation, and all was forgiven.

The town moved along, progressing slightly, and by 1870 had a population of 79.  Around 1875, there was a flurry concerning a gold rush, as recorded in an 1884 history book: “considerable excitement up the Chariton Valley, centering around a small settlement, named Mercyville, concerning gold discoveries.  Nuggets had been found varying from the size of a grain of wheat to that of a grain of corn.  The number of prospectors were estimated from 400 to 800, coming from all parts of Missouri, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Iowa, and many other states”.  The gold rush flurry soon died out, and most of the prospectors ventured on.  Mercyville boasted a population of 100 by the year 1885.

Two years later, in 1887, came the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, laying a single track through Macon County.  The track was going to pass about a mile from the town.  Some inhabitants wanted to move Mercyville closer to the tracks, but others fought the move.

After realizing that the majority of Mercyville residents were opposed to moving their town, a man by the name of Bill Shares, and another by the name of Bill McGee, each donated 25 acres of their land by the ATSF tracks for the location of a new town.

According to records, Biddle was the preferred name, since Biddle was the name of the depot at the new site.  Soon, it was learned that there was already a town in Missouri by the name of Biddle, thus the name had to be changed.

The town’s name was changed to Elmer, which was the name of a son of the ATSF railroad conductor.  The depot’s name was still Biddle.  In December of 1906, C.O. Drake, who was serving as Elmer City Clerk, submitted a letter to the General Manager of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, requesting that the depot’s name be changed to correspond with the name of the community and their post office.  On January 3, 1907, the railroad company granted the request, and the depot name was changed from Biddle station to Elmer station.

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 Growth Came Quickly for Elmer, Missouri

Third in a series of articles on the history of Mercyville & Elmer, Missouri (Reprinted from the August 18, 1993 edition of The Home Press, La Plata, Missouri)

By Debbie Clay, Editor

By the early 1900’s, Elmer, Missouri, was a thriving railroad town.  Located along the newly laid Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, Elmer enjoyed the patronage of those travelling by train.  Because of the town’s prime location along this tracks, businesses were drawn to the community, pulling in an increased population.  Thus, Elmer began an upward trend.

The ATSF tracks were laid through Macon County in 1887. A depot was built and t he town was surveyed and laid out immediately.  The depot was named Biddle Station, which eventually served as the heart of a bustling community.  When the area began to proper, the name of the town and the depot were changed to Elmer, since there was already a town in Missouri named Biddle.

The Santa Fe Town and Land Company filed a 27 block plat for Elmer, Missouri, on May 20, 1888.  The first lot was bought by S.L. Gash, two months later, for a cost of $1.00.  It took 25 years, but the company eventually sold all of the town’s lots.

Within two years after the lots were offered for development, Elmer was home to a growing business district.  That growth got an additional boost several years later, when Mercyville lost their rail service due to the closing and removal of the Iowa and St. Louis Railroad.  What little business remained in Mercyville transferred to Elmer.

By 1907, there were more than 50 businesses operating in Elmer.

Because Elmer was a “jumping off point” for the region, it soon became a hub for traveling salesmen.  Salesmen travelling via railroad would often work the northeast and northcentral Missouri area out of Elmer.  Salesmen relied on rented horses and wagons to reach the outlying areas, prompting a need for livery stables that could provide the transportation.  The salesmen and others who came to Elmer via the railroad also necessitated the establishment of such businesses as hotels, grocery stores, medical practices, general stores, etc.  The general population of the town established the need alone, but the influx of those who were travelling through provided the capital.

Thus, in 1901, the Elmer Exchange Bank was organized, with J.M. Surbeck as president and A.F. Smith as cashier.  The bank served the community for thirty years, closing its doors in 1931, when all assets were transferred to the La Plata State Bank.

The era of growth for Elmer seemed to be around 1907-09.  Properties with wooden buildings were selling for $6,000 to $8,000.  Area families were now confident in their town and were investing their futures in its success.

Main Street, Elmer, Missouri
(circa 1900) looking west toward the railroad tracks. An Opera House and several business offices were located on the second floor of the brick building on the corner. LEFT: A restaurant sign hangs in front of the second brick building. A Barber Shop, the Post Office, and other business firms were located in the remaining wooden structures, with offices above the two story structures. The tall IOOF hall was build of wood. The two story house across the tracks was the J. H. Miller home. On the NORTH side of the street, at the time, a grocery store, a Pool Room and Tate's Saloon can be identified. Perhaps the pile of wood near the tracks was for locomotive fuel.
(Picture reprinted from Elmer Community History, 1976).

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 A Tradition of Family Business Was the Backbone of Elmer’s Success

(Reprinted from The Home Press, La Plata, Missouri, October 20, 1993 edition)

By Debbie Clay, Editor

Elmer has been home to a great many family owned businesses through the years.  While several families were always a part of the community’s merchant list, others dabbled with different ventures off and on.

One of Elmer’s earliest business families was the James Drake family, who owned and operated a wide variety of ventures through the years.  James Drake, who was the namesake for Drake Township, became Elmer’s first postmaster around 1865.  As the years progressed, he and his sons, Carey and Harvey, brought several businesses to life in the community.  James Drake started the first telephone company in Elmer as well as one of the earliest print shops.  He and his family ran the “Little Store”, which was a general merchandise store, a wool carding mill, a feed mill, a blacksmith shop, and a poultry house.  The Drakes enjoyed a full 75 years of serving the Elmer community through their businesses.

W.J. Dale and J.E. Patterson provided competition for Drake’s general merchandise business, with Dale & Patterson’s “Big Store”.  The store was one of many that had transferred from Mercyville.

General merchandise stores were a big thing in Elmer’s past.  Another family that had a busy hand in that particular trade was the McDavitt family, who operated in several different locations.  The McDavitts also ran a grocery business, the lumberyard and owned and rented several businesses properties.  T.W. McDavitt was also one of Elmer’s early postmasters.

The lumberyard was important to Elmer, and was originally built by William Agee and Luke Atteberry, in 1900.  The business was ran by a couple of different proprietors, including Leonard Herrin, who ran it from the 50’s to the 70’s.

The Gunnels family also had a history in the general merchandise trade.

Another of Elmer’s respectable business families was the Doggett family, who operated a very impressive livery stable and dray business.

Jake Bailey was also a proprietor of the community’s dray business, but is perhaps most remembered for his ice vending business.  Bailey sold Macon ice, while a fellow merchant, Fred Russell, sold ice from Love Lake.

Hotels and restaurants had a major presence in Elmer’s history.  Countless families dabbled in the food service trade, including Tates, Lenes, Johnsons, Allens, Kogers, Grigsbys, Burris, and Simmons.  Hotels were ran by several families also, including Sally Tate, who ran Elmer’s first hotel around 1889.  Others were ran by John Rice, Myrtle Boyd and Vi Ward.

The Tate family, who ran the city’s meat market, was also among the many who ran saloons in Elmer.  Other saloon operators were the Boyd, Coody, Pike, Lovinger, Gates, Dobbins, Gash, March, King, Cater, Herring and Lene families, among others.

One trade, which probably included the most independent proprietors through the years, was that of the blacksmith.  Elmer merchants who worked as blacksmiths, harness, and livery owners were Bill Galyen, James and Carey Drake, Lewis Perry, Dan Green, George Wood, Monte Ayers, Bill Shores and Paul bailey, along with a host of others.

The hardware trade included such merchants as T.L. Freed, who ran the first such business.  Other hardware families included the Baileys, McNeals, and Montgomerys.

The community’s medical needs were served by several doctors, including W.H. Gooch, F.L. Newton, and H.D. Lehr.  Druggists included T.I. and C.I. Murry, A.L. Gilstrap, and F.L. Mixon.

Barbers and beauticians were also plentiful in Elmer.  Men like Bill Paxton, T.F. Johnson, T.L. Flynn and Sam Parker were among the trade’s leaders.

Real estate also became an important field in Elmer, with the likes of T.L. Freed and Henry Miller heading the trade.

With more modern equipment, like cars and farm machinery, came the need for businesses who could sell and service this new technology.  Automobile service stations and gas stations were ran by many families, including Hertzlers, Perrys, and Spencers.  Herman and Nellie Spencer also had a hand in the farm implement trade, as did T.L. Freed before them.

The Spencer family also owned the community’s Laundromat, which operated in Elmer from 1962 through the 70’s.

Although this is just a sample of the many businesses and family operations in Elmer, it gives an impression of the great success the community enjoyed in years past.  It also makes evident that Elmer has joined many rural communities who have fallen prey to hard economic times and population shifts toward urban living.

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Elmer and the Civil War 

Submitted by John Mathis)

Although Northeastern Missouri was not a major theater of conflict during the War, there was considerable involvement.  Men were recruited by both sides for varying lengths of conscription and the fertile ground was a valuable resource for garnering supplies for the fighting forces.  Consequently, occassional battles and skirmishes happened.  One such incident occurred on August 8-9, 1962.  Colonel Joseph Porter (Confederacy) led a guerrilla band that operated primarily in Northeast Missouri.  It seems his primary purpose was to recruit fighters for the CSA and to generally cause havoc wherever it seemed to deter progress of the Union army. Colonels John McNeil and Lewis Merrill of the Union army were detached to break up such rebel bands and stop their recruiting efforts.

Their pursuit of Porter finally led Porter to Kirksville where Merrill caught and engaged Porter's force.  Porter was driven from Kirksville and headed south toward New Cambria. This movement took Porter within a mile or so of where Elmer was to later be incorporated. As he was retreating, Porter's men stole a wagon from the James Drake farm to transport the few supplies that they were carrying.  On August 9, Union forces again caught Porter's men and engaged them in what is now known as the Skirmish at Walnut Creek. Whereas the Confederates clearly were the victors in this action, it was only temporary.  Once again, the superior Union forces forced Porter to continue his retreat. Porter was forced to disband his troops in September of that year, but did continue less important operations until the end of the war.

James Bailey was a young boy while the Civil War was raging.  The skirmish mentioned above occurred on (or near) the Bailey family farm near Walnut Creek in Macon County.  James, at the ages of twelve, sat on a high hill on the Bailey farm and observed the battle.  He remarked that it seemed as if the two sides would mingle in the evening, playing cards and such, and then fight the next day.  This seems unlikely, considering the bitter feelings between the two sides that has been chronicled in so much of the Civil War literature.  Of course, this was early in the conflict, so perhaps it was as James remembered it.  It was two years later that his father, Joseph, joined the Union forces for a seven month stint.

Elmer citizens who took part in the fighting of this war included:

Union Soldiers
Bailey, Joseph
Boyd, William T.
Buchanan, Jacob E.
Easley, William
Epperson, Daniel
Galyen, David T.
Miller, Henry
Owen, E. W.
Payton, Harmless
Patterson, James C.
Richardson, Edward
Smith, Melville
Steele, John A.
Zimmerman, Grafton

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Confederate Soldiers
Cosby, Jackson
Demory, Jacob
Elliott, George
Richardson, Salvin C.
Seney, James
 Remembering When ... Elmer Was a Social Hub

(Reprinted from the La Plata Home Press, November 10, 1993)

In 1904, an election was held to consolidate several schools in the area.  The issue passed, combining the Elmer, Mercyville and Gunnels school districts.  The Elmer Consolidated School District became the first consolidated public school in Macon County.  The 6-room brick building was erected in 1905.  the Elmer C-1 district later annexed several other districts, providing a need for expanded staff and facilities.  In 1952, local donations allowed the construction of a new gymnasium and classroom building.  However, by 1967, the economy had changed, and the population had shifted to other areas.  That year, Elmer began transporting high school students to other school districts, but continues their elementary program to this day.

Elmer was once home to at least four houses of worship.  The First Universalist Church was built by J. C. Patterson, in 1892.  The church became inactive during the late 1920's or early 1930's.  The First Baptist Church was organized in 1894, followed by the Elmer Christian Church in 1907, and the Elmer Assembly of God Church in 1925.  Other churches in the area included the Little Zion Primitive Baptist Church and the Chariton Ridge Baptist Church.

Elmer had her share of social life.  The community was the home of an impressive opera house at the turn of the century.  The opera was built on top of Henry Miller's general store, in 1900.  It featured such attractions as silent movies, plays, exhibitions and travelling "Troupes", who made circuit in north Missouri in those days.

In addition to the opera house, Elmer residents kept themselves busy in the various social organizations that called the community home.

Organizations in Elmer have included: Campfire Girls, Royal Neighbors of America, Masonic Lodge A.F and A.M - 1920-1970; I.O.O.F. Lodge, Elmer Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star - 1922-1971; Rebekah Lodge - 1925-1971; Worthwhile Club - 1928-1962; Elmer Fortnightly Club M.F.W.C. - 1928-1980-; Carter Howe Post 24 of the American Legion - 1935; Boy Scout Troup 80 - 1951-1957; Chariton Valley Fox Hunters Association - 1954; Elmer Senior Citizens - 1972 and the Elmer Cemetery Association - 1914; incorporated in 1965.

Elmer has sent their young off to military duty in the Mexican War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and most recently the Persian Gulf War.

People who grew up in Elmer's youth remember skating parties at the Santa Fe bar pits, near the south edge of town, and watching the old steam engines roar through the countryside. They also remember the Old Settlers Reunions, held annually as early as the 1890's.  Large crowds gathered from miles around on the grounds where the Elmer City Park is now located.

In those days, there was also an excursion steamer, the MAYFLOWER, operating on the Chariton River.  The boat floated the distance between Sloan's Point and Yarrow from about 1896 to 1900.  The MAYFLOWER had a capacity of 50 persons, and was considered a "fair weather craft", since trips could by made comfortably only on sunny days.

Around the middle of the century, a Planned Progress Program promoted community development in Elmer.  The town has included a City Council and Mayor form of government since 1960, when citizens voted their town a fourth class city.  A municipal water system was constructed in 1962, after local voters approved a bond issue.

On April 16, 1976, Elmer, Missouri, was officially designated a Bicentennial Community. In respect to their designation, the community vowed to restore and preserve the Shirley Cemetery, where an American Revolution War veteran is buried, in addition to several of the communities early settlers.

Although the years and the economy have dealt hard blows to Elmer, the town does still exist.  In 1969, the Elmer depot, which was, in effect, the first business in Elmer, was torn down and replaced by a sign designating the rail location as Elmer. In the community's early days, a majority of its men were employed by the railroad.  Today, only a few railroad workers are employed from the Elmer area.

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Block/Lot layout of Elmer

This image is not particularly clear, but it represents the original layout of the town.  Blocks 3 and 4, facing Missouri Avenue, make up the primary business district, although a few businesses were located elsewhere in the city. You can go to the Businesses page (or click here) for a description of where the early businesses were located
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 Great Bank Robbery of Elmer

August 19, 1922, Robbers early today entered the Exchange Bank, took $93 in money and stamps from the post office; unlocked the bank door, walked out, locked the door again and took the key with them.

The robbers gained an entrance to the post office through the rear door and rifled the place, turning eveyrthing topsy-turvy, apparently in a search for registered mail.  Ninety three dollars in stamps and money was missing in the checkup after the theft was discovered. 

The robbers are believed to have entered the bank through a window.  The timelock on the vault door was badly battered with a slidge hammer or other heavy instrument.  A quantity of "dope" or "soup" such as is used to blow safe doors was left in the bank by the robbers.

A quantity of liberty bonds was among the valuables kept in the vault.

The theft at the post office and the attempted theft at the bank were discovered about 7 o'clock Saturday morning by employees of the institutions.

Author's note: At that time, the post office and the bank were located in the same building, the post office facing the street and the bank occupying the rear of the building.

(Reprinted from The Elmer JOURNAL, August 25 edition, 1922)

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                                           The Unforgotton Sport

By Amy Mock and Jim Kline

A close look at the towns of Missouri in the early days of the 1930’s and 1040’s would show that nearly all of them had one thing in common: semi-professional baseball.  During this time professional baseball was very popular, with famous teams such as the “Gas House Gang,” and the big league’s popularity carried over to smaller towns in the form of semi-professional baseball.

Baseball meant a lot to towns of Northeast Missouri.  The rivalries between towns were sometimes so intense that the games often led to gambling and fighting among townspeople and players.  Some of the towns in Missouri that had teams were Trenton, Chillicothe, Graysville, Richmond, St. Joseph, Kirksville, Elmer, La Plata, Macon, Brookfield, Fulton, Sedalia, Carrollton, Memphis, Kansas City and St. Louis.

Many of the teams in Missouri also played out-of-state teams.  For instance, the Elmer Panthers played the Chicago Stars, the Toledo Hens from Iowa, the Cincinnati Buckeyes, the Texas Seals, the House of Davids, members of a religious cult from Michigan, and the teams from Lenexa and Wichita, Kansas.

It was easy for the bigger towns that belonged to more extensive leagues to organize teams and games than it was for smaller towns which had to organize on their own.  One of these small town teams was the Elmer Panthers with Walker Tate as the coach and manager.  Owner of the Elmer Café, Tate used his business as a base for communication with other team managers to plan games.  He also organized games by telegraph, telephone, mail and sometimes by traveling to the opponent’s towns to set up the games.

Semi-professional teams did not have owners, but the teams had 3xpenses which were sometimes major.  For instance, the cost of a baseball during the 30’s and 40’s was $2.00, a bat would cost $3.65, and a glove would cost about $5.00.  The only players that received payment to cover these expenses were the pitchers.  These paid players along with the rest of the team members provided their own transportation.  Sometimes the players were given equipment by the managers of their team; otherwise, the players paid for their own equipment and uniforms.  Steve Buban, part-time pitcher for the Panthers, said that he charged from $30 to #150 to pitch a game.  The teams he pitched for usually paid him to play so that they would have a sure chance of winning.  The more a team needed a win, the more they were willing to pay for good players.  Buban was said to be such a talented pitcher that many of the other players and fans thought that he would go into professional baseball.  H refused the offers, however, because he was receiving a good amount of money pitching semi-pro ball and made good pay from his job at the shoe factory.

The Elmer Panthers were one of the best teams in the area during the forties, and at one time they had a record of 33 straight wins.  Some people thought they were the best in the state, even better than the “big city” teams.  The Elmer team consisted of mostly local players, with a few from nearby towns.  Bernice Mock, who was catcher for the team, also played for the Kernels from Mitchell, Nebraska, in the minor leagues.  Other members consisted of Albert Sadler, Ray wood, Ernest Bailey, tootsie Hulse, Clay Franks, Harold Elliott, Harvey Bellfield, Harold Pullam, Harold Woods, Leonard Herrin, and many others.  The fans’ pride and confidence in the Panthers led to gambling.  The bets were sometimes large, depending on the teams that played and who played for each team.  Although the players were confident, they didn’t tempt fate.  They indulged in superstitions to keep their luck from going away.  Some players were their ball caps a certain way, and some didn’t wash their uniforms for fear the luck might be washed out.

Old timers recall an incident in one of the Panther’s games involving Clay Franks and Bernice Mock in Joplin.  The Joplin team had hired a pitcher from the Pittsburgh Pirates, a professional team.  The game was scoreless until the top of the ninth inning when the Panthers were up to bat.  Nervous about the new pitcher, Franks called a time out.  Franks knew that one run would win the game for them, so he told Mock, “He’s gonna give you a fast ball, so I want you to swing from the ground up and hit the middle of that scoreboard behind center field.”    Mock tensely buckled up, the pitch was thrown, and Mock hit the ball into the middle of the scoreboard.  Needless to say, the Panthers won the game.

Clay Franks was involved in another game-clinching play when the Panthers played the trustee team at the Jefferson City Penitentiary.  The Panthers were behind by three with bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning.  Franks was up to bat, and he knew that it was all on his shoulders to make the runs.  The pitch was thrown, and Franks hit a home-run out of the park.  He was later told that the only other man to do that was Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Panthers played a lot of games in penitentiaries, not only at Jefferson City, but Leavenworth and Fort Madison.  Albert Sadler said that many times prison officials paid the teams that played in the “pens.”  One time, during a game at the Jefferson City Penitentiary, Albert Wood broke his leg while sliding into second base.  The prison doctors immediately set his leg, and he was able to leave after the game.

In 1941 the Panthers played a semi-pro team from Puerto Rico.  At this time, the Puerto Ricans had just won the United States National Championship, defeating Enid, Oklahoma.  The winning team went on a United States tour, and Walker Tate discovered they were in Kansas City.  He secured a deal for the foreign team to travel to Elmer and battle the Panthers.  In a long 14 inning game, the Panthers came out on top, 3-2.  During the same year, the Panthers won the state tournament in Sedalia.  Once again, the Panthers proved that they were one of the best semi-pro baseball teams in the United States.

Puerto Rico wasn’t the toughest team Elmer played.  Two of the best teams they played were the Kansas City Monarchs and the St. Louis Giants.  Both of these teams were members of the Negro League, which was a separate professional division.  The Negro teams not only played each other, but also the semi-pro teams.  Many of the players on the Negro teams later advanced to the major leagues and became legendary baseball players, which was a great blow to semi-professional baseball because of the loss of competition leading to the loss of popularity.  Some of the great talents were Jesse Owens, Satchel Paige, and Jackie Robinson, all of whom played for the Monarchs.

At one time, Jesse Owens had his own baseball team.  When they played Elmer, according to Albert Sadler, Owens claimed that he could “outrun any man alive.”  Taking this as a challenge, Steve Buban proposed a race.  Owens set the terms: He would start at second base, and Buban would start at the pitcher’s mound.  The first one to reach home plate would win.  After the race, Buban was convinced that Owens’ claim was true.

A major event that adversely changed the pace of semi-professional baseball was the United States’ entrance into World War II.  Many of the Elmer players were drafted into the service, including Steve Buban, Leonard “Stretch” Herrin, Harold “Lefty” Elliott, and others.  The war was the most effective factor in the decline of the interest in semi-pro ball.  For a few years following the war, some of the teams regrouped and made a semi-successful attempt to reestablish the strong popularity they once knew.  The teams prospered for a while, but interest soon faded, and the teams had disbanded by 1948.

Perhaps semi-professional baseball’s popularity declined because fans lost interest.  The 1940’s were a time of economic troubles, and one of the things that was inexpensive and available was the gasoline needed to go and watch a game.  After the war, the economy improved and society became more quickly paced.  People found less and less time to watch semi-professional baseball, and the greater amount of money they were receiving brought better types of entertainment for them.

Semi-professional baseball may be gone, but it has not been forgotten.  Memories of the exciting games, talented players, and great seasons are vivid in the memories of those who played or just watched the unforgotten sport.

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 Elmer’s First Published Author

Elder J. W. Cook of Elmer has recently published a book of peculiar interest, entitled “Forty-five Years a Minister.”  This work was reviewed by a writer for the New York Sun and the Post-Dispatch because of the curious incidents related.  The author does not pretend to be a man of great learning, but in his forty-five years of clerical labor, he has seen much of life, and he tells it just as he saw it.  While engaged in his chosen profession Elder Cook earned his livelihood by plowing, chopping wood and hauling.   Sometimes he would hire out to a neighbor as a common laborer for fifty cents a day.  During his long services as a circuit rider, or country pastor, Elder Cook says that his yearly income for all his pastoral duties combined didn’t average $20 a year.  Sometimes he would travel long distances through snow and ice and his only compensation would be his meals.  At other times he would be given a pair of gloves or some socks.  Had anybody presented him with a $5 bill he would have been wonderfully surprised.  The elder kept a record of his work, which he presented in his book as follows:

Sermons preached, 5,784; miles traveled, 35,840; weddings performed, 780; miles traveled to officiate at weddings, 15,600-all on horseback or on foot; funerals preached, 936; miles traveled for funerals, 18,720.

(Reprinted from History of Macon County, 1910)

Author's note: Elder Cook's book is available on Amazon.com for $125


The following note was written by Patsy Knotts, Elmer, Missouri

Yes, Reverend James W. Cook was my great grandfather. He preached all over this part of Missouri and even into the Ozarks. If the book Johnnie’s referring to is the one I have, the two little girls he mentions are my great Aunts Bertha and Della (Hughes).

I have one book left and I gave one each to my daughters.

My Grandmother, Fannie Harbalt Cook Wilhite lived in Elmer as you probably recall. Her first husband was James Wade (I think) Cook, but one of the James (maybe Uncle Leonard) was a Winfield. I think I’d better look up some of the information I have to be sure.

I just went and got the book I have entitled Forty Five Years a Minister, by Rev. J. W. Cook, published at Comet Office in South Gifford, Missouri. Introduction is by J. S. Gashwiler.

First page is a tintype of Rev. J. W. Cook when he first entered the ministry. The next page is from a photograph of Rev. J. W. Cook when his day’s work was almost done.

It is certainly a true chronicle of the times. Another ancestor of mine was a doctor who served where he was needed and died trying to cross a raging river to serve a patient. His horse drowned too.

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 The Mercyville Gold Rush

In October, 1875, there was considerable excitement up the Chariton valley about Mercyville, now Elmer, concerning gold discoveries.  A correspondent of the Macon Republican writes this in the issue of October 14 about the situation:

“New Cambria, October 11. Great excitement! Our hotels are crowded with strangers going to and returning from the gold regions, this being the most accessible point. Doubt no longer exists that gold can be found in paying quantities.  It has been found in dust as high as fifty colors to the pan.  Nuggets have been found varying from the size of a grain of wheat to that of a grain of corn. The number now prospecting in the vicinity of Mercyville is estimated at from 400 to 800, the people coming here from all parts of Missouri, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Iowa and many other states.  All agree that the prospect for gold is as good as that of California or any other western state or territory.  Your correspondent, having a desire to know the true facts, visited the region himself last week and looked the whole field over, until he was thoroughly satisfied that it was no humbug. He saw the particles washed out in different places, and has now in his possession a specimen the size of a helf grain of wheat.  Anybody can see it by calling at my office in this town.  I have also some beautiful specimens of fine stones of the order of diamond, ruby, agate, etc., all of which will compare favorable with any found in foreigh countries. Every person I met was jubilant and all were busy arranging to engage in mining for the precious metal.  Old miners are cursing themselves because they had in days gone by spent all their means to prepare themselves to go to the far west to dig for gold, when at the same time, had they but known the truth, they could have found it right at their own door in paying quantities.  Hurrah for old Macon County!. The good time has come!”

The character of mining prosecuted at that time was known as placer, like that of California in the early days.  The excitement up at Mercyville finally died down when the gold ceased to appear, though from time to time small discoveries have since been made.

(Reprinted from History of Macon County, 1910)

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 Elmer’s Earliest Soldier

Elmer’s earliest soldier is undoubtedly James Howell, buried in the Shirley Cemetery near Elmer.  James fought in the Revolutionary War. He served as a private in Captain Thomas Will’s Company, 15th Virginia Regiment of foot, commanded by Major Gusstove B. Wallace.  The 15th Virginia Regiment was raised on December 28, 1775 in eastern, Virginia for service with the Continental Army. The regiment would see action at the Battle of Brandywine, Battle of Germantown, Battle of Monmouth and the Siege of Charleston. Most of the regiment was captured at Charlestown, South Carolina on May 12, 1780 by the British. It is not known if James was among the captives.

James Howell was born in 1744 in Virginia.  Around 1763, he married Martha Denny.  James and Martha moved from Virginia to Kentucky sometime after their first son John was born, about 1790.  They lived in Barren County, Kentucky for nearly 50 years.  Martha died in 1836.  About 1841, John moved to Illinois with other members of the family.  It seems that he almost immediately moved on to Missouri (about 1842) to live with his daughter Nancy Cook (who had married his son John).  It appears that his youngest son James Pinson Howell and his family also moved into Missouri with James,  James and Martha had at least 7 children.

James died in 1844 at the age of 100 years.  He is buried in the Shirley Cemetery near Elmer.

(Information obtain from various internet sources by John Mathis)

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 Jesse and Frank James – in Elmer?

The following remembrance is copied from the Elmer Centennial (1987) and was offered by Pauline Patrick, an Elmer resident at the time..

“Lawrence’s grandparents, Jasper Patrick and Mary McDavitt Patrick, owned and operated a livery service and a boarding-rooming house in Elmer.  The house, a large frame house over a little hill northeast of what was then known as the “Drake’s Store”, now known as the former home of Bernice Mock.  Salesmen in that day came via the railroad, rented vehicles and teams of riding horses to visit little towns not on the rail routes to sell their wares. One evening in the summer time, a gentleman rode up and rented a room and care for his horse.  A well built young man, shortly after supper he retired to his upstairs room.  During the night, a “ruckus” occurred outside, a barking dog and a snorting horse.  Mr. Patrick slept in the downstairs room.  He arose, dressed and stepped out in the hall to go outside.  The gentleman of the evening before met him in the hall and said “a horse was out in the yard. I put him back in the stall. Everything is alright out there”.  So Mr. Patrick went back to bed.  After all ate breakfast the next morning, the stranger saddled his horse and tied it to a hitchrack in the front of the house.  He and Mr. Patrick sat visiting on the porch.  After an hour or so, three horseback riders (strangers) rode up.  The gentleman greeted them, mounted his horse and rode off with them.  Know what? One of the three was Jesse James and the other two were the Younger Brothers.  Frank James had been the overnight guest.  They rode out of town going west and out of the country side.”

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 Elmer's New Water System
article in the Macon Chronicle Hearld, 1961)

In impressive ceremonies, the new Elmer municipal water system - several years in the planning - was dedicated Sunday afternoon. At the program, Mayor Herman Spencer in his introduction of the ceremony, said "This is the long-looked-for hour. With anticipation, we have looked forward to this dedicaton." Then he introduced the members of the board of aldermen: Willis Sevits and Leonard Herrin of the west ward and P.F. Wigal and Newton L. Haney of the east ward. Also introduced were former board members Kenneth Elliott and William Overstreet, who was mayor when the water plant plans were started.

Planning of this improvement has been under way since 1956. At that time Willis Lee of E.T. Archer and Co. and Harry Holbrook of Parker-Purcell Co., both of Kansas City, met with the town board, which was composed at that time of William Overstreet, mayor; Ora Thurman, Delbert Thompson, Herman Spencer and Willis Sevits, clerk.  The meeting was held to discuss the possibility of a water system for Elmer. Various meetings were held in the interim, but it was not until May of 1959 that progress became concrete. 

At that time, the town board consisted of William Overstreet, mayor, Edgar Thurman, Kenneth Elliott, Paul Lene and Willis Sevits. An election was held at which time the voters of Elmer approved the change from Village to Fourth Class City.  This was on January 26, 1960.

Following another change in the council, it was decided with the help of qualified engineers that a $65,000 bond issue would be adequate for a water system. 

On August 6, 1960, the first of five elections was held and only one-half of the bond proposition, the authorization of revenue bonds, was approved by the voters.  It still remained for four other elections to be held before tax levy bonds could be approved by voters.  On May 13, 1961, this finally came to pass, and construction on the project was completed early this spring.

The new water plant is now in operation in Elmer and gives the people of that community another step forward in health services.  At the dedication services, Bro. Epperson of the Assembly of God church, Danny Camp, pastor of the Christian church, and Eldon Johnson, pastor of the Baptist church, took part.  A tour of the newly completed water plant followed the ceremony.

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 Elmer Becomes a City

The citizens of Elmer voted their village into a fourth class city at a special election, Tuesday, January 26, 1960.  The total of the votes was 96 for and 12 against.

The city of Elmer is now entitled to vote up to, but not to exceed, 20% of the total assessed valuation for any public improvements, such as a water system, sewer system, parks, public buildings, fire equipment, and other civil needs.  The village can only vote 5% of the valuation.  The change in status did not increase any tax changes.

The citizens of Elmer were happy to see their town progress and not stand still.  Many looked forward to improvements that were to be made.

   (reprinted from Elmer Community History, 1976)

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 Three Times Winner - Koger Leads Again in State Corn Shucking, by Cordell Tindall, 1941

Shucking in a rain that varied from drizzle to downpour, Ted Koger, of Elmer, became the only man to win the Missouri State Corn Shucking Contest three years in a row. For 24 hours it rained, turning the fine site of the contest on the Marion Motter farm, nine miles northwest of Kirksville, into a vast mudhole.

Just a few days before the date of the contest, October 31, the contest site had been moved from the Grimm farm south of Kirksville, as announced in the last Missouri Ruralist, to the farm of Marian Motter. The wind and rain had played havoc with the fine Grimm field, until it was judged unsatisfactory by the contest officials. The Motter field had been planted as an alternate field last spring and the change was made with little confusion.

Ted Koger, that popular champion, was the chief show for the few thousand spectators who got drenched in watching their favorite sport. Ted had a nice crowd from home following him all the way thru the slick field.

Koger picked 32.65 bushels to win the title. He, as well as all the other shuckers, said that had the field been in dry condition a new state record would have been set. For all agreed that the Motter field presented the shuckers the best corn ever shucked in a state contest.

In a rain that never ceased to fall, the shucks were heavy. Koger had only seven ounces of shucks to the 100 pounds, showing that he had kept this in mind. Deductions for shucks ran as high as 532 pounds for one contestant. Koger also had the largest gross load.

In the National Corn Husking Contest near Tonica, Illinois, on November 3, Koger placed eighth with a score of 40.09 bushels.

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OK, I realize that this image is a bit small.  However, you can click here to go to the original image and at that site, you can click on each individual township to get a plat map showing property ownership in 1897. Please note that you will be leaving the elmer-missouri website.

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 Elmer’s First Concert Band

The Elmer Concert Band was organized on August 26, 1907, with seven members, and after paying for the instruments individually, $1.50 was assessed each member to be paid monthly in advance to establish a teacher’s fund. Their first appearance in  public was at a box social which netted $67.90, the magnificent cake given by Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Hand bringing over $16. They now have 15 members and $79.35 in the treasury. Following is a roster of officers and members: J. W. Patterson, President; Henry Howerton, Vice-President; J. Green MacKenzie, Secretary; W. M. Agee, Treasurer; and Alfred Lynch, Librarian. Members include: Cornets, Cellus Hays, W. Griffith and Rochel Hughes; Tenors, Floyd Banning, Edgar Herring, Ben Davis; Baritone, snare: Tean Tate, base. Instructor, J. S.Fletcher, New Boston, Missouri.

Pictured below are: Front Row – L. to R.: Roy Patterson, Alfred Lynch, Teen Tate, Henry Howerton.  Back row – Edgar Herring, Will Agee, Zella Hays and J. Green McKenzie.


Heroic Action by Elmer Soldier

Those who serve in the Armed Forces of the United States are all heroes in this author’s mind. Their willingness to put their lives at risk so the rest of us can enjoy the freedom and lifestyle available in this country deserves the highest respect from their countrymen.  I salute them all. Occasionally, though, actions by an individual goes well above the call of duty. Such was the case of Jerry Hall, who risked his life in order to provide safety for his comrades in battle. The following is a reprint of an article reported in the Army Reporter.

Silver Star and Two Purple Hearts for Brave Elmer Soldier

Sgt. Jerry R. Hall, son of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Hall of Elmer, is the recipient of the Silver Star, the third highest award the United States gives for bravery. He was also awarded two purple hearts and was promoted from Spec. 4 to Sergeant as the result of gallantry in action on December 27 in the Republic of Vietnam.

Col. Peter Urban, commanding officer of the 38th Army Brigade (AD), pinned the medal on Hall before an honor guard made up of his buddies from the brigade H. Battery. The presentation was made in Korea in August and Hall received his discharge from the Army this month and is now at the home of his parents.

Hall served in Vietnam with HHC, 3rd Bn. 8th Inf., 4th Inf. Division and went to Korea after a short tour in a hospital in Japan. He has been in the army for two years.

The General Orders announcing the award of the Silver Star to Hall reads as follows:

“Specialist Four Hall distinguished himself by heroic action as point man on a reconnaissance patrol in the Republic of Vietnam. Upon detecting voices on the trail in front of him, Specialist Hall informed his platoon leader and proceeded forward alone while the rest of the platoon deployed to flank the suspected enemy. Upon moving 15 to 20 meters to his front, Specialist Hall was confronted by an armed North Vietnamese soldier, killing him instantly. Immediately afterwards, the entire patrol was taken under heavy fire, pinning them down and wounding Hall in the head.

“The fire soon increased to a point where it was impossible for the patrol to move without taking further casualties. Spec. Hall, realizing this, jumped to his feet and fired at the enemy causing them to cease fire. He then attempted to move back to cover, but sustained a foot wound when the enemy’s automatic weapons began firing again. Alternating between firing and crawling, he managed to reach a covered position where he passed out.

“As the fire fight progressed, the patrol began expending their supply of ammunition when one of the patrol members threw some ammunition to the squad leader, which fell short. Spec. Hall, regaining consciousness and realizing the situation, retrieved the ammunition and crawled back under heavy fire to the squad leader. Upon reaching the Sergeant, he once again returned fire until an enemy round struck his weapon and rendered it useless. After several minutes passed, the patrol was able to disengage the enemy and returned to a secure location where Spec. Hall’s wounds were dressed.

“Specialist Hall’s unimpeachable valor in close combat against superior enemy forces was in keeping with the highest tradition of the military service and reflects great courage.”

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It happened at the 1913 Old Settlers Reunion in Elmer

A Quaint Missouri Community and Their Peculiar Baseball Rules. How a Strict Interpretation of These Rules Won the Most Extraordinary Game in the Records. Written by Edgar White around 1913.

Toward the close of the summer, an Old Settlers' Reunion was held at Elmer, in northwest Macon County, Missouri, and on "big Thursday" a game of baseball was played between the Elmer and Atlanta teams, under the "Goldsberry Rules." Goldsberry is a village back in the interior, where the people do everything in their own way. Most of them rest up on Saturday, because the Seventh Day Adventists there regard it as the Sabbath. According to Goldsberry's baseball code, when a batter hits the ball he can keep on running till the fielders find it, no matter if it goes into the next county, and every time he gets around the batter scores. Sometimes a fellow makes three runs off one hit.

Sam Griffith was  captain of the Elmer Club on the big day of the reunion. Last Christmas Sam's friends gave him a pedometer, and he's keeping tab on how many miles he walks in 1913. His machine now registers 3,150 miles, and is busy every day.

There were 5,000 people at the reunion on the big day, which is some crowd in the country. The Atlanta Goliaths had played their ninth inning, and scored 50. The Elmer Invincibles were on their ninth inning, with a score of 25. Two men were out and—no, you guessed wrong; there wasn't anybody on the bases. And Sam Griffith, the pedometer man, walked to the bat. Everybody knew the jig was up, and those who had bet on Elmer had begun paying up. They didn't know what a resourceful man Pedometer Sam was.

Over on the edge of the left field, just above the ravine, was the Elmer brass band, waiting to hit up a tune when the game was over. The basedrummer had laid his big noise maker on the ground until time for him to perform. Sam squinted at the drum and took careful aim as the ball came hurtling toward him.


The sphere hit the bull's-eye fair and square, bursting through the cover and lodging in the drum, which started down the ravine, the fielders hard on its heels. For a while it was an even race, and  then the fielders began to gain, and would have eventually caught up with it but the fool drum found an old  abandoned coal shaft, half full of water, and took a notion to go swimming. By the time the fielders got the ball and fired it to the pitcher Sam had scored 26½ runs and the Elmer crowd was carrying him about on their shoulders.

The base drummer sued for damage to his sounding tool, and the man who owned the land where the old mine was put in a claim for his share of the prize money. When Sam looked at his pedometer he found that he had run nearly two miles to win the game. The Goldsberry Rules are now copyrighted.

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