Elmer, Missouri - Early History
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The Wood Family
The Wood family farm about five miles west of Elmer was purchased by Israel Wood in 1897. When Israel and Nancy retired, the farm was bought by their son Walter. When he retired, it was bought by his daughter, Leona and Lowell Miller.
The Wood family originally came from Pennsylvania where Abraham Wood was born in 1791. Abraham and family later moved to Ohio where ten children were born. One of the sons, John L. Wood (1825-1908) married Thirza Mendanhall (1826-1909) and then had ten children, six of whom died before the age of 30. Israel (1851-1940), one of the sons, married Nancy Harmon (1825-1938) and they had nine children. After their marriage, they moved from Ohio to Milan, Missouri, where he had a flour and grist mill. This mill was built in 1889 at a cost of $10,000. The family later moved to South Missouri and then Israel came back and bought the farm west of Elmer. He had a flour mill in Walnut, which was about two miles north of the farm. He also had a saw mill on Walnut Creek, which was east of Walnut.
Walter A. Wood (1885-1772), Israel’s son, was born in Milan and after they moved to the farm home, he met and married Emma Bergman (1886-1957) and they had five children: Georgia, Raymond, Albert, Leona and Opal. They first lived in a log cabin west of Walnut and Georgia was born there. Raymond was born at LeMars, Barton County, Missouri. Albert was born in a little house on the ridge by the pond west of the home place where Israel and Nancy lived. Leona was born in Tulare, California, where Walter had a dairy farm for a few years. Opal was born at the Wood home where Walter and Emma lived in the north rooms of the home. Walter was president of the school board for several years and they took an active part in community affairs. Emma was known for her delicious meals- she was a special cook!
The Wood children received most of their grade school education in the Diamond School, which was about one and one-half miles north of the farm home. That was a long way to walk when it was muddy and the clay stuck to your feet and also when walking through snow drifts. It was always fun when Dad came after us with the sled and horses.
Georgia, Raymond and Albert used the old spring wagon to get to Elmer for their high school education. At that time, Elmer was a two year school so they continued their education at Kirksville State Teachers College, taught school and then when Elmer became a four year school, they completed their high school there. Georgia taught at the Bell and Diamond schools; Raymond taught at the Bunce and Diamond schools; Albert taught at the Diamond school. Opal went to school when Georgia and Raymond taught and Albert taught the year after she graduated. Uncle Otha Bergman taught her first year of school. In 1930, Albert, Leona, Opal and a cousin, Ralph Doner, were the four pupils in school that year. Leona and Opal attended Elmer High School. Opal graduated from Edina High School; she stayed in the home of Otha and Lois Bergman when they taught school that year.
Georgia married Lafie Kellison and they had three children: Carlos, Charles and Barbara. They lived in Iowa after their marriage and farmed for many years. Later Lafie did carpenter work. Georgia worked in the Latimer school as a food service manager for several years and later worked in the greenhouse in Hampton until she retired.
Raymond married Juanita Mott and they had four children: Shirley, Loretta, Charlene and Darlene. He was a farmer and also did electrical wiring. They are buried in the Bunce Cemetery west of Elmer.
Leona married Lowell Miller and they had three daughters: Neva Joy, Eva June and Janet. They were farmers and later worked at the Elmer School as bus driver, custodian and in food service. Leona and Lowell are buried in the Macon Cemetery.
Opal married William Bents and there were three children: Margery, Billy and Terry. They lived near Dumont, Iowa, where he was a livestock buyer and trucker. Opal worked in food service at the school for 15 years and later worked for the City of Des Moines as a secretary until she retired.