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May 27, 2018

1855 Chilhowee Missouri Beginnings and Early History

Sedalia Democrat, Wednesday, June 11, 1969
Chilhowee Grew Up Literally By Accident
By Hazel Lang
CHILHOWEE Back in 1855 a man by the same of Simpson, who had entered some land from the U.S. government, was moving a house to the newly acquired land. As they were going slowly across part of Johnson County, the equipment broke down and there he was, out in the middle of nowhere with his house There wasn’t much he could do except leave it there, so that is what he did. and started a store. Shortly after that he was joined by his brother-in-law, whose name was McFarland, and the two built homes there for their families The store was known as Simpson’s Store and after other families began to settle there, it became known as Simpson’s Corner.
Picked a Name
Eventually, the community was plotted by a surveyor as a town and there was a need for a name. Since practically all the families had come from an area in Tennessee near the Chilhowee Mountains, they chose Chilhowee as the name of the town. The town grew to a two-block-square area with several homes, and a post office, with mail coming overland from Warrensburg in Johnson County to the little town of Norris in Henry County. There was a couple of stores, and a blacksmith shop owned by Alonzo Gittings, who was also the justice of the peace. All of the people, who represented different faiths, went together to build a church. Hiram Johnson contracted to erect the building and when it was nearly complete, a tornado struck and demolished it. Of course, there were no funds to rebuild it, for all the money had been used. Johnson using his own money, rebuilt it, fulfilling his contract. But it left him completely broke.
Among the families in the community were the Youngs. Barnums, Pollocks, Shoemakers, and Starks, who were in business or other activities of the town. Among the physicians were Dr. G. T. Starks and Dr. T S. Howard. There was a big store owned by J. A. Young. 
Ran Postal Services 
David Simons was the postmaster. He used a handmade Post Office case which is now owned by Mrs. Bill Inglish, a retired postmaster. When the MKT Railroad built a branch line from Sedalia to Paola, Kan., in 1895. it went a mile south of the town. It passed through the land owned by the Youngs and Barnums which had been surveyed many times after the original entries at the U.S. Land Office at Boonville by Thomas J. Johnson, A. L. Shortridge and Elisha Stanley in 1854. 
This was at the time that James Baled the Hay E. S. Turner, who lived in Chilhowee, center front on the hay, had a threshing rig and Jim Moore had a baler. They would go into the surrounding area to farms where they would thresh and bale.
This picture was taken on the Bill Hunter farm about one mile out of town, Oct. 18, 1910. At the right ore Turner's two daughters, Groce, left, and Lettie, right, preparing to serve dinner for the threshers.
Buchannan was President of the United States After the coming of the railroad. Jonas A Young and his nephew. Marion Barnum, laid out and plotted a new town of Chilhowee. This was 1895 and one acre of the land, which had been inherited by Young and Barnum, had been set aside for a cemetery. This cemetery was on the townsite. After the new town came into existence the big store, other stores and businesses, many dwellings and even the Union Church were moved to the new site.
Growth of Town 
By the turn of the century, the new town of Chilhowee had grown considerably and the original town became known as Old Town There were three general stores, a drug store, a restaurant, two churches. Post Office, barbershop, livery stable, two blacksmith shops, a telephone exchange, a lumber yard, and other establishments A railroad depot was built, the first bank was built of brick, and established in about 1900 by a man named Clevenger. The fine home he built still stands. A newspaper was started in 1890. The Chilhowee News, edited by Victor Waters, and later by C. A Crumbaugh. It was published a while and then stopped but was started again by several different editors until the 1940s. When the Chicago Rock Island Pacific Railroad built a line from St. Louis to Kansas City in 1904 which ran along the south edge of the town, the town really boomed. The Post Office had four rural mail routes Coal Was Mined About then coal was found in the surrounding area It was a paying vein and the mining industry developed with 100 employees. At that time there were only board sidewalks and the streets were lined with hitching racks, but with the progress of the town concrete sidewalks replaced the boardwalks, the wooden business buildings torn down and brick business place's built The population that year reached 732. There were now two banks, three large general stores, three drug stores, three doctors, a dentist, two veterinaries. a harness shop, two hardware stores, a hotel, and two livery stables. The two-room school where eight grades were taught had grown to include high school grades The automobile age came around 1910. and with it a garage and two filling stations. Located in a very rich agriculture area. Chilhowee was a popular trading center. A Masonic lodge and Order of the Eastern Star was organized about 1902 and continues today. There were several new homes built and the town had a great deal of civic pride. Home For School A new school building was built in 1919 for a four-year high school after merging several school districts. This included an elementary school and four- year high school, including vocational subjects. The old school building and lot were sold to the R. E. Paytons, he was MKT agent from 1917 to 1943. The Paytons tore down the old building and erected a fine new home there, they now reside in Sedalia at 2505 West eleventh.
The Old Settlers Reunion was organized for the Early Settlers of Johnson and Henry Counties and was held each year in June until the First World War It became an important event with a large attendance, as did the Colt Show which was held each fall. Things were really rough in Chilhowee in the early twenties, however, when Kansas City's notorious gangs kept the local merchants in hot water with robberies. Merchants slept in their stores to protect them. 
Walked at Gunpoint
It was one night in April of 1923 that E. S. (Cap) Turner started to walk from a filling station to one of the stores where he planned to spend the night with one of the merchants in his store. Suddenly someone stuck a gun in his side and he was told to start walking and not to stop, which he did. He ducked up an alley and went to the store where he had been headed. Turner had his wallet in his hip pocket but he had his handkerchief over it in such a way that the bandit didn’t realize it was there but searched him otherwise. That night there were two gangs in the town, but neither knew about the other. One gang seeing the other gang with guns thought they were some of the men of the town and started shooting. They started having a real gun battle in the heart of town one of the men called Old Jim was shot in the abdomen. He laid up in Dr. Martins office for a couple of days in a very critical condition and finally died. A trial was held in Chilhowee but none of the men were ever convicted. Were in Business 
Journey, Valentine, and Inglish were early men in business in Chilhowee and were known as the three Bills. William Inglish now 88 years old, is the only one living. Gone, too, are other professional men. Doctors Stark, Howard, Martin and Joseph Beatty M. J. Ream, druggist Charles Pollock, who had a store. Judge William P Hunt, banker, S. S. Shoemaker, merchant, Solmon Cowden and Moore hardware Sweeney - Cook morticians John I. Wright lumber, Joe Gnevar and J. W. Wright lumber The progressive citizens of the community and surrounding area held a campaign for good roads There they were in their Model T Fords and other early (ars. with their horse, mule buggies and wagons. And they got what they went after, good roads, only to find that it took people away from the town shopping, to churches, to everything, and left their town to go down instead of up as they had expected The trains that helped it build were gone too and then the depression <mus«h1 It to wonder whether it would continue or fail But the ‘Little City on the Divide,’ as Chilhowee was known in the early days because it was so near the line of two counties, Johnson and Henry didn't give up It still has a wonderful civic pride, it has a city water system, a big gas company that serves many towns in the surrounding area, two supermarkets, a paint and gift shop, a lumberyard, two churches with full-time service, and new homes. 
Decorate the Church
The Union Church which was moved from Old Town is now known as the Community United Methodist Church and has an active membership. After a fire that ruined the interior it has been redone and educational rooms and pastor study have been added. The MFA operates the Farmers Exchange and elevator and lumber yard. Chilhowee has one of the best little community fairs in the state, which runs two days and draws a crowd of about 10,000 people. The attendance at the horse show alone is estimated at 6.000. Three buildings that were moved from Old Town still stand. The McFarland home built in 1857, the Pollock home and the Strickland home. The school building is now used for farm storage. Chilhowee has a resident who this year reached her 100th birthday, on March 6. She is believed to be the oldest person.
Gathering of Settlers 
The Old Settlers Reunions started in the early 1900s for early settlers of Johnson and Henry Counties, one was held until the First World War. 

picture was taken on June 5, 1907 reunions were always held in June.

This The Colt Show in Johnson County.
Mrs. Mollie Shockley was born on March 6. 1869 and recalls that at one time her parents were slaves. She has lived in Chilhowee since 1918 when she went there with her husband. She likes to read her Bible and watch certain television programs 

The Colt Show and the farm products exhibition was always a big thing in Chilhowee, drawing a large crowd. The judging is being held in this picture 1909. 

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