Blue Mound, as in a myriad of other small towns, villages, hamlets, communities or crossroads

across Missouri, has had its share of “defining events,” some with a certain mystique and

uniqueness, that marks its history and which sets it aside from the others. Below is a selection of these “events” for you to enjoy as you become more familiar with the day-to-day happenings in Blue Mound. The source of each “event” is noted at either the beginning or the end of the story.

Ground Hogs and Banjos

From an undated photocopy of a reflections column from the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune,

by Bill Plummer - “Not long ago, we learned from Jack Brewer, whose versatility ranges

through hair-barbering, country music and musical instrument repairs, all in the same shop, that

the banjo over there against the wall and which was in want of considerable repair, had a skin

made out of groundhog.

Brewer said Marion Hooten, who used to work in the corner pool hall prior to his retirement,

dragged the groundhog home when he was a lad and that it was this animal that supplied the

hide for the banjo and countless hours of banjo music. Well, who should we come upon down at

the Blue Mound cemetery the other day but Marion Hooten.

The report on the banjo was fact said Hooten. He proceeded to relate that an uncle from the

Dakotas was back visiting that year and the uncle asked him if they had any groundhogs around

here. Yes, said young Marion, there are groundhogs and there is one that hangs around the big

mulberry tree over in the holler. The uncle from the Dakotas said groundhog meat was good

eating, so Hooten carried his gun over into the holler near Clear Creek and shot the groundhog

dead.

He toted that fat old groundhog by the tail half a mile or so up the hill, recalled Hooten. It was a

heavy burden for a boy and like to wore him out. The uncle form the Dakotas smacked his lips

and they skinned the groundhog and uncle baked the hog meat in the oven. The skin was tanned

and wound up making music.

Dub McCracken and Hooten got to talking about that mulberry tree and their boyhood days in

the neighborhood. They claimed that the mulberries in those days were as big around as your

thumb. And juicy and good eatin.

McCracken said that the roads were dirt there into the 1930s and said he liked to grab onto the

horse’s tail and hang on and let the horse drag him barefoot down the road. The horse would

clip off a speed of 20 to 25 miles an hour pulling him by its tail, he said.

Dub McCracken and Marion Hooten talked about the mulberry tree, and Clear Creek so clear

you could see fish bite the hook, and mailman making his winter rounds on his Co-Op tractor or

by horseback when the snow was deep.

McCracken looked at the visitor from town. You’re talking to a couple of kids who knew how to

have fun, he said.” Photocopy of column provided by Veda Hughes and Dub McCracken.

Farmers Meet in Blue Mound

From the Chillicothe Constitution, February 14, 1873 –

“A meeting of farmers in Blue Mound. J. A. Lewis is chairman, Captain John Collar is Secretary.

Dr. James Shields, E. P. Davis, L.D. Jones and John Collar to prepare bylaws. Next meeting is

February 24.”

This information was sent to me via email by Sue Jones on July 13, 2000. It would be most

interesting to learn what this meeting was all about. My best guess is that it was the beginnings

of a chapter of the then popular “law enforcement” organization called the Anti-Horse Thief

Association.

According to Johnny Hoyt in his book, Not Much of Anything: A History of My Life,

“Most of the men in the neighborhood belonged. I remember that my father belonged. If anything was stolen from the members the Lodge would deputize men to go out and search, though the Lodge would not search for property for non-members. One of the members had a brother-in-law that had some harness stolen. He wanted the Lodge to go out and hunt for them. They knew of a couple of young men that were preparing to leave the country in a covered wagon and they suspected they had the harness. The Lodge refused so they slipped out and got one of the member’s saddles and hid it in the Store at Blue Mound. That gave the Lodge the right to hunt.

They took my father and a neighbor boy with the two men that hid the saddle and they overtook

the boys about two days away--my father and the neighbor boy hunting the saddle, the other two hunting one of the men’s brother-in-law’s harness. On the same night after the search, one of the boy’s brothers came into the neighborhood to sit up with his cousin that was very bad sick. On the same night the member’s saddle was placed on the fence, supposedly left as the brother passed by. It was a few years before the boys came back carrying the reputation of stealing the saddle. Even one of the boys could not convince his father that they did not steal the saddle. One day long after, one of the men told one of the brothers that he would tell something if he would not tell. He promised, but when he told, he said, “I am going to tell,”and he did. Well, he did tell and it cleared the boys. They threw the two men out of the Lodge and my father was not happy with the part they had him to play.

One of the men had a couple of young men on his farm. They became dissatisfied with their deal, somehow. All at once they began shooting and letter writing and throwing letters around the neighborhood, and that happened just at the time that the hunt took place for the lost saddle and circumstantial evidence pointed toward the man that hid the saddle.”

Former Blue Mound Postmaster Subpoenaed

A subpoena for witness from State of Missouri to appear in Caldwell County on the 19th of

September in 1884 was issued to I. (Isom) Groce. Roy Bryant was the plaintiff and J. C. Sergent

was the defendant. The subpoena was found behind the fireplace at Francis Gwin’s residence

when it was demolished. The Groce’s lived at this residence in the 1880;s. Isom was appointed Postmaster at Blue Mound effective April 6, 1871 and served until October 25, 1871. Isom died in 1893 and is buried in the Blue Mound Cemetery. We were unable to find out what the trial was about nor the outcome. Sue Jones provided the subpoena (now in the State Historical Society of Missouri Archives).

Very Cold Summer Weather in Blue Mound

In projects like this, you are bound to run into the strange, the bizarre and the downright

unbelievable. This was one of those. As soon as we got a copy of the newspaper article below,

we suspected that something was amiss.

The newspaper article that spawned all of this research was emailed to us by Sue Jones January 17, 2001 with the following message:

“There is no date given for the Blue Mound or Gallatin newspapers. Also, I don’t know whether

this is your Blue Mound or someone else. Just thought you might like to see it. Best wishes. Sue

Jones.”

The news clipping was from the October 18, 1998 Braymer, Missouri Bee Volume 111, Issue 23

as follows:

“Leo Stephenson of Cowgill found this clipping from the “Bee” while going through some

papers at his home. J. F. Ebers of 419 South Spring Street, Springfield says folks who think we

are having a hard spring don’t know the half of it. He refers to a clipping from the Blue Mound

Leader which has been in his possession for over 30 years and was handed down to him by his

father. The clipping, which tells of the cold spring in 1846, follows as reported in the Gallatin

North Missourian: The year of 1846 was without a summer. The weather was so cold that ice

was frozen every day in June and every month experienced frost and freezing weather. June 17

was a memorable date, as a big snow fell to the depth of 10 inches and many people were frozen to death. The mean temperature of the summer months was 45 degrees and the crops were failures, the weather being too cold for vegetation of any kind. July and August were colder than June and ice was an inch thick or more. On August 30, another snow fell and the entire summer was as bleak and dreary as November.

There was very bitter rain the entire season; farm work was done with heavy wraps and mittens

on, and it was necessary to consume a lot of fuel for heating purposes. In September, the

thermometer reached 70 degrees and for a short time the cold was dispelled, but for a short time only, when winter set in again. The wind blew a gale from the north most of the time and it was fierce and cold.

The general opinion of the people was that rapid cooling of the sun had caused the cold, and

many believed the end of all things had come. This unusual cold weather was experienced more

severely in the eastern states, but it is a matter of fact that it was extremely cold through the

middle and western states.”

We are sure that this really wasn’t fake news, but it did warrant a little exploration and

interpretation.

First, Blue Mound, Missouri never had a newspaper. We discovered that this article originated

from the Blue Mound Leader, a newspaper in Blue Mound, Illinois that began in 1866, and is

still in business today. We also could find no evidence of the reported Gallatin North Missourian

newspaper.

Second, we found out that the Joseph F. Ebers mentioned in the article as living in Springfield

actually lived in Springfield, Illinois, not Springfield, Missouri. He was born in1868 and died in

1930.

Third, after checking with some meteorologists, we discovered that the “Year without a

Summer” actually occurred in 1816, not 1846.

So, we know that this extreme weather did not occur in Blue Mound, Missouri. It reportedly did

happen, especially in the northeastern states. We discovered a book, “Early American Winters

1604-1820” by David M. Ludlum published by the American Meteorological Society that had a

long chapter entitled, June Snows of 1816 with a footnote that this section only considers the

June snowfall phase of the “Year without a Summer,” and they hoped to cover the other events

of spring, summer and fall of this remarkable season in a future publication (we never found it).

Then we found reference to an October 6, 1816 article in The Albany Advertiser, a newspaper in

New York State which related this peculiar season (we boldfaced for emphasis):

“The weather during the past summer has been generally considered as very uncommon, not

only in this country, but, as it would seem from newspaper accounts, in Europe also. Here is has

been dry and cold. We do not recollect a time when the drought has been so extensive, and

general, not when there has been so cold a summer. There have been frosts in every summer

month, a fact that we have never known before.”

Supposedly, newspapers in Connecticut decades later reported that old farmers referred to 1816 as “eighteen hundred and starve to death, rather than eighteen hundred and sixteen!”

With a bit more of sleuthing, we found evidence that the “Year without a Summer” which

plagued the northeastern section of the United States may have resulted from the massive and

destructive volcano eruption of Mount Tambora. Allegedly, it was reported to have been more

massive and destructive than the eruption of Krakatoa decades later.

In summary, we don’t know how cool it was in Blue Mound, Missouri during the summer of

1816 (mostly only the native American Indians were here at that time), but guess it was

somewhat warmer than reported in the Blue Mound (Illinois) Leader newspaper.

Wolf Family Robbed

From the Chillicothe Spectator, August 8, 1866 - “Another robbery–On Saturday last, the house

of Mr. Wolf, on the Mounds was robbed of $200. The family had been temporarily absent, and

the money was taken from the bed where it had been kept by Mrs. Wolf, by somebody who had

slipped into the house during her absence. The house was surrounded by corn, and it is supposed that somebody had slipped up, and when the house was vacated for a time went in and committed robbery.” Information provided by Sue Jones. We didn’t figure the current equivalent, but that was a lot of money for those days.

Drew Gun and Is Arrested

From the Chillicothe Newspaper, July 24, 1902 - George Cranmer Wednesday arrested John C.

Mead for drawing a shot gun on George McAlear, both farmers of Blue Mound Township. He

was brought to town and gave bond to the amount of $200 to appear before Judge Swarty

Tuesday, July 31. The trouble arose over the discovery of a bee-tree, both claiming possession of it. Information supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

The Ball Game

From the Chillicothe Constitution, Wednesday October 7, 1908 - The school boys o£ the Swain

school played a game of ball with the Blue Mound school boys Saturday. The game resulted in a

score of 19 to 3 in favor of Blue Mound. Information supplied by Lori Olson.

Will Celebrate 3rd.

From the Chillicothe Daily Constitution, Thursday June 24, 1915 - Residents of Blue Mound

Township and others who care to attend are; going to be royally entertained on Saturday. July

3rd. Dan Barnes, Eli Lester and A. V. Smith are planning a big picnic to be held at the Dan

Barnes farm and a program is being arranged that will far outdo anything ever attempted in that

part of the country. There will be a big fish fry, a ball game, all kinds of racing and good music

and speaking. The Barnes farm is one half mile north of Blue Mound and everyone is invited to

attend and enjoy a general good time. Everything is free and everybody is welcome.

Also, from the Chillicothe Daily Constitution, Tuesday, June 29, 1915 - Everything is in

readiness for the big picnic to be pulled off in the Dan Barnes pasture, one half mile north

of Blue Mound next Saturday, July 3rd. This is to be a “real” celebration in the old-fashioned

way. Everything is free and everyone is guaranteed a good time. There will be a

fish fry, plenty of good eats and cold drinks, good music and some exceptionally good speaking.

Saturday will be a big day around Blue Mound.

Hurt in Runaway

From the Chillicothe Constitution, Saturday, April 25, 1914 - Charles Hoyt suffered a fracture in

his right shoulder late Saturday when he was thrown from a buggy near the Adams warehouse at the Elm Street crossing over the railroad tracks. Hoyt and his brother, John, were returning to

their home in Blue Mound Township when the team became frightened at an automobile and

started to run. The injured man was taken to the office of Dr. Wm. Girdner where the fracture

was reduced and later taken to the hospital. He was able to return to his home Monday.

Information supplied by Lori Olson.

FOUR CALVES BY ONE COW

Source unknown: R. C. Zirkle has a cow that is the world beater, on April 1st 1902 she brought

him two calves; in March 1903 she brought him two more making four calves in less than a year.

This cow is almost equal to the goose that laid the "golden egg.” L. M. Haynes had a sow that brought 16 to one litter. Mrs. Smith hatched two chickens from one egg.

Now these are no fish stories but are facts. Verily south Livingston County is on boom. They

have distributed a part of the telephone posts on the ground from Johnny Hoyt's to Avalon but the line from Blue mound to Dawn has fallen through. Information supplied by Lori Olson.

Bullet Lodged in his Head

From the Chillicothe Constitution, December 17, 1903 - Virgil Burner while at work one day last

week, had a 32-caliber revolver in his pocket and it fell out and discharged. The bullet lodging in

his head near the temple. A doctor was summoned and located it and took it out and all danger is passed. Information supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

Medicine Show at Blue Mound

Chillicothe Constitution, 1931 - The medicine show is at Blue Mound this week. The rains last

week caused the roads to be so bad they put on a show Friday and Saturday nights. Information

supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

Champion Rabbit Buyer

From the Chillicothe Constitution, December 19, 1917 - C. C. Hoyt of Blue Mound, undoubtedly

has won the title of Champion Rabbit Buyer of Missouri. Mr. Hoyt, within the past week, has

bought and sold 12,000 rabbits for an average of 16 and 2/3 cents each — $2,000 received for

rabbits in one week’s time. Henderson and Sons Produce Company of this city purchased a large number of the bunnies while others were sold at Triplett and other neighboring towns.

Information supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

Note to readers: Senior author, Joe G. Dillard, would appreciate receiving any suggestions you

have for corrections or any other information you have about Blue Mound, especially photos,

diaries, or other artifacts. Those may be sent to: Joe G. Dillard, 3535 West Arbor Way, Columbia

MO 65203 or DillardJ@missouri.edu