Howard, Son of John (Jan. 19, 1872 - Nov. 15, 1953) and Ida (Dec. 11, 1872 - June 17, 1961) Brown, was born in 1917 about ½ mile west and 1/4 mile north of Blue Mound. He was the last of seven children. He lived in Blue Mound until 1929 when his father sold out and moved up on Medicine Creek, northeast of Chillicothe.
I met Howard for the first time at his home in Liberty, Missouri in April 2003. He lives alone since his wife (Louise Sarah Wanner Brown) died on January 12, 2000. He was 86 at the time of the first interview, but very agile, alert, and friendly.
The following remarks are based on a series of interviews with Howard in 2003.
Howard related that the Great Tornado of June 20, 1883 took their original place (The storm cut a wide swath through the sparsely populated wooded hills west of Blue Mound before it struck Charles Brown’s (1813-13 Nov 1906) place. He had moved to Blue Mound from Canada about 9 years earlier. He followed his wife, Margaret (????-19 Dec 1897), and their many children into a cave beneath the house just as the storm struck. All their buildings were lost but the family was safe. He spent the remaining 23 years of his life here in the new house they built which was just up the hill east of the old one. (The tornado missed Fred McCullogh (???? - 1998), their neighbor on the north and east). When it hit my Dad was upstairs stuffing pillows in the windows and the wind would blow them out as fast as they could stuff them in. They had a trap door in the kitchen which led to the cellar under the house. Charlie was yelling to Dad to let the windows go and come on down. So just as he went down the house left. After it was over, he said that the chickens didn’t have a feather on them and the old bull that was tied to a post in the barn was still there tied to the post, but the barn was gone. The only thing left of the house was just the imprint. The imprint of where the original house stood was there for many years.
Howard said that the roads weren’t graveled when he lived in Blue Mound (1917 -1929), and that his Dad was milking about 25 cows. He also said that there were no deer there at that time. He said that they didn’t hunt, they just butchered.
On the west side of the house was a 20x20 foot metal shed that they used to store the ice they made each winter. Some folks in those days cut their ice from ponds or big pools in the river or creek, but the Browns made theirs. They had three steel boxes (12 inches wide, 3 foot long and 4 foot high) that would each hold a 300 pound cake of ice. They filled them with water from their living well down south of the house and let them freeze, then drug them to the ice house and scooted them down a chute into the ice house. Then they went up to Tom Whitaker’s (25 Jul 1877 - 10 Nov 1964) saw mill (northeast of McCrackens) to get a load of sawdust to cover the ice to keep it from melting. It would last them all summer.
Speaking of the Whitakers, Howard remembered an event that occurred one Halloween night when someone moved the Whitaker’s big old log hauling wagon (a big steel wheeled apparatus with an extendable pipe between the two sets of wheels for hauling logs out of the forest) and put it cross ways on the bridge leading to the Brown’s house. Rex Brown was out that night in a brand new 1925 Model T touring car (one of the first to have balloon tires). When he tried to get home, he came upon the log wagon across the bridge. Well, he wasn’t going to let that stop him so he politely got out of the car and shoved the wagon off over the edge of a 25 foot drop off! It was quite a while before anyone found it. The word finally got around and the Whitakers never did think very highly of the Browns after that.
Another event was when someone (I think maybe Donald Barnes was involved) put a buggy and a cow up on the top of Charley Brown’s, Howard’s Uncle, (1878-1961) store.
Ralph Brown had the first car in the family; a 1923 Model T Ford touring car. His Mother, Ida, always went up to the Mount Hope Church and asked Ralph to take her one Sunday morning. Well, it seems as though Ralph had been out most of the night and was sleeping late the next morning. He didn’t even help with the chores. Ida got up and got herself ready and hollered up to Ralph to come on and get up and take her to Church. Well he didn’t do it, so Ida just grabbed her a wrench and went down to where he had parked the car and took the nut off of the steering wheel, took it off and hid it. Then she just walked up to the church.
Old Ralph finally got up and decided to go somewhere. You can imagine his surprise when he saw the car without a steering wheel. But that wasn’t going to stop him. He put a pipe wrench on the steering wheel shaft and took off. Well, the wrench wasn’t quite as good as the steering wheel and he almost put the car in the ditch on his way up to the Blue Mound garage. Luckily, Joe Owens (who ran the garage and was the Son of David Owens) found a replacement wheel for Ralph. (Joe married Howard’s Sister, Opal M. Brown (1897 - 1969). They later divorced. Joe moved to Chadron, Nebraska, married again and is buried there. Opal married Ray Marlin. She died in1970 and is buried next to Ida and John in the Blue Mound Cemetery along with her Son Dale Marlin (1934 - 1999).
The Central (telephone) Office up on the northwest corner of Blue Mound was run by Blanche (1907 -1992) and Fred McCullogh. There was a garage across the road from the Central Office. Just east of it was a store which his Uncle Charley (1878-1961) owned for a while. The next house east (on the north side of the road across from the school house) was off the road and the Tuckers lived there. The next house east was that of the widow, Leila Davis (13 Sep 1877 - 21 Apr 1961) who was the Wife of William Davis (20 Oct 1863 - 17 Jan 1932). John Perry’s (22 Nov 1874 - 01 Jun 1955) house was next. There was a road that went right on east before you go down Rattle Snake hill and Dave Owens (October 14, 1859 - May 14, 1934) lived there. His Son, Joe Owens, married my Sister Opal Brown. Joe ran the garage in Blue Mound for a while.
Howard mentioned the folks that lived in the house on the south side of the road just a little bit west of them. They were really poor folks and didn’t have much acreage. One of their boys set in front of him at school. He came in all dirty and had lice in his hair. I just walked over to the Blue Mound School every day since we lived so close.
“The old lady Thomas used to live down there were Edwin Haynes lived on the east side of the road. Her Husband died quite a while ago. At one time she was going to sue my Dad. Her dog got into our sheep. My Uncle Charley (1878-1961) was there (my Dad’s Brother) and all he did was hunt and work for farmers. I was gone that day. We had sheep in a pasture just south of the house. The wolves had been getting into them so we were keeping them in that 5 acres in front of the house. So old Charley saw this dog going after a sheep and he picked up his rifle and shot him dead. He was a very good shot. So, Mrs. Thomas said she was going to sue my Dad. When Dad got home and found that the dog had wool in its teeth, that was the end of that.”
Howard told me how Reva Maberry used to like to use the phone a lot. And of course, Blue Mound had one of those party line type telephones where only two people could use it at once. So, if you wanted to use it you picked it up to see if anyone was on it and if they were you could listen to them talk but you couldn’t call anyone else. Well it seems like every time Howard’s Dad would want to use the phone Reva would be on it. So, he finally got to where he would just tell her to get off that he needed to talk!
One of the funnier stories that Howard told was about the time that my Dad played a prank at the store. He had gone in to get some baking powder and there were several old men in there shooting the breeze about gunpowder. One of them had a pretty severe case of arthritis and could barely get around. So, what his Dad did was as they were talking about gunpowder was to open up the stove and toss in his baking powder. And the old man with arthritis was the first one out the door. Cured him right on the spot!
Howard told me that another thing that happened in Blue Mound each summer was the gypsies would come through. They would trade horses and steal a few chickens to eat. They pulled their covered wagon in on the east side of Rattle Snake Hill and camped near an old living well there. They would let their horses run on the west side of the road going down Rattle Snake Hill.
Well one summer when the gypsies came, Ralph Brown and Rex Brown (Jan, 15, 1907 - Oct. 24, 1988) had been down to the Gibbs Chapel (about a mile east and a mile south of Blue Mound) to an ice cream supper. They had ridden their horses down there, and on the way back they decided to have some fun with the gypsies. The gypsies had one horse tied up to their covered wagon and five or six horses grazing on the other side of the road, one of which was hobbled. So, Ralph said to Rex, “Let’s just let them horses loose and run ‘em south”. Ralph said, “I’ll get this one here at the wagon” which left him afoot. So, Rex said, I’ll get this one that’s got the hobbles on it. Ralph didn’t give Rex time to get the hobbled one untied and Rex didn’t get the one from the wagon, but they did get some of the other ones to take off and chased them up to the store at Blue Mound and turned them south. They run them clear off down into Carroll County and left them off in behind a hedge row where you couldn’t see them. Meanwhile the gypsies where right on their tails, but went on by where Ralph and Rex had taken their horses. Then Rex and Ralph pulled out of there hooping and a hollering with the gypsies right after them.
“It was a hot night and I was sleeping on the floor off of the front porch inside the house. My Dad and Mom slept in a bedroom just off of the dining room. Rex and Ralph always slept upstairs in the south bedroom.
Well, I was laying on the floor and I heard something really hitting the ground hard. I first thought that maybe the dogs were in the sheep in the south pasture close to the house. But then I looked up and here came Ralph and Rex down our lane full tilt. As soon as they got close to our yard they unloosened their saddles and tossed them over the fence and ran their horses through the gate out into the sheep pasture. Ralph and Rex raced into the house and almost ran over me as I was laying there on the floor and up the stairs they went and got in bed immediately.
It wasn’t no time until two of those gypsies came up to our door a hollering and raising hell. Well, I woke my Dad up and said there is someone out here hollering even though it was hard to understand what they were saying. Of course, we could understand enough of it to hear them say, “Your two boys run my horses off”! Then my Dad said, “Nah, they’ve been upstairs asleep”. After a bit more of the shouting, Dad finally told them, “Get out of here before I get my shotgun”. So, they left. Of course, he didn’t even have a gun.
Well, the next morning I had to get the mail (we had a mailbox up there at the store). (My Uncle Charley ran the store and he would give me candy every time I came in.) Well here came those gypsies to buy a few groceries. So, they got to telling my Uncle (who stuttered) about what had happened. We think that those boys over west run our horses off, but we are not for sure, but if they did, we will shoot ‘em. So, my Uncle told them “Wellll bbybybyby goddd youdddd betbetbetter forget it”!!!! I was standing right there and heard the whole thing.
The gypsies found their horses the next day past where Rex used to live south of the four corners east of Blue Mound.
The house on the map just south of the school house was where Dan Barnes (1877 - ????) had a grocery store. And the old building that was abandoned just north of it used to be a post office. I’m pretty sure it was before the Dawn Post Office took over the Blue Mound delivery in 1908.
Right before the quarry came in , John Perry was farming that ground to the east of Dan Barnes’ store. He had three horses pulling a 16-inch walking plow. Well it come up a storm and the lightning struck old John and killed the middle horse and knocked the shoes off of old John. He could hardly hear for a long time.
I went to the country school at Slagle. And then rode a horse to Chillicothe High School for one year. After that, me and Dad farmed together until it got so that there wasn’t enough for the two of us. So, I went to California in 1940 when jobs were hard to find. I went to work for the Perdue Construction Company in San Diego. They cheated me on my time so I quit them and went up to Eva’s at Antioch and her Husband tried to get me on the Pittsburgh Steel Mill where he worked. He took me in to talk to the Superintendent, but it didn’t work so I went up to my niece’s place in McCloud and went to work for McCloud Lumber Company building roads. Then I worked on the dam until Uncle Sam got me in 1941. I eventually came back to Missouri and worked on the Ford Plant in 1950 when they first built it in North Kansas City.”
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