Railroads and Lumbermen Bring Development

While Bootheel resident struggled with drainage problems loggers cleared million of timberland acres in other parts of the United States. With the westward movement, industrialization, and urbanization, the demand for lumber was unprecedented. Steam powered circular and gang saws after the mid 1850’s, increased lumber output from less than 3,000 to more than 40,000 board feet per day. American loggers cut less than two billion board feet of wood in 1839, more than eight billion in 1859, and twenty billion in 1880, with a peak in 1904 of forty-six billion board feet.

After the lumber company clean cut the timber in the Midwest and Upper Mississippi River Valley, they looked around for opportunities. They were quick to move their operations southward into Southeast Missouri and Northeast Arkansas.


Hayward is a small village south east of Portageville just across the county line in Pemiscot County. When established, this settlement was Needmore, a name typical of pioneer Humor. A rural Baptist Church was established there in 1880 called Macedonia Church. The first post office was called Fisher after, a local landowner. The name was changed in 1888 to Hayward for a man who took replaced Fisher’s place in the community in prominence. The population in 2000 was 123 and had earned the classification of a town. Elevation was 282 feet above sea level. The racial makeup was 100 per cent white.


Senate, a Dunklin County city, incorporated 1882, elevation 256 feet, size, 1.9 square miles, is located in the southwestern part of the county some ten miles south of Kennett. Historically, the area is in an earthquake area that is 74% greater than the national average. Tornado activity, historically, is 212% greater than the overall national average.

The first settler in the area A. W. Dougham settled there in 1879. At first the community, dependent entirely on the surrounding farming society surrounding it, grew slowly J. M. Baird opened the first general mercantile store follow by cotton gins.

In 1887, the General Assembly passed a law giving the counties the right to vote whether intoxication liquors could be sold within their jurisdiction. This law was passed at the insistence of the temperance movement. Some years later, another law gave the people the right to choose, local option, in community of over 2,500 to vote the selling of liquor or banish it from their town. These elections were separated from the vote of the county. By 1910, there were no saloons in Dunklin, Stoddard, and New Madrid counties.

In 1897 Louis Houch extended his St. Louis, Kennett and Southern Railroad from Kennett to Senate and the community experienced quick growth.


When the railroad bypassed Lakeville, the townspeople wanted to take advantage of being on the railroad. However, the townspeople could not decide on a location. One group located on Toga north of Lakeville.  The other faction moved west and called their settlement, Advance, to show they were progressive and “advancing.”

When the post office closed in 1889, Lakeville died. Toga never grew. By 1911, was a thriving railroad town of 621 citizens with lumber and cotton the major industries. With an elevation of 361 feet above sea level, Advance is located on Crowley's Ridge and serviced by the Hoxie Branch of the Frisco.


Bayouville is a small town in New Madrid County not far from the Mississippi River. Bayouville was named by Mr. Fletcher of New Madrid, who sent mail by steamboat to his village in 1882. The name suggests that a Number of bayous were in the area. From 1901 and 1933, a post office was located there.

   White Oak

White Oak, a Dunklin County village situated nine miles north of Kennett was on the St. Louis & Gulf Railroad was settled on the opening of this road in 1902.  At the turn of the 20th Century, the village had three general stores and sawmill.


Painton is an unincorporated village in northern Stoddard County some 20 miles north of Dexter. Build on Crowley's Ridge, with an elevation of 315 feet, she can be found on the Bell City U.S. Geographic Map.


Hayti is a town in the center of Hayti Township in Pemiscot County on the junction of the Frisco and Kennett to Caruthersville Railroad. Established in 1894 with the building of the railroads however, a settlement was made thee earlier. In 1875, a school district was established. A post office was applied for in 1896 under the name Gayoso City. It was rejected because of its similarity to Gayoso,. So the name was coined from the name of Dr. G. Hayes, local land owner, and the syllable “ti.” Louis Houck, who helped lay to the town on the high ridge which ties it to Caruthersville.


Founded in 1894, Rives is a small village in Dunklin County. Its name derived from Colonel H. W. Rives, a railroad superintendent. The town has a total area o 0.4 square miles; the elevation is 246 feet above sea level.


Holcomb is a city in Dunklin County. Laid out in 1870’s it was incorporated until 1891. The total area of the community is 0.6 square miles. Clarkton is the nearest city, 2.1 miles away Campbell and Gideon is both 3.6 miles distance. Elevation is 297 feet above sea level. With a population of 279 at the turn of the 20th Century, it supported several general stores a bank and school.


Cardwell is a city in Dunklin County. Located in the southwestern corner of the county, located on Buffalo Island elevation 246 feet, just west of the St. Francis River and the Arkansas state line this was an area greatly enhanced by the Little River Drainage District.

With the development of the Paragould-Southeastern and Paragould and Memphis railroads the community experienced rapid growth. First settled and laid out by the Bertig Brothers of Paragould, Arkansas in 1895 and named for Frank Cardwell, cashier of the Bank of Paragould who helped finance the railroad. Incorporation came in 1904.The timber industry had several mills in the region with Cardwell & Buffalo Stave Company operating the most important factory.


Conran is a small incorporated town, since 1908, in New Madrid County. It dates back to 1896. However, scattered settlers lived in the area before that. That year Bob West erected a tent, this became the first store. This, like most of the communities developing at this time, owed its beginnings to the timber surrounding the settlement. In 1898, the St. Louis and Memphis Railroad was building from Paw Paw Junction, (Lilbourn) to Hayti.

Like the rest of the Little River Valley, in the swamps, great cypress trees grew. On higher ridges oak, sweet gum, black gum, elm, sycamore, and hackberry tree grew in abundance. In 1905, Ollie Gunin build a stave mill that was later sold to John Byrd who also operated sawmill in the area. By 1930, large stacks of pilings were stacked beside the railroad track waiting for shipment.


Catron was a school and community in New Madrid County just west of Little River. A post office was established here in either 1904 or 1905 to be discontinued for awhile before it was reestablished in 1919. At first, this settlement was called May’s Switch after an employee of the Southwest Land and Lumber Company who established a mill and arranged for a loading switch on the Cottonbelt Railroad Known in 1879 as Little River Station but was changed when the post office was name after an early settler, W. C. Catron.

Easter Sunday 1924, a cow caused a freight train to wreck by walking out in front of it. One of the cars derailed was loaded with matches. The resulting pileup ignited the matches. Fire quickly spread to several car loads of corn and meat, destroying the depot.


Deering is an unincorporated community eight miles west of Caruthersville in Pemiscot County. In the early 1900’s, the Wisconsin Lumber Company established a saw mill in the area. The lumber company built a dummy line into the woods to Rives. They called it the Deering South West was pulled by animals. The community got a railroad connection to the outside world in 1912with a connection to the Frisco system.

The International Harvester companies realizing it was only a question of time before their supply of lumber needed for production for making coke for steel production would become a problem. To solve this situation, the company looked to the timberland in the St. Francis Valley were the acquired 60,000 acres along with a leased 20,000 acres in Northeast Arkansas. This land was heavily timbered. The principal mill they set up at Deering worked a daily average of 44,000 feet of lumber per day employing 125 men. There Truman, Arkansas, operation with 85 workers, had a daily average output of 35,000 feet per day. This became the second largest, behind Morehouse, lumber operation of its kind.

With the lumber cleared from the land, the company moved and the town dwindled leaving the 60,000 acre Deering Plantation was a subsidiary of International Harvester. Just to the east was another small community, Pondertown which is no longer listed on maps.

Other independent sawmills were operation in the area. Most were known only by a number. The men working these mills often lived in tents. Small settlement grew up around some of the mills and no longer found on maps; Yama was one, others were Mid-City half way between Kennett and Hayti, Seldom Seen, Skinners Place, Bloody Bucket and Mangolds Grove. The early communities were close to each other. In October of1898 the Pemiscot Southern Railroad acquired roadbed right to this area.


Blazer was a logging switch on the Deering Southwestern Railroad. It was maned for J. M. Blazer, manager of the lumber company operating in and around Deering.

Skinners Place

Skinners Place was a large building housing a grocery store and night club separated by a double fireplace petition. By 1930, it had a reputation as one of the roughest places in the county. Several killing took place there, one being a Mr. Teroy. Sophia Skinner was also killed\d there, being murdered by her husband. However, the reputation of this place unequaled that of the Bloody Bucket just east of it.


Gobler is an unincorporated community on the border5between Dunklin and Pemiscot. It is located miles west of Caruthersville. Settled first by James Carruthers and his wife Carrie, he was the leader of the black coming to the area and buying land. Most of these settlers were from Arkansas and Mississippi. The Wisconsin Lumber Company was selling their land for between $0.25 and $1.00 per acre. These new arrivals were buying plots varying from 20 to 80 acres. They arrived in the area in covered wagons over the only dirt road.

“Aunt Paul,” Pauline Rice was a former slave that resided in Gobler. She thought she was born the year Andrew Jackson was elected president. During her life, she was sold four times. As a field hand hoeing, plowing, splitting rails and digging don the land of the five masters she served. During the Civil War, she recalled slipping through the lines several times to carry food her ageing grandmother cooked for Union soldiers. She died at age of 111 on December 14, 1939.

The name was derived from the largest turkeys roost in the area was located near the community. It is located six miles south of Highway 84 some one-half mile from its present location. In 1940, Goober became a fourth class city


Risco was founded about 1900 as a base of operation when Louis Houch was building railroads through southeast New Madrid County. Soon after the railroad was complete, the St. Louis San Francisco Railroad bought it.

Since this was a train stop, it was necessary for the camp to have a name. The story goes that an old Frisco boxcar set on a sidetrack and used as a depot and waiting room. The “F” was faded from the name, so when the train crew came to name the village, they took the remaining letters “RISCO” as the name.

A post office and boarding house for the logging and train crews were the first building constructed in 1902. In 1911 A. W. Wilkey built a handle mill here that operated until the timber was removed.

Incorporating came in 1934 to Risco. It is situated in the lowest elevation, 272 feet above sea level, of the New Madrid County towns. In 1934, the town elected an all women town board. They were in office only for one year during which time they succeeded in having sidewalks built.

Himmelberger-Harrison begins logging operation here about the same time as the tracks were laid. Using Risco as a terminal for their train lines, they hauled logs from their various tracks of timber. Here they switched the trains to the Frisco and hauled the logs to the mill at Morehouse.

A set of four 2-2 steam locomotives (two sets of small wheels in front and powered by two sets of larger wheels behind them) were used by Himmelberger and Harrison. At Risco, one serviced the log loaders and did the switching, and another transported logs to the mills at Morehouse. A. similar locomotive was used in Morehouse yard for switching; the fourth one was held in reserve. Risco supplied Himmelberger and Harrison logs for several years. Risco may have developed later, however, with Himmelberger-Harrison’s timber operations in the area; its development was more rapid.

Where possible and when the ground was dry and hard, almost all of the logs were transported to the train by horses. During the wet season, oxen were used. Oxen had larger hoofs and were more stable in the mud and water.

Logging was a seasonal occupation being done largely between July and December. As many as 250 teams were used at the same time during the busier September and October.

The short line (tram) road was 25 miles long. Two log loaders loaded 100 flat cars for the Morehouse mills. To feed all the mills when they were running required 20 acres of timber per day.

   Tram Switch

Tram Switch was a log loading station on the Frisco just north of Canalou. On the maps, it was Deshler, named after the man overseeing this operation for Himmelberger and Harrison, who built this short line track. Within the company, it was Tram Switch. The tram, or tramway, is a short roadway or railway used for transporting logs or lumber from the camps to the railroad.

Trams also ran into Stoddard County. Indian Spur was laid out in 1907. Himmelberger and Harrison ask Frisco to name seven mile spur. As the Himmelberger family came from Indiana, they chose the name Indian Spur.


Bernie is a city in Stoddard County setting on the Kennett-Malden Prairie at an elevation of 302 feet. Set within 1.25 square miles, the city was incorporated in 1889. To the east is the Little River Valley. To the west, less than five miles, is Crowley's Ridge, which narrows down to a mere ruminant.

By 1900, Bernie had a population of 333. When the 1910 census was taken, the population had more than doubled going to 742. In the next ten years, it more than doubled again with a count of 1,571.

The 1914 Sanborn Insurance Map of Bernie said everyone got water from private wells; the streets were not paved, nor were there an organized fire department.  The town was serviced by the Cotton Belt Railway with a depot. Like most of the communities in the Bootheel at this time they were supported by at least one sawmill. The map did not list one. However, there was a lumber yard and a lumber storage warehouse along with a small concrete block factor.

Industries were Bernie Mill and Gin; the mill did not show a lumber yard. There was an unnamed grist mill and a wagon shop with a corn shelter and grinder. Also recorded was a dilapidated cotton gin along with five warehouses.

As the residential area shown was small, Bernie either had a large trade area or the map listed only the business area, not living space for around a 1,000 people. Four wooden churches were recorded along with a frame city hall and small jail. The W. W. A. Lodge building was also wooden frame.

The business district included a livery stable, several grocery and meat markets, a hotel, drug store, post office, ice house, four general merchandise stores, one bank a coal yard, building simple marked auto, a printing shop, a bakery, two barbers, a livery stable, and a clothing store.

Chute Sixteen

A small community, hosting a rural school before consolidation, located on Chute Eighteen of the Mississippi in southern Pemiscot County. Beginning at Number one at Cairo, Illinois, the chutes, island, bends, and other river formation were numbered consecutively down river. A community existed on chute eighteen in 1898. A village and school were also located on Chute Eighteen.

Lint Dale

Lint Dale was an old shipping point on the Mississippi at the mouth of Pemiscot Bayou. Founded in 1873 by Turner Chamberlain and George Coleman and was abandoned when the river current change making Tyler a better boat landing. The first cotton gin in Pemiscot County was here trust giving the settlement its name, one suggested by the cotton lint and the dale of open space in the woods along the bank of the river.


Tyler was a small community on the Mississippi in southern Pemiscot County. One time this was a flourishing sawmill village and shipping point until the timber was cut-over and with the formation of an island forming opposite the town changing the channel. In 1892, a post office was established there. The won was maned for H. H. Tyler of the Tyler Land and Timber Company owned vast tracts of land in the region and operated sawmills at Tyler at Number 8 and Number 9 in Northeast Arkansas. The settlement was already here but without a name when Tyler arrived in 1898.

Number 8 Cemetery and School.

An old rural cemetery in the community of Number 8 was stared about 1892. First known as Mitchell Cemetery, named for the Mitchell families along with their relatives, the Cassidy’s composed almost of the entire settlement. With the establishment of a saw mill, by the Tyler Land and Timber Company from Tyler, in 1898, the cemetery and community became known as Number 8. A school was soon added to this village. This was part of a series of mils (Numbers 8, 9, and 10). Number 8 was thus maned because Tyler moved the mill from Number 8 Island, Kentucky.

All signs have long disappeared of the Tyler sawmill, yet the name still applies to the area by locals. An old ridge, or small mound, two miles south of Cooter, about one-quarter mile long is known as Dogwood Ridge. Originally this was the site of boarding houses for Number Eight sawmill and maned for the dogwood trees in the area. Efforts were once made to call the community Cassidy, even though members of the Cassidy family were prominent, because the family was unpopular in the area, the name did not survive.

Wheeler-Tyler Railroad

The wheeler-Tyler Railroad was an old logging rod built by Wheeler and Tyler connecting their various logging camps located in the southeastern part of Pemiscot County and in northeast Arkansas. It was abandoned when the mills stopped operations with the rails being removed about 1915.


Pascola was a small community slightly east of the center of Pemiscot County. Established in 1894 when the Kennett to Caruthersville Railroad and named by Mr. Houch, who coined it without any explanation. Louis Houch helped lay out the town. Receiving a post office in 1896, the village was incorporated in 1901.


The small settlement of Dolphin, located in the western part of Pemiscot County, was started sometime between 1895 and 1900 as a logging camp. It was established by the Dolphin Land and Lumber Company of St. Louis on the Wheeler-Tyler Railroad. Around 1907 or 1908, a post office was active for a short time. The settlement assumed to name of the lumber company. Reports say Mr. Lubben, a company stockholder, owned a steamboat called the Dolphin, thus the company name.


In the eastern part of Pemiscot County, Schult was built on the Kennett to Caruthersville Railroad. The first name was given to the Carleton post office, established in 1896, in honor Major George W. Carleton, an early resident of Gayoso and Caruthersville, editor of the Gayoso Democrat, , and who secured the enactment of a low providing for drainage districts to be organized.

The post office was discontinued in 1903. Sometime later, the community was changed to Schult for Heine G. Schult, a prominent citizen in the community.


Vicksburg was a community going by the originally name of Dogskin by the residents of Braggadoccio who knew an old hunter who frequented the area, who dogs were said to be “skin and bones.” Dr. J. P. Vickery taught school there in 1914 and was respected enough that when a name was sought for a post office, which was established in 1915, it was maned in his honor using the form of the well known Mississippi town. The post office was maintained only a couple of ears.


Steele is a Pemiscot County city. When incorporated in 1901, her population was 333; by 2000 the population was grown to 2,263 with an area of 1.88 square miles enclosing 971 housing units. The elevation is low, 262 feet above sea level, which help explain why Little River Drainage District Ditch Number Six splits the community.

In 1920, the St. Louis St. Francisco Rail Road was northwest of the drainage ditch with a large passenger station and separate freight depot. Two cottonseed mills supported the town; Phoenix Cotton Oil Mill and Gin and East St. Louis Cotton Oil Mill along with two other cotton gins, Steels Cotton Gin and W. F. Copeland Valley Gin.  Along the tracks was a corn crib and elevator.

Along with several food and general merchandise stores, there were four barber shops, two drug stores, two banks, three auto and repairs shops, and three churches.  Also, there was a post office, a tailor, bakery, freed store, telephone exchange, a hotel, and a feed store, shop to repair wagons, movie house, furniture store, lumber shed, a light plant lodge hall, and pipe fitter.

Peach Orchard

Peach Orchard is a populated place in Dunklin County. With an elevation of 266 feet, she is set in the Bootheel Lowland She is located on the Bragg City U.S. Geographic Map about 20 miles northwest of Caruthersville. After a fire destroyed the post office in 1973, the mail now comes from Gideon.


Caruth is an unincorporated village in Dunklin County was settled in 1881 by William Satterfield in the heart of Grand Prairie and named for Caruth of the firm of Caruth and Byrns hardware Company of St. Louis.

At the turn of the 20th Century, two stores, two churches, and a mill were located there. About 100 residents lived there.  It is located north of Cotton Plant at the end of County Road Y just east of Pole Cat Island and Buffalo Creek Ditch. On the eastern side are the main Little River Drainage District Floodways.


Wardell in Pemiscot County was incorporated into a city in 1912. An early settlement known as Bracy, maned for J. W. Bracy, a large local landowner was located here before the village became Wardell. A post office was established in 1895. After the post office was abandoned, the settlement became known as Oak Grove for obvious reason. In 1902, a sawmill was established here. In 1903 a post office was applied for by R. L Warren using the name Wardell, using the first three letters of his name and adding the syllable “dell,” signifying an opening in the forest.

In 1919, the railroad depot was a boxcar with approximately 45 families lived in the area. There were five stores, a barber shop a hotel and post office and a two-room school. Surrounded by woods, timber was the main source of income for most families. These timber lands were owned or controlled by Himmelberger-Harrison Land Company with Gideon and Anderson leasing the timber rights for sawmills at Gideon A dummy rail line ran deep into the forest and flatcars carried out logs.

The 2000 population was 278. In 1950, The Wardell schools had 1500 students enrolled. An elevation of 276 feet above sea level, and Little River running a little ways west of the 0.2 square mile community, there is a history of flooding.


Located in the southwestern part of New Madrid County is the city of Tallapoosa. This city covers 0.435 square miles. Elevation is set at 272 feet.

Tallapoosa was founded around 1901 at the junction of the St. Louis, Morehouse and Southern Railroad and the Clarkton Branch of the St. Louis, Kennett and Southern Railroad. Both rail lines were constructed by Louis Houck a Cape Girardeau lawyer, historian, and speculator. Houck was corresponding with a Mr. Sturtevant who lived in Tallapoosa, Georgia, when the line was under construction. The first building in the town was the section house used to house repair equipment


The first settler in Canalou was D. S. Kreps in 1902.This was the same year that Louis Houck constructed a railroad, later part of the Frisco system, through Scott, New Madrid, Dunklin, and Pemiscot counties. Morehouse was Canalou’s nearest post office. Loggers had to also go there for food and other supplies.

The town started as workers settled around Georg McBride’s handle and saw mill. In 1906, the Brown Stave Mil, a branch mill of the Ozark Cooperage Company, opened using the abundant of Ash and elm found abundantly in the area.

Canalou is located in the northwest corner of New Madrid County just north of where the Castor River once jointed Little River. Except for Main, First, and MacArthur, the rest of the streets are named for U.S. president; Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Van Buren, Harrison, Roosevelt, Taft, and Kennedy

On July 25, 1903 D, S. Kreps opened a general merchandise store and post office. Next spring, his store had 30 inches of water in it. Also that year, Houck built a switch here calling it Canalou, in Spanish it means “Where is the channel?” The community was survey and laid out that year. Surveyor Joel Dunn plotted only 52 lots all on land owned by Himmelberger-Harrison Several Mills operated in Canalou over the years. On March 2, 1920, the town became a fourth class city.


Douglas was a small community, founded around 1895, in the south central part of Pemiscot County called Oak Ridge. When a post office was applied for in 1905, the name Oak Ridge was preempted by a town in Cape Girardeau County. The name Cooper from Dr. T. S. Cooper, a large landowner, was suggested because of Cooper in Gentry County. Finally the name Douglas, another prominent local family, was adopted. When the post office was discontinued in 1921 the mail was routed from Holland.


Holland is an incorporated village in Pemiscot County. Once a much larger community, 530 people in 1920. It was incorporated in 1903; the 1910 censes recorded 135 residents. Elevation 256 feet; 2000 population of the 0.02 square mile village was 246.

In 1871, J. C. Winters and J. W. Holland settled on the site. It was 20 years before the place was more than simply a small group of farms. This changed when the Frisco Railroad between St. Louis and Memphis enters the town. The railroad came to the area in 1901 with the first incorporation being in May 1903.

By 1910 there were five general stores, , blacksmith shops, restaurants  along with other small establishment, in addition to two cotton gins and a sawmill. The Citizens Co-operative Telephone Company of Holland was the pride of the community of 400.

In 1884, Frank and Pauline Noisworthy settled on the land they just purchased in New Madrid County near the Pole Road. Latter, this would be the site of Gideon. F. E. Gideon from Ohio and W. P. Anderson both were timber men in their homes states seeking a new area to set up saw mills.

   Bird’s Point

Bird’s Point is an unincorporated community in Mississippi County. It lies on an island or former island in the Mississippi River near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi River and situation directly across from Cairo, Illinois. This is the point where U.S. Highway 60 Bridge connects with Wickliffe, Kentucky.

In the 1880’s, the area was an important railroad and river terminus for cotton distributions. Ferries here facilitated movement of cargo and passengers from the island to Illinois. In 1882, the narrow gauge Texas and St. Louis Railway built into Bird’s Point. When this part of the road was completed, it stretched from Bird’s Point to Gatesville, Texas. An incline was used to load railcars onto barges to cross-Mississippi trip from Bird's Point to Cairo. After the Texas and St. Louis went bankrupt, the St. Louis, Arkansas, and Texas Railway took over the business.

The St. Louis, Arkansas, and Texas standard gauged the rail line so the rail shippers would not have to break bulk in unloading and reloading to a different gauge road. After the St. Louis, Arkansas, and Texas went bankrupt, the St. Louis Southwestern, nicknamed the Cotton Belt took over. Route into Gatesville, Texas then included Pine Bluff and Texarkana, Texas. The Cotton Belt operation moved its car ferry operations to a new incline and car float at Gray’s Point in 1898

In September of 1908, the river bank at Bird's Point caved in to essentially destroy the boat yard and surrounding facilities. A flood in 1909 destroyed the Railroad incline.


Gideon and Anderson were interest in the vast forest of Southeast Missouri. They met in 1899, deciding to seek investors. In 1900, they purchased their first tract of lumber from Newsworthy. Himmelberger-Harrison Lumber Company also would later sell part of their holding to Gideon-Anderson

In August of 1900, M.S. Anderson moved his family to a log cabin at Gideon while waiting for a house to be built in Clarkton. His other partners, W. P. Anderson, F. E. Gideon, and M. V. Mumma, also lived in Clarkton. The plan was to build mills at Clarkton, but the town refused to allow it. Then the partnership viewed Dexter as a possible location. Citizen there did not like the idea. Thus, the mill was constructed in the middle of the woods where the timber would be cut. W. P. Anderson moved his family to Gideon and builds and managed a hotel.

L.M. Sarff followed F. E. Gideon from Ohio and builds a handle mill. Later this was sold to Gideon Anderson Lumber and Mercantile Company. They also built a Barrel stave mill, using wood unsuited as lumber. The following year, 1901, a Mr. Snyder joined into a partnership with the Andersons, Mumma, and Gideon to form the Clarkton Lumber Company. Also that year, E. C. Mosses, using the scraps from sawmills in the region built charcoal ovens that operated into the mid-1920s

A hotel was built in 1900. The first store arrived a year later; Fred Noisworthy, son of Frank and Pauline Noisworthy, owner. Other stores followed that year. In 1903, the first doctor, and a school built by the newly arrived Clarkton Lumber Company.

That year, 1903, the Gideon and North Island Railroad built from Malden to Gideon by the Gideon-Anderson partnership. Not only did this rail line open markets to the outside world, it extended rails into the forest to carry logs to their mills. When the railroad was sold to The St. Louis Southwestern Railway in 1929, the Gideon and North Island Railroad operated 29 miles of standard gauge track, six locomotives 150 cars, and service facilities.

Gideon was incorporated in 1909; elevation 269 feet. It was located on the 90th meridian about three miles south of the Mason-Dixon Line. In 1886, a small community was established north of Lilbourn called LaForge. It had a post office that closed in 1928 with mail going to New Madrid.  In honor of his wife’s family, A. B. Hunter, a prominent landowner, named the post office for the Pierre LaForge family that was driven out of France in 1794, by the Revolution.


Marston, a city in New Madrid County received its name from the maiden name of the mother of the founder, Seth Barnes, Marston. Incorporated in October of 1898, its nine city blocks covered 40 acres. Elevation is 292 feet.  It is located 2.4 miles southwest of the county’s seat of government at New Madrid.  Twenty-two years before it was incorporated, its founder had started a school.

A railroad was build from Paw Paw Junction to Hayti by the Barnes family which later became part of the Frisco system. The population of Marston quickly grew to over a 1,000, most of which worked in the timber industry. Before long, another rail line connected the city to New Madrid. By 1917, the timber industry declined and farming became the main commercial backbone of the community.


Matthews was called Prairie when it was settled in 1902.Located on Sikeston Ridge, the elevation is 312 feet, making it one of the highest location in New Madrid County. On March 13, 1903, St. Louis, Memphis, and Southeasters Railroad division of the Frisco Railroad came through town. Because the name Prairie was used elsewhere in the state by the post office, the name was changed to Matthews.

The founder, William Busby, a businessman at Sikeston, moved to Matthews in 1902 and set up a store. Located about half way between Sikeston and New Madrid, lumbermen soon followed. The town was surveyed by R. J. Miller and papers filed in New Madrid on May, 29, 1905. Busby was also in the lumber and saw mill business. In 1902, timber was plentiful here.

The post office was established in 1904. Other businesses at this time were a general store, saloon, livery stable, doctor’s office, restaurant, barber shop, drug store, and pool hall.

   John and Isaac Himmelberger = Morehouse

First settlers in what would become Morehouse arrived around 1880. When they started arriving, the only permanent building in the area was a railroad section house, a building used to store roadway repair equipment, for the Cape Girardeau and Caruthersville branch of the Cairo Arkansas and Texas Railroad commonly called the “Cat”. Work was done to keep the road in good repair.

 The “Cat” road was soon operating two passengers and one freight train each way a day through town. Poles were set and strung with two telegraph wires. Morehouse was then connected to the outside world.

In 1867, Isaac Himmelberger started a lumber and saw mill operation at Logansport, Indiana. Around 1879, his son, John H. Himmelberger with I. Himmelberger moved to Missouri and started a saw mill operation at Bluffingtion, in Stoddard County, Missouri. Because the mill in Missouri only had a small amount of equipment, Himmelberger augmented the equipment by moving more equipment from Logansport.

Buffington, at this time showed promise of becoming a thriving town. From 1886 to 1904, a post office was located there. Only by the luck of the draw did Himmelberger choose to move the major part of his operation to Morehouse.

The Buffington Mill Himmelberger brought to Morehouse was powered by a thirty-horse power plant and employed from forth to fifty men. The mill was moved because production could not come close to meeting the orders they had.

Orders were coming in from Northern Illinois and Iowa for material for plows; wagon parts orders came from Kentucky and Illinois Handles made from gum sold in the Chicago and New York markets.

Business was so good that in 1886, the mill’s capacity was doubled. Still they were unable to meet the demand for lumber.  Another mill was build powered by a fifty house-power plant. Employment went up to sixty more men. Daily, the production reached 40,000 board feet.

Within a few years Isaac Himmelberger joined a partnership with John Burris making barrel staves at Dexter, Missouri. Because his other businesses demanded so much time, this relationship did not last long.

With the establishment of the Missouri mill, John Himmelberger became the bookkeeper and manager. Then in 1887, he became a full partner and was in charge of the Stoddard County business

Some ten years later, a second operation was acquired five-and-one-half miles to the east, at Morehouse. The Morehouse operations were started and grew mainly because of the efforts of Isaac Himmelberger.

With his son John, who used the Buffington as a training ground, the Morehouse facilities grew fast. Before long they acquired approximately 100,000 acres of timberland.

In 1880, E. J. Malone had a small sawmill at Little River the name of the post office with U. L. Huggins postmaster as well as physician and station master. Before long, approximately 100 residents of the new community received mail daily.

Himmelberger bought out the small sawmill started in 1880 by E. J. Malone. A small area was cut out of the wilderness to erect the mill and build a few houses for the workers along the banks of Little River. It was not much of a mill. However, it did attract workers who brought their families. This was the beginning of Morehouse.

The growth of Morehouse was much like the other towns that were developing in the Bootheel at this time and were being established. The workers and their families that moved into the wilderness around Morehouse had to be able to put up with a great deal of discomfort.  Heat, cold, flies, mosquitoes, humidly, and snakes, were all part of daily living. Housing was not, by today’s standards, suitable for a dog house.

Some of these shacks were clustered close to the saw mills; others were in the woods set apart from the others. Most had only one room, build on stilts, made of green lumber of unequal thickness that shrank and warped as it seasoned. Also coming from the cull pile, was bark covered strips used to cover the gaps between the outside wall boards. Doors were loose fitting and homemade. Windows, if they had them, may have been oiled newspaper. Pricy was unheard of.

Dr. E. J. Malone’s small saw mill was on Little River where the “Cat” (Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad) crossed the river here to head towards Buffington westward to Dexter and Popular Bluff. Dr. Malone’s holdings, equipment and land became part of I. Himmelberger and Co., a partnership between Isaac Himmelberger and his son John Himmelberger. At this time the decision was made to move their milling operation from the Stoddard County community of Buffington to Little River Station.

At this time the decision was made to place the Morehouse and Billington mills under the same management with the active head of operations overseen by I. Himmelberger. Morehouse became the headquarters with most of the mill’s improvements being made at Morehouse.

The Number of houses and amount of people increased over a Number of years. However, the community was not stable. Because so many of the families were transit, the community and work force was in a state of flux.

Like the people living by it, Little River was uncontrolled. With the land relative flat, the river’s spread was determined only by the amount of water it carried. Especially in the Spring Little River claimed much of Little River Valley.

Morley & Morehouse Railroad Company v. John Himmelberger

Operations were now under the name of I. Himmelberger Co. until 1894 when another businessman from Indiana, Charles L. Luce invested in Southeast Missouri real estate, especially in the Morehouse area. In 1895, the heirs of Charles J. Luce and I. and John Himmelberger merged their business interest to form Himmelberger-Luce Land and Lumber Company.

As the Luce family owned and controlled several hundred thousand acres of timberland in New Madrid County and surrounding area joining together was a good move for both parties. Himmelberger had the equipment, the men, and distribution system and now were assured of an unbelievable large supply of timber.

On July 1, 1897, Stephen B. Hunter entered into a written agreement with the Morley and Morehouse Railroad Company Hock’s Missouri and Arkansas Railroad Company and Louis J. Houch. Hunter agreed to furnish $20,000 for the purchase of railroad materials, payments were to be made on delivery of rails, ties, and other construction materials to the Morley and Morehouse Railroad Company.

Five years from the date this agreement was signed, the Morley and Morehouse Railroad Houck’s Missouri and Arkansas Railroad company and Louis Houch agree to pay Stephen B. Hunt $20,000 plus eight per cent interest per year, all interest payable annually. Hunter was to be issued a trust deed on the proposed rail line from Morley to Morehouse. An additional security promise by Louis Houck to Hunter was a deposit in a bank of $20,000 in bonds of Houck’s Missouri and Arkansas Railroad

Hunter, a real estate agent, merchant, large land owner, would later establish the community Huntersville in Stoddard County about 1904. By 1938, he was director of the Missouri penal institutions. Before dealing seriously with Houch, Hunter made an agreement with I. Himmelberger assigning his rights to the lumber company.

Houch wanting to make sure the rail line was assured revenues. Therefore, an additional agreement was reached giving Hunter and his assigned, certain specified freight rates guaranties. Covered were lumber and all other manufactured forest products from Morehouse to Cape Girardeau, East Cape Girardeau, and Commerce. Also included were logs and spoke butts from any point on the Morley and Morehouse Railroad. Hunter and his assigns (I. Himmelberger and Company) claimed the right to haul logs with their own engines and cars at the same rates on ties and pilings shipped to Cape Girardeau and Commerce at the lowest rates given any other shipper.

This contract was to be in force for five years from the date of its’ signing. Hunter inserted an escape clause; this contract binds him to fulfill it “unless prevented by fire or other unavoidable accidents to give, furnish and deliver, or causes to be done by others, to; whom he may assign of transfer his rights hereunder.

Five thousand dollars of freight was to be delivered to Morley and Morehouse Railroad each of the five years of the contract. Part of this money was to be put on the interest with the rest applied to the principal. If Hunter did not fulfill his part of the deal, he agrees to take first mortgage bonds on Houck’s Missouri and Arkansas Railroad. In 1902, the Morley and Morehouse Railroad became part of the Frisco system.

Claiming the contract was not fulfilled, Houck suited Himmelberger and Hunter. After Houck lost his lawsuit in the Cape Girardeau Court of Common Pleas, he appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court. One of railroads’ lawyers was Giboney Houch, the chief plaintiffs Louis Houch, son and business partner.

The railroad’s suit was to cancel the note held by the lumber company, now organized under the name of Himmelberger and Luce Land and Lumber Company. Houck’s lawyer claimed that in the first year of the contract, the lumber company did not live up to the contractual agreement with the railroad by only furnishing half the freight obligated by the agreement. Furthermore, has the Morley and Morehouse Railroad had been sold and no longer owned by Houch, the contract was void and the money borrowed from Hunter need not to be paid back.

The defendant answered the railroad did not supply equipment to satisfy the contract because the line was under construction. However, more than enough freight revenue was generated other years to make up the difference. (Houch claimed this extra revenue applied only to the year generated and could not be rolled over.) None deliver of rail cars was an action beyond the control of the lumber company, therefore, they were not required to meet the conditions of the contract that year.

The Supreme Court agreed with the trial court’s judgment that during each year of the contract stands alone and freight from other years could not be used to pay for another year; however, the railroad was in error in not supplying enough equipment to fulfill the contract.

Himmelberger-Luce Land and Lumber Company

Himmelberger-Luce Land and Lumber Company drew up the first formal plat of the Village of Morehouse in 1898. By now, the population had grown to 900 with sixteen businesses, two of which dealt with the lumber industry. Drawing up a plan for the proposed town was the first step towards incorporating a community.

In 1908, the Village of Morehouse was recorded in the Recorders office at New Madrid recognizing the City of Morehouse as a forth class city adopting a mayor-alderman system of government. The 1910 census recorded a population of 1636 residents. This was nearly an 82% increase in ten years.

The name came from A. P. Morehouse, lieutenant-governor of Missouri. He became governor at the death of Marmaduke in 1887, serving until 1889 when he retired from public live. Two years later, he died; committing suicide.

In 1900 as the population reached 900 the community was now starting to stabilize into a more civilized more stable society. Commercial hunting became less important. Even as the population increased, the buildings looked much the same. They were built with rough timber. Because of the frequent flooding, they were built on stilts. Even the sidewalks, what few they had had been also build on stilts.

Between 1860 and 1890, three important developments helped pave the way for drainage of Southeast Missouri’s swamplands. The land within the Little River Drainage District was given to Missouri under the Swamp Land Act of September 28, 1850.

Hoping to encourage development, the state transferred large tracks of these lands to the counties. As counties always needed monies to support the local government; both state and county leader hoped county ownership would encourage more aggressive actions by local developers to buy the land especially as it would be to the county’s benefit. Not only would they be able to collect taxes for developed lands, but also, the money from the land sales would go to the county government.

The land was offered for sale for as little as $1.25 per acre. Few people were interested in the land for farming operations. All most people saw were giant stands of tree surrounded by water A few land spectators did take advantage of the offer. However, it was the logging interest that made most of the purchases.

Dredging Little River

Himmelberger-Luce Land and Lumber Company desiring to dredge the Little River channel contacted the county about a contract to do the job, which they got. The channel was shallow, crooked, and chocked with trees and brush. Therefore, instead of draining the watershed, the river overflowed to flood the whole area. Instead of water taking a short cut for the swamps of Arkansas the rainfalls and headwaters left the channel flowing over the level county around.

Draining timbered swampland was a formidable task. To use shovel-wielding men or mule–drawn scrapers to excavate the massive ditch as needed to drain the swampland was virtually impossible. The problem was solved by floating dredges using yard-wide buckets operated by steam power along with a liberal use of dynamite made the job possible. Floating dredges could move up to one-thousand cubic yards of material daily. While this cost up the $3,000 a day, it was the only feasible way to drain swampland.

In the 1860’s and ‘70’s, large tracks of land in Southeast Missouri were selling for pennies per acre. In nearby Stoddard County one such body of more than 8,000 acres sold for $663.95.

Dredging operations in 1896 cut the channel deeper while crooked places were cut off by ditching across them to straighten the channel out. Staring at the Iron Mountain Railroad, at Morehouse, the dredging operations ended at the south end of the county. This was the real beginning of draining the swamps of Southeast Missouri.

In neighboring counties, other drainage projects quickly followed. By 1910, all the land north of the Iron Mountain Railroad and east of Little River is thoroughly drained and a large portion is under cultivation.  The rest of the counties in the Little River Watershed in Missouri were activity draining their swamps. This work was being done on a smaller scale that was done in New Madrid County.

Land that appeared in 1880 to Isaac Himmelberger as worthless, except for the timber growing on it, was becoming rich farmland. Being able to grow 75 to 100 bushels of corn per acres raised the selling price of $1.25 per acre in 1880, to $100 per acre in 1910.

Himmelberger-Lucy Land and Lumber Company was paid by the county in land (one section of land for each mile of ditch) for dredging Little River receiving several thousand acres of land for their work. A large portion of this acreage already had already had the timber removed. Much of it would be sold and resold several times; each sale raised the price, before it would be in a high state of cultivation.

Dredging operation by Himmelberger-Luce Land and Lumber Company in New Madrid County ended in 1899. Within the three years of its operation, the county changed from an economy built entirely on lumber to become increasing an agriculture-timber mixed economy.

Entrepreneurs were encouraged to build railroads into and out of the swamps. To encourage railroad development strips of land was given to those building railroads along their roadbeds. This was a common practice. Between 1850 and 1870, over 129 million acres, seven percent of the continental United States, had been ceded to 80 railroads; most of it west of the Mississippi River. Ten square miles of land was given for each mile of track laid. Usually, the state was given an equal amount of land by the federal government.

Land titles of several thousand acres of land were given to the Fulton and Alton Railroad Co. in 1857. This was part of the government’s efforts to encourage development of the west. Twenty-one years later, in 1878, the Cairo Arkansas and Texas Railroad Company laid rails through the area where Morehouse later developed. This line was called the “Cat.”

By 1892, Little River Station’s business district had grown to include C. L. Armstrong’s Hotel owner and barber; Berry and Hawk Meat Market; H. F. Emery and Co general Store; I. Himmelberger and Co., saw mill; John Himmelberger express agent; W. H. Marshall General Store; Lud Myer, temperance saloon; James Roberts, grist mill; and James Ryan’s, Hotel.

The swamps’ dense forest contained millions of feet of marketable timber. Some oaks reached circumferences of 27 feet and some cypress to 10 to 12 feet. In the late 1800’s, lumbermen recognized the value of the abundant timber buying up the land for next to nothing.

Without rail transportation, most of these large trees would still be standing because the finished product needed a market. Trains provided the necessary transportation to market. Large bulky loads could be carried out of this swampy wildness and transported long distances to furniture and building markets at a reasonable cost.

At least, until 1895, the community was still known as Little River, according to the 1895 Matthews Northrop Map. The east-west railroad was still a train stop was called Little River Station. This was the year the Himmelberger’s consolidated their lumber interest with the heirs of Charles L. Luce to form the Himmelberger-Luce Land and Lumber Company.

In 1898, Cat branch of the Iron Mountain Railroad became owner of the Houck Road. Houck had built this road in a shoddy manner. He economized every way possible. Ties were too far apart. Light steel rails were used. Instead of removing large trees, the railroad was run around them. Still, the road was able to fulfill its purpose, which of hauling freight from the swamplands. Houck’s railroads, while not built to last; they served the purpose for which they were built, that was to open the swamps of Southeast Missouri for settlement.

St. Louis Morehouse and Southern Railway

According to George Franklin Cram’s 1901 Map, the old “Cat” branch railroad became the St. Louis, Morehouse, and Southern Railway for a short time. The road went from Popular Bluff to Jackson, then over to Cape Girardeau and became part of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway.

Changing ownership again in 1902, the “Cat” road became part of the Frisco system. Now this branch of the Frisco railroad was called the “Pea Vine” road. Improvements were started by laying heavier rails on new ties and straightening the roadbed by removing trees instead of going around them. In 1906, four years after Frisco acquired the old Houck Road, a depot was erected. One freight and one passenger trains was scheduled each day for Morehouse.


Founded in 1900, Hollywood is an unincorporated community in southern Dunklin County. The name is from the Holly trees in the area, earlier it was called Klondike. Hollywood in 1960 had four grocery stores, a cotton gin, grain elevator and the Church of Christ. In 1974, its post office closed.


Delta is a small community, incorporated in 1967, consisting of 0.4 square miles, in Cape Girardeau County. It is part of the Cape Girardeau-Jackson, Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan Statistical Area. Elevation is 341 feet.

   Lotta Becomes Parma

Lonshed settled in the woods of New Madrid County west of New Madrid and established a sawmill deep in the woods and contracted to remove the timber. Within several years, several lumber mills were within the vicinity. A central loading place was soon established for shipping their lumber. To accommodate the lumbermen, a grocery store, a dry goods store, and two or three saloons were established. Lotta was a “Boom Town.”

By 1890, when this town was incorporated, Lotta was granted a post off. Like many of the town springing up at this time in the Missouri Lowland, the house built here were not fancy. They were roughly constructed and built high off the round. This was necessary as the elevation, one of the lowest in the county at 272 feet above sea level.

During the latter part of the 1890’s about half of Lotta burn. As new people kept settling in the area, the business’ started building back; only they moved about one-half to three-quarters of a mile away from Lotta. This new settlement became Parma it is located on the St. Louis Southwestern Railway about eight miles northwest of Malden. The center of town was considered where the Frisco cross the St. Louis Southwestern.

The first lumber mill came to town in 1902; the Ocin, Wilkerson, with the Vanbriggle Company located close by was the E. J. Hoke Mill and the Beech Lumber Company. A veneer mill also was in town. Most of the logs were transported into Parma by mules and oxen. Trappers were very active in the wilderness here. Pelt bundles of mink, opossum and raccoon consisted of 500 pound shipments during the fur season.

Parma was incorporated in 1903. F. P. Wrather was the first mayor. That year, Bank of Parma was established with capital of $10,000. Elevation was 279 feet. As of the census of 2000 there were 825 people, 333 households, and 229 families living within 0.6 square miles. The racial makeup was 57.39 percent white.

   St. Louis Kennett and Southern Railway  

Built in 1906, the St. Louis Kennett and Southeastern Railway started in Dunklin County at Campbell on the St. Louis Southwestern Railroad. Heading almost directly south and skirting around a long bend in the St. Francis River the railroad went some 20 miles into Kennett, the county seat. The timber in the region was still uncut. Local men financed the road. Landowners R. H. Jones, Virgil McKay, J. B. Blakemore, W. D, Lasswell, and D. B. Panker desired to clear and develop the land.

Later they turn northwest towards Piggott, Arkansas to make it the western terminus. Building bridges, they crossed the Varner and St. Francis rivers to extent their road another 14 miles. Construction was such as to handle the heavy logs and lumber they were to pull out of the Lowland.

Standardization of railroad was bring so all the roadways had rails the same distance apart, helped bring an end of the narrow gage St. Louis, Kennett and Southeastern Railway. This was perhaps one of the most unique railroads in the nation. Starting as a narrow-gage branch road into the timber line, it soon out grew its humble beginning as all the rails were re-laid as standard gage.

“Narrow-gage” railroads were any less that the standard-gage set by the English railways at four feet, eight and one-half inches. This was adopted as the common measurement of most railroads in the United Stated by the Civil War. Many engineers and railroad developers were reluctant to accept this, claiming not only was it not economically feasible or would not be suitable where the broader track could not effectively go.

The main line of the St. Louis, Kennett, and Southern was from Kennett crossing the state line to Piggott, Arkansas. A branch of the line was from West Kennett, Arkansas, to Buckhorn, Nimmons to Bear Station, and Nimmons to Log Yard and Grassy to Log Yard. Total length of the line was 31 miles. Of this, 19 miles were standard-gage and 12 miles were three-foot apart. In addition, 9.7 miles of the standard-gage section had an inside third rail making this stretch useable by both standard and narrow gage traffic. This unique track arrangement ended in 1915 when all the tracks became standard-gage.

   Thebes Bridge: Fornfelt and Illmo

Fornfelt and Illmo, in Scott County, both owe their existence to the building of Thebes Bridge and the St. Louis, Southwestern Railway using this structure. The railroad yards shared by these two towns were built by the St. Louis, Southwestern and St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern.

The Southern Illinois and Missouri Bridge Company was incorporated in Illinois on December 28, 1900 to own the bridge and 4.64 miles of connections rail line. Initially it was owned equally by the Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad, Illinois Central Railroad, Missouri Pacific Railway, St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern railway, and St. Louis Southwestern Railway. Polish-American engineer Ralph Modjeski designed the bridge. It is a continuous truss bridge 959 feet in length with the longest span 651 feet wide with a 104 feet clearance. It opened April 18, 1905 across the Mississippi River between Illmo, Missouri and Thebes, Illinois

The first settlers in Fornfelt were G. S. Cannon and A. Bardendistel. This was in September of 1904 with incorporation coming the following May. Later, this community was renamed Circle City.


Illmo was settle in 1904 and incorporated in 1905. Illmo and Scott City run together, along with Fornfelt, these communities set on the Scott and Cape Girardeau county lines. In 1910 it was the divisional headquarters for the St. Louis, Southwestern and St. Louis, Iron Mountain railroads. The 20210 census records the white population at 96.9 percent

A cholera epidemic was brought to New Orleans by emigrant ships in December of 1848. A few weeks later it was carried to all principal cities on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers Six of the victims were Irish monks headed to a monastery near Dubuque, Iowa. These monks were buried a few hundred yards northwest of the Thebes railroad Bridge.


Glennonville, a Dunklin County village north of Campbell and west of Malden was established in 1904. It set on land which had been purchased by the Catholic Church in the name of Archbishop Glennon of St. Louis. Most of the early settlers in the colony were principally immigrants from Germany. A stave and handle mill furnished employment to the first settlers.


Kewanee a name meaning “Friendly Indian”; name given this New Madrid County settlement by its founders, Messrs. Gould, Fisher, and Birge of the Fisher Lumber Company in 1907. At the height to its population growth, about 600 people resided in the village. However, with the demise of the timber industry, the population declined. Before its decline the town supported two hotels, and had about 100 other building, including, two stores and two saw mills. In the early 20’s one hotel was destroyed by fire and the other later torn down.

Little River Drainage District efforts to drain the land made it possible for the Mays to start the first farm in the area and the Jones Brothers from Atkins, Arkansas to build the first cotton gin north of New Madrid.

The St. Louis and Missouri Southern started at Marston, and ran eight miles into New Madrid. This line completed in 1911 was built principally by New Madrid investors lead by E. S. McCarthy. One of the better constructed road in Southeast Missouri, it was the only one in the state that did not charge extra for using its parlor car.

Paragould Southeastern Railway

The Paragould Southeastern Railway (PSR), The Buffalo Island Route Arkansas, extended from Paragould, Arkansas to run east crosses the St. Francis River near Cardwell, Missouri, population 700. A large steam driven cotton gin operated in the area and was capable of handling 5,000 bales per season. Several sawmill also operated in the area. In1898, the demand of housing exceeds the capability of local builders and the lumber being manufactured locality.

Continuing east some 13 miles to Hornersville where the PSR crossed Little River Turning southeast to cross Dunklin County where it heads towards Blytheville and the Mississippi River. Opening up another large track of lumbered land and played a large hand in building Cardwell and Hornersville. This was another railroad built and originally owned by local capitalist; this time under the leadership of E. S. McGharty before it was absorbed into the Gould system.


Klondike was another community on Paragould Southeastern Railway. The Seitz Lumber Company and the Winder Lumber Company had mills here. A depot was located here and pulled out lumber and cotton. Land was advertised as lots had been plotted and the verdure of the land for growing cotton emphasized in this new hope of a new community being developed six miles east of Cardwell. Klondike is not shown on modern maps.


Hornersville, in Dunklin County, was a stop on the Paragould Southeastern Railway. Located on the eastern banks of Little River, which was navigable for small steamers most of the year. The land east of the river, at the time the PSR reached there, was comparatively unsettled with the Mississippi River only twenty miles away with Big Lake 15 miles to the south.

Paragould Memphis Railroad

The Paragould Memphis Railroad ran 118 miles from Paragould, Arkansas, across Dunklin County then back into Manila, Arkansas. This road started as a tram road to help handle the timber cut by the Decatur Egg Case Company, a large corporation headquartered at Cardwell. Although most of the rails are in Missouri, it was developed and financed in Arkansas. Without it, the opening of the area it served would have come later.

Paw Paw Junction Becomes Lilbourn

Starting by being called Paw Paw Junction, Lilbourn was incorporated in 1909. Paw Paw Junction got its name because it was location in a Paw Paw thicket. This site was near Little River about a mile west of what became Lilbourn. At an elevation of 287 feet, the floods of 1912, 1913, and 1927 forced many to leave or move to higher locations.

At the turn of the 20th Century, Lilbourn was the fastest growing towns in New Madrid County. It was situated at the junction of the St. Louis Southwestern and the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad. The new town was moved east about a mile where the New Madrid Branch joined the main line of the St. Louis Southwestern.

R. T. Waring was one of the first settlers in the area and also an early merchant and its first mayor. At the time of its incorporation in 1904, the town had eight general stores beside these several factories, broom, stave, handle, brick and tile stave, and two saw mills. The town’s first site was a boxcar depot on the Malden-Birds Point branch of the Cotton Belt Railroad and a log cabin for hunters from St. Louis.

This flag station would have probably disappeared, like Ristine and LaForge, except Frisco Railroad officials were interest in locating another rail line in the area. Lilbourn A. Lewis, large landowner and S. S. Barnes of Marston built a short line railroad between Portageville and Lilbourn which in 1901 or 1902, they sold to Frisco Railroad

Louis realized that with the laying of the rails where they touched his land, that that would be a good place for a town. Thus, in 1902, he had part of his farm, what was being tilled by Dave Wilkerson, laid out in lots. October 7, 1903, his family appeared before a notary public and ceded the streets, the alleys and the public square to the new town he named Lilbourn.

The Hartre Brothers, in 1906 established the towns first handle mill. Three years later O. B. Coated built his first stave mill. A sawmill was built in 1908 by Mr. Travis.

According the 2000 federal census, there were 1,303 people in 512 households, and 352 families living on 0.9square miles. The racial makeup was 65.46 per cent white, 2.69 per cent black 0.08 per cent Native American, 0.08 percent Asian, 0.092 percent from other races and .77 percent from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race was 1.15 percent of the population.


On June 20, 1905, the Chaffee Real Estate Company of St. Louis purchased 1,800 acres of land from John Witt of Sikeston for $140,000. The real estate company then transferred ownership of 150 acres to the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway to build a switching yard and began surveying the area for a town for the railroad employed.

Chaffee Real Estate company then gave notice that lots were for sale within the town to be established. Then they began clearing he land for construction on August 15, 1905. Each contract on land sold had a clause prohibiting the sale of intoxication liquors.

Chaffee became a fourth class city on August 6, 1906. In 1911, the First National Bank of Chaffee issued $392,320 in “National Currency with the permission of the United States Department of the Treasure, thus giving Chaffee the distinction of being a city with its own currency.

Chaffee is located in Scott County at 344 feet above sea level. In 2010, the population was 2,955 people in 1,204 households with 762 families units. The racial makeup was 97.8 per cent white.

Bragg City

Bragg City is a small city in the western central part of Pemiscot County. At first it was a railroad stop called Owl City when the Kennett to Caruthersville Railroad was constructed in 1894. The name supposedly was suggested by the railroad workers, because they heard the hooting of numerous owls in the surrounding woods. The name was changed to Clayroot, from Clayroot Island. This is an island in Clayroot Bayou that drains into Little River. The island is formed during flood season when the waters of Elk Chute and Little River surround the region. Its name came when pioneers found large numbers of trees torn up by the roots in the black clay. Clayroot post office was established in 1916.

In 1916 the name was change to Melson in honor of Edmund P. Melson, president of the Missouri State Life Insurance company. Until 1918, the post office was still Clayroot. At this time, another name changes this time to Bragg City to honor W. G. Bragg of Kennett in Dunklin County, a large land owner in the region of the community.

Incorporated in 1919, Bragg City is 0.2 square miles in size. Elevation of this Pemiscot County town is 259 feet above sea level, this historically, has made the community subject to frequent flooding. A few miles to the west, the main group of Little River Drainage District floodways is bunched together. The 2010 census put the racial makeup at 97.8 percent white, with the 2010 census count at 149, residents on .20 squares miles, of this 32 families live in 53 household with 61 housing units.


The seat of government for Scott County is Benton, was incorporated until 1953. This small community is considered part of the Sikeston Metro Area. The community was named after Thomas Hart Benton. Set in the southern edge of the Benton Hills just north of the Sikeston Ridge, the community had an elevation of 436 feet.

In 2010 the population was 863 residents with 214 families in 339 housing units and 311 households. The racial makeup was 94.2 per cent, down from the 2000 count of 97.54 percent.

The city of Benton, incorporated 1955 is in Stoddard County. Its form of government is mayor aldermen. Set in the foothills of Crowley's Ridge with the elevation at 328 feet. The 2000 federal census enumerated 461 residents. There were 220 housing units with 196 households and 220 housing units on 0.6 square miles. The racial makeup was 98.48 percent white.

Benton is an unincorporated community located in Mississippi County Arkansas and Dunklin County Missouri; most of the community lies in Missouri. At 243 ft elevation it is another village made possible because the Little River Drainage District drained the land.


Burfordville in Cape Girardeau County is an unincorporated community in the western part of the county. Bollinger Mill State Historic Site is here, five miles west of Jackson, on the banks of the Whitewater River.


Pinhook is a village in Mississippi County. Elevation is 302 feet. According to the 2010 census 30 people, 17 households and eight families reside in the village. The racial make us was 3.3 percent white and 96.7 percent African American.

There is a mystery about the founding of Pinhook. Some people believe it as founded by sharecroppers in the 1930’s. At one time this largely black community had expanded to nearly 250 people.

On May 2, 2011, Pinhook was destroyed by the Mississippi River flood. The Bird's Point-New Madrid levee was blown to save Cairo from flooding. Everyone in Pinhook lost their homes in which they had lived for years.

Early settlers could buy the land for as little as $1.25 ($33.50 buying power in 1900; average national wage was 11 cents per hour) per acre. Few people were interested in the land for farming operations. However, a few land spectators did take advantage of the offer. On the other hand, it was the logging interest that made most of the purchases

Early Maps

John Berry in his 1998 book Rising Tide: The Great Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America described the early Delta in Mississippi “Swamp East Missouri” was very similar in makeup. Dense forest of cane and large tree with vines of wild grape and Muscatine make passage difficult. The forest included species typical of sandy areas such as river birch mixed with cypress, oaks, and hardwood bottomland species leaving a large mainly mixed hardwood forest growing out of the swamp. The growth was so dense that the moisture in the air hung, untouched by any breeze, and stifled breathing. Stinging flies, gnats and mosquitoes were so thick some travelers stopped to build fires to protect their animals before their nose was completely blocked. Thick cane breaks were hiding places for bears, wolfs, wildcats, rattlesnakes, water moccasins which populated the region. Illnesses such as yellow fever and malaria were common.

Early maps of the Morehouse Lowland showed how much they did not know about the area. An 1823 edition of the Bradford Map named what is now known as Little River, White Water River, and Niska River, which was the Chippeway name, meaning White Water. Anthony Finley and David H. Vance published a map in 1826, Missouri and Territory of Arkansas, which also showed Whitewater Creek not Little River, running through the area.

Whitewater River starts in just north of Sedgewickville just over the eastern edge of the Bollinger County near the Perry County line. Then it runs southeast through Cape Girardeau, counties where it joins the Castor River near the community of Whitewater where they run to the Mississippi  between Cape Girardeau and Scott City. The watershed of these two streams include a partial list including Byrd Creek, Schrader Creek, Wolf Creek, Caney, Allis Creek Little White Water Creek, German Branch of Mayfield Creek, Crooked Creek, Big Blue Branch of Crooked Creek, and Little Blue.

Prior to the coming of Europeans to the area of what is now the southern part of Madison and the western part of Bollinger counties, the land supported a large area of canebrakes. Here pools of water collected during the rains of spring. Beavers are believed to have built damn here that were broken by heavy rains. The large amounts of water quickly released cut channels. Over time, a river was formed and the early Frenchmen, 1725, in the region call the stream Castor River, which means Beaver River.

In 1818, Schoolcraft referred to this river as Crooked Creek. The present named Crooked Creek runs a few miles east and joins Castor River in New Madrid County. Beck called the river Castor or Crooked Creek in 1823; Wetmore named it Castor in 1837, however, the creek and river were not separated on maps until 1873.

Castor River

Headwater of the Castor River is in northeast Madison County northeast of Fredericktown near St. François County to the north and Perry County to the east.  Now, Castor River, after a five mile gap starts again close to the northern edge of Stoddard County to join Little River between Morehouse and Canalou.

To the Indians, it was Ne ska or Unica. Schoolcraft says the Osage name was Unica, meaning white, but he is believed to have confused the White River, largely in Arkansas   and Whitewater, this stream. The Chippeway name for the river was also Ne ska, meaning white water it is often written Niska. Early Spanish explorers called it Rio Blanch and the French La Rivier Blanche or L’eu Blanch.

In the English translation it became Whitewater by which name the entire stream was known as late as 1817. The name “Little” seems to have been given between 1817-1822, in the French form La Petite Riviere, with reference to the size of the Mississippi and St. Francis with which Little River lies between and was compared to the two.

Morehouse was only one of seven communities situated on Little River. Delta and Perkins were north of the rivers’ namesake while to the south was Canalou, Lilbourn, and Wardell. As Morehouse was one of the earliest communities set on Little River, and growing to be, for a while early, the most financial important, the Lowland became known as the Morehouse Lowland. Himmelberger-Harrison timber and lumber operations became one of the largest of its kind in the United States, if not the largest.

Over time the channel became shallow, crooked, and chocked with trees and brush. Instead of draining the watershed, the blocked river overflowed to flood the whole area the year round. Instead of taking a short cut to the swamps of the rainfalls and Headwaters left the channel flowing over the level county around. Himmelberger-Luce Land and Lumber Company desiring to dredge the Little River channel contacted the New Madrid County officials with plans for draining the land. They were given a contract to do the job.

Railroad and Lumbermen Bring New Developments





White Oak










Skinner Place



Tram Switch


Chute Sixteen

Lint Dale


Number 8 Cemetery and School

Wheeler-Tyler Railroad





Peach Orchard







Bird’s Point




John and Isaac Himmelberger = Morehouse

Morley and Morehouse Railway Company v. John Himmelberger

Himmelberger-Luce Land and Lumber Company

Dredging Little River

St. Louis Morehouse and Southern Railway



Lotta Becomes Parma

St. Louis Kennett Railway

Thebes Bridge; Fornfelt and Illmo



Paragould Southeastern Railway



Paragould Memphis Railroad

Pawpaw Junction Becomes Lilbourn


Bragg City




Early Maps

Castor River



07/24/2015 2:49am

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    Having grown up on Little River, I have been fascinated with it. Over the past several years, as a local historian, this area has been a special interest. 

     These areas have been treated much like step-children by Jefferson City and Little Rock. They seem to believe nothing has ever happened here.  Our history has been long and varied. Hope you enjoy my trip.  

    Near Puxico is the swampy Mingo Wildlife Refuge. One hundred and fifty year ago, most of the Little River Valley appeared that way. This valley covering two million acres was part of the largest wetland in America.

    Floods frequently intimated the Valley. Between 1815 and 2011, 15 major floods covered or threatened the area.

    Timber companies came in at the end of the 19th Century to clean cut the forest. Louis Houck, a Cape Girardeau lawyer and railroad builder, envisioned a rail network that covered the wetlands.

    Little River Drainage District (LRDD) Corporation was established in 1907 by an act of the Butler County (MO) Circuit Court. 

    Between 1909 and 1928 the LRDD dug nearly 1000 miles of ditches and constructed 30 miles of levees to drain 1.2 million acres of swamp and overflow land in Southeast Missouri. More dirt was moved than in building the Panama Canal.

    One surprise I had was the number of settlements in the area before 1811-1812. Another was the water connection between the Mississippi River and the St. Francis and I had no idea that Little River had enough current to run a grist mill.

    Norman Vickers


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    Little River's Geographic Past