Morley

Morley is a city in Scott County. Once source says it was incorporated in 1863; another claims it was laid out and surveyed by John Morley, a railroad engineer about 1870.  Morley worked for and established the town on the Belmont Branch of the Iron Mountain Railroad later the Missouri Pacific.

At 344 feet above sea level, Morley is located in or near Thebus Gap. This is where the Mississippi River moved from east of the Sikeston Ridge to join the Ohio River near where the two join now. This is said to be about 9,500 years ago.

During the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries, melons and cotton was important crop. Several cotton gins were in town and vicinity. Today, none exist.  At the turn of the 20th century, the census takers counted 437 people. With the first mill was built by F. C. Martin and Brothers. In 1910, the population of 494 supported three general stores and two cotton gins, Organized in 1891, with a capital of $15,000 the Scott County Bank was formed. The 2000 count was 792 people in 315 households and 219 families.

 Oak Ridge

Oak Ridge was first settled in 1852 and was incorporated as a city in 1869. The original name for the community, and still its nickname, is Lizard Lick.  The 2000 census counted 202 residents compared to 256 in 1910. . Of these, 37.6% considered themselves to be of German ancestry, over three times any other ancestry, including America. Nor, did the majority consider they were part of the Southern culture.

     Whitewater

Whitewater was built on a branch of the Belmont section of the Iron Mountain Railroad in Cape Girardeau County. As a town, it was first settled in 1866.Yet it was not until 1898 to become incorporated. At that time there were four general stores, a flourmill, a saw mill and a plant manufacturing butcher blocks. Located in the northwest area of Cape Girardeau County at an elevation of 600 feet, Oak Ridge is on a high ridge. This ridge divides Apple Creek watershed from the Whitewater water shed.

      Essex

Essex is an incorporated Stoddard County city; first incorporation was in 1876. Located six miles east of Dexter, elevation is 299 feet.

By 1920, there was a cotton gin, a large lumber yard, a commercial grain elevator, four churches, two livery stables, two garages, bank, and post office. Along the St. Louis Iron Mountain Railroad Depot was an assortment of stores, including a doctor’s office, several general merchandise stores, a bakery, a print shop, cobber, and barber. There were warehouses for implements, grain, and hay.  Also, there was a wagon maker, a flower mill, and cotton gin. Not far from the hotel was an airplane hangar. All of these services were in a town of 589 people, and a two story brick school house.  

       Clarkton

Clarkton is an incorporated, 1885, city in Dunklin County in the central part of the county north of Kennett. No date found for the first settlers in the area.  Early settlers called a settlement there Beech with a post office until 1873.

However, it is known the town was founded in 1860 and named for Henry E. Clark, one of the contractors of the Plank Road. His town was laid out about one-quarter mile from Beech. Their public school was founded in 1871. The community’s area covers 1.1 square miles and sets at 282 feet above sea level.

     Dexter

One great advantage Dexter had was the early development of railroads aiding greatly in its early growth. Located on the Cairo Branch of the Iron Mountain between Byrd’s Point and Popular Bluff, Thus it had a connection to the Mississippi. This position allowed it to attract a large portion to the trade from Stoddard and Dunklin counties which formerly went to Cape Girardeau and New Madrid.

Dexter, a city of 6.2 square miles, is in Stoddard County. This Crowley's Ridge community has an elevation 371 feet. Location is 45 miles west of Cairo, Illinois and the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Like the rest of the Bootheel, Dexter has a humid subtropical climate with a Köppen Classification of Cfa (C Moist Mid-latitude Climates with Mild Winters; fa hot muggy summers and frequent thunderstorms; winters are mild and precipitation during this season comes from mid-latitude low pressure.)

      Oran

Oran, a Scott County was surveyed under the name of Sylvania on July 9, 1869. Then on February 14, 1879 it was renamed St. Clouds. A new plat of the town was filed on August 23, 1883 under the name of Oran. The community is situated on the edge of the sandy edge of the Scott County Hills at an elevation of 338 feet. At one time a paint factory operated here using a large deposit of yellow ochre. The 2010 census found that 97.7 percent of the population was white.

      Advance 

Founded sometime around 1882, Advance is a small first-class city in northern Stoddard County. The community is thought to have been founded during the construction of the Hoxie Branch of the Frisco Railroad, completed in 1884. Captain W. H. Whitewell, Mexican war hero donated 60 acres to what was called Lakeville, because of the lakes and swamps around the region. Lakeville was first settled around 1858 when a post office opened town became Advance. In 1902 the Bank of Advance was chartered with a capital of $20,000 followed in 1909 by the establishment of the Advance Exchange Bank capitalized with $15,000.
Starting Again After the Civil War

Morley

Oak Ridge

Whitewater

Essex  

Clarkton

Dexter

Oran

Advance




 

 


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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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