Early Settlement

First settlers in Morehouse arrived around 1880. When they arrived, 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. 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 started 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 for 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, as bought was powered by a thirty-horse power plant and employed from forth to fifty men. Its 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.



03/25/2014 9:19am

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This was the early settlement of the Morehouse. The situation seemed to get out of control but the wisdom prevailed and sense has prevailed. The situation was made conducive for the actors involved and it is satisfactory now.

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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