Jefferson County Historical Society


Among the Mothballs From Jefferson Democrat - June 1941  - Transcribed by Lisa K. Gendron

(This article was originally written in 1871 and was reprinted in the 1941 issue. Spellings and () notes are as written in the 1941 issue)

    1871. Knowing the interest of your readers in everything relating to the progress and improvement of all sections of our county, I will note down for their information, what the spirited and enterprizing people of Hemetite (note spelling) are doing.

Wisely concluding that the first step to be taken in building up a town, must be to make the necessary provision for the education of the children, a few of the leading citizens determined last year, that they had no further use for the old log cabin for a school house; that it belonged to a former age. So, the directors of the district, John Null, E. F. Donnell and M. McCormack, proceeded to sell the old cabin, and then bought a fine site on an elevated portion of the town, on which they proceeded at once to build a most excellent school house, 24 by 38 feet, finished it in a good, tasty and substantial manner, and seated it with seats of the most approved style. The whole cost was about $1,500. The house, though not expensive, in point of neatness in appearance, comfort and convenience is second to none in the county.


That the spiritual instruction should not be behind the material, the Methodist Episcopal church South, resolved that they would have a building in which they could hold their meetings, have Sabbath School, etc. With the people of Hemetite, to resolve means to do. They now are rapidly going on with the building, the lumber is already on the ground, and the masons are quarrying the rock for the foundation. The house is to be built on a high point of ground somewhat back of the town, on a beautiful lot donated for the purpose by Mr. Rice, of Hemetite. The church will be 26 by 42 feet, with ceiling 14 feet high, and will cost, when completed about $2,000. On the 17th of August, the ceremony of laying the corner stone will be conducted by Rev. Dr. McNully of Carondolet, assisted by Rev. Marquis and Hurly. The Christian denomination will also build a church here this season, towards which subscriptions have been taken to a considerable amount. They have selected the site and are determined, it seems, not to be behind their Methodist brethern in church accommodations.


The citizens have been negotiating with millers for the building of a first class flouring mill here. They offer a bonus of $1,000 to any responsible party who will put up and run a good mill. Such an offer will not remain long unaccepted, as in addition to the offer, the point is of sufficient importance to induce millers to build here without any gratuity. The location is one of the best in the county, it being a fine grain growing section.


The medical profession is represented by Dr. C. Brooks, a gentleman of fine scholarly attainments. Among the mechanics is Wm. E. Bage, plasterer, an experienced and practical man. The lumber business is carried on by Mr. Rice, who has an excellent yard here.



Old Hotel At Hematite Recalls Many Memories Of A Bygone Era - Daily News Democrat - February 1953 - Transcribed by Lisa K. Gendron

By Madeline Gerber


One of our earliest recollections of Hematite is the Hotel. As we look back through the years, we can still see the white board sign fastened to the tree overhanging the street and its black letters spelling out that word of welcome which could be plainly seen by all who alighted from the train.


The building itself was a two-story white frame house of moderates size but to our childish eyes it appeared to have an endless number of rooms. But the thing that stands out most vividly in our memory is the cistern. As a city child who spent her summers in the country, the few cisterns that we had seen were out in the yards, away from the houses. This cistern was different. It was right in the house. In a room adjoining the kitchen one could open a trap door and look down into the water which could be drawn up in a bucket with a rope. To us, it was the most wonderful thing we had ever seen.


Two sisters, the Misses Mollie and Marian Chamberlain, from the Big River neighborhood, ran the hotel at that time. Many salesmen stayed there. In those days salesmen traveled by train and it was often necessary to stay overnight before continuing on their way. The Chamberlains set a good table and it was considered a nice place to stay.


There were some permanent guests, but the summer boarders we remember best. Families would come from St. Louis, the mother and children to stay a month or two to get away from the heat of the city and the father would spend weekends with his family, arriving by train on Saturday nights.


This was in the days when we in Hematite used coal-oil lamps for light and the automobile was still the horseless carriage. Just how long the old house served as a hotel we do not know but it has been many years since the sign, that symbol of hospitality, disappeared from view and the friendly elm was cut down and used for fire wood. Today the house, completely modern and attractive, is owned by Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Simcock, who came from East St. Louis about seventeen years ago.


It must have been the memory of that childhood fascination that impelled us to find out something of the history of the old hostelry. Mr. and Mrs. Simcock were very kind and cooperative and even showed us where the cistern had been. In telling us how they came to buy the property, they said that while visiting Mr. Simcock's sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Clark Nixon, now living in De Soto, but residents of Hematite at that time, they were told that the house next door was for sale. They looked at it, saw its possibilities and immediately purchased it from the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Smith of Festus. Then began the process of remodeling, which took a number of years to complete. Mr. Simcock, now retired, was then order buyer at the National Stock Yards and commuted between East St. Louis and Hematite.


On a plot of the town filed for record on Aug. 14, 1861, by Stephen Osborn, we saw that the house fronts on what was then called Main Street with Pine Street above, Chestnut below, and Market street to the rear. We found that in 1865 there was situated on the property a store house, a blacksmith shop, and a stable.


In the abstract of title which we were privileged to read, we find such names as Stephen and Mary Osborn, F. M. and Sarah C. Cadwallader, Thomas O. Smith and Caroline Smith, Amanda Zeigler, Jerome B. Dover and Margaret K. Dover, John Stubinger, Jr., Frederick Walther and John Both. We thought the last named might be Booth, but it appears several times "Both" so we presume this is correct. Other names are Theresa K. Holmes, John Rice, Alma Rice, L. C. Medley, Jane E. Wilson, Adeline Medley, A. J. Phillips, and Jessie L. Wilson. Continuing we find Jane E. and James Swallow, Narsisa Dodson, Reed McCormack, I. B. Dodson, Ellen Dodson, James F. Dodson, Lucinda Williams, Samuel C. Dodson, Paralee Dodson, Maggie Papin and Felix Papin. Then we see the names of R. E. England, Peter C. McCormack, Ewing Y. Mitchell, Effie Richardson, Charles R. Richardson, S. A. Seat, Ulyses Williams and Irwin and Nellie Smith. Many of us in Hematite know the Smiths and remember when they lived here. Mrs. Smith is a sister of Mrs. Tom Cooper.


S. A. Seat, some of us remember as the undertaker and blacksmith whose place of business was located in the building which was later made into the residence now occupied by the Emil Wideman family. Mr. and Mrs. Seat are no longer living but two daughters, Mrs. Edwin Merriman and Mrs. Daisy Jarvis are living in St. Louis, the latter being the widow of the late Dr. N. W. Jarvis, well known physician of Festus and brother of D. O. Jarvis and Mrs. Madge Meyer of Hematite. Another daughter, deceased, was Mrs. John Elders.


R. E. England, or Ed England, as he was generally known, was a brother of J. R. England of Hematite, Miss Lettie England and Mrs. Minnie Humphrey of Festus and Mrs. Florence Weaver of Rush Tower. He, with his father, James England, had a general store located in the building now occupied by the Hematite Tavern. Upon the death of the elder Mr. England, Ed England and Miss Lettie managed the business for a number of years. On selling the store, Mr. England went into business in Cape Girardeau where he lived until called to the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Festus upon the death of W. L. Townsend, its cashier. When the Farmers and Merchants Bank and the Citizens Bank consolidated, he still remained active until ill health forced his retirement. Both he and Mrs. England are now deceased. Two of their daughters, Mrs. Dorothy Duckworth and Mrs. Margaret Brown, live in Columbia, Mo. A son, Jim, is in Jefferson City, and another daughter, Mrs. Katherine Douglass, lives in the east. Peter C. McCormack, father-in-law of R E. England, was a prominent cattle man. It is said of him that at one time he owned most of the dairy cows in the county. He would let the cows out to the dairymen with the understanding that they get the milk and he get the calves. Those who knew him will remember that he seemed to take great pride in describing himself as "the meanest man in town."


I. B. Dodson was a preacher in the Christian Church for many years, preaching at Hematite and other places. A nephew, Henry Dodson, is the husband of Anne Graham Dodson, daughter of Mrs. Amos Graham. ___Dodson, James F. or Jim, as he was called, had a studio in the old house where he took photographs. Lucinda Williams, or "Aunt Lucinda," as she was known by many, was a Dodson and we remember when she lived in the brick house next door to Mrs. Winnie Ogle's home. We remember that she loved flowers and had the big windows in the kitchen filled with plants. Maggie Papin was a Dodson, and Felix Papin was her first husband. When they occupied the house it was called the Papin Hotel. Mrs. Papin's second husband was Ewing Y. Mitchell. Her daughter, Mrs. Effie Richardson whose husband was Charles, now lives in De Soto.


That brings us to Ulyses Williams whom we understand was an uncle of Oscar and Jethro Williams, residents of the community.


If we turn to some of the earlier names we shall see Theresa K. Holmes. Mrs. John Porter tells us that Mrs. Holmes had a millinery shop in Crystal City. Her daughter Jennie was also a milliner and sold hats in Hematite, probably in the old house. Jennie Holmes later married Tom Lee.


John Rice was pastor of the Congregational Church at Hematite and was also a builder.


Jane E. Wilson was the mother of Jessie L. Wilson. The former's second husband was James Swallow. We remember well when Jessie Wilson made her home at the England's with Miss Alice, Mrs. Irwin, and Miss Lettie. She lived there for seventeen years until the time of her death.


Now we come to A. J. Phillips, station agent. He also sold insurance and was a notary public. He was there the first time we got off the train and for many years after. He was an important part of the life of the community just as the trains were important in those days. He was of English parentage and highly respected by all who knew him. His wife was the adopted daughter of Charlie Lee, prominent citizen of the county. Their sons, George and Frank, died a few years ago. The daughters are Mrs. Mary Morgan and Mrs. Hal Strickland of St. Louis and Mrs. F. N. Thuesen of Hematite.


Miss Mollie Chamberlain has been dead many years and we understand that Miss Marian is in St. Louis in the Home of the Friendless, a good home which seems to us deserving of a better name.


We wish that we could have learned more about some of the people connected with the old house. Perhaps we may, later. To us it has been a pleasant, if brief, visit with those who made our little town heir home in earlier days.


The house has taken on new life and we wonder if at times it may not look a little contemptuously at the younger houses and say, "You have youth, I must admit, but I, I have my memories."