Happy Birthday, Skidmore, Missouri!

From the July 28, 1921 Skidmore News (Skidmore, Missouri), page 1 and section two, page 4:

Skidmore Will Have Birthday Tomorrow.
Original Lot Sale Held July 29, 1880.
State Also Will Celebrate Birthday Next Month.

There are probably a good many citizens of Skidmore and surrounding community who have not realized that tomorrow, July 29, the town will be forty-one years old. The majority of the “old timers,” those who were here before the town was platted, or came shortly afterward, recall that the lot sale took place in ’80 or ’81, but few remember the exact date. Of the younger generation and those who have come to this part of the country in recent years, the date of that important event has possibly never been known.

There may be some who do not know that President Monroe issued the proclamation which made Missouri a state on the 10th day of August, 1821, just one hundred years ago next month.

Skidmore will not celebrate her birthday anniversary this year — in fact, it is very doubtful if anyone could tell from being about town tomorrow, that the little city was having a birthday. This is not true of the state, however. Missouri is having a big birthday party next month, celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of her birth. The celebration has been combined with the annual State Fair, and will be held on the State Fair grounds at Sedalia, August 8-20.

In view of the facts above mentioned, this was thought to be an appropriate time for a brief review of the early history of both town and state. Then of course the two must be connected to a certain extent by considering, briefly, some of the early events in Nodaway county.

It has not been the intention of the publishers that this issue of the News be a complete and authentic history of town, county, or state; and only those events which seemed to be of interest have been mentioned. There is much that is interesting and important in the early history of our state, our county, and our town which has been omitted; and those events which have been included have not been told as well as many could tell them; but we have done the best we could, and we hope that the material presented may prove interesting, and even to a degree instructive. The facts presented del almost entirely with the earliest period of which record has been left. It would, of course, be interesting to trace the progress and development of state, county and town, to the present time; but this is impossible, so no attempt has been made to do it.

That portion of the material which has to do with the history of the state, is taken from “The Pageant of Missouri,” a great dramatic pantomime of important events in the early history of our state, which will be presented each evening at the great Centennial Exposition and State Fair to be held at Sedalia next month.

As for the history of Skidmore, it has been much more difficult to obtain than that of either county or state, for the reason that there has been no authentic history of the town written, and reports differ, particularly as regards dates. No attempt has been made to write up the town as it is today. Reference has been made in some instances to recent developments, but more attention has been given to the Skidmore of earlier days.

In order to lead up to the founding of the town of Skidmore, Monroe township must be discussed briefly.

Monroe township was organized in 1881, taking its territory from Green and Hughes townships. The principal reason given in the petition asking the county court to organize this township, was that the voters of this part of the county had so far to go to the polls on election days.

On February 12, 1881, the county court specified a certain amount of territory, four miles wide from north to south and eleven miles long from east to west, which should be known as Monroe township, and designated Skidmore as the voting place for the township.

Early Settlers.
In 1840, William Bunton took land about one and one-fourth miles northeast of where Skidmore now stands. William Dotson settled about two miles northwest of where Skidmore was later platted. In 1845, Joseph Huntsucker claimed land three miles northeast of Skidmore but later sold to Thomas Davis. Monroe Cottrel settled on a claim two miles southeast of Skidmore, later selling to William Broyles, and he sold to Robert Bagby. These were the first settlers in what later became Monroe township.

The land upon which Skidmore now stands, or at least a part of it, was first settled by James Curl in 1845; and the remainder of it by Ehastus Downing in 1856. It was purchased in 1865 by Marteny Skidmore, a native of Virginia.

The First Lot Sale.
When the Nodaway Valley Railroad was laid out, Mr. Skidmore gave the company twenty acres of land to build a depot here. Early in the summer of 1880, Mr. Skidmore laid out a townsite, and on July 29 of that year the lot sale was held. The first three lots sold were purchased by W. S. Earls of Savannah, Mo., and on them was built a store building by Markland, Earls & Co., the “Co.” being E. T. Duval, the present postmaster of Skidmore. For many years Mr. Duval conducted a store on these same lots, and now they are occupied by the post office.

The first building erected was a grocery store, built by H. H. Joy, who moved a stock of goods here from Union Valley, and commenced business about September 1, 1880. Markland, Earls & Co. put up a double store building and handled a stock of hardware, furniture and general merchandise. T. L. Marlin erected a hardware store; Dr. J. M. Hutt built a drug store, and J. T. VanAusdall a carpenter shop. J. V. Parrish moved his blacksmith shop from the old Nash mill which had stood for some years on the east bank of the Nodaway, on what is now the Wesley Barrett estate; Wesley Clark also put up a blacksmith shop. Mr. Parrish built the first residence in Skidmore, the house now occupied by E. L. King. The first eating house in town was conducted by James B. Peters.

The first birth in Skidmore occurred on November 11, 1880, when a son, Frank, was born to Mr. and Mrs. George Manchester.

The first marriage took place at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. V. Parrish on Thursday, June 23, 1881, when their daughter, Ary Bell, became the wife of H. K. Deffenbaugh. Squire Thomas L. Howden performed the ceremony.

On November 11, 1880, occurred the first death, that of a son of H. H. Joy.

Visited by Two Fires.
Skidmore has been the victim of two serious fires, which nearly wiped out the business district. It is not necessary to dwell at any length on these disasters, as everyone who has been for any considerable length of tiem in or near Skidmore is familiar with this part of the town’s history. The first of these fires occurred on Sunday, July 19, 1885, when the entire business section of the town was destroyed, with the exception of the hardware store of T. L. Marlin. The town was rebuilt, but made only indifferent progress for the next decade. On the night of April 19, 1895, the town was again visited by fire, and five buildings in the business district were destroyed. Both of these fires, naturally, caused great financial loss to the individuals whose stores were destroyed; but as is usually the case, the buildings were rebuilt of more durable material, and the town has made much greater progress since the second fire than before. Skidmore has come to be recognized as one of the best trading points in this section of the state, considering its size.

Skidmore’s Banks.
It would take entirely too much space, to say nothing of time, to try to discuss all of the business concerns in Skidmore at the present time, but since a town is judged largely by its banks, our two banks will be mentioned.

The Farmers Bank is the older of the two — in fact is the first bank that was established here, although it has not been under the same management from the start. The Farmers Bank was incorporated August 24, 1892, by R. M. Stevenson, E. C. Hartwig, Louis Hax, P. S. Wright and Earnest Davis, with a capital stock of $10,000. P. S. Wright was in charge as cashier. On September 24, 1892, H. W. Montgomery became cashier, and is still acting in that capacity. August 15, 1899, the most of the stock changed hands, and the company was reorganized with W. J. Skidmore as president, Robert Montgomery of Oregon, Mo., vice-president, and W. H. Hoblitzell assistant cashier. Robert Montgomery later became president of the institution.

In 1899 Fayette Cook and son built the opera block and opened a bank, which failed about 1903 or 1904.

The Bank of Skidmore was chartered April 5, 1904. On its organization, D. W. Porter of Mound City was elected president and J. B. Ross cashier. It continued under this management until September 14, 1904, when W. R. Linville purchased stock in the corporation and was elected president of the bank and has continued in that capacity since. W. S. Linville was elected cashier in June, 1907 to succeed J. B. Ross, and still holds that position. George W. Walton and G. F. Kellogg served as assistant cashiers until 1912, when C. E. Linville was elected and retains that place. When the bank was first organized, it was located in the Masonic building and continued business there until about the year 1906, when it was moved to its present location.

Our Churches.
No discussion of a town, however brief, is complete until the churches have been mentioned. It is a well established fact that very few people, whether they be religious themselves or not, are willing to live in a town or a community where no churches exist. One of the first questions one asks when he considers locating in a town is, “What about the churches?”

Skidmore has three churches, all holding services regularly, and all owning their own houses of worship as well as their parsonages.

M. E. Church, South.
The M. E. church, south, is said to be the oldest church in this community. That is, it is said by some to be the oldest — others say it is no older than the M. E. church. However that may be, there are reports of meetings of this denomination at the school houses in this part of the country as early as 1847. At that time there was no organized church here, but the “circuit rider” went from one neighborhood to another with his hymn book and his Bible, and held services. When the town of Skidmore was platted, Marteny Skidmore gave to the M. E. church, south, the lot upon which the present building stands, and a church was erected in 1880. The church built at that time is the one that is in use today, although it has been remodeled since.

Rev. H. G. Stewart is the present pastor of the church.

Methodist Episcopal Church.
The Methodist Episcopal church at Skidmore was organized in 1880, with about twenty-three members.

The present church building is of brick, and is often designated as “the brick church.” it was erected in 1905 through the efforts of Rev. Welton, who was the pastor at that time, and dedicated in 1906 by Dr. E. B. Lytel, who was then the district superintendent. The building was struck by lightning this spring, and damaged considerably. It has been repaired, however, and all damaged parts have been replaced with more durable material. The belfry, which was originally covered with metal siding, is now finished with stucco. The interior of the building was also redecorated.

Rev. C. E. Olson, the pastor, is serving his first year here.

The Christian Church.
The Christian church is the youngest church in Skidmore, having been organized about 1894.

During the year 1894, Rev. C. M. Chilton, who was at that time pastor of the Christian church at Maryville, held a series of meetings here in a large tent, and following the meetings the local church was organized. The church building was erected in 1905, according to the data from which this article is written and was later remodeled and a furnace installed. Elder R. N. Davis was the first pastor of the church, and the present pastor is Rev. Hugh McClellan.

The Public Schools.
Just as a person who contemplates locating in a new town almost invariably asks about the churches, so does e seek to know what kind of educational advantages the town or community offers. The two institutions are usually included in the same question — “How about your schools and churches?”

The early settlers throughout all of our great country had in mind education and religion, for the church and the school were the centers around which settlements grew up. The church and the school house were almost the first building erected in many settlements.

We have been unable to learn anything of the early-day schools in Skidmore, but there is no doubt that some sort of schools were maintained here from the time the town was first built up. At the present time we may boast of an approved high school of the first class, with the lower grades of equal rank. The citizens of Skidmore have, for a good many years, over-stepped the law by voting a higher levy than is allowed, in order that the schools might be maintained. But the limit was reached and the school board was instructed that this practice would no longer be permitted. There remained but one way to keep the schools on the approved list, and that was to increase the size of the district. Accordingly, a proposition was submitted to the voters of this and ten surrounding districts, to form a consolidation. It carried, on the 10th day of May, 1921, and it will be possible now for Skidmore and Monroe township to maintain an approved school.

Prof. J. W. Pierce has been superintendent of the Skidmore schools for three years, and will be superintendent of the Skidmore Consolidated District the coming year.

The Chautauqua.
The first chautauqua was held in Skidmore in 1914. It was announced that tickets would be sold at auction, and G. L. Owen, chairman of the committee, cried the sale from the band stand. The first ticket was bought by R. I. Bilby for seventy-five dollars. Mr. Owen has the ticket now, and recalls just how the bidding progressed until the prospective buyers dropped out, one by one as they reached their limit.

The chautauqua has been an annual visitor here since that time, and the course this year is considered the best that has ever been secured.

The Lyceum Course.
A good many years ago — something over twenty years — when the Lyceum movement was young, Skidmore secured her first course. No one recalls the year, but H. W. Montgomery recalls very well that the course that was secured, for he was one who helped to get the course and many of the numbers on that course soon became so expensive that they “could not be touched” by a small town. One of the numbers on that first course was the Hungarian Orchestra, which a few years later cost in the neighborhood of $500. Other numbers were in the same class, but at the time they came to Skidmore they had not made their reputation.

Sometimes there have been only a few to boost the Lyceum, and sometimes there have been more — but Skidmore has had the course regularly since that time.

One of the greatest steps Skidmore has ever taken was when the contract was signed with the Mound City light company for electric lights. The proposition was put to a vote on April 27, 1915, and carried; but the ordinance authorizing the signing of the contract was not approved until June 26, 1916. Sometime in 1916, probably in the late fall or winter, the “juice” was turned on for the first time, and Skidmore still gets electric current from the same plant, although it has changed hands now.

The last step forward that Skidmore has taken, to date, was last Tuesday when bonds were voted for a water system.

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