A Directory of Towns, Villages, and Hamlets
Past and Present
of Barton County, Missouri

Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser


A History of Boston, Missouri

Compiled by Mrs. C. E. (Mildred) Austin

Jan. 1969

Boston was comprised of swamp land approved for reclaiming on September 28, 1850, and first claimed by John P. Murray. It was sold to James and John Dean in 1868 and in 1874 was sold to Alex and Cynthia Steelman.

In 1880, the Missouri Pacific R. R. built the railroad and a dream was born. Mr. and Mrs. Steelman donated the land for the right-of-way out of the farm property. They called the crossroads where the first trains were persuaded to stop, Carleton Station. This endured briefly. In July, 1881, Mr. and Mrs. Steelman gave 10 acres on the East and 10 acres on the West side of the track and filed a dedicatory plat of the village. The named it Beloit.

Three business men who saw advantage of a rail outlet were: W. P. Adams, W. H. Thompson, and Dr. J. W. Spence. The first two engaged in the sale of general merchandise and the latter operated a drug store.

Around 1900, a Post Office was obtained. There was another Missouri office named Beloit so the village became Boston. A school district was organized and a school building erected. Church services were conducted in the school house by circuit riders. Stock pens were erected and loading equipment installed. Boston became a major shipping-point for cattle and other livestock.

Jim Box installed a grain elevator so the shipment of grain was added. The Odd Fellows erected a large frame hall. The Box family, Dr. Warren, and members of the Crutchfield family were among the early dreamers and business people.

The I. O. O. F. Lodge #303 and Anti-Horse Thief Association #278 headed by president C. C. Coates of nearby Esrom and Secretary A. Y. Williams were very active in the early days. Walter R. Calvert, Boston school teacher, was elected representative in the State Legislature. He served two terms from 1899 to 1902. Calvert, a Democrat, was perhaps Boston's most famous citizen in the Missouri General Assembly. He was chairman of the Labor Committee. Succeeding depot agents were Tommy Owens, Will Bouser, Clarence Canray, and Leonard Dalton. Postmasters and merchants were Lewis Williams, Harry Collins, Charlie Hall, Frank Cones, Robert and Zula Meisin, Robert Carr, Mr. and Mrs. Christian Riley and son Albert A. Riley (who also operated under the firm name of Harvey and Miller), and Mr. and Mrs. John Lawless and son Leslie. The latter was a Postmaster. Mrs. Nettie Lawless was appointed Postmaster in 1914 and served until her retirement in 1939. Mrs. Mildred Austin was appointed Postmaster in 1939 and is still serving (1969).

Boston perhaps reached its Hey Day in 1911. One of the most active businesses was owned by Samuel Short and son Liel. They engaged in blacksmithing and woodwork and in later years they added a garage. Others were James Owens, Hay and Grain, Johnie Cones and Al Blair, Building Contractors, T. C. McConnell, Saw Mill and Threshing machines operation, James F. and Maud Brown, General Merchandise, and J. L. Box, Elevator and Lumberyard.

In 1913, four devout Methodist men decided Boston should have a chapel. They were A. Y. Williams, Jim Lisher, Will Meyers, and R. H. Rex. These men started a subscription list for the building of a Methodist Church. The building was erected in 1915, and is the only original public building still functioning.

Later merchants thru the years were A. M. Rand, J. L. Box, Alva Vanwiper, Harry Houser, Lewis Longnecker, J. W. Baker, and Doyle Throckmorton. C. A. Harrington was elected sheriff in 1912 and C. E. Austin in 1944.

Opal Riley's son wrote an article several years ago on Boston. This article, which rests in the archives of the Missouri Historical Society in Jefferson City (sic), seems to me to cover Boston. He did leave out the merchants from his grandfather's day until we came back home in 1933. I have supplied these. I like his closing thoughts. They express my sentiments nicely.

"A tiny weed-shrouded sign stands alone beside the track marking the almost forgotten scene with a single proud word 'Boston'. A mile away the world goes hurtling by on gasoline-powered machinery on Highway #71. The wheels of commerce church noisily seven miles to the North at Lamar, and five miles to the South at Jasper, and eleven miles to the East at Golden City. But in the small village surviving there is little to break the silence but the occasional song of a meadow lark. But an observer armed with old memories may almost hear lusty shouts of busy drivers, the happy laughter of a crowd of eager school children, the bustle of grain wagons unloading, and the stomping of horses which once characterized this small village. During the busy harvest seasons, steady streams of wagons slogged through dust or mud toward the Boston Depot, hauling grain and hay to the market outlet. Droves of cattle arrived daily from throughout the region. But the downhill trend accelerated during the years between World War I, and World War II, and the building of the highway one mile West, as trucks and cars led the parade of business away from the rail side village. Eventually, the stock pens found no use and were destroyed. Homer Stockdale bought and moved the depot to his farm. Fire and economic necessity began to destroy most of the business buildings. Changes in social habits brught an end to the lodges. The Post Office, however, remained. The Austins remained and Boston continues to survive."

The Stockdale family still uses the large hay barn occasionally. Some hay is shipped by rail from Boston. Koss Construction Co. set their plant up in Boston in 1925, when 71 Highway was first paved and again in 1947 when it was resurfaced. So Boston is one of the few villages attempting to carry on, coming to life occasionally as when 50 car loads of tile were set on the siding, requiring a crane to load it on the trucks. The past year the pipe for the Barton County Rural Water Line was partly set in Boston.

"The old frame school building still stands, used only for elections, looking out forlornly on once busy, happy streets. Students in the area attend Jasper R-V School, result of reorganization. Elsewhere along the once bustling streets, there are twelve residences, a United Methodist Church, the vacant school, and a windowless, vacant house. The dream is gone but the memory remains, marked by the village which cannot grow but will not die, and the sound of a 20th Century Diesel horn fading in the misty distance."
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