Volume VI, No. 2, Winter 1978
FACT AND FANCY OF MY HOME TOWN
Written and illustrated by Patsy Watts
Legend of Cabool
On the banks of the Crystal Piney,
Close beside the Onyx Pool,
Queen of all surrounding country
Stands the far-famed town, "Cabool."
Woulds't thou know the mystic story,
That enshrouds his shining name?
Gaze on yonder sparkling water,
See reflected Cabool's fame.
Tahassie was an Indian maid,
Fair and graceful, pure and mild,
Daughter of the fierce Pomona,
Half a woman, half a child.
Blithe and gay with rippling laughter,
Lived this maid of savage home,
Wooed by many an Indian warrior,
By herself she loved to roam.
Past her father's realm of forest,
Lived a chieftain brave and cool,
Ruler of all mighty warriors,
Reigned the gallant chief, Kabul.
King of all athletic sportsmen,
Winner in the longest chase,
Victor over mighty foemen,
Most beloved of all his race.
Comes one day this giant chieftain
Followed by his warriors bold
On Pomona's sacred acres,
Hunting deer and elk untold.
There he spied the fair Tahassie,
Roving wild among the flowers,
There they promised love forever,
There they spent their happiest hours.
Watchful eyes this pair discovered,
As they walk at lovers pace,
Discovered too the tired hunters,
Resting after the long chase.
In Pomona's camp at midnight,
Wild commotion, startled cries,
Word is brought by breathless runner
"With Kabul Tahassie flies!"
Loud and wild Pomona rages,
Arms he and his eager braves,
Rush they out with savage vengeance
Silently surround the caves.
In sheltered cave, Kabul,
Tahassie Hear the din of battle roar,
Start they up, are met by foemen
Ne'er to dream of pleasure more.
Quickly one hand grasps his weapon
One arm 'round Tahassie's waist,
And against Pomona's minions
This bold chieftain set his face.
Mighty blows he struck about him,
Swift and fast he backward goes
Backwards toward the bluff of Cedar
While the ground with crimsonflows.
Till upon the ledge of granite,
Towering far above the pool,
Striking down a score of warriors,
Fights the lover, Chief Kabul.
"Woulds't thou save thyself, Tahassie,
Would thou to thy father go?"
"What! Go leave thee and thou perish?
No, brave chief, I pray thee, No."
Clasps her then to panting bosom,
Backward reel for want of breath
Headlong from the highest level,
Plunge these lovers to their death.
Pilgrims from all lands and nations,
Pause and gaze upon this pool,
And recall the mystic legend,
Of Tahassie and Kabul.
What could be better in the eyes of a romanticist than a tale of daring sacrifice in a tiny Ozarkian Village? And who but a romanticist could dream up such a tale? The legend indeed is lovely, and seems a perfectly imaginative way to name a town, just as it must have seemed to Tug Wilson and Ben Durnell in 1903 when they created it. Through the years it has been passed down, as legends are, as factual information, each generation making its own modifications. Many people listened with fascination and believed without question the colorful rendition. Some viewed the account with skepticism, some with amusement. Naturally, being brought up in this town in the heart of the Ozarks, living with this tale, I couldn't help but at least be intrigued.
I went back and talked to Mildred Davis, a long-time resident of the town. She eagerly enlightened me with various tidbits of information on Cabool's history.
"Of course, the first thing we have to urge you to say is that that poem's not really why Cabool was named at all. We're very fond of it and we think that it's a good story. I suppose that by now two-thirds of the people think that's how Cabool got its name in spite of the fact that we've had it in the newspaper time and again that the poem isn't true.
"Cabool got its name about 1882 when the Frisco Railroad was being surveyed through southeastern Missouri. The railroad wanted a depot in here where the cemetery was, so they moved the cemetery up on the hill. They dug up all the graves and moved them all and laid it out just like it was. And that's where the cemetery still is. Lots larger, of course."
Two English brothers, Ralph and Francis Walker, were the surveyors for the railroad. One of the brothers had served in the English military forces in Kabul/ Afghanistan. Impressed by the natural beauty and terrain of the tiny crossroads and feeling it greatly resembled that of Kabul, he named the settlement "Cabool," and was also responsible for laying out the town bordered by Fish Lake and the Piney River. The name had such a magnetic effect that the first baby born there was named Etta Cabool Weiss.
Pocahontas, a village just northeast of present day Cabool, had several of the area's businesses. Other settlements neighboring Cabool were Sargent, Elk Creek, Ellis Prairie and Dykes. There was possibly a fort just south of the Stanley Cannaday Farm, although the remains that were found showed that it dated much earlier than the 1880's.
About one-fourth mile southeast of Cabool, on the bank of the Piney River, was Cedar Bluff. In spite of its small size, this was the area's most popular settlement. It was established in 1852 and included a post office, cemetery and a church which was still there when Miss Davis was a girl. The church was founded in 1859 by Rev. Posey Freeman. William B. Bradshaw was the postmaster from 1852 until 1883, when the Cedar Bluff post office was transferred to Cabool. Soon cabool became the prominent town and Cedar Bluff completely died out.
Some of the first buildings erected which form the business district in Cabool are the Bauch buildings. These buildings are still standing today. Mr. and Mrs. John Bauch, and their two sons built the buildings of stone in 1882. The three buildings served as a general store, feed and flour store. The Bauchs also had a mill which was one of the finest in the area. It could manufacture over 200 barrels of flour a day. The flour was packaged in bulks of twenty-five or fifty pounds under the brand names of White Rose and Lily White flour. Bauchs also made a special brand of cornmeal, and after the railroad was completed, shipped loads of their products by railway from Cabool to Memphis.
1884 brought many events for the changing area. Finally on November 8, the city ordinances were completed and Cabool was officially incorporated as a town. The Frisco Railroad completed its construction through the vicinity and there was now a perfect mode of transportation right at Cabool's doorstep.
Mildred Davis said, "Lumber was the town's leading industry from its settlement until the 1920's, and in the 1880's there was a total of nine sawmills in a ten mile radius of the town. Sargent, a neighboring village, operated a sawmill that employed over a hundred men and an immense planer also employed a large percent of the population."
Other businesses sprang up almost simultaneously with the completion of the railroad. R. E. Beasley who had opened up the first general store in the town soon found strong competition. Before long there was a total of five general stores, four grocers, three carpenters, two harness makers, two livestock dealers, two blacksmiths, a saloon, a planing mill and an unending list of other trades.
As the town grew, so did the need for public education. Cabool's first public school was held in a
local blacksmith shop because of lack of a proper building. It was first taught by Miss Ann Van
Slyke and later by Mrs. J. P. Moore. But in 1884 a public school building was established and
instructed by the only schoolmaster, Dr. Bob Hubbard.
On September 23rd the first town journal began publication under the establishment of Cumstock and Moore. The newspaper was called The Cabool Weekly Record and by 1889 circulation rose to a productive 600, with the office employment of two men.
Obviously in an expanding society there is also a growing demand for some type of law and order. On December 8th the transgressions of the law stood out more boldly to some than they would ever again, as this day brought the first recorded murder in the town. In that same month a jail building was authorized and an executive council was formed. Robert Simmons was appointed the first city marshall.
Thus, 1884 ended--a year of elation, celebration and disappointment, but mostly a year of establishment. Cabool now had a firm foundation that through the years would be ample support for a changing community.
In 1888 the population of Cabool had risen to nearly 600 people and by 1891 there were nine grocery stores. As the town grew larger regulations were firmly established. "Beasts" could not be ridden or driven faster than "modern [sic] gait" and no animals could be hitched to the sidewalks. After January 1, 1899, all hogs found running the streets would be taken up--somewhat like present day dog-catching. The speed of trains through Cabool was to be no faster than six miles per hour, and in 1907 the curfew for anyone under eighteen was eight P.M.
A partial delineation of the town's early progress would have to include the! cigar factory
constructed in the early 1900's just west of the city hall. Its owner, George T. Graves, was very
socially oriented and well liked by just about everyone. He was an organizer of several
important enterprises, which proved to be a big boost to his factory's popularity. The factory's
best cigar was Lord James, which, sold for ten cents. Gold Seal and Little George, costing five
cents and two for five cents respectively, were also choice brands. Others to choose from were
Big George, Miracle and Grass Widow.
Brent Brittain was employed by Graves as factory manager while he himself was out of town. Brittain made $12.50 a day, but the workers below him made only a dollar per day for an average output of 250 cigars per worker. At top productivity the factory provided jobs for twenty-five people, men, women and children, and also gave a substantial boost to the town's economy.
The cigar factory idea lit--and business grew rapidly. Because of lack of space, in 1908 Graves
moved the factory to the upstairs of the New National Bank on the corner of Spruce and Main.
1908 was also the year that the Cabool-Summersville Hack began its transportation route. The
hack left Cabool at two in the afternoon and arrived in Summersville at eight.
Dairy cattle were an integral part of the economy--but only in 1909 was there an industry opened up to utilize the farmers' surplus butterfat. The Cabool Commercial Club bought a plot of land near the Piney River on South Cedar and donated it to Texas County as a creamery site. The creamery wasn't large, but it produced a larger percent of butter for its size than almost any other in the country. Today because of excellent area dairy farming, Cabool is one of the five towns in Missouri to operate a Mid-America Dairyman plant, which is unquestionably the most productive enterprise in the area. 1978 marks the 50th anniversary of Cabool's Mid-Am plant.
The 1900's also brought bitterness into the lives of many citizens. Cabool's city marshall was killed in a shoot-out in 1909, and in the earlier 1900's several fires swept Main Street. Three times one whole side of the block was burnt out. On October 23, 1911, a fire incinerated the whole block between Cedar and Spruce with the exception of one building.
1912 and 1914 brought events which illustrated two economic situations that are still widely discussed today--prices of merchandise and organizational strikes. In 1912 if a thrifty shopper was comparing prices, he'd find that in the Racket Store a person could buy for a penny a rubber-tipped pencil, twelve hooks and eyes or twenty-five sewing needles. Two cents could buy a paper of pins or six sheets of the finest quality notebook paper. Other stores probably offered the same value of merchandise for this price but the point is there were many stores in competition with each other.
Cabool had its first strike in 1914. The Draymen's Association refused service to the Cabool commission Company for employing a hauler who had no license. The presiding judge of the case ruled in favor of the Commission Company, basing his verdict on the fact that the Commission Company had a merchant's license and therefore could haul its deliveries any way convenient for it to do so.
The next four years for Cabool, as well as the rest of the world, were marred by tragedy. World War I took the lives of many young and courageous men. But the citizens of Cabool area held up. Instead of mourning their loss, they constructed an arch of tan and brown stones in the intersection of Main and Cedar Streets. The cost of construction was paid for by public donation. The arch, dedicated on September 26, 1919, as a memorial to veterans of World War I, was one of the first of its kind in the whole country. Soon several surrounding towns had erected similar memorials. The Kansas city Post did a special feature on cabool titled, "Little Missouri Village Sets Moral Example for Kansas City."
The arch was designed to hold electric lights, but the citizens soon found that it was impossible to keep them lighted because the vibrations from passing trains kept them knocked out.
In 1923 a Model T struck the side of the arch. An article from the Cabool paper read, "Is it necessary to place signs on each corner calling attention to the public there in cabool that the custom of keeping to the right maintains here as well as on the county roads? And the Memorial Arch on Main Street, Cabool's monument to the Veterans of the World War, which it may well be proud and as long as it is not a menace to life, it shall remain. But there should be a speed limit and all drivers of vehicles should keep to the right of the arch or the arch will be removed. Automobile accidents are possible at any place but much more so when there is an obstruction in the middle of a much used street or intersection. It is not the purpose of this article to condemn the presence of the arch, but to call the attention of drivers to the danger of careless driving at this point."
The arch remained in the center of the street until about 1941 when it was declared an obstruction of traffic and was moved to the park just west of the City Hall.
Many other changes were also made in the town. The lumber yards and sawmills dwindled because of spent resources. Old businesses were slowly replaced by more profitable industries such as Sunny Hill Poultry and a shoe factory. But the poultry plant closed and it seemed evident that Cabool would no longer soar for the top. It would continue its progress, as is inevitable for any town, but without the explosive productivity it had already encountered. Cabool has remained a popular red apple center with moderate fame, supported by farming and industry. Its school system deserves great commendation for the high educational status it has maintained.
But the most important attribute of any community is that of its people--people who have managed to hold onto their romantic dreams in spite of the sometimes harsh realities life has forced them to face--people with not only a bold sense of individuality, but also a sense of unity--and finally people who respect the past as well as the future, realizing that in order to know where you are going, you must know where you've been.
This story was made possible through the extended efforts of the Cabool History Society.
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.