Volume 1, Number 8
Near the mouth of each of the major tributaries of White River is a site of archaeological or historical interest. It was even so before the coming of the white man.
One such site of special interest is located near the mouth of Bull Creek. It was occupied intermittently centuries ago by various tribes of Archaic Indians who left their artifacts as evidence of their presence. The Woodland Indians and perhaps the Mississippian tribes camped for a time at the confluence of the two food-bearing streams. The game-laden surroundings served the early historic Indians which included the Osages, Delawares and perhaps the Kickapoos. A tribe of Peoria Indians is known to have lived there for a time on their trek westward.
Even before the departure of the red men, early white settlers had made their way up White River, settling along the water courses of the river and its major tributaries. Later the region was reached from the north by overland routes which included Green's Ferry road and the old Mail Trace road.
Long before the Mexican War, pioneers had established homes in the vicinity of the mouth of Bull Creek. When the land was surveyed by the government, many of them claimed their homestead rights on their farmsteads. Among those who obtained government patents to their land near the mouth of Bull Creek were: Lysander H. Jennings, Joseph Weaver, John Hancock, John Weatherman, Robert Lewallen, Nathaniel Haggard, John Hembra, Garrett Cornelison, Jno Forrestar, and Joseph Price.
Some three years after the Delaware Indians departed from the region of the upper White and James rivers, the lower Bull Creek area became a part of the White River Township of Greene County. Then in 1837 Taney County was organized out of the territory of Greene County. A commission was named by the state legislature to select a county seat site for the new county. For a considerable period of time the commissioners wavered between locating the county seat at the mouth of Bull Creek and at the mouth of Swan Creek.
During the Civil War, the armies of both Union and Confederate forces crossed Bull Creek near its mouth on the old river road. Confederate Col. Robert Lawther and his Rebel band are believed to have left the river road at the mouth of the creek, traveling up the stream, in their attack on the Union garrison at Ozark in early August 1862. Detached units from the Forsyth station often traversed the river road and the Bull Creek road in search of forage for the horses of the cavalry and subsistence for the men.
Clayton Stokley, Lottie, Addie, Edward, and Bernice. (The burro's name has been forgotten). Judge Stokley and his family were customers at the old Pedrow trading center, and the Judge declared that William Moberly made the best buckwheat flour in the country.
Near the end of the Reconstruction period, many new families moved into the White River country seeking homesites and opportunities for a better way of life. In the early 1880's a stocky built man named William Pedrow Moberly and his plump wife settled on Bull Creek about one and one-half miles above the mouth of the stream. The Moberlys had two sons. The older one, named Vess, lived at St. Joseph, Missouri. The younger son, whose name is behaved to have been Charles, grew to manhood on Bull Creek and married a local girl from the Hopkins family. To this union was born one daughter named Birdie.
William Moberly selected a site on Bull Creek favorable for
the application of water power. He built a dam across the stream and constructed
From sawed lumber at the mill, William Moberly built a nice dwelling with a large front porch. It stood across the road from the mill and on slightly higher ground.
With the coming of the railroad to Springfield, the "down river" shipment of forest-and farm-pro ducts was gradually shifted to the railroad towns of Springfield and Ozark. The old Harrison- Spring field road, a prominent commercial route, passed between the mill and the Moberly house. Long lines of freight wagons from the Harrison, Arkansas, region moved north over the road carrying cotton bales and all sorts of marketable farm products. On their return trips, the wagons were loaded with everything from salt to gunpowder destined for the merchants in Arkansas. The area in and around the mouth of Bull Creek was favorably served by both the Forsyth-Berryville road and the Harrison-Springfield road.
In April 1902, William Moberly established a post- office at the mill site by enclosing a portion of his front porch, naming the new office Pedrow, which was taken from his middle name, Pedrow, Missouri, soon became known far and wide by the many people who traveled the two important roads and those who hauled their saw logs and grain to the mill.
For a period of time around the turn of the century, railroad ties were bought and delivered to the mouth of Bull Creek where they were yarded and fashioned into rafts to be floated down White River to markets in Arkansas. Timber buyers would purchase the timber on the stump and hire the ties made, or would buy the ties of anyone who wished to make and deliver his own.
Marion Woods, finding the place inviting for mercantile business, established a store near the mill. Some distance farther up the creek, Ferddie Miller established a harness shop to serve the local people and the "freighters" using the old Harrison- Springfield road. On the river a short distance above the mouth of Bull Creek, William Hensley operated a ferry serving the north-south travel.
Around the turn of the century, the region around the mouth of Bull Creek was a thriving community supported by some of the best bottom farms in the country. The east-west and north-south travel added to its prosperity. The Moberlys were busy people operating the milling business and the post office. It is said that William Moberly often started his "muley saw" into a log on the mill rack, and as it slowly sawed its way through, he waited on customers at the meal or flour bins, returning to the saw when he thought it had worked its way through the log.
Ralph Whitley recalls carrying corn cobs from the mill for kindling wood. Sometimes when there was no one at the mill, and before opening the sluice gate, the jovial miller would spear a few choice fish, place them in the bottom of a sack and cover them with cobs. Then he would call to Ralph and ask him if he wanted some cobs. When the boy reached home with a partial sack of cobs, he would find the fish in the bottom of the bag.
For a long time good fortune seemed to have blessed the people living in the Pedrow neighbor hood. The fertile soil yielded bountiful crops. Cotton, corn, wheat, and even buckwheat were grown. Among those raising buckwheat was Judge Stokley who declared that William Moberly could make the best buckwheat flour in the country, and the Judge should have known, being fond of buckwheat cakes. The weekly items in the local newspapers written by the Pedrow reporter kept the people informed of local happenings. Social gatherings, weddings and square dances were reported. The old log church served the community as a place of worship. New people were welcomed into the area by many acts of kindness.
Community and farmstead improvements were in evidence. Happiness and contentment reigned throughout the neighborhood.
However, great changes were soon to come to the Pedrow community. In 1906 the White River Iron Mountain Railway Company completed a railroad through Branson, Missouri, which soon slowed to a trickle the commerce on the old Harrison-Spring field road. Business at Wood's store and Ferddie Miller's harness shop declined. The Moberly's youngest son died, leaving his widow and daughter to live with his parents. Then in 1913 the White River Power and Water Company completed the Powersite Dam, creating a lake that inundated the bottom lands on the river and on Bull Creek near its mouth. After some three decades of sawing lumber and grinding breadstuff, the Pedrow Mill ceased operation. In time the old mill was razed and removed from the site. The old Forsyth-Berryville road and the old Harrison - Springfield road winds forever severed, bringing abrupt changes in north south and east-west travel.
The dam company paid Moberly well for his holdings which
included a "miller's right" on the creek. The Pedrow Post Office discontinued
service in March of 1913. The Moberlys moved away, taking with them the wife
and daughter of their deceased
son. They are reported to have moved to a location near Golden City, Missouri, Where it is believed they are now buried.
In the Renshaw Cemetery located on a beautiful knoll overlooking the peaceful waters of the Bull Creek arm of Lake Taneycomo lie the earthly remains of a number of the community's pioneer in habitants. Appropriate headstones marked the graves of some. Other graves, unmarked, were in evidence by the sunken surfaces of the ground. Still others were marked with crude fieldstones with no inscriptions. Until recently mammoth cedar trees, a century old, stood like guardian sentries about the graves with their roots penetrating the mortal remains of those in deep repose. Their branches were extended heavenward as if communicating between the immortal spirits and the remains of the earthly creatures in which they had dwelled.
In time the beautiful lake created by the Powersite Dam brought a new interest to the Bull Creek area. O. L. McBride purchased the old Frank Long place near the mouth of the stream and established a summer camp for girls. A club house was erected on the scenic point just west of the mouth of the stream by a Kansas City sportsmen's club. About 1925 John H. Sherry of Mission, Texas, purchased the property developed by the Kansas City club and named it "Sherryview" He employed J. J. Ingenthron as foreman and superintendent of an improvement program which saw the old club house remodeled, servants' quarters constructed, guest houses built, and the area landscaped. A boat house 76 feet long and 26 feet wide was constructed on the shoreline, equipped with a slat-bottom swimming pool, boat stalls and other accomodations. It was at that time the largest such structure on Lake Taneycomo.
During the years following the end of World War I, Rockaway Beach, located a short distance below the mouth of Bull Creek, blossomed into an attractive tourist resort. It was blessed with beautiful scenery and abundant fishing resources. Among the best of these was the mouth of Bull Creek. The remnants of the mill and dam at Pedrow became the favorite haunts of the Lineside Bass and the Wall Eyed Pike. Crappie were never hard to find and, with the completion of Table Rock Dam, the Rainbow Trout seeks the everflowing clear waters in the mouth of Bull Creek.
But somehow it seemed that the evil spirits that had plagued the Indians of yore periodically return to their former haunts at the mouth of Bull Creek. Peggy McBride, the beloved daughter of O. L. Mc Bride, fell ill to some strange malady and passed from the scene. In time the elder McBrides departed, and the famous girls' summer camp became a boys' camp under new management. Then on the evening of March 12, 1961, when all things seemed to be in harmony and the countryside lay at peace with the world, a tornado with multiple tongues swept down upon the region. In a matter of minutes, the evil funnels wrought disaster upon the inhabitants and their property.
Sherryview lay in shambles. The huge boathouse, by then a landmark, was severely damaged and has since been removed. The stately trees upon the scenic point were twisted and torn from the earth. Only the fireplace of the old Frank Long home stood erect as if appalled by the twisted wreckage at its feet. The mammoth cedars of the old Renshaw Cemetery were torn apart and scattered amid the undergrowth and graves of that hallowed spot. Today the mangled wreckage of cedars, headstones, brush, vines, and briers seals the earthly remains of the area's pioneer fathers and their kin from all trespass, save the woodchucks whose earthen dens abound therein. Pedrow, and all it was, is no more.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly