Volume 4 , Number 4 , Summer 1971
Noting your article concerning the celebration of the Sesquicentennial of Missouri Statehood, and your desire for old pictures of Branson as it was at the turn of the century, I am sending a picture of the town as it was in 1907. The picture was taken from the bluff on the far side of the (then) river, by a young photographer, George Hall, who then lived with his parents in the old Jim Lane cabin on the shoulder of Dewey Bald.
I am including in this letter Branson. If Mrs. Whelchels eyesight is still good enough to distinguish them, I think she can point out the different places to you. Also, it is possible one of the Alexander boys, or Ike Thompson, if he is still on the scene, can remember what was where, though they were rather small boys at the time. Also, Dave Parnell, if he is around, since the Parnell storenot the present one was there at that time, whether as Parnell Brothers or Parnell and Sons I do not remember.
My mother sold butter to the Parnell storea typical country store of that day and eraand I remember how hard she always tried to have her butter in the best shape possible to take to town. It was always fresh churned and beautifully molded, and in hot weather she took great pains to have it firm when she got to townwhich was no small feat when you consider that it was over two miles to town, and there were at that time no cabs and the trip was made in a farm wagon, over very bumpy roads. One warm day she took some nice firm butter, freshly molded, getting it there in fine shape. The clerk took it and dumped it in a tub of other butter in various stages of softening. Mother was so distressed.
Dave Parnell, if he is around, can tell you more about that store. As I remember it, Sam Parnell was the head of the store, but whether he was the oldest brother or the father I forget.
Then there was the Whelchel Hardware. There was also a millinery store in the Hardware store (we wore hats in those days not hard hats) and Mrs. Whelchel and her friend, and Mrs. Klotz, were in charge of that part. Mr. Klotz (Jack) was then station master. Other businesses were: Burdette Drug Store, run by Dr. Burdette and his brother, who had just graduated from Medical School: Pattersons General Store, Todd Lumber Company; Breedon Boarding House; "Brack" McFarlands Blacksmith Shop; the printing office where the first Branson paper was published, the "Branson Echo", Frank A. Forbes, publisher, also Editor; the Post office, with, I believe, Higdon Melton as Post Master, with Hazel McHenry, sister-in-law of Frank Forbes, as assistant; (Hazel was also "Printers Devil" at the printing office). Jess Tolerton comes in there some place, but I forget what his role was in the building of the town. He was brother-in-law to Mr. Melton. Any of the above-named "old timers" who are still there can tell you of this.
Then there was the McIntyre Hall, owned by Dr. Elizabeth McIntyre. In this Hall were held whatever public meetings were needed, and here the Presbyterian Church was organized, with Mr. Forbes and my father, L. L. Eakin, as the first elders, and Mr. Swan, who lived across Roark, on the East side of the road, as deacon.
The little shack in the foreground of the picture I am sending was the pump house, furnishing water for the railroad water tank. It was right on the bank of the river.
My father was very much in love with the country there, and was sure it was the only place to live. He left a good position in Kansas to move down there to help develop the country, and he and Mr. Forbes were partners in the real estate business. We lived on a farm two and a half miles north of town, where Dad tried to farm. He had rosy visions of how one could live there; but Dad was no farmer, and those rocky hills were too much for him. Also, the real estate business was not very remunerative. So, in 1908 we left there, Dad, mother and my brother to go to Globe, Arizona, back to work Dad was familiar with, and I went back to Pittsburg, Kansas, to finish some schooling, and following them to Arizona later.
I should like to see someone write a history of Branson and vicinity, for I am still interested in the area and have a number of friends there. My husband and I moved back to the old farm in 1917, and lived there until early 1942, when we came to Califorina to care for Dad and Mother, who had moved here from Arizona.
I taught school at Dewey Grove School, on the shoulder of Dewey Bald, and had a picture of the "student body" which I sent to Dr. Good for the School of the Ozarks Museum. Some of those students are citizens of Branson nowCoxes, Sutherlands and others. The above-mentioned George Hall took many pictures all around that country. He married Vallie Sharp, from over in the Reeds Spring Shepherd of the Hills country. I boarded in the Hall home when teaching at Dewey Grove, and somewhere, after many moves, I may be able to find some of the post card pictures.
Branson in 1907
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