Volume 5, Number 7 - Spring 1975
Hammond, Missouri, was built shortly after 1900 on little North Fork River in Ozark County where the "Old Salt Road," crossed the stream. This road was named because it was a road used by freight wagons hauling salt that was a vital staple in the early days.
The townsite was started by Stoney Williams, John Squires, and John Grudier.
Mr. Williams operated a whiskey still nearby. This was legal at that time and according to the records of the grist mill, he did a very flourishing business as he appeared to be one of the best customers of the mill.
Mr. Squires operated the first dry goods store. He erected a large two-story building on the east bank of the river. He carried a large stock of dry goods and the second floor of the building was used as a meeting place for the community for their poetry readings, lodge meetings, and later the traveling movies were shown here. It is here that I saw my first movie and it was a three part silent serial of "Rin Tin Tin."
This building was torn down in 1946 by Fred Wright, who was the last person to operate a store from this building. Others who operated the store from this building were: Coy Gardner, Frank & Marvin Johnson, Grant Wallace, and Bert Robinson and possibly others.
My uncles, Oscar & Lonnie Wallace, operated another store on the west bank of the river for many years near the old grist mill.
My father operated a blacksmith shop at one time at Hammond and later his cousin, Everett Baker, was the blacksmith.
The grist mill building is still standing though it is in poor repair. The three story structure has the roof caved in, but the walls are still standing. It was made mostly of sycamore wood.
John Grudier was the builder of the mill and he operated it for many years until turning the operation over to his son, George, who also operated it for many years and sold it to Floyd & Ota Cantwell who operated it until it closed and the machinery from the mill was later sold for less than $200.00.
The dam is still intact at the old Grudier mill although the stream of little North Fork changed several years ago. My grandfather, David Wallace, was one of the men who constructed the dam for this mill.
Another mill was in operation for a few years about one mile south of Hammond and operated by Lum Noonkester until he closed it and moved to Oklahoma. Part of the dam is still visible.
The first Post Office was in a room at the Williams home and Jennie Squires was the first postmistress. Later the Post Office was moved to a building near the Squires store and Richard
Barner was the Postmaster for many years until he retired in 1950s. Mrs. Ota Cantwell was later Postmistress and the Post Office is now located in a small building near the home of Mrs. Bonnie Wright, widow of Fred Wright. She is the postmistress today.
In 1914, Dr. E. H. Kyle built a drug store and later put in groceries. Dr. Kyle died while a young man of influenza during the epidimec 1918-19. Ones who remember Dr. Kyle say that he never refused to go visit a patient when called upon to do so. Some say that his compassion contributed to his death as he had attended a sick patient in very inclement weather and caught a severe cold that resulted in influenza.
A swinging foot bridge was erected later. It was supported by cables with planks fastened to the cables. This bridge was about 20 foot high and spanned Little North Fork. It is said that shortly after the coming of the car, an inebriated driver drove his model T across this bridge with success.
A bank was located at Hammond for many years. John Squires was the first President and Ned Garner was the first cashier. Later the bank was operated by Kelly Hobbs of his wife, Nellie. They later moved to Thayer, Mo., where Nellie resides today. After the Hobbs, the bank was operated by Cecil Mayberry and Paul Johnson.
It was transferred to Ava, Mo. in late 1940s after it was robbed by a lone bandit while Mr. Johnson was alone in the bank. The robber was never apprehended as it was 10 miles to the nearest telephone at that time, and he tied up Mr. Johnson resulting in the robber getting a head start on the law enforcement.
Fred Wright used the bank building for a grocery store after the bank was moved and after he tore down the old store building erected by Mr. Squires. All that remains of the bank building today is the rock building that was the vault.
With the coming of cars, the stream at Hammond became a bad crossing for cars and the men of the community laid "tracks" across the stream. "Tracks" were lengths of steel, about the width of car tires, and were laid end to end on timber and cars had to stay on the "tracks" in order to cross the stream and if one ran off the "track", he had to be pulled out. Shortly after, a concrete slab was poured across the stream and this made the crossing easy.
Picnics were held each year on the west bank of Little North Fork near the mill. They were well attended and moonshine flowed freely and many fights were the result of every picnic.
There was two churches at Hammond for many years. The General Baptist church was the older and is now torn down. A squabble developed between the members of the church and some built another church north of this one and both had good attendance for several years.
Warren Yeary operated a barber shop on Saturday in the cream and eggs section of the Fred Wright store for several years.
In the early days Hammond was the scene of get togethers on Saturday when residents from as far away as Pontiac would come to Hammond according to the records of the Mill.
Bill Dean of Springfield and formerly of Hammond, tells me that in his boyhood days there were many turtles in Little North Fork near Hammond and a favorite pastime on Sunday afternoons was for him and other boys to go to the creek and catch one; then, pull it out of the stream and take turns riding them.
The only visible signs left of the once prosporous community is the old bank vault standing at the site of what once was several buildings and the only other familiar signs of Hammond are the old Mill and the home of the Grudier family that is owned and resided in by Thomas Graves.
My great great grandfather, David Mahan, was one of the first white settlers in the area, having settled south of Hammond in 1837. He remained there only a few years when he moved to near Seymour, Mo. While at Hammond he lived near what was later to become Turkey Creek School house, so-named by the stream that flowed nearby and emptied into Little North Fork and located about one mile south of Hammond.
My great grandfather, James Cosby Wallace, settled west of Hammond in 1885. His father, David 0. Wallace, followed about 10 years later. Their remains were laid to rest on the land where they settled.
Copyright © White River Valley Historical Quarterly