Volume 8, Number 11 - Spring 1985
The village of Longrun, Missouri in Ozark County was located in a small valley between Theodosia and Thornfield on what is today highway 95. Though it is still listed on some maps, all that remains of the once prosperous village are some vacant buildings, a cemetery, and two church buildings.
According to Audey Hobbs Wallace, a granddaughter and daughter of the founders of Longrun, the name was selected from the small stream or branch that flows through the site. This stream bore the name of Longrun when the Hobbs family settled there.
Newberry "Tom" Hobbs Jr., grandfather of Audey Hobbs Wallace, moved to Ozark County in 1884 and settled with his family a few miles south of the site of Longrun. He erected a log house for his family, near what is known as the Hicks Spring, and remained there a few years. Then he homesteaded land that would later become the site of Longrun, Mo., and erected another log home on the site of his homestead claim. He would later construct a nice home of sawed lumber that would be his final home until his death in 1928. This home is still standing today and it, as well as the original home site of the Hobbs family, is owned by Aude and Audey Hobbs Wallace.
Shortly after moving to the site of Longrun, "Tom" and his son, Henry, Father of Audey Hobbs Wallace, constructed a large building they planned to use as a dry goods store. When the building was finished, Henry set out by team and wagon to Springfield and purchased their supply of goods for the new store. Thus the village of Longrun was born. In 1898, the post office from "Larkin Brown place on Pond Fork Creek," was moved to the new city of Longrun with "Tom" Hobbs as Postmaster. He held the job until his death in 1928. Others who served as postmasters until it was closed by the Post Office Department included: James Rambo, Claude Pelham and Beulah Pelham.
In 1900, Henry Hobbs married Coma Gladden, sold his share of the store to his father and moved a few miles south to a farm where he spent his remaining days. His daughter, Audey, and husband live on this farm today.
Longrun began to prosper and "Tom" Hobbs became a very busy man as he operated a grist mill, blacksmith shop and a cotton gin in addition to his duties as postmaster and merchant. A cemetery became a part of the community and several descendants of "Tom" are buried there. A schoolhouse was built that also served for church services on the weekend.
About the year of 1935, Riley Silvey and B.H. Hobbs each constructed new buildings and sold dry goods. This made three stores in the village of Longrun. Later Roy Sowards opened an automobile repair shop and remained in business for several years. Court records also show that an elderly man from Longrun was arrested for making moonshine. Longrun began to decline after WWII until today the only buildings being used are two church houses. The stores have all closed, the Post Office was discontinued and school was consolidated with other districts.
Others who were merchants at Longrun include: Aude Wallace, T. B., J. Z. and Etzel Hobbs, Lester Denny, Eldon Burkholder, Clarence Sallee, James Bryan, Ted Graham, and W. Howard Honeycutt was the last merchant.
Longrun was the birthplace of two men who became successful musicians on the violin or fiddle. One was Etzel Willhoit, born in 1901 in a log house near Longrun, a son of John and Austa Jane Wallace Willhoit. The family moved to Arp, Missouri a few years after the birth of Etzel when the father and a Mr. Harley purchased a dry goods store. Arp was located approximately 9 miles north of Gainesville on Barren Fork creek. The name was changed to Willhoit when a post office was established. The town has now disappeared.
Etzel received his first violin shortly after the family moved to Arp. It had been painted and the neck had been broken and glued back in a crooked manner. Etzel soon mastered the instrument and would later play for community dances.
Etzel graduated from the 8th grade at Barren Fork school and taught at Barefoot School in Ozark County and New Hope in Arkansas before he moved to Hominy, Oklahoma where he taught for 5 years. While there he studied to get his high school diploma and a certificate from college at Edmond, Oklahoma in 1922.
While at Hominy, he was encouraged to attend Juilliard School of Music in New York. While at Juilliard, he washed dishes and worked at other odd jobs to survive. This determination, with talent, led to a Masters and Doctors degree from Columbia University. He later went to Austria to study conducting and music in France. From 1929 to 1944, he taught music at Teanack, N.J. high school and conducted the Bronx House Symphony. From 1944 to his retirement in 1971, he was professor of music at Central Connecticut State College at New Britain, Connecticut and was conductor
of New Britain Symphony. He married Sally Pringle of New York and they now live in retirement in California.
He returns to his birth state occasionally where he attends the Jones, Willhoit and Wallace Reunion held each June at Theodosia. There Etzel entertains his cousins with Symphony music on his violin and it then becomes a fiddle when he plays some hoedown music.
The other was Lonnie Robertson, born at Longrun January 8, 1908, a son of Jarrett and Martha Silvey Robertson. He learned to play music by ear at an early age and although he could play other instruments, the fiddle became his favorite instrument.
He married Thelma Jones of Lutie, Missouri. After living on a farm near Lutie for a few years, they moved to St. Joseph, Missouri. There he began playing on a part time basis professionally at a radio station, playing the fiddle for an hour each Sunday afternoon. This led to a full time job as an entertainer at a station in Yanktown, S.D. where he teamed up with Roy McGeorge. They worked as Lonnie and Roy for several years on various stations. Lonnie also created the character of Etherham Hobbs, a fiddle playing bachelor.
After Lonnie and Roy went their separate ways, Lonnie and Thelma became a team known as "Down Home Folks" and they continued to appear together until they retired. They were members of the staff at KWTO for many years. Lonnie died in 1971 of diabetes.
During his career he won many fiddling contests and recorded on the Caney Mountain label.
After living in a community and working for its people, both as a merchant and as a Postmaster for 37 years, there are many interesting incidents and experiences portrayed by these good people.
One particular event happened in the early 40s that has always been a blessing to me. Id like to share it with others.
At this time I was new to both jobs mentioned. Ive always loved being with people and I usually figured out all of their worries, cares and ills. A dear, sweet lady came in the Post Office/Store carrying two fat hens. She had walked approximately a couple of miles. Her name was Mrs. Ethel Blair, a nice, respectable lady of our community. She was a staunch supporter of the little General Baptist Church. She told me that she needed cash for the hens as she needed to buy a money order. I weighed her hens, took them to the back and paid her the cash for them. She remarked that she tired from the long walk. Those hens were heavy she needed to rest a bit, so we visited for a few minutes.
Then she said, "Well, Linnie, write me a money order. Our Sunday School funds are real low and I needed to sell those hens to pay for our Sunday School material." I was shocked! I answered, "Oh, Mrs. Blair, Im so sorry you had to sell those nice hens." She replied, "Well, we will have literature for another quarter anyway." That was an ingredient of Faith and that was Faith at work!
Mrs. Blairs daughter, Mrs. Mabel Schofield, lives in this community and is a member of this church mentioned. We often speak of her mothers determination that this congregation always have Sunday School. Who would do that today!
Im so proud of our heritage. My great grandmother, Hettie Kissee, was the first white child born in Forsyth, Mo. in 1821.
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