Volume 8, Number 4, Summer 1983
Turners, Missouri, is a small, unincorporated town about three miles east of present-day Springfield, in Greene country, consisting of only a few houses and a combination general store and post office.
The post office at Turners was originally called Turnerville and was run by Daniel W. Turner. During the Civil War the post office was discontinued. The post office was then changed to the name Daisy, Missouri, and mail was brought in by horseback. The railroad came through in 1881 and 1882. Susan W. Turner was postmaster. At this time the name was changed to Turners, under Howard Turner as post-master. The post office was then again discontinued, and all supplies were transferred to Mumford, Missouri.
In 1889 the post office reopened under Olive Gault. There have been many different postmasters since that time, the present ones being Gene and Venda Lee.
The name Turners came from Edy Turner. Edy Wester Turner moved to the area in 1882 when the Gulf Railroad was built. Edy and her husband John came originally from Tennessee.
Despite the size, this town was not dull. Behind the store was a youth center and a small canning factory. In the youth center people of the town would gather to play croquet, sing, dance and socialize. The men all went to the barbershop. On a clear day when the steam engine would stop to refill, the townspeople would ride into Springfield to spend the day.
Children went to school on Pleasant Valley Road (now farm road 199) and stayed until lunch and then some would return home and some would stay to play games. After lunch, school would again commence until the bell rang. The school house was later bought by Bernie Webb and remodeled into a house. The house was moved when the highway was built. The house is still standing on the northwest side of Pleasant Valley Road.
When highway "D" or Sunshine was expanded in 1973, the town began to have problems with flooding. The creek which runs through Turners, a branch off of the James river, flooded the town. Inside the store are pictures of the flood of 74, in which the water rushed into the houses.
"I had to get a new rug, because water came in the doors and window, turned my sofa over even," said Mrs. Olive Gault, a resident of Turners for many years.
"Before the highway we had minor floods, but now theyre much, much worse," said Venda Lee, operator of the store.
After it rains, there is always water standing whether the creek floods or not.
The store is a complete fascination to a stranger. Outside it looks as if taken from a picture in a storybook. Its a small, plain white building with a light pole from which hangs the "weather rock." Below the rock is a sign that reads:
WARM -- SUNNY
WET -- RAINY
MILD SWINGING -- WINDY
VIOLENT SWINGING -- TORNADO
SNOW COVERED -- COLD
JUMPING -- EARTHQUAKE
There are two very old gas pumps, an ice cooler, and a sign telling the name of the community, date of founding and the post office zip code.
Going through a screen-storm door and a wooden door, one is now inside a quaint and cozy general store. A quick look to the left reveals the post office. On the right is an antique cash register, and sitting behind it is Venda Lee (Pursley). She is a pleasant woman with the warmth of the sun in her smile.
Looking around the store one will see wooden shelves stocked with everything the larger stores have. Across the top of the shelves are a number of baseball hats. And along one wall is the freezer containing all the perishable items.
This community is one of the few left in America that hasnt fallen into the hands of modern times. Everyone in this town knows everyone else. The groceries and gas are sold on a tab. Each member of the community has two sales books, one for gas and the other for groceries. They put the amount spent in their own books, and when they have the money, they pay their bills.
Present day Turners has changed a lot with the times, but still keeps its grasp with the past. Many memories can be found in its boundaries. Until recently a log cabin had been standing, but has been taken down and rebuilt in Branson, Missouri, with other cabins collected throughout the Ozarks.
The Malicoat family had originally owned the log cabin and the land that surrounded it. The small two room, two story dwelling was passed down in their family from generation to generation. One of the Malicoats was buried in a field about 2,000 yards from the building. Though the house isnt standing, the small grave can be seen easily from the road. Around the tombstone is an open building built by one of the Malicoat brothers. On top of the stone sits a rusted can containing the remains of what used to be a bunch of wild flowers.
Never has one seen a community of friendlier people than found in this small place. Each face greets strangers with a smile and open arms as if theyve known you for years.
W.A. Turner has a beautiful description of this community in his book, Certain Rich Man:
"On the same road today, where the little Turner boys played Indian scout and all the wagons passed to and from Springfield, making deep ruts in the old Rock Bridge road, today trains and autos pass over graveled roads. Airplanes sing overhead. War clouds almost hang over us, marring all happy memories of the distant past. Some of the posterity of these pioneers taking active part in new enterprises, in the same great little station of Turners, Missouri and as we meet at the new "Youth Center ," our heart swells with pride to know that the true American spirit is deeply rooted in every heart concerned and if our pioneer fathers could speak to us, they would say 'after many days.'"
Currently all member of the town are anxiously awaiting the Centennial of their town in 1989. As much as society changes, the people and ways of this small community will not totally fall to modernization. Turners, Missouri, will always have an air of the early 1900s.
Editors Note: Rhonda Turners essay was the second place winner in our second Historical Essay Contest. She was a student in Betty Nicholsons local history class of Glendale High School at Springfield.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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