Volume 9 , Number 3 , Spring 1986
The McCullough Community and Williams Township Stone County, Missouri
The White River flowing west to east completely divides Stone County, Missouri into northern and southern areas; and with Kings River and Indian Greek flowing north from Arkansas, the southern region was isolated so that the area of Williams Township is more closely allied topographically to Carroll County, Arkansas. Not only was there high water in the spring when the creeks and rivers overflowed, but the area is in the White River Hills of the Ozarks (Taney, Barry and Stone Counties)another isolating barrier.
In the late 1700s, the Ozarks had been home to the Osage Indians, but they had been moved westward as the United States acquired property rights by treaties. By 1820, the Delawares had been moved from east of the Mississippi River into the lands of the Osage, and with the advancing frontier came Indian traders and settlers.
Although many settlers came into the area from established communities along the White and Kings Rivers in Carroll, Madison and Newton Counties in Arkansas, the first white man to come into Stone County was Joseph Philabert, who in September 1822, as an employee of Menard and Valle of Ste. Genevieve, came to trade with the Delawares. For many years, he made several trips yearly overland to Ste. Genevieve. Meanwhile, another enterprising trader, Soloman Yoachuin founded a setfiement on the "James Fork of the White River on road from St. Louis, Missouri to main White River Arkansas Territory," as noted in the U.S. Government survey of June 26, 1838, which locates it near where Finley Creek flows into the James. It is listed as "Yocums Distillery, Mill and School House"certainly the first school in the area.
On September 22, 1833, Joseph Philabert married Peninah Yoachum, daughter of Soloman; and, by 1850, they were the parents of six children who intermarried with many of the families who had migrated into the south Stone County region in the decade 1840-1850. Some of these family names are recognizable even today: Edwards, Taylor, Leonard, Williams, Plumlee, Bilyeu, Moore, Garrison, Clinkenbeard, Carr, Baker, Dye, and several others. Population growth increased to such an extent that in 1851 Stone County was formed from Taney; and the decade saw continued growth and development. In 1860, there were 422 families in the county. Some idea of the mobility of the early Missouri settlers may be found through a study of the Bilyeu family. Thomas Bilhiou (Bilyeu) in late iSOOs had moved from Artois in France to Holland because of religious persecution of the Huguenots. His son Pierre with his wife Francoise DuBois and children, together with other Walloons left Holland in 1661 for New Amsterdam where they arrived in August. Their children moved into New Jersey and Pennsylvania by the mid 1730s. Three of the subsequent descendants, brothers John (born 1775 in Maryland); Isaac (born 1780 in Virginia or an area of Pennsylvania at that time a part of Virginia); and William (born 1795 in Kentucky) are in Overton Co. Tennessee by 1810 where they served briefly in the War of 1812. In the mid 1820s, they removed to Sangamon County, lllinois with brief stops in Indiana and Kentucky. Related families who moved with them were Harp, Clinkenbeard and Workman. In 1838, Isaacs son John Witten is the first postmaster of Kingston, Arkansas; but, in 1840, the Bilyeus are in Miller County, Missouri where in 1853 John dies leaving a will. In the will, he lists the residence of his fifteen children as: one in Tennessee; three in Indiana; seven in Missouri; two in lllinois; one in Oregon Territory, and one unknown (in Nebraska). In 1850, Isaac and his family are in the McCullough Community of then Taney County, Missouri, but most had moved to Christian County by 1860. The family of William Bilyeu, and other relatives left Missouri by the Oregon Trail in a wagon in early spring 1852. They arrived in Oregon on September 16, 1852. This was a trip of great hardship and many died enroute.
Despite its isolation, early settlers liked the area of Williams Township. The river and creek valleys were salubrious and fertile; there were ample supplies of game and fish, potable water in abundance, timber for housing and fencing, nuts and acorns for food for man and beast. They were fiercely independent individuals who had known hardship and suffering; and, they were willing to work hard to achieve for themselves, material comfort, liberties and advantages which had been denied to their ancestors. The decade of 1860-1870 was to test their hardiness many times over. Most of the residents of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri were dedicated to the Union causea union which had given them much. They paid dearly for their devotion to this cause during the decade and many for the remainder of their lives.
There must be a focal point in each community. When Stone County was established, there were three post offices: Cape Fair ("lately in Taney Co."), Crane Creek ("lately in Barry County"), and Galena, the court house. No village developed in Williams Township, south of the White River, and there was no post office until 1874, when Viola, located on the Barry County line, was established. Post offices often were an adjunct to a general store and served the needs of the
community as the population increased. Residents traded their produce for sugar, flour, medicines, and dry goods; and, on the same trip, could pick up their mail, buy money orders, etc. There were no grist mills. Most families used the old Williams Mill on Indian Greek near Woods Spring, which had been built by Jacob Bilyeu about 1850. Later, a steam or gasoline-powered mill was operated in Barry County at Viola. There is some evidence that a mill of some sort was in the general area of Baxter.
Baxter post office was established in 1887 with George W. McCullough as its first post master, about one-fourth mile west of the McCullough Cemetery, and was in his residence (this house now occupied by a Mr. Rose, may be the oldest in the community). Later, the post office was moved to the present day Baxter, north of the Indian Greek arm of Table Rock Lake.
Carr, Andoe, and Earl (located in Sec. 33, T21N, R24W, on the Matt Swofford farm, blown away by a tornado about April 1919*, in which Mrs. John S. Barnes was killed) served briefly as post offices. Nauvoo, Baxter and Viola were more permanent ones. Since mid-1930s, Berryville, Arkansas has been the postoffice and address.
Early residents were desirous that their children have educational opportunities, and schools (although some might have been subscription schools) were provided as soon as possible after the Civil strife of 1860-1865 had ended. The Old Bilyeu School, located where George W. Bilyeu lived near Nauvoo, was one of the early schools. Its exact date has not been determined, but a listingfrom an early photographof the students is available. The year must have been about 1895-1897. Mr. Finney of Galena, Missouri was the teacher. Students were: Charles Davis, Martin McCullough, George Pinkley, Ben Rogers (brother to Ed), William T. McCullough, Billy Clinkenbeard, Rena Rogers, Jessie Goodwin, Nancy Downs, Stella Britton, Allen McCullough, Walter Pinkley, Elmer Lander, Ves Garrison, Luther Pinkley, John McCullough, Cleve Davis, Pearly Terry, daughter of Joe, Annie ________ Laura Garrison, Lola Lander, Annie Garrison, Warren Goodwin, Ethel Langwell, Lizzie Yocum, Mamie Langwell, a Terry, Lizzie _______, Maudie Aday, Myrtle and Della McCullough, Cora Britton, Jimmie Downs, a Yoachum, Pleas Moore, Allen, Frank, and Jessie Garrison, and Johnnie Rhodes, several unidentified, for a total of more than 50 students for this one room school. It must have been here that Johnathan B. Donaldson taught in 1875. This school was replaced by the McCullough School, Dist. No. 61, built c. 1900 on the south side of Indian Creek, and reached by a swinging bridge. This school house was the site of the polls for Williams township. By 1885-1890, the school districts for Stone County were well established, with three or four schools to each six-mile square township. Others in Williams township were Hendrickson, Dist. No. 58; Nauvoo, which had first been known as Botner, later as New Hope. Dist. No. ____; Viola, Dist. No. 57*, on the Barry County Line; Carr Lane, Dist. No. ____ Jones, Dist. No. ____; and north of the White River were Fields, Dist. No. ____, and Owens, Dist. No. 2. The Carr Lane school house is still standing, and used for community activities.
The 1850 census lists specific families and where they resided at the time of enumeration. Mitchell and A. Garrison and their families are in Flat Township of Taney County, MO. These two men, doubtless brothers for they live two houses apart, were born in Virginia. Mitchell and his wife, Sarah Jane (Bland) Garrison, were in Indiana 1830-1836; in Knox County, lllinois, 1836-1840, and by 1842 are in Missouri. In 1860, this family is settled along Indian Creek south of McCullough Cemetery. William Turner McCullough has stated that the first person buried at McCullough Cemetery was a Garrison child; and that the grave (six feet deep) was dug by Abner Garrison (youngest son of Mitchell and Sarah Jane) and George W. McCullough (born 1860). In this case, the cemetery was established after 1867-1870. Other accounts put the date back to as early as the Civil War, but agree the first burial was of a Garrison, and that subsequent burials were Garrisons and Moores (who intermarried with Philaberts, Yoachums, Clinicenbeard, and Davis, also Standlee and Allen) doubtless in unmarked graves since the earliest date on a marker is that of Martha
J. Garrison who was born Feb. 28, 1867, and died January 15, 1872. By 1889, there were about 35 graves in the Cemetery.
A few other cemeteries did exist in Williams Township, but they were small family burial plots and not widely used by other residents. Among those remembered are: On the Coker place (sec. 28) now owned by descendants of William T. McCullough, was one unknown grave (this land had belonged to Bohannans); at Hendrickson school (sec. 28) there is a small graveyard where Melita Saunders Clinkenbeard, an infant child of S. D. and Willie Taylor Owens, and a few others were buried. Unfortunately, the school house has fallen down and the cemetery is no longer tended. There are two or three graves on the John and Eunice (Rider) Hobbs property just north of Hendrickson; and, recently, a Mr. Brown who owned the land was buried there. At the Thompson place farther north in the White River bend, there were seven graves, two of them of children. According to Catherine Roberts Morris (who grew up nearby), these included the father and mother of John S. and Gaines Barnes; a Mr. Jackson who was drowned and whose widow Louisa S. married April 10, 1887 Theodore
Henry Komans. The others have not been identified. On the land owned by Claude Prentice were graves of a colored man, and some Bilyeus, descendants of Jacob. These cemeteries were covered by the waters of Table Rock Lake, when the dam was constructed in the mid 1950s.
The McCullough famiy for who the church, school and community were named, were relatively late arrivals. The family descends from McColloughs from Pennsylvania who were early settlers in Jefferson County, Ohio (1798-1800), in an area which later became Harrison County. They were associated with the formation of a Presbyterian Church known as Crabapple. William C. McCulloughs parents, William McCullough and Sarah McCullough in about 1830 moved from Harrison County, to Tuscarawas Co. near Gilmore, and settled on a high ridge where they grew sheep. In William McCulloughs home a small Presbyterian congregation met during the mid 1840s. About 1850, William C. McCullough and his wife Jane removed to Perry County, Illinois where they bought school land near present-day DuQuoin. By 1860, William C. and his second wife Mary H. Tyner had removed to Dallas County, Mo., where they spent the period of the Civil War, and c. 1867 removed to Indian Creek, where they purchased the land where the Church and Cemetery are now located. Son George Washington and Nancy Ann (Hale) McCullough acquired the property, and about 1905-06 deeded the land for the first portion of the cemetery and building to a Board of Trustees. However, no record of this deed has been found, and in 1925 David Martin and Nettie Kimberling McCullough made another deed now on record. Land was later given by Lonnie and Maggie (Lander) Hendrickson for the addition on the western edge.
Just as a community must have a commercial center, it must have a cultural and religious center. Early church services and singing schools were held in homes, school buildings, and in brush arbors during the summer. McCullough Community and Williams Township had no place of worship for organized religious bodies, but several ministers did reside within the area as attested to by the Stone County Marriage records. Among these ministers were: R. L. Bedingfield (1881); Edward Chappel (1886); James Arnold (1892); Joseph Taylor, (1873); T. S. Barnett (1879); James C. Owens (1896); F. M. Cron (1884); James Jacob Rider, (1886); Absalom CoDins (1871); J. Stanley (1889); James T. Gwaltney (1879); A. J. Bowman (1854); J. H. Holt (1895); L. A. Brigman (1890); David Standlee (1890); Isaac Standlee (1885, The Standlees were Baptists who lived in Arkansas, and in Lawrence County attended the Baptist Convention). As early as 1848, Thomas Chrissope (Cresap) a Baptist Minister from Carroll County, Tennessee, had resided near Polo, Carroll County, Arkansas where he performed many marriages. During the Civil War, he became known as "Tom Crickup", a renegade Southern sympathizer whose exploits are mentioned in accounts of Vance Randolph and other folklorists. M. E. "Matt" Swofford, whose wife was Dotia Garrison, was a recent minister who resided in the community. Of the earlier ministers, one of the best loved was James Harvey Reser, who not only taught in the old Bilyeu School, and others, but was the long-time Superintendent of Schools for Stone County. Not all these ministers resided on the south side of the White River, some were from the northern side, but known to all.
With the national movement to recognize and decorate graves of veterans of the Civil War, and other loved ones, and the organization of the, Union Veterans into the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the impetus was provided for the residents of McCullough Community to meet at a common site for a common purpose. Decoration Day on May 30 became the most celebrated of the holidays, with a program, decoration of graves by Veterans who placed flags at each one, dinner on the ground, and a business meeting in the afternoon. The Denver Post of the CAR, No. 552, was shortlived but the role it played in the constructing of the McCullough Church is beyond question. Mr. Albert Hulse in 1900 had counted about 400 individuals who had attended the Decoration Day service that year. This was a tremendous number even by 1981 standards! Continued large attendance for the next few years made it obvious to community leaders that the favorable location of the cemetery made a church building essential. It was begun in 1906. Shortly after the first framing was placed on the foundation, it was blown off by a tornado, and was replaced. The white frame building familar to so many of us was finished about 1907 and served well until about 1942 when the present stone structure was built. Funds for the stone building were donated by residents, with the design and construction by James Monroe Gofourth, assisted by volunteers of the community, including John Sanvern "Bud" Meadows, who lived just east of the Church, and who kept the implements, flags, and other properties of the building and cemetery. A stone in the gable bears his initials and the date.
Throughout the years, the building has been available to religious groups who wish to use it; it has served for Sunday School Services since its first construction, for singing schools, for Christmas and special programs, and for funerals. Although the church house was built as a Protestant Church, it is, has been, and is to be, non-denominationala "union church" has always been its designation. It is near and dear to the hearts of residents and former residents who recall it with deep affection and emotion. Rural electrification, telephones, improved roads, and the
automobile have contributed to the changes in the McCullough Community, but nothing has so changed the area as did the construction of Table Rock Lake. Joseph Philabert and Soloman Yoachuin would no
longer be at home in the White River area of Table Rock Lake, nor in the McCullough Community, home to many of their descendants.
CopyrightÓ White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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