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Joe Pryor - News Tribune Article Monday, June 04, 2007


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Progress Notes

On Wednesday of this past week I had the opportunity to give a presentation to the Eldon Kiwanis Club about the museum and our new building addition as well as a smorgasbord of items pertaining to Miller County history accompanied by many old photos I have on file. The meeting was held at Buzzer McGee's restaurant on Maple street, part of which is located in the old Buehler pharmacy building. I was very interested in the collection of old photographs hanging on the wall in the room where we met which features views of Maple street at different times over the last seventy years or longer. The most interesting thing to me about the photographs is that almost each one had a view of the old building on the southeast corner of First and Maple where my Uncle Arthur Bear had a grocery store for twenty years or so from the mid 1940's until 1965 when he retired. The names on the front of building were different before and after he rented it but the scenes of the time span over which he was there brought back many memories to me. As a young boy I visited him and his wife, my Aunt Lena (Brown) Bear, and their children Bill and Sandra often. Before the meeting I enjoyed talking with Dr. Jerry King, optometrist, about his home town of California where I remember my grandfather, Madison Bear, once in a while would visit in order to attend the Latham Clinic whenever he felt he was "seriously ill". I also remembered the old saddle shop there where once I and my father bought a fancy saddle to outfit a horse we were really proud of at the time. Dwight Stroad also had some interesting stories about his childhood, especially the fact he was born in a log house and attended one of the one room schools so prevalent in the county years ago. The only difference regarding his school house was that it was made of brick; most were frame, log or concrete structures in those long ago years.

Later that day I visited my mother's first cousin, Reba Graham, to copy some information she had about her great grandfather, Charles Sooter, who was a very well known minister in Miller County during the first part of the last century. Reverend Sooter started about ten churches in the county and probably gave more funeral sermons than anyone else in Miller County history (see photo). I knew Reba's mother, Ellie (Abbett) Sooter, very well as she was my great aunt being a sister to my grandmother, Sadie (Abbett) Bear. Ellie was always very happy and she knew the words to a lot of old fiddle tunes. I used to enjoy picking a bit on the mandolin, and whenever I was picking an old fiddle tune she could sing the words to the song.

 Charles Sooter and Harriet (Pinkney) Sooter
Charles Sooter and Harriet (Pinkney) Sooter

Which reminds me of the dancing done to fiddle tunes sometimes known as clogg dancing, or as I remember how it was called growing up, jig dancing. There is a difference between the two and you can look it up, but it gets real technical. What I remember was in square dancing occasionally you would see one of the dancers breaking off to do a little dance which was called a jig dance. My neighbor when I was a young boy was Tolliver Lawson who was very good at jig dancing. He was a member of the Lake of the Ozarks Square Dance team which had some fame during the early fifties.(see photo). The type of dancing they did was called "hoe down" square dancing and was very popular up until the 1950's. It was characterized especially by the "inspirational tapping of the dancers' feet on the hardwood floors" as Buford Foster, the founder of the Lake of the Ozarks Square Dance Team, described it. But now clogg dancing is popular and one of the best groups around to do it is the Ozark Mountain Cloggers whom I had the opportunity to watch perform this week at the Eldon Follies (see photo).

 Lake of Ozarks Square Dance Team
Lake of Ozarks Square Dance Team
 Ozark Mountain Cloggers
Ozark Mountain Cloggers

Which brings to mind the question: Do you know what is the name of the official folk dance and the official musical instrument of the State of Missouri? It is the square dance and the fiddle (see the website http://www.rexrector.org/kids.html.)

Construction on the new addition to the museum continues unabated. We are now framing out the walls of the first and second floors. I took a photo of the main floor which shows one of the framed areas which will display the field rock wall of the old building as part of the wall of the new addition (see photo). The photo is somewhat blurred because of lighting inadequacy but maybe you get the picture.

Don't forget to look at the "What's New" page frequently. You can click on it easily by going to "What's New" under the "About Us" heading at the top left of the home page on our website. I was very interested to read the just down loaded article about Arthur Edwards taken from an old Autogram article from the year 1919. Did anyone else know that at one time, Mr. Roebuck of Sears and Roebuck owned a farm in the Saline Creek valley? I sure never did. Arthur had been contracted by Mr. Roebuck to work the timber on the farm. At the time Arthur was a well known figure in Tuscumbia having skills in making railroad ties and floating them down the Osage to be sold at Osage City or other ports along the way. He also had a license to run a steamboat on the Osage River.

Arthur, in later life, probably in his eighties, lived on a farm in the valley below my house on the hill on highway 52 just a short distance north of where our museum in Tuscumbia is located. As the article says, Arthur was known as one of the toughest and strongest men on the river. He could handle ties (railroad ties) better than anyone by brute strength; it is said he floated more ties down the river than anyone else around. My Uncle David Bear, who is ninety years old, told me that Arthur was born and raised on Coon Creek, not far from the Bear family farm south of the Osage River. As a youngster he worked some for my great grandfather, David C. Bear. Uncle David Bear told me that Arthur was always polite and would address my great grandfather as "Uncle Dave"; it was common courtesy back then for young folk to address their elders with deferential names. However, Arthur's mother died, and his father, who was a civil war veteran who had been a prisoner at Andersonville, remarried a woman Arthur found difficult to like, so he left home early to work and live with various other people including the Bear family. Uncle David said that Arthur worked hard and always took the toughest jobs; he remembers well Arthur stacking ties on the river bank in front of the Bear General Store in Tuscumbia many years ago.

 Arthur Edwards
Arthur Edwards

When I was living above the Arthur Edwards farm in Tuscumbia, I was a bit scared of him because whenever I went down the hill through the woods on my way to visit my childhood friends Richard and Clifford Hill, who were neighbors across the country road from Arthur, Arthur would yell up the hill at me, because he couldn't see who I was, thinking I was a trespasser. I knew his reputation as being a very tough guy so I would stop dead in my tracks and wait a long time until I was sure he had gone back in the house before I sneaked on down the hill to the road.

Today I went over to see James Edwards, Arthur's grandson, to scan a picture he had of Arthur (see photo) taken in 1955 when Arthur lived below me in the valley. You can see by his general demeanor that he probably was a very strong willed man. Also notice he was havesting corn the old fashioned way making up corn shocks to dry in the field. James (see photo) and I went to school together; he was in my sister's class three years behind me. His daughter married the son of Barbara Davis, who until recently was actively involved with the direction of our Miller County Museum. James showed me a genealogy which traces the Edwards family back to seventeenth century Wales in England.

 James Edwards
James Edwards

This past week we have had many visitors to our museum. For example, three nice ladies from The Ozark Brush and Palette Club visited (see photo) to take some pictures and get some ideas of what they might like to paint on site on the porch of the museum during their presentation at our upcoming ice cream social Saturday, June 16. Their names are: Sandra Campbell, Phyllis Butler, and Jackie Bray. Another guest was Richard Williams and his son Bradford who were very interested in the John Williams loom on display in the museum (see photo). I didn't get a chance to speak personally with Richard to inquire as to his lineage to the maker of the loom, John Williams.

 Sandra Campbell,Phyliss Butler,Jackie Bray
Sandra Campbell,Phyliss Butler,Jackie Bray
 
 Richard and Bradford Wiliams
Richard and Bradford Wiliams

A very special exhibit will be presented the day of the ice cream social next Saturday, June 16. Brice Kallenbach (we used to call him Denzel when I went to school with him years ago) is going to bring the old wagon his grandfather, John Kallenbach, made by hand many years ago. Brice told me that John, who was a blacksmith as well as wagon maker, used to take the wagon with a team of horses to Olean to the roller mill there to deliver grain for grinding as well as other produce to sell. Brice said that John would first go to all the neighbors to transport their goods as well as his, and on the way back home, would drop off supplies that the neighbors had requested he buy for them while in Olean. Brice has spent a lot of time rehabilitating the wagon and now it can be seen next Saturday on the museum grounds. According to what my grandfather Madison Bear told me, John (who was a German immigrant), enjoyed sitting on the porch of Thompson's garage in Tuscumbia and speak his native German language with my great grandfather, David C. Bear, who also was of German origin and spoke German (although his ancestors came here many years before John arrived).

 First Floor of New Museum
First Floor of New Museum

Things are moving along rapidly at the Miller County Museum. Come down to see us next Saturday at the Ice Cream Social. And if you can, remember our fund raising drive is ongoing regarding the construction of our new addition to the museum. If you would care to help us out, you can send your donation to the following address:


Miller County Museum Building Fund
P.O. Box 57
Tuscumbia, Mo. 65082




Joe Pryor



President's Message of 06-06-2007
President's Message of 05-28-2007
President's Message of 05-25-2007
President's Message of 05-19-2007
President's Message of 05-16-2007
President's Message of 05-05-2007
President's Message of 04-29-2007
President's Message of 04-22-2007
Here We "GROW"


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