Progress Notes

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



Monday, May 31, 2010

Progress Notes

One of the early families to settle in Miller County was that of Lewis Lawson who, according to Goodspeed’s history of Miller County, “came to this county at an early date being among the earliest settlers in that section.” The descendents of Lewis eventually settled on rich Osage River farmland just a couple miles west of Tuscumbia. His descendents have contributed in interesting ways to the commerce and social fabric of the Tuscumbia area ever since Lewis arrived. Goodspeed’s book highlights some of the early Miller County history of Lewis Lawson’s family:

Samuel F. Lawson

Samuel F. Lawson, a prominent farmer of Equality Township, Miller County, Mo., was born in 1849, and is the son of Lewis J. and Nancy (Mathews) Lawson. He is one of four children: Mary Allen, wife of James Walker; Rose Ann, wife of John Busler; Benjamin F. Lawson, and Samuel F. Lawson. Lewis J. Lawson was a native of Kentucky and came to this country at an early date being among the earliest settlers in that section. William D. Lawson, brother of our subject, enlisted in Company G, Eighth Missouri State Militia Cavalry, and died of fever December 11, 1863, at Lebanon, Laclede Co., Mo. Benjamin F. Lawson, another brother, enlisted August 12, 1864, in Company B. Forty eight Missouri, and served until the close of the war. Samuel Lawson was also in the late war. He enlisted in the Enrolled Militia in the spring of 1865, and served several months. He was married to Miss Caldonia Meredith in 1874. She was born in Missouri, and is the daughter of James Meredith. To Mr. and Mrs. Lawson were born two children: James Claude, and Maud, who died at the age of four years. Previous to his marriage, Mr. Lawson had dealt quite extensively in stock, and is now the owner of a fine farm with sixty five acres under cultivation. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity. Mrs. Lawson is a member of the Baptist Church. Benjamin F. Lawson was married in 1872 to Miss Ellen Tarbutton, and to this union were born five children, three now living: Lucy, Emma and Lena. Those deceased were named Edward and William. Benjamin F. Lawson is at present engaged in running a restaurant and boarding house in Tuscumbia.

 

I don’t have a photo of Lewis but here is one his wife, Nancy Matthews Lawson (photo 01):

01 Nancy Matthews Lawson 1828-1896
01 Nancy Matthews Lawson 1828-1896

Here is a photo of William D. Lawson who as noted above died during the Civil War (photo 02):

02 William D. Lawson (born abt. 1819)
02 William D. Lawson (born abt. 1819)

Next is a photo of the Benjamin Lawson family (photo 03):

03 Benjamin F. Lawson and Arena Ellen Tarbutton - Children: Emma, Lena and Lucy
03 Benjamin F. Lawson and Arena Ellen Tarbutton
Children: Emma, Lena and Lucy

Here is an interesting photo of Benjamin’s family labeled “five generations” (photo 04):

04 Five Generations: Will Wells, Lucy Lawson Wells, Benjamin Lawson, Nancy Matthews Lawson and Ellen Matthews
04 Five Generations: Will Wells, Lucy Lawson Wells, Benjamin Lawson,
Nancy Matthews Lawson and Ellen Matthews

Next are a couple of photos of Sam Lawson and his wife, Caledonia Meredith Lawson (photos 05 and 06):

05 Samuel and Caldonia Lawson
05 Samuel and Caldonia Lawson

06 Samuel and Caldonia Lawson
06 Samuel and Caldonia Lawson

Peggy Hake told me that the Lawson family in Tuscumbia was a different group than the family of Andrew Lawson who lived in the Iberia area:

 

Joe:
Andrew Lawson was my gr-gr-gr grandfather and was born in Tennessee and came to Miller County in the mid 19th century. His set of Lawsons were no kin to the Tuscumbia Lawsons (no connection I could ever find)......Peggy

 

However, Peggy several years ago did write a short biography of the Tuscumbia Lawson family which gives some more recent information than what was written in Goodspeed’s narrative:

Samuel T. Lawson

Samuel T. Lawson was born in Miller County on 16 Jan 1850, a son of Lewis J. Lawson (b. c/1823 TN) and Nancy Matthews (1829-1896). Nancy was a daughter of William and Ellen Matthews, natives of Tennessee. Lewis and Nancy were early settlers of Miller County moving from Tennessee in the 1840s. In the 1850 census of Miller Co., they were found living in Saline Township near the families of Jones, Ballance, Nolen, Dresser, Burris, Roark, and Bond.

The children of Lewis J. & Nancy Lawson were:

Elizabeth A. Lawson b. c/1846 (died young);
William D. Lawson b. c/1847 (died in the Civil War);
Benjamin F. Lawson 1848-1902 m. (1) Ellen Tarbutton 1872 (2) Annie Tarbutton 1892;
Samuel T. Lawson 1850-1937 m. Caldonia Meredith 1874;
Rose Ann Lawson b. c/1857 m. John F. Buster 1874;
Mary Ellen Lawson b. c/1859 m. James E. Walker
1874.

During the Civil War the Lawsons had 3 sons who served in the Union army. William D. Lawson, the oldest son, enlisted in Company G of the 8th Misouri Militia Cavalry. In 1863 he died of a fever at Lebanon, Laclede County, Missouri.

The second son, Benjamin F. Lawson, served in Company B of the 48th Missouri Militia during 1864-65.

The third son, Samuel T. Lawson, enlisted in the spring of 1865 and served a few months in the Missouri Enrolled Militia.

Samuel T. Lawson, of whom this story is written, was the 4th child of his parents, born in 1850. In 1874, Samuel married Caldonia Meredith (b. 14 Jan 1854) a daughter of James & Elizabeth (McCubbin) Meredith. After Caldonia's father died, her mother married Miles Burris and they continued to live in the Tuscumbia area. Samuel was a successful farmer and stock dealer of Equality Township and owned a fine farm in 1889 with 65 acres under cultivation.

He was a member of the Masonic Order and his wife, Caldonia, was a member of the Baptist church. Samuel and Caldonia had two children, one who died at the age of two years. They were: James Claude Lawson 1881-1961 m. Louise/Louie Clarke; and Maude Lawson 1878-1880.

In September 1936, Caldonia Meredith Lawson died at the age of 82 years and was buried at Tuscumbia cemetery. The next year, in November 1937, Samuel T. Lawson, her husband of 62 years, died and was placed beside Caldonia at Tuscumbia cemetery.

Benjamin F. Lawson, brother to Samuel, owned and operated a restaurant and boarding house in Tuscumbia in 1889. He later became a storekeeper in the town. Benjamin first married Ellen Tarbutton and they had 5 children: Edward, William, Lucy E., Emma A., and Lena. Edward and William died young. After the death of Ellen, Benjamin married Annie M. (Clark) Tarbutton in 1892. She was the widow of Albert E. Tarbutton. Annie was several years younger than Benjamin. She had at least two children by her first husband, Albert Tarbutton, including Gertrude, born 1887, and P. Edward Tarbutton born 1888. Evidently Benjamin and Annie Lawson became parents of a son, Clark born in 1893 and a daughter, Afton born in 1896.

 

Here is a photo of the hotel Benjamin Lawson owned for several years in Tuscumbia (photo 07):

07 Benjamin F. Lawson Hotel in Tuscumbia
07 Benjamin F. Lawson Hotel in Tuscumbia

Lucy, daughter of Benjamin, married Joshua R. Wells. Here is a short sketch of his biography taken from our website:

Joshua/J.R. was a very prominent man in Miller County. He was a stockholder of the Anchor Milling Company and also owned stock in the Bank of Tuscumbia. Back east, he had interests in several oil wells in his native West Virginia. Anchor Milling Company named one of their steamboats, the J.R. WELLS, in his honor and it plied the waters of the Osage for many years. A later boat was named for his daughter, the RUTH.

At the age of 38, on February 25, 1891, J.R. married Lucy Ellen Lawson, a daughter of Benjamin and Anna Lawson of Tuscumbia. Lucy was born in Miller County in January 1873 and was 21 years younger than her husband.

  They became parents of seven children:
  WILLIAM R. WELLS b. 1892
  SUSAN WELLS SPEEDY b. 1893
  RALPH V. WELLS b. 1895
  LUCY WELLS STILLWELL b. 1898
  RUTH WELLS SONE b. 1899
  J. RUSSELL WELLS
  EDITH WELLS.

 

You can read much more about Lucy Lawson Wells and her husband J.R. Wells on our website.

Here is a photo of Lucy and J.R. Wells taken on their large farm five miles north of Tuscumbia on Highway 17 (photo 08a):

a08a Joshua Russel Wells and Lucy Lawson Wells - 1917
a08a Joshua Russel Wells and Lucy Lawson Wells - 1917

J.R. Wells was a popular and well liked man in Tuscumbia. Often, he was addressed by his local nickname, “Jock.” One way he may have known Lucy was through her father, Ben Lawson, who leased some land from J.R. as well as worked for J. R. on the big farm. Ruth Wells Sone, daughter of J.R. and Lucy Wells, wrote the following in her very complete history of the Wells family:

1. In April, 1879 J.R. Wells rented forty-two acres of ground for corn by contract: fourteen acres to David Hawken, sixteen acres to James Simpson and twelve acres to Benjamin F. Lawson.

2. Benjamin F. Lawson, (our Maternal Grandfather) had rented corn ground the year before from Charles V. Wells (father of J.R. Wells), and in 1880 he also rented corn ground from the Wells Brothers.

3. In early 1880 Ben F. Lawson, with his wife Ellen Tarbutton Lawson and two daughters, Lucy and Emma, moved to a log house on the Wells Farm.

4. On December I, 1881 leases for ground to be cleared were given to Benjamin F. Lawson, Albert June, and Jonathan and Simpson Willis.

 

These comments were taken from Mrs. Sone’s history of the Well’s family as quoted in a previous Progress Notes.

In that same Progress Notes, the wedding announcement of Lucy Lawson to J. R. Wells is recorded:

“Mr. "Jock" Wells and Miss Lucy Lawson were married at 10 o'clock yesterday, the 25th, at the residence of the brides Parents. L. E. Melton officiated. Mr. Wells is wealthy and Miss Lucy is handsome.

The Eye Opener extends the hand of congratulations (The Vindicator: Tuscumbia, February 26, 1891).”

 

Samuel Lawson’s life best could be summarized by reading his obituary:

Miller County Autogram
November 18, 1937

Funeral Services Held Saturday for Samuel T. Lawson

Was 87 Years Old at Time of Death; Served in Civil War as Member of Home Guard.

Samuel T. Lawson, one of our community’s oldest citizens, passed peacefully away at 2:45 p.m. Thursday, the 11th, at the home of his grandson, Tolliver Lawson, with whom he and also his son J.C. (Claude) were living on the farm, two miles southwest of town on the river. Mr. Lawson was feeble for a number of years before his death, although he was able to be up and around most of the time. On Thursday he ate his meals as usual, and soon after noon he lay down for a nap. R.C. Sullivan, who has been assisting in caring for him for the past three or four years, observed that he was not breathing, and on examination he found that Mr. Lawson was then dead.

Mr. Lawson was truly one of our pioneer citizens and was well known throughout this section during the active years of his life. He was born near Knobnoster on January 16, 1850, being 87 years, 9 months and 25 days old at the time of death. Early in life he came to Miller County and continued to make this community his home until death.

He was united in marriage April 21, 1874, to Miss Caledonia Meredith, who preceded him in death on September 16, 1836. There is only one child, J.C. (Claude), who has been living on the farm with his father and son for the past year or so.

Mr. and Mrs. Lawson lived on the farm where he died for almost fifty years, or until 1914, when they moved to town. Mr. Lawson retired from active farm life then and rented the place to others.

Mr. Lawson was a member of the Home Guards during the Civil War. He was a member of the Baptist church since a young man.

Funeral services were conducted at the Baptist church in Tuscumbia Saturday afternoon by Reverend D.W. Jones, pastor of the Eldon Baptist church, and burial was in the family lot in the Tuscumbia cemetery beside his wife.


The Lawson farm, passed down through the family after Samuel died, is still owned by descendents of Sam. Here is a 1905 plat map of the Lawson farms (photo 08b):

08b Plat Map T40N R14W - 1905
08b Plat Map T40N R14W - 1905
Click image for larger view

If you look at sections 17, 18, 20 and 21 you will identify Samuel’s land as “S.T. Lawson.”

The 2009 plat map indicates that the original Lawson farm as identified above now includes a great deal more acreage in sections 9, 10 and 16 (photo 09).

09 Plat Map T40N R14W - 2009
09 Plat Map T40N R14W - 2009
Click image for larger view

The land is in the name of Judy Lawson, wife of Bill Lawson (great grandson of Samuel Lawson who sadly passed away a few years ago) and her son Todd Lawson. Phil Lawson, another son of Bill and Judy, also owns acreage where his home is located indicated by the small square in the southeast corner of section 9.

Sam’s only son, Claude, married Louie Clarke, daughter of Charles Clarke (photos 10 and 11).

10 Claude Lawson
10 Claude Lawson

11 Louie Clarke Lawson
11 Louie Clarke Lawson

Louie Clarke Lawson was one of Miller County's real "old timers". She was born in 1880 and lived in the Tuscumbia area much of her life. For many years in the fifties and sixties she wrote the "Real Rural Rustlers" news column for the Autogram-Sentinel newspaper. Louie also was a historian and wrote many historical articles for the paper. One of the most important was her history of Tuscumbia which you can read at this previous edition of Progress Notes.

Another interesting article she wrote was about her grandfather, James Skinner, who is entombed in the Skinner Vault visible next to Highway 52 about six miles north of Tuscumbia.  You can read that story at this previous Progress Notes.

I knew her growing up as a boy in Tuscumbia as well as her husband, Claude Lawson (see photo 10 above), and their son Tolliver Lawson, pictured here when he was a member of the famous Lake of the Ozarks Square Dance team (photo 12).

12 Tolliver Lawson
12 Tolliver Lawson

Tolliver married Helen Fogleman and they had one son named Bill whom I mentioned earlier. They were neighbors living in the house next to mine for several years in Tuscumbia before they moved back to the Lawson home farm on the Osage River. Tolliver was always great with kids. Here is a photo of him and myself goofing around one day on a family picnic (photo 13):

13 Tolliver Lawson and Joe Pryor
13 Tolliver Lawson and Joe Pryor

Here is a photo of his son Bill Lawson taken about the same time frame as the previous photo of myself and Tolliver (photo 14):

14 Bill Lawson
14 Bill Lawson

I remember Claude as being extra skilled at playing and winning pool games at Sweaney's, our local pool hall, tavern, restaurant and general all round meeting place down by the river in Tuscumbia (photo 15).

15 Sweaney's Cafe
15 Sweaney's Cafe

At that time Louie and Claude lived up the river road on the Lawson farm. However, for quite a few years before that they had lived in Kansas City from 1924 to 1937, where their children settled (except for Tolliver) before Louie and Claude returned to Tuscumbia. Besides Tolliver they had four daughters:

Mrs. Wilma Harbison of Tuscumbia,
Mrs. Lillian Miller of Kansas City, Kansas,
Mrs. Maude Teegarden
Mrs. Jo Louise Pfeifer of Kansas City, Missouri.

I have two of the daughters’ photos, Maude and Jo Louise (photos 16 and 17).

16 Louie Lawson and Maude Teagarden
16 Louie Lawson and Maude Teagarden

17 Jo Louise - Daughter of Claude and Louie Lawson
17 Jo Louise - Daughter of Claude and Louie Lawson

Claude and Louie made quite a handsome couple as shown in this early photo of them (photo 18).

18 Claude and Louie Lawson
18 Claude and Louie Lawson

You can read more about Louie and her father, Charles Clarke at this previous Progress Notes as written by Mike Wieneman.

Tolliver was a very well known Tuscumbia and Miller County farmer. Early on before he became a very successful farmer he worked for the Anchor Mill (photo 19).

19 Anchor Mill: Homer Lee Wright (Far Left) - Bamber Wright (Far Right) - Toliver Lawson next to Homer
19 Anchor Mill:
Homer Lee Wright (Far Left) - Bamber Wright (Far Right) - Tolliver Lawson next to Homer

But perhaps he is best known as being one of the originators of the Lake of the Ozarks Square Dance Team which won the Ted Mack Amateur Hour contest back in the early 1950’s. That win brought the square dance team many opportunities to perform for several years thereafter around the country including the Grand ‘Ol Opry. Ozark Opry owner Lee Mace and his wife, Joyce, were also members of the team. Tolliver was a very talented “jig” dancer as were all of the members of the team. Tolliver always got the spotlight when he came dancing down the middle of the group toward the audience because of his exciting style of dancing. You can read more about the Lake of the Ozarks Square Dance team as well as watch an old film of the team dancing on the Ted Mack show in Kansas City at this previous Progress Notes which featured the team’s guitar player, Gene Spencer.

One of Tolliver’s nieces, Kathryn Dougherty was one of the dancers (photo 20).

20 Kathleen Daughtery, daughter of Jo Louise and niece of Tolliver Lawson
20 Kathleen Daughtery, daughter of Jo Louise and niece of Tolliver Lawson

Here are some photos of the dance team some of them from Pat Maupin Pryor (niece of Tolliver). First is this group photo (photo 21):

21 Lake Ozark Square Dance Team
21 Lake Ozark Square Dance Team
Click image for larger view

And here are their names left to right:
Spurgeon Atwill, Tolliver Lawson, Kathleen Daugherty, Lee Mace, Joyce Mace, Carl Williams, Eileen Hopkins Williams, Dillard Stamper, Nellie Abbott, Bill Morris, Jimmie Skiles, Gene Spencer.

Next are a series of photos of the dance team dancing at various venues (photos 22 - 27):

22 Lake Ozarks Square Dance Team
22 Lake Ozarks Square Dance Team
Click image for larger view

23 Lake Ozarks Square Dance Team
23 Lake Ozarks Square Dance Team
Click image for larger view

The fellow in the foreground of the photograph above who is suspended in mid air is the only levitational square dance caller in history. His name is Spurgeon Atwill of Iberia, who was the team's caller all through the time it was together. Many times I have heard the comment that Spurgeon was as great an attraction to fans as were the dancers themselves!

24 Lake Ozarks Square Dance Team
24 Lake Ozarks Square Dance Team
Click image for larger view

26 Lake Ozarks Square Dance Team
26 Lake Ozarks Square Dance Team
Click image for larger view

27 Lake Ozarks Square Dance Team
27 Lake Ozarks Square Dance Team
Click image for larger view

The next two photos are of an advertising brochure highlighting the dance team when they were in Reno, Nevada (photos 28 and 29):

28 Lake Ozark Square Dance Team in Reno
28 Lake Ozark Square Dance Team in Reno
Click image for larger view

29 Lake Ozark Square Dance Team in Reno
28 Lake Ozark Square Dance Team in Reno
Click image for larger view

Here is a copy of an article in the Autogram about one of the team’s appearances in Kansas City. Carol Cunningham (my father’s niece), originally of Camdenton, is mentioned in the article as she occasionally danced with the team (photos 30 and 31).

30 Kansas City appearance of Dance Team
30 Kansas City appearance of Dance Team
Click image for larger view

31 Carol Cunningham
31 Carol Cunningham

I don’t know the exact date of the clipping but it was before Carol married, probably in 1952.

Another very interesting story is that of Jimmy Skiles (photo 32), who was the fiddler for the Lake of the Ozarks Square Dance Team.

32 Jimmy Skiles
32 Jimmy Skiles

You can read that story at this previous Progress Notes.

Tolliver tragically died suddenly of a heart attack in 1965. He was known locally as a true entrepreneur finding success throughout his life in a number of various enterprises. His obituary offers more details:

Obituary: Unknown Publication, July 1, 1965

Tolliver Clarke Lawson, a well-known farmer-businessman in Miller County, died Sunday at the home in Tuscumbia. Mr. Lawson, 57, had held a wide variety of business interests in the county.

In addition to farming, in which he was engaged most of his life, Mr. Lawson had owned and operated a café and grocery, an appliance business, was a partner with Lucian Mace in a garage and Chrysler-Plymouth agency, and one of the first liquefied petroleum dealers in this area.

Mr. Lawson had extensive poultry operations, including all phases of turkey, chicken and egg production. He was a partner in a feed business, raised Polled Hereford cattle, and more recently was engaged in selling insurance.

He was an auxiliary member of the Highway Patrol. Several years ago, Mr. Lawson was a member of the famed Lake of the Ozarks Square Dance team. The team played engagements in St. Louis, Chicago, New York, New Orleans and Reno, Nevada.

Mr. Lawson was a member of the Tuscumbia Christian Church and held membership in many civic and fraternal organizations, including the Masons and Shrine.

He was born Feb. 18, 1907, at Tuscumbia to James Claude and Louie Clarke Lawson.

On Nov. 2, 1933, he married the former Helen Fogelman at Fulton. She survives at the home.

Also surviving are his mother, Louie Clarke Lawson of Tuscumbia; a son, William Claude Lawson, Tuscumbia; four sisters, Mrs. Frank Harbison, Tuscumbia; Mrs. Delbert Miller and Mrs. Al Teegarden, both of Kansas City, Kan., and Mrs. Wesley Pfeifer of Kansas City, and three grandchildren, Phil, Marsha and Todd Lawson.

Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the church with the Rev. A.L. Alexander officiating. Burial was in the Tuscumbia Cemetery, under direction of Phillips Funeral Home of Eldon. Nephews served as pallbearers.

 

The Lawson family was one of the early Miller County families and still maintains a presence today through the children of Tolliver’s son and daughter in law, Bill and Judy Martin Lawson. Since the untimely death of Bill, who died just a few years ago, Judy and her family maintain the original Lawson farm west of Tuscumbia. Tolliver’s niece, Pat Maupin Pryor, daughter of Jo Louise and wife of Jim Pryor, also lives in Tuscumbia. She was an employee at Fasco in Eldon for many years before it recently closed.


This is the time of year when weather is unpredictable and severe storms occur frequently. Tornadoes are always a concern and occasionally one does touch ground sometimes causing significant damage. One of the worst tornadoes in this area occurred at Eldon May 12, 1927. I was informed of this fact by Mike Wieneman, who is a frequent contributor to our website. Mike said that of the four persons killed, one was his mother’s sister, Mrs. Guy Nichols. Mike sent the article saved from the Eldon Advertiser reporting the tornado:

Eldon Advertiser
May 12, 1927

Four Killed and Many Hurt As Tornadoes Swept Across Miller County Sunday Night.

Mrs. Charles Miller loses life while babe she held in arms escapes; body of Daniel Sidebottom, age three, found 150 yards from home; Score or more injured; livestock killed; property loss may mount to more than $100,000.

The northwest part of county was in the path of two cyclones which swept through Miller, Cole and Callaway Counties Sunday night and left death and destruction in their wake.

Miller County toll: The known dead are Mrs. Chas. Miller aged 35; Wes Bailey, aged 42; Danny Sidebottom, aged three; Mrs. Guy Nichols, aged 24. The injured are Mrs. Minnie Rea, seriously; Ad Scott; a daughter of George Hicks; Ralph Shackelford; Richard Garrett; Marvin Sidebottom, seriously; Lawrence Stewart; Mrs. Marvin Sidebottom; M. Shoemaker; Chas. Iuchs; Doris Lorraine Iuchs; Albert Gouge; Lafe Vaughan, Mrs. Lafe Vaughan; Marvin Sidebottom, Jr.

The path of the storm was in an almost northern course, about one mile west of Eldon and a half mile or so west of Olean.

Its intensity seems to have been the greatest about the Julius Cotten farm. Nothing was left there to show there had been a building except a conglomeration of lumber and slabs of concrete. Mr. and Mrs. Richard Garrett, who lived in the Cotten house, literally had the buildings blown from around them. After the storm passed over, they found themselves in the middle of the debris, severely cut and bruised about their face and bodies.

Three horses belonging to Sol Shoemaker were killed.

In the Olean vicinity possible the heaviest loser was Edgar Melton. His house and barn were blown away, as well as their contents.

It was reported that all his livestock was killed except a cow. Mr. and Mrs. Melton and family had taken refuge in the cellar which probably accounts for their escape.

Mrs. Guy Nichols and little son, three years old, were on the road north of Eldon and in the path of the storm when it struck. They were driving a Dodge Sedan which was blown over into a wheat field about three hundred yards from the road and when found, was standing upright with the top blown off. Mrs. Nichols was very seriously injured in the head and one leg badly mangled.

Mrs. Nichols passed away Tuesday evening and was buried Wednesday.

 

Here is a photo of one of the destroyed homes which accompanied the news story (photo 33):

33 Tornado Damage - 1927
33 Tornado Damage - 1927

Another contribution by Mike Wieneman recently was this note regarding the Twentieth Century Fox Korean War movie, “The Glory Brigade,” made at Tuscumbia in the early 1950’s:

 

Joe,

The 57th anniversary of the releasing of the movie “The Glory Brigade” will soon be here on May 20, 2010.

My mother saved a newspaper clipping from the Eldon Advertiser dated August 6, 1953. Here is what it says:

“Miller Countians will have the opportunity to see scenes from their home county on the screen next week when "Glory Brigade," starring Victor Mature, will be shown at the Ozark Theater in Eldon. The picture, filmed along the Osage River and in the Fort Leonard area, is scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The 20th Century-Fox picture was originally announced as "Baptism of Fire" when the film was shot in Miller County last September. The name was changed before release.

Four sites for the movie, which depicts life of combat engineers in Korea, were laid along the Osage River between Bagnell and Tuscumbia. Most of the scenes were on the Homer Lee Wright farm up the river from Tuscumbia.

Fort Leonard Wood soldiers, who appeared in the movie, constructed a pontoon bridge from the Wright farm across the river to the Horton farm, and much of the action takes place around this bridge.

Other shots were taken on the Glen Warren island, and around the Elmer Slone property.”

Joe, some of the scenes were taken on property where my mother was born in 1915 on the Osage River road.

 

Here are the photos Mike sent me of the filming of the movie Glory Brigade, the first two of which accompanied the Autogram newspaper article, and a third published in a Lebanon paper (photos 34, 35 and 36).

34 Victor Mature and Tuscumbia Fans
34 Victor Mature and Tuscumbia Fans
Click image for larger view

35 Bridge built by Army Corps of Engineers
35 Bridge built by Army Corps of Engineers
Click image for larger view

36 Pontoon Bridge - Photo from Lebanon Publishing Co.
36 Pontoon Bridge - Photo from Lebanon Publishing Co.
Click image for larger view

Careful readers will note that the photos give the name of the movie as “Baptism By Fire;” however, as noted above, the name was changed before release to “Glory Brigade.”

Next are a collage of photos related to the filming of the movie (photos 37 - 44):

Just click on any of the photo thumbnails to view a larger image. Before clicking on the thumbnail photo leave the cursor motionless for a few seconds and you will see the caption for each photo.

Note: Once you click on an image below, a new window will open. It would be best to maximize this new window by clicking on the middle box in the upper right-hand corner of the window. When you move your cursor over the image in this new window, the cursor may change to a magnifying glass depending on your screen resolution. If you see the magnifying glass, click on the image and it will show in a larger format for easier viewing.

37 Crossing the river between Wright Horton Farm
38 Glory Brigade Poster
39 Glory Brigade Movie Scene
40 Glory Brigade Poster
41 Victor Mature and Roy Roberts
42 Glory Brigade Poster
43 Four scenes from Movie
44 Glory Brigade Cast List

This next item is an original studio publicity photo from the movie that Mike obtained (photo 45):

45 Rare Victor Mature Studio Publicity Photo
45 Rare Victor Mature Studio Publicity Photo
Click image for larger view

Regarding photo 45 of Victor Mature, Mike reports to me the following:

 

Joe,

I have a large portrait of Victor Mature taken in Tuscumbia in army uniform. It is number 53 out of 290 ever made taken by 20th Century-Fox in 1953. The 8X10 photo was a promotional and is an original, not a copy. Important information is written at the bottom of the photo. I obtained it when I purchased some photos from a movie director years ago.

Mike

 

One of the reasons the movie caused such excitement in the area was that at the time, Victor Mature was a top box office draw (photo 46).

46 Victor Mature
46 Victor Mature

Coincidental to the timing of when Mike sent me the above photos, Bamber Wright, son of Homer Lee Wright, also gave me a couple of photos recently having to do with the movie. Since the north end of the pontoon bridge used in the movie was on Homer’s farm, Bamber had easy access to take some photos. Here is one in which the star, Victor Mature, has his right arm around Betty Wright, sister to Bamber. I haven’t identified the other two ladies in the photo at this time (photo 47):

47 Victor Mature - Betty Wright next to Mature on his Right
47 Victor Mature - Betty Wright next to Mature on his Right

The other photo Bamber gave me was of the pontoon bridge made for the movie. The photo was taken from the south side of the river on the Horton farm. The other end of the bridge was on the Homer Lee Wright farm (photo 48):

48 Glory Brigade Bridge
48 Glory Brigade Bridge

Jim Cardwell of Eldon told me recently that the bridge was constructed by an Army Reserve unit from Jackson, Mississippi which was on its way to Korea. Jim himself was sent the very next year in 1953 to Korea to serve our armed forces in that war.

About three years ago I wrote an article about the filming of the Glory Brigade on the Osage River. You can read it as well as see additional photos at this previous Progress Notes.

However, for convenience, I will copy it here:

“A pontoon bridge across the Osage River near Tuscumbia was constructed in 1952 by Twentieth Century Fox, the Hollywood movie company, for the movie, "The Glory Brigade” released in 1953 starring Victor Mature and Lee Marvin. Interestingly to me, Victor played the role of Lieutenant Sam Pryor (some reviews of the movie spell it Prior, a common variation), who according to the movie, was of Greek descent. However, as an aside to this narrative, I have found through genealogical research of my own Pryor name that all the Pryors in this country came from France as French Huguenots, by way of England, where they lived for hundreds of years to escape the Protestant persecution then occurring in mainland Europe. Maybe the movie was implying that Lieutenant Pryor's mother was Greek.

At any rate, "The Glory Brigade" was filmed in my hometown of Tuscumbia, Missouri as well as nearby Fort Leonard Wood near Waynesville. Originally, it was to be named "Baptism by Fire" but the name was changed before release for reasons I never knew. I was about nine years old at the time and remember how exciting the event was for everyone in our small community of about 200 people situated on the banks of the Osage River in the picturesque Missouri Ozark hills. Victor Mature was loved by everyone because he was so friendly with the local people, some of whom had cameras and who were delighted he would patiently pose and smile with his arm draped around one or another of us for one after another picture taking session between takes. In the next photo (photo 49) Victor is posing with Wanda and Mary Warren and Eula Jenkins.

49 The Glory Brigade: Wanda, Mary Warren, Victor and Eula Jenkins
49 The Glory Brigade: Wanda, Mary Warren, Victor and Eula Jenkins

The Ozarks were chosen as the film site we were told because the terrain resembled that of much of Korea. My uncle Fred Pryor loaned Twentieth Century a Jon boat (local style of boat which was flat bottomed and narrow, designed for the clear, fast, sometimes shallow, spring fed Ozark streams) for use in construction of a pontoon bridge across the river, which was used in an important exciting scene in the movie. Unfortunately, one day while setting up some explosives for the scene in which the bridge was to be bombed, the dynamite accidently was discharged killing one man and causing another to lose his leg. No ambulances were around in those days and the nearest hospital was in Jefferson City, thirty miles away, so the men had little chance for emergency care. All of us were greatly saddened by the event as we had become friends with all the crew. I have seen "The Glory Brigade" several times on late night TV, even recently, and am amazed at how I can be drawn into the story of events supposedly taking place in Korea even though the scenes in the background are familiar to me, easily recognized as the hills around my home. The pontoon bridge built for the movie was photographed by my father, but, unfortunately, he didn't hold the camera motionless enough and it is somewhat blurred (photo 50).

50 Pontoon Bridge for movie Glory Brigade
50 Pontoon Bridge for movie Glory Brigade

This bridge was constructed between the Homer Lee Wright farm on the north side of the river and the Horton farm on the south side. Parts of the battle action were shot opposite the Glen Warren farm on the north side. Wanda Wright, daughter of Glen Warren and one of those pictured above in the photo with Victor, remembers well the battle scenes, the most memorable aspect of which was when the wounded or killed bloody soldiers suddenly sprung up alive at the end of each battle scene. The following website is one of the many reviews of this movie you can find on the internet:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045827/

 

The list below contains the names of all the actors used for the making of this movie:

Actors
Victor Mature Lieutenant Sam Pryor
Alexander Scourby Lieutenant Niklas
Lee Marvin Corporal Bowman
Richard Egan Sergeant Johnson
Nick Dennis (II) Corporal Marakis
Roy Roberts Sergeant Jack Anderson
Alvy Moore Private Stone
Russell Evans Private Taylor
Henry Kulky (II) Sergeant Smitowsky
Gregg Martell Private Ryan
Lamont Johnson Captain Adams
Carleton Young Captain Davis
Frank Gerstle Major Sauer
Stuart Nedd Lieutenant Jorgenson
George Michaelides Private Nemos
John Verros Captain Charos
Alberto Morin (II) Sergeant Lykos
Archer MacDonald Sergeant Kress
Peter Mamakos Colonel Kallicles
Father Patrinakos Chaplain
John Haretakis Greek Soldier
Costas Morfis Greek Soldier
David Gabbai Greek Soldier
Nico Minardos (II) Greek Soldier
George Saris Medic
Jonathan Hale (II) Colonel Peterson


Many friends of Sharon Cogdill, former Miller County Historical Society President, were sad to learn of her death last week. Sharon had been a member of the society for many years and was President until 2007 when her term expired. She gave many hours of her time to museum and Society projects over the last fifteen years after retiring as a long time teacher at School of the Osage. One of her most valuable contributions to the museum was the compilation of a complete inventory and cataloguing of all our donated display items. This required about two years of almost daily work at the museum to complete the project. She was quite involved in our building program of the new addition to the museum. Sharon had many friends not only from the museum but also the several community activities in which she was involved which are mentioned in her obituary published in the Eldon Advertiser May 27:

Sharon Francis Cogdill

Sharon Francis Cogdill, 72, of Lake Ozark died Thursday, May 20, 2010, at Lake Regional Medical Center in Osage Beach. She was born July 1, 1937, in Centerville, Iowa, to the late Virgil Johns and Pearl Murdock.

Mrs. Cogdill lived in Lake Ozark for the past 34 years. She was a first grade teacher for the School of the Osage for many years and attended Lake Ozark Christian Church. She helped found the Waste Watchers Recycling program and was still active in its operations. She was a member of the Miller County Historical Society and was a 25- year member of Niangua Chapter, DAR and Delta Kappa Gamma. She was active in the Mid-Missouri Democrats.

Surviving are a daughter, Victoria Sutton of Bellevue, Washington, and a son, Michael Cogdill of Everett, Wash. Also preceding her in death was her stepfather, Glenn Tipton.

Funeral services were held Tuesday at the Schoene-Ruschmeier Funeral Home in Milan with Eliezer DeLeon officiating. Burial was in Bairdstown Cemetery north of Milan. A celebration of life service will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 3, at the Lake Ozark Christian Church. Memorials may be made to the Waste Watchers Recycling Program.

 

Here are some photos of Sharon taken over the last two years at various museum events. The first is of the groundbreaking ceremony which celebrated the beginning of construction of our new museum addition April 15, 2007 (photo 51).

51 Wanda Wright, Helen Schulte, Betty Kallenbach, Joe Pryor, Judy Pryor, Joe Cochran, Peggy Hake, Donna Carrender and Sharon Cogdill
51 Wanda Wright, Helen Schulte, Betty Kallenbach, Joe Pryor, Judy Pryor,
Joe Cochran, Peggy Hake, Donna Carrender and Sharon Cogdill

Next is a photo of Sharon and myself at the Columbia College Open House April 27, 2007 where we were hosting a display featuring our museum (photo 52).

52 Sharon Cogdill and Joe Pryor
52 Sharon Cogdill and Joe Pryor

The next photo features Sharon with her friend, Wanda Wright, enjoying lunch on the front porch of the museum (photo 53).

53 Wanda Wright and Sharon Cogdill
53 Wanda Wright and Sharon Cogdill

We will miss Sharon and offer our condolences to her family and friends.

That’s all for this week.

Joe Pryor


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