IBERIA

By Peggy Smith Hake

 1904 Atlas Map of Iberia
Of all the county's towns, Iberia is most familiar to me. I know more about the town because I was born there and grew to adulthood there. I have researched more thoroughly the history of Iberia, not because she is more important, but because she is my hometown.

The Osage Indian once roamed in the area, hunting in the fields and prairies and fishing the steams.

In 1840 for the first time, Iberia, as a name, appeared on an official document. A post office was located on Rabbit-head creek, approximately a mile southwest of the present town. It is believed Iberia received its name from the Short family who settled there in the late 1830s and had come from New Iberia, La.

The original town of Iberia, at the present site, was laid out and platted by Henry M. Dickerson in 1859 and filed for record at the courthouse on Oct. 3, 1860. During the Civil War era, the town was called Oakhurst (see following story), and she was called Rocktown for many years due to a rock-throwing incident during the Civil War.

In the census of 1870, the town had a population of 100 persons and was largely Negro (many had been brought into the county in earlier years as slaves of southern pioneers).

In 1880 the face of Iberia had change somewhat. The town had been officially incorporated as a village on Aug. 3, 1875 and by 887, many businesses had been established including: Marquis W. Fancher, merchant; John L. Arnold, lawyer; Thomas D. Garner, merchant; Rev. J.S. Harris, Methodist minister; Rev. W. W. Hicks, Congregational minister; Joseph Hume, wagon maker; Joe Jacob and Thompson, merchants; F.E. Lombar, merchant and postmaster; George Johnson, James. M. Rowden, and J.C. Thompson, blacksmiths; John H. Moore physician and druggist; J.W. Wade, physician; T.D. Garner and Son Roller Mills; E. Hendericks, proprietor of the Iberia Hotel; John Kellison, saddlery and harness; Miles J. Davidson, merchant; Dr. R.T. Harrison, dentist; Robert A. Harper, jeweler; Henry R. Hoover, boot and saddlemaker; and Sarah J. Hughes, keeper of a boarding house.

Iberia remains the hub of activity in southern Miller County, the county's second largest town.


Oakhurst...Early Name for Iberia

The first time I remember seeing the name Oakhurst was in the Civil War records of my great grandfather, William Harrrison Smith. He stated in his pension records that his address was Oakhurst, Miller County, MO, when he enlisted in 1862. That was certainly confusing to me at the time because I thought he was living in the Iberia area just prior to the Civil War. He had been born in northwestern Pulaski County near the settlement later called Hawkeye.

I had been told that grandfather Harrison and his younger brother, John Wesley, had ventured over to the Big Richwoods looking for jobs as stonemasons. They had heard rumors that their skills may be needed in building stone foundations, reinforcing cellars, and building fireplaces for some new pioneer homesteads that were being constructed near Lenox's Trading Post on Rabbithead Creek.

The old settlement was on the trail called "Old Herald Mill Road" leading to the West Glaize Creek in Camden County. The trading post was in the same area where an old town called Williamsburg had been platted in the early 1840s but never materialized. In a sheriff's sale, the land was sold to two gentlemen from Cole County, MO who in turn sold it to Wilson Lenox in November 1849. Lenox's Trading Post sprang up instead of the town. According to Missouri Post Office records, Iberia was the name given the post office from 1838-1861, although the town did not exist until after 1860. The post office was actually at the site of the trading post about one mile southwest of present-day Iberia.

In 1862, the name of the post office was changed to Oakhurst and remained so until 1871 (according to the post office records). I still did not understand why the name was changed from Iberia to Oakhurst. Quite by accident, the answer fell into my lap! I learned through an old will filed at the Miller County courthouse that a family came to the Big Richwoods from Philadelphia, Penn. about the same time that other Pennsylvanians settled in the area. There was a huge influx of Pennsylvania German families to southern Miller County just prior to the Civil War including the families of Johnston, Moffitt, Brown, Strock, Gilbert, Huntsman, Pitinger, Getgen, Lahr, Moore, Royer, Tallman, Parsons, Bennage, Irland, Noyes, James, Warrell, Irwin, Groff, Ludwig, Anderson, Thomas, Springer, Latchem & Barnhurst. As you can see, some families remained in Richwoods Township while others moved on. (later came more Pennsylvanians.....the Farnhams, Heitzells, Fikes, Hedges, and Newharts).

The will I mentioned before was for a man named Washington Barnhurst who was a minister of the gospel. Washington Barnhurst, his young wife Jennie Clarke Barnhurst, and a child named Nellie Maria, bought some land southwest of Iberia in December 1860 and probably settled somewhere near the trading post. They bought the land from Edward and Sarah Moore, also Pennsylvanians, for the sum of $200. The Barnhursts owned other land in the vicinity, containing about 275 acres which they sold in April 1861 to a man named Joseph B. Thompson of St. Louis, MO.

About 1861 (per Jenkins' History of Miller County), Washington Barnhurst became the postmaster and an innkeeper at Lenox's Trading Post. When the Civil War began, Lenox's was destroyed by troops, probably confederate, since most of the inhabitants around the old trading post were Northerners. In his will, Barnhurst states his homestead was called "Oakhurst" and at his death would go to his wife, Jennie. He wrote his will on Dec. 31, 1861 and was dead by June 20, 1862. I think he was no more than middle-aged at his death, if that old.



News Tribune Article - May 24, 2006



Sanborn Insurance Maps

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Iberia - September 1921

Iberia, Missouri September 1921. Pearl, Main, Church, Lombar Av., St. Louis, Normal,
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Iberia, Missouri September 1921. Pearl, Main, Church, Lombar Av., St. Louis, Normal,





Miller County Museum and Historical Society
P.O. Box 57
Tuscumbia, MO 65082
http://www.MillerCountyMuseum.org
2007 - Miller County Historical Society



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