By Kelly Warman-Stallings
The Ghost Towns of Central Missouri

The communities of Pleasant Hill and Madden are steeped in history. Both were located in south Miller County, Richwoods Township, about 3 miles apart and are still known by their community names today. Neither was considered an actual village or settlement because the nearest businesses were found in Iberia, a few miles northeast. However, both had churches and schools in the vicinity. The Madden Church and School were founded in the late 1800s and located on the north side of the Big Tavern Creek, overlooking the valley below. In 1888, John Martin was the school teacher for Madden. By 1930/31, when the county had a large number of schools, Madden was listed as District #83. The teacher during those years was Layard Cross; the clerk was W.T. Ferguson. In 1895-96, a post office called Carroll was in existence. Since the Carroll family resided in the Madden area, it is possible this post office was housed in a private home somewhere in the Madden Community.

The original Pleasant Hill Church was organized in the 1870s. It was built of logs and sat about 1 1/2 miles southeast of the present location. It is said that at least three graves were located near the old church. The first church was also referred to as "Peakey Church" because young, mischievous boys would crawl under the puncheon log floors during church services and try to "peak" between the logs…they probably go an eye-full of the ladies umbrellas, too!

In the 1880s, the second Pleasant Hill Church was built, a frame building. It was erected at the present site, 1 mile east of State Highway EE on County Road EE-10. The folks in the community called them Pleasant Hill Church No. 1 and No. 2…some of the old-timers continued to call them Peakey Church No. 1 and No. 2. I do not know why the church split into two separate congregations, but the one-room frame church continued long into the 20th century while the log structure eventually faded away in obscurity.

Today's church is made of cement blocks and sits on the same site as the frame church (which still existed until the 1950s.) The cemetery is located nearby and the oldest grave is a Civil War soldier, William Long, buried in the late 1880s. Prior to the beginning of Pleasant Hill Cemetery, many ancestors were buried at the old Rankin Wright/Spearman Cemetery, situated a short distance northeast of the community.

Since the Pleasant Hill community did not have a school in the 1880s, I am presuming the children attended the nearby Madden School while others may have attended Curry School to the southwest. In 1930/31, there was a school district named Pleasant Hill, but it was located in Saline Township near Eldon. It was not associated with the Pleasant Hill community of Richwoods township.

A well-known lady around both the Madden and Pleasant Hill communities during the last century was a midwife named Mrs. Griffin (Louisa Wright Griffin). Since doctors were few, her services for assisting in childbirth were commonly called upon quite often.

An interesting legend about this community is the resident ghost who roamed about the church and the surrounding countryside of Pleasant Hill. In the mid 1880s, a fight broke out between C.R. Adams and the Whittle brothers which resulted in the death of John Whittle. In the book, GOODSPEED'S HISTORY OF MILLER (and other Missouri Counties) 1889, a paragraph is devoted to the incident where Whittle was killed. In part, the following was written…"The State of MO vs C.R. Adams, in 1886, was another Iberia killing affray in which John Whittle was killed and another wounded. The Whittle and Adams families had been rather feudal for years..on one occasion, the boys were at Pleasant Hill Church and Chas. Adams was accused by John Whittle of ridiculing a certain girl…Adams denied it & finally Robert Whittle made a rush at Adams. He fired and shot both Whittle brothers…Robert was wounded; John was killed." It is legend that the restless spirit of John Whittle, only wanting to avenge his wrongful death, can be seen on a clear night, dressed in white, roaming the quiet hill sides of Pleasant Hill.

Regional Ancestral Names (For Madden): Anderson, Boren, Carroll, Cross, Ferguson, Hodgden, Hyle, Knatzer, Long, Lively, Lowery, Madden, Shelton, Smith, Teaverbaugh.

Regional Ancestral Names (For Pleasant Hill): Abbott, Alexander, Allen, Andrews, Boren, Brown, Desuza, Drace, Duncan, Eaken, Greenwood, Hatton, Johnson, Keeth, Lankford, Law, Lawson, Long, Madden, Manes, Meredith, Moneymaker, Neal, Parkhurst, Pemberton, Reggan, Rowden, Shart, Shelton, Sloan, Stites, Stone, Strutton, Sturdavant, Tabor, Teaverbaugh, Thomas,Thompson, Vaughan, Wall, Wallace, Whittle, Woolery, Wright, Wyrick

Miller County Museum and Historical Society
P.O. Box 57
Tuscumbia, MO 65082
© 2007 - Miller County Historical Society

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