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Blue Mound, as in a myriad of other small towns, villages, hamlets, communities or crossroads across Missouri, has had its share of “defining events” that marks its history and which sets it aside from the others with a certain mystique and uniqueness. Below is a selection of these “events” for you to enjoy and to become more familiar with the day to day happenings in Blue Mound.

If we have left out your favorite story, just let us know. You will note that some of this information is captured in other forms on this website. The source of each “event” is noted at either the beginning or the end of the story.

Just click on the “event” of your choice below and enjoy!

Ground Hogs and Banjos

From an undated photocopy of a reflections column from the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, by Bill Plummer - “Not long ago, we learned from Jack Brewer, whose versatility ranges through hair-barbering, country music and musical instrument repairs, all in the same shop, that the banjo over there against the wall and which was in want of considerable repair, had a skin made out of groundhog.

Brewer said Marion Hooten, who used to work in the corner pool hall prior to his retirement, dragged the groundhog home when he was a lad and that it was this animal that supplied the hide for the banjo and countless hours of banjo music. Well, who should we come upon down at the Blue Mound cemetery the other day but Marion Hooten.

The report on the banjo was fact said Hooten. He proceeded to relate that an uncle from the Dakotas was back visiting that year and the uncle asked him if they had any groundhogs around here. Yes, said young Marion, there are groundhogs and there is one that hangs around the big mulberry tree over in the holler. The uncle from the Dakotas said groundhog meat was good eating, so Hooten carried his gun over into the holler near Clear Creek and shot the groundhog dead.

He toted that fat old groundhog by the tail half a mile or so up the hill, recalled Hooten. It was a heavy burden for a boy and like to wore him out. The uncle form the Dakotas smacked his lips and they skinned the groundhog and uncle baked the hog meat in the oven. The skin was tanned and wound up making music.

Dub McCracken and Hooten got to talking about that mulberry tree and their boyhood days in the neighborhood. They claimed that the mulberries in those days were as big around as your thumb. And juicy and good eatin.

McCracken said that the roads were dirt there into the 1930s and said he liked to grab onto the horse’s tail and hang on and let the horse drag him barefoot down the road. The horse would clip off a speed of 20 to 25 miles an hour pulling him by its tail, he said.

Dub McCracken and Marion Hooten talked about the mulberry tree, and Clear Creek so clear you could see fish bite the hook, and mailman making his winter rounds on his Co-Op tractor or by horseback when the snow was deep.

McCracken looked at the visitor from town. You’re talking to a couple of kids who knew how to have fun, he said.”

The photocopy of this column was provided by Veda Hughes and Dub McCracken.

Morris’ Observe 60th Wedding Anniversary

From the Hillsboro, Oregon ARGUS, 24 Feb 1921 - "Sixtieth Wedding Day Observed by Couple: Mr. and Mrs. D.N. Morris Married for Three Score Years."

Selected portions from the article are:

"Monday the 21st, Mr. and Mrs. Drury N. Morris celebrated the 60th anniversary of their wedding which occurred at the residence of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Maberry, Chillicothe, Mo., Feb. 21st, 1861, a bout two months before the declaration of war between the north and south.... "Grandpa" Morris in rendering some of the old fashioned tunes on his violin displayed the wonderful flexibility of his eighty-four year old fingers. This seventeen year old bride spent her honeymoon on her husband's farm helping him build their one room log cabin with its stone fireplace in front of which she cooked for several years.

They experienced all the alarms of that border land where the bushwhackers might swoop down upon them at any time to be pursued and scattered, at first, by federal troops which were soon transported to the eastern front, to be replaced by the state militia in which Mr. Morris served four years; at times at home for a few days but subject to call whenever the lives and property of the citizens were endangered by the guerrillas roaming the country. The young wife and mother alone carried on the farm work during his absence; her baby, guarded by a faithful dog, under a tree. Her only food was corn bread and pork. She was often barefoot, for shoes could not be had. The sounds of cannon and the smoke of gunpowder often terrified her. When her baby was about six months old, a soldier in the grey uniform entered the house inquiring for her husband. Upon seeing the child he took it up saying to the trembling mother, “Don't be frightened, I just want to hold it a little, for I left one about as big as this at home”. With tears in his eyes, he put the child in her arms and left the house after she told him her husband was in camp, although he was in his own field out of sight.

They raised their own sheep and she spun, wove and made all their clothing. How nearly these lives link us back to that epoch making period! About that time tallow candles gave way to kerosene lamps. At that time the mail was transported to and from this coast by pony express. Mr. Morris remembers that when the postmaster notified him of the arrival of a letter for him he went several miles and paid the five cent postal charges......"

Drury applied for a pension based on his Civil War service. According to the record, he was enrolled at Chillicothe on 27 Sept 1862 as a sergt in Co. I, 65 Regt of the Enrolled Missouri Militia.

Information transcribed and submitted by Robert McAlear.

The Peter Condron Case

From the Chillicothe Semi-Weekly Constitution, April 12, 1900 - “The Condron Case - Bobs Up Again Before the County Court Tuesday - A Compromise Was Offered But Not Accepted - Court Will Take Immediate Action Against Him - Rich and Eccentric Farmer Will Fight the Case---The County court met for an hour Tuesday afternoon and devoted the time to another round with Peter Condron, the wealthy and eccentric old farmer of near Asper, this county, in regard to paying taxes on his increased assessment, raised by the Board of Equalization last fall from $4,000 to $25,000. Through his attorneys, Miller Bros., he offered a compromise, but the court refused to accept it.

It will be remembered that when Condron’s assessment was raised he made an ineffectual protest to have it reduced, saying that it was unjust, and to escape payment of the increased taxes he resorted to an unique move. He placed his house on wheels and with several teams moved over to Carroll County, a short distance away. Since then the Court has taken steps to prosecute Condron and they claim their action has brought him to ask for a compromise.

Through one of the attorneys, Scott J. Miller, Mr. Condron stated that he was ready to pay $!25, or $60 more that the taxes n his original assessment. Prosecuting Attorney, Martin, representing the Court, refused to accept such a compromise, but rather than go to law with the case said he would settle with Condron on his1899 taxes for about $200, or the legal assessment on $16,000. The county, he said, deemed this fair and reasonable, as his taxes together with penalty and interest amounted to $337.50. Condron’s attorney made another compromise offer of $135, and on it being as promptly refused as the first one Mr. Miller left the Court room accompanied by his client.

The court then decided that immediate action should be taken against Condron to make him pay his taxes. It is understood his case will be turned over to the grand jury and he may be indicted on a charge of turning in a false statement, a very serious offense in the eyes of the law.

The Court further claims that Condron when he testified before the Board of Appeals several months ago that he held in trust $11,000 in addition to the $4,000 he had given to the Assessor was sufficient evidence to convict him. The Court will not again consider a compromise and will endeavor, through the proper channels to make Condron pay the full amount against him as appears on the tax books.

Scott J. Miller later in the afternoon told a Constitution reporter that his client would never pay the amount asked for by the County Court, and would carry the case to the highest courts if necessary. He strongly intimated that he would institute proceedings to mandamus the court and compel them to accept the legal and original assessment tax of $65. He stated that Mr. Condron appeared before the Court at the request of the Prosecuting Attorney and as they had refused to accept his compromise his client was prepared to fight them all along the line.

Interesting developments in the case are expected in a few days.”

This information was taken from a photocopy of the original article and was sent to me by Sue Jones on August 1, 2003. Peter Condron (01 Mar 1841 - 06 Mar 1926) is the Great Great Grandfather of Lori Condron Olson.

Man Found Dead In Cornfield

According to Donald Barnes in an 2001 interview, “One mystery that occurred near Blue Mound was finding the body of a man in a corn field. Hollis Sperry lived Northeast of Blue Mound and was the one that found him. He was in a corn field and had been there for some time. But they never did find out anything about him. Never knew who he was nor nothing. It was a big thing, especially for a kid like me who was 7 or 8 years old. It is something that I never forgot.”

Source of information is a hand-drawn map by Donald Barnes showing Blue Mound as it was in the 1920s and an interview with him in 2001.

Farmers Meet In Blue Mound

From the Chillicothe Constitution, February 14, 1873 - “A meeting of farmers in Blue Mound. J. A. Lewis is chairman, Captain John Collar is Secretary. Dr. James Shields, E. P. Davis, L.D. Jones and John Collar to prepare bylaws. Next meeting is February 24.”

This information was sent to me via email by Sue Jones on July 13, 2000. It would be most interesting to learn what this meeting was all about. My best guess is that it was the beginnings of a chapter of the then popular “law enforcement” organization called the Anti-Horse Thief

According to Johnny Hoyt in his book, Not Much of Anything: A History of My Life,

Most of the men in the neighborhood belonged. I remember that my father belonged. If anything was stolen from the members the Lodge would deputize men to go out and search, though the Lodge would not search for property for non-members. One of the members had a brother-in-law that had some harness stolen. He wanted the Lodge to go out and hunt for them. They knew of a couple of young men that were preparing to leave the country in a covered wagon and they suspected they had the harness. The Lodge refused so they slipped out and got one of the member’s saddles and hid it in the Store at Blue Mound. That gave the Lodge the right to hunt. They took my father and a neighbor boy with the two men that hid the saddle and they overtook the boys about two days away--my father and the neighbor boy hunting the saddle, the other two hunting one of the men’s brother-in-law’s harness. On the same night after the search, one of the boy’s brothers came into the neighborhood to sit up with his cousin that was very bad sick. On the same night the member’s saddle was placed on the fence, supposedly left as the brother passed by. It was a few years before the boys came back carrying the reputation of stealing the saddle. Even one of the boys could not convince his father that they did not steal the saddle. One day long after, one of the men told one of the brothers that he would tell something if he would not tell. He promised, but when he told, he said, "I am going to tell," and he did. Well, he did tell and it cleared the boys. They threw the two men out of the Lodge and my father was not happy with the part they had him to play.

One of the men had a couple of young men on his farm. They became dissatisfied with their deal, somehow. All at once they began shooting and letter writing and throwing letters around the neighborhood, and that happened just at the time that the hunt took place for the lost saddle and circumstantial evidence pointed toward the man that hid the saddle.”

Burner’s Golden Wedding Anniversary

From the Chillicothe Constitution, October 9, 1890 - “The golden wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob S. Burner of Blue Mound Township. They were married at the home of the brides parents two mile west of Utica Livingston County, Missouri on October 6, 1840. Mr. Jacob S. Burner and Miss Mary Eliza Cave all of Livingston County were married by J. L. Tomlin, Justice of the Peace.”

This information was sent to me via email by Sue Jones on July 13, 2000. Both Jacob and Mary are buried in the Blue Mound Cemetery (originally known as the Burner Cemetery). According to the tombstone in the Blue Mound Cemetery, Jacob died on January 27, 1899 at 81years, 6 months and 22 days. According to her tombstone, Mary Eliza (Cave) Burner died on December 14, 1892 at the age of 68 years, 11 months and 11 days.

Little Girl Disappears

According to Donald Barnes in an 2001 interview, “....Hollis Sperry was the oldest of the Sperry brothers. There was Hollis and Claude (Claudie E. Sperry: 1905-1923) and Ivan(?) and Paul and one girl Cecil(?) That was another mystery, Cecil disappeared. There wasn’t any trace of her. She was a pretty little girl. Somebody took off with her.

Mrs. John Carr Dies

From the Chillicothe Constitution, March 30, 1886 - “Mrs. John Carr died. Reverend Richardson officiated at the funeral and she was buried in the Burner Cemetery.

This information was sent to me via email by Sue Jones on July 13, 2000. According to the tombstone in the Blue Mound Cemetery, this was Georgie J. Carr, wife of John M. Carr. The tombstone is marked that she died on March 30, 1886 and was aged 47 years, 5 months and 24 days. John M. Carr must have been buried elsewhere. No tombstone exists for him in the Blue Mound cemetery.

This is the only published source of information we have found to date that the Blue Mound Cemetery was once called the Burner Cemetery.

Former Blue Mound Postmaster Subpoenaed

A subpoena for witness from State of Missouri to appear in Caldwell County on the 19th of September in 1884 was issued to I.(Isom) Groce. Roy Bryant was the plaintiff and J. C. Sergent was the defendant. The subpoena was found behind the fireplace at Francis Gwin’s residence when it was demolished. The Groce’s lived at this residence in the 1880's. Isom was appointed Postmaster at Blue Mound effective April 6, 1871 and served until October 25, 1871. Isom died in 1893 and is buried in the Blue Mound Cemetery.

Sue Jones has the original document. I have not followed up on this event to see what the trial was about nor the outcome. If you have any info, please contact me at: 3535 W. Arbor Way, Columbia, MO 65203 or e-mail

The Livingston County Courthouse Eagle

By Joe G. Dillard and Gary Maberry

The Livingston County Courthouse eagle, what a fascinating story.  Where did it come from?  How did it get there?  Who vandalized it?  The eagle has been there for a long, long time and the controversy surrounding its origin and history has sparked a plethora of newspaper articles (at least six that we know about).

Going to see the courthouse eagle was a ritual for us back in the forty’s and fifty’s every time we came to town.  It was majestically suspended between the second and third floors on a rod just above a big American flag.  At that time, we didn’t know much of its history, but recently Gary Maberry and I decided to trace its origin.

Gary made the first and most important discovery on the Livingston County Library’s website.  He found the original article that confirmed who provided it and how it got there.

 It was dated Friday, December 23, 1921 entitled, “American Eagle Mounted” and  stated, “The young American eagle killed by Arnold Barnes, Blue Mound township, Nov. 24, has been received from the taxidermist, James C. Haley, Kansas City, and is now mounted in the opening on the second floor of he courthouse.  Mr. Haley, in a letter to County Clerk J. M. Gallatin, stated the eagle was the largest bird of its kind of his authentic knowledge, having a spread of eight feet when it arrived in his shop in Kansas City, four days after it had been killed.  The bird is mounted facing the north with its head turned slightly to the right, giving one the impression as he walks up the steps to the second floor of the building that it is ready for flight.”

After a 60 year lapse, there was another newspaper article (Saturday, July 11, 1981) entitled, “Courthouse treasures its legal eagle” that stated that the eagle had been vandalized (one wing and some toes were missing) and that there was a controversy about how the eagle got there and who shot it (obviously, few people remembered the 1921 article). Some leading candidates were Maurice Dorney (Chief of Police), a kid near Blue Mound, or someone in Monroe Township.  That article sparked even more candidates and in another article 6 days later the names of Ed Herriford and Arnold Barnes surfaced.  Of course now we know that it was Arnold Barnes, but at time there were doubters.

Bert Maberry weighed in on the controversy in a follow-up article in the “Reflections” column dated Friday, July 17, 1981 and entitled, “The Eagle – Livingston County Courthouse”:  “Bert Maberry of Hale writes what he described as “my two cents worth on the eagle” Said Mr. Maberry, “Arnold Barnes killed the bird in the Blue Mound area years ago and at one time there was a card on the perch that told that Arnold shot the bird; also the date, which I think was June 1921.  Not sure about the date.  It was in the Chillicothe paper at the time the bird was shot.

Ralph Brown tells us he was living down at Blue Mound and that the eagle had been “taking a bunch of suckling pigs.  I don’t know how many but he packed off a lot of them.  He got one every day.”

Naturally this annoyed the pig owners, so Arnold Barnes, who was trapping down in Dickens Hollow, was alerted.  Mr. Brown said Barnes “Shot him (the eagle) right out in the canyon” Brown who guessed he must have been about 16 years old then, said Barnes brought the eagle to the county courthouse.  Mr. Brown said he didn’t know who had it stuffed.”

Any and all doubt who killed the eagle was erased in an article dated Monday, July 27, 1981 when Bill Plummer, in his famous “Reflections” column stated, “Today we lay to rest the ghost of the eagle in the county courthouse, the one on the horizontal bar on the second floor, under the U.S. flag, a dead bird somebody swiped one wing from.  The inscription is gone and nobody seemed just sure who gave the eagle to the county.

Recently, we noted that the voting was 2 to 1 that the eagle was shot by one Arnold Barnes in the Blue Mound area.  One report was that the eagle shot in Dickens Holler as a consequence of stealing pigs from Blue Mound farmers.

We have a note from Mrs. Arnold (Olive) Barnes, 5011/2 West Washington, Carrollton, Mo. 64633:  “”It has been brought to my attention of your article, Reflections, in your paper….about the uncertainty of who is responsible for the stuffed eagle in the courthouse.

Bert Maberry and Ralph Brown are correct.  My husband, Arnold Barnes, shot the bird when he was a small boy and was living at Blue Mound.  As Mr. Brown says, the eagle would get a pig out of the pen each morning.

Arnold and I would go to the courthouse when we would be in Chillicothe and Arnold’s name was on the eagle at that time, but guess as years go by it has been destroyed.

If Arnold was alive today, he could tell us what he shot the bird with and how big the wingspan was.  He has told me, but I can’t remember.

I hope this has helped clear up this matter.””

So there we have it.  The courthouse eagle was killed by Arnold Barnes near Blue Mound on November 24, 1921, taken to Kansas City to be mounted and delivered to the Livingston County Courthouse by December 23, 1921.  Harold Maberry supplied the following information about Olive and Arnold Barnes in 2003:  “Arnold and Olive Barnes operated the Coloma store when I was young.  I was always intrigued by the rattle snake skins he had displayed at the back of the store.  Arnold was quite the hunter and trapper..Olive Barnes has now passed on she grew up in the area where the Tina Avalon school is now located.  Arnold Barnes was known as Buffalo Barnes.”

Now, fast forward  6 years when another article (Friday, June 12, 1987, entitled, “The courthouse eagle: Can it be restored to fly again?”) repeated some of the same opinions about who shot it and the current efforts to restore it, but ended up saying that the eagle is being kept in storage at the courthouse.

Finally, in an article dated Wednesday June 14, 2000, entitled, “Regal Eagle” stated thatThe eagle which most recently was displayed on the north wall on the second floor of the Livingston County Courthouse has been moved to the west wall and can now be viewed in a glass display case, with a painted, bright blue sky in the eagle’s background.  The project was funded by the Grand River Collectors, the Grand River Audubon Society and personal donations from Livingston County officials.  Legend has it that the eagle was killed around 1921 by Arnold Barnes in Blue Mound and was mounted by Steve Nibarger.  After it was mounted, the eagle hung over the flag inside the courthouse for many years. “

So, in the continuing saga of he courthouse eagle, we know that Arnold “Buffalo” Barnes shot the eagle in Blue Mound In 1921, James C. Hayley of Kansas City originally mounted it and sent it to the Livingston County Courthouse, Steve Nibarger restored it in the late 1980’s, Bill Coleman built the glass display case, and a little bit later, Kelly Poling, owner of Original Artworks, added glass panes to the side of the box to make the eagle more visible.  He also painted a blue sky background behind the eagle.

 What we don’t know is who vandalized the eagle and why Arnold Barnes was called “Buffalo” Barnes?

The authors thank Charlene Coleman, Eva Danner, Kelly Poling, Steve Nibarger, Tom Strother, the Livingston County Library and the State Historical Society of Missouri for their help and assistance in providing information for this article.

Epilogue – As of this writing, the eagle is mounted in a glass case and is affixed to the west wall on the second floor of the courthouse.  A sign above the case honors the donors who gave money to have the eagle restored.  It reads: Funding for the eagle case restoration project provide for by:  Grand River Audubon Society, Grand River Collectors, Gordon Smith, Barbara Lamme, Eva Danner, Max Smith, and Ken Lauhoff. 

A brass plate below the eagle reads:                                                     


Eagle - Killed by Arnold Barnes

Circa - 1921 Blue Mound

Mounted by Steve Nibarger

Very Cold Weather in Blue Mound (Missouri??!)

In projects like this, you are bound to run into the strange, the bizarre and the down right unbelievable. This is one of those. There are many things that we don’t know about this story. All we have is what occurred in the Braymer Bee Newspaper on October 18, 1998. Efforts to confirm this story or to find out where it occurred have been to no avail. Our best guess is that it did not happen in Blue Mound , Missouri in Livingston County. Our comments are in parentheses.

Sue Jones emailed this to us on January 17, 2001 with the following message:

There is no date given for the Blue Mound or Gallatin newspapers. Also I don’t know whether this is your Blue Mound or someone else. Just thought you might like to see it. Best wishes. Sue Jones.

Almost verbatim from the October 18, 1998 Braymer Bee Volume 111, Issue 23:

Leo Stephenson of Cowgill found this clipping from the “Bee” while going through some papers at his home. J. F. Ebers of 419 South Spring Street, Springfield (Missouri?, Illinois?, Minnesota, other?), says folks who think we are having a hard spring don’t know the half of it. He refers to a clipping from the Blue Mound Leader (where in the world is this Blue Mound? Blue Mound, Missouri in Livingston County never had a paper) which has been in his possession for over 30 years and was handed down to him by his father. The clipping, which tells of the cold spring in 1846, follows as reported in the Gallatin North Missourian: The year of 1846 was without a summer. The weather was so cold that ice was frozen every day in June and every month experienced frost and freezing weather. June 17 was a Memorable date, as a big snow fell to the depth of 10 inches and many people were frozen to death. The mean temperature of the summer months was 45 degrees and the crops were failures, the weather being too cold for vegetation of any kind. July and August were colder than June and ice was an inch thick or more. On August 30, another snow fell and the entire summer was as bleak and dreary as November.

There was very bitter rain the entire season; farm work was done with heavy wraps and mittens on, and it was necessary to consume a lot of fuel for heating purposes. In September, the thermometer reached 70 degrees and for a short time the cold was dispelled, but for a short time only, when winter set in again. The wind blew a gale from the north most of the time and it was fierce and cold.

The general opinion of the people was that rapid cooling of the sun had caused the cold, and many believed the end of all things had come. This unusual cold weather was experienced more severely in the eastern states, but it is a matter of fact that it was extremely cold through the middle and western states.”

If you have any info, please contact me at: 3535 W. Arbor Way, Columbia, MO 65203 or e-mail

Man Found Dead In Well

In separate interviews, Donald Barnes, Ina Cameron and Reva Maberry told us about Lewis E. Mossbarger being found dead in a well at his place just south of Mount Hope Church (the old McAlear place). Below is a summary of what happen based on those interviews:

Lewis E. and Rettie (McAlear) Mossbarger lived just south of the Mount Hope Church (Link to MAPS) in the early 1900s. Lewis Mossbarger, from Ludlow, Missouri, and Rettie McAlear (who taught school for awhile, but not sure where) from Blue Mound (you can see a picture of her in the Singing Group photo) file - she is the 9th person on the left in 3rd row from the front of the photo of the Singing Group) were married in 1910. They never had any children. Her Sister, Carrie McAlear, lived with them.

According to Ina Cameron, she, her Sister, and her Brother, Mervyn Jenkins and his Sister Leola were sort of adopted by Lewis and Rettie since they had no children of their own. When other kids would go to their grandparents, they would go to Lewis and Retties’ house because they didn’t have any Grandparents of their own.

Lewis was found dead in his well in early April 1930. It was about four years after his wife Rettie died. He was living alone at the time he fell into the well so there was no one there to help him

It was well known in the community that Rettie was the head of the family and frequently told Lewis what to do. (Reva Maberry said that she had heard that the reason he drowned was because Rettie wasn’t there to tell him to get out!) No one ever knew what happened. They say he had grabbing hooks to retrieve the bucket which had fallen into the well. He must have leaned over and lost his balance.

Ina said “Before Rettie died she and Lewis planned to leave what they had, which was very nominal ( just that little 80 acres), to us. It was probably 40 then unless they had bought some more. I don’t know, I was in high school then. He came down one Sunday and said that he had gone to Chillicothe to talk to Mr. Weatherby , a lawyer, about making a will to leave it to the four of us. And Mr. Weatherby said, “I am just too busy today come back next Thursday. And it was the next Thursday when they found Lewis down in the well! Somebody was going to drive him to Chillicothe that day. Although he had bought a car (a Franklin), he did not know how to drive. That is when he had an appointment with Mr. Weatherby.

So when Lewis died everything went to the Kitteridges’s of Chillicothe. They were just distant relatives of Lewis.”

Both Lewis (28SEP1868 - 05APR1930) and Rettie (16SEP1872 - 18MAY1926) are buried in the Blue Mound Cemetery.

Wolf Family Robbed

From the Chillicothe Spectator, August 8, 1866 - “Another robbery–On Saturday last, the house of Mr. Wolf, on the Mounds was robbed of $200. The family had been temporarily absent, and the money was taken from the bed where it had been kept by Mrs. Wolf, by somebody who had slipped into the house during her absence. The house was surrounded by corn, and it is supposed that somebody had slipped up, and when the house was vacated for a time went in and committed robbery.”

This information was sent to me via email by Sue Jones on July 13, 2000. I haven’t figured the current equivalents, but that was a lot of money for those days.

Bilby Tower Constructed

In the summer of 1948, a group of men came to Blue Mound and set up a tall steel tower just north of the school (between it and the road). It was the tallest structure ever built in Blue Mound. And for us, it was one of the biggest thrills to hit the area in a long time!

The tower was erected directly above a Triangulation Station (a bronze marker set in concrete) named “MOUND” just north of the school house by the U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. The top of the tower was 90 feet above the ground. After it was built, the workers came each night and worked up in the tower. Their purpose was to conduct geodetic surveys to better determine the size and shape of the earth and the exact positions of points on its surface. Thus, when we bought or sold land, we could be more certain of its limits.

The U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (US C&GS) began serving the Nation in the early 1800's and, since then have charted our coastline and conducted geodetic surveys throughout the United States.

They started out using tall wooden towers, but the era ended in 1926 when Jasper S. Bilby, then Chief Signalman for US C&GS, designed a double tower survey signal built almost entirely of reusable steel bars and rods, held together with bolts (See photo). These especially strong structures could be erected in standard heights from 37 to 116 feet in13 foot increments by a 5 man crew in a day or less and dismantled by a 4 man team in about half that time.

Bilby tower components could be reused numerous, even hundreds of times and the towers were erected worldwide. There first use was in 1927 in southern Minnesota. As a point of interest, the tallest built was156 feet (about the height of a 15 story building) on the Mississippi River arc in 1929.

The “MOUND Triangulation Station is marked by a cast bronze disk embedded in a concrete monument. Lasting station monuments, along with reference (witness) marks, were established to aid in locating the station, to verify its position, to reset the monument and for use as substitute stations.

There are two reference markers for the “MOUND” Station.

Reference Mark No. 1 is southwest of the station, 29 feet west of the center of the north-south road, 18 feet north of the t-fence intersection and 1 foot east of the fence line. It is stamped MOUND No. 1 1948 and set flush with the ground surface.

Reference Mark No.2 is northwest of the station 26 feet west of the center of the north-south road, 22 feet north of the center of the east-west road and 2 feet north of the fence corner. It is stamped MOUND No. 2 1948 and projects 2 inches above the ground surface.

The Azimuth Mark is about 0.5 miles north of the MOUND Station, 33 feet west of the center of the t-road west, 12 feet west of the fence corner, 2 feet west of witness post and 1 foot north of fence line. It is stamped MOUND 1948 and projects 2 inches above the ground surface.

To reach the MOUND Station from the court house in Chillicothe, go south on U.S. Highway 65 toward Carrollton for 6 miles to where the highway makes a left curve and Route Z continues straight ahead, continue straight ahead on graveled road for 5.5 miles to side road west (Blue Mound Cemetery Road) and azimuth mark as described, continue south on road for 0.5 miles to school house in the southeast angle of crossroad and station as described.

The MOUND station was revisited (recovered) by the US C&GS in 1964. They reported, “This station was recovered as described and all marks were found in good condition. The Blue Mound School house (link with info on school) is not used as a school house any longer. It has been converted into a house and is owned by James Porter (Note: After the school closed in the spring of 1957, it was purchased by Mr. Clarence Christmas (1883 - 1958) and converted into a home. Mr. Christmas was struck by an automobile and killed about a year later while he was crossing the road after leaving church. The Reverend and Mrs. James W. Porter (1916 -1997) purchased the building from Mr. Christmas’s daughter (Mrs. Zullig). They converted the building by making the anteroom into a bathroom and changed the entrance to the south side. They also ran a dog kennel at his location for many years. Reverend Porter passed away and Estella A. Porter (1917 - 2000) sold the property in 1998/99 to the Green’s (early owners of the Blue Mound rock quarry). Stella died in 2000.) Reference measurements are good as the school house was not moved. The Azimuth Mark is 0.5 mile north of the station, 33 feet west of the centerline of north-south gravel road, 25 feet southeast of the south brick post for the entrance to the Blue Mound Cemetery, 9 feet north of a telephone pole, 3 feet east-northeast of a fence corner and 1 foot south of a new steel witness post. The mark projects 2 inches and the disk is stamped MOUND 1948.

I still have some of the bolts that were left behind when the workers dismantled the Blue Mound Bilby Tower. It was truly one of the more exciting events in the life of the area, at least during that time period. My Brother and I built a platform in a nearby tree and would go up in the evening and shine flash lights to imitate what they were doing in the tower. I imagine that the workers got a real kick out of that.

Today, it is all history. All the work once accomplished by Bilby Towers is over and now is done with Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites.

Compiled by Joe G. Dillard

Sources of information on Bilby Towers, especially the one at Blue Mound:

Geodetic Surveying 1940 - 1990
By Joseph F. Dracup (deceased)
Coast and Geodetic Survey
Gilbert Mitchell
U. S. Department of Commerce (NOAA)
Washington, D. C.
Jerry Odum
U. S. Department of Commerce (NOAA)
Lincoln, NE
Publication 62-3
Bilby Steel Towers for Triangulation
James K. Richards
United States Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C.

Drew Gun and is Arrested

From the Chillicothe Newspaper, July 24, 1902 - George Cranmer Wednesday arrested John C. Mead for drawing a shot gun on George McAlear, both farmers of Blue Mound township. He was brought to town and gave bond to the amount of $200 to appear before Judge Swarty Tuesday, July 31. The trouble arose over the discovery of a bee-tree, both claiming possession of it.

This information was supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

The Ball Game

From the Chillicothe Constitution, Wednesday October 7, 1908 - The school boys o£ the Swain school played a game of ball with the Blue Mound school boys Saturday. The game resulted in a score of 19 to 3 in favor of Blue Mound.

This information was supplied by Lori Olson.

Will Celebrate 3rd.

From the Chillicothe Daily Constitution, Thursday June 24, 1915 - Residents of Blue Mound township and others who care to attend are; going to be royally entertained on
Saturday. July 3rd. Dan Barnes, Eli Lester and A. V. Smith are planning a big picnic to be held at the Dan Barnes farm and a program is being arranged that will far outdo anything ever attempted in that part of the country. There will be a big fish fry, a ball game, all kinds of racing and good music and speaking. The Barnes farm is one half mile north of Blue Mound and everyone is invited to attend and enjoy a general good time. Everything is free and everybody is welcome.

Also from the Chillicothe Daily Constitution, Tuesday, June 29, 1915 - Everything is in readiness for the big picnic to be pulled off in the Dan Barnes pasture, one half mile north
of Blue Mound next Saturday, July 3rd. This is to be a “real” celebration in the old fashioned way. Every thing is free and everyone is guaranteed a good time. There will be a
fish fry, plenty of good eats and cold drinks, good music and some exceptionally good speaking. Saturday will be a big day around Blue Mound.

Hurt in Runaway

From The Chillicothe Constitution, Saturday, April 25, 1914 - Charles Hoyt suffered a fracture in his right shoulder late Saturday when he was thrown from a buggy near the Adams warehouse at the Elm street crossing over the railroad tracks. Hoyt and his brother, John, were returning to their home in Blue Mound township when the team became frightened at an automobile and started to run. The injured man was taken to the office of Dr. Wm. Girdner where the fracture was reduced and later taken to the hospital. He was able to return to his home Monday.

This information was supplied by Lori Olson.

Organized New Church

From the Chillicothe Constitution, Wednesday, October 30, 1907 - The newly organized Church of Christ has completed a house of worship one-fourth of a mile east of Blue Mound post office. It recently baptized three converts at Bethany Baptist Church. This church is composed of former members of the Blue Mound Christian church who left that body because of differences of opinion about the use of an organ in worship.

This information was supplied by Lori Olson.


From The Chillicothe Constitution, Tuesday June16, 1903 - The patrons of the Blue mound cemetery met and cleaned it off and paid for a new fence that had been erected.

R. C. Zirkle has a cow that is the world beater, on April 1st 1902 she brought him two calves; in March 1903 she brought him two more making four calves in less than a year. This cow is almost equal to the goose that laid the "golden egg.”. L. M. Haynes had a sow that brought 16 to one litter. Mrs. Smith hatched two chickens from one egg.
Now these are no fish stones but are facts. Verily south Livingston county is on boom. They have distributed a part of the telephone posts on the ground from Johlmy Hoyt's
to Avalon but the line from Blue mound to Dawn has fallen through.

This information was supplied by Lori Olson.

Man Shot

From The Chillicothe Constitution, Wednesday July 25, 1906 - Ernie Hall, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Hall, was shot and dangerously wounded by Lee Stuck Tuesday night about 8:30 just across the Livingston county line in Carroll county south of the Blue Mound post office. Only meager information in regard to the shooting was received in Chillicothe. The boys had had previous trouble and Tuesday evening they met in the road south of the Blue Mound post office, and it is said they had a few words when Stuck pulled a revolver which he had in his pocket and fired two shots at Hall. The first one struck him in the lower part of the abdomen while the second one went wild of its mark. Hall was picked up by a farmer who heard the shooting and carried into his house where an operation was performed late Tuesday night to locate the bullet. The operation was without result and his condition is considered critical. Lee Stuck is the son of Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Stuck, who formerly resided on the Springhill road north of the city. He was always a quiet boy and this is the first trouble, he has ever had. Ernie Hall is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Hall, who live just across the county line in Carroll county. Drs. Murray and Yates of Dawn operated on the Hall boy for internal hemorrhages Tuesday night and a telephone message to the CONSTITUTION late Wednesday afternoon stated his recovery was very doubtful.

This information was supplied by Lori Olson.

Store is Sold

From The Chillicothe Constitution, Friday February 21, 1908 - Our(sp?) store has changed hands again. Marvin Carlyle selling his interest to Dan Barnes. The store is now owned by Lewis and Barnes.

This information was supplied by Lori Olson.

Blue Mound Mail Protest

From the Chillicothe Constitution, December 10, 1903 - The Jackson farmers are talking of protesting about their mail. We think a protest from South Livingston would be in order. The government lock box has not been unlocked since Dawn Route 1 started, and we know that there is important mail lying there and has been for nearly four weeks, and there are a number of cards and letters in this box that people think gone when addressed. We would like to know where this trouble lies. Also, one mail carrier is very careless about carrying stamps, postal cards and other supplies. The writer put a number in lock box to have mail changed and they remain in the box and to my knowledge there are five letters besides. This was nearly four weeks ago and we had to send others and the first was a clear loss of course. We should protest.

This information was supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

Charley Hoyt Purchase Store

From the Chillicothe Constitution, Wednesday, March 10, 1909 - Charles Hoyt of Dawn, who recently purchased a store here has taken possession and will move his family here in the near future.

This information was supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

Hawley Johnson Goes to School

From the Chillicothe Constitution, September 18, 1903 - Hawley Johnson commenced the winter term of school at Blue Mound last Monday.

This information was supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

Bullet Lodged in his Head

From the Chillicothe Constitution, December 17, 1903 - Virgil Burner while at work one day last week, had a 32 caliber revolver in his pocket and it fell out and discharged. The bullet lodging in his head near the temple. A doctor was summoned and located it and took it out and all danger is passed.

This information was supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

Singing School at Condron School Abandon

From the Chillicothe Constitution, December 17, 1903 - The singing school that G. H. Carr was trying to organize at Condron school house has fallen through. He will probably try again after the holidays.

This information was supplied by Jerry R. Stephens

Preaching at New Church of Christ

From the Chillicothe Constitution, May 8, 1908 - There will be preaching at the new church at this place next Sunday by Rev. S.D. Jones of Hale. (Editor’s note: This undoubtedly was the Church of Christ built just east of Blue Mound)

This information was supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

Medicine Show at Blue Mound

Chillicothe Constitution, 1931 - The medicine show is at Blue Mound this week. The rains last week caused the roads to be so bad they put on a show Friday and Saturday nights.

This information was supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

Champion Rabbit Buyer

From the Chillicothe Constitution, December 19, 1917 - C. C. Hoyt of Blue Mound, undoubtedly has won the title of Champion Rabbit Buyer of Missouri. Mr. Hoyt, within the past week, has bought and sold 12,000 rabbits for an average of 16 and 2/3 cents each — $2,000 received for rabbits in one week’s time. Henderson and Sons Produce Company of this city purchased a large number of the bunnies while others were sold at Triplett and other neighboring towns.

This information was supplied by Jerry R. Stephens.

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Blue Mound History - Joe G Dillard
3535 West Arbor Way, Columbia, MO  65203