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Oregon County, Missouri Newspaper Clippings

From The South Missourian-Democrat
Thursday, September 7, 1911

Judge Wright Simpson

Among the pioneer settlers of Oregon county we know of no one who has lived a more honorable life than Judge Wright Simpson. He came to this county more than fifty years ago from Tennessee. Soon after his arrival here he was drafted into service as a Missouri guard in his brother's (P.R. Simpson) company, 2nd Regt., McBride's Division, and served two months. He then joined the Confederate Army, Company C, 10th Missouri Inft, where he stood by his gun like a statue, and served with honor to the thickest of the battle. After the surrender he returned to his Oregon County home and acquired a valuable tract of land, on which he has made his home for more than forty years, except four years while he was mail contractor from Alton to Thayer, when he made his home in Alton, but returned to his farm at the expiration the time, 1903 to 1907. He taught school several terms, from 1880 to 1890, and served the county as judge for ten years, 1896 to 1906, the last eight years as presiding judge. He has raised a large family of children who are numbered among our best families.

Uncle Wright was in Alton Saturday, and though he is 72 years old and has been very feeble for some time, he is now gaining strength and promises many years of useful life.


From the West Plains Quill Newspaper
Unknown date

Walk to Greer Spring Mill in 1916 -- One day in 1916, West Plains residents Frank Thornburgh and Bob Harlin walked from here to Greer Spring Mill - a distance of some 40 miles - to watch the operation of the mill and take pictures. Recently, Thornburgh brought these pictures to the Quill office showing the river, dam, mill house and cable complex for transfering water power to turn the mill after he read an article concerning the mill in Wednesday's Quill. Harlin is shown with Ira M. Williams who operated the mill at the time. the mill closed permanently in 1920.


The South-Missourian Democrat
September 2, 1966

Birthday observed at Greer in 1914. Grandma Harrod's 93rd birthday anniversary was held at the Ira Williams residence at Greer, Mo. on May 28, 1914. Those attending were:

Syntha Kent, Dan Pitts, Sylvia Robinson, Grace Whitehead, Nora Harrod, Dora Harrod, Vera Whitehead, Mike Hall, Ray Hall, Depho Hall, Cora Kent, Guy Williams, Clyde Williams, George Harrod, Grandma  Harrod, Lyda Blankenship, Billy Harrod, Mrs. Roberts, Oscar Cauhorn, Helen Dunigan, Anice Dunigan, George Morman, Alta Morman, Ira Williams, Mrs. Ira Williams, Tom Barrett, Gib Hall, Tom Kent, Gladys Whitehead, R.M. (Dick) Johnson, Ray Hall, Ann Hall, Mrs. Morman, Mrs. Cowhorn, Beulah Whitehead, Mittie Hall, Mrs. Tinsley, Mrs. Pitts, Mrs. R.M. Johnson, Gibb Hall, Carlus Pitts, Everett Williams, Rosa Smith, Golda Pitts, Rachel Shehorn, Maude Waller, Laura Gazaway, Amy Waller, Walter Hall and Laura Williams.


From the South-Missourian Democrat
Unknown date

Uncle Pete Williams, 85 has Been Postmaster at Greer 48 Years

A staunch Democrat Appointed by President Benjamin Harrison, Republican, has since been continuously in office, serving under 7 Republican and 3 Democratic Presidents.

Presidents of the United States have come and presidents have gone--the national administration has changed numerous times during the past 43 years, but during that period Greer, Mo., has kept the same postmaster, Peter C. Williams, or 'Uncle Pete' as he is familiarly known, and who on January 10, 1938, will round out 48 years as postmaster of the Oregon county village.

PROBABLY OLDEST IN COUNTY
"Uncle Pete, who celebrated his 85th birthday anniversary only a few days ago, probably not only is the oldest postmaster in the United States, but also probably holds the country's record for long time service in one office.

"He has just completed a brief visit at the home of his grandson-in-law and granddaughter, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hall, on St. Louis Street in West Plains, which marks one of the very few times he has been away from his job in the post office for more than a day during the entire 48 years he has held the office.

Greer has never known but the one postmaster, Uncle Pete having been appointed at the time the post office at that place was established, in 1890, and having served continuously since that time.

Although he was then and still is a staunch democrat, he received his first appointment under the late Benjamin Harrison, republican president of the United States. He has since served under six other republican and three democratic presidents.

When asked how he happened to be appointed to the office by President Harrison, Uncle Pete replied with a twinkle in his keen brown eyes: "Well, you see, back in them days there just weren't hardly any republicans at all in Oregon County, and there didn't seem to be any around Greer who wanted to be the postmaster."

FIRST POST OFFICE IN HIS HOME
During the first few years after the Greer post office was established Uncle Pete conducted it in one corner of the front room in his home. Later he erected a store building and opened a country store, into which he moved the office.

In recent years, however, he has not been operating the store, but has continued to maintain the post office in the store building.

Since his first appointment to the office the succeeding presidents, both democratic and republican, have reappointed Uncle Pete because it has been the wish of the people who receive their mail through the Greer post office.

Once many years ago somebody decided the Greer post office should be moved a mile or two over to the mill at Greer spring, the great spring on Eleven Points river, named for the same pioneer family from which the post office took its name. Moving of the post office meant also a change in postmasters.

A petition was circulated to ask for the move, but Uncle Pete's friends circulated a petition opposing it. The petition for the move received 12 signers, while more than one hundred patrons signed the petition to keep the office in Uncle Pete's store with Uncle Pete as the postmaster.

Later after rural routes came into the community, the post office department decided it might be well to discontinue the post office at Greer, but again such a protest was voiced that the post office remained and Uncle Pete was reappointed postmaster for another term.

When the post office at Greer was first established there were no rural mail routes and people came as far as six and seven miles to get their mail through the little office, which is not far from Eleven Points river and 7 miles east of Alton, county seat of Oregon county.

"Why I can remember when folks from all the way over on Big Hurricane creek used to come to Greer to get their letters," the white-haired postmaster reminisced.

FIRST MAIL ONCE A WEEK
"'Back in 1890 we got mail in Greer only once each week," Uncle Pete told a reporter for The Quill while he was in West Plains a few days ago. "A few years later we thought we were getting to be important when the mail came twice a week. Now we get mail every day."

"The worst thing now is," he continued, "these rural mail routes have taken a lot of my patrons and good roads and automobiles have cut down my money order business."

Uncle Pete doesn't complain. He seems perfectly happy.

I just don't know what I'd do if I couldn't get up every morning and go over there and open that little office,' he said. "I've been doing it so many years I'd feel plumb funny if I didn't."

Uncle Pete has delivered mail to three and four generations of some families in his community.

Also various post office inspectors have come and gone since he has been on the job and as he recalled them in an interview with The Quill he said with a laugh.

'You know C.H. Baker's the post office inspector who comes down here from Springfield--sure you know him. Well bless your life, I was runnin' that post office at Greer before he was born.'

"And speaking of post office inspectors--when Uncle Pete gets to heaven he probably will meet a flock of them who will greet him with a 'well done, thou good and faithful servant,' because the inspectors have always found books balanced and his office in shipshape.


From the South-Missourian Democrat, Alton, Missouri
June 26, 1980:

A Bit of History. . .
Presidents of the United States have come and presidents have gone - - the national administration has changed numerous times during the past 43 years but during that period Greer, Mo. has kept the same postmaster, Peter C. Williams, or 'Uncle Pete' as he is familiarly known and who on January 10, 1938, will round out 48 years as postmaster of the Oregon County village.

That was the lead to a feature article printed in the December 2, 1937 issue of the West Plains Daily Quill about the late Peter C. Williams.

The article, which appeared on the front page of the paper, was written when Williams was visiting in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hall, his granddaughter and her husband.

He was appointed as postmaster when the office was established at Greer. Although he was a staunch democrat, he was appointed to the position by the late Republican U.S. President, Benjamin Harrison. He served under six other republican and three democratic presidents.

The Quill writer explains, 'When asked how he happened to be appointed to the position to the office by President Harrison, Uncle Pete replied with a twinkle in his brown eyes: 'Well, you see, back in them days there just weren't hardly any republicans at all in Oregon County, and there didn't seem to be any around Greer who wanted to be the postmaster.' One wonders if Uncle Pete would be surprised to know that there are still hardly any republicans at all in Oregon County.

The post office was first established in a corner of the Williams' living room. Later, he built a country store and moved the post office in that building.

When the post office was first established, it received mail only one day a week, then twice a week, three times and at the time of the 1937 interview, mail was delivered every day. Finally rural route deliveries phased this service out.

The Quill reporter wrote, 'Postmaster Williams is a native of Tennessee, having been born near Smithville, in DeKalb County, but came with his parents to the Missouri Ozarks when he was one year old. He was reared on a farm only one-half mile from where the post office of Greer is now located.

His father, the late Gilbert Williams, prominent among the pioneer settlers of Oregon county, was a Tennessee slave owner and brought slaves with him to Oregon county when he moved there in 1841. After the Civil War the slaves remained on with the family until some years ago, when Oregon County issued an order forbidding Negroes to remain within her borders.

Mr. and Mrs. Williams raised two sons and two daughters, Sampson Williams, Hayden Williams, Mrs. F.R. Tinsley and Mrs. Harriett Cates.

Living descendants who are Oregon Countians include the great grandsons, Doyle F. Williams and Ivan Tinsley and great-great grandchildren: Claude Williams, Dennie Williams, Neta Brewer and Sidney Williams.

"He was the great grandfather of the late Corvin and Carol Cates. Other great grandchildren are Geneva Tinsley of St. Louis, Mo.

Calvin Tinsley (email: <CPTinsley@aol.com>) sent the following correction: In the Oregon Co. News of the descendants of Peter C. Williams Ivan Tinsley,Carol and Corwin Cates and Geneva Tinsley are grandchildren not great grandchildren of Peter C. Williams. Doyle Williams is a great grandson.


From the South-Missourian Democrat, Alton, MO
Feb. 8, 1940:

P.C. Williams Retires as Postmaster
Peter C. Williams, 87 years old, retired as Postmaster at Greer, effective February 1st. Uncle Pete, as he is known to his many acquaintances, had served as Postmaster at Greer for just a few days over fifty years and during all that time the post office has been quartered in the same building. Under the retirement, Mr. Williams will receive a government pension, the exact amount has not yet been determined.

This week Mr. Williams received a personal letter from Postmaster James A. Farley, in which letter Mr. Williams was highly commended for his service; he also received a personally autographed picture of Mr. Farley.

After Mr. Williams' retirement, Mr. J.F. Bell, merchant of Greer, was appointed postmaster and the office is now located in the Bell Merchantile store.


West Plains Daily Quill
Dec. 2, 1937

Native of Tennessee

Postmaster Williams is a native of Tennessee, having been born near Smithville, in DeKalb county, but came with his parents to the Missouri Ozarks when he was but one year old. He was reared on a farm only one-half mile from where the post office of Greer is now located.

His father, the late Gilbert Williams, prominent among the pioneer settlers of Oregon county, was a Tennessee slave owner and brought slaves with him to Oregon county when he moved there in 1841. After the Civil War the slaves remained on with the family until some years ago, when Oregon county issued an order forbidding Negroes to remain within her borders. The Negroes then left the family and went to Piedmont, from which place Uncle Pete a short time ago received a call from one of them, a Negro about his own age, who wanted him to assist him in proving his age for an old age pension application.

The Greer postmaster and his wife reared a family of two sons and two daughters. One of his sons, Sampson Williams, was a merchant at Greer for several years before his death, which occurred in Christa Hogan hospital in West Plains a few years ago. One other son, Hayden Williams, now lives at Greer, as also do his two daughters, Mrs. F.R. Tinsley and Mrs. Harriett Cates. He also has a number of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and some great-great-grandchildren, making him the head of five living generations of his family.


South-Missourian Democrat
unknown date

Still Active at the Age of 97 Years

Mrs. Sarah Harriett Cates, daughter of the late Peter C. and Harriett England Williams, was born November 8, 1873. Her mother and twin sister passed away November 8, 1873. Mrs. Cates said, "They told me I weighed 2 1/2 lbs. I was reared in the home of an uncle and aunt. Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Sergeant Simmons until I was 12 years old. My father married again and I went home to live with him. On December the 8th, 1892 I was married to William C. Cates, and there was 4 children born. My husband passed away January 18th, 1936. I still have my home that we went to in December, 1892."

"On September 23, 1899 I joined the United Baptist Church at Cates Pond. I love my church and I enjoy going to Church."


Early Day Grave

From Oregon County, Missouri Genealogical Library, Alton Court House, Miscellaneous Scrap Book, 1971: "One of the earliest known burials in the Powell Cemetery in Oregon County is that of Nancy Moreland Simpson, the first wife of Thomas Simpson, an early day Oregon County pioneer. The grave stone indicates she was born November 12, 1794, and passed away in December 1856. Another grave stone, not pictured here, is that of Jane Simpson, first wife of Peter R.. Simpson. She was born November 7, 1822, and died March 30, 1855. Both graves are representative of some of the earliest known graves in Oregon County…"

Known as the old Powell Cemetery, the burial ground rests in a pasture on land owned by Joe Dan Minich. Located about one half mile off of Long Hollow Road, this cemetery is a poignant reminder of the earliest pioneers in Oregon County.

For most of Oregon County’s residents, many of whose relatives are buried right here in the area, the cemetery probably means very little. But for the descendants of those buried there, this little piece of hollowed ground is a lasting memory.

Like many other similar cemeteries situated around the countryside, this one is known only to a few. One may search the hillsides and not find a thing, and then all of a sudden happen upon a gravestone shaped out of antiquity.

The Powell Cemetery can be reached only after a trip through some woods, a pasture, a short hike across a cleared pasture, and some careful stepping through thorn locust trees and blackberry bushes. A mother quail nesting in the thick underbrush will stir up and flutter away, offering a break in the solitude prevailing in the area.

At first glance, one would hardly believe the area is the site for a cemetery. But, when the first grave was dug in 1855, who was to be the judge of what the area would look like 117 years later?

Today the entire area takes up about 1/6 of an acre with a pasture spread out below. Over the years blackberry bushes have covered up many of the gravestones. A few well placed licks with, a machete or weed cutter reveals the preservation of the past. Old weathered stones reveal themselves nestled in the undergrowth, most of them having been at rest for well over 100 years. One often wonders how will members of existing generations be remembered 117 years from now?

Nancy Moreland’s gravestone has since been moved to the Bailey Cemetery in Oregon County, Missouri, site of an annual reunion of descendants.


From The South Missourian-Democrat Page 1, Cols. 5-6, Alton, Mo., Thursday, June 26, 1924

Do You Remember Mansfield F. Crow?

For our subject this week we have a unique character, and his presence among our people last Sunday only served as a good reminder of what he has accomplished.

Mansfield F. Crow, known here as "Mans Crow", left Oregon County 43 years ago and went to the state of Washington. He was poor and, practically uneducated. Out there he accumulated considerable wealth, for that day, and as he had always desired an education, he returned to his native state and entered the University at Columbia. After three years study in that institution, he entered Central College at Fayette, Missouri, and continued his studies there, preparing himself for the ministry. Today, he is pastor of the Methodist church at Palmyra, Missouri. It is a strong church and provides a beautiful and modern home for the Rev. and Mrs. Crow.

At the age of two years Mansfield was left an orphan. His father was a Captain in the Southern army during the Civil War and lost his life in the second year of the war. The son told us he searched for the grave for forty years and finally located it just across the Oregon County line in Howell County. Old Uncle Tom Simpson, grandfather W. C. Simpson, reared Mansfield until young Crow was 14 years of age, when Crow and another Oregon County lad "left the country", and went as far as Poplar Bluff, a long distance in that day. Mr. Crow related the incident in an amusing way and added that it was "innocence abroad".

Crow has a great memory. He called men, whom he had not seen for many years, by their first names, and could relate incident after incident concerning his boyhood days, naming the hounds owned by his pals better than they can now recall them.

The Rev. Crow entered the ministry in 1894 and did evangelistic work for a number of years. That work required a good deal of travel, and he made liberal use of his travels to broaden the education he had acquired in college. He held. successful meetings in Spokane, Washington, and in several of the other large towns of the Northwest, and could link with nearly every meeting an interesting story of running across old acquaintances. In one meeting in particular, at Wallawalla, Washington, he relates the story of converting his old pal, Taylor Person, formerly of Oregon County and later a business partner of Mr. Crow in the West.

The reception the Rev. Crow got in Alton last Saturday morning was one he no doubt will long remember. The people of Alton are not loud in their praise of anyone. They fire no cannon nor shout hurrahs for neither prince or peasant, but their friendship and love were none the less expressed on this occasion. Elderly men, men who had been the pals of Crow in the 70's approached him with outstretched hands and lingered while they grasped his hand, and wherever Crow went, he was met with such a feeling. The younger men love him for what he means to their fathers.

Few men stop in Alton that are more entertaining than the Rev. Crow. In description, he reminds us of Washington Irving; in reasoning and oratory, a Webster; and in narration, he is as swift and dramatic as Zane Grey.

The Rev. Crow got an education when the people of this county considered it next to impossible. He attended the rural schools, then taught penmanship in the county before leaving in 1881. But it was after he left that his education proper began, and at the age of 28. Today with his schooling, his travel and his wide range of reading, his practical experience as a minister, he is an educated man.

He preached at the Methodist church Sunday night, and a number of his old pals attended, some of whom had not been in a church house for years.

The Rev. Crow is a brother of Mrs. George Barton of east of Alton.


Thomas Brown Cabin

The following is not a newspaper clipping. It appears on a historical marker near Falling Spring in the Mark Twain National Forest (in Oregon County).

The half-dovetail notching used on the corners of the cabin helped shed water off the logs. Use of the half-dovetail joint may be one reason why this building is in good condition today.

Thomas and Jane Brown homesteaded the Falling Spring area in 1851. They settled in a land which looked very similar to their homeland, Tennessee.

The area around Falling Spring provided for their basic needs -- water for livestock and personal use, and trees from which to build a cabin. Known today as the Thomas Brown cabin, it was the first of four houses built near this site.

"We crossed the Mississippi River at what was called Green's Old Ferry and we crossed the Ohio River at what was called Golconda in an old horse boat. In that company were 17 persons. They were the Brown family, and my mother's two sisters (named Fowler) and the Reaser Family.

"On reaching the Missouri, the eldest brother, James M., shook hands with each of his brothers and sisters, bade them farewell and departed northward, settling in the St. Joseph area. the rest of the company continued to Oregon County."

Written in April 1929 by James Brown in his granddaughter's (Dorothy Thompson) graduation memory book.

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