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December 7, 2011

Posted Thursday, December 22, 2011, at 2:39 PM

By 1918, nearly a thousand people lived in and around Qulin. Most who didn't have a business, or worked in one, worked in timber. Most of the timber workers lived in the hotel or the numerous rooming houses in Qulin. These workers rode railroad flatcars to and from the logging camps daily.

Business houses in Qulin grew with the coming of people. In 1912, the Bank of Qulin was organized and located between the A.C. Ross store and the J.R. Nentrup store. Albert Kaich, Sr. was president of the bank; Homer L. Chapman was vice-president; and J.R. Nentrup had a substantial interest in the bank. Albert Kaich, Sr. and his son were killed when their automobile slammed into the Vie Street Bridge during the 1927 Poplar Bluff tornado.

The Bank of Qulin closed in 1932 due to the depression. During World War I, while most of the Qulin townspeople were watching a show brought by the railroad, the Kilgore distillery, the flour mill, and the hotel, burned to the ground (Some blamed German saboteurs). Some wheat separators were also sabotaged about this time by placing dynamite caps in the wheat shocks around Qulin. As a result of these events, the leading citizens of the town formed the Qulin Vigilantes to protect the town. Homer Chapman, J.R. Nentrup, and Mayor Tom Wilkerson headed the vigilante committee. Two men patrolled the town each night.

Many residents in Qulin traded at the George Banks store across from the depot on Front Street. In the second floor of this building, George Banks stored caskets. These varied from plain wooden boxes to carved wooden caskets. The dead were not embalmed in those days and were buried immediately to prevent deterioration.

Mr. Kilgore came to Qulin in 1914 and built a government distillery.

During World War I, when flour was rationed, people had to eat corn bread. The grist mill in Qulin ran day and night to supply the demand for meal. John B. Marshall made bricks from clay found on the Wilson place. no kiln was used, and the bricks were stacked and fired in the open. These bricks were shipped to market on the railroad.

Life was not easy in the "swamps" of southeast Butler County in the early part of this century. People learned to make the best with what they had. Harvesting of timber resources did provide a decent living for some. Agriculture replaced the timber resources when the timber ran out.

Two things in history helped shape the early destiny of the "swamps" in southeastern Butler County.

One was the local option law passed by the Missouri General Assembly prior to 1900. This bill allowed counties to determine whether they would be wet or dry concerning alcohol sales. The second thing was that two dry counties lay just three miles east of Qulin. The fact that Kilgore's distillery was located in Qulin gave rise to an abundant supply of liquor to be sold.

Between 1906 and 1920, several saloons sprang up along Front Street, in Qulin. Some of the more notorious saloons were the Smith and Hoy, which was located near the present water tower, the John Carter saloon across from Smith and Hoy, and the George Gray saloon. The Ches. Moore poker house was also popular hang out in the 1920s. Many people came from the dry counties of Stoddard and Dunklin, along with Clay County, to the south, to drink and gamble in Qulin during this period.

Many who worked in the logging camps were transients and people wanted by the law in other states. All of these people together on Front Street drinking led to much trouble for the town. This fact is attested to by the fact that 21 people are buried in the old city cemetery north of the present water tower that were either murdered or killed in gunfights on Front Street. Other victims were buried in later years in the new cemetery on the Oglesville road.

To keep the peace in the early days, the town employed a town marshal. One of the best known marshals was Texas Jack Graham from Texas. Texas Jack was a tall, husky fellow who feared nothing and kept the peace from 1914 to 1918. It is a known fact that, on one occasion, Texas Jack made 36 arrests in one day for drinking, fighting, and killing. Henry Wilkerson was marshal from 1920 to 1924. Tol M. Johns was marshal after Wilkerson. One of the best remembered gunfights occurred while Tol Johns was marshal. Wild Bill Bailey (who went barefoot most of the year) had a shoot-out with Bon Goodman. Several shots were fired by each man before the fight ended.

Much of this sounds like scenes from the old west, but people are much the same all over. When conditions are right, these events occur. Butler county was no exception.

As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House. If you would like to discuss any issue, please call 573-751-3629. Kent.Hampton@house.mo.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.



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