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December 14, 2011

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

Fourteen miles south of Poplar Bluff is the town of Neelyville. Founded as a timber shipping point on the Missouri Pacific Railroad in the early 1870's. First called Neely's after the owner of the land where the town was located. Very large lumber mills have been located there and tram roads ran out to bring in the timber. In 1886 a branch railroad was built connecting Neelyville with Doniphan. It is now a center of cotton and rice production. Timber resources in the county were rapidly depleted during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and construction of drainage ditches was begun about 1908 to open the area to agriculture.

In the vicinity of Neelyville, several hundred prehistoric earthen mounds have yielded well-preserved artifacts, and Missouri archeologists have declared that in this corner of the State was one of the most densely populated settlements of the mound builders. Bones and pottery have been unearthed in large quantities, though much investigation remains to be done before the survey of the area is complete.


Writing of the town of Holcomb, in 1895 a resident wrote that in 1880 "one could not see over a quarter of a mile in any direction on account of the heavy timber, and deer roamed the woods in the neighborhood even in the daytime." The sawmills soon moved in, however, and today the fertile black land is divided into productive, well-cleared farms. Platted about 1870, the village was named for Louis Holcomb, an early settler. It is a shipping point for cotton, melons, and soybeans.


Bailey's End was the first name given the town of Broseley. This was because the settlement was at the end of Bailey's Railroad, which connected with the Butler County Railroad, a railroad organized in 1900 to serve the area with transportation for passengers and freight, particularly timber, and its products. In 1910 the postal department refused the name and the town was renamed Hunt for the first postmaster and the man in whose home the office was located, Richard and Alfred Hunt.

Wm. N. Barron of Poplar Bluff, manager and one of the organizers of the Butler County Railroad, renamed the town Broseley in 1913 in honor of his wife Martha's hometown in Shropshire, England. Mr. Barron named the towns along the railroad. Also born in England, William Barron came to the United States as a very young man and settled in Poplar Bluff at the age of 30 in 1886. He was prominent in the development of Butler County.

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. You can also email me at Kent.Hampton@house.mo.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.

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