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August 8, 2012

Posted Tuesday, August 7, 2012, at 12:26 PM

History of Hornersville -- Home of the famous Wicker's BBQ Sauce, and the late "little" people


South of Senath on Horse Island and Buffalo Island to the county line there were some of the finest farms in the county; still there was much unimproved land and fine timber there, especially in the vicinity of Cardwell. From Kennett south to Cotton Plant on Grand Prairie and past Hornersville to the county line, were as fine farms as any county could boast.

W. H. Horner came to Dunklin County in 1832, and located on the bank of Little River, entering from the Government, at the old land office in Jackson, Mo., and built a large log house - which was yet standing and owned by VVm. Herman - by the side of a mound where he would have dry land in time of an "overflow" and there opened up a small farm.

Believing he was near the head of navigation on a good trading point, he concluded to lay off a town. In 1842, he laid out the town of Hornersville, Commencing at his own dwelling place, a plot along the river bank. The town site was one of the most beautiful in the county; commanding a splendid view of the open river, it was higher than the surrounding country and was well drained by Little River, which at that point, more especially in spring, was exceedingly pretty.

The first merchant in the town was Jesse Storv. Other early businessmen were Molt, Horner, Satterfield ,Wagster and Douglass. Joel Chandler was another early resident and merchant of Hornersville. in its early days " Hornerstown " was a brisk trading point; the hunters and Indians bringing their furs to the merchants and buying of them their traps, tents, ammunition, guns, etc.

By 1861 it had become a considerable town, had a schoolhouse, church and other such establishments. It was, however, nearly destroyed by the war, and for several years after made very slow progress, having not more than one or two small merchandise houses and a grocery or saloon or two. W. F. Shellon kept a saloon in a little house which had no door shutter. A box, or some similar contrivance, was placed across the door at night to keep the cattle out. The counter was a dry goods box; the stock on hand consisted of a barrel of liquor and a tin cup. The cup was filled and passed around to the boys.

Other business men here about this time were Edwards and McCrackin, H. G. Pasley, Henry Stewart, and later Harkey and Schultz. They commenced business about 1870, and were very successful, soon ranking among the best business men in the county. The leading merchant at the time was Dr. John L. Mathews, who was one of the best posted men in financial and mercantile matters in Southeast Missouri. Dr. Mathews kept one of the best stocked general stores south of Kennett.

Hornersville was one of the best trading points in the south end of the county and its merchants sold thousands of dollars' worth of goods every year.

Some of the lands around this town were subject to overflow in spring, none in the county, however, exceled it in fertility. These high waters did not come every spring. The waters had not been high enough to inconvenience Hornersville and vicinity since 1886.

It was a reasonably healthy locality, and thus needed only two practicing physicians Drs. E. T. Anderson and Floyd Kinsolving. A daily hack from Kennett brought the U. S. mails. Tom Kinsolving was postmaster.

Mrs. Samuel Edmonston and Mrs. W. N. Cole accommodated the traveling public, and their guests frequently dining on wild goose, duck, turkey, venison steak, frog legs and fresh fish, as this was one of the greatest hunting and fishing centers in the county. The history of Hornersville would fill a good-sized volume in itself, and can only be touched lightly here. At first it was only a peaceful little hamlet where the steamboats and keelboats from Memphis landed to exchange their wares for produce, game and furs.

In those days the fur buyers were ordinary personages, and in spring laid their sacks of gold in the tents of the hunters as though they were so many sacks of salt. A thief was considered the meanest and most insignificant of all creatures and hence the gold was never touched. Fighting and brawling among the neighbors was unheard of, and preaching at people's houses, singing meetings, corn husking, old fashioned quilting and log rolling were frequent occurrences. But all this soon changed, as this place was found to be a good-hiding place for desperadoes, it being impossible to trace them through the dismal swamps of Little River.

John A. Murrell's gang made Hornersville one of their meeting-places, and as the citizens were too scarce to put them down, they had things about their own way for a while. They at first palmed themselves off on the citizens as Masons, and when a man was persuaded to take the oath, to break it meant certain death, thus the only thing he could do was to "keep quiet," after such persuasion.

Soon after the suppression of this gang the Civil War broke out, and as Hornersville was about the largest town in the county it was the common stopping- place of the "Yanks," the " Secessionists " and "Guerrillas," when they were in the county. During these hostilities the town hall was burned and the town nearly demolished. It was several years after the war before order was even partially restored.

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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