County Historical Society
Box 131, Paris, MO 65275
When I Was A Boy . . . Elk Fork Neighborhood
This article was published in the Monroe County Quarterly, Vol. 3, Issue 2, Summer 2006.
When I was a boy having been worked out to the end, I will now tell something of how things were when I moved from Howard county to this county of brave men and pretty women, fine horses and fine cattle and hogs. I came across the country by way of Sturgeon and on down the prairie to Tanner’s shop, south of Paris, where I turned north to the farm I had purchased on Elk Fork.
There have been many changes since then in this county. At that time the M. K. & T. had not yet been finished through the county and Madison, Holliday, Goss and Stoutsville had never heard the rumble of a train or the whistle of a locomotive. I really do not know whether these, now flourishing towns, had been born or were even on the map, but when the road was finally completed; they came to the front in leaps and bounds and now have fine schools, electric lights and are strictly up to date in every way. The town of Holliday came very near missing to get on the map because the first station was laid out at the farm of Uncle Billy Foster about 1 1/2 miles east of Holliday, but a little maneuvering at the right time with the right parties caused Foster to lose out and the result is one of the best and most prosperous in the State is Holliday. At that time Paris was not one fourth the town it is today and is still growing in every way. These county towns are proof of what a railroad can do for a county, even though it is not what you would call a first-class road, but sorry as it is we could not get along very well without it.
When crossing from Sturgeon to the farm I had purchased, we came down the prairie all the way from Sturgeon to Tanner’s shop. During the entire distance of about 25 miles we can remember of seeing but three or four farm houses in all that stretch of country that is now so densely populated with prosperous, enterprising farmers and stock raisers. All along that long, dusty road was a long stretch of prairie grass as high as a man’s head, and in many places water was standing in the grass where now it is high and dry. Besides that there were millions of green head horse flies that kept the horses in a fret all day long. But thank goodness, the going of the prairie grass sounded the requiem for the big flies and now they are a thing of the past.
After getting somewhat reconciled to my new home and had become acquainted with my neighbors, I was of the opinion that I was in the best neighborhood to be found in any country and I still feel that way about my old Elk Fork neighborhood. (See map below.) Among my neighbors were D. A. McKamey, J. J. McGee, John Whitesides, Sam Woolridge, Ben Chapman, Jerry Baker, Bob Simpson, Uncle Billy Vaughn, James Vaughn, Harrison Vaughn, John Vaughn, Uncle Joe Helm, Hugh McGee, Sr., Milas Johnson, Daniel Johnson, Ben and Jeff Mallory, Rueb Harlow and a few whose names I cannot recall now. With hardly an exception these men were as fine a lot of men as ever lived in any community anywhere. They did right because it was right to do so and not from policy or hope of reward. Where are they now? All dead but two or three and gone, I trust, to receive from the good Lord the plaudit “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.” Bob Simpson is in the Odd Fellows Home. Jerry Baker is in California and W. Uline lives in Michawakee, Ind., if he has not died lately.
But what of the neighborhood that we loved so well in days gone by? There have been great changes on the farms and most of them have passed from the old families into the hands of others who were not known in that neighborhood in the good old days of which I write. The saddest part of this story is that some of the families I speak of not one of the family still lives. Of the McKamey family only one survives, Mrs. Belle McKamey of Paris, all the rest of the family having passed to their reward. Of the family of Judge Jack McGee only one lives, his son, Judge Tom McGee of Paris. So it goes on down the line until I sometimes feel like every one I knew in the long ago are dead and gone and I alone have been left, but once in a great while I meet with some one I knew when life was young and full of cheer, but like angel’s visits, these meetings are few and far between.
When I moved to Paris, Main street had a lot of old wooden ramshackle buildings on both sides of the street, but few of them of any intrinsic value. All the churches were cheap wooden buildings and there was not a side walk in the whole town except in front of the stores, and they were of common, badly burned brick. Where half of the town is now was a meadow when I came, and a long time afterwards. What a change there has been. We now have three new church buildings that have cost $30,000 each. Two school buildings that cost more than that and the prettiest and most up-to-date public library in the state. No town in the state has better streets than we have. Then we have water works and electric light plants second to none. Yes, we have seen wonderful changes all along the line since coming to Monroe county.
This page last edited on 23 Sep 2014.
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