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HURLEY-1920’S --1990’S
(Written By Ray Gold)
Submitted June 25, 1998 by Ray Gold 

I was born August 27, 1919 two miles north-east of Hurley in Stone County, Missouri. Where I reside at this date, 1995. As I look back at the changes in this area in the last seventy-five years, there are many. Perhaps more changes in this period of time than any other seventy-five year period that we have record of. I will try to capture some of it on paper as I remember it.

No two people will remember the same things just alike, and there is good reasons for that. We were all real close to our families, and because of poor roads, poor transportation, very few telephones, no electricity, no TV, no money, and many other reasons. We really didn’t miss any of this stuff, because we didn’t know anything about it. Everyone lived about the same way as their neighbor. We all had out houses and no running water in our homes. If we were lucky we had a cellar full of canned fruit and vegetables, an old cow for our milk, and a smoke-house full of hog meat and lard. That is a few of the reasons we never got very far from home. When we were real young, everything was strange to us if we were ten miles from home. So we just rememberd things that happened in our small world.

When I was about two years old, my Dad and Mom moved to Hurley, where we lived until the spring of 1927. We lived on the land where Ray Robb later built a home and small store across the street from where the new High School was to be built. On May 10, 1927 we moved away from there. The New High School was being built, some of the framing was up on that date. I believe the school may have moved to the new building that fall. The old school house was still upon the hill north of the Methodist church, the grade school stayed there until the new Grade School was built by the WPA in about 1934-35.

I attended school a few months up on the hill, then a year or two at the Primitive Baptist Church house. I believe they only had school there for about two years, until the High School moved up to the new school house, then the grade students moved out of the church house and back up on the hill.

The first fatal accident involving an automobile, that I knew about, happened on the Street at Hurley while we lived there. Marjorie Spears, who was ten years old, ran out into the street after a ball and was struck by a car, driven by Uncle Boone Eaton. That happened May 8, 1926 about three houses down the street toward town from where the new High School was to be built. She was a daughter of Charley and Sadie Spears.

The road from Hurley to Crane, went up by where the new school was to be built, and on up to the foot of the hill, on up the hollow to where Clarence Head lived for several years, and later Ralph Wright and his family lived there. Then on over the hill past the A.J. Wright place, and on past the Uncle Brian Rickman hose and past the Black Jack School House, turned south about a mile, then south-west past where George Gatton lives at the present time, and on over the hill past the Crane Cemetery and down the hill into Crane.

Later the road was changed and went straight west from the foot of the hill west of the Hurley School to Highway 13 two miles north of Crane. I am not sure when Highway 13 was paved. The road through Hurley was not paved until in the 40’s. The Hurley to Union City road was made into a State road in the early 30’s. It was maintained with a horse-drawn grader. It was maintained for several years by Charley Wright, and a team of big black horses. He never hurried his team, but they moved pretty steady all day, and he worked about five days a week, except bad weather.

Most of the county roads were simply little narrow wagon roads, that had been bladed by a grader that was pulled with a bulldozer. At least the graders in this area did not have their own motor until later. Wilson Turner and Emmit Langley operated the dozer and grader. Lot of mud holes and rough ledgey roads. They built slabs across some of the water ways and used lots of tin horns and culverts.

Some of the Country Stores in the area during the early 30’s were; A grocery store a canning factory and a country School, called Cedar Hill, at Quail Spur.
Union City had a grocery and feed store, a school, and church. Loren Leath had a canning factory 4 miles east of Hurley.
Possum Trot, had a grocery and feed store.
Browns Spring, had a grocery and feed store, a tomatoe canning factory, and church.
Bradfield, had a grocery and feed store and a church.
Jamesville, had a grocery and feed store, and a church.
Hampton, had a grocery and feed store, and a school.

Country Schools were located at Union City, Possum Trot, Hampton, Henry, Walnut Grove, Black Jack, Oak Grove, Brown Springs, Otto, Cedar Hill, those are the one’s that I remember.

Hurley had a Bank, that was run by Bud Estes. It failed in the early 30’s. Hurley had a Chevrolet Dealer, it was operated by Chub Parsons. Chub had a garage with his car dealership. Clarence Gold was the main mechanic there for several years, he opened his own garage at his home east of Hurley in about 1942. Hurley was a busy little town in the 20’s and 30’s. Their hitchrack was at the east end of the street across the little branch there. At one time they had a creamery there, it was called the Sugar Creek Creamery, and it was operated by Fred Young. Al Springer was a Justice of The Peace, Bob Baker was a Constable or Deputy Sheriff. John McHolland and Pryor Neil had their barber shop and shoe repair on the east side of Sugar Creek against the hill there. A foot bridge crossed the branch to the barber shop. On the west side of the little branch of water was a old store building, Mrs. Otto opperated a General Store there. Then on the west side of that was another barber shop, at one time run by, Marion “Mope” Gaultney, then Jake Clouse. On the west side of that was a Restruarant, at one time operated by Glen Grant, then Ben Fugitt, and Lester Fugitt, then by Laurence Logan, and Tom and Lyndal Mallonee. On the west side of that was a ice house. Then next to that was the J.L.Baker and Don Likins general store and hardware. Don Likins also was the undertaker for Hurley. I remember going to a funeral when I was young. He had a horse drawn hearst, everybody was there in Model T Fords. We went on to the Molly Wright Cemetery from over west of Hurley, and we had to wait an hour or so before the hearst got there.

The Bank of Hurley was in the north-west corner of that building. Up over the Bank and Hardware Store was four or five rooms, which were rented to people passing through, and finally rented to some of the Hurley people. I believe Andrew Ghan and his wife lived up there for a year or so. Aunt Mary Hood raised her grand son Eddie Brown, they lived up there for a while.

On the east side of the railroad tracts and on the north side of the street, and on the east end of the block. At one time there was a filling station there run by Elwin “Biggin” Spears, and then on the west side of that was the lumber yard, owned and operated by E.R. “Edd” Scott. West of that was the postoffice for a while, run by Kenneth Logan (son of Al Logan). also in the same place was a hardware store for a few years, it was run by Herb Plowman. West of that hardware store was the Al Logan General Merchandise and Grocery Store.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was president and shut the banks down and started the WPA, which gave a lot of people work, on the roads up and down the roads to Hurley. Al Logan was a Democrat and that gave him a pull to be in charge of the hiring of workers and that gave him an advantage in the grocery store. The workers would trade with him to keep from losing their job on the WPA. I remember hearing the workers talk about it.

On the west side of the tracks and north side of the street, there was a small building setting back away from the main street it was a produce house run by Charlie Israel, he bought eggs, chickens, and furs of all kinds and rabbits, etc..Next, was a service station owned and operated by Clarence Burton, and later by Irvin Burton, they also sold beer there. That brings us over to the Hurley Spring Creek Mill, which was one of the first business at Hurley. It was owned and operated by Hick Whinery and Cub Likins for many years, and later by Lloyd Howard it was a thriving business for many years in Hurley. Of coarse the Mill was run by water for many years, the Dam was built there for that purpose. It was later operated by motor driven machinery. The old Mill and Dam is a story all of its own.

On the south side of the street and next of the tracks and west of the tracks, was the Blacksmith Shop owned and operated by Luther Hay, he was there for a several years. Then he moved across to the west side of Spring Creek and built a shop and hardware store on the north side of the street there. After he sold out and moved to Springfield, it was used for the telephone office and operated by Herbert McHolland, they had moved it from the old Bank Building on the other side of town.

After Luther Hay moved from the building by the tracks, Shorty Davis and Leon Langley ran a Blacksmith shop there for a short time. Then it was bought and remodeled and Ones Anderson ran a liquor and grocery store there for several years.

Then joining that store on the west side was the Hurley Garage. This is the same building where Chub Parsons had his Chevrolet Agency in the 20’s. The garage was there for several years, it was run by Elwin Spears for a time, and later run by Sam Russell. The building finally burned, I am not sure but it was probably in the early 60’s. On the west side of that was another barber shop, run part of the time by Mope Gaultney and part of the time by Jake Clouse. Next door west of that was at one time the Hurley Farmers Exchange, that is where they started doing business. Their Office, feed, poultry and eggs, were all in that building until about 1925, when they built a new Farm Store on the east side of the tracks where the feed store is at today, except it was in a different building, which burned in about 1984 or 85.

The place where the Farmers Exchange started, was later used for a restaurant by several different operators. It is presently being used for a comunity building. Next door west was used for a restaurant and later turned into a dwelling.

On the west side of the creek and south side of the street was a Grocery store that was run by Mark Cox. Ruff Hurst had a shoe repair shop there next to the creek.

The Oto Doctor came to town in the early 30’s and was located there on the banks of the creek and practiced there for a few years. People came from far and near to him. (See the book--”The Wizard of Oto”). I don’ t remember what happened to those buildings. Later, about the early 50’s another building was built and Edwin Dean run a pool hall there for a few years. Still later it was made into a Church and is used for that purpose now. The next business place on that block is a garage and is still in use there today.

On up the street on the north side of the street is another place, which was where Hobert Jr. Jones had his TV and Radio shop for years.

Back down town and down the tracks a block or so was the Hurley Elevator and Mill, owned for many years by the Hurley Farmers Exchange. The building is still standing.

Next down the tracks was MOP Station. The old fertilizer bin that was built by Therrel Curbow. Also the old stock yards that was used there in the 20’s to ship out loads of cattle. Then on down to the Canning Factory, which was operated for several years by Harve Slentz. Almost all of the old timers hauled tomatoes to that factory. During the early days of the great depression, the government shipped in beef and it was canned there. Still later the ground there has been made into a rodeo ground and grand stands.

Much more could be written about the little town of Hurley, a whole story could be written about “The Wizard of Oto” “The Spring Creek Mill”, and “The farmers Exchange”, and “The Hurley School System”, “The Hurley Church of God”, “The Southern Baptist Church”, “The Methodist Church”, “The Church of Christ”, and “The Primitive Baptist Church”.

Even though it is not a very big place, it never was a ghost town.

On Saturday afternoon the farmers would all come to town and bring their produce and get their next weeks supplies, and visit their neighbors. After all they didn’t have any radio or television to hurry home to. They came in their wagons or buggies, and tied their teams to the hitchrack at the east edge of town, the model T’s was parked on the streets down town. Our mom would give us a nickel, or a dime at the most. We could buy a nickels worth of stick candy and have a nickel left. Or we could go all out and buy a dimes worth, and that was a lot of stick candy.

The circus also came to town, elephants, tigers, lions, bears, huge snakes, fortune tellers, the clown and all the side shows, etc.

The medicine man would show up with their vaudiville shows, and sell their cure all Patent medicine. Oquaka was one of their big sellers, to hear them tell it. It would cure any thing from a snake bite to pneumonia fever, and you could buy a pint bottle full for 50 cents with a money-back guarantee. Of course they would be gone before you had a chance to try it out.

The movie came pretty often in the summer time, and put up their tent so they could charge to get in. It cost from about .35 cents to .50 cents to see the show, and that was a lot back then.

Hurley had their own mens baseball team in the middle thirties, they belonged to a league that was here at that time. Other teams in the league were; Crane, Aurora, Miller, Nixa, Boaz, and probably others. The Hurley ball diamond was in the field back of the Hurley Church of God, 2 miles east of town. Some of their players were; Lloyd Garoutte, (catcher). Curt “Smokey” Slaughter, (pitch). Marvin Wilson, (catcher). Luie Wilson, (pitcher). Don Jones, Darrell Jones, Kenneth Logan, Dutton Langley, Francis Hair, Snooks Hair, Vince Crumbliss, Kermit Conrad, Bill Conrad, Edgar (Cap) Ragsdale. I was only about 15 or 16 years old, and I filled in when some was absent for a game or two. Then WW2 came along and discontinued the league and never re—organized after the war.

Hurley had at least 2 doctors during the early days of its existance. Dr. Noblett, and Dr. Jessup.

The Hurley school had some good basket ball teams down through the years.

They have had a saddle club for several years, and have several events each year.

The little town of Hurley just might come back. It don’t act like it’s going to die.

They are building a new school this year (1995).

The grocery store of that day and time had some of the staples in bulk, he bought things like beans and sugar in 100# bags, vinegar by the barrel, and coffee was not ground, but he would grind it while you waited, and weigh up the amount you wanted of beans or sugar. Flat chewing tobacco came in slabs in boxes. He would cut off the size of plug that you wanted, with a tobacco cutter that was made for that purpose.

Flour was used in large amounts each family would use about 25# each week. Lard was a large item that was bought in several sizes of containers, 5 & 10# pails and a stand of lard contained about 5 gallons of lard. Kerosene (coal oil) was used about every day to start a fire in the cook stove. Kerosene was also used every night and early morning in the kerosene lamp.

The Missouri Pacific Railroad came through Hurley in about 1905 and served all points between Springfield and Crane, it was discontinued and the tracks were taken out on election day in November of 1972. I watched the last regular train as it traveled up the tracks north of Hurley. Of course the work train was the last train to be in Hurley on that election day.

The train depot agent in Burley was Stanley McHolland for several years then his daughter; Roxie Belle McHolland Wiley was the agent until it closed in about the late 50’s or early 60’s. 

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