Historic Downtown
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Russellville History
Russellville, MO Est. 1838
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Origin and Early History of Russellville from the Sesquicentennial History Book:

It was about 1830 that settlers began to arrive in central Missouri.  Of course, trappers and traders had passed through before but had not stayed.  However, they must have taken stories about the area back to Tennessee and Kentucky, for it is from these parts that the first settlers came.
In 1831 Lamon Short, whose wife was a carpenter, and Enoch Enloe, Sr., whose wife also was a carpenter, sold their belongings and their farms in central Tennessee and started for Henry County, Missouri.  Exactly what route they took to Missouri is not known.  It is probable that they crossed the Mississippi River at Cairo and planned to go on to Henry County.
Late one evening a wheel broke on one of the wagons belonging to the Short family; they were forced to stop and make camp.  In this vicinity Lamon Short found a spring and a bee tree.  He noted the soil and large oak trees and decided that this was a good place to stop.  It was late spring, and it was time to put out crops if there was to be food for the next winter.  He saw that there was some open space about a mile to the southwest of their camp where he could plant.  Also, there was plenty of game: deer, opossums, wild turkeys, squirrels, and rabbits.
In the meantime, his brother-in-law, Enoch Enloe, Sr., decided that he too had traveled far enough and was ready  to settle down.  Soon other families began to arrive from Tennessee: Leslies, Hunters, VanPools, Simpsons, Morrows, and Starks.  They settled mainly in Cole and Moniteau counties.  These are the families that were prominent in the early days of the new settlement.  However, it was a man by the name of Buckner Russell, from whom the town took its name.
The stories of how the Russell family came to this area are varied.  Some believed that the family had earlier ties with the people from Carroll County, Tennessee.  It could be that Buckner Russell learned that many of his old neighbors in Tennessee had moved to this central Missouri settlement through Richard Morris, a land agent.  Others say that Buckner was a land promoter and storekeeper and could see business opportunities in the area.  Whatever was the reason, he moved here with his mother, his son, Joseph, and a few slaves.  Evidently his father had died previously as his grave is not in the vicinity.
Buckner Russell purchased land from Richard Morris, who had patented several hundred acres.  By 1838 most of the free land in the area had been taken, and there were enough settlers to warrant a town.  Russellville was surveyed for Richard Morris, B.W. Russell, and Benjamin P. Griffin and acknowledged by them on May 3, 1838.  The plat shows eight blocks, four on each side of Jefferson Street.  Jefferson Street was intersected by Marion Street and Lynn and Benton Alleys.  It was at this time that the settlement was named Russellville after Buckner.
The Basil and Elizabeth McDavitt addition was made in July, 1822. Since then, there have been a number of additions: Cox, Hoppenstock, Webb, George, Martin, Davis, Schubert, Bond, and Jungmeyer.  Immigrants from Europe came in the latter part of the 1800’s.  Many first worked on the farms as laborers and then bought land.  They brought with them their traditions and customs and new ways of doing things.  They came mainly from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Many of those from Germany settled north and east of Russellville; they were Lutherans, and this religion became established in the community.  On September 2, 1895, the town was incorporated with John Grant, a merchant, as the first chairman of the town board and Hugh Enloe as the first town clerk.  The growth of the town was helped with the coming of the railroad, the Lebanon Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, in 1881, which resulted in bringing better transportation of stock, grain, lead ore, and supplies in general.  On August 17, 1881, the iron bridge across the Moreau was completed, and the construction train was running.  Before the railroad, a stage coach came through Russellville.
The first newspaper, the Russellville Rustler, the only weekly newspaper in Cole County, was edited by Gutman Wilson as early as 1895.  George Tremaine became the editor soon afterwards; and it was through his efforts that the band park was added to the town.
The band had been organized in 1895; Mr. Tremaine was its first president.  On July 21, 1899, an article in the newspaper stated that “the business men of our town should call a meeting and discuss the erection of a public windmill and a bandstand.  And they should donate liberally.”  The city band stand was built and stood where Malcolm’s Upholstey is now located (directly across from where city hall is now). The original members were  ick Taylor, Charles Taylor, Gus Steffen, Evertt Webb, J.W. Hert, Charles Shepherd, George Cremer, Woody Wilhite, John Wilhite, Otto Wilhite, Kenneth Wilhite, and George Schnieder.
The band was reorganized, according to an article in the Russellville Rustler, on July 28, 1905, with eleven members, who planned to have the old instruments repaired and get new music and uniforms.  To meet these expenses they planned on soliciting donations.  The article continued, “Let all respond who are interested in the growth of our town.  Let everyone contribute something, and Russellville will soon have a band that will be a credit to our town.”  In August of the same year the members of the band had an ice cream supper on the lawn south of the Presbyterian Church, and a nice sum was realized for the purchase of instruments.  John Hert was the last living member of the band.
Religion, played an important part in the lives or Russellville citizens; several churches were established early in the history of the town.  The first were the Catholic, Methodist, and Presbyterian.  At one time there was also a Christian Church and what was then known as the Evangelical.  Now there are five different denominations, namely, Assembly of God, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, and Methodist. The first Sunday School was organized in 1858 by James Banister.
The town was not without culture.  In March, 1906, a music club was organized at the home of Mrs. L.L. Sullins with sixteen charter members, namely, Agnes Enloe, Bettie Currence, Alice Hunter, Lula Glascock, Katie Cash, Lois Cash, Ada Bond, Ethel Hert, Maude Newbold, Nannie Stevens, Oma Lane, Blanch Shikles, Frieda Schubert, Nellie Hunter, Nevada Mource, and Sadie Jones.  The club divided into two sections to be known as the Mozarts and the Beethovenes.  The club studied the history of music, prepared programs for their meetings, and gave several public entertainments during the summer months.
Chautauquas were another type of cultural entertainment in the early 1900’s.  These frequently consisted of lectures and musical programs.  A program of one such group in 1921 included a humorist and lecturer, a singing quartette composed of twin sisters and twin brothers, and an orchestra.  They performed in the town in the afternoons and evenings for several days.
In June, 1875, a tornado destroyed the new Masonic and Odd Fellows Hall, completed only that month.  The storm, also carried the Union Church building, three miles west of Russellville, off its foundation.  In January, 1883, a fire burned nearly all of the town.  Destroyed was the property of L. Zorn and Co., valued at $6,000; the Odd Fellows lost their building, in which was the store of H.L. Enloe and the drug store of Dr. J.B. Martin.  Also, the dwelling of Jacob Dampf was destroyed.  The Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri indicates that the structures were replaced by modern buildings.  This same source gives the population in 1890 as 120.
In 1890 the spring wagon was introduced into Russellville by Merchant Mike Schubert; surreys and buggies also make their appearance at about that time.  The first automobile in the town was purchased by Dr. Joe Leslie in 1909.
Although its growth in area and in population had not been phenomenal, through the years Russellville continued to be a thriving town.  Business places were usually successful, and new ones came into being each year.
Russellville continues to be a mixture of the old and the new - in buildings, in families, and in businesses.

Buckner W. Russell Family
Buckner W. Russell was born about 1798 in Russellville, Kentucky, that place also taking its name from the Russell family.  He moved from Barren County, Kentucky, in 1820 and located near Boonville in Cooper County, Missouri.  He married Katherine Yase, a girl who came to Cooper County on a pack horse with her brothers; their parents were dead.  They resided in Cooper County only a few years.  In 1824 they moved to a farm near Russellville, Missouri, where they raised sheep for wool and flax from which the family made its clothing.  They were a very progressive and prosperous family, Mr. Russell, along with Richard Morris and Benjamin P. Griffin, was instrumental in having the town of Russellville surveyed on May 3, 1831.  At that time the town took its name from Mr. Russell.
Buckner’s father is said to have been Joseph S. Russell.  His mother, Elizabeth, maiden name unknown, was born about 1771; she died in 1841 and is buried in the same cemetery in Russellville where her son is buried.  Buckner raised his family on the farm and died February 25, 1841, at about 50 years of age.
Katherine, his wife, was married after Buckner’s death to William Robertson on January 18, 1849.  William was born in 1798 at Glasgow, Kentucky, where his family lived and owned land before moving to Missouri.  William was first married to Mary Jane “Polly” Morris.  William, Polly, and Katherine are buried in the Union Christian Church Cemetery, northwest of High Point, Missouri.

The Buckner Russell Grave Site
This small burial ground is found within the city limits of Russellville, near Jefferson Street in the east part of town.  Just east of North Marion Street, there is an alley that is to the right.  The cemetery is a small area at the end of the alley; it is enclosed with a rock fence and then a chain link fence.  There are three legible gravestones; Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Russell, died in 1841; Buckner Russell, died February 25, 1848; Dr. William Campbell, died April 25, 1857, age 50 years.


The following is an account of Russellville when the town had a population of approximately 300 people, taken from the Cole County Illustrated Sketch Book and Directory of Jefferson City and Cole County.

Russellville, in the Moreau Township, the second town in size and importance in Cole County, is eighteen miles southwest of Jefferson City, the county seat and state capital, and 142 miles from St. Louis on the Lebanon Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.  It has four churches, a modern two-story brick school building (where are employed three teachers), an excellent weekly newspaper, flouring mill, bank, large modern brick hotel, livery stable, and, in fact, every convenience and advantage that can be found in a town of much greater pretensions.  The merchants are wide awake and progressive, their unusually large stock and low prices drawing to the town trade for many miles in all directions.  Most of the business houses are large, modern brick structures.  Its healthful location is on the watershed between the North and South Moreau.  Its customers are the prosperous and thrifty farmers who till the rich bottoms of the Moreaus, and the splendid wheat-growing and fruit-bearing ridges that lie between these streams.  In addition to this great source of wealth (sufficient to support a small city) there is, underlying the surface around town, immense deposits of high-grade lead ore, which is at present undeveloped, but one, the Boaz Mine, which has already added to the wealth of the county more than $50,000.  This great source of wealth will unquestionably, when it secures the attention of capital and mining experts, be the means of raising Russellville to one of the largest and most prosperous towns in an eminent degree.  It is their broad and well directed efforts that has placed Russellville so far in the lead of other trade centers in the county and made it a most desirable town in which to locate, for those wishing to reap the advantages of a prosperous and growing town, and at the same time enjoy the social and educational advantages of a highly moral and intellectual community.

Here is a list of the business owners and businesses of Russellville.  Listed in alphabetical order by last name/business name:
A. F. & A. M., No. 90—John Grant, secretary
Bierent, Alber; barber
Cash, L. G.; Pacific Express and insurance agent
Catholic Church; Rev. Keller, pastor
Connell & Busch, butchers
Craemer, Wm. H.; blacksmith and farm implements
Craemer, J. J.; flour and feed
Dampf, Jacob; blacksmith
Dampf, J. J.; dentist
Devilbliss, Jennie; teacher
Enloe, W. F.; insurance agent
Enloe, H. L.; jeweler
George & Goodwin, carpenters and contractors
George, W. R.; restaurant and jeweler
German Lutheran Church
Grant, J & Co.; general store and poultry dealers
Heidbreeder, L.; harness and saddler
Heidbreeder, H.; laundryman
Hert, John W.- Jr.; painter
Heidbreeder & Landrum; general store
Hodges, Alice; dressmaker
Hunter & Stevens; lumber yard
Jordan, Lee; teacher
Leslis Bros.; stock dealers
Martin & Norwood; druggists
M. E. Church (south), Rev. Stouffer; pastor
Martin, J. B.; physician
McAllister, G. F.; druggist
M. W. A.—L. G. Case; clerk
Nance & Schneider; stock dealers
Newbold, John; marble works
Norwood, W. W.; physician
Presbyterian Church, Rev. P. Ridelamp; pastor
Pacific Express Co.
Ritchie & Stark; flour and grist mill
Russellville Exchange Bank
Schmidt Bros.; saloon
Schneider Bros.; hotel
Schubert, M.; insurance agent
Schubert-Weyler Mer. Co.; general store and poultry dealers
Scott, Rev. W. H.; pastor Christian Church
Son, J. F.; physcian
Stark, F.; general store and poultry dealer
Tremain, M. L.; editor Rustler
Tremain, George W.; auctioneer and real estate
Tremain & Hodges; millinery
Wilhite Bros.; livery stable
Williams, Mattie; dressmaker
Williams, R. F.; stock and poultry breeder
This page was last updated: August 18, 2011
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