The USGenWeb Project
History of Jonesburg
by Bob Ockerhausen (2001). Used by permission.
Transcribed by Ed Shelton
James Jones came from Rockingham County, Virginia, in 1829. There were few settlers here, mostly west and north of Jonesburg, and also a stagecoach line from St. Charles to Booneslick in Howard County. One of the drivers for the stagecoach line was Hampton (Hamp) Ball. His route was from St. Charles to Mineola.
James Jones rented for one year the widow Bost's farm, which was three or four miles northeast of High Hill. Then he entered lots of land on which Jonesburg is now situated and built a house in the eastern part of town. This was the first house built in Jonesburg and was located west of Bolton's (Cemetery Road).
In about 1828 the post office called High Hill was established west of Jones's about where the Jerry Schwartzes live (Shelton Lane). A few years later it was moved west to Ferguson's place, about a quarter of a mile west of what is now Stu Sinclair's. It then moved on west until it finally lodged at High Hill which is now the town of High Hill.
Jonesburg didn't have a post office at this time but had a big mailbox at Jones's Stage Station and the stagecoach would pick up the mail and carry it on.
The first building of any kind put up in Jonesburg was a small one-story house built in 1837, used as a saloon and trading post by James Duckworth. It stood in what was then the northwest part of town and is now west of the Terry Brookes (Third Street and Lion Ave). The first dwelling house was also Mr. Duckworth's and later some was added to the house and it became Mrs. Finney's Hotel, which was later the Midland Hotel. This stood where the Main Street Saloon now stands (First and Main).
No actual effort to found the town here was made until after the North Missouri Railroad was built in 1857. Until this time the railroad only reached as far as the Scudder Ranch Road, about two miles east of town. It was then called the "Y" lane road because the railroad had a Y there where they would turn the engine around. Wood cutters hauled wood and loaded it on railroad cars and shipped the wood to St. Louis Market for firewood.
The depot building was put up in 1858 after the citizens had agreed to pay the railroad company considerable subscription to defray all expenses of the building, the side track, etc.
With the building of the railroad the town got a start. Since it had a railroad and a depot it had to have a name, so it was called Jonesburg after James Jones who was the first depot agent.
The post office was also established in 1858 and James Jones also served as the first postmaster.
In 1857, Henry Godfrey moved to town and put up a blacksmith's shop and later added a livery stable which was located approximately where Taynor's Conoco is now (Historical Society Building).
In 1858 Mr. Jones sold 20 acres of land embracing the town site to W. L. Salsbury and A. C. Stewart, who at once proceeded to lay out the town which they called Jonesburg. This twenty acres comprised what is now the southwest section of town south of the railroad tracks.
There were several farmers around Jonesburg and many of them had slave labor. Many of them raised tobacco and there were several tobacco barns. Liggett and Myers built a tobacco factory, first in Jonesburg, but they stayed only a few years and moved to St. Louis where they are still in business. The factory was across from Ludy's Store, just west of the Historical Society.
After Liggett and Myers moved to St. Louis, Mr. Henry Godfrey used the factory building and made wagons, along with his blacksmith and livery business.
While slavery was still in practice they had slave dealers who would buy and sell slaves at auction in Jonesburg.
In 1858 a storehouse built by Webb Baker was put up north of the depot where Bob Hill's Plumbing used to be (Arlington and Main) and after that Morotz Lens, a German, put up the second store where Mrs. Martin's store used to be (Second and Main).
Prior to this time Main Street was what is now known as Lions Avenue and the few businesses and houses there are in town were built along this street. However, after the railroad was built, all the business were built along Front Street. Front Street is now called Main Street.
After the railroad was built here there seem to be no need for the stagecoach line so Hamp Ball, who was a stagecoach driver, started a gristmill and a sawmill located southeast of Jonesburg, east of the present-day cemetery and Mrs. Hoelscher's. He would grind wheat into flour and corn into corn meal. He also sawed lumber and logs for anyone and sold lumber.
At the outbreak of the war Jonesburg did not have more than 200 inhabitants. There were only three or four stores, and they stood along Front Street, north of the railroad tracks. In the middle of July 1861, when the first Federal troops (Morgan and Smith's Eighth Missouri) came up the railroad. It was three fourths of a mile west of Jonesburg (west of Mrs. Ben Nelson's place) where they were ambushed by Joe Sublet and his raiders. Then in the fall of 1861 came Captain Barley and Company of Krekel's Regiment of St. Charles German Militia. They robbed Copp's and Webb Baker's stores of what pleased them and plundered the people of the neighborhood indiscriminately. They arrested Wright Smith and Joe Price, and it was feared for a time that they would kill them, so fierce and brutal was their demeanor.
In July of 1863, Edward McCullom, a farmer living four miles north of town, was shot and killed by Thomas H. Hess, a military man, while they were in Henry Godfrey's blacksmith shop in Jonesburg. A coroner's jury exonerated Hess, and a military investigation by the Provost-Marshal at Troy resulted in his discharge.He was later the village postmaster.
At the close of the Civil War, Jonesburg was still a hamlet of but a few houses.
John Stubbs and H. H. Camp formed a partnership in 1865 and 1866 and built 15 or 20 houses in various portions of the town, for sale or rent. This gave the town a start in the right direction.
When the railroads were first built they burned wood. Just east of what is now Charlie Fleahman's, about three quarters of a mile west of the then town of Jonesburg, there was a kiln where they would burn ballast. The burnt ballast was used for the railroad track road beds. Later when the engines began burning coal they used the cinders for a road bed. Now, since the engines burn diesel, they use chat and gravel for the road beds.
Around the 1880's, Jonesburg had a freight line to Price's Branch and Bellflower. All freight and supplies for these towns were shipped to Jonesburg and the freight line hauled the freight and supplies to the business places of the other towns.
Jonesburg also had a hackney coach line to Truxton, Hawk Point, and Troy, where they would take passengers to each of the following towns. The Burlington railroad short-cut was built through Troy and Bellflower in the late 1890's. There was no further need for the freight lines and hackney lines so they were discontinued.
In the 1880's, the Chiles brothers were in the timber business. They made ties for the railroad, hoops for barrels, and mining props. The workers that made ties were called "tiehackers" and the ones who made hoops were called "hoop pole shavers."
Dr. Jones, the grandson of James Jones, started his doctor's practice in the late 1880's. He practiced all his life in Jonesburg. Later he also had several other businesses. He had a drug store and his office was in the back of it. The building had two stories and in front was a winding stairway made of iron. The town well was east of the stairway and had been there for a long time. The Jonesburg Mercantile was his and he had the livery stable.
Where Brooke Brothers barn stands (Jones and Lion) was Dr. Jones's. He kept stallions and jacks for breeding purposes. People from all around would take their mares there to be bred. In the fall of the year he would have a colt show and would give ribbons to the best colt or mule from his stock. Later the colt show and the street fair were put together and we had both at the same time.
Jonesburg had its first telephones in 1910. Dr. Jones brought the telephones to Jonesburg. He was also the owner of the company.
In the late 1800's, Cuno's had a brick plant south of Jonesburg where the Cuno house now stands (Massas Creek Road). They made brick there for several years.
In the late 1880's, Mr. Henry Godfrey sold his blacksmith business to Mr. Miller who had it for several years and later his son John Miller took over the business. In the early 1920's he sold it to Oscar Pietzschke.
In the 1880's. the Wilsons lived north of Jonesburg where they had a small mill where they ground wheat into flour and corn into corn meal for themselves and their neighbors. Around 1900 three of the Wilson brothers moved to town and built a flour mill behind the present-day Jonesburg Implement (Main Street and Massas Creek Road) where they ground wheat into flour for years. They sold the flour not only to Jonesburg but several other towns.
Later when farmers were raising more wheat the Wilson brothers built an elevator where they stored wheat and what they didn't use they shipped to the St. Louis market. this elevator was built south of the jail. This flour mill was powered by a steam engine and they also had a pond for water.
In the early 1920's, the Farmers' Elevator was built and was in business until they sold out in 1981 to the Agri-Center.
At the back of the jailhouse was an ice house. Ed McCullough put up ice in the wintertime for his meat market and used the ice summertime to keep his meat. Others also put up ice from the mill pond and the Hess pond and would sell ice in the summer to customers.
About 1900, there was a stock pen built next to the railroad, where people held their livestock, such as cattle, horses, and hogs, which were then loaded into railroad cars and shipped to market. This stock pen was behind the present-day city park.
There were several stock buyers, Big Jim Mason, Little Jim Mason, Hale Young, and others. Later Jim Mason's son, Lafayette Mason, helped his dad. During World War One, Lafayette Mason was a mule buyer for the army.
In 1907, Jonesburg had a population of 600, 125 houses, 40 businesses, and six churches.
Somewhere around 1910 there was a clay pit southwest of Jonesburg on the Ahman farm, now Red Sellenreick's place. A railroad was built to haul clay to Jonesburg to be loaded onto Wabash cars. West of Jonesburg was where they were loaded in the area of what used to be the old West End (Railroad Tracks and Gladstone).
About 1907, Montgomery County passed a law prohibiting the sale of liquor. A group from Jonesburg bought the old Ball School. The Ball School District was building a new one. The group moved the old school house about one mile south of town over the Warren County line and the place was called "Happy Hollow" and was located on Massas Creek Road roughly in front of Roy A. Patterson's place.
Jonesburg got its first electricity in 1916. Jim Shelton was the owner of the light plant, which was in the east part of town behind the Wilson house. Jim had it a few years and sold out to Missouri Edison Company in the 1920's. Jim Shelton was one of the first to have a truck and hauled livestock to St. Louis. It was a Model-T Ford.
In the early 1920's, Harbison and Walker had a clay mine southwest of Jonesburg on the Cuno farm. At first they hauled the clay to Pendleton with horses and wagons, but later they built a railroad to Jonesburg and hauled it to Jonesburg and loaded it on the Wabash cars.
In the early 1890's, a tornado went through Jonesburg. It started southwest of town and went northeastward. The McCullough house was located on Massas Creek Road about where Jack Russel lives now. The tornado completely destroyed the house and killed Grandma McCullough. The next house was Miller's. It took the southeast corner of the house. It stood where Wilma Bolton's house stood. It went from there to the Godfrey house (Harold Fischer farm across from Kaminski on Highway N) and the Krieger house (Paul Schmidt's farm) destroying both houses, but didn't hurt anyone. In 1979 a tornado went through almost on the same path and destroyed three trailers completely and damaged several others and some houses. It also injured four people.
Dr. Hale Pittman, son of Irvin Pittman the first sheriff of Montgomery County, lived near Jonesburg before it was laid out. He practiced among the first families of the village, but Dr. Anderson of Lincoln County was the first resident doctor. He came to Jonesburg before the War. Next was Dr. Forman, then Dr. Jones followed by Dr. Ball. Dr. Jones and Dr. Ball practiced all their life in Jonesburg.
Dr. Shelton was the first dentist here. He started his practice here in 1910 and practiced all his life here in Jonesburg. His office was in the southeast corner of the second story of Mrs. Martin's building (northwest corner of Second and Main). Dr. Trail practiced here for a few years after Dr. Shelton.
The first undertaker here was Z. Stephens, then Charles Thurman, followed by Carl Harding. Ray Means was here but only stayed one or two years.
The first newspaper in Jonesburg was the Montgomery County Leader, established in 1872, by R. W. Harris. It was Democratic in politics. Its size was a seven-column folio, all printed at home. In a year or so the Leader was moved to Mexico. The Jonesburg Free Press was established by a joint stock company in 1879. Its editor was Robert Rose, co-author of Pioneer Families of Missouri. Mr. Rose ran the Free Press only thirteen weeks. Using the material of the Free Press, William Dyer established the Jonesburg Journal in the fall of 1879, issuing the first number on November 13th. At first it was a five-column folio, then a six-column, and was Democratic in politics. Mr. Dyer was editor on January 1, 1882, when the paper was issued for the first time under the ownership and management of Mrs. Sue J. Rittenhouse, the publisher for many years. In the following May she expanded the paper to a seven-column folio. Her son, Harry Rittenhouse, did the greater portion of the mechanical work.
The next owner of the Jonesburg Journal was Hick Jones and then the Joe Lavenders. Then the son of Mrs. Sue J. Rittenhouse came back to Jonesburg, but he and his wife were old and so they sold the Jonesburg Journal to the Montgomery Standard and thus the demise of the Jonesburg Journal, which had been printed in Jonesburg for more than 50 years. A year or so later the Jonesburg Message was printed but lasted only a short time.
The academy building was erected in 1866, and Rev. William Lewis, later of the M. E. Church South, was the first principal.
The first public school had three teachers and an enrollment of 108 scholars, 48 males and 60 females. It was located where the car wash is now (.....and Main Street). There was also a colored school, located across from Ted Wood's old house ( Railroad Street and Sherwood).
In about 1900 Jonesburg began to offer two years of high school. This was expanded to a four-year program about 1922.
The business places of the town consisted mainly of three blocks, all built on the north side of the street. In 1905 most of the east block burned. The fire started in the hay loft of the livery stable and burned westward. The livery stable, Ockerhausen's Store building, and the Daul building all burned.
In 1910 the west block burned, burning the Pittman building in which Frank Boehmer had a store at the time. The Exchange Bank Building and Scott Fleener's barber shop also burned.
In 1924, the middle block burned. The fire started on the west end of the block and burned eastward. The Jonesburg Mercantile and Hall Building, Mr. Van Ness's Building, which W. E. Engel had a hardware store in at the time, Charles Thurman furniture store and undertaking parlor, the Jonesburg State Bank Building, and Dr. Jones's Drug Store Building. It was the same year that Highway 40 was being built, and the townspeople got their water from the road water line and put out the fire finally.
In the late 1920's the Midland Hotel burned. It stood where the Granada Cafe stood. In the mid 1930's the Shelton brothers (George and Myron) opened a chicken coop factory in the old Wilson Brothers Mill Building. They designed a chicken coop made of wood. The lumber came from cottonwood and sycamore trees which came mostly from Rush Island, a small island in the Missouri which was near Case and Gore. They employed quite a few. Among them were Bill Hawkins, Ed English, Jerome Boicourt, Alvin Sasche, Bill Mills, Paul Whitman, Paul Meyers, Jim Key, John Kasman, Julian Dayball, and John Fraunhoffer. Later several high-school boys got their start working a couple of hours after school and on Saturdays. They were only in business a few years when a careless cigarette was thrown in a trash pile near the building and no doubt smoldered until everybody had left. By the time it was discovered, it was too far gone to save. They got the old pump out and pumped water from the mill pond but the hose was so rotten it broke in several places. At the end they were filling buckets from the hose, which was only about four feet long by that time, but the building was completely destroyed. The fire could be seen for miles. They rebuilt on property behind George Shelton's house (Railroad and Shenstone) and later on Massas Creek Road about a half-mile south of town.
Jonesburg got its first fire pump in 1907. The pump took four men to power it. A volunteer fire department was orginized the same year. In 1961 the city added another fire truck, a much larger one. Today Jonesburg has two fire trucks and also a rural fire protection association. The rural association paid for half of the second fire truck.
John Ockerhausen Sr. came to Jonesburg in 1869. He settled on a farm east of Jonesburg. He was a furniture maker by trade but made very little furniture after he got to Jonesburg, although he helped build the Arlington Hotel (Arlington and Railroad Street) and built the first band wagon of the Jonesburg town band. In 1876 he went into the store business. He didn't run the store very long but kept the building and rented it out to other people. He had two sons in the business and a daughter, Mrs. Regan, was a seamstress and also had a millinery shop located where the bank lot is today, east of the old livery stable. She made dresses and hats for many years. A son-in-law, Mr. Ed McCullough, was in business for years. First he had a meat market, then he went into the timber business and later the mining business. Mr. McCullough had four sons who were all in some kind of business at one time or another.
In 1907, Mr. and Mrs. George Elmore went in the store business. Mrs. Elmore was the grandaughter of John Ockerhausen Sr. In 1914 the Elmores built a new store building on the lot of Mrs. Elmores's granddad, where the old Ockerhausen's store building burned. The Elmores were in business for 38 years.
In 1946, Mr. Elmore sold to the Bob and Jim Ockerhausen, grandsons of John Ockerhausen Sr. The Ockerhausen Brothers ran the business for 25 years and sold the business in the fall of 1970. The building was sold in 1979. The lot and location was in the Ockerhausen family for over 100 years and three generations.
List of Doctors from 1840 to 1988
Dr. Hail Pittman
Dr. J. L. Jones
Dr. E. Ball
Dr. C. G. Biesemeyer
Dr. John E. Knudsen
Dr. William Martin
Dr. C. P. Carpio