Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ozark County Picnic - 1904

While culling through old newspapers in researching the Baxter County Fair, I came across this jewel of an article. Its’ author was making a comparison between the Baxter County Picnic and the Lick Creek Picnic in Ozark County, Missouri. Being raised on Lick Creek, at Mammoth, Missouri, I have never heard of such an event, and this article caught my curiosity and fascination. At the end of this article, I will make the assumption this picnic was probably held at Mammoth. This may sound like a stretch to some people if they were to drive through there today. Mammoth is not an incorporated town and may have only a couple of dozen people at most. If one would drive through, it would be hard to believe very many people ever lived in the vicinity, but that was the case. According to the following article, about 1200 people arrived to participate in this celebration. The old-timers even had a saying for Mammoth, “Anderson's Town, Dye's Street, Foster's Hotel, and Nothing to Eat!”

Is it possible to have such a large gathering in what we perceive as a small community at the turn of the century? Yes.

According to the 1900 U. S. Census, 2179 people are documented in the Bridges District along Lick Creek. I have gone through the list & maps and have counted over 500 people within 5 miles of Mammoth alone, with 36 associated families.

During this time, principal families were:


Many of these pioneers currently rest in the Mammoth Cemetery. I have found on the website, Find A Grave, the Mammoth Cemetery contains 298 names inscribed on stone. According to the book Headstone Inscriptions from 25 Ozark County Cemeteries, published in 1980, Nellie McGinnis Robbins and Pamela Robbins Trump referenced there were also 102 unmarked field stones in the Mammoth Cemetery. Therefore, this gives us an estimate this cemetery holds is at least 400.

Again, this article is not written in today’s grammar and colloquial speech, and  it was written from Prestonia, Missouri, on the Missouri Arkansas State-line. This article brings into view a wonderful window of time into our Ozarks’ History.

The Baxter Bulletin
 2 September, 1904

Prestonia, Missouri.
I see in the Baxter Bulletin the longest, broadest, thickest, grandest, commendable and comprehensible history of your picnic at Mountain Home on the 5th and 6th of August.

Now for the gratification of my curiosity, and in order to give vent to my spleen, I wish to give a short history of our picnic on Lick Creek, which was to be published in the Bulletin, provided you think it would interest the readers. I was providentially blest to be at both yours and our picnic. I guess you had between two and three thousand, we had between a thousand and twelve hundred visitors. At either place I never saw, smelt, tasted or heard of any of the high lonesome or the glory hallalugaghrum, and never heard one asking God to dam their souls. I was not present the 19th but was there on the 20th. My version of what I saw and heard was, the wash kettles and beef was hauled in Friday evening. Dick Williams and Uncle John Mefford set up all night and cooked it, and they were well on their job. The bread and beef was loaded on a long table, with a dead line stretched around it, then about forty carvers went to work and was soon ready for distribution and then all were invited to come up and draw their rations. All you had to do was stick your hand over the dead line and a waiter, either a man or woman, would fill it. I took my rations from a lady waiters hand, as all know that ordinary men are so busted nasty. I had my doubts whether the men waiters had washed their hands that day or not. All know we had good music because Mart Gault jerked it out of the fiddle while Miss Graves, Tom Graves daughter, pushed, punched and knocked it out of the organ. I think it was conceded that Mart and Miss Minnie must have practiced together on Sunday. I can’t go any further with my rat killing without telling you more about the grub and watermelons, after some had ate until the world looked level. Other ate until they could touch it with their index finger, and the remainder that were there, eat as long as it tasted good. When they began to gather up the fragments and I see the baskets there, reminded me of the five thousand fed on 2 little fishes and 5 loaves as Matthew speaks of also Mark. Watermelon sold there in the evening from a nickel down to giving them away. Some as large as that churn that mam churns in and some very near a large as that one that has a hoop on it. It was here at our picnic as it was at Mountain Home. I went to the Mountain Home picnic to see who all was there and I couldn’t’ see on account of the people, every time I would try to see folks then the fool people would get in my way. I thought I would count the people that were at out picnic that I might come something near that were there, but pshaw, they were so much like fly blows in a carcuss, I was ashamed to tell I tried to count them.  

Now I must tell of one speech that was made and but one, but folks! I tell you he said the most in fewest words imaginable. From the way he spoke, I didn’t think his name was appropriate. I thought it should have been Bill Large in place of Jim Small. He is large statue, large cranium and it stuffed, and always eats at the first table, the only trouble was he made his speech blunt, he tapered to fast but sharp enough to stick in, is now teaching school and is the Republican nominee to represent Ozark county.

Now if there is anyone that thinks my history of the picnic is not good and straight goods and that we haven’t had good crops, good health, good grub, good watermelons, good women, men, boys, and good looking galls, you can satisfy yourself by asking your own natives, because there were scuds from Arkansas here that took in the picnic.

Now in conclusion I want to say there never was a place where, or a time when, a people who ever had a day of greater enjoyment than was had on the 20th on Lick creek, Ozark county, Missouri. No accidents, no trouble on any line, on one got hurt except myself, and that was unintentional. I got hit with one of those rubber balls, that had a rubber string growed out of the side of it, longer than a poor man’s arm. A ball came along by me and she let dive at me with that ball and hit me slap dab where I live, exactly where I live, exactly where I had deposited so much watermelon, beef, light bread, cake, pies, apples, peaches, pickles and water. I don’t guess I was tight as a drumhead, but I believe you could have busted a tick thar or thar abouts. It created a big laugh in the crowd because I  grunted, and had to because it knocked it out, and none of you need not laugh, because any would have done as bad, if not worse.

On for fear she sees this, if it is published, and think I am mad, or I might be dead from the effect of the center shot she gave me, I want to say I am not dead or mad, just a little sore, but will say that the next time she throws at me at a picnic, after dinner she should draw a finer bead and hit me six inches above the waistband of my pants, then no bad results to follow.

I guess the editor will think I am checky to think he would publish this, and the type-setters have but little or nothing to do, and the readers of the Bulletin have the patience of Job, and nothing to read, as all can see it takes space, time, pencil, patience and words for me to tell anything. I have to sow pounds to enable anyone to reap an ounce. I hear meat frying, smell coffee, table being set, stomach thinking, throat is cut, and my mouth watering, is my excuse for quitting. Questions answered on short notice and oblige.

 End of Article

Editor's Note: Please take some time to click on the hyperlinks that I've added to the names of people and places in this next portion of this blog. 

Basket Dinner Mammoth, Mo. 1911
The Picture
Last year in June, a picture was posted on the Ozark County Historium’s Facebook page. The Mammoth Picnic photo belongs to Donna Langston Milstead. Donna said the date of the photo was about 1911 because her mother, Pearl Frazier, is the baby in the picture who was born in February of 1911.  Pearl's father, Theron Hamilton Frazier, is holding her, and her mother, Alma Ragland Frazier, is sitting in front of them. The two little boys to their left are Pearl's brothers, Frederick Ragland Frazier and Charles Edward Frazier. Additionally, the people in the picture are clothed in attire that matches of the early 1900’s. Also, someone has inscribed “Basket Dinner, Mammoth, Mo.” on the bottom of the picture. Also, how often would a photographer show up in this small community? I like this picture so much, I’ve download it, printed it out, and have it displayed in my office. Could this picture be at one of these picnics held at Mammoth, on Lick Creek?

In the next few paragraphs, I will show some information I pulled records from primary and secondary sources from the following names in the article from "Mr. Ozarkite." My assumption, the picnic on Lick Creek, in the above article, was probably held at Mammoth, Missouri.  Are we absolutely certain? No. Nevertheless, we will take a quick look at the circumstances of participants mentioned in the article and try to draw a conclusion. We will use our “Basket Dinner, Mammoth, Mo.” picture as our first piece of evidence.

Mart Gault…Fiddle Player
James Marcus “Mark/Mart” Gault was present at the picnic. Mr. Gault’s first wife, Martha "Mattie" E. Cloud Gault, died the 18th of January, 1904, about 7 months before the picnic. Mart Gault married his second wife, Mary E. Grist, the next year, the 18th June, 1905, in Baxter County, Arkansas. According to the Baxter County marriage records, Mart was living in Mammoth, Missouri, in Ozark County. Sometime afterwards, Mart and Mary Gault moved to the Pigeon, or  Pigeon Creek, area in Baxter County. An interesting fact is all three, Mart, Martha, and Mary, originated from Springfield, in Greene County, Missouri. Additionally, Mart’s second wife, Mary, was 25 years his junior. Today, Mart is buried along with his two wives in the Mountain Home Cemetery in Baxter County, Arkansas.

Therefore, we can infer since Mark Gualt was living at Mammoth on Lick Creek, the picnic was probably held at Mammoth, Missouri.

Minnie Graves…Organ Player
According to the 1900 – 1930 U. S. Census, the Graves family was living in Mammoth, Missouri, along Lick Creek. I believe Miss Graves, the organ player, was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Graves & Martha Ann Web Graves. Thomas and Martha were married in 1880. Mamie was born in March of 1888.  The 1900 U. S. Census shows Thomas Jefferson Graves and his wife, Martha, lived in Mammoth and had a nice number of boys, but they also had a girl Mamie, age 12.  Mamie and Minnie are derivatives, or nick names, for the name of "May." I believe this is the Minnie Graves the author was referring to. Therefore, at the time the picnic, she was about 16 years old. In 1905, May Graves married Charles Stephen Foster, who also resided in Mammoth. They both lived in this community and were buried in the Mammoth Cemetery. Thomas and Martha Graves also have a child, John W. Graves, buried in the Mammoth Cemetery. Martha Graves was eventual buried nearby her young son, John, at the Mammoth Cemetery; Thomas Graves is interned at the Gainesville Cemetery.

James “Jim” Robert Small
Jim Small, Republican, was campaigning for the Missouri State Legislator in 1904, and gave a speech at the Lick Creek Picnic. He won the election later that year, and represented Ozark County for one term. Jim was born the 19th of April, 1878, in Ozark County on nearby Lick Creek. His father, Dr. Robert Sneed Small, former mayor & physician at Gainesville, and mother, Nancy Adeline Wilderman Small, lived near Mammoth and later at Gainesville; both are buried at the Gainesville Cemetery. Some members of the Small family are also buried at the Mammoth Cemetery.

Uncle John T. Mefford.
JohnMefford and his wife, Celesta also lived in the area. He was born in May of 1847. John Mefford is buried at  the Howard's Ridge Cemetery, in Ozark County. 

Dick Williams
On this next person, I owe a debt of gratitude of the research to Mary Belle Green. I received an email from her concerning Mr. Williams. Mary’s great grandma, Viola Campbell, married Dick Williams, which was their second marriage for both of them. Before we get to that, let's over his first marriage.

Absolom Lawrence "A. L. Dick" Williams is also from the Mammoth area. He was born in Missouri on the 23rd of September, 1854. He died the 21st of September, 1931, and is buried in the Mammoth Cemetery.

Absolom’s 1st wife Louise Jane Ewing was born the 29th of March, 1863, in Webster County, Missouri.  She died the 22nd of September of, 1911, in Ozark County, and is buried in the Mammoth Cemetery. Some of their children and relatives are buried at the Mammoth Cemetery:
  1. Claude Christopher Williams,  1881-1962, married Mamie Bell Holland , 1889-1934, are both buried in the Mammoth Cemetery.
  2. Lawrence Wright, 1888-1907, is buried in the Mammoth Cemetery.
  3. Jewel Eugene "Jude” Williams, 1898- 1976, married Ada Lucy Moorehead; he died in Colorado.
  4. Bertha Mae, 1883 -1969, married Wilford Avery Clute; both are buried at the Sardis Cemetery, Leon County, Texas.
  5. Alma Louise, 1891-1915, married Carl Oren Watson.
  6. Nora Ann Williams, 1885-1970, married Walter S. "Walt" Robbins the 11th of March, 1906, in Prestonia, Ozark County, Missouri. They were the parents of Pamela Jane Robbins Trump. She was a school teacher at Mammoth and Gainesville.
Absolom Lawrence "A. L. Dick" Williams’ 2nd marriage was to Viola Campbell Ellison about 1920 in Ava, Douglas County, Missouri.  Viola Campbell was born the 4th of August, 1874, in Marshfield, Missouri. She died the 8th of January, 1926, and is buried at the Howards Ridge Cemetery. She was the daughter of Andrew Jackson Campbell and Martha Thompson Campbell. Dick and Viola Williams had no children.

 Viola Campbell was first married to Wiley Ellison the 13th of November, 1895 and their children were:
  1. Dewey Carl Ellison, 1897-1960, buried in the Howards Ridge Cemetery.
  2. Etta Rowena Ellison 1899-1996 married James Bonnie Kirkland, buried in the Howards Ridge Cemetery.
  3. Dona Landers-Ellison, 1899-1943, married Roscoe "Red" Jackson, 1901-1937, who is buried in the Howards Ridge Cemetery. (Note: Dona was an adopted daughter, and I do know the additional story on Roscoe. But, that's for a later time.) 

Works Cited:

"James Robert Small." Missouri State Legislators: 1820-2000. Missouri Secretary of State. www.sos.mo.gov Retrieved: 17 July, 2012.
Milstead, Donna Langston. Picture: “Basket Dinner, Mammoth, Mo.” Facebook: Ozark County Historium. Retrieved: 24 June, 2011.
“Prestonia, Missouri.” The Baxter Bulletin (2 Sept., 1904) 2, 3.
Robbins, Nellie; Trump, Pamela, 1980. Headstone Inscriptions from 25 Ozark County Cemeteries.  Published by Ozark County Times, Gainesville, Mo.
Year: 1880; Census Place: Bayou, Ozark, Missouri; Roll: 707; Family History Film: 1254707; Page: 547B; Enumeration District: 110; Image: 0681.
Year: 1900; Census. Place: Gainesville, Ozark, Missouri; Roll: T623; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 92.
Year: 1900; Census Place: Bridges, Ozark, Missouri; Roll: T623; Page: 16A; ED: 92.


pens and needles said...

This is a wonderful story, Vince -- I enjoyed reading it so much! What a treat! Thanks for sharing....

shivabizconn said...

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tragicmagic said...

my great grandmother roxie jane crawford is shown to be from lick creek ozark missouri, she was born around 1886-married fred w. clute, my great grandfather. they are listed as buried in sardis cemetery, leon county texas. their daughter was my grandma, hannah marie clute, who married aubrey t. allen in 1935. my mom billie francis allen is a granddaughter to roxie jane crawford clute. roxie's parents are vaguely mentioned as "Jim and Mary Crawford, new madrid missouri" and i have no way to verify this. i am looking for any crawford/clute relations to help me create a time line for my great grandmother roxie jane crawford clute. my grandmother told me roxie's "people" were from england, that they disliked harsh conditions here. i totally get that, and i would LOVE to learn i have some english connections as i love downton abbey lol. thank you, deb martin.