Remnants Of The Past
Article written by Benjamin Franklin Lawler, found in The Lowry
City Independent, Lowry City, St. Clair, MO, Thursday, Nov. 30, 1922
(reprinted from the St. Clair County Republican):
Osceola Historical Review
Rives county was divided, the south part becoming St. Clair county and
Henry county being formed of the north part.
Philip Crow deeded to St. Clair county the town site of Osceola to have
and to hold while the same should be used as a county seat. If not so
used the land would revert to the original estate. This is the chief
reason why two efforts to move the county seat failed.
My brother W. B. Lawler helped Mr. Crow build the first house in
Osceola. The first store was owned by Mr. Hubbard. It faced south toward
where Mr. Shaffner’s home now is. It was a little west of the little
ravine west of Dr. Wilson’s barn. I was in that store eighty years ago.
The first circuit court in the county was held in the residence of Judge
Gash, twelve miles south and east of this place. The first circuit court
held in Osceola was in a doctor’s office near where the Baptist church
now is. This was in 1841.
The first court house was built of red brick. Court was in session when
my father took me in. He took off his hat and I took off my little cap.
From that day I have had reverence for courts of justice. I was ten
years old. When I was sixteen I was made a Good Templar in one of the
little rooms on the second floor. Jim Lane shot this court house down
with his little cannon in 1862. It was on the site of the present court
house. The Academy was near where Dr. Sullivan now lives. The first
church house was north of where the Methodist church now is.
In 1844 I watched steamboats being unloaded near where John Henry’s mill
now stands. The river was overflowing on the west side. Johnson & Vaughn
were shippers as well as wholesale and retail merchants, selling goods
to Carthage and the Indian Nation. Their main building was where the
Johnson-Lucas bank is located. Mr. Weidemeyer was in the same block.
Trippet and Cock, Dorchester and others were on the north side of the
square. The blacksmith shop was where Morrow’s produce house stands.
The first newspaper, The Osceola Whig, with William J. Mayo, editor, had
its office near where Mr. Shrewsbury’s office now is. The first circus
was where the Vannice hotel and Hurley Lumber yard now are. The clown
had paint on his face and was cleverly comic. The captain’s wife,
beautifully dressed, rode a fine horse in the ring, while the horse
galloped gracefully, she standing on his back with reins and whip in
hand. The elephant was there and the show was no cheap affair.
A tanyard and carding machine were on the ground and near where Alf
Foster P. Wright was succeeded by Waldo P. Johnson as Circuit Judge,
Johnson going to the United States Senate later.
W.F. Carter was a great scholar. I took my Greek to him to teach me, but
his health was gone and he soon passed away, in 1860-61. I miss him yet.
McClain was a leading lawyer, John T. McClain was a leading banker.
The first Confederate soldiers here formed a line in front of the block
where the Johnson-Lucas bank now is. They were dressed in gray uniforms
and sang Dixie in fine spirit. As they marched out in front of where the
post office now is, John T. McClain, standing with the great crowd on
the walk, cried like a child and said “it looks like war.” Few of those
fellows lived to see home again. ---B.F. Lawler, in the St. Clair County
Submitted by: Karen Foreman