The first house built in Bollinger's Mill was erected about the year 1800 by a German by the name of Asherbranner, who also erected the first water mill and dam. This house was situated about 50 yards (46 m) east of the mill place on Castor River. The DuVall History of Zalma in the Oct. 18, 1954 edition of the Southeast Missourian lists this site as being about where the E.A. Schrader home is now located. It is known that an old log house known as the Henley property was once at this location, but there is some question as to whether this is the site of the Asherbranner house.
The second house, and the oldest one still standing, was reportedly built by Kate Bollinger, a sister of Daniel Bollinger, the miller. It is often referred to by a number of names, including the McMinn House, the Brown House, the home of “Aunt Nora” (Eleanora) Bollinger, the old slave farm. The house used to be occupied by David Welch and his housekeeper, Mrs. Bertha Lawson.
Very few of these early homes had their own water supply, and therefore it was necessary to carry water from a spring located on the river bank, just downstream a few feet from the Mill Dam, and on the same side of the river as the village. A community kettle was kept at the nearby ford, and that was where the family wash was done. Those who were fortunate enough to have a cistern were always faced with the possibility of it going dry, especially in the summer months. The established practice was to run water into the cistern only during months with the letter R in their name, and therefore the gutter was taken down from May through August, the driest months of the year.
The Water Mill
It’s been said that the history of Zalma is the history of the mill from 1800 to about 1899. History records that in the year 1800, an Urban Asherbranner (or Asherbramer or Asherbrauner) settled on the upper portion of the Castor River, just where the river empties its waters into Mingo Bottom, and where the village of Zalma is now situated, built a log and brush dam and erected a water mill to grind corn. Philip Bollinger settled nearby.
In A History of Missouri (1908), Louis Houck states that the head rights to this mill were owned by Asherbranner himself, but were held instead by Philip Bollinger, a relative of Asherbranner’s wife, Barbara Bollinger Asherbranner, daughter of John and Catherine Fulbright Bollinger. John and Philip Bollinger were relatives of Major George Frederick Bollinger, who settled on Whitewater and founded Burfordville in Cape Girardeau County.
For reasons unknown, the mill was later transferred to the Davault Bollinger line. Davault’s third son, Daniel, the seventh of nine children of Davault and Catherine Whitener Bollinger, succeeded his father as miller. Daniel is thought to have come to Zalma about mid-century (1850) to assume operation of the mill. His sister, Catherine (Kate), came with him. They repaired the log and brush dam and operated the mill until the Civil War. Daniel died about this time and his wife, Eleanora, operated the mill with hired help. One of the millers was James Duffey, but there may have been others. This mill burned sometime between 1863 and 1873 (conjecture) perhaps by Southern sympathizers, but actual cause of the fire cannot be authenticated. However, Eleanora’s brother, Heinrich Fischover, wrote to his mother from Germany in 1862 or 1863:
“According to the newspapers, Missouri has been cleaned now of secessionists, except a few bands, and such bands could do a lot of harm, especially at your lonely site on the Castor. How is Nora (Eleanora) doing with the mill? According to your last letter Dan has left her quiet up till then, but not without sacrifices.”
At the time of Heinrich’s letter, Daniel was in his 40s and did not have long to live. A year after the death of Daniel Bollinger, his wife and children partitioned the estate.
Records show that the above partition was carried out, but they do not give a description of the land which each petitioner received. However, it is known that Louisa and her husband, David Cloninger, did receive the mill tract, among other acreages.
Legend has it that W.A. McMinn, who owned 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of river bottom land near Buchanan, had been trying for some time to buy the mill tract from David and Louisa Cloninger, but they could not agree on the price.
As it happened, John Henry Hoover lived a few miles south of what is now Zalma, and it was said that he made excellent corn whiskey. This was not a violation of the law, but for some reason he had failed to pay the required tax. The sheriff sent word on Monday morning that he was coming to collect the tax or take him in. Upon hearing this news, Hoover quickly traded a 160-acre (0.65 km2) farm for the Cloninger’s 40-acre (160,000 m2) tract where the mill stood, a 600-pound yoke of steers and an old wagon.
Justice of the Peace Thomas Eaker made the deed for the Cloningers and Hoover, who immediately deeded the land to W.A. McMinn for $300, departed for Texas that night, never returning to Missouri as far as it is known. Certainly the Cloningers profited from the transaction, the McMinns got the mill site they had wanted, and Mr. Hoover outwitted the sheriff.
Mr. McMinn built a new mill house and a new dam. He put in machinery to grind wheat and corn, as well as a carding mill to card and wash wool. This was Zalma’s first industry, and people brought their wool to this mill from distances of 100 miles (160 km) or more to be carded. The new mill was operated by W.A. McMinn and his sons, Samuel and Andrew.
It has been said that Rev. David Hall Sr. harvested nearly 2,000 bushels of corn in 1883, which Mr. McMinn tried to purchase for the mill, offering Mr. Hall 60 cents per bushel. Corn was selling for 50 cents per bushel among neighbors in exchange for labor, but Hall refused the offer saying, “I thank you for your offer, but my neighbors need the corn and many do not have the money to buy it. I could not sleep if I refused one of them, knowing their children were hungry.”
According to the Marble Hill Press (Oct. 28, 1897), the McMinn Mill had recently burned. The fire, thought to have been caused by a match being dropped into the wool, was so fierce for a time that it seemed the J.A. Slagle General Merchandise Store across the way would burn also. Quilts, blankets and other items were dipped into the nearby river and spread upon the roof to save it. The office of Dr. Cubbage and the Randolph James Store, both located to the south of the mill, were destroyed in the blaze. The mill was never rebuilt.
The dam remained intact for several years after the mill burned, before it suffered the same fate. It is said that a group of farmers upstream resented the dam being there, having claimed that it caused flooding of valuable farm land, especially when there was a rise in the river. Sometime after the turn of the 20th century, the dam was destroyed by fire, the blaze apparently was set by some of the farmers in the community. The fire was started under cover of darkness in order to avoid being seen. The next morning, William Nevins, who was a miller there, came to town and with others was surveying the ruins when they discovered the iron bands of a wooden barrel which was supposed to have contained the kerosene used in the fire.
Although it was never determined who started the fire, the distinction is usually given to a young man who lived on what is now known as the Lowry farm west of Zalma. There is also some question as to whether kerosene alone was used. Mrs. Ethel Slagle Pittman, who lived nearby, recalls several loud explosions, indicating that dynamite may also have been used.
Remains of the mill dam are still visible today (1976). The water creates a loud rippling effect as it rushes over what is left of the original rock base of the dam, an ideal spot for fishing and swimming.
The Bollinger County Milling Co.
B.H. Bollinger Sr. and his father-in-law, Laban Green, built a steam powered mill about 1898, approximately three blocks from the original mill site. This building was located at the northeast corner of Green and Nora streets, and north of the town cemetery. Their flour business was mostly local and many farmers brought in wheat for processing into flour on a toll basis. Livestock feed was also processed here.
This mill was later acquired by C.F. Hopkins, Dr. Wm. Lages and W.L. Rhodes, all brothers-in-law. After moving to Lutesville, Dr. Lages sold his interest in the mill to Daniel Fish, who in turn sold to Harvey Grant. Mr. Hopkins became the manager and Jake Simmerman (Simmon Jack) served as the miller for many years. It has been said that “if Simmon Jack couldn’t run the mill, then nobody could.”
Hopkins and his brothers-in-law enlarged the building and installed equipment to grind hard wheat and flour. They had a splendid business for awhile until the Interstate Commerce Commission issued new rules on freight rates that almost doubled the rates they had been paying for the transportation of grain and flour, both of which had to be transported to and from the mill. Mr. Hopkins then traded the mill to Charles King, who operated it a short while before selling it to his brother, A.C. King. King operated the mill a few years and sold it to Guy D. Lingle and Harl Myers.
Each time the mill changed owners its output was reduced until finally it ground only feed. Its last owner was Lawrence James, who soon went into the general produce business and removed the building. Part of the material was used to construct a residence on the mill site, and the remainder was used to build an addition to a structure on the northwest corner of King and Nora streets, which for many years housed the Hobart James Store.
The Coming of the Railroad
On Dec. 21, 1880, Louis Houck completed a railroad between Cape Girardeau and Delta, but service did not begin until Jan. 1, 1881. It connected the old Cape Girardeau and State Line properties with the Iron Mountain Line at Delta. By August 1881 it had reached Lakeville in Stoddard County. At that time the Brown Cooperage Company bought thousands of acres of timber in Bollinger and Stoddard counties and they induced Mr. Houck to build a line to Brownwood, which was nearer to the center of their tract of timber. Houck completed the line to Brownwood in 1882 and the railroad became known as the Cape Girardeau & Southwestern Railway.
The Brown Cooperage Company then secured a right-of-way from the landowners to Bollinger’s Mill (Zalma) to build a tramway to haul the stave bolts from that area. The line was called the Brownwood and Northwestern and extended from Brownwood to Zalma (1884). Houck acquired this line by lease in 1886, and it then became a part of the Cape Girardeau & Southwestern. Around the turn of the 20th century, Houck’s various lines were consolidated under the name of St. Louis & Gulf Railroad Co. Later Mr. Houck sold out to a syndicate headed by Newman Erb, who in 1902 sold out to the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway Company.
The railroad crossed Castor River at Bollinger’s Mill just a few yards upstream from the present Highway 51 Bridge and ended rather abruptly at a log dump on the north bank of the river just south of the L.B. James property. The railroad bridge later burned, but some of the wooden supports can still be seen today (1976) protruding from the water a short distance above the Highway 51 bridge.
The train always backed up to Bollinger’s Mill from Brownwood as that was the only way it could get there. Its whistle blew loudly as it neared Castor River, the sound echoed over the distant hills, a signal to the mail carrier, the draymen and anyone else who might want to meet the train.
The depot stood on the east side of present day Highway 51 in what is now a roadside park. It was a two-story combination depot, telegraph office and residence. A Mr. Blomeyer was the stationmaster-telegrapher, described as a fine man, highly respected in the community.
During World War I, approximately 50,000 acres (200 km2) of timber were harvested and shipped from Zalma. After the war, the timber was depleted and shipping declined. The highway was built and farmers began shipping their livestock by truck. Sometime in the early 1930s the railroad was abandoned and removed.
The Timber Industry
The economy of the area remained somewhat sluggish until the timber industry moved in. The Brown Cooperage Company bought thousands of acres of timber, mostly white oak, for $1 per acre. It is said they wasted two-thirds of it in the way it was harvested. The cutters felled a tree and cut bolts up to the first limbs, then abandoned that tree and cut another. The factory did not want any bolts with knots in them. They did not cut any tree less than 30 inches (760 mm) in diameter and only about half of the oak trees on the property were cut.
In 1884, the Bell Messler Company located at Illmo, placed a factory at Zalma to cut veneer and box laths. The Zalma factory was located just upstream from the mill dam, on the south side of the river, on land known as the Cora Carr property.
This factory provided work for women who stacked the box laths in long rows in the sun for drying. In damp weather the laths were placed in a dry shed and dried with heat from stoves. It is said that laths were stacked from the factory building westward, taking in all of an area now occupied by the P.T. Shirrell, Lizzie Simmerman and Mildred Fish residences. Men never stacked laths on the yard as this was considered “women’s work,” and beneath the dignity of a man. After the company suspended operation, the factory was used as a sawmill.
This company bought millions of feet of Poplar, many being from four to seven feet in diameter. The largest tree they had record of grew on the farm of Joseph H. Grant northwest of Zalma. The tree was seven feet three inches at the stump, and produced six, 10-foot (3.0 m) logs. The smallest log was 30 inches (760 mm) in diameter. Castor River flooded a few days after the tree was cut and floated these logs down onto the J.W. Wilkinson farm, where they remained for some time. No less than three wagons were destroyed in trying to move the two bottom logs to the factory. The company then sent to Illmo and got an ox wagon to do the job. The wheels were 40 inches (1,000 mm) high, made of solid black gum, with no spokes and six-inch (152 mm) tires. The company shipped the wagon by rail to Zalma, and it was used only once, to move these two logs. The wagon was later moved to Ira Gray’s barnyard in Zalma, and after many years rotted down.
Wilbert Abernathy can recall seeing the stump of this large tree several years later when the Abernathy family moved to the Grant farm from Burg about 1910 or 1911. The stump was enormous as cutters had scaled up a distance of seven or eight feet before cutting the tree. The tree stood approximately 200 feet (61 m) east from the base of the Scholl (or Shoal) Hill, out in the river bottom land, near a large A-frame house erected in 1970-71 by Claude and Virginia McBroom.
The Bell Messler Company floated thousands of logs down Castor River and confined them above a boom made of two hewn white oak logs about 16 to 24 inches (610 mm) in diameter. These were fastened together and connected at the ends with one-half inch chains. The logs were fastened together with “dog irons,” which consisted of two steel wedges one-half inch by six inches connected by eight inch pieces of chain. The logs were rolled in the river and joined together with dog chains, making rafts. These rafts were floated down the river, sometimes for miles. They were then drawn from the river with skidding tongs and a wire cable, drawn by a steam powered crosscut saw. The blocks were then mounted on a mandrel block and turned against a solid knife that cut them into a 1/8 inch sheet of veneer stock about 30 inches wide. Some sheets were cut as much as 20 feet (6.1 m) long. They were then placed in a stamping mill that cut the veneer in blanks for berry boxes and crates. This industry remained in Zalma until about 1897.
A second box factory was located on the north side of Green Street near the Railroad Street intersection, a short distance west of the present Highway 51. An announcement taken from the county newspaper describes the operation as follows:
“BOX FACTORY TO DO BUSINESS AT ZALMA” Work on a big box factory building at Zalma is about completed, a part of the machinery is in place and timber is being sawed preparatory to the manufacture of all kinds of boxes and cases for strawberries and all kinds of fruits. The other machinery is being placed and the factory will soon be going at full blast. About 25 people will be employed. An Illinois firm under the management of Mr. Gardner is the proprietors. This is a big institution for Zalma and the county, as it will utilize much timber and afford vessels for our heavy fruit crops at a cheaper price than foreign concerns can furnish them.” —The Marble Hill Press February 16, 1893
This factory likewise provided jobs for women to stack laths. They were arranged neatly in piles about four feet high and far enough apart for a wagon to drive between them for loading.
Zalma was quite a timber and tie center in its heyday. Everybody who wanted a job had one. Wages were low, but then it didn’t take much money to “get by” on. It was truly a fighting and drinking town as were most such places of that era.
The first sawmill to come to Zalma was owned by James Hartzel and Laban Green. They did not find an established market for the many kinds of lumber produced here, however, and the sawmill soon closed.
Before the steel bridge was built in 1900, all timber north of Zalma had to be transported to Lutesville, the only outlet to the railroad, for after the mill dam was built, the river could be forded in dry seasons only. After 1900, Zalma became the shipping center for an area about eight miles (13 km) west and south for most of the year as the Brownwood Station could be used only in dry weather.
After the Bell-Messler Company went out of business, the real estate was apparently leased by D.B. and W.F. Corbin, who moved a large sawmill from Buchanan to Zalma about 1904, and rafted logs down the river to the mill.
The W.F. (Frank) Corbin family lived atop the hill, west of the sawmill in a Victorian house which they erected about the year 1904. A large barn was located on the corner, west of the house, and directly across the street in front of the Ira T. Gray residence. The D.B. (Dan) Corbins built a new home on the corner, southeast of the red brick school. A large barn was located across the street in front of the house, along the east side of the school.
The sawmill remained in the Corbin family until 1918, when its last owner, Charles E. Corbin, moved his family to Lutesville. After the sawmill had ceased operating, the old shed was used as an icehouse. During the winter months when Castor River froze over, large chunks of ice were cut from it, hauled from the shed and stored in large piles of sawdust. It was then sold for use in iceboxes and other items but was used primarily for cooling drinks and making ice cream at the Fourth of July Picnic.
Although Zalma began as a logging town where huge crews of men, mules and oxen labored to harvest virgin timber, the like of which will never be seen again. One of the poplar trees, brought into the mill in Zalma in the late 19th century, was seven feet, three inches (76 mm) in diameter and produced six logs, ten feet in length. Paul Corbin, writing of his grandfather's history in that area, reports that two wagons were broken down trying to haul the logs, which finally required a special-built wagon. Paul Corbin records his grandfather's experience:
"On Grandpa's first visit to Missouri (from Indiana) in 1877 he had been impressed with the magnificent growth of virgin timber along Castor River and had made a deal to cut 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of this timber on the McMinn plantation. Grandpa had planned to stay in Missouri for three years, as he thought this was the length of time it would take him to work out this tract of timber. This did not prove to be the case, as he never did move back to Indiana. One thing led to another, and by the time the three years was up, he had bought several tracts of timber in the Buchanan area.
"In one case," continues Corbin, "he bought a tract of timber consisting of over 1000 large, virgin poplar trees for one dollar per tree. Land records show that over the years he bought several tracts of land, most of which was bought just for the timber. After the timber was cut, he would sell the land for a very low price." In the early part of the 20th century, Zalma ranked fourth in the United States for cross tie production. Corbin remembers seeing stacks of cross ties six to eight feet high, 100 feet (30 m) wide, and a quarter of a mile long stacked along the railroad at Zalma in the late 1920s.
The area to the west of the sawmill came to be known as “Stringtown” as it developed after the sawmill was established and consisted of a row of rough box houses occupied by sawmill workers. It extended west along the old river road toward the J.W. Wilkinson farm. A slough, sometimes referred to as the Gaines Branch, formed the northern boundary, emptying into the nearby river. Only one of the original “string” houses remains in existence today (1976). A part of Miss Lizzie Simmerman’s house, the rear portion, was one such house. About 1913 her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jake Simmerman, moved to this house and hired Andrew Shirrell to erect a two-story addition to the front of the original house to form the structure as it is now.
For several years everything seemed to center around the railroad tie industry. Zalma is said to have been one of the country’s largest tie centers, with tie buyers from as many as five different companies doing business in the area at any one time. Tie yards were full of wagons unloading, and more than 100 would be lined up on the road, waiting their turn to unload. Tie loading crews loaded cars for weeks at a time during peak seasons.
Zalma was at one point known as the logging capital of the world.
The Post Office
Zalma received its first post office in November 1876. Randolph James served as the first postmaster and the office was located in the James Store. It is not known how long he continued in office, but records indicate that in 1887, Green Fowler served as postmaster and that in 1893 the position was held by James Dickson.
The mail was carried on the back of a mule twice weekly if the river did not get out of banks. Mr. Feltenbarger had a lively stable which he operated until it burned, and ran a mail route from Zalma to Marble Hill.
About 1898, Randolph James was reappointed, with his son, Joseph James, serving as assistant postmaster, upon his return from the Spanish-American War. Lifus “Shorty” Jones also worked as assistant to James, who served until about 1904 when Marion Corbin became postmaster. After a short time Corbin vacated the office and B.H. Bollinger Sr. took it for a period of one year. He then persuaded Mrs. Effie Dennis to apply and she served until 1922 and retired. Mrs. Dennis operated the post office from a building on the north side of King Street, formerly the Zalma School. She also kept a military shop, at appropriate times, in the post office, which is presently the residence of Selice Inman Ray.
William Green was appointed acting postmaster until 1924, at which time W.A. (Bill) Pape was appointed and served until 1934. Cecil Gray served about two years before his father, Rev. Ira T. Gray, took the office and served for approximately 14 years, when due to failing health he resigned the office. W.A. (Bill) Pape was appointed for the second time in 1952 and served until March 31, 1963 when he retired. Mrs. Jeanette VanMatre then assumed the position and is postmaster at the present time. Mrs. VanMatre, now Mrs. L.B. Stephens, had the former bank building remodeled in the fall of 1975 and moved the post office into that structure Jan. 5, 1976.
Over the years, the post office has been located at various locations in town; among them are the Slinkard Store, the I.T. Gray Store and others. The current post office is located on Main Street next to the Zalma Volunteer Fire Department.
James A. Slagle and L.B. (Baxter) James operated the first general merchandise store at Zalma. It was located a short distance south of the Bollinger-McMinn Mills on Castor River. They operated the store jointly until 1885, at which time they dissolved partnership. Mr. Slagle erected a store of his own, and Mr. James operated the original store until he sold it to his brother, Randolph, then he purchased the Frances Womack Store at the north end of Main Street. The store was operated by Randolph James until about the turn of the 20th century when it and the McMinn Mill were destroyed by fire.
L.B. (Baxter) James later rebuilt the store in approximately the same location, and was assisted in its operation by his sons, A.E. (Gus), Eric, Gard, Leland and Elbert. It was later operated by Leland James and finally by A.E. James, who continued in the business until the closing of the store in 1961.
P.T. (Phynnie) Shirrell was a clerk in the A.E. James Store for 45 years, beginning in 1917, and with the exception of two years spent in military service, he continued in this capacity until his retirement. A small man, he was bald on top and always wore a neatly trimmed mustache and dark rimmed glasses. A khaki shirt and pants were his customary attire, along with a topcoat and hat. Quiet and soft-spoken, Phynnie is kindly remembered by one and all, for whoever it was a child with a penny or an adult with a large grocery order, they received the same smile and courteous service.
A large, widescreen door, which produced a quiet springing sound, greeted customers to the store. To the immediate left was a large array of material, thread and other items for the would-be homemaker. The dry goods were separated from the grocery section by a door marked “Ware Room.” In a side room at the rear of the store was Mr. James’s office, actually more of a den as it contained books, maps and other personal effects. Violin music could often be heard floating from within. The right, or north side of the store, was devoted primarily to wearing apparel for the entire family and included such items as “Beaver” hats, “Star” and “Red Goose” shoes, works shirts and “Test” overalls.
The entrance to the store was at street level, but the rear portion was perhaps eight or 10 feet (3.0 m) off the ground, above the high water mark, and approximately 50 feet (15 m) from the river. Several large windows in the west end of the building provided a picturesque view of the water as it rushed over the old mill dam, creating a rippling, rushing sound. Near the windows was a large wood stove for warmth, and several chairs placed in a roundabout manner for those who wished to sit and “gab.”
After Shirrell retired, A.E. James and his wife, Nora, operated the store a short while until its doors were closed for the last time in 1961. The stock was purchased by R.A. Lingle and the building was later sold to Mrs. Frankie Corbin Steward, and is now in private use.
After James and Slagle dissolved partnership, the latter erected the J.A. Slagle Store, a large, two-story frame building across the street on the slope of the hill overlooking the Castor River and the mill dam. The upstairs served as the family residence, while the first floor was occupied by a large store. A general merchandise store, it carried everything that would be needed for daily living or work. To name in part, ladies’ hats, wearing apparel, shoes for the entire family, collars for horses and mules as well as harness and other tack, dishes, wash tubs, food staples, beans, coffee, sugar, side meat, molasses, tools, grindstones, dress pins, percale, bed ticking, work denim, ribbon, lace and elastic. Hinges and handles for caskets were always carried in stock. The caskets were made by local carpenters, with Dave Shell and Oscar Loyd being among the best known. Wagons were sold also, and one was usually kept in stock, primarily for display purposes. One Halloween night, a new wagon was removed from its customary spot in front of the store by a group of pranksters. It was discovered the following morning in the middle of the Castor River.
Mr. Slagle operated this store for several years and was later assisted by his son, Oren. In 1927, Mrs. Ethel Slagle Clarkson acquired her brother’s share and she and her husband, Jabez, operated the store together until his death in 1947, at which time she continued alone until her marriage to Ed Pittman in 1950. The Pittmans operated the store until his death in February 1973 and at the present time Mrs. Pittman runs the store alone. Mrs. Elsie Williams has rented an apartment in the building since March 1974. This business has the distinction of being the oldest, continuously operated store in the town, having been in the Slagle family for approximately 91 years.
After W.A. McMinn bought the mill tract from the Bollinger heirs, he and J.V. Slinkard built a store north of the mill in 1884, which they operated a short while, until McMinn sold his interest to Slinkard. The store later burned and Slinkard replaced it with a large, two-story brick building, located at the corner of King and Main streets in the center of town. Erected about 1887, brick for this structure was manufactured locally at a kiln southeast of the store. On the west side of the building near the top is a carved likeness of President Grover Cleveland and Vice President Hendricks, which may still be seen today.
The Slinkard Store was another general merchandise store and continued in the same family until the death of J.V. Slinkard’s son, Leo, in 1929. The business was then operated by the Ward Stores of Piedmont and managed by Guy D. Lingle and others. Mr. and Mrs. Roy Lingle later purchased the building from Mrs. Ida Lingle Slinkard, widow of Leo Slinkard’s son Ralph, and established the R.A. Lingle Store during the mid 1940s.
The Lingle Store was a popular gathering for people who came to town not only to do their trading but to visit as well. A long bench was kept on the front porch, which in fair weather was used mostly by the men. It was not at all unusual for this bench to be filled, with several persons standing or milling about in front. This occurred not only on Saturdays but through the week when many older persons came down to await the mail each morning. Some of the men who occupied this bench were Harvey Lemons and his dog Wimpy, H.D. Nichols, Pinkney Berrong, Ranzy Randolph, Jim Looney, Ernest Pate and Charley Back. Mr. Back often brought a basket along containing barber supplies such as clippers and scissors and did haircutting on the side at 25 cents per head. He usually rode into town each morning with Rev. and Mrs. Forrest Lowry and Mr. Lowry’s sister Etta. The Lowrys operated a dairy farm west of Zalma, and Mr. Back lived nearby. Rev. Lowry always came in the store for a root beer soda, referred to as a “good ole frostie.”
In the rear of the store was a large coal stove with several chairs located around it. This area was used mostly by the ladies, but sometimes by men also. A normal Saturday evening crowd consisted of Odes and Iona Jackson, Charley, Addie and Claude Fish, Ella Minnie Berrong, Henderson and Elsie Williams, Oral and Mildred Abernathy, Fred Schanks, Glen and Judy Schanks, Lois Thornburgh, Rev. and Mrs. Dolph Lacy, Bess and Henry Myers, Wilbert Abernathy and Annie and Hayden Holt. Hayden always brought his slingshot along and would gladly demonstrate his marksmanship with the instrument to any would-be skeptics. It is said that he could stand on the front porch, and using his sling, light a match, which had been placed atop a fence post some 50 feet (15 m) away.
Usually everything went fairly smooth until the subject of politics was brought up, and then it was not at all unusual for one well-known matron to leave the store in a “huff.” She and her husband always kept separate accounts, and quite a bit of bickering was done between them, regarding who would by what, and how much. Nobody seemed to pay attention, however, and Roy Lingle seemed to enjoy it by carrying on with good-natured teasing and joking.
Mrs. Era Easley was employed to help with the work, especially on Saturdays and other busy days such as “check day” the first of each month. The Easleys moved to Tennessee a short time before the store was closed in July 1967.
In 1884 when the railroad tie business began, the Moss Tie Company built a store beside the depot and it was operated by John W. King, who later bought it from the tie company. Mr. King served as both telegrapher and representative of the company. It is said that the Zalma bank had its origin here because King cashed checks for the tie workers. The store was later purchased by B.H. Bollinger Sr., who operated it until 1924 when he moved his business to Sturdivant.
Zalma was once home to many old small businesses. Among these included James A. Slagle General Store, which was later renamed to Pittman's General Store. Mr. Slagle and L.B. James operated the first general merchandising store in Zalma around the mid-19th century. Since then, Zalma has had several new businesses and organizations.
Pape's Grocery, which was first started by Noah and Isom Mouser, was owned by Tom and Linda Pape. They once owned The Barn, which was at one point in time the only restaurant in Zalma. The store was located at the corner of King and Main streets in town. The building mysteriously caught fire and burned to the ground. To this day, it has not been rebuilt and the cause of the fire is still unknown.
April Hills Farm, which was once known as the Benjamin Conder place, sold river lots for recreational homes. The Castor River Trailer Camp is a private recreational park for campers located not far upstream from the Mill Dam. The Jaycees were an old organization in Zalma who had their meetings in the old post office. The Zalma Senior Citizens once existed but today this organization is obsolete.
Lemons's Grocery, which was once Mel Gray's Gas Station, is still in business to this day. The store was owned by Bill and Sharon Lemons. After the death of Mr. Lemons, Mrs. Lemons continued to own the store for about 45 years. She married Milford Sturgeon and they continued to own and operate Lemons's Grocery. After Mr. Sturgeon died in July 2005, Mrs. Lemons-Sturgeon decided it was time to retire. In early August 2005, she handed over the keys and ownership to Brad Barrett. His daughter Jennifer worked the store but retained the name Lemons's Grocery. Recently, the store was sold again to the McGregors who are in the process of reopening the store under the name Riverside Grocery & Hardware.
51 Stop, once owned by Randy and Vickie Rhodes, was at one point in time Zalma's only convenience store that sold groceries and movie rentals and was the only place in town that sold alcohol. The store closed but the Rhodeses still reside in Zalma today. They are known for their popular scavenger hunt that they hold every year around Halloween.
The Home Plate Restaurant, located on Highway 51 in Zalma, was once owned by Jack and Kerry Kirk. After The Barn closed, the Home Plate served as Zalma's only other restaurant. It was famous for its home-cooked meals and smorgasbord buffet of chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes, and frog legs. Sometime after the restaurant closed, Monica Sneed bought the building and turned it into a grocery store. She eventually handed it over to her daughter, Maresia. The store is not in operation today.
The Zalma Historical Cemetery is located on Nora Street. The cemetery is fenced in and overshadowed by the trees that surround it and also contains a canon from the U.S. Civil War. While hardly anyone in Zalma is buried there anymore, the cemetery maintains historical significance to the village and Bollinger County.
Read more about this topic: Zalma, Missouri
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