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Zalma, Missouri

Zalma, once known as Bollinger's Mill, is a small river town quietly nestled on the banks of the winding Castor River at a point where the river makes a horseshoe bend in southern Bollinger County, Missouri. When the railroad moved to town, the name Bollinger's Mill was changed to Zalma, named after a railroad worker named Zalma Block. Zalma used to be a busy town of 300 residents. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, it had a population of 93. A 2003 estimate showed the population at 95. Zalma was not officially recognized until January 25, 1910. Zalma is said to come from a Native American word meaning "the end."

Zalma is part of the Cape GirardeauJackson, MO-IL Micropolitan Statistical Area.

History of Zalma

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 in to the mill in Zalma in the late 1800's, was seven feet, three inches 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 1000 acres 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 wide, and a quarter of a mile long stacked along the railroad at Zalma in the late 1920's.

Later on a water mills was ran. A fire destroyed the mill around 1897 and it was never rebuilt. Another fire destroyed the dam several years later. 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-1800s. 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 Street 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' 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' 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. Today, his daughter, Jennifer, works the store but still retains the name Lemons' Grocery. Mrs. Lemons-Sturgeon is now known as Sharon Holmes. She is married to Donnie Holmes and still lives in Zalma to this day. She has two daughters, four grandsons, two granddaughters, and one great-grandson.

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. In town, they are known for their 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 R-V School District runs throughout much of southern Bollinger County. With an average yearly enrollment of 250 students in K-12, the school is one of the smallest public schools in southeast Missouri. The school's mascot is the bulldog, and its colors are green and gold. The alma mater/school fighting song is still sung at ballgames:

"When those green daggers lead our yells today, and the team will stand in full array, for the dear ole school we love so well, for the green and gold we'll yell and yell and yell and yes we'll win, win, win, yes we will win, and when it's over we will all begin to join the mighty cheering for our town, for ZHS hey!"

Activities at the school consist of FCCLA (Family, Career & Community Leaders of America), formerly known as FHA (Future Homemakers of America); Student Council; Junior and Senior Beta Club; Pep Club; Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA); Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA); and the ZHS Concert Choir. The choir, under the direction of music teacher Mrs. Linda Barnes-Davis and accompanied by Mrs. Allison Page, competes at district and state music competition during the spring. The mixed choir has received a Superior rating of "I" for the past five years, the highest rating that can be administered to a musical group at any level of MSHSAA competition. The women's choir also received a "I" rating the past four years, and this year during the 2006-2007 year they received an Excellent "II" rating. Soloists and small ensembles compete at the district level in Cape Girardeau, and all performers who receive a "I" rating advance to the state competition, usually held on the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia. The choir performs two community concerts during the year, one around Christmas and one near the end of the school year. They also perform Christmas carols at area nursing homes in Advance, Marble Hill, and Puxico, as well as at the West Park Mall in Cape Girardeau and the First General Baptist Church in Delta.

Athletics at ZHS consist of basketball (boys only), volleyball (girls only), baseball, and cheerleading. The school recently finished building a regulation-size baseball field to be able to host home games this year. Construction of the baseball field, which required two roads in town to be cut out, caused quite a controversy amongst some of the townspeople. So it was then decided to restructure the roads around the new stadium. The controversy quited down after the ball field was finished. Zalma won the Class 1A state basketball championship in 1939-1940, but since then has not won a state title in the sport. The early 1990s were good years for the Zalma Lady Bulldogs varsity volleyball team, as they won the Class 1A state volleyball championship in 1990-1991. They advanced to the state tournament in 1991-1992 and 1992-1993 but lost in the championship match each year to New Haven. Volleyball still remains the most popular sport at Zalma High School, but with a roster of talented young players, basketball is making a comeback for at least now.

For adults aged 25 and older in Zalma, 72.9% possess a high school diploma as their highest educational attainment, 22.8% have less than high school and 4.3% possess a bachelor's degree or higher educational degree. None of the population possesses a post-graduate or professional degree.


Zalma is located at (37.144524, -90.078127).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 0.1 square miles (0.4 km²), all of it land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 93 people, 38 households, and 27 families residing in the village. The population density was 645.6 people per square mile (256.5/km²). There were 54 housing units at an average density of 374.9/sq mi (148.9/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 93.55% White, 2.15% Native American, and 4.30% from two or more races. The major ancestry groups in Zalma were 27% Irish, 22% German, 14% French Canadian, 8% Norwegian, 2% Cherokee, and 2% specified Native American tribes.

None of the village's population are foreign-born, which is lower than the Missouri state average of 2.7%.

There were 38 households out of which 36.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.1% were married couples living together, 26.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.9% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.85.

For people in the village aged 15 and over, 45.9% were married, 24.7% were divorced, 18.8% were single, never married, 10.6% were widowed, and none of the population was separated.

In the village the population was spread out with 28.0% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 21.5% from 25 to 44, 32.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 66.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 67.5 males. In the village there are 57 females (60%) and 38 males (40%).

At the time of the 2000 U.S. Census, the median income for a household in the village was $21,250, and the median income for a family was $21,500. In 2005, the median income for a household in the village had gone up to $22,500 (compared to the Missouri state median income of $41,974). Males had a median income of $27,917 versus $16,250 for females. The per capita income for the village was $10,842, compared to the national per capita income of $21,587. There were 32.4% of families and 35.7% of the population living below the poverty line, including 53.3% of under eighteens and 18.2% of those over 64.


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