Oak Ridge is a village in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, United States. The population was 202 at the 2000 census, at which time it was a town. It is part of the Cape Girardeau–Jackson, MO-IL Micropolitan Statistical Area.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.4 square miles (1.0 km²), all of it land.
There were 82 households out of which 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.4% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.0% were non-families. 18.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.78.
In the town the population was spread out with 20.8% under the age of 18, 5.0% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 30.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.8 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $32,188, and the median income for a family was $41,875. Males had a median income of $34,167 versus $16,635 for females. The per capita income for the town was $18,310. About 5.3% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including none of those under the age of eighteen and 6.7% of those sixty five or over.
BILLIE'S PLACE State Highway E Oak Ridge, MO 63769
JUNE'S State Highway E at Highway D Oak Ridge, MO 63769
OAK RIDGE MARKET 4053 State Highway E Oak Ridge, MO 63769 573/266-3622
STRATTON INVESTMENTS PO Box 1902 Cape Girardeau, MO 63702
ED'S AUTO SALES & SERVICE 10555 state highway D Oak Ridge, MO 63769 573/266.3600 CHURCHES FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF OAK RIDGE
4154 State Highway E Oak Ridge, MO 63769 573-266-3665 Jon Sedgwick, Pastor Sunday School - 9:30 AM Worship Service - 10:30 AM & 7:00 PM Wednesday Night Service - 7:00 PM
METHODIST CHURCH State Highway E Oak Ridge, MO 63769
THE VILLAGE OF OAK RIDGE P.O. Box 111 Oak Ridge, MO 63769 firstname.lastname@example.org
US POST OFFICE 4042 State Highway E Oak Ridge. MO 63769 573/266-3211
OAK RIDGE R-VI SCHOOL DISTRICT 4198 State Highway E, P.O. Box 10 Oak Ridge, Missouri 63769-0010
Administrative Office....................573/266-3218 High School Office.......................573/266-3630 Elementary School Office.................573/266-3232 Early Childhood Center...................573/266-3242 Fax .....................................573/266-0133
A fine interactive local history by the OAK RIDGE HOMEMAKERS CLUB from 1986, based largely upon a World War II era book written by students of the Oak Ridge School.
We want to dedicate this History to our forefather's who helped to develop our village in the early 1850s:
To the many public civic minded citizens down through the years, for the Churches strong influence in developing good citizens, to the many students from Oak Ridge High School, who have gone out to make a place for themselves in many professional fields.
We want to express appreciation to the different ones who loaned us newspaper clippings, to Wm. Byrd for designing the cover, to Bea (Drum) Rudisaile and Lacretia Drum for pictures, to Janet Smith and Carole Jo Byrd for typing the material compiled by Mary Dee Ford and Phyllis McCallister and to the business men and women of Oak Ridge who shared their thoughts of the town in 1986.
Many changes have taken place in the one hundred and thirty-four years, but the spirit of togetherness has prevailed.
Our desire is to see Oak Ridge go forward in keeping the town and community a good place to live.
Mrs. Dean Ford Mrs. Dean McCallister Ms. Janet Smith Mrs. Jack Byrd
Oak Ridge is a town of 256 people in Southeast Missouri located about twenty miles (32 km) north of Cape Girardeau and ten miles (16 km) west of the Mississippi River. As the name implies, the town is built on a high ridge: this ridge is a significant landmark because it divides two large watersheds. Rain falling on the north side of the crest flows into Hugh's Creek and then into Apple Creek; rain falling on the south side flows into Byrd Creek which flows into the Whitewater River.
A natural salt lick was also located on the crest attracting wildlife, and, subsequently, Native American hunters. People from both the Shawnee and Delaware Tribes resided in camps along the ridge. Many of their artifacts including arrowheads, hatchets, and stone hammerheads have been found. In 1835, the Shawnee and Delaware Tribes were forced to move from this area by government action. This large-scale relocation of Eastern Native Americans to designated territories in the West was called The Trail of Tears. The northern route of the march passed through Oak Ridge in the winter of 1838-39 before it was yet a town.
Hunters and trappers were the first white men to arrive, camping here as the push into the western wilderness began. Settlers came, in the early 1800s, taming and clearing the land for farming and building homes. The original settlement was given the name Lizard Lick, some say, by William Pierce, proprietor of the settlement's first saloon. The name referred to the natural salt deposit that used to be coated on the ridge close to where the town center and crossroads are today.
The deed for the town, recorded in the County Records on February 3, 1854, was written as follows--
"On November 20, 1850, in consideration of the sum of $16.00 to them in hand paid by John M. and Edwin M. Wilson, four acres of land was purchased from Wm. Clippard and described as follows: S.E. Corner of the E. half of the N.E. Quarter of Section 32, or Range N. 12 E."
Since none of the founders desired to have the town named after himself, the town's name was taken from its natural features- a ridge heavily wooded with oak trees. Robert Sydney Douglas's History of Southeast Missouri (New York: Louis Publishing, Co., 1912), makes the following reference:
"There are several villages of more or less importance in Cape Girardeau County. One of the largest is Oak Ridge which was settled about 1852. It is situated in Apple Creek Township about ten miles (16 km) north of Jackson. Population of 300."
Oak Ridge was incorporated as a village in 1869. James C. Statler was one of the first town board members. The original town plat was surveyed by George W. Snider for J.C. Statler and filed "Feby. 1, 1869," by Recorder N.C. Harrison at the County Courthouse in Jackson, Missouri. At that time, there were three streets: Main Street, which ran east and west; Green Street, which ran north and south off of Main Street; and, Jackson Street, which ran north and south. Jackson Street was thirty-seven feet wide, and N. Main and Green Streets were each forty-nine feet wide. Remember, those were the days when residents traveled by foot, horseback, and horse-drawn wagons and buggies. Later, wooden sidewalks were built which were a godsend to the ladies trying to keep their skirts out of the mud.
The early settlers came for the purpose of hunting, trapping, and clearing the land for farming. The countryside was rich in timber of oak, hickory, black walnut, elm, ash, chestnut, maple, persimmon, beech and other varieties of trees. It took years of constant and arduous labor to clear land for planting. However, the soil was rich and productive. Later, settlers came to establish the trades and businesses of the time.
Springs were abundant in the area. Homes were built close to them for a water supply. These springs were also used to keep fresh dairy products such as milk, cream, and butter. The products would be put into stone jars, covered with a flat board, placed in the water, and weighted down with a rock to keep them from floating away. Eventually, wooden-slatted houses were built over these springs. Many a trip was made by the women and children to the old springhouse to fetch butter and milk for a meal.
Immigrants began to move into southeast Missouri soon after the Louisiana Purchase. According to records, a heavy influx of Anglo, Scotch, and German Americans came into this region from the year 1810 to the mid-1820s. Many were departing from Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Some of the early family names were: Byrd, Walker, Harris, Penny, Ruff, Wilson, Hinkle, Howard, Henderson, Sachse, Briuhl, Tuschoff, McLane, Bollinger, Clodfelter, Clippard, Horn, Green, Statler, Drum, Bowman, Kassel, Tobler, and Hart.
Later, from 1870 to the early 1900s, another influx arrived with family names: Turner, Crites, Smith, Ellis, Trickery, Jenkins, Simpson, Parmenter, Snider, McCallister, Goodson, Fulbright, Swann, Cobb, Johnson, Williams, Wills, Wilier, Day, Reed, Peterson, Kinder, Beal, Davenport, Ford, Miller, Probst, Marshall, Grebe, Bowers, Breckenridge, Cobble, Fronabarger, and Phelps.
The following sketches of several early settlers are taken directly from Goodspeed's History of Southeast Missouri, published in 1888:
Daniel Hinkle, son of Peter and Amelia (Clodfelter) Hinkle, was born in Tennessee, September 25, 1811. He came to Missouri in 1816. In 1832 he wedded Sarah Drum. He was a farmer and stock raiser of Oak Ridge. He was a partner in the mercantile business of Hinkle, Drum and Co. Mr. Hinkle was formerly a Whig, but is now a Democrat.
Marion Drum, a prominent farmer of Cape Girardeau County, lives four miles (6 km) northwest of Oak Ridge on the farm where he was born on January 28, 1838. In the Fall of 1859, he united in marriage to Sarah A. Hinkle, daughter of Daniel Hinkle. In 1862, Mr. Drum enlisted in the Confederate Cavalry and served twelve months. He was a blacksmith by trade and conducted a shop on his farm for a number of years.
Dr. John H. Walker was born in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, February 16, 1840. Dr. John served in the Confederate Army. The Doctor received a good English Education in his youth, which has been greatly improved by private study since reaching years of maturity. He began his professional studies in 1861 under the tutorship of S.A. Buteau, M.D., of Shawneetown. After the war, he resumed his study and in 1866 entered Miami Medical College of Cincinnati, from which he graduated in 1869. In April he began his profession, which he has since continued at Oak Ridge and now has a large lucrative practice. He is a member of Southeast Missouri Medical Association. On March 12, 1874, he married Avis Day.
Samuel S. Bowman, proprietor of Oak Ridge Mill, was born in Kanauke County, West Virginia on October 27, 1843. The family came to Missouri in 1857. He was a miller by trade. He purchased the Mill which is doing a good business.
Gilbert D. Statler, of the firm of Hinkle, Statler and Co., is a general merchant of Oak Ridge, Missouri. He was born December 1, 1848. Gilbert D. was reared in his native county and his education which was begun in the common school was finished at Westminster College at Fulton, Missouri. He taught school for three years. In 1873, he began his present business. The firm has a large store and commands a good trade. He married, May 29, 1877, to Mary E. Hinkle, daughter of Lewis Hinkle, the Senior member of the firm. He is a member of the A.O.U.W. Lodge.
James C. Clippard was born near Oak Ridge on August 16, 1855. He built the Oak Ridge Flouring Mill and was engaged in the milling business about ten years. Mr. Clippard has a valuable farm three-fourths mile west of Oak Ridge upon which he has good buildings. He and his wife are members of the Baptist Church. Mr. Clippard is the Master of the A.O.U.W. Lodge in Oak Ridge.
James F. Wilson was born July 11, 1858. James F. was reared on his father's farm and received a fair education in county school and the Oak Ridge High School. On February 26, 1880 he married Sarah L. Rumfelt. Mr. Wilson is a model farmer and a good business man. He and his wife are members of the Oak Ridge Baptist Church.
According to Goodspeed's History of Southeast Missouri, in February, 1841, a Baptist Church named Goshen was organized by Reverend Peter Williams about two miles (3 km) north of Oak Ridge. The original members were: William Wilson, Robert McKnight, Charles Hinkle, Daniel Sides, Edward Wilson (colored), Elizabeth Dunlap, Elizabeth Chandler, Jane and Jerusha Wilson, H.E. and Permelia Hemptead, and Daniel and Lena Sides.
In 1860, a group of members who had become dissatisfied decided to build a new church. They erected a log church on three acres of land which had been donated by Uriah M. Howard on the condition that the area be used for the construction of a house of worship. D.C. Miller, a local carpenter, built the forty by sixty foot log structure. According to the Deed recorded at the County Courthouse, the church stood at what is currently the southwest corner of the Goshen Cemetery parking lot. It was called The United Baptist Society of the Goshen Church of Cape Girardeau County, Missouri. In 1876, the Goshen Church united with the Oak Ridge Baptist Church.
According to R.S. Douglas's History of Southeast Missouri, a Presbyterian Church was organized in Oak Ridge on October 31, 1884, by Reverend W. Beale and Reverend J.W. Roseborough. Members of the Church included: Oliver S. Harris and his wife, Martha A. McNeely, Julia Hatcher, J.M. Bollinger, Elizabeth Bollinger, James C. and Mary A. Henderson. J.C. Henderson was also the Elder of the Church. In 1894, the Presbyterian Church had twenty-nine members.
The Old Presbyterian Church in 1898.
The church building was constructed in 1892. It was a one-story frame building with a belfry to one side in the Country Belfry style. The windows were Gothic style. It stood north of the town square, behind what is now Cowan's Hardware Store. In 1930, the building was sold to Earl Probst, who dismantled it.
A congregation of the Methodist faith voted to build a church in Oak Ridge, and, in December, 1873, Mr. Lewis Hinkle donated 1.25 acres of land to the Trustees and their successors. The original Trustees were: George Penny, John Wills, Grove Wills, Monroe Abernathy, and Philip Fulbright. On March 6,1874, a one-room frame building was completed. New Methodist Church in 1945.
On February 15, 1908, the congregation voted to build a new church. It was decided to build a frame structure contemporary in appearance at a cost of four thousand dollars. The style chosen was Country Belfry. J.L. Morton and Ram Parmenter, of Oak Ridge, were given the building contract. Gothic windows were put in the front of the church and the side windows were made of stained glass. The new church was dedicated on June 5, 1910. A large crowd attended and a basket dinner was served at noon.
In 1951, the members voted to remodel the existing church instead of constructing a new building. That autumn, a new basement was put in, including a modern kitchen. In addition, the sanctuary was remodeled and redecorated. In 1969, new vinyl siding was placed on the church.
In 1862, a Baptist church house was erected in Oak Ridge on land donated by Mr. William Clippard. Construction was assisted by friends of religion in the community. Elder J.G. Rutter preached the first sermon in this church in 1862. The present-day Oak Ridge Baptist Church was organized in March, 1864. They adopted the name, The United Missionary Baptist Church of Oak Ridge. On October 14, 1875, the membership paid twenty-five dollars to William and Alice Clippard in order to obtain the deed for the Baptist church house. Old Baptist Church in 1898.
In April, 1876, the Goshen Baptist Church proposed that it merge with the Baptist Church in Oak Ridge. The proposal was unanimously accepted. The new Church of fifty members was named The Union Baptist Church of Christ. Not long after the consolidation, in December, 1877, the congregation decided to erect a new church building. A one-story frame structure was built at a cost of $369.50. The building was dedicated in August, 1878. Later, on July 7, 1883, the Church's name was officially changed to The Oak Ridge Baptist Church.
On January 12, 1901, the membership voted to build a new brick church on the southeast corner of their lot at a cost not to exceed four thousand dollars. After twenty-five hundred dollars was secured through collections, work was begun in 1905. The building committee consisted of William 0. Fronabarger, G.A. Drum, Peter Hinkle, W.K. Slater, and Uz Clippard. The six-room structure was completed in 1906. It included a belfry, a baptistery, an auditorium, a large Sunday School room and prayer meeting rooms that were divided by curtains. Folding doors opened into the auditorium to accommodate large gatherings on special occasions. The dedication on January 1, 1907, was a day-long celebration. Promissory notes were burned for debts paid in full. A dinner was served in the Masonic Hall. The Cash-Book Journal, Jackson, Missouri, reported that, "It was a great occasion and the free and royal dinner served by the Oak Ridge folks proves the nobility of these people".
In 1944, a basement was built under the church adding a kitchen, fellowship hall, and five classrooms. The membership's desire and willingness to improve their house of worship continues to the present-day. In 1981, the congregation approved a plan for a two-story structure to house a pastor study, rest rooms, and a fellowship hall on the ground floor, and classrooms on the second floor, at an approximate cost of fifty-five thousand dollars. This building is presently employed for all meetings except worship services.
Mr. Jack Wilson established the first store in Oak Ridge in the year 1852. It was housed in a small frame building located between the present-day Masonic Hall and Billie's Bank of Bargains. Mr. Wilson did a good business. It is said that he purchased the first carpet and stove in town. People came from miles around to see these items.
The town's second building was a saloon erected by William Pierce and Ferdinand Swan on the spot where the railroad would later cross Jackson Street.
In 1860, the first school was built north of town in a grove of large trees on the west side of the road. It was called Goshen School and held classes anywhere from four weeks to four months in a given year.
By 1869, the town had a grist mill and a sawmill.
In 1870, L.D. Parmenter and Son opened a blacksmith shop.
A sure sign of a town's success are tax collectors. In 1871, when taxes were collected at designated times and places throughout the County, Oak Ridge was one of the locations. Since the sheriff and a deputy were the collectors, the long lines that formed were, surely, very orderly. Oral history has it, however, that comments such as "Let me settle next, I live six miles (10 km) from here," or "I believe that I'm next" were common.
Written documents, as well as oral history, tell us that the roads in the 1870s were badly in need of repair. The One Hundredth Anniversary History of the United Methodist Church cited a letter which was written in Millersville in 1873 saying, "Professor Toland is in Oak Ridge to teach a class in penmanship. I accompanied him there, and rougher roads I've yet to see. We had to foot around at least a dozen trees that had been chopped across the only direct road." Current townspeople also remember their elders' complaints regarding broken wagon hubs and axles and getting bogged down in winter's mud.
Fortunately, in the 1870s, there were also social organizations forming to deal with community-wide concerns. November 5, 1873, a local chapter of The National Grange Club was organized. The Grange chapter was organized by Henry Bruihl, and known as the Patrons of Husbandry. It's main purpose was to teach good farming practices, and it recruited farmer members through a variety of recreational and educational programs. Oliver Harris was the first Secretary and Dr. Halter was the first Master.
On November 29, 1873, the Masonic Hall was built. The building contract for the Masonic Hall was given to R.L. Bowman and James L. Morton who built the two-story frame structure for a sum of fifteen hundred dollars. The first floor was used for a store and the second floor was used as a meeting room. The building was dedicated on July 25, 1874.
The 1870s also mark the beginning of the remarkable tale of the Oak Ridge High School. At that time, there were no secondary schools south of St. Louis in all of southeast Missouri. Therefore, when the people of Oak Ridge felt a strong need to continue their children's education, they were faced with the significant task of establishing an institution of secondary education themselves. It's just what they did: by raising six hundred dollars through a tax levy approved by the voters, and by raising another two thousand dollars through subscriptions. First Oak Ridge High School, erected in 1874.
They used this money to build a two-story frame building with two rooms on each floor. The building committee included M.J. Hines, C.C. Clippard, Richard Swan, and Judge John Drum. R.L. Bowman was the contractor. Wm. Clippard donated the land. Within a short time another room was added onto the north end for a grade school.
The first session of the first high school in southeast Missouri began on November 5, 1874 with eighty students. Almarinda Minnie Steele was the first student to enroll. Each student paid twenty cents a day in tuition.
The area was growing in commercial facilities as well as educational. In 1875, the store of Hinkle-Statler was erected in a frame building that remained a store until it was razed in 1899. Meanwhile the store of Wilson and Drum became unoccupied from 1875 until the summer of 1879 when it burned down. In 1880, the Granger Stock Company rebuilt this store in a brick building on the same spot. Old Hinkle-Statler Mercantile Co. in the late 1800s.
John W. Hayes erected the town's first hotel in 1876. It was located across from the Baptist Church, and commonly known as the "Hayes Hotel" even after it was sold to a man named Futrell. Hays Hotel in 1898.
Sam Cramer operated the town's first shoe store from 1880 through 1890.
John F. Fulbright opened the first livery service and stable in 1885, located in the south section of town. Travelers could stable their horses there when they came into town, and horses and buggies were also available to rent. Malone, Kinder, and Schmidt were the names of other investors in the livery service.
In 1890, a black man names Columbus (Kay) Welling set up the first barber shop in Oak Ridge. He cut hair on Saturdays and at night. Eventually, he sold the business to another black man named Sam White. Barbers who have served the Oak Ridge community since then include Dunlap, Jenkins and Samuel.
In 1895, the livery stable was sold to C.C. Penny. He kept a rental inventory of sixteen horses, ten buggies, four trunk wagons, and six hacks. He also employed drivers whom drummers (traveling salesmen) could hire for a week at a time to drive them around the area. Runaways were not an uncommon sight. C.C. Penny Livery Stables in 1898.
For a time, in the late 1800s, Oak Ridge had two canning factories in operation. The first cannery opened in 1896 on the east side of town. It was named Oak Ridge Canning Factory. One year later, a second factory of the same name was located on the north side of town, but it only stayed in business for two years.
There were a multitude of businesses setting up shop in Oak Ridge as the Nineteenth Century drew to a close. In 1898, there was the W.O. Meyers Harness Shop; the Kassel Brothers Farm Implement Store; the Henry Willa Stove and Tinware Store; the Fred Kassel Photography Shops; A.M. Fronabarger Photography; the T.H.B. Williams Furniture Store; the Oak Ridge Furniture Store; the Wilier Nursery, located on the south side of town; and, Mr. Case's Tin Shop on the north side of town, which was later operated by his son-in-law Ruff.
William (Bill) Willer and W.J. Wilson were other tinsmiths practicing their trade in the area. Mr. Willer operated his tinsmith business for thirty years.
A millinery shop was here, too, providing women with the flamboyant hats of the time. The stylish hats were decorated with feathered plumes, veils, flowers, and the all important ribbons that were tied under the chin to keep the hats from sailing away on the ridge's strong breezes.
In 1899, the A.C. Ford Furniture Store opened its doors. That same year, D.B. Horn opened the first drug store in Oak Ridge. In the next century, men named Jones, Walker, Futrell and Ellis would serve as druggists, too. Walker and Ellis were doctors also.
It seems appropriate that Oak Ridge's finest building was constructed in the last year of the nineteenth century. The brick for this two-story building was fired in a kiln located behind what is now Louis Schmidt's property. The structure was erected to usher the well-established retail trade of the Hinkle-Statler partnership into the Twentieth Century. It became the community's first department store carrying varied lines of goods including fuels such as coal oil, dry goods, produce, furniture, clothing, even coffins and caskets. The firm did an enormous business. Four to five clerks were employed. Even so, it was common to wait hours to be waited upon any day of the week. The stores first clerks were: Odis Williams, Bern Goodson, Charles Ludwig, and Ed. Henderson.
The town's first telephone arrived at the end of the century, too, when in 1896, a line was run from Jackson, Missouri to a phone in the Oak Ridge Mill. One year later, a central telephone switchboard was installed in Hayes Hotel with Mrs. Hayes as operator. Soon after 1900, Mr. Hayes built a new hotel which he sold to Ed Langs, who in turn sold it to H.H. Wills. This hotel, which stands today, was called the Central Hotel. Mrs. Wills took over the responsibility for the telephone switchboard with assistance from her daughter, Mrs. Lillian Smith. They continued to operate the hotel, known for its fine accommodations and good food, after Mr. Wills died.
The telephone switchboard remained at the Central Hotel until the Southeast Missouri Telephone Company purchased the local telephone service, named the Mutual Company, from Phillip Probst, who ran the business of 215 subscribers from his home. In 1930, the telephone switchboard was installed in the home of Mrs. Hazel Maintz who remained the operator for many years. These telephone operators of the past, who were on call any time of the day or night to connect important sometimes life-saving phone calls, are remembered as persons who were greatly dedicated to the Oak Ridge community.
The town continued to thrive during the first two decades of the Twentieth Century. Progress could be marked by such events as the coming of the railroad and the establishment of a Post Office, newspaper, and bank. A local lumber yard and flour mill also grew to serve a region far beyond the town.
The first Post Office was located in the corner of a harness shop. Scott Reid was the original Postmaster.
About the same time, in 1905, David Peterson was opening the town's first hardware store. It was sold to Ritcher and then to Charles Harris who conducted a brisk trade in paints, oils, pumps, fittings, glassware, tinware, etc.
From 1900 to 1924, Mr. Peterson and his son, Ed, ran a broom factory in Oak Ridge. People grew their own broom corn and brought it to the factory to be made into brooms. The extra brooms were sold to the factory and other merchants.
Another line of equipment which became available at this time was McCormick-Deering machinery including mechanical harrows, mowers, and grain binders. This horse-drawn equipment was sold by J.H. Goodson, an agent for the Company.
The Oak Ridge lumber yard, begun in 1905, gained a reputation throughout the region for its good service and quality products. The business was initially established by Lee Hart with Hinkle and Malone as partners. Eventually, J.P. Malone became the sole owner. "The Tenth Anniversary Edition: 1904-1914," The Cape Girardeau Republican contained the following remarks about Mr. Malone's business
"The large and well stocked lumber yard of J.P. Malone would do credit to a town much larger than Oak Ridge. Every kind of building material is on hand and of the best quality."
J.P. Malone started a delivery service from the lumber yard in 1912 using horse and wagons. Later, he switched to trucks. The merchandise was also shipped by rail until the rail line to Oak Ridge was discontinued in 1918. Mr. Malone then had to go to Jackson to pick up his merchandise.
The railroad played a short, but significant, role in Oak Ridge history. When the first train chugged into the village on December 15, 1905, farm folks turned out along the tracks to cheer the event. Now there was a direct, quick transportation link to Jackson, Cape Girardeau and beyond. It gave a big boost to business despite the many times it was late or in need of extra manpower to complete the trip. The On Hundredth Anniversary History of the United Methodist Church mentions the whistle talk which translated, "I'm off the track and we need manpower to help me back or the track." It was a task that took a lot of human muscle.
The train would leave Cape Girardeau early in the morning, make a stop in Jackson, and arrive in Oak Ridge in mid-morning. The passengers were primarily businessmen from Cape Girardeau and Jackson who conducted their activities in Oak Ridge within the one and one-half hour period the train stayed in town before making the return trip. The railroad line was built by Louis Houck. He also built the attractive Oak Ridge Train Station which was constructed out of limestone taken from a quarry south of town, from the W.O. Fronabarger farm.
The first Oak Ridge newspaper, The Indicator, was published by Dix Walker in 1907. Later, Burette Bowers became the publisher.
Two years before the newspaper began, the capital funds for a long-overdue institution of banking were raised. Since the millers and merchants had been playing the role of banker to their customers, the most prominent men in Oak Ridge and Cape Girardeau County commercial life gave strong backing to the bank which opened in 1905 with ten thousand dollars in capital stock. The bank was housed in a small building adjoining the east side of the Hinkle-Statler Store. P.M. Hinkle was the first bank president. Wash Miller was the first bank cashier.
The business out-grew its location quickly. In 1912, it was moved into the New Bank Building. This facility was one of the most secure banks in the County with fire-proof vaults, a burglar-proof safe, and a large quantity of safe deposit boxes. In 1916, the bank was reorganized with W.F. Clippard as president. Later, A.D. Ford became president. R.B. Duncan became the cashier. The bank was forced to close in 1925.
The Oak Ridge Farmer's Institute was an annual event held during the years 1907-1941. This fair was famous for its agricultural, home economics, and livestock exhibits. It was held on Friday and Saturday in the second week of October.
Seventeen country schools participated by submitting exhibits for judging. In addition, each school gave a ten minute program in the High School Auditorium. The school children dressed up in costumes for the parade which followed a route from the school through town to the racetrack and back.
General exhibits were displayed in the Drummond Wilson Store. The 4-H booths were set up in the upstairs rooms of the old bank building. The Homemakers Clubs' displays and School booths were set up on the second floor of the Hinkle-Statler Store. Farmers brought their livestock, including cattle, hogs, sheep, and saddle and harness horses, to be judged. Music was provided at night by bands and, sometimes, by an "old fiddlers contest". In some years, the Farmer's Institute was attended by as many as two thousand people.
In 1910, rural mail delivery began over two routes. Carriers for Route 1 were Phillip Probst and Joe Cobble. Carriers for Route 2 were Willis Runnels and G.T. Ford. Mr. Jason Phelps carried Oak Ridge mail for twenty years, first in horse-drawn mail-hack, later by car.
Another notable event of 1910 was the opening of Benjamin Breckenridge's restaurant. One of its specialties was a freezer of homemade ice cream on Saturdays. Since then, Oak Ridge residents have also enjoyed the specialties served in restaurants operated by Ted Snider, Lawrence Grebe, Junior Goodson, and Cal Master.
One other 1910 event needs to be noted: This was the year that C.G. Samuels began barbering. Mr. Samuels was far more than a barber to the community. He also repaired clocks and jewelry, and sold insurance and lightening rods. Mr. Samuels continued to be the town's jack-of-all-trades for another thirty years.
The Oak Leaf Milling Company provides another interesting story. The mill changed hands so much that it would be difficult to list all the owners. According to "The Tenth Anniversary Edition: 1904-1914," of The Cape Girardeau Republican, the Oak Leaf Milling Company had a wide-reaching reputation. Its brand names, "Oak Leaf", "Belle of the Ridge", "O.K.", and "Tip-Top", were known over a radius of . The mill purchased a large variety and quantity of grains from local farmers; paying them in cash. The Cape Girardeau Republican cited one of the mill's newspaper advertisements which read, "Wheat $1.20 a bushel and pay in gold." The mill also handled all kinds of feed, corn products, and hay. They shipped their products as far away as Arkansas, although home markets made up the bulk of their trade. It was not uncommon to see twelve to fourteen wagons of flour being taken to Jackson to be shipped to others parts of the county. After the railroad went out of business, the flour was hauled by trucks. Ira Martin was one of the company truck drivers. Wm. Eatheridge was the first milling engineer. The latest and most improved methods in the art of flour-making were employed at the mill.
In 1918, A.D. Ford and W.F. Clippard purchased the Hinkle-Statler Mercantile Company. W.D. Clingingsmith was the store's manager until 1925; when he left the position, and A.D. Ford became acting manager. Old ledgers from the store reveal what items cost back then: $3.00 for a pair of shoes, $1.00 for a union suit (Ion underwear), 35 cents for tobacco, $1.20 for a pair of overalls, 25 cents for a pound of coffee, 15 cents for a gallon of coal oil, and 10 cents for a big bag of sweets. This store closed its doors in 1928. The clerks who had worked in this store included: Clippard, Probst, Goodson, Snider, Walker, Trickey, Cobble, Nellie Malone and Emiline Jenkins.
For a town of its size, Oak Ridge was fortunate to have good medical care.
There were doctors in the village from its earliest days Dr Walker and Dr Buteal were mentioned as early settlers in Goodspeed's History of Southeast Missouri. Three doctors, Dr. Ellis, Dr. Futrell, and Dr Statler, were practicing medicine here in the early l900's. The epidemic of Spanish Influenza kept them busy day and night with patients scattered over an eight to ten mile (16 km) radius. The doctors would be seen along the road sides at all hours of day in all kinds of weather first in horse drawn buggies, later in automobiles. Dr. McGinn, Dr. Halter, Dr. Tarleton and Dr. Martin are other doctors who have lived and worked in Oak Ridge. The last resident doctor was Dr. R.D. Blaylock. Then, for a short time, Dr. White came two days a week.
In 1920, Mr. Walter Trickey operated a drugstore. He also established the town's first soda fountain and ice cream parlor where a cherry coke or an ice cream cone could be purchased for a nickel.
A trucking service was begun in 1920. The truck drivers were Ira Martin, Willard Goodson, Ray Engels, Lrea Reid, Ralph Grebe, Jake Drum, and Bud Martin. They hauled livestock to the St. Louis Stockyards and returned with feed and other merchandise to stock local stores. They also hauled coal in the winter.
From 1918 through 1927, Mr. Vest Smith ran a combination grocery store and lunch counter on the lower floor of the current Masonic Hall. The southeast corner of this store served as the post office for many years, with Mr. Smith as Postmaster. Mr. Emory Harris ran a store in the former bank building in 1926 until his health failed.
In 1925, Mr. W.D. Clingingsmith (previous manager of the Hinkler-Statler Store) purchased the local hardware store which he and his wife, Aura, operated until 1955. Many community folks would visit this store on Saturday nights, swapping stories from the past week.
Before there were produce stores in town, produce buyers would come through the vicinity around twice a year. The items they purchased included: poultry, lard,tallow, hides, feathers, wool, meat, eggs, and butter, presuming, of course, that the latter three were fresh. The following story is related in an old newspaper clipping saved by Mrs. Payton Miller. It reads:
"Many a sight has been seen on Broadway, but surely one of the most impressive and unusual was seen November 9, 1899, when a drove of 700 turkeys, said to be the largest flock ever on a southeast Missouri road, was driven down Broadway like so many sheep. Five men drove the turkeys here from Oak Ridge; the trip taking three days. L.R. Gillian, Manager of Western Poultry and Game Co., paid Hinkle and Statler an average of 80 cents apiece for the birds, which were slaughtered, dressed, and shipped to St. Louis."
In 1927, cream buying started. R.L. Fronabarger and Will Samuel were purchasing agents for Sugar Creek Creamery Company. Mr. Fronabarger later opened a cream buying station which bought for the Golden Grain Butter Company. In 1935, he established the Fronabarger Produce Company which has stations at Oak Ridge, Jackson, and Pocahontas. Upon his death, Mrs. Fronabarger operated the stations with the help of her son, Ralph, and her daughter, Mary Dee. After the children married, Mrs. Fronabarger continued the operation of the Oak Ridge Station until 1970.
John Jenkins, Lawrence Grebe, and Far Probst were other local cream buyers. Lloyd Snider, J.E. Drum, Drum and Wilson, and Earl Probst were poultry and egg buyers. Local feed stores were operated by L.A. Ford and Lee Moneyhum.
John Henry Bowers and Frank Clippard owned and operated the first filling station and garage in town. Ira Marting operated this garage from 1930 until 1942 when he went to work in St. Louis. Since then, there have been a series of owners including: Willard Goodson, Cecil Blaylock, Paul Fronabarger, Emory Bowers, Ted Frickey, E.E. Volz, Lee Davis, Paul Huffman, and Jerry Schoen.
Kenneth Schmidt opened a barber shop and restaurant in Oak Ridge in 1935.
In 1937, another hallmark was reached with the coming of electricity. No more wicks to trim, lamps to fill, or chimneys to be cleaned. Nevertheless, it was wise to stay in practice in case the power went off, which it frequently did in the early days.
There was still another first, in 1938, when Miss Verda Lou Phelps opened the town's first beauty parlor. Miss Phelps, now Mrs. Dale Fronabarger, opened this shop in the former Trickey Drug Store. She later moved the shop into her home in Oak Ridge.
Landree Carron operated a grocery store in the Hinkle-Statler Building from 1947 to 1954. This store was sold to Mel Yamnitz who operated it until it was destroyed by fire on January 22, 1956. Six inches (15 cm) of snow which covered the ground and rooftops at the time is attributed with saving the rest of the town from this fire. A strong wind from the north scattered the fire's debris over much of the south section of the town.
In 1954, the town benefited from another significant improvement when the State of Missouri assumed responsibility for the Jackson-Oak Ridge Road. The State put blacktop on the highway and renamed it Route D. The residents who used this road greatly appreciated the new smooth surface knowing they would be changing fewer flat tires.
Mr. Eugene Seabaugh built a new block building to replace the historic Hinkle-Statler Store which had burned. He and his wife made it into a modern IGA Store which they operated until 1971. Mr. Seabaugh was a very civic-minded person who worked to bring in the natural gas line in 1967 and the public water line in 1968.
The Mangel's family, Charley, Verla, and sons, opened a feed, produce, fertilizer and trucking business in 1963 which they operated until 1983.
Also, in 1963, Mrs. Zula Hahs opened the Blue-Jay Cafe which became a popular gathering place for school children. For a short time, lunches were served on Sundays.
Miss Joan Kurre had a beauty shop on the west side of the Blue-Jay Cafe. Later, Mrs. Sharon Petzoldt took over this shop, later being replaced by Gwen Priest.
On June 30, 1964, fire struck again, destroying three business buildings on the north side of Route E. The fire, of unknown origin, swept through a cafe-tavern, feed store, and garage causing an estimated fifty thousand dollars worth of damage. A barber shop, hardware store, several small sheds, and a residence suffered heat and water damage. Once again, the town was saved by circumstance: lack of wind and wet rooftops from a drought-breaking rain earlier in the day. The Cape County Sheriff's Patrol Volunteer Fire Unit fought the fire. Oak Ridge residents volunteered to stay on patrol most of the night. The volunteers included Eugene Seabaugh, Charlie Criddle, Sonny Volz, Charles Wilson, Grover and Roy Sachse, and Clark Cowan. The men roasted hot dogs and drank coffee to pass the time. Afterwards, only the garage was rebuilt.
In 1971, Mike Bowers purchased the grocery store from Eugene Seabaugh. He later sold it to Gary Voelker. In 1983, Mr. Voelker sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Ron Seabaugh and Mr. and Mrs. Keith Seabaugh (children of Eugene Seabaugh who operated it until 1985.)
Goodspeed's History of Southeast Missouri.
Goodspeed's publishing Company. 1888
Robert Sidney Douglas, History of Southeast Missouri.
Louis Publishing Co., New York. 1912. Reprinted, Ramfre Press, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. 1961.
"Tenth Anniversary Edition: 1904-1914." Cape Girardeau Republican.
History of Oak Ridge, Missouri: 1852-1942. Prepared by students of history in Oak Ridge High School under the direction of R.L. Ford, Superintendent of Schools. 1942.
One Hundredth Anniversary History of the Oak Ridge United Methodist Church:1873-1973.
Reverend T.H. Jenkins, History of Oak Ridge Baptist Church: 1864-1901.
One Hundredth Anniversary History of Oak Ridge Baptist Church: 1864-1964.
One Hundred and Twentieth Anniversary History of the Oak Ridge Baptist Church: 1864-1984.
Newspaper clipping, The Cash-Book Journal, Jackson, Missouri. From Mrs. Lillian Smith.
Newspaper clipping, provided by Mrs. Payton Miller.
Farmers Institute Catalogue, 1933.