Yarrow began in 1847 as Domey's Mill, a grist mill built on the east bank of the Chariton River to serve farmers in southern Adair County, Missouri. This original mill was destroyed by winter ice floes in 1874. However, the demand for services was so great a new mill was up and running on the same location by 1876. This second building was much larger and also featured a sawmill. The town itself went through many names in its early years including Domeys Mill, Lower Iron Bridge, and Linderville before an unknown government postal official assigned the name Yarrow near the turn of the century. The name was said to be chosen for the profusion of wildflowers that grew on hillsides surrounding the mill site. The coming of the Iowa & St. Louis Railroad in 1902 and building of a depot lead to a boom in business and population growth for the sleepy little river hamlet. At one time Yarrow featured a bank, general store, post office, and several other businesses. One interesting historical footnote, Yarrow was once considered the smallest community in America with electricity. This came about in 1910 when then-mill owner Michael Weber installed a water powered generator. Wires were strung around town, allowing homes and businesses to have electric lighting from six to ten-thirty p.m. at the rate of one cent per light per night. With the exception of larger towns like Kirksville and Novinger, the rest of Adair County, and indeed much of northeast Missouri, would have to wait many years more for rural electrification. Just like the river waters, time flowed on past Yarrow, preventing further growth. The Great Depression and improved transportation hit hard at small communities across the nation, and Yarrow was no exception. The bank closed in the early 1930's, followed by the mill in 1937. Winter ice floes again wreaked their toll upon the mill in 1941, causing a large portion to collapse into the river. One general store hung on into the early 1970's before closing.
Against long odds Yarrow has survived as a community, with several homes and families still to be found. Long famous for excellent fishing, a series of small cottages and weekend retreats were built on the west bank of the Chariton River across from Yarrow in the 1950's. Although the remnants of the mill dam were removed by the US Army Corps Of Engineers also in that decade, Yarrow still provides an idyllic setting. For a brief time in the 1980's Yarrow would see its population swell into the many hundreds one weekend each year as it became the finish line for the Great Chariton River Raft Race, an event involving home-built rafts of often great imagination floating downriver from Novinger, Missouri. Something of a business boomlet has occurred in recent years as well, with a popular local bar and restaurant, and a campground now operating on the edge of the village.
1) Novinger, Adair County Missouri: The People, The Town, and Surrounding Communities. Published by Novinger Renewal, Inc. 2000.
2) Water Under The Bridge by Rich Anderson & Gary England. Published in The Chariton Collector, Winter, 1982.