Bob Mitchell: Women helped make Cassville

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Women have contributed heavily to the making of Cassville. Most of this was in later years, after the City of Seven Valleys had received a healthy push into the 20th Century.

Taking a narrow survey — which quite possibly resulted in some names being overlooked — this column will post some names that might be familiar for today’s generation.

Regardless of the recognition these ladies might hold, here goes the list, in no particular order.

The Mountain Maid

Her name was Jean Wallace, who arrived in these parts out of the east. She lived for a short time in Seligman and finally settled in a log cabin on Sugar Camp Tower Road between Roaring River and Eagle Rock. Supposedly possessing some strange powers, she was often sought out to find a stray cow, missing diamond ring and provide fortune readings. Folks came to her cabin for special reasons and her reputation was widespread. The Mountain Maid died in a fire at her cabin, supposedly set as she attempted to start a fire with kerosene.

Put music to work

Maud Wilson, popular piano and accordion instructor for years, was a member of the pioneer Trolinger family. Her talents put untold numbers of students at the musical talent contests. In addition, she was a part-time sheriff when her husband, Troy Wilson, was unable to perform his duties.

Potato chip maker

Long before grocery aisles were full of bagged potato chips, Mayme Mitchell manufactured the chips at their home. That’s when she wasn’t busy being city librarian at Eighth and Townsend. Mayme was also known to help her husband, Lynn, with Cassville’s cash drawings on Saturday in those days.

‘Henry!’

A familiar sound as last as the 1940s on the public square was the shouting of the name “Henry” coming from the second floor of the courthouse. That’s when Thomas Abstract was one of two private businesses located there. The object of the call was Goldie Thomas bringing her husband off the lawn benches to sign some document.

Dr. Mary Newman

Finishing medical school in Arkansas, Dr. Mary Northcutt came out of Seligman and soon married Dr. George Newman. Together, they formed a medical team that opened Barry County Hospital at the old LeCompte home in Cassville. She and Dr. George were strong supporters of Cassville in the early years. He also served as a long-time mayor of Cassville.

Dr. Mary continued her practice in Cassville for a long time. She used Monett hospital facilities for reasons of differences between private ownership in later years.

She and her second husband, Bob Merideth, for a short period of time, operated a unique antique business, The Charles Shop.

The bus station

Transportation in and out of Cassville for years was via a couple of bus companies, with ticket offices at the Music Store, later becoming The Bus Station. Handling the bus ticket sales were Bland White and Missie Pearl. They were especially busy in the time of draft calls during World War II, never failing to accompany young men going for physicals to the bus and wishing them well.

The pair also provided newspapers, magazines and a snack counter for the business, in addition to accessing any destination possible.

Community food

A number of ladies were responsible for feeding the community in several cafes over a period of years. Possibly the most well known was Marie Crowe. She combined her expertise with Community Betterment activities, helping to win several C-B state awards. She often catered activities at Memorial Park, using her famous checkered tablecloths.

Maybelle Mandell, coming out of Seligman, she and her husband operated Mandell’s Café for many years, filling the place on special occasions and weekends. She remained mobile until family members removed the motor from her vehicle.

Robbie Bower, endeared herself in the community from her Main Street location, and especially for handling a delicate situation, when a black man was with a construction crew paving area roads. The man was familiar with local attitudes on race in those days. With officials being concerned about where he would get meals, they talked to Robbie, and she solved the problem, cleaning off a work table in her kitchen and making this “Mister Bill’s” very own meal location. She took some criticism about this action for a while, which never bothered her one single bit.

Taught electricity

Mary Alice Carlson, was a home economist, who worked with Barry Electric Coop at their start with the single purpose of teaching women to cook with electricity. That was in the mid-1940s when electric lines were being extended to rural areas.

She also did the same work for Cassville schools.

(Continued next week.)

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.