Home / General Interest / History of the Dogwood Community (Courtesy of Eva Painter of Ava) By Marvin E. Painter

History of the Dogwood Community (Courtesy of Eva Painter of Ava) By Marvin E. Painter

Information was received from the following: Fred Painter and Charley Painter 1107 W. Walnut, Springfield, Missouri. These two men were twins, born two years after Dogwood was established by their father. Mrs. Effie Cauethra, Route 4, Seymour, MO. Church Records of the Christian Union Church. Mrs. Claude Wheat, RT 4, Seymour, MO Baptist Church records, Henry Greene, RT 4, Seymour, MO. Nazarene Church Records, H.M. Painter, RT 4, Seymour, MO. Dogwood School Records and Old Dogwood Store Account Records.

Dogwood, a little community on Highway 14, about half way between Ava and Sparta and twenty miles (really only 12 miles on BB) southwest of Seymour, MO, was established in the spring of 1874.

Lemuel D. Painter, a young Civil War veteran, left his work in a gun shop in Springfield, and with his wife and three small sons, moved to a site about two hundred yards east of the present site of the Dogwood store. The timber had to be cleared away before a building could be erected. After the land was cleared, a building of logs was erected with a residence in the rear and a place for his merchandise business in front. About a half-quarter mile southwest of the building was a large spring surrounded by dogwood trees, so the name Dogwood Springs was given to the little store. The original building was torn down several years later, when sawed lumber was easier to obtain, and a new and larger place of business was built. This time, the residence was built separately.

The nearest house, at the time of the settlement, was seven miles away. Many people came from miles away to buy such provisions as gun powder and shot, bars of lead from which to make bullets, salt, canned salmon, oysters, patent medicine and clothing. An alcoholic drink, called bitters, could also be bought in ½ pint bottles or gallon jugs. The customers could also sell such produce as roots, herbs and furs in season.

The little country store was located at a vantage point on the Springfield-Rockbridge road and had a brisk business dealing in supplies and provisions for freight wagons traveling from Arkansas to Springfield. In later years, when the town of Seymour was established and a railroad was built through the town, many tie haulers stopped by the store at Dogwood on their way to and from Seymour. The original store at Dogwood thrived without any competition until Painter’s health prevented him from being active for about three years before his death in September of 1927.

All the merchandise was hauled, by wagon, from Springfield. Painter, himself, made one trip a week to Springfield, which took two days, for a load of provisions. When his sons became old enough to handle a team, the job of freighting was theirs; and in turn was handed down to their son, who hauled supplies from Seymour.

Inspection of old records shows that supplies were paid for with cash. The McGregor-Noe Hardware Company and Creighton Provisions and Supply Company, both of Springfield, were the firms that sold Painter the most of his supplies.

Old accounts show how few luxuries people of those days actually had. In many cases, provisions for four months would cost eighteen or twenty dollars. On one account book, in May of 1904, coffee was fifteen cents per pound package. A widow drawing a Civil War pension, proved to be one of the best customers.

When Painter had been in Dogwood but one year, he obtained a contract for a Post Office. The name Dogwood Springs crowded the cancellation stamp so badly that it was shortened to Dogwood and the name has been kept ever since. The mail was delivered weekly by horseback, from Springfield. The first man to make the deliveries was a Negro and the contract stated that a night’s lodging must be provided for the carrier before his return to Springfield.

Like many of the new settlements in remote areas, Dogwood went through an era of gambling, drinking and fighting. Older people, who grew up with the community, tell of the turbulent times when nearly every man carried a gun.

The first school that was taught in the community was by subscription. It was taught in 1888 by a man named McGilvery. He received sixty Dollars for teaching a four month term. The following year a lady taught another subscription school and took board from the parents as part of her pay. In 1890 the Dogwood School, number one hundred, was organized and McGilvery taught the first free school for a term of four months at twenty-five dollars a month. The school was held in McGivery’s log house. The next year land was bought for a school site, and a log school house was built by donation. In 1910 the log building was torn down, and a new frame building took its place. In this year, the area of the school district was made smaller and was renumbered, from one hundred to seventeen. This building is still standing, but has been given two major repairs jobs since that time. Old school records show that during some years they had a fall term of two months and a spring term of two months. Many of the boys who attended school were practically grown and the winter hunting season furnished their chief income.

Until 1900 the only religious services were in the homes or away at distant places. In April, 1900 a missionary by the name of Elsey organized the Missionary Baptist church (now Pleasant Ridge Baptist). At the time of this writing the church has only one charter member still living in the community. He is the Reverend John Pruett (this was Ruby Williams’ father). They held their services in the school house until their building was built in 1905. In the same year, land was deeded for the Dogwood Cemetery which lay across the road from the church house. Two men were buried on the plot during the first year. The first one to be buried was a man named Shankland. Since that time the original ground has been enlarged twice and at present time, all lots have been bought (it has been enlarged again with lots available at this time of 2012). When the highway was rebuilt in 1932, it used most of the original church yard, so a plot of land adjoining the cemetery on the north side was bought and a new church erected there. When the Baptist Church of Dogwood was a little over a year old, The Reverend J. W. Riddle organized the Christian Union Church on September 7, 1901. They held their meetings in the school house and in arbors until 1904 when their building was built. The original building is still standing but has undergone major repair (it was disbanded and sold and is now the home of Frank and Shirley Sinclair). This church had three charter members still living at the time of this writing. Many years later a third church was organized by the Reverend George Wilson. It was the Church of the Nazarenes organized in 1931. Their memberships came from nearly every adjoining county.

In the year 1903, three telephone party lines were built in the territory, and the Dogwood store was the location of the switchboard which made connections from one party line to another and gave them connections with their operator in Seymour. A larger telephone company bought the franchise and raised the subscription cost so much that interest in the telephone began to lag, and by 1915 it had stopped operating. After Painter’s death in 1927, the Dogwood store was moved to its present location. It now has been in continuous operation ever since, under the management of several different owners, with varying degrees of success. Their kinds of merchandise and methods of freighting have changed greatly, but their plan of salesmanship has changed very little. They have been independent and take the attitude that if a person wants something he will buy it without being given a sales talk.

Dogwood has played a very important role in the settlement of the area. It is still a peaceful little community, with its two general stores who are contented to serve the immediate needs of travelers as they pass by on their way to more populated places.

This is an essay that Marvin Etcyl Painter wrote in 1960 while attending Drury College. He taught for 34 years. His last years were as Ava Elementary Principal. His wife, Eva now lives in Ava and will soon have her 91st birthday on September 24, 2012. Etcyl passed away on July 18, 1994.

Pleasant Ridge records actually show their original building was moved across the road to its present location. It was moved using skids and horses or mules to its present location next to the cemetery. It has had several additions added over the years. In August 2012 the church was 112 years old.

The Nazarene Church has moved to a new building just west of Dogwood on Highway 14. The Christian Union Church disbanded in the late 1970’s. The old store building at BB and 14 is still standing but vacant at the time of this writing.

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