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History Early Settlers in Douglas County Place Names

Place Names

How post offices and streams got their names; early trading with Rolla and Springfield.
Click for larger map1898 Railway Mail Service map showing place names and post offices. Click the map for larger version.

The manner in which some of the earlier post offices and some of the streams obtained their names are quite interesting. One of the early post offices was Cold Springs, so called because it was near some large cold springs. John Wheat was the merchant and postmaster there. It was established in 1858 and remained in that location for several years. In 1880 it was moved to its present location on Clever Creek. Just four years later in 1884, a trapper and deer hunter obtained another post office at the former Cold Springs location. He named the new post office Buckhart because it was in the heart of deer country.

Rome was named after the papal capital by a swedish Catholic named Johnson. Bertha was named for the merchant's youngest daughter, Bertha Hawkins. Interview: April 18, 1938, James N. Sherril, one of the early settlers, at his home in Mountain Grove, Mo.

Most of the streams derived their names from simple things. Fox Creek derived its name from the fact that Owen Bell killed seven Foxes on this stream. Brush creek was originally named because of the large amount of underbrush which grew along the stream. Cowskin is so called because a cow was drowned in the creek during high water and his owner skinned her where she lay. Beaver Creek was so named because of the abundance of beaver in the stream. Turkey Creek was so named because it was a breeding place for turkeys and Spring Creek derived its name from the fact that it was fed by innumerable springs. Interview: Aug. 4, 1938, W. P. K. Lee, former County Judge, at his home on Brush Creek one mile south of Highway 14. Now deceased.

By 1857 Springfield was the trading point although much stock was still driven to Rolla and St. Louis. A regular freight line was started by Austin Reynolds which made one trip a month. By 1859 this line was making a trip every two weeks. It took three days to get to Springfield then one day to trade for supplies and three days to return. On his trip to Springfield the freighter carried furs, meat, hides, tallow and wool. On his return trip he brought clothing, salt, spices, powder, lead, guns, knives, farming tools, carpenter tools and building supplies. Interview: April 17, 1938, Jess Cox, former county judge at his home on Fox Creek two miles North of Denlow, Mo.

Courtesy of the Douglas County Genealogical and Historical Society Journal, December 1984 and December 1986. The text is from “First White Settlers” in the Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, U.S. Work Projects Administration, 1935-42, Missouri Historical Records Survey-Douglas County.
Railroad map from the Library of Congress American Memories Historical Map Collection.