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History of Marquand Missouri

This is an excerpt from Historical Madison County 1818-1989 that was published by The Heritage and Landmarks Commission and The Madison County Historical Society

Marquand, situated along the banks of the Castor River and surrounded by the Mark Twain National Forest, nestles among the hills of the St. Francios Mountains. Hunting, fishing, and the wooded seclusion of the area attract many tourists today, but it was the river bottomland that first drew settlers in the opening decade of the nineteenth century.

Prior to 1804, Indians were the only inhabitants of the community. A trail led down the Castor River from St. Michael to Stoddard and Dunklin counties. Shawnee and Delaware, pushed west by the American migration, were living on the banks of the Castor as late as 1816, but Indian mounds and relics found along the river are evidence that Indians had lived in the region for several thousand years.

The first white settlers to come to the area were Captain Henry Whitener (Weidner) and Mr. Michael Mouser. Captain Whitener was born in 1752 in North Carolina and served as Captain in the Revolutionary War in the "Battle of King's Mountain." He married Catherine Shell (Schell) in 1786. She was the daughter of Michael Schell, a soldier of the Revolutionary War. Henry, Catherine and their six sons, Abraham, Henry, John, Daniel, Solomon, and Benjamin, and four daughters, Catherine, Barbara, Charity and Mary, along with five slaves, made their journey in the spring of 1804 to the large tract of land they had secured under the Spanish Land Grant. Upon their arrival they cleared the land and built a large two-story log home with a fireplace that had an eight foot opening that would accommodate ten cooking pots at one time. In 1804, the property owned by Captain Whitener did not include the present site of Marquand.

In May of 1804, Mr. Michael Mouser and his family, also from North Carolina, arrived in the area. Mr. Mouser was too late to secure land under the Spanish Land Grant, but was able to purchase 600 acres at one dollar an acre. Later, he sold the property, which included the present site of Marquand to Henry Whitener who subsequently built the first house on the site. Michael Mouser, born in 1762 in Lincoln County, North Carolina, was the oldest son of Johann Frederick Mouser (Mauser) who was born in 1740 in Charottenhof, Germany. Michael sent his oldest son Henry to Missouri to find a new homesite. Michael and his wife Maria, followed with their other children, Isaac, David, Benjamin, Daniel, John, Fanny, and Molly, to settle what was then a frontier wilderness. Other settlers soon arrived, bringing such names to the area as Moyers, Reagan, Myers, Bollinger, Kelly, Watts, Graham, Settle, White, O'Bannon, Blaylock, Edwards, Starkey, and many others.

From 1804 until the arrival of the railroad, the community was referred to as the Whitener Settlement. Around 1869, the Missouri Pacific Railroad came to town and with it, a railroad administrator by the name of W. G. Marquand. He was so impressed by the natural beauty of the town that he donated $1,000 for the construction of a church. The people of Whitener Settlement were so overwhelmed by Mr. Marquand's generosity that they renamed their little town in his honor. Mr. Marquand's money was intended for the organization of a Presbyterian Church. Although a building was constructed, the funds were somewhat compromisingly used and the church failed. The Methodists later bought the building.

The Methodist Church was the first one built in Marquand, but there were several Methodist and Baptist Churches in the outlaying communities. Lafette Hull was the first minister of the Marquand Methodist Church. Hull was also a doctor as well as serving as Representative to the state legislature. In 1874, Reuben Watts organized the first Congregational Church in Missouri in Marquand; however, that church no longer exists in the town.

There were at least four subscription schools operating in the area before the Civil War. Students paid one dollar a month to attend school where they sat on seats made from split logs, wrote with goose quill pens, and learned reading, writing and arithmetic. The students even made their own ink from indigo, lamp black, and pokeberries. Immediately after the Civil War, the first public school was started in the community at Mousers Grove. Naomi Cook was the teacher.

A school was opened in Marquand near the site of the present school and by the late 1800's had as many as 100 pupils. Marquand began a high school in 1919 with the addition of a ninth grade. The next year a tenth grade was added, but it was obvious that a new building was needed before a full four year program could be offered. In April of 1927, a special election was called for the purpose of voting $7500 in bonds for a new school building, with the state providing an additional $2000. The proposition carried 124 to 5, and the eight members of the class of 1928 were the first to graduate from Marquand High School. At that time there were two elementary teachers, two high school teachers, and a principal. The building vote for in the 1927 election is still in use. A gymnasium was added during the Depression, and a cafeteria and additional classrooms were added in 1956. A separate elementary building was constructed in 1972. The Marquand School District was enlarged several times through consolidation, the last time in 1966 with the addition of the Zion community.

Farming was the most important economic activity in the early days of the Marquand community. Corn was the most important crop, but the early farmers also raised wheat. They also hunted and trapped. There is a story that during the winter of 1862 or 1863, Dan Whitener killed sixty deer. It was a hard winter, though, and the deer were so poor that they couldn't be eaten; however, their hides were usable.

As more settlers moved in the area, businesses began to establish themselves. The first flour mill was owned by Henry Whitener and operated by a black man named Elleyant (Elliot). Other first included a general store, built by J. Q. A. Whitener, and a lumbering operation begun by Robert Farrar. Hauling the lumber, mostly pine, to Chester, Illinois and Perryville, Missouri, Farrar received $2.00 a hundred by a thousand foot load. The first road in the area was the Bloomfield Road. Extending from Fredericktown to Shetley's Creek and then to Bloomfield, it took a mail carrier three days to make the round trip.

The town really began to grow after the railroad came through, but even prior to that, ties were being cut at local sawmills such as the one owned by J. Q. D. and Lum Whitener. In the late 1890's when some mines opened in the area, the cutting of mining props would become important.

By the turn of the century, Marquand was flourishing. The railroad allowed for the export of iron ore, wheat, and as many as one hundred and sixty carloads of timber a week. By this time Marquand had a post office, the first roller mill in Southeast Missouri, and a newspaper, The Marquand Echo printed by T. J. Estes. In 1906, the town of Marquand was officially organized with a town board. The first board of trustees consisted of H. E. Homan, G. M. Watts, J. Q. D. Whitener, J. P. Smith, and E. S. Lett.

On September 9, 1904, Whitener reunion was held to commemorate the one hundred years since the first settlers' arrival. Over one thousand people attended, some from as far away as North Carolina. The gathering was held in the "bottoms," a beautiful area of oak, maple, and cottonwood trees located along the Castor River. The Honorable Roswell Smith of Farmington, a Congressman who later became ambassador to Haiti, delivered a special address that had been written by G. M. Yoder of North Carolina.

The Castor River was one of the largest attractions to early settlers, but it also caused problems. It was impossible to ford during periods of high water. In 1919, the Marquand citizens raised a fund by public subscription and erected a footbridge just north of the ford at the lower end of town. The bridge was suspended by wire cables anchored on opposite banks of the river. The bridge served for many years, but the advent of the automobile intensified the need for something better. Attempts were made to build bridges that would support a car or wagon and team, but when the river would rise, these bridges would be washed away. During the early months of 1923 there was a period of about six weeks when the river was seldom safe to cross by wagon. There was much talk about the need of a substantial bridge.

Mr. E. S. Lett set out with a subscription list to see how much money could be raised toward the construction of such a bridge. His original goal was $2,000, but the citizens responded so enthusiastically that he concluded that $4,000 could be obtained, and that the Missouri State Highway Department could be persuaded to construct the bridge. The goal of $4,000 was reached and the bridge was built in 1924. Mr. Lett died in 1925. A bronze plate, honoring his memory, was affixed to the bridge. Mr. Lett's bridge spanned the Castor for over half a century, but in 1987, preliminary work had begun for the construction of a new bridge to serve the town.

In 1930, Marquand was probably at its height of growth. Since it was still not very convenient to drive to the county seat, it was up to the town itself to meet the needs of its people. By this time, Marquand had seven general stores, two meat markets, one post office, one bank, two churches, one sawmill, one handle mill, one carding machine, one flour mill, one drug store, one doctor, one soda fountain, one bottling factory, three blacksmith shops, two mechanics, one shoe shop, two barber shops, one school, one cafe, and a Justice of the Peace.

The railroad brought prosperity to the community but it could also bring tragedy. The great train wreck of Marquand occurred on January 11, 1911. W. A. Paul was the engineer of a freight train. His son, E. Paul, was the engineer of a freight train. The passenger train left Marquand at 1:52 p.m. and headed towards Bessville to wait there for the freight train to pass. Young Paul, however, was ahead of schedule, and he left Bessville, hoping to meet his father at Marquand. The two trains met head on at the edge of town. The sounds of the crash brought the townspeople running to witness the wreckage and offer assistance to the wounded. There were two fatalities. One was William Holmes, a passenger from Fredericktown, and the other was W. A. Paul, the engineer of the passenger train. Young Paul's hands were badly burned as he clawed through the coals, trying in vain to reach his father. So remorseful was young Paul over the fact that he had caused the wreck which had taken his father's life, he later died of a nervous breakdown.

In the closing decades of the twentieth century, Marquand remains a small but stable community. The school is still functioning and many people in the area work hard to insure that its students receive a quality education. Angelica Uniform Group is a major employer in addition to numerous small businesses. Among them are a grocery store, a hardware store, a gas station, two garages, a funeral home, a video shop, a travel brokerage, a TV repair service, a tree trimming service, a bank, a roofing company, and an antique store. Logging continues to attract workers just as it did a hundred years ago. The Marquand Community Fire Department and ambulance service are an integral and vital part of the community. The Senior Citizen Housing Project and a nutrition center help meet the needs of the elderly.

Marquand is looking ahead to the twenty-first century. The Welker Tree Farm, under the administration of Dorothy Kelly, is gradually being developed into a beautiful retreat area with emphasis on cultural preservation and education. The Reagan Hotel is the original hotel that was owned and operated for eighty years by the Reagan family. In 1982, Maleta Tinnin, Cheryl Tinnin, and Dennis Ward bought the hotel with plans to restore it to the 1890's time period. Presently, it is being renovated and upon completion it will offer a museum, an antique shop, beautiful gardens, and live entertainment typical of the 1890's.

The Missouri Pacific Railroad discontinued service to Marquand in the early 1970's, but the memory of its influence will linger for years to come in the form of a town park that is currently being developed on the former railroad land. The park will preserve and enlarge a wide expanse of landscaped acreage that rungs through the center of town. An old mill and railroad car will be permanently located in the park.

It will soon be two hundred years since the first settlers came to Marquand. Because the town stayed small, much of the area has remained unchanged. The hills and trees and river would be very familiar to those early pioneers. Another Marquand resource that remains unchanged through the years is its people. The citizens of Marquand are warm, friendly, and always willing to help.

Much of this information on the history of Marquand comes from a history of the community written by the 1932 Senior Class of Marquand High School in 1931, under the direction of Superintendent Melvin Englehart. The class members were: Clinton Besher, Letty Burris, Earl Crook, Otto Dees, Mildred Emmett, Geraldine Graham, Claude McCormack, Jim McLean, Gladys Mouser, Dorothy Rankin, Aline Rauls, Lindel Tinnin, Leo Ward and Floyd Whitener. Their information came from Andrew Whitener, Jeff Limbaugh, Mrs. Mattie McLean, and Mrs. Clarice Andrews.

Additional contributors to this 1987 history of Marquand include: Virginia Cook, Ray Whitener, Dennis Ward, Letty Burris, Floyd Whitener and Dorothy Whitener.

By: Shirley Gilmore Blecha and Leota Reagan


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