Last commercial business in the community closed their doors this week
To find the village of Ritchey, the curious must travel east from Neosho on Highway 60 and past Granby, turn onto Missouri State Highway W. It's small - the last US Census taken in 2010 lists 82 residents and the last surviving business shut the doors for good this week.
The Ritchey Barbershop, housed in a small building in what was once the center of town, opened for the final time between 6 and 8 p.m. on Monday. Those are the hours that proprietor and barber Bill O'Neal has kept in recent years but he's been cutting hair on the same site for more than 50 years.
Some of his customers have been coming for generations, others for decades.
Retired Navy Captain Steve Burnett is one of those regular customers.
"I've been coming to Bill to get a hair cut for years," Burnett said.
Ritchey was founded in 1874 and was named for an early Newton County pioneer, Matthew Ritchey who arrived in the region in 1832.
At one time, the community boasted several hotels, a railroad station, hardware stores, a drug store, a grocery store, bank, lumberyard and even a blacksmith's shop.
Over the years, as the population dwindled, so have the number of businesses in town.
The Ritchey Barbershop was the last commercial business in town.
Refreshments including a special cake were served as O'Neal used his barber skills for the final haircuts.
"Colonel Ritchey, the founder of the town, would be very proud of Bill O'Neal and his many years of service to others," Burnett said.
Well-wishers and friends were on hand in addition to those seeking haircuts on the final evening of operation.