I would like to share with you, once again, memories and stories from the “Illustrated History Of McDonald County, Missouri, from the Earliest Settlement To The Present Time, edited and compiled by J.A. Sturges, Attorney at Law, Pineville, Mo 1896.”
“Most of the stores sold whisky and sold it with as little concealment as they did their calicoes; every farmer brought his jug with him when he came to town to trade; every horse swapping or sale of land was confirmed by treats all around; every house and barn raising was dedicated by the passing of the whisky jug from hand to hand; the guests at every wedding grew hilarious with exhilarating corn-juice, while all too often the mourners of the funeral, drowned their sorrows the same day in the oblivion of drunkenness. Picnics, elections, and holidays were days of ‘a general good time,’ which expression covered everything from being gentlemanly foxy to lying dead drunk in the fence corner. Thus were sown the seeds for a bitter harvest of dissipation.
“Following this came the terrible period of the Civil War. McDonald County was on debatable ground, and was over-ran again and again, by the contending Federal and Confederate forces. She was mercilessly pillaged and sacked, her courthouse destroyed, and her records burned. For years there was no restraint of either church or court. Anarchy reigned, and the inevitable demoralization that followed, could not be over come in a day nor year. The days of reconstruction, of the setting in motion of the machinery of law and order, was a time of turbulence. The war had engendered countless feuds between neighbors. The governor had to appoint the first officers, and rival ambitions and jealousies fanned this animosity. As an instance of the unsettled state of affairs, the records show that no less than three different men were appointed in three months time to the same county office. Moral restraint, that would have alleviated much of this angry feeling, unfortunately was in abeyance. The war had been over two years before the first church was organized in the county and it consisted of a class of but six persons, five women and one man. All this turbulent time two and three saloons were doing a flourishing business at the county seat, then a hamlet of less than 200 inhabitants, but from its position the center of all this turmoil. Undoubtedly much of the incitement to strife came from the same iniquitous saloons, the breeders of mischief everywhere.
“Then again, there came back from the war a loose, wreckless class of persons, who drift as naturally to places where the law is weak and moral force at a low ebb, as the waters run down hill. The period of 1865-70 was a shameful one that all of McDonald’s Citizens would be glad to forget....”
Today the peaceful little City of Pineville paints an entirely different picture. If you have not had a chance to stop in and visit the museum on the square in Pineville, please do add it to your calendar of things to see. There you will find copies of Attorney Sturges’ book as well as many local authors. You will find the museum open, as volunteers are available, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday afternoon. Look for us on Face Book and check out our webpage. We look forward to meeting you.
Alberta Anders writes a weekly column for the Daily News.