Someone asked me this past week why Tiff City is named Tiff City.

Someone asked me this past week why Tiff City is named Tiff City.
In case you are not familiar with every crook and cranny of McDonald County, Tiff City is located near the northwestern  corner of the county, smack dab on the Missouri-Oklahoma line. When I was growing up, it was also the closest community, as our farm was located a mere five miles or so southeast, in Beeman Hollow. So I guess you could say I'm originally “from” Tiff City, though really I consider myself “from” Beeman Hollow, to be even more “local” about it. OK, enough biographical information.
To get back to the original topic, Tiff City isn't named for a person, but for a nearby ore known as “tiff,” which is usually white, yellow or colorless. Tiff is actually Baryte, to use the scientific name, which is primarily used today as a filler mud when drilling for oil or gas, and also as a filler in many other products, including paint and cement. It is also employed in x-ray technology, particularly for x-rays of the digestive system. Historically, Baryte (or Barite, as it is also spelled) was used in the manufacture of paper and rubber. That is what it would have been mined for when Tiff City came into being in 1881.
Well, 1881 was when the town was platted anyway. There was a post office established in 1877, according to one source. I might add the Tiff City still has a post office today, though it was in danger of being closed a few years back. Another source says it was the local post master, Scott L Hopkins, who built the first house in Tiff City (which makes sense), and that he also built and ran the first store.
At one time, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Tiff City could boast several stores, a bank, a hotel, a blacksmith shop (and perhaps more than one of each of the businesses listed), and many other businesses, but that was a long time ago. Today there is there is a convenience store, community building, church (although someone recently told me that services are not currently being held there), bank, and the post office. In the last decade there was also a pump business and a small engine repair shop, both of which had been in business since before I was born. Both are gone now, though.
I was born just a couple of years too late to see the old time general store that operated there for many decades before burning to the ground one night in the spring of 1980. The origin of the fire was determined to be electrical. The store sold everything – even fabric. It had everything you would need to live on. It was one of the last of its kind around here, I suppose. Not the “last,” but one of the last.
There isn't census data for Tiff City, or least anything that I have been able to find, but the population is less than 50, by best guess.
I've written a few pieces about Tiff City and I expect I'll probably write more. It's mighty close to home for me.

Wes Franklin writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.