Butler County - Poplar Bluff
- Fisk - Neelyville - Rombauer
- Broseley - Harviell - Qulin
- Hilliard - Fagus -
Ash Hill - Coon Island - Big
Island - Stringtown - South
Wilby - Morocco - Agee
- Cane Creek - Ten Mile Creek
- Bitter End
Play the Name Game!
In the southeast lowlands of Missouri a new
county was established in 1849. It was formed from the lower half of
Wayne County, an area too large to meet the growing needs of all its
residents. The new county, approximately 36 miles long and 26 miles
wide, sits at the top of the bootheel of Missouri with a comparatively
small portion of the northwest section in the foothills of the Ozark
Mountains. And an interesting county it was. The land was covered with
swamplands and forests of hardwood trees. It was sparsely settled by
families from Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois and Indiana. Unlike the
many French and German settlers in Missouri, these were primarily folks
of English, Scotch and Irish ancestry - hard working, brave farmers
looking for a better life for their families.
The county was named for one of the heroes of these people, native
of Kentucky, Gen. William O. Butler. William Orlando Butler was
a member of a family of military distinction. His
grandfather, Thomas Butler, was a Revolutionary War hero. Thomas
five sons also served in the Revolutionary War and were known as the
Gallant Butlers. One of these five, Percival, was the father of
William O. Butler.
Following the war Percival was sent to Carrollton, Ky., as adjutant
general (non military) to the territory, and there he and his family
made their home. William distinguished himself in the War of 1812 by
rising from private to major. At the time Butler County was organized,
Gen. Butler was at the peak of his popularity for his service in the
war with Mexico in which he served as a major general. He was commander
of all American armies in Mexico. Gen. Butler was a lawyer by profession.
He ran for vice president on the Democratic ticket with presidential
candidate Lewis Cass in 1848. They were defeated by Zachary Taylor,
also a Mexican war hero, and Millard Fillmore.
General Butler died in 1880 at the age of 90. The general is honored
in his home state by a state park named for him. The General Butler
State Resort Park is between Louisville and Cincinnati at Carrollton
on highway I-75. The 19th century historic Butler-Turpin home is in
the park and contains the furnishings of the Butler family.
People and trees are the sources of most of the names of towns, villages
and communities in Butler County. We began with the county, named for
a illustrious man. Now we will discuss the county seat.
The character of the early settlers of this county is evidenced in
the choice they made for the county seat. They could well have chosen
the Cane Creek area, site of the first settlement. It would
no doubt have been a convenience to them and a financial benefit,
but they chose to have their county seat in the center of the county
on a navigable river to make it more easily accessible to all who
would come here to live. The river in the early days of the 19th century.was
used like a major highway is today.
They chose an uninhabited bluff on Black River on which to place
the town that would contain their governing offices, and they named
it for the beautiful poplar trees that grew profusely on that
bluff. They called it Poplar Bluff and they set out to build a town,
their county seat. By the end of 1850 a town had been started and
some ten families lived in Poplar Bluff. In 1855 the first court house
was built and the town grew, and finally, on Feb. 9, 1870, Poplar
Bluff was incorporated.
Fisk, once a thriving timber town, was incorporated in 1895. The
original town was founded in 1885 and was located on the east side
of the St. Francis River in Stoddard County across the river from
its present location. Fisk also was called Poplin which many of the
older residents continued to call it after its relocation. The
town was named for Stephen W. Fisk, an original town general
store operator, and postmaster from 1893 to 1897. Though the town
was relocated and registered in Butler County in 1895, the post office
remained in the old town until 1899 after which the remnants of the
Stoddard County town slowly disappeared, no trace of it can be found
Like most of the towns in Butler County, Neelyville was a thriving
timber producing area with large mills in the mid 1800s. The area
also had rich farm land particularly suitable for raising cotton after
the swamplands were controlled by the irrigation canals in the late
1800s and early 1900s.
Neelyville, first called Neely, was named for the man who
gave the land where the town was established in 1872. In Deems
History of Butler County, Judge Deem wrote of Neelyville in 1925
...one of the finest small towns in the county. It has several
times virtually been destroyed by fire, but in every instance its
citizens bravely rebuilt.
In the late 1800s, a Mr. Sprangler (first name/initials now unknown)
gave the land for establishing the town of Rombauer. The first post
office was opened in 1902 with Henry Sanders as postmaster. Mr. Sprangler
requested the town be named for a family friend, Judge Rombauer,
of St. Louis (first name/initials also unknown). In the early1980s
a daughter of the man so honored by Mr. Sprangler visited this Butler
The area in which Rombauer is situated was once known as the Mud
Creek or Mud Creek Hollow community. Called a community center for
northeast Butler County by Judge Bruce Deem in his History of
Butler County, this, too, was a timber town.
Baileys End was the first name given the town of Broseley.
This was because the settlement was at the end of Baileys Railroad,
which connected with the Butler County Railroad, a railroad organized
in 1900 to serve the area with transportation for passengers and freight,
particularly timber, and its products. In 1910 the postal department
refused the name and the town was renamed Hunt for the first postmaster
and the man in whose home the office was located, Richard and Alfred
Wm. N. Barron of Poplar Bluff, manager and one of the organizers
of the Butler County Railroad, renamed the town Broseley in 1913 in
honor of his wife Marthas hometown in Shropshire, England.
Mr. Barron named the towns along the railroad. Also born in England,
William Barron came to the United States as a very young man and settled
in Poplar Bluff at the age of 30 in 1886. He was prominent in the
development of Butler County.
Harviell was a thriving lumber-producing county town named for the
man who owned the land it was built on, Simmons R. Harviell.
Mr. Harviell was a landowner, businessman and county official for
At age 22 he was so successful he was able to loan the county court
money for the purchase of the land for the county seat in Poplar Bluff.
A post office was established in the town, which was first named Renton
in 1872. The name was changed in 1873. The busy little town had a
large park where two-day July 4th celebrations were held for many
Qulin is a town whose name has no documented origin. Several stories
of how it was named have been circulated over the years, among them
the tale that some man named the town for his five daughters, using
the first initial of each first name to spell Qulin, neither this
or any other story has been authenticated. However, it is known that
the town was called Melville for a number of years, but the
post office could not accept that name officially because it was a
name already in use by another town in the state. The post office
was established c.1904. It was a lumber town in the beginning, later
becoming an agricultural area.
There were many other lively small towns in the county in the 1800s
and early 1900s. Most have disappeared completely; some are designated
areas but only the seven previously named still have post offices.
Interesting names among those areas are the following:
Hilliard, called Hills Yard
until a post office was established and the name was changed to Hilliard.
The name came from a yard from which George Hill supplied wood
for the wood burning steam engines on the Iron Mountain Railroad (later
Missouri Pacific Railway). Hills Yard was a fuel stop for the
trains. Raw iron was mined in the area and it and clay for pottery
and timber were shipped by rail from there. TOP
Fagus was once called Slapout
. It was a railroad stop and got its name from the railroad grading
crews who patronized an eatery where the owner regularly announced
he was slapout of meat. It was later named Fagus by Wm.
N. Barron, the name being Latin for beech trees, which grew
in the area. TOP
Ash Hill also was named by Mr. Barron for
the trees that grew in the area. TOP
Coon Island is not an island but an area
in the former swamplands that was high enough to stay dry during rainy
seasons. For this reason the raccoons gathered there and from
that came the name. TOP
Big Island is another area that is not an
island. This community got its name from a hill that was safe from
the flooding of Black River in the south part of the county.TOP
Stringtown was named from the fact that
the community had a row (string) of houses with a store at
South Wilby got its name, according to
a story in the Daily American Republic June 28, 1979, from
a resident, who in the early days said, There will be
a town here some day. South Wilby is situated on Black River
and while it is not a town, there are many homes along the river that
make up the community.TOP
Morocco, an early county settlement whose
population was predominately African American, was named by
William Barron for the North African country by that name.TOP
Agee Community was named for the school
that was built on land donated by William Agee, a member of
a prominent pioneer family in that area. A famous descendant of the
Agee family from a Tennessee branch is James Agee, author and Pulitzer
Prize winner for his novel A Death in the Family. TOP
Cane Creek community is located on Cane
Creek and named for the giant cane (also known as wild cane)
that grows along its banks. This and the adjoining Ten
Mile Creek community, located on a creek named for its length,
were the first settlements in Butler County.TOP
Bitter End got its name from its location
in a swamp south of Neelyville at the end of the tram that
carried out the lumber harvested there c. 1900.