Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jerico Springs, Missouri


First, a welcome to new followers Grandma Swift, Tony Benson, Laraine Eddington, and Debra Ann Elliot! I am glad you are along for the ride.


Friday was a gorgeous day. However, before the day was over, the air turned way, way too hot for the first of April. But in the morning with a nice day and a weekend promising rain and storms, we took off a few hours for a short ride. It was so worth the time and gas spent. Not a cloud in the sky and the earth looked freshly washed from snow melt. Overhead trees were bare with infinitesimal buds trying to break out, but the grass was as green and lush as expensive carpet. Rivulets of water whispered into creeks with winter run-off; cattle and goats dotted the fields heaving their own sighs of welcome to spring. Hawks soared like teenagers on skateboards, the air currents their own ramps for wheelies.




We headed north on Highway 71 and turned at Route C. This time last year we turned west to visit an Amish farm for a community breakfast. This day we turned east to find Jerico Springs, Missouri. The nice thing about where we live is that we can experience several types of terrain in only a few miles in many directions. As we headed up the highway and then on for a few miles east, we saw flat black dirt, rich and productive fields for farming row crops. Then we drove on to an area of rise and fall, Missouri knobs if you will. The verdant grass land spooled out like a green sheet fluttering in the wind. Timber thickets, punctuated with redbuds, hugged creeks and even a few May apples were beginning to show. The earth looked like it was exalting Creation. Here and there along our path, groups of jonquils and daffodils waved in the breeze, a tribute to some farm woman who had lived on the land many years previously since there wasn’t even a foundation left to see now.

I have never been able to find out much about my family background. For one thing, no one talked much! On one side, a maternal great-grandmother’s parents both died young, and she and her brother were absorbed into an uncle’s family, leaving her not much history of her own. On the other side, my paternal great-grandfather was picked up in Topeka in a buckboard and raised in southeastern Kansas by a family that I now think was his uncle. The last names are not the same, and it was confusing for years as I was a kid; was I a McCarty or a McKinney? I have learned recently that John McCarty came straight from Ireland. He raised James McKinney in Crawford County, Kansas, who I suspect might have been John’s sister’s baby.


While searching, I learned that my great great-grandfather Brandon Lafayette Brasher and his wife Sydney moved to Jerico Springs, Missouri where he worked in a bank. When the bank closed, he took his family (including my great-grandfather Claude Brasher) to Joplin where he worked on the railroad. Makes sense since Joplin was a busy, booming area at the time. However, it was all news to me since I thought all my “people” were from Kansas and Oklahoma. When I came to live in the Joplin area, I had no idea I already had such Missouri roots.



So I wanted to see Jerico Springs which is an hour, give or take, from here. We saw the town sign with a population of 259 as we approached a hilltop. The verdant area was gorgeous, and spread away from this knob was farm land that must have been dotted with wagons, barns, and draft horses in the 1800’s. Turning into the town, I saw only a berg of neglected homes and businesses. What must have been a thriving little frontier town at some point, was now very forlorn looking. Homes in disrepair, cars up on blocks, shattered and boarded windows, a flea market that had long been silent, and a bleak looking business center all contributed to the looks of a ghost town. There was a little city park and a lame looking post office that suggested hidden folks somewhere still called this place home.


It was sad and someday maybe I will go back and check again. I did not find the cemetery, and I would like to look there. We drove on through other small places in the road on our ride: Arcola, Plew, Red Oak, Avilla, and Irwin. It was sad to see all those towns and the stories they held fading away, returning to Mother Earth.




12 comments:

noexcuses said...

I love that you were able to travel to places where family used to live. It sounds a little depressing to me to find that buildings and homes no longer show flourishing life the way it must have been. But, at the same time, I think it's wonderful to stand in a place where there was once family. Thank you for sharing your family history!

BECKY said...

OH, Claudia. I'm so sad to see those lonesome, empty buildings, too. I know that life changes, and towns change, etc. etc. but I still hate to see it happen sometimes.

Susan said...

Wow, Bookie, what a great ride! Things are budding there moreso than here. Oh yes, go back to the little town and explore some more. Very fascinating. Susan

Betty Craker Henderson said...

This is the kind of ride I love to take. Unlike you, I find joy in seeing the old ghosts of towns and homes. There are echos of life everywhere one goes, nothing like the kinds of thing we experience most days on the concrete streets and sidewalks we traverse now. No, I don't hate to see it, I rejoice in being a product of it all. If you allow yourself to become a part of this continuing history, when you are old this is what you will remember with affection and wonder, not the commonplace.

Anonymous said...

I have lived just on the out skirts of Jerico Springs most of my life. In the late 80's early 90's as a younge girl I remember the corner store being ran by Mrs. Burkheart, a place that usally was filled with conversation and laughter from the elders in the community while stopping in for a cup of coffee or lunch. Down the road to the east was a gas station/tire shop. The 'Jerico Picnic' was a fun time, packed with people and kids...with rides and food, crafts and music! With in my teen yrs it had dwindled down to this "ghost town"... I have friends who also live inside Jerico and there is nothing for children or adults to do! The park for kids is nick named the "ghost park"... we are just simple people with not much money... but would love to see this town become somthing again! We like it simple and remember its a small "little hick town"... but to get someone help breath life back into this cute little town would be amazing. We thought of a bbq / bake sale fundraiser to at least get some play equipment for the children of Jerico. A community place of games for teens and younge adults. Grandmas Place is a lovley little family style resturaunt who has and STILL brings guests from miles around every wknd, which shows potentical... I would love to see this little town spruced back up and filled with a joyful community again. And children a place to play within their home town.

Vanessa McMillen said...

I grew up in the old school house in Jerico. I to remember the corner store and the gas station the holders owned. I remember Darlene's restaurant, and an old hardware store by the park. There used to be big brick building on both sides of the bark and up Broadway by the post office. I explored everyone of them as a kid. There used to be a big building next to the post office that my uncle John May owned, he had a mechanic shop there and they lived up stairs. That hotel in the photo my friend Robin's family owned for a while. I used to play up stairs. That "lame" post office was always ran by Dottie. She always put the same home made decorations us kids made her on her Christmas tree every year. My mom, family, and others in Jerico built the bleachers at the ball field and a stage for the park back when we had big bands play at the picnic every year. We rode our bikes all day long and played in the woods and fields. We would get together and play at that park all day long. The creek behind it used to have some big bull frogs that were fun to catch. I too hope that one day it can find life again. So sad to see such great history fade away.

twalker said...

I have been working on my own genealogy and knew that a few of my relatives (Cross & Duncan) are buried in Brasher Cemetery in Jerico Springs, MO. I don't know if you have visited the gravesites of your relatives there. Obviously the Cemetery has your family name on it!

You can find out more at http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gsr&GSiman=1&GScid=27730&GSfn=&GSln=Brasher

Also you can read more about the Brashers and Jerico Springs at
http://books.google.com/books?id=8W48AAAAIAAJ&q=Brasher#v=snippet&q=Brasher&f=false

Christiana said...

I visited Jerico Springs in May of 1995 to explore my little known heritage. My great-grandfather, Gordon Bennett Bannister or "Doc" was the town's doctor and he used to live in that old hotel. It's fallen into even further disrepair since I saw it. It's funny, I wrote a short story about my visit there and I'm entering it in a contest tonight. Before I submitted it, I decided to google Jerico Springs and just see what came up. I found your lovely post that just confirmed so much of what I remember from back then. Sad to see the condition of the town has worsened, but it was lovely to me, in a forlorn way, when I saw it and lives on that way in my memory.

Anonymous said...

Was just in Jerico and saw a new roof on the old hotel. Hope it's being saved from collapse, a visible sign of the promise of community connection.

Janet Taylor said...

My parents were both born in the Old Hotel and were delivered by Gordon Bannister. My Grandma was best friends with his daughter, Susie. I grew up on a farm outside of Jerico and I agree that it is very very sad to see the town that was once a boom town in such disrepair. So many good good memories but nothing left of the physical reminders.

Lisa said...

My grandma just passed away last week and I've been thinking about all the things we used to do. She is from Jerico Springs. Helen Morris, daughter of Albert & Allice Morris. One thing we did was travel to the Town Picnic as a child (in the early 90's). It's one of the last times I remember being there. I don't remember it all that well either. I know when my Grandma graduated High School she taught school there in Jerico for a short time. I have an old photo of Jerico from 1905. I would like to go back down there one day just to see if I can find where my Grandma lived or even the lot.

Anonymous said...

My Grandparents lived in jerico for many years. They lived in a cute Victorian home on Stratton street. I remember as a kid going to the park to play. Riding the rides at the jerico springs picnic. I also remember going to the corner store with my grandfather and checking out the flea market downtown. I miss jerico as it used to be. Sadly both my grandparents passed. My uncle still lives in the home. If i had the funds i would love to help restore jerico to its former glory!