The town of Auxvasse was laid out in 1871, but the plat was not filed for record in the recorder's office until October 23, 1873. It was not officially incorporated until November 6, 1885.
Thomas B. Harris laid out and platted the land which he owned and which lay south of Harrison Avenue. His residence was located where the "Creed" house, currently occupied by the Gordon Groves family, stands. The only other residence in the vicinity was the red brick Swon house north of town, later owned by Mrs. Mary Hunt, and now owned by the Dr. Glen Cooper family.
Clinton City was the original name of the town, but because of confusion with the city of Clinton in Henry County, the Post Office Department changed the name to Auxvasse in April 1872 when J. A. Harrison was appointed post master, but the County Court made it official April 6, 1891. Legend has it that a group of French explorers, camping by the creek south of the town, discovered miry places in the creek while attempting a crossing and named it "Riviere aux Vases" or "River with miry places." The town took the name of the creek and the present spelling has evolved over the years. (Mr. Hook).
From a small rectangle lying south of Harrison Avenue and bounded on the south by Maple Street, the east by Mary, and the west by Second Street, the town has grown with a number of additions including the First and Second Nancy Swan Addition, the First, Second, and Third John Swan Addition, the First, Second, and Third J. F. Smit}, Addition, the Smith and Buckner Addition, the Burt Addition, the Johnson Addition, and numberous other plots, to an irregularly shaped area that extends roughly .5 of a mile both north and south from the intersection of Main and Harrison and from .4 of a mile east to 120 feet west of Mill Street from the same intersection. (CALLAWAY COUNTY ATLAS, 1919.)
The first Board of Trustees was appointed by the County Court at the time of incorporation in 1885 and included J. A. Harrison, Edwin Swon, E. M. Dudley, Joseph F. Rohn, and W. D. Frisbie, all of whom played an important part in the town's development. (Mr. Hook).
Looking north at Main and Walnut, Security Bank, Sapp's Market, and Buckner Building with Grand Prairie Baptist Church in the distance.
Population in the 1880's was approximately one hundred, according to Mr. Hook. An unofficial count by Post Master Warren Moser estimates the figure at about 990 in 1983. J. A. Harrison erected the first mercantile building on the northwest corner of Main and Walnut. In 1884 Charles and "Ap" Adams opened Adams Brothers there and continued for many years. In the early 1900's they built a brick structure where a variety of establishments such as general mercantile, grocery, pool hall, restaurant, and feed store have done business. More recent owners have been P. L. McGuire, James Lantz, Car] Foster. and the present Roe-Hinkle Hardware Store (Ee. Wood, C.H. Hook).
Also in 1884 E. M. Dudley built a two story frame building on the northwest corner of Main and Harrison and conducted a general mercantile business there for some twenty years. The second story was known as the "opry house." In 1914 the building was replaced with the brick one that houses Cooper's Store today, after passing through a number of hands that included Dudley and Wood, W. H. Cornelius, Blattner's, G. L. Dryden, and Cooper's.
On the southwest corner of Main and Walnut, J. A. Harrison built the first brick building. Charles McCue used the first floor for general merchandise and the Odd Fellows used the second floor for their lodge room. In 1884 the structure was extended to twice its original length with the Auxvasse Review, a weekly newspaper edited by Z. W. Hook and later his son C. H. Hook occupying the second floor in 1888. The Review continued there until it moved to the present Hook-Auxvasse Press building in 1923 where it remained until Charles Fugate bought the business and ran a job print shop for several years before selling it to Mr. and Mrs. Doug Dillard, the current owners. (It is interesting to note that former President Harry Truman announced his candidacy for the United States Senate before his election in 1934 in front of the Review office.)
Numerous other businesses have hopscotched up and down and across the streets and have included hardware, plumbing, clothing, millinery, and blacksmithing among others. Health needs were met by a number of pharmacists including William Overfelt, W. A. Gilliland, H. G. Thomas, G. L. Washburn, Herbert March, Chet Winkler, Leonard Hobbs and Barbara Huddleston, who operates Dunavant's Drugs in the original drug store. Local physicians were Drs. Tinscher, W. B. Ellis, J. Y. Hume, Howard Emmons, R. O. Keeton, W. McFarlene, Walter Berry, H. R. Hill, Troy Yost, C. A. Wurst, A. H. 00-mann (whose brutal murder in 1981 horrified the community), and Dr. Glen Cooper, who purchased the 00-mann practice from Mrs. Mildred Domann. Dentists were A. K. Adams, Howard Smith and Dr. Cash.
Banking business in the young community began in the Auxvasse Bank Building built by J. A. Harrison in 1886 and continued there until its closing in 1924. Located just north of the Review office, it expanded to include the building to the north. Later the People's Bank headed by Crockett Harrison was followed by the Farmer's and Trader's Bank begun by R.R. Buckner; both banks occupied the building vacated by the Security Bank when it moved to its new home on the northeast corner of Main and Walnut, former site of the LaCrosse Lumber Company. J. M. Motley had opened the Security Bank in 1930. After he sold it, a group of local citizens composed of Frank Holland, Hughes Maupin, E. C. Wood, C.H. Hook, and R. E. Mottaz bought the business and continued to run it until the retirement of the president R.E. Mottaz in 1982 at which time a holding company bought it, with Michael Long serving as president. A branch facility was opened in Kingdom City in February 1975. (E.C. Wood, C.H. Hook).
The Post Office, having occupied buildings on both sides of the street over the years, is again situated very near its original location . Before moving to the structure built in 1961 by Wilbur Foster, it was in the former bank building on the corner of Main and Walnut. (Hook).
From 1872 there was train service between Mexico and Auxvasse, and in 1876 the Callaway County Atlas shows the Chicago and Alton Railroad extending to Cedar City. Records indicate that Thomas Harris was the one man mainly responsible for the C and A branch being built through Auxvasse instead of Concord, which was then a thriving community. Passenger service continued into the twenties.
Although Auxvasse is principally a farming community, other businesses have flourished. The Auxvasse Flour and Saw Mill established by Charles Martin and the Auxvasse Milling Company, both in west Auxvasse, were in operation in the early days as was the lime kiln south of town. The Winn House, a hotel and restaurant housed in what is known as the Buckner Building, and a three story hotel and restaurant across from it provided food and lodging for transients. Today the hotel has been reduced to two stories and converted to apartments. In the forties a cheese factory operated for a short time on the former site of Joe Martin's blacksmith shop. Wilbur Foster conducted a freight, livestock and sawdust hauling enterprise in the thirties and forties from an office where the Kingdom Telephone Company stands. J. T. Willis bought the hauling permit but the Foster grandsons continue the sawdust business.
Several garages and car agencies did business in the building now occupied by Sapp's Market. Miller Motors, Mottaz Plymouth-Chrysler, and Hunt and Moser were former tenants. E. C. Wood and Walter Johnson ran service stations diagonally from each other at Main and Harrison and Main and Walnut, respectively. The town now boasts two service stations, three restaurants and two grocery stores. Larry Brown runs Old Monroe Grain Company and Moorman Manufacturing Company and Val-U-Line operate plants just north of town.
City government is a five man mayor-council. The present Town Board, composed of Bruce Graham, Mayor, Glen Cooper, Ross Howard, Leroy Stubblefield, and Ross Parcel is currently involved in upgrading the sewage, water and street systems.
Wittl the present progressive-thinking Town Board, Auxvasse is looking forward to a bright future.
This historical account was taken from notes compiled by C.H. Hook, longtime editor of the Auxvasse Review, personal interviews with E.C. Wood, octogenarian resident of Auxvasse, and my own knowledge (65 years), as well as county Atlases and back copies of the Auxvasse Review.
by Virginia Willis