Cedar City, a small town in southern Callaway County, on the banks of the Missouri River was laid out in 1866 by David Kenney, owner of the Cedar City Land Company, who petitioned the state for articles of incorporation in 1870. Mr. Kenney named the town Cedar City because of the many cedar trees dotting the bluffs overlooking the town.
The original land patent for Township 44N Range 11W Section 16, to include: The North West fractional quarter; The North West fractional quarter of the North East fractional quarter and The South West fractional quarter of the North East fractional quarter, a total of 138 acres @ $12.68 per acre, total price $1760.28 by William B. Scott. The patent certificate bore the additional note: "The Cedar City Land Company Assignee of William B. Scott." It is within the confines of this tract of land that the community of Cedar City was platted and constructed.
Early records indicate the first post office for the town was established on March 12, 1825, when the town was called "Hibernia". Official records show the post office changed the name of the town to Cedar City on February 12, 1872. Early settlers arrived in Cedar City with their families, personal belongings and farm equipment by steamboat. At that time the Missouri River was located about one-half mile north of its present location.
In 1872 the Chicago-Alton (C&A) Railroad built a line that ran south of Mexico to terminate at Cedar City. Here the engine was run onto a turntable and the children and adults grabbed the handles and pushed to turn the engine around. The train remained over night so the train crew, and often passengers, stayed at one of the hotels. Generous meals were served in the large dining rooms. The next day the train was backed down to the South Cedar station to pick up passengers, mail and freight before heading north again.
At the North Jefferson station the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) stopped to unload passengers going to Jefferson City. They boarded a horse-drawn trolley which took them to the ferry that crossed the river. Soon after the first bridge (toll bridge) spanned the river in the early 1890's, an electric trolley met the trains at North Jefferson and South Cedar Stations. The trolleys crossed the bridge and continued on through Jefferson City's business district.
The MKT ran a spur to South Cedar City to a large freight depot. Livestock and grain were loaded at this station and also at the C&A station at Cedar City. Barnum & Bailey brought their circus cars in on the railroad line and unloaded at the South Cedar depot. The animals were taken from the railroad cars and paraded, either on foot or in cages and circus wagons, across the Missouri River to Jefferson City. A calliope could be heard as the circus made its way across the bridge.
By the early 1900's there were two churches, a barber shop, drug store, saddle tree shop, two blacksmith shops, daily newspaper, furniture store, undertaker parlor, three general stores and a doctor in the city. At South Cedar there was a general store and the Dulle Elevator where grain was stored to be used for making flour at the Dulle Milling Company in Jefferson City's Millbottom.
There were open air dances and barbeques and entertainment provided by the Cedar City Band Association. During the 1920'ss there was a baseball team to be proud of, challenging all teams in the area, and usually winning.
In the early years of the town the only law was Bob Darton. He spent many years patrolling the city on foot. As a respected citizen, he often was called upon to settle disputes, and although not a judge, he was thought to be fair and reasonable and his decisions were respected.
Lucia Dwight, a member of one of the city's churches, went as a missionary to Cairo, Egypt, and with the exception of one visit to the states and Cedar City, she spent the rest of her life there.
Remember when taxi fare to Jefferson City was 20 cents? Some of our residents do. In 1928 or 1929 a civilian pilot training school located just North of Cedar City. It consisted of a machine shop and a hangar. In the late 1930's Robertson Aircraft Corporation of St. Louis took over the school. During the 1940's a barracks was added and at least sixty students from Jefferson City Junior College, and thirty from Lincoln University were trained and went on to the Army Air Corps. One local young man trained here, took a government job as an air i way controller and made this his career. One of the instructors lived in the barracks. In the late 40's the airport was moved to its present location, just east of the city. Now longer landing strips are possible and larger planes can land. This became the Jefferson City Memorial Airport in the late 40's.
When the town was established it had a four room schoolhouse, and near the turntable was a Negro school. In the middle 50's a bond issue was voted to construct a new modern four room school. At the end of 1956 the approximately 100 students moved into the new school. In 1980 the school was merged with the Jefferson City system. The school building is now used to house food supplies for the Jefferson City system. Students from Cedar City are bussed either to Holts Summit or Jefferson City. School buses are based on what was once the playground.
Somewhere along the way the city was allowed to fall into a state of inactive incorporation. In 1958 the city's incorporation was renewed and it is presently in good standing as a fourth class town.
In 1971 the officials of Jefferson City petitioned the residents of the city to see if they were interested in being annexed to the City of Jefferson. With only fourteen residents in favor of the proposition to annex, this issue was abandoned. Jefferson City did annex areas around Cedar City at that time, consequently making growth for Cedar City impossible.
After the 1973 flood the United States made available flood insurance to help defray the cost of such future disasters. The city was designated as a flood plain area, and all new buildings must be built to the one hundred year flood level in order to keep the city in good standing with the federal government and eligible for the flood insurance. In 1963 a bond was issued for the installation of a water system. In 1969 a volunteer fire department was initated with fourteen men of the town volunteering their services. A new truck was purchased with funds from a second bond issue. In 1980 a third bond issue brought a sewage system to the city.
An active Lions Club holds its annual festival where it serves barbeque and has a carnival.
The Jefferson City Rugby Club used the Louis C. Corley Park for its games, playing rugby teams from as far away as Wales.
The city has recently constructed a second well to better serve the community. Several years ago the city initiated a local sales tax which helped to boost the revenues and allow for more extensive improvements. The city has a mayor, four aldermen, three policemen, a full time maintenance employee and a volunteer fire department. The policemen and firemen are reached through a very efficient paging system which is manned by three dispatchers on a 24-hour basis.
There have been many people responsible for the progress of the town. It would be impossible to mention all of them.
Cedar City, in the shadow of the state capitol, keeps it small town status, changing with the times, but remaining an independent community.
This history was compiled by Mrs. Emma Marie Beavers Gilbert, Mrs. Clarence (June) Sundermeyer, and Miss Orna Mickelis. Mrs. Gilbert supplied the large part of the information. (Editor)