Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society

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   Mokane Page

Callaway County, Missouri


by John Farmer Taylor

Mokane had its beginning as St. Aubert, sometime in the period between 1870 to 1890, as a small group of houses and a store on the banks of the Missouri River, about a mile from its present location. Mr. Jim Dickenson was born in one of these houses at St. Aubert about 1870, and he made the comment to ancestors of local residents that he had no birthplace, because his house was washed into the Missouri River by the eroding of its banks. Because of the washing away of these homes, one house remaining was moved into the river bottom by Mr. Sam Moore. This house was known by local residents as the Johnnaber place; it was on the sand plant road going to the river. The Jonnabers moved to this farm prior to 1909 and lived there many years. This historic house was torn down in the early 1980's.

The first house in the present location of Mokane was a brick, two story house with a basement, known as the Smith place. When it was built prior to the Civil War, it was the farm house of most of the land on which Mokane is now built. The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad took possession of the rail lines to St. Louis on July 1, 1893. After this date, a frame, two story school house was built and the Methodist and Christian Churches wer° also built. The Catholic Church bought the church building owned by the Presbyterians in 1908. The division of the "Katy" railroad was brought to Mokane in 1907 and many people came here to live. Many homes were built on River Street and other locations in town by the local banker, Mr. W. R. Wilkerson. A newspaper was established in 1894, known then as the Herald Post, which later became known as the Mokane Missourian and was published and edited by the Hodges family from 1901 to 1971. From 1907 to the late 1920's, Mokane was a prosperous town having a bank, a drug store, three general stores, a newspaper, three physicians, a dentist, two blacksmith shops, and barber shops. The business houses lined Main Street, Fulton Avenue, all the way from Broad Street to the railroad on both sides. The town at this time had a population of about 1,000 people.

After the late 1920's, when the Katy division left Mokane, the population dropped to about half, or around 500 people; these were the years of 1930's and 1940's. During this period the town also had a theater and at least two filling stations. Mokane has always been a rural community and has served in many ways the needs of farm families in the area for many years. Since the 1950's the population of Mokane has steadily dropped to its present number of about 360 residents. Though the business and population of Mokane has decreased, the residents are still proud of their town and their homes and show an interest in making it a nice place to live. Mokane owns its own water system, and many residents are working to bring about a federally approved sewer system for all residents. These residents are looking for new and better ways to make Mokane a pleasant place for all who like to live in a small town near the banks of the Missouri River.

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