Russellville plans 175th anniversary

Through every generation, the hometown bank has been at the heart of the Russellville community.

Through every generation, the hometown bank has been at the heart of the Russellville community.

RUSSELLVILLE, Mo. — To celebrate Russellville’s 175th anniversary, music and food, pageants and competitions are being organized, along with the annual Frog Leg Festival and Engine Show.

Not to lose sight of the generations before, the community organizing committee also has plans to fill the Cole County R-1 middle school gymnasium with present and past pictures, articles and items.

“It’s amazing how much history is in a little town like that,” Eve Campbell said. “The museum will be an easy way to learn about the past.”

The history side, they hope, will be full of advertising and promotional items from bygone businesses and other “old items you don’t see every day,” Jim Campbell said.

Additionally, the committee hopes to have several churches and youth organizations reserve space to promote their activities and opportunities.

“It’s not strictly for history,” Eve Campbell said. “We want people to know what our different organizations do.”

Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, 4-H, the fire department, churches, school clubs and other organizations are invited to sign up by calling 782-4772.

Perhaps pieces donated for this one-day museum could be the beginning of what could develop into a permanent museum for the town.

Several items people already have identified to set up at the museum include drug store rulers, advertising fans, theater tickets, furniture from the former factory, news clippings and old pictures, maps dating back to the 1800s and glass phone line insulators.

Schubert’s Mercantile, once downtown sold Peter shoes. The committee hopes to borrow chairs that once sat in the local store and display a few pairs of the popular shoes and some antique advertisement materials.

And a booklet detailing the Bagnell Branch Line fatal train wreck on the Missouri Pacific rails will be for sale, too.

The Campbells intend to create several display boards as tributes to the variety of businesses that have been in Russellville, similar to the divider pages in the cookbook.

Business fields include grocery stores, blacksmiths, service stations, dentistry and drugstores.

“There used to be a lot of things in Russellville,” Eve Campbell said.

The Campbells have been researching the town’s history for more than three years, including Internet surfing, reading old Russellville Rustler editions and visiting the Cole County Historical Society.

They envision the heyday of Russellville might have looked similar to the early television shows “Gunsmoke” or “Bonanza.”

The railroad came through in the 1880s and made Russellville a significant stockyard and stop for commodities.

That was well after Enoch Enloe and Lammon Short decided to stay in the area after their wagon train from Tennessee stopped to fix a broken wheel. Their settlement probably was near where Russellville High School is today.

The committee has hopes that some of Enloe’s descendants will attend the 175th anniversary.

The town was named for Bucknar Russell, who had the town surveyed. He is buried in the historic cemetery on Jefferson Street.

Setup will be open 4-7 p.m. June 6 and 9-11 a.m. June 7 at the middle school gymnasium. Or, an alternate time may be arranged with the committee.

Another option is to make copies of unique items or photos. The committee then could prepare them on display boards in advance.

The best-case scenario, donors bring their historic items or organization promotion to the museum and sit with it for the day to talk with visitors.

“We’re glad of the support we’ve had so far,” Jim Campbell said.

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