THE LEGEND OF "STICK 'EM UP ROCK"
By Peggy Smith Hake
Legends have existed almost from the beginning of time and our Ozark country is no exception. There are still a few folks remaining who have heard these stories and it is important to get them recorded before another generation has passed on and this wonderful knowledge has been lost.
One legend I had heard for many years was the story of "Stick 'em Up Rock", which was located near St. Anthony in northern Richwoods Township. There is a small rock formation located on a high ridge on the old Joseph Kempker farm (owned today by the Buck Herx family) within sight of Highway A. It had been a favorite spot for Miller County foxhunters for many years. As they sat on this old rock, and gathered around a cold evening's campfire, many wild yarns have been woven! Some legends say that money had been hidden near the rock (probably during or after the Civil War era). Many have dug for a clue to this cache, but nothing has ever been found (that we know of!).
Another legend concerning this rock formation is the one that gave it the name of "Stick 'em Up Rock". Near the ridge of the Big Tavern valley was an old wagon road and trail that led from St. Anthony northward to St. Elizabeth. It was traveled by all the area farmers as they went into town on Saturdays for their provisions. Many return trips through this rugged countryside was interrupted by roughneck hoodlums who would rob the farming folk as they made their way back home. "Stick 'em Up Rock" was the favorite spot to hide, out of sight of the travelers. It became a dreaded area to pass and I do not now how long this lawlessness went on before it was stopped.
I first heard of this old rock over 25 years ago when I received a letter from Wilbert Aust (now deceased) who was about 85 years old at that time. He told me he could remember the day his great grandmother, Nancy Stinnett Smith, (who was my great, great grandmother), had perished in a fire at Iberia about 1905. His father, Charles Aust, and Jim Bob Forrester were at a 'fox race' over near "Stick 'em Up Rock" and could see the fire and smoke from their vantage point at the race. They hurried back to Iberia, but Nancy had already died in the flames that destroyed her little home. With his mention of "Stick 'em Up Rock", my curiosity was aroused and eventually I learned the legend of the landmark.
Before his death, George Otto and his wife, Catherine, took me to the exact location and showed me the old rock formation. George, who was born and reared in the area of the 'rock', was a wonderful storyteller and after sitting until dark one evening, listening to his vast knowledge of this area, I can well understand why it has been a favorite spot for Miller County fox hunters of the past as they repeated the legends of "Big Tavern Country"...........Near "Stick'em Up Rock" is an old road that has been known for many generations as the "Old Indian Trail Road, and as you might guess, that is another legendary story !