Atwell Community from 1904 Atlas
Atwell Community from 1904 Atlas

In the southeast corner of the county, close to the Maries County line, was once a small settlement known as Atwell. The community, located in Richwoods Township, was founded in the 1870s and was named for the Atwell family who ran a general store there.

At one time, Atwell was also referred to as Crossroads. It was located midway between Dixon and Iberia in the southeastern part of Miller County, four miles north of Hancock. The town was established at the intersection of four roads. One road led to Brays, one led to Dixon, another to Iberia and the last one to Hancock. These roads were used by farmers to drive their livestock to Hancock to be shipped to market.

Bart Sloan established the first general store in 1900. A mill for grinding wheat and corn was established in Cross Roads in 1900 but burned down in 1911.

In 1911, a second general store was built and put into operation by J. Ed Barnett. The store was operated for about a year and then was sold. The proud new owner of the store was J.A. Hannah. He enlarged the store and added to the regular stock the buying of rabbits, furs, poultry, and eggs. The store operated under the name "J.A. Hannah and Son".

Cross Roads was a prosperous place. A church was built in 1929. It even had its own cemetery. A school was located by the church known as the Atwell School. At one time it had 75 students attending the school. There were many forms of entertainment at Cross Roads. One of the main attractions was the Christmas play held at the school each year. In 1930, Ellen Baker, who traveled daily from her home in Hancock, was the teacher and R.C. Phillips, also from Hancock, was the school clerk.

The road that led to Brays was the route taken by the mail carrier when delivering his mail to Cross Roads. About twelve mailboxes were maintained. The mail wagon started in Hancock and turned around in Brays. Mail was delivered six days a week.

The settlement of Atwell began to die away in the 1940s. Today dilapidated structures and the charred remains of buildings serve as mute reminders of the former existence of Cross Roads. This community, which showed signs of growth early in the 1900s, is now a ghost of the past.

Ancestral Names: Anderson, Atwell, Bowden, Cannon, Cross, Forbis/Forbes, Glawson, Goodman, Groves, Law, Lee, Morrison, Moss, Pittman, Ponder, Porter, Russell, Schubert, Scott, Thompson, Tyler

Miller County Museum and Historical Society
P.O. Box 57
Tuscumbia, MO 65082
2007 - Miller County Historical Society

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