By Lucille Crane

 1904 Atlas Map of Brumley
In 1880, the town of Brumley was a small settlement in Miller County located 12 miles south of Tuscumbia, the county seat and was 16 miles northwest of Crocker, its shipping point. It had a district school and it shipped wheat, eggs, chickens, and dried fruit out of the area as exports to other parts of the country. It had a mail service semi-weekly and the population numbered approximately 100 persons.

The following were some of the businessmen and their professions: Dr. J.L. Conner, physician; Martin and Garmer, general storekeepers; Hagan and Williams, wagon makers; R.A. Harper, a tinner and justice of the peace; J.M. Hawkins, farmer; Dr. S.P. Hickman, physician; W.F. Karr, a mason; J.C. Martin, a druggist, R.B. Reed owned a restaurant; James Thompson was the postmaster and also a notary public; Thompson and Hawkins had a general store and a lumber company.

In the year 1868, the United States Government conveyed approximately 17 parcels of land in Miller County to the State of Missouri and classified them as "swamp lands". Congress had approved an act in 1850 entitled "An Act to Enable the State of Arkansas and other States to reclaim the "Swamp Lands" within their limits." The U.S. Government granted the State of Missouri all the "swamp and overflowed lands" made unfit thereby for cultivation within the State, which remained unsold in the passage of the said Act in 1850. There were several pieces of land unsold in 1868, so President Andrew Johnson signed a bill authorizing Congress to grant these lands to the State of Missouri and then Missouri in turn granted the lands to Miller County to be sold for a very reasonable price. Some tracts were sold as cheap as $1.00 per acre.

The town of Brumley in Glaize Township in south central Miller County has figured prominently in the development of the area. Few communities have seen such a reversal of the role played by its citizenry. Sturdy pioneers settled the fertile valleys and uplands of the stream known as the Glaize and its tributaries.

The Brumley Post Office was established the 18th of April 1863 with Andrew J. Wilson as postmaster. During the remainder of the Civil War, it served the Federal troops at Camp Union which was only one mile east of town. The military records of many Civil War veterans state that they enlisted in the Missouri Home Guard at Camp Union in 1861.

By the year 1868, the population was such that Mark Lesem built and stocked a store at the popular crossroads. In 1877 the town's streets and lots were surveyed and a plat was made. The population of this thriving community had reached 100 by 1880.

Farmers prospered. The mill powered by the waterwheel gave way to one powered by a steam engine for the making of cornmeal and flour. It served an area wide enough to include Horseshoe Bend. Livestock and grain were taken to Crocker, the shipping point. Tons of barites were mined. Schools were established at Brumley and in the outlying areas. In 1855 the Baptist Church was organized and 1883 the Christian Church became a vital influence in the community.

With the granting of a charter in 1878, the Masonic Lodge No. 203 A.F. & A.M. was established and a suitable building was erected. In 1879 the membership consolidated with the Iberia Lodge and the building and grounds were deeded to the churches of Brumley.

In the early days of the mercantile business in Brumley, as in all other small towns all over the country, few dollars exchanged hands. Farmers traded their cream and eggs and other products from the farm for staples not produced in this area. A store that supplied all the needs of the community needed not have a large inventory.

The only general merchandise store that has been serving the public continuously since the turn of the century is the Brumley Mercantile Company. In 1895 J.M. Hawkins purchased a lot from E.C. Thompson and erected a store building. That business was subsequently owned and operated by Alonzo Reed, W.R. Carnes, Ramsey and Agee, and perhaps some others who rented the building until 1928 when Clyde Thompson purchased it. He operated a thriving business until 1943 when ill health forced him to sell. AT that time Wm. C. Anderson, the rural mail carrier, introduced moon-lighting to the community when he bought the business. In 1945 he sold to Gilbert Shelton who in turn sold to his son, Glen, in 1960.

Glen Shelton proved to be a merchant of remarkable ability. He enlarged the building and increased the size of the inventory several times. When Ralph Long, another successful merchant, decided to retire, Glen bought his stock and building. He built a big storage warehouse and installed a bulk feed tank to supply the needs of his customers. From an investment of a few hundred dollars in the early days in the history of the Brumley Mercantile Company the company reached the hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales annually.

Types of businesses in Brumley have varied from time to time. Circumstances and demand were always determining factors. Henry Hals3ey and his sons, John and Walter, did a flourishing business in their blacksmith shop. In time that was replaced with the automobile garage and the gasoline pumps. When every well-dressed lady's wardrobe was not complete without a hat, Mrs. Cecil Sullivan's millinery shop was the answer. In time hair styles made hats obsolete and the beauty shop business was born. Hazel Martin and Ruth Thornsberry each have owned and operated shops.

One business that became somewhat of an institution was Bert Sullivan's Barber Shop. Not only was that the place to get a hair cut but the front porch of that shop was an ideal loafing place while waiting for the mail to come in. Bert was the town barber for over forty years until health forced his retirement.

Brumley was one of the first communities in the area to have electrical service for its homes and businesses. Ted Stamper, a multi-talented community-spirited man built and operated a diesel-powered plant from 1932 until transmissions lines brought electrical power from R.E.A. sources. Ted also operated a garage, served as county collector from 1942 to 1946. During the building of the Hanford Atomic Plant in Washington State, Ted's expertise was used in the development of nuclear energy. Later, upon his return to Miller County in 1963 he and his wife, Bethel, owned and operated a business in Brumley-the Stamper Craft Company-as long as his health permitted.

Many businesses have flourished and provided services for the Brumley community. E.C. Thompson's general merchandise store was continued by his son, Homer, until a disastrous fire destroyed it in 1939. E.A. Plemmons operated a store for years. His place of business was known as Porter's Grocery and Service Station. Lloyd and Veda (Scott) DeGraffenreid built a grocery, sportsman's center and service station in 1959. Other successful merchants have been Ralph Long, E.V. Smith, and Ed Harmon. Garages have been operated by Ted Stamper, Clark Martin and Eddie Rodden.

Until recently Brumley had a reliable family doctor who made house calls. Among them were Dr J. L. Conner, Dr. Walter D. Dickson, and Dr. Myron D. Jones.

Joe Davis built and operated a service station and farm implement sales business, known throughout central Missouri. Norma (Hawkins) Hedges, a local girl, and her husband, Walter P., established a funeral home in town for the convenience of the community.

The Dam and Brumley

The building of the Dam and the development of the Lake had a profound influence upon the Brumley community. Some old timers say it was a real disaster. They envisaged acres and acres of lush corn fields in the fertile bottom lands now inundated by the waters of the Osage and other streams after their flow was checked. Others found it to be a new source of livelihood for families in the throes of the depression. Jobs were plentiful and the wages lucrative to an area unaccustomed to a regular pay check. However, prosperous farmers sold their holdings to the developers of the Lake and many left the area. Land owners in the hilly uplands had to find other sources of income. Many of them left the area, too. Each time a family moved elsewhere the Brumley community suffered a real loss. The school enrollment was reduced. The merchants had fewer customers and bank deposits showed a decline. The tax structure was changed.

The construction of better roads is always seen as a sign of progress. However, better roads were one more factor in the decline of the Brumley community. With better transportation facilities people could drive greater distances for employment. The regular paycheck became a way of life. The "cream and egg" farmer ceased to exist due in part to a new way of life but also because of government regulations.

As the tourist industry became full blown, jobs were plentiful once again. Resorts, motels, restaurants, and the novelty industries called out for help. The way of life for people in the Brumley community had made an about face. Much of the land that once sustained them is gone but they are not devastated. The spirit of the pioneers that settled the area is very much alive.

The face of Brumley is ever changing but there is a fierce loyalty among her people. They point with pride to the local people who had made and are still making a contribution to society. When people are pointed out as being a success in a particular field, Brumley can say, "We produced one of the, too".


By Earl Basil Brown - The New Iberian

In 1916, Matt L. Martin was the rural mail carrier out of Brumley. At that time there were two mail routes out of that office, running every other day. One route 31 miles long Matt ran one day; the next day he ran the 32 mile route.

Matt Martin delivering the mail

Paul Martin, Matt's son, sold the Kansas City Weekly Star, Capper's Weekly and other farm papers to get enough mail count to make both routes served daily. In time his efforts proved fruitful and the second carrier was added out of the Brumley office. This new carrier was Frank Rodden and his mail delivery responsibility was Route 2.

At that time Dr. Connor was postmaster at Brumley. The carriers ran their routes regardless of the weather. Delivery was by horseback or by buggy or hack. That was way back when first class mail letters needed only a 2 cent stamp!!

The mail came into Brumley from Bagnell and Eldon. This Star Route carrier drove his mail hack daily, except Sunday, from Brumley to Bagnell and return. This Bagnell-Brumley road which he traveled led directly in front of his boyhood of this reporter just across the Osage River from Bagnell. He remembers very vividly two men who carried the mail along this route at different times. They were Dolph Hale and Tilton Long. Many times they stopped at his home during the summer to get a fresh drink of water or in the cold winter to warm their hands.

In Brumley at that time were three general stores, Lev Thompson had the biggest one. Then there were the Helton-Topping Store and the Carson-Rodden Store. A person by the name of Howser ran a restaurant. Henry Halsey and sons, John and Walker, had a blacksmith shop. Cordell Robinett also operated a blacksmith shop. Perry Martin operated a hotel and livery barn.

At that time (1916) the big business in Brumley was the Brumley Roller Mills. Clyde Thompson operated this far-reaching enterprise and milled Pansy Flour which was sold all over the country. The milled four was put into white sacks which bore the picture of a pansy and the trade name. The mill also made ground meal.

Some years later the mill was owned by Frank Ramsey and this editor, then 15 years of age, hauled many wagon loads of shelled corn from Bagnell to the Brumley Mill which Mr. Ramsey bought from my father, Will H. Brown. In later years Mr. Ramsey sold the mill and bought a general store in Iberia. Then later he took his life on Highway 17 at the Miller-Pulaski County line.

It is thought Clyde Thompson may have owned the first automobile in Brumley, a Model "T" Ford. Shortly thereafter George Helton and Charlie Sidwell bought cars. It stated that Roblee Clark came in from near old Linn Creek driving a big Overland 90 touring car. "It was a mile long, 50 feet wide and ten feet tall!" exclaimed a Brumley Youngster when this car pulled into Brumley.

News Tribune Article - Jan. 10, 2007

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

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