By Kelly Warman-Stallings
The Ghost Towns of Central Missouri
In the northeastern section of Equality to township (today Jim Henry Township), the story of Gageville originates. It began its existence in the 1870s when a man named J. R. Gage of St. Louis bought up the land that was located five miles northeast of Tuscumbia and a few miles southeast of Etterville. Mr. Gage started a mining company and soon a settlement began to materialize around it. According to Clyde Lee Jenkins, author of "Jenkins' History of Miller County, Missouri", there were 32 clapboard houses built on the site and even a hotel. The small town also housed a general store, post office (1875-1878), a mill, blacksmith shop, church, and a school. Of course, Gageville received its name from Mr. Gage, who never actually resided there. Once his mining business got underway, J. R. Gage employed a trustworthy man to run the mining operation, and then returned to St. Louis.
In 1883, the Gageville Christian Church was organized by Rev. Luke E. Melton. Rev. Melton married Lucinda Walls in Miller County in 1872 and for many years they lived in the Gageville area. Earlier, in 1880, a frame building, which was used for religious services and community functions, was erected and used by the local folks prior to Melton's arrival in the area. By the late 1880s, the church had 42 members and the church elders were Andrew J. Buster and James Simpson.
The Gageville Cemetery was started by the same congregation in the late 1880s. As in Spring Garden's cemetery, Gageville has some of the earliest burials of the county's pioneer families including the Brockmans, Curtys, Hicks, Millers, Pardues, and Simpsons.
The Gageville school was built around the turn of the century. In 1905, George Ramsey owned the land where the school sat. Ramsey was a large landowner in the region. The mines that Mr. Gage started were located ½ mile south of the school. By the turn of the century, the Bell Mining Company had purchased 84 acres of land directly east of the Ramsey acreage. Mining was a very popular occupation in the county at the turn of the century and several mining companies came into the area and bought huge tracts of land.
By 1930/31, when there were many schoolhouses in operation, Gageville was listed as being District #18. The teacher was Parnell Kallenbach and the clerk was B. H. Curty. When Eldon consolidated its large school district, Gageville closed down and the school children were included in the Eldon district perimeter. It has been many years since this school was in operation.
The town died out when the mining business became obsolete in the early 20th century. Not much is left of the community today. The Gageville cemetery has recently been renovated with a new fence and gate installed. Descendants of the early settlers of the region have made a fine effort to preserve some of their history in the area.
REGIONAL ANCESTRAL NAMES:
Albertson, Blackburn, Bond, Brockman, Buster, Curty, Findlay, Henley, Hicks, McFall, Melton, Miller, Pardue, Pierce, Schwaller, Ramsey, Simpson, Spalding.