The Town of Hoecker, Missouri
and the Joseph H. Hoecker Family

By: William J. Weidinger

Like many small towns in central Missouri Hoecker sprang up as a result of the construction of railways. The Rock Island Railroad finished the construction of the bridge and track through the area in time for the first train to run in about 1903. Trains continued to run until March of 1980. On the east side of the bridge the rails crossed the farm of Joseph H. Hoecker and upon that land a small community sprang up. Thus the town became known as Hoecker. On the west side of the bridge is the town of Henley.

Below is a picture of the steamer Frederick and the construction site of the bridge over the Osage River. Hoecker would be located to the left of the hill in the background:

 Bridge at Hoecker

Some sources state that a Post Office named Brouses Bend was established in 1902 and renamed Hoecker in 1904. The Hoecker Post Office continued to be in service until about 1921.

Joseph Hoecker was born 18 Dec 1849 in St. Louis, MO. He married Catherine Herigon and they first resided in St. Thomas, MO. She was born 29 Jul 1855 in Germany. The 1880 Census had them in St. Thomas where he was a saloon keeper.

Below are pictures of Joseph and Catherine:

Joseph H. Hoecker
Catherine Hoecker

Below is a map of the Hoecker area made in about 1904:

1904 Plat Map of Hoecker

To the left (west) of the word “Chicago” is the bridge over the Osage River. The building about a half mile east of the depot and south of the tracks was the home of the Hoecker family. Just east of the property line and south of that building was the home of the Lohman family. An early local rural school was most likely located near the depot and store area.

The Hoecker farm, which exceeded 700 acres, extended south of the Big Tavern Creek. Note the road at the bottom center of the map. It would lead to St. Elizabeth. Thus the only road into Hoecker was headed east. It would meet up with the road which connected St. Elizabeth and St. Thomas.

Below is a 1912 map of Hoecker. It shows a little different layout. The building with the + above it would be the public school. The next building east would be the home of Joseph and Catherine. Just east of their home was the Lohman residence. It appears that they either built a new home since 1904 or the previous map displayed their home in the wrong location.

A bridge was constructed over the Big Tavern Creek and the road from St. Elizabeth was connected to Hoecker. The road continues around the north and east sides of Hoecker. The dotted portion of the road appears not to be maintained by the county.

1912 Map of Hoecker

A few hundred yards north along the road from the Big Tavern Creek Bridge is a large cave perched high on the bluff paralleling the Osage River. The cave is known locally as Bat Cave. Photos of some of the buildings in Hoecker, the Osage Railroad Bridge and Bat Cave follow.

Below is the Osage Railroad Bridge. To the right (west) is Henley and to the left was Hoecker. Many goods and passengers passed over this bridge. Locally some residents traveled as far as Kansas City or St. Louis to find work as young adults. During WWII military guards were posted on each side in order to protect it from would be saboteurs. The little railroad was stressed to transport such a large volume of war materials and troops needed for the war effort.

Hoecker Bridge

Below is a picture of Bat Cave. It can be seen rather well from this photo. It is not nearly as visible today. The trees have blocked much of the view and a large section of rock has fallen from beneath the mouth of the cave. It is protected naturally by its location on the bluff as well as by the state of Missouri. The bats living in the cave are being protected in order to preserve them as well as their habitat.

River boat cruises were common in this era. The railroad bridge and cave were most certainly attractions worth viewing.

Bat Cave

Below is a photo of the depot at Hoecker:

Hoecker Depot

This building served the community until it was taken down in 1933. The trains continued to run through the area but Hoecker was no longer a scheduled stop.

Next is the general store and Post Office:

Hoecker General Store

Joseph Hoecker’s son John was the owner of this establishment. The people in the picture were not identified. The man on the right could have been John. The ladies on the left could be his wife Rosa Libbert and one of his or her sisters or perhaps both were sisters. The young boy would most likely be his son Herbert.

John was born 30 Oct 1873 in St. Thomas. He died 3 Nov 1918 of Typhoid Fever and was buried in Meta. John and Rose had two sons. Their first son Louis was born 3 Nov 1907 and died 21 Feb 1910 of Diphtheria. Their second son Herbert was born 17 May 1911. After John’s death, Rose married Joseph F. Sabalka and they lived out their lives in St. Elizabeth. Rose died 5 May 1964. Her son Herbert remained in the area until his death on 10 Dec 1982 and is buried in St. Elizabeth.

Below are pictures of the large farm house of Joseph and Catherine Hoecker:

Joseph H. Hoecker Home
Joseph H. Hoecker Home

Pictured in front of the house are John Rehagen and Tillie Lindenbusch Rehagen along with two of their sons. It was taken in about 1937 or 1938. The rooms were large, approximately 24 feet square. Thus this house was considered to be very large in comparison to other farm homes in the area.

Joseph and Catherine Hoecker are believed to have had at least four children. Their sons were Herman and John. You will remember John as the proprietor of the store pictured earlier. His brother Herman was born 7 Sep 1879 in St. Thomas. He married Edna “Zook” Wolf in 1903. The 1930 Census shows them living in Hoecker along with his 80 year old father. They most likely remained there till after his father’s death in 1932. Herman moved on and eventually ended up in the state of California. He died in Los Angeles on 9 May 1954.

The oldest daughter of Joseph and Catherine was Marie Elizabeth. She was born 20 Dec 1886 in St. Thomas. She was listed in the birth records of Cole County as the fourth child of Catherine. Apparently another child died at a very young age and therefore never appeared in any census. At age 15 Marie married Samuel Walter Poor in Guthrie, Oklahoma on 7 Jul 1902. He worked in railroad construction and most likely they met when he was working in the Hoecker area during the railroad’s construction phase. Marie died 6 Oct 1975 in Topeka, Kansas.

The youngest of the family was Margaret. She was born in about 1897 and was most likely born at Hoecker. She appeared in the 1920 Census at 22 years of age. Margaret, her husband Wilburn Hickey and her mother Catherine were listed as residents of the same home in Kansas City, MO. Wilburn was born in Miller County in the little town of Brays. Both Margaret and her husband died at very early ages. He passed away on 4 May 1931 at the age of 33, while she died 22 Aug 1932 at only 34 years of age.

Catherine and Joseph had separated (divorced?) before 1910. This was apparent in the 1910 Census in which Joseph gave his marital status as divorced. Catherine died while living with her daughter Margaret in Kansas City on 13 Dec 1927 and is believed to have been buried in Jefferson City, MO.

Below is a picture of Catherine with her daughters, daughter-in-law and two grand children. On the back row (L to R) are Edna “Zook” Wolf Hoecker, Marie Elizabeth Hoecker Poor and Margaret Hoecker Hickey. Seated in front is Catherine Herigon Hoecker. Her grandchildren Flora and Walter Poor are standing at her side.

Catherine Herigon Hoecker and Family

Joseph H. Hoecker died 31 Dec 1932. The following obituary was published in January of 1933:

Joseph H. Hoecker Obituary

The following sale bill was published in Kansas City indicating the sale of a portion of the previous farm of Joseph H. Hoecker:

Sales Offering for Joseph Hoecker Farm

Johnson A. Hoecker purchased 502 acres from Herman J. Hoecker, the executor of the Joseph Hoecker estate, in April of 1937. The land sold again to F. Gould and Winnie Simmons who sold the farm to Roy C. and Alida Irick in July of 1940.

In the many years since Joseph and Catherine settled into their farm on the Osage, the trains have come and gone as have the Hoecker family members. The site saw many busy days, but like so many other railroad towns has vanished for all practical purposes. The bridge and rails still remain with little or no hope of ever seeing another train travel through the area. The train and the little town were instrumental during its time. The Hoecker name is still alive in the St. Elizabeth community through the descendants of Herbert Hoecker – Joseph’s grandson.


Miller County Museum and Historical Society
P.O. Box 57
Tuscumbia, MO 65082
2013 - Miller County Historical Society

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