Early History of Auxvasse Missouri

Auxvasse was laid out in the fall of 1871. Mr. Thomas B. Harris, who owned the land, founded the town when the Louisiana and Missouri River Railroad announced plans to build a rail line from Mexico, Missouri to Cedar City. He named the town Clinton City. The official plat was filed in the Callaway County Recorder’s office on October 23, 1873. Mr. Harris’s town was bustling with nearly 100 people by that time.

Carpenter S.B. Meyers built the first Auxvasse homes in 1872. He also built a carpenter shop that was later converted into a blacksmith shop.

The first Post Office was established in about 1874. That brought to light the existence of another Missouri town named Clinton in Henry County. It was clear the name of the town had to be changed to avoid confusion. In fact, the U.S. Post Office insisted. A town meeting was called to allow citizens to suggest a new name. No one could agree on any certain name until the supervisor in charge of construction of the new Auxvasse Creek railroad bridge stepped forward. He suggested the town be named Auxvasse, after the creek. Everyone quickly agreed and the name was changed to Auxvasse.

The name Auxvasse was given to the creek by early French explorers who had trouble crossing the stream in the area east of the present town of Mokane. Lillbourn W. Boggs, who later became governor of Missouri, was traveling with the Frenchmen at the time. Some of the wagons became mired and were pulled free only after long hard labor by the entire company. Thereafter, the French called the stream “Riviere Aux Vases” or river with miry places.

The first Board of Trustees of Auxvasse was appointed by the County Court in 1885. Members of that first board were J.A. Harrison, Edwin Swon, E.M. Dudley, Joseph F. Rohn, and W.D. Frisbie. All of these men were prominent in the early development of Auxvasse.

John A. Harrison, who came from Mexico to Auxvasse, appears many times in the early records. He was the first postmaster. He served from 1874 until 1883. He was also appointed another term as postmaster in the early 1990’s. The post office was housed in the town’s first mercantile building, erected by Mr. Harrison in 1872. He was also in a lumber business and a brick making business. In 1878, J.A. and his brother, James N. Harrison, began burning lime, putting up the first draw kiln of important size in the county. The kiln was located south of Auxvasse.

J.A. Harrison also built the first brick building in town in 1876. The first story was used as a general store and the second for the Odd Fellows Lodge room. The building was enlarged in 1884, and has been used for many purposes over the years.

Lloyd King started the Auxvasse Review, a weekly newspaper, in 1888. Until 1923 it was located on the second floor of the J. A. Harrison building mentioned above. Another J. A. Harrison building, the Auxvasse Bank building, was erected in 1886. The bank remained open until July 5, 1924.

The Auxvasse Flour Mill and Saw Mill was established in 1881 by Charles Martin. It was located on the West Side of town on Harrison Street. It was destroyed by fire. Another flour mill was built on the southwest corner of Walnut and Mill Streets. It was also destroyed by fire.

Following the disastrous drought of 1901, there was a strong demand for a better water supply than the cisterns then in use. The service of a “water witch” and his peach tree branch was enlisted. He located a vein of water in the center of Main Street. A well was drilled at that point and water was found in abundance. A wooden water tower and tank were erected and a pump operated by a gasoline engine was installed. A few stores then had water piped into them. Several outdoor hydrants were placed in the business section of town. A watering trough for horses was located on the east side of Main Street a short distance south of the Walnut Street intersection. This waterworks served the town until 1914.

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