Visit Missouri Historic Towns and Villages ~ Centerville, Ellington,
Barnesville, Logan Creek, MO
Footprints of the past come alive ~ Visit
these historic towns and villages during your Missouri Vacation
to the Arcadia
Valley Region & Black River Recreation Area. If you are
researching your family history, please see
our genealogy pages
for helpful resources. Better yet, travel to our region and
see for yourself!
a directory of Lodging, Bed and Breakfast Inns, Hotels, Cabins,
Cottages and Campgrounds near Centerville and Ellington, MO, please
of our fine hosts are ready to help plan your Missouri history
tour in our region.
1895 Map of The
Black River Recreation Area and Arcadia Valley Region
~ History and Landmarks, Reynolds County, MO
Historic Mill at Reed Springs
Centerville, located on the West Fork of the Black River,
was born as a brand new town at the same time Reynolds County
was designated in 1845. Between 1812, (when Missouri
became a territory following the Louisiana purchase)
and 1845, Reynolds County was at various times a part of the
following counties: Ste. Genevieve, Cape Girardeau,
Washington, Wayne, Madison, Ripley and Shannon. If you
are searching for family history in this region it can be
very confusing! (We have attempted to help with these
issues on our genealogy
page). Between 1812 and 1862, Missouri was divided
and sub-divided until 114 counties had emerged.
The location for the new Reynolds county seat was chosen after
a decision by those that had been appointed by Governor Edwards
to represent the new county government. After evaluating
the area population and geography, 80 acres of property was
purchased from John Buford for $100. Even though the
geographic center was not known at the time, they named the
new county seat Centreville (Centerville). At the time,
no one lived on the entire 80 acres. "Hazel and
underbrush covered the ground and the deer and bear could
be seen at every turn in the trail that had been cut through
the forest to the new county seat."
As the new town square and public buildings were
being constructed, nearby Lesterville served as temporary
county seat. The original courthouse was completed in
1850, but was not to stand long. The courthouse burned to
the ground. The present courthouse was completed in
1871 and is one of the few courthouses in Missouri over 100
From 1850 to 1860, the population of Reynolds county almost
doubled. Even though almost all of its inhabitants were
from southern states, slavery was never an important issue
in hilly Reynolds county. "In view of that fact,
it was a sad trick of fate that the citizenry had no say,
no choice, as this nation gradually edged closer and closer
to an internal war that would devastate the country."
To read about the Civil War in our region, click
here. During the war, troops and guerilla bands
foraged the area and union troops occupied the courthouse
for a time, bringing progress to a standstill in Centerville. In
1863 over 100 Union soldiers who were camped near the courthouse
were captured by the rebel Captain Reverend Jesse Pratt.
In the 1920s, the lumber boom had come to an end and the population
dwindled as residents left the town. Today, Centerville
has a population of around 200, but these old landmarks are
still available to remind the traveler of days gone by.
~ This 56 degree spring is channeled into small lakes, with
waterfalls, which eventually empty into the Black River. It
is not known how far into the hills this beautiful spring
starts but it has served the area surrounding Centerville
in the most useful ways in every era of its time. In 1881,
Nathaniel Scott built the dam and grist mill to grind the
corn into meal and wheat into flour. Shortly thereafter a
saw mill was erected supplying much needed lumber to early
settlers to build their homes. Sometime before 1915, Dr. Shy
had the idea of generating electricity from its water power,
so they took off the overshot wheel, installed a turbine and
ran electric lines into town. Though the lights were bright
at the mill, but dim in town, this supplied the towns’
electric until 1929. The original building and wheel were
taken apart, board by board, and sent to San Francisco for
exhibition at the 1939 Worlds Fair. This display
is now in storage at the Smithsonian Institution in
Washington D.C. Although privately owned, this incredibly
picturesque mill is fully visible from the road. From
Hwy 21 in Centerville, go west on Pine Street for 1/2 mile.
For lodging and accommodations near Centerville, Missouri click
~ History and Landmarks, Reynolds County, MO
Formerly Barnesville and Logans Creek
Thomas Barnes and his young family left North Carolina in
1835, first settling in Pilot Knob. After two years, this
resourceful man decided to move his family once again. Their
new destination: Along Logan Creek outside of what is now
known as Ellington. Soon Barnes built a water wheel for corn
and grain, and a distillery that produced whiskey. Within
a short time, a small settlement arose with a church, school,
stores and homes and the settlers named it in his honor ~
Barnesville. Pioneers were pleased and village stores were
prospering. Merchants made two-week trips to St. Louis by
ox-cart to purchase their stock and to trade their hides and
the Civil War began, Confederate soldiers moved into southeast
Missouri from Arkansas, through the wilderness on the Bellevue
Trail, and formed permanent camps at Van Buren, Barnesville,
and Lesterville. With the trail and the area villages in its
possession, their next move would be Fort Davidson. The Union
wanted to protect Pilot Knob as well as St. Louis and sent
the Union Calvary on missions throughout the area settlements.
They made many raids, wounding, killing and taking Confederate
soldiers captive. Determined to completely rid this area of
the Confederates and their sympathizers, they continued raiding
and burning villages to the ground. During this time, the
Union constructed Fort
Barnesville nearby. No doubt this was to ensure the Confederates
did not again regain control of the important trail through
1868 (after the war) William Copeland, started rebuilding
this town on 80 acres that were owned by Sina Ellington. He
opened a crude store and encouraged settlers to come back
to the area. Soon Barnesville was renamed Ellington, and in
1893, Copeland’s sons decided to make a new town site
where the town sits today. This village grew slowly until
the timber industry brought many new families and businesses.
The Missouri Southern Railroad arrived in 1896.
several one and two-room schoolhouses were scattered throughout
the small communities in the area, each employing a teacher
that taught the basics to children grades one through eight.
High schools came to the Ozarks slowly. Higher education required
a handsome price and many miles of travel. The region’s
first high schools were “academies” with tuitions.
It would be 1913, before free rural high schools began to
open, due in large part to the efforts of Senator Carter M.
Buford, an Ellington citizen. The Missouri Legislature passed
a school bill introduced by Senator Buford. Ellington area
schools were the first to be consolidated in Missouri. With
consolidation, “bussing” was needed to transport
area students to school. A wagon with a cab overhead, pulled
by a couple of horses, was the areas first “bus”.
In 1939, the Bull Moose (a single motorized train car) was
used throughout the area to provide student transportation.
(The tracks have since been removed).
several businesses that came to the area during the early
1900s are still in operation. Be sure to stop and visit the
Reynolds County Museum located on Main Street when visiting
historic Ellington. Tour Fort Barnesville nearby. Click
here for more information.
The NEW Reynolds County Museum and Historical Society has a new building and a new website. Visit them and tour the new museum HERE.
For lodging and accommodations near Ellington, Missouri area
Civil War Click here
to learn about the important roll the Arcadia Valley and Black
River Region played in shaping the outcome of the war.
Take a Missouri Civil War tour of our region and learn about
the Battle of Pilot Knob at Fort Davidson and Fort Barnesville.
American History in Missouri & De Soto in 1541
Native American history in the Arcadia Valley Region, Black
River Recreation Area goes back to the Paleo-Indians, the ancient
peoples of the Americas who were present at the end of the last
ice age. They camped and hunted along Ozark rivers, perhaps
as long as 12,000 to 14,000 years ago.