History of Scott City, Missouri -- One town at a time

Ancell, Missouri

Scott City is a city located in northern Scott County, connecting to Cape Girardeau County and Cape Girardeau City. Scott City is a 3rd class city with a mayor/ council form of government and a population of approximate 4700 people. The history of Scott City is as unique as the people that reside there. The city is made up of three towns that have consolidated to form the city as we know it today. The three towns are Ancell, Fornfelt and Illmo. Ancell was founded by a man name Pashal Ancell. He and his family, which was large, help settled this area in the late 1800’s and into the turn of the century. Ancell was laid out and the first mayor, Mat Thomas, elected in 1904.

Notable families of that time were Ancell, Arnold, Ellis, James and Greer.

There is a cemetery in town where a lot of these people are buried. It is located on the northeast side of the east outer road and William Street.

Ancell had several businesses in the early days, a large mill for the farmers to take their grain, this building still stands today, a grocery store, several gas stations and a roller rink. The Estes brothers had an oil company and gas station, this was called the Saveway, and it was across the road from the Trio Skating Rink. The skating rink own by George Blattel, was one of the most popular places of the three towns for the kids to hang out at. It was a long way for the Illmo and Fornfelt kids to ride their bicycles and some had to walk to get there. This building sat behind the grade school. The grade school closed down in mid-1950, and the kids started going to the Fornfelt West Ward School. In 1957 a large school building was built west of town for all grades. This building still stands today and has expanded several times through the years. A lot of the businesses sat along highway 61, which ran from Kelso to Cape Girardeau. There were several taverns also along the highway. Tiny’s Dance Land, The Aero, 61 Club, to name a few. Some of the businesses in the middle of town were the mill and across the street was Arnold’s Red and White Grocery Store. Next door was Blattel’s Barber Shop and behind it was Moll’s Meat Locker and Post Office. A Minneapolis-Moline tractor dealership was located to the east of the Red and White store. In 1947 the Fisher family built a Methodist Church and it was located just to the east of the grade school. David Brant had a saw mill just south of town and he supply the wood for a lot of the houses being built. Joe Mirgaux had a brick yard on the northeast side of town. The bricks were formed and sun dried. We also had a bus line running from Cape Girardeau to Ancell several times a day. This building sat behind the Red and White Store, (Burger King now sets on the location of the grocery store) and on the west end of the Bank of Missouri parking lot. At one time two railroads came into Ancell. One was, the Cotton Belt and the other was the Houck railroad. The Cotton Belt ran north and south. The tracks in town ran east and west, but the overall direction was north and south. Houck railroad ran to the north to Cape Girardeau. The rail station for the Houck railroad was called Glenn. This station was located just east of the mill, next to the old railroad crossing.

Two events have taken away most of the existence of this town.

The interstate was the first event to help remove Ancell from the map, destroying over 50 homes, businesses and other buildings. People had to move away and relocate because of the interstate. They got paid well for their homes, but for some it hurt to have to leave all they had worked for. The highway also cut the southwest side of town off from the main part of town. Highway 61 has a bridge over the railroad tracks (going toward Kelso) which allow you to get to this part of town.

The second event was in 1960 Ancell consolidated with Fornfelt to become the city of Scott City. Fornfelt was like Ancell, they realize it only made sense to join together and become one town. This way only one city hall, fire station, police dept. Ancell never grew as fast as Fornfelt and Illmo in population. The main reasons the growth was slow, it was more of a farming community and also the land to the west of town was swamps until Little River Drainage started to drain off the water. The interstate was just finishing being built, when new businesses started to coming to town. Wetteraru Foods moved here and was located on the south side of the railroad tracks. They employed approximate 150 people. Ray Bennett built the Rainbow Drive-In and it became the hang out place for school kids and a good place to eat. Hamil had a barber shop on the north end of the rainbow building. Today with the interstate running thru the middle of town, Ancell has become a very important part of Scott City.

Fornfelt, Missouri

Edna was the original name of the town of Fornfelt.

You can’t talk about Edna or Fornfelt without mentioning Henry Schuette, the founder of the town.

Henry Schuette was born in 1874 in Cape Girardeau County near Millersville. He was the son of Frederick and Charlotte Schuette. He moved to Kelso while he was in his teens and married his first wife Mary Fordenfelt. They had two children, one was named Edna. In 1900 Mary died and shortly after their daughter Edna died. In 1903 Schuette married his second wife Lena Springer. The railroad was expanding their tracks from Delta to the river and Schuette saw the opportunity to develop land along this track. Schuette along with his family and mother in law Wilhelmina Fordenfelt moved from Kelso to, what would become Fornfelt. He was a young man who had a vison for the town. The sad thing is he died at a young age of 33 in October 1906. During the few years he was in Fornfelt, he open a drug store, had a retail store, was a school teacher and member of the Lutheran Church. His body is buried at the Lutheran Cemetery on Lula Street in Scott City.

Fornfelt was laid out between Ancell and Illmo. Over time it became the largest of the three towns (Ancell, Fornfelt and Illmo). In area Fornfelt boundaries were from (today streets) Mulberry on the west side to State Street on the east side. All three towns started about the same time 1904 and had a lot of the same growing pains.

Edna was the town name in the beginning, name after Henry Schuette daughter who had died. The first mayor was Charles Hamm and the first postmaster was C.W. Jones who was having problems with mail delivery because another town had almost the same name. In Knox County, Mo. was a town by the name of Edina. With the names so close to being the same, the post office told Schuette that they would have to change the name. His first wife Mary maiden name was Fordenfelt, but most people pronounce it Fornfelt. So in 1905 the post office became Fornfelt. The town was still Edna, until March 1911 it was change to Fornfelt.

The railroad was building tracks and buildings at a rapid pace. Henry Schuette sold land off his farm to the railroad and they built the roundhouse, water tower, coal chute and machine shop. In December 1904 the town of Illmo tried to annex all of the land where the railroad building were and part of the Schuette farm. The Scott County court rule against Illmo and this area stayed Fornfelt.

In 1906 the telephone co. started installing wire from Cape Girardeau to Fornfelt for telephone use. Eclectic Light Co. out of Cape Girardeau lights in 1912.

In 1905 the Bank of Edna open and Henry Schuette was named president. He would only serve for a short time before his death. This bank was open until The Bank of Missouri built a new bank near the interstate in Scott City. The building was donated by The Bank of Missouri to City and it is being used today as a museum.

Fornfelt had a picture show in the Weilputz building, which was located across the street from the Broadway Methodist Church. Louis Dohogne open an opera house on the corner next to the picture show.

In 1908 George Bell open a box factory, which employee between 100-150 people. The box factory made wooden crates and barrels with metal rings around them. It covers the area from what is now Bell Street to Cape Street and north to 5th Street.

At one time Fornfelt had 5 hotels operating at the same time. Part of the reason for this was houses were not being built fasten enough to house all the people moving to town. The railroad was doing a lot of building at that time and the workers needed a place to stay. C. E. Anderson operated the Terminal Hotel; this was for the railroad workers.

Henry Losse built a 3 story hotel on the south side of the tracks. This building was called the Commercial Hotel and was located on Longview Street now called Bridge Street. The town of Fornfelt started out mostly on the south side of the tracks and moved to the north side. Losse also built a salon on the corner of what is now Main and Lincoln. This building is still standing and houses a weight lifting business.

Fornfelt was long and narrow, so the commercial business started moving from the south side of the tracks, to along Main Street. Several grocery stores, butcher shop, funeral home, lumber yard and 6 saloons were just some of the business. The first American Legion Hall in Scott County was in Fornfelt.

In 1903 the Washburn School open with Martin Bender as the teacher. Fornfelt had two other school building; they were the West Ward School and the East Ward School. These stay open until the schools consolidated in the late 40’s.

The town had two doctors, Dr. G.S. Cannon and Dr. Hutton. Their office was in the drug store and later in the second floor of the bank building.

Some notable families in the early stages of Fornfelt were Dunger, Baudendistel, Wielpuity and Puchbauer.

This is a short history of the beginning of Fornfelt. The town is over 115 years old and it would take up too much room to try and put it all on this page.

In 1960 Ancell and Fornfelt consolidated to become Scott City. The towns may not be by the same name, but their history is still alive.

Illmo, Missouri

Illmo was first known as Whipporwill's Hollow, but came to be known as Illmo. The name of the city was derived from the abbreviation of Illinois and Missouri. One of the first stores to be operated in Illmo was the Illmo Mercantile Company with S. R. Fitts, manager. Others were a grocery store operated by Mr. J. W. Jacobs and a mercantile operated by a Mr. Thomas.Illmo owes its existence to the building of the Thebes (Illinois railroad) bridge. It was settled in 1904 and incorporated in 1905, the first mayor being Phillip Ruebel. Among the first settlers were: J. P. Lightner, Casper Roth and Charles Will. The merchants during the early period were B. Thomas, D. T. Titwell and Beggs Brothers. At the present time there are eight general stores and one factory. The Bank of Illmo is in a flourishing condition and takes care of the financial interest of the town. There is an electric light plant which supplies the residences, business houses, and also lights the streets. The more important buildings are the Southern Hotel, Lightner's Opera House and Crews building. The town of Illmo is the division headquarters for the St. Louis Southwestern and St. Louis, Iron Mountain railroad.

In 1905 the State Bank of Illmo was organized and was in business until September, 1927, when it closed its doors. The bank was reorganized a month later as the Bank of Illmo and is today one of the soundest banking institutions of any bank in this section. The first bakery was established in 1905 and owned by Mr. Hubble. It stood north of where Dr. G. T. Dorris residence now stands. This bakery moved in 1912 and in 1917, Martin's Bakery, owned and operated by Mr. Gebhart Martin, moved here. It was destroyed by fire in 1930, was rebuilt immediately, and today is one of the modern bakeries of Southeast Missouri. The O. K. Barber Shop was established in 1905 by Mr. Cruse, and is one of the oldest business houses in Illmo. It is operated by Mr. Everett Cruse, the son of its founder. Mr. Henry Beggs has operated a store in Illmo and Fornfelt for over 20 years. In 1906 Mr. M. F. Roth and Mr. Eifert established a grocery store upon the town hill. In 1914, it was sold to Mr. Kniebert. Mr. Roth repurchased the store in 1916 and is the present owner of the store known as the Model Grocery. In 1906, there was a large skating rink here but it moved in 1910. A moving picture show then moved into the same location by a Mr. Patterson. In 1905 the "Ark" building was built by Mr. J. P. Lightner. Mr. Quigley started a store in Illmo in 1907 and continued to operate it until his death. This store went out of business by the death of Mrs. Quigley in 1929. The location was the building now owned and operated by Mr. J. A. Gearing. About 1909, there were two furniture stores operating in Illmo. One, the first, owned and operated by Mr. J. C. Drake, and the other by Mr. Scroggins. Later, this store was purchased by a man named Billingham who later sold it to Mr. Boardman who now operates the store in Fornfelt. Mr. B. E. Wadley started a pressing shop in Illmo in 1912 and still operates the shop. The Kroger Baking and Grocery Company started a grocery store in Illmo in 1920 and are still operating here. A telephone company which was organized in 1906 was known as the Kelso Telephone Company. In the early history of Illmo, Mr. J. H. Beisswinhert operated a private electric plant serving not only his own needs, but the needs of others as well. Today Illmo secures electricity from the Missouri Utilities Company's plant at Cape Girardeau.

The first school board of the Illmo school was composed of: S. R. Fitts, D. T. Doty, J. C. Drake, J. R. Young, W. L. Proffer, R. A. Pellet, and E. W. Bissel. Mr. Bissel has served the board for more than 20 years. The present President is Mr. Theo. Horn. Secretaries who have served the board have included: Axel Kjer, H. C. Hester, J. J. Craig, R. L. Buck, and Maurice Craig, the present secretary.

The following men have served the Illmo School as superintendents: E. T. Joyce (1905-07); O. E. Magee (1907-10); Elam Proffer (1910-11); J. F. Ellis (1911-13); J. O. McCullough (1913-14); C. A. Norvel (1914-19); R. M. Pierce (1919-22); R. D. McCullough (1922-27); A. L. Jackson (1927-28); and R. E. Ford (1928-present).

History of Illmo Churches

History of Illmo Churches--The first church was established in Illmo many years before the establishment of the town. The area was known as the New York Settlement. The Eisleben Lutheran Church was built here in 1867. This building was constructed of pure brown sand stone, which was taken from the bluffs near Manning's Landing. After 45 years of service, this old building was torn down and the rocks used in the foundation of the new church, a brick edifice which was completed in 1913. Rev. Geo. D. Hilpert has been its pastor for the past 25 years and is the present pastor (1930s).

The first Methodist Church of Illmo was organized about 1911 or 1912. It had five charter members composed of: Mrs. Hunt and daughter, Mrs. Lemons, Mrs. H. A. Dickey, and Mrs. Self. The first pastor was Rev. Denton. They first met in the town hall until it burned. They then met in the old Hubble Building till the present (church) was erected. The present pastor is Rev. J. A. Bertram (1930s). The personage burned in 1934 and was immediately rebuilt in 1934. The Illmo Christian Church was organized about 1916 and the church building completed a little later.

The St. Joseph Catholic Church was organized in 1911. In 1912 the new Catholic building was erected. In 1926 the parish erected a modern grade school building. The parish now has around 70 families. The first pastor was Rev. Father Lager. The present one (1930s) is Rev. Father B. S. Groner.

The Illmo Baptist Church was organized in the Christian Church building on April 24, 1923. The church held services in the little church building near the grade school until 1924 when it moved into its new building which cost $20,000. The charter members were: Mrs. J. A. Waller, Mr. J. A. Waller, Elizabeth, Martha, and Ulpian Waller, Mrs. E. H. Easley, Jack Easley, J. A. Gearing, John Romine, Mr. and Mrs. J. P. Hall and John Romine. The present deacons are: J. P. Hall, F. A. Hinshaw, El H. Easley, June Washburn, Louis Hopke, William Ditch, and R. E. Ford. The first pastor was Rev. E. C. Abernathey, who served as pastor until 1926. Other pastors have been: Rev. T. M. Estes 1926-28: Rev. Floyd Rolf 1928-30; Rev. E. D. Rich 1930-31; Rev. E. Z. Newsom 1931-33; and the present pastor is Rev. Sam T. Mayo.

Illmo has had two great fires. In 1930 the Opera House, Martin's Bakery, and Mrs. Granville's Hotel burned, causing a loss of over $50,000. In July 1931 the Bank of Illmo and the Illmo Mercantile buildings burned at a loss of about $40,000.

Sources: EARLY HISTORIES OF ILLMO, MISSOURI, 1896-1934; FORNFELT, MISSOURI 1904-1938; ANCELL, MISSOURI 1906-1935.;  HISTORY OF SOUTHEAST MISSOURI, Robert Sidney Douglas, c1912, Lewis Publishing Company, New York & Chicago, Chapter XXIV, p.387-388; The Southeast Missourian, March 7, 2010.

Sources: EARLY HISTORIES OF ILLMO, MISSOURI, 1896-1934; FORNFELT, MISSOURI 1904-1938; ANCELL, MISSOURI 1906-1935.; HISTORY OF SOUTHEAST MISSOURI, Robert Sidney Douglas, c1912, Lewis Publishing Company, New York & Chicago, Chapter XXIV, p.387-388; The Southeast Missourian, March 7, 2010.

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