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Who lives in Avert?Posted Thursday, July 12, 2007, at 7:59 AM
A reader recently posted a comment on ElFreda's blog "The Story of Idalia," complaining that he/she was disappointed that the story was about a cat - not the town of Idalia. ElFreda has promised to post an old story that she did on Idalia when she worked for the Puxico Press. Some of you may be aware, as another reader mentioned, that our Delta Press publishers have printed a book about small Stoddard County towns (though, sadly, Idalia didn't make this issue). The book came out a couple of months ago and features stories and old photos of Advance, Bloomfield, Bell City, Mesler, Heagy, Toppertown, Shady Dell, Painton, Swinton, Tillman and Piketon, as well as stories about the early conditions in the swampland. Needless to say, Joe Brown, who lives in the non-existant town of Himmel (south of Bell City) was an excellent source for information and photos.
It's amazing that this part of the country was ever settled! As you hear the old stories,you can only marvel at the endurance of those early Stoddard County settlers. I don't think I could have faced what they did.
I want to continue the series in the regular issue of the North Stoddard Countian, and I think the next town I'd like to cover is Avert, which is north of Bloomfield and south of Advance. To show you how urgent these stories are, I just read in the NSC that a gentleman named Carl Lee Perry died recently. I'm fairly sure his name was one of the ones that had been given to me last year when I was doing the small town stories for our NSC Progress edition. I'm so sorry I didn't get to an Avert story while he was still living! I'm sure he could have given us a wealth of first-hand information on what it was like to grow up in that region of Southeast Missouri.
If we don't capture these stories while we can, they'll be gone. When I did the story on Mesler last year, I was told that the Mesler Baptist Church had just been demolished the year before. I missed it. I almost missed getting a picture of the Rendleman's old mule barn on Highway P between Painton and Bell City - but even then, it was in the process of being torn down. Al Painton and Mona Rendleman told me that those mules had been extremely important in the days when the roads were pure mud.
Now, sadly, I need another contact for Avert. If anyone knows of someone who has lived there a long time and can help with a story, I would like to hear from you. I'm also open to requests for other Stoddard County towns, though the ones in the north part of Stoddard County will be easiest for me to reach, since I live just south of Advance, near the old, non-existant town of Tillman. Pyletown is a little south for my coverage, but my family used to live near there when my dad worked at Malden Airbase - and I've been curious about it a long time. It would be fun to do a story there, too!
You can go to http://forejustice.org to see information on the book "Unlocking the Past: A History of Stoddard County."
Signing off from the hills of Tillman, this is Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.
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