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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

Showing comments in chronological order
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I remember going to the old deli/gas station when I was a child. We lived near there and it was always a treat visiting the store owners. Mr. and Mrs. Mize (or Mise) who lived in the back of the store were so friendly. We went to the same church as they did for a while (Walker Church) and Mr. Mize always gave me a Sunday "treat" of a pack of Bubblicious gum *my favorite*. He was a great man and I heard he was in a nursing home for some time. I think he passed away a while ago. I don't know if they had any children or not who might be able to help you. I just loved that store. I'm sure a lot of memories linger in that place (which has now been converted to a house I think). I think of it every time I'm out that way! :) Thanks for the memory.

-- Posted by Amanda on Fri, Jul 13, 2007, at 10:02 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Do you know who lives in that big gorgeous old house that you can see from Highway 25?

Are there any mountain lions in Avert?

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Jul 14, 2007, at 2:46 PM

I believe lions now "avert" that location.If anyone has any spare mountain lions, or someone has a stray that ElfReda Cox didn't adopt, send them to Dexter.Plenty of useless wolves in sheep's clothing over there to feast on!

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Sun, Jul 15, 2007, at 8:44 AM

Oh, my, such caustic wit!! Do I detect a slight prejudice against the sleeping giant (!!) to your west?? Hehe

Some friends from Alaska visited us several years ago, renting a car off somewhere west and driving to this region, and the husband (who was originally from Colorado) said, "What's the deal with the names of towns in this region? Why are they all verbs? 'avert,' 'advance...'"

I had to correct him: "No, no, the accent is on the FIRST syllable: 'A-vert,' 'AD-vance,' 'A-rab'"

I have no explanation for Southeast Missouri's propensity to put the accent on the first syllable!

Any stray mountain lions at Avert would undoubtedly be housed at Sun Dog, which is, of course, a CAT sanctuary. (accent on "sun," of course...)

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Jul 15, 2007, at 9:09 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Yesterday morning (before ElFreda posted her story on Avert), I had a call at the Advance office from Laura Mizers, the daughter of the Mizers who ran the old store in Avert. She lives up north of St. Louis. She gave me a bunch of leads on the old town - so, as soon as the madness of our NSC Progress edition is over - I'll see about a follow up on Avert. Mrs. Mizers also had some photos - if she can find them! They would be fun to post on a blog!

I'm pleased to hear that Mrs. Mizers found out about this blog through a relative.

I think the house you're talking about is Jerry and Charlotte Cooper's house. I believe their daughter is the owner of Sun Dog Sanctuary. For more insight you might try the Bostic's. They live across the railroad track from the old store in Avert.

Also, how did Avert get its name? I heard at one time that it was a military order "Avert (Go) East...". Not sure if there is any truth to that, but an interesting concept considering the area's military history.

-- Posted by Amanda on Tue, Jul 17, 2007, at 12:06 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Thanks for the information about the Cooper's house. I thought it was old, but I admit that I hadn't driven down there. I have a friend who comes to Advance that way from Sikeston & says it's a beautiful drive and looks like a wonderful place to live.

Check ElFreda's blog on Avert - I think she mentioned the reason it got its name. I believe you have it right. Since you posted your comment, she's put up a wonderful photo of the Mize's store.

I thought I did some corrections on a few names for this blog, but I don't see them now. Mmmm...sometimes things appear and disappear mysteriously around here... The family's name was Mize and the lady who called me was a daughter-in-law.....

Thanks for your interest!

You're welcome. :)

Looking forward to reading the story and more about that little town. I would love to see more on the little towns around Stoddard County.

-- Posted by Amanda on Mon, Jul 23, 2007, at 3:19 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
I agree! I talked to a friend today about the little non-town of Zadock, which (I think) is completely gone. However, it's mentioned in all the old accounts of the area. I believe it was an important railroad town at one time. I've been wanting to do something on it for the NSC for some time...

Think how many of those little places there are all over the county!! It would take years to find out about all of them!

Never heard of that town. Where was that? I just bought a house North of Aquilla and a lot of the old timers call it "Cooperville"...County Road 260 and there used to be an old store there on 25 right at the turn off I was told.

-- Posted by Amanda on Tue, Jul 24, 2007, at 12:33 PM

Never heard of that town. Where was that? I just bought a house North of Aquilla and a lot of the old timers call it "Cooperville"...County Road 260 and there used to be an old store there on 25 right at the turn off I was told.

-- Posted by Amanda on Tue, Jul 24, 2007, at 12:33 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Yes, I was in Cooperville yesterday, taking photos of a 1952 Farmall hay baler that was being used to put up some hay near there.

In fact, Zadock isn't far from Cooperville - just a bit southwest.

All these little places have names, even if there was never an actual "town" in the location. A store is usually required in order for a place to get a name, I think - like Shady Dell. However, I don't believe Toppertown ever had a store. It had a race track, though, and a saloon.....

Ah, those places are down east of you in the flatlands, though. You're not far from the old town of Piketon, though. There's nothing left of it, either.....

Is Zadock near Oak Ridge Cemetery?

-- Posted by luckyone on Thu, Aug 2, 2007, at 6:28 PM

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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 advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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