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Where is (was) Tilman, Missouri?Posted Sunday, April 3, 2011, at 3:28 PM
A good friend of mine took this shot several summers ago, when she was motoring around to obscure places in Southeast Missouri. No, that's not my spread in the background. (Much too civilized to be mine!)
Stoddard County is riddled with little "holes in the road" which used to be towns. The list of abandoned places is extensive. Some still exist only in the history books, but others maintain their identity as long as there are still a few locals who live nearby and remember.
Tilman (which I consistantly spell "Tillman," simply for personal preference) is a former town located southeast of Advance on State Hiway 00, which eventually leads (if you don't mind driving on gravel) to Highway 91 into Bell City. Tilman is about halfway between the two towns. It is situated on the border between the Advance and Bell City school districts. (Depends on which side of the road--and fence--you live on)
Tilman is older than Advance, which was founded in 1881 by that rascally railroad tycoon Louis Houck. Crump's handdrawn map of 1867 (redrawn by Joe Brown) shows Tilman, along with Lakeville, Piketon, Ardeola, Zadock and other towns not seen on modern maps.
Longtime Tilman resident Juanita Holder has always insisted that the old Bloomfield Road ran through Tilman, and she has evidence to support that claim, though Jim Mayo has disagreed with her at more than one meeting of the Stoddard County Historical Society.
At one time, the little community of Tilman had about 20 houses, including a school, a church--which is still there--a post office, a hotel/boarding house with a "liar's porch," and two stores.
The school was consolidated with Bell City in 1954, according to former Bell City resident Jim Delay. Delay was in the first grade at the Tilman school in 1932 and was later on the Bell City school board which oversaw the move.
The Pleasant Hill church is the only original structure remaining on the site, and it is well-maintained by the Pleasant Hill Church Association. The Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association maintains the lovely cemetery, which is an active burial site. In 1997, when my husband Dale knew he was dying, he asked to be buried there. I chose six plots as far back toward the woods as possible. He never liked crowds.
Though the church isn't used for regular services anymore, there is a yearly meeting, which features singing and a collection of donations from patrons. Last year we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the little white frame church--food served buffet-style under the trees, fellowship, and singing such had not been seen or heard in many years. It was good to see the old church come to life!
In this year of 2011, the unofficial population of Tilman is about 15, not including residents of the suburbs, of which I count myself.
From the sunny hills of Crowley's Ridge, a stone's throw from downtown Tilman, this is your rural reporter, taking a break to go get some sun on her toes!
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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.