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STRATHER M. MITCHELL, HAMILTON, MISSOURI

Narrator: Mrs. Ida Culp of Hamilton, Missouri

Carpenter in the 60's and 70's

Strather Marion Mitchell (b. 1839 d. 1883) came to Hamilton 1868 from Daviess County. He was nineteen years old when he married Miss Terrill aged sixteen of near Gallatin. They began farming at once on a rented place, neither of them knowing how to do their work well. He ploughed and she spun and wove. In 1866, he bought a small place near Grand river but the water rose and buried their crops and hopes. That ended their farming.

Being a carpenter, he came to Hamilton in the building boom of 1868 to earn some money. At first most of the houses were small being all that the new settlers could afford. Two of the houses he built are still standing - the Tillman Reed home (with whom Mitchell worked) and the house of George McGill (colored). The first home of the Mitchells in Hamilton was on the rock road on the north leading from Gallatin.

Wages were low. He thought he was doing fine if he got $1.50 a day. Yet when he brought home a sack of flour it cost him $3, coffee was very high then, Calico was narrow and poor in quality cost fifty to sixty cents a yard. A calico dress then was prized more than a silk now. The quilts of the time point to the high price of calico. They were small and the calico pieces were few and far between. The farmer got three cents a dozen for his eggs, seven cents a pound for middlings at Gallatin. Mrs. Mitchell often put six eggs in a batch of corn bread and twelve to fifteen in a cake.

Mr. Mitchell and his wife kept the Hamilton House (opposite the depot) about 1866 and George Lamson and his bride stayed there till they rented rooms over Kemper's store. Mr. Lamson was the railroad agent at that time. (See the Lamson paper). Mr. Mitchell later went to Excelsior Springs and built and ran the first hotel there. He and two of his children are buried in the old Hamilton Cemetery.

Interviewed February 25, 1934.

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All photos are copyright KingsCross Farm, 1997 & 1998
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