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Caldwell County
1876 Atlas History
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Narrator: Mrs. Mary Keefe, 78, of Braymer, Missouri

Life at Hopewell and Hamilton

Changes in Hamilton in his life

Mrs. Keefe is the daughter of Wm. Harrison Gwynn (1824-1907) and Martha Ramsey both of whom lived in Cadiz, Harrison County and Noble County Ohio before coming to Caldwell County in the western rush after the Civil War. Mr. Gwynn was a blacksmith and wagon maker an occupation much in demand those days. He first established a home and a shop near the Hopewell Baptist Church - this county; the house built in 1867 is still standing owned by the Taylor family. Then finding out that many of his old friends from Ohio had located in Hamilton he moved to Hamilton in 1868 to be near them. These Ohio friends were: Prof. Davy Ferguson (see his paper) Alex Crow (killed in the Clark Mill explosion) George Wilson (father of Dr. Clyde Wilson) Edward Green (one of the leaders in the founding of the Presbyterian Church here) Andy Harrah and Wm. Stewart.

In 1874 he worked for Fred Graer at the Mill Street blacksmith (see his paper) and then he put up his own shop, east of the McBrayer livery barn on Mill street. His family home was for years the house south of the present Scott house.

During Mr. Gwynns life the style of wagons changed as much as clothes. The Conastoga of his boyhood, the linchpin, the stiff tongue, and the limber tongue wagons followed one another and he saw them all. He knew the ox-cart.

He had seen Hamilton's streets changed from platforms built of boards in front of each store to the beginning of our concrete payments. When he came the streets were poorly lighted at night by occasional street lamps and a man traveled around in the afternoon with an oil can and lighted them. They burnt themselves out my morning. When he died the electric lights were in town. In those early days, doctors like Dr. Ressigieu (who lived on south Broadway in the present Katherine Houghton home) maintained their own street lights. There was a lamp before each church corner (all the churches happened to be on one corner). It was a bad boy's trick those days to throw stones at the street lamps to see the glass break.

During Mr. Gwynn's life here, the old "Ferguson" brick school on the north side was built and he lived to see it out-moded and torn down. The little old brown school on the south was replaced in his life by a nice brick building. He truly saw Hamilton grow.

Mrs. Keefe was married 1876 to Eugene Keefe who after the Civil War settled on a farm in Fairview township. Their trading point was still her old home in Hamilton for Cowgill and Braymer did not come into existence till after the Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad went through the southern part of the county late in the eighties.

Interviewed April 1934.

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All photos are copyright KingsCross Farm, 1997 & 1998
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