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Elmer, Missouri - Early History
(summarized from Elmer Centennial, 1987)
The town of Mercyville was legally surveyed, and laid out in blocks and lots, in 1865. But, before that, there was a settlement, of sorts, dating to 1850-1854. This was more of a gathering together of settlers on the eastern slopes of the Chariton River bottom.
Easley Township was surveyed, by the Federal Survey Office, out of St. Louis in 1836. At that time, there were many people living in Southeast Easley Township and a few in the Northeast Walnut Township. This 1836 survey showed numerous "fields", but did not locate houses, scattered about on the more fertile, well drained areas. Most of the area was covered with large virgin timber. A large part of the Chariton River Bottom was labeled as swamp, and there were several lakes, such as Fish Lake and Duck Lake which still exist today.
Occasionally the survey indicated what was called "Prairies and Barrens". The "Barrens" were fairly large tracts of land on which there was no timber. Most were located east of what was to become Elmer, beginning east of the present route 3 and extending on east to a mile beyone the country store known as Plainview.
As written in the Elmer History, 1976, Mercyville was originally known locally as "Goosetown". No doubt this came about by the locals raising large numbers of geese for food, barter and market, and possibly they drove these geese up and down main street to the southwest corner of town where, it seems, the business area was located.
But before there was a Goosetown, which seems to have begun in the early 1850's or before, there was a settlement of an unknown number of families to the northeast of Mercyville, as now platted. A unique feature of this area was the large (3'x4'x4') block of red granite located north of, or more likely in the center of, the village. Such an area was then known as the "Commons" as it was equally owned and shared by all who lived in the settlement.
This granite block has a hollowed out area in the center top and the corners are rounded. It is nearly perfectly square. This was used by all to "grind" the various grains which was a staple of the early settlers. The block of granite is still in the area being located in the front yard of the "Maggie Patrick" place.
The most interesting aspect of this "pre-Goosetown" is that there is in evidence the limestone foundations of some five cabins. There is also the remains of a well which was constructed of cut, shaped and formed limestone slabs - larger than a brick but smaller than the common concrete block. Each is curved to fit the radius of the well. The well is now filled with dirt, rocks and - could it be valuables? Old accounts of early American families hint that valuables were sometimes placed at the bottom of the well for safekeeping against possible Indian raids or, commonly, white man raids looking for an easy cache of money, copper, silver or gold.
By 1870, Mercyville was beginning to develop. The 1870 Atlas shows eleven houses, or business places, in Mercyville. Also that year, there were three general stores, one steam powered grist and saw mill and four saloons located there. There were no churches in the developing town, but the 1870 Atlas shows a small church as being located east of and a little south of Frank and Maggie Patrick's home.
The first school house was built in 1854 and the teacher was J. W. Cook. There is also a school shown in the atlas as being located east and a little north of where the Elmer Cemetery is now located. This was near the Shirley Cemetery and could possible be the one built in 1854.
And so, the town of Mercyville begins to develop. More history about this town follows.