The Founding of Gideon

Picture Gideon over a hundred years ago. It is but a small clearing in a swamp of towering trees. Frank and Pauling Noisworthy owned most of this land inhabited mainly by deer, wild hogs, opossums, coons, wildcats, and bears. There were no highways or drainage ditches. There were only the forest, washouts, sloughs, and a pole road connecting this tiny clearing with Point Pleasant and Cape Girardeau. One could hardly imagine what this area would be in the years to come.

In 1899, F. E. Gideon from Ohio and W.P. Anderson from Indiana came to the southeast of Missouri on a hunting trip. While hunting they noticed the vast virgin forest and the fertile soil and began thinking of the possibilities for a prosperous lumber business. When they returned home, they discussed with other interested parties the possibilities of expanding the lumber business to southeast Missouri. Then in 1900 W. P. Anderson and his brother M. S. Anderson, of Indiana, F. E. Gideon, and M. V. Mumma of Ohio came to this part of Missouri to engage in the lumber business. They wanted to locate in either Clarkton or Malden but neither town would permit the building of the mill. They decided to built the mill in the forest where the timber was located. They bought the first tract of land, as well as later tracts of land, from Frank Noisworthy of Clarkton. In 1901 a partnership was organized by W.P. Anderson, M.S. Anderson, M.V. Mumma, F.E. Gideon, and a Mr. Snyder. This partnership was called the Clarkton Lumber Company. In 1907 the Clarkton Lumber Company was reorganized and incorporated as the Gideon-Anderson Lumber and Mercantile Company. It was purchased in 1911 by the Gideon/Anderson Lumber and Mercantile Company and its name changed to the Gideon Cooperage Company; it was discontinued in 1942. In 1901 this lumber company, named the Clarkton Lumber Company, began forming the community of Gideon, complete with two stores, a charcoal factory, and a railroad. Mr. Gideon retained his residence in Ohio until about 1905, when he and Mrs. Gideon moved to Gideon and resided here until 1908. In 1908 he sold his interest in the Gideon-Anderson Company to the other stockholders and returned to his home at McGill, Ohio. Mr. Gideon died at his home in McGill, Ohio in 1919.

Early settlers began coming into the community looking for work and places to settle. John VanDine was one of the first settlers in Gideon in 1903. Other early settlers included: Charles Bailey, R.B. Langley, Dr. Bryant, Dr. Cochran, Tanzy McNew, Sam Motley, Albert Creek, Bert Shaw, E.C. Mosses, Dr. Cottrille and L.M. Sarff. Mr. and Mrs. S. Anderson built the first log boarding house and she managed the house where workers lived. Most of the workers were employed at the Gideon-Anderson Lumber Company or Gideon North Island Railroad, which was built in 1903.

The First Businesses in Gideon

In 1900 the first hotel was built. Fred Noisworthy, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Noisworthy, opened the first store in Gideon in 1901. The next store was built almost immediately by Mr. Dunscombe. Other places of business began to spring up as the population grew. In 1903 the lumber company built their first store. The first doctor to open an office in Gideon was Dr. T.W. Cottrill, who located here in 1903. After Cottrill Dr. Jewel Aybrn Bryant came to Gideon in 1918 and spent the rest of his life in Gideon practicing medicine. Dr. John Howard Cochran came to Gideon in 1919 as Gideon's physician and surgeon. In 1904 Gideon's first post office was opened and located in the lumber company's store building with M.V. Mumma as the first postmaster. The post office burned in 1921 and was then rebuilt in the exact same place. In 1901 E.C. Moses began the making of charcoal in Gideon. His charcoal pits operated until the middle-twenties. One of the greatest improvements for Gideon was the building of the railroad by Lewis Houch in 1901. Gideon North Island railroad was added to the railroad in 1903. The Circle mill was built in 1900. Gideon built a stave mill in 1906 on White Row. The stave mills burned and then were rebuilt in 1912; these mills operated until 1942. In 1915 H.E. Stuckman built the first grist and feed mill. He owned this until 1920 when Gideon-Anderson Company bought it. The cotton gin company was organized July 19, 1922 by D.H. Riley and J.E. Noisworthy. The company officers were: N.C. Anderson, president; J.W. French, Vice president; L.H. Riley, Secretary and Treasurer. The whistles blew for the first time September 15, and the first bale of cotton was ginned September 15. The bale belonged to A.W. Wilkey and J.S. King. The company store burned in 1905 and was rebuilt in 1906. In 1905 the first power plant was built in Gideon. In 1908 the O.B. Gwyn Slack Barrel and Stave Company located in Gideon. Charlie Bailey built the first theater in 1916 which burned and was rebuilt where Hilfiker Apiaries now stands. R.W. Anderson, son of M.S. Anderson, J.C. Anderson, son of W.P. Anderson, and John Dunafee rebuilt the theater. The Gideon-Anderson store building was erected in 1920. It was a large building housing a complete department store which sold drugs, groceries, meat, hardware, and clothing. The Sherman Hotel was built in 1920. Mrs. M.S. Anderson was the first manager for the hotel, the second manager was Mrs. Bernice Turner. The first bakery shop was opened in Gideon by B. W. Alstadt of Bernie in 1922. His baker, Mr. Ed. Taylor baked on the average of 275 loaves of bread a day. He also baked cakes, pies, doughnuts, buns, cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes and jelly rolls. The first Gideon library was built for the public in 1931.

In 1907 a Baptist Church was organized. Gideon's first Methodist Church was erected in 1907.

The Commercial Bank of Gideon was organized on September 18, 1920 by W. P. Anderson, C.F. Meentemeyer, J.W. French, T.E. Page and M.S. Anderson. W.M. Anderson was elected president; C.J. Meentemeyer, Vice President; M.S. Anderson, J.W. French, T.E. Page, Directors; and I.H. Riey, cashier. The bank opened for business November 1, 1920, and the deposits for the day were $12,504.17. At the end of the first month, business had increased so rapidly the directors decided to employ Norman E. Dunscomb as the assistant cashier. On January 5, 1921, Mr. Dunscomb took up the duties of the cashier. On November 15, 1922 Mr. W.A. Mooneyham took charge of the bankbooks. By 1923 the bank had over 800 customers and total deposits of $173,068.55. George Raymond Derby established the first Gideon Newspaper in 1940 and established the Clarkton News in 1949. After his death, the newspaper changed hands several times and finally was completely sold out and disbanded. The Gideon-Clarkton News began in November of 1971 and was owned by Allen Black and Miller Moll of Malden.

School Summary

The first school was constructed in 1903. Miss Ellen Gumm was employed as the teacher for the 22 or 23 children that attended. In 1904 Otto Kochtitzky of Cape Girardeau, Missouri bought seven acres of ground for a school park. In 1907 Otto Kochitizky donated seven acres of ground to Gideon where a second school was built. Due to the many residents and workers moving into the area, more country schools were built. Some of these schools were: Little Walnut built in 1910, Peanut built in 1912, Jericho built in 1913, Tallapoosa built in 1915, and Millburn built in 1913. The first brick school was built in Gideon in 1915, and the Floodway and Cottrill rural schools were built in 1920. The name of the school was officially changed to Gideon School District of New Madrid County in 1914. By 1915 the population of Gideon had increased to such an extent that the school building then in use had become inadequate. A brick three-story structure was erected in that year. By 1921 three new classrooms had been added. The large gymnasium and community hall was built on the southeast corner of the school park in 1923. The school was financed by Gideon Anderson until the district was organized. A new athletic field and tennis courts were laid out for the school in 1935.

Gideon as a City

In 1914 Gideon was voted a fourth class city. R.B. Langley was the first elected mayor of the city. In 1919 he was elected chief of police. He was elected for his third term and only served three months before resigning and turning the job over to J.A. Whitledge. The town of Gideon had and still has a mayor-council form of government which manages the city water and sewage plants, the street maintenance department, the sheriff's office, the city clerk's office, and the park board. The Gideon park board maintains a city park for year round enjoyment. During the summer, the Park Board provides Little League and Pony league baseball programs.

The Beginning and the End of the Box Plant

By 1922 the timber had been removed from much of the land around Gideon. Many drainage ditches carried away the water of the sloughs and swamps that had been so numerous. The cleared land was then producing rich harvests of corn and cotton. The Gideon Box Plant was built in 1931 and employed about 250 people. . The manager of the box company was Mr.Frank Parker. Boxes were built and shipped to all 50 states and many countries. It produced more beverage cases than any other factory in the United States. These boxes were shipped to every state in the United States, Cuba, Central America and South America. L.M. Sarff he immediately built, and began operating a Handle Mill, which he sold a few years later to the Gideon-Anderson Lumber and Mercantile Company. During World War II the box factory, under government contract, manufactured tent pins and ammunition boxes. The factory was the only one in the U.S. engaged in the making of tent pins. The Gideon-Anderson changed management several times and then closed down in the 1986.

Last up Date 11/15/99

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