by | Dec 19, 2022

Rural Missouri’s editors have always used their cameras to tell the story of the people who appeared on the magazine’s pages. Over the years, our talented photojournalists have documented a way of life that in many instances has vanished. This month we share many of the faces that have appeared in the magazine, drawn from thousands of negatives, slides and digital images in our archives.

West Quincy, 1973 Photo by Fred Causley

Linemen from Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative worked from a boat during the flood of 1973 after a levee broke south of West Quincy. Floodwaters covered more than 1.8 million acres and cost Missourians more than $90 million that year. 

Lancaster, 1968 Photo by John Oidtman

Members of the Lancaster Saddle Club bring in the flag during the club’s annual horse show. The club’s more than 100 members saw the club as an important activity for kids. “If you keep the kids busy they won’t have time to get into mischief,” said club president Don Gordy.

Rolla, 1964 Photo by Bill Matteson

Floyd Haas kneels next to a chick warmer in a photo for a Rural Electric Missourian article which touted the use of electricity on poultry farms.

Lamar, 1970 Photo by John Oidtman

Raising the ears of show mules has always been a challenge for handlers. Brother Adams gets the attention of five sorrel mules in this photo. At the time, Adams was one of the top breeders in the nation and served as a judge at the Kentucky State Fair.

Dallas, Texas, 1971 Photo by Don Yoest

Beauty contests sponsored by electric co-ops were once an annual tradition in Missouri. Elaine Williams of Laclede, representing Farmers’ Electric Cooperative, competed in the national Miss Rural Electrification contest in Dallas, Texas.

Corridon, 1978 Photo by George Laur

Mary Goggins’ greatest ambition was to become “the Grandma Moses of Ozark writing.” Born on an island in the Baltic Sea, Mary came to the United States as an indentured immigrant in 1916.

Fayette, 1970 Photo by John Oidtman

While on the job as a lineman for Howard Electric Cooperative, Roger Robb’s life instantly changed when he came into contact with a power line carrying 7,200 volts. He returned to the cooperative and worked for many years.

Weston, 1968 Photo by John Oidtman

A tobacco buyer puffs away while grading the crop offered for sale at an auction barn in Weston.

Germantown, 1986 Photo by Kate Yancey

Despite adversity, John Rotert led a rewarding life on a cattle farm in western Missouri with his wife, Bettie. This story was more about a couple in love than the saga of a blind farmer. Their admiration for one another was mutual. “He’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” says Bettie. “Without her, I’d be lost,” says John. 

Augusta, 1986 Photo by Jim McCarty

Blacksmith Darold Rinedollar used traditional methods to forge iron in his shop, which looked little different than a smithy from a century earlier. He worked without lights in order to better gauge the temperature of the metal.

Devils Elbow, 1989 Photo by Jeff Joiner

Bruce Debo advertised coffins “Ready-made on short notice” at his shop on Route 66. He wasn’t really in the coffin business, but made them to demonstrate the skills needed to make a pine box. Besides serving as a director for Laclede Electric Cooperative for 17 years, Bruce was a carpenter who helped build Fort Leonard Wood.

West Plains, 1989 Photo by Bob McEowen

Nick Evangelista gives a fencing lesson to his son, Justin, while his daughter, Jamie, waits her turn. The family moved to Missouri from California where Nick was a Hollywood fencing instructor. His ad for fencing drew an entirely different clientele in cattle country.

Doniphan, 1989 Photo by Jeff Joiner

Gene Price recalled the days when wooden johnboats were the standard on Current River. Flat-bottomed, square-ended and with a steep rake in the bow and stern, they could navigate the shallow waters of the Ozarks.

Stet, 1984 Photo by Sara Seidel

Jim Waters’ dog waits eagerly for a daily slab of lunchmeat at Waters’ Country Store, a gathering place for farmers and coffee drinkers in north-central Missouri.

Hillsboro, 1988 Photo by Jim McCarty

Mike Huskey stands in front of the log cabin his father, George, shared with 13 family members. The Huskey farm, founded in 1804, was the oldest family farm in Missouri when this photo was taken.

LaMonte, 1982 Photo by George Laur

At the time Vicki Winston was featured in Rural Missouri she had won more world horseshoe pitching champion­ships than any woman in the history of the sport.

Fordland, 1989 Photo by Bob McEowen

Mike Weldon adjusts the controls of his live-steam model locomotive. Mike spent 25 years building a scale replica of the engine, rail cars and track around his home.

McClurg, 1990 Photo by Jeff Joiner

Fiddle player Bob Holt of Ava was one musician who helped keep traditional music alive at the music parties held in the community of McClurg. He began playing the fiddle when he was 16 years old.

Ste. Genevieve, 1993 Photo by Jim McCarty

Volunteers from 30 states and two foreign countries converged on Ste.Genevieve to fill sandbags and raise the levees high enough to protect the historic town from a record crest of 48.1 feet. Though saturated with flood waters, all the town’s major levees held, prompting a sign that read, “Ste. Genevieve levee: eighth wonder of the world.”

Newtown, 1992 Photo by Jim McCarty

The entire senior class of Newtown-Harris High School studies in teacher Stacie Murray’s class. Empty desks outnumbered the full ones at the north-central Missouri school, which at this time was one of Missouri’s smallest with 83 students in grades K-12. Cattle outnumbered people in this area 8-to-1.

Fordland, 1995 Photo by Heather Berry

Nicholas Inman founded The Fordland Times at age 13. Dubbed “Fordland’s Fountain of Youth,” the young man had plans to become mayor of Fordland and later president of the United States. Now pastor of a church, Nicholas established the popular Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival held every April in Marshfield.

Bunker, 1996 Photo by Jim McCarty

Gigmaker Paul Martin fits the socket on a gig by mounting it on a mandrel made from an old axle and tapping it on his anvil. Paul shared his skills with apprentice Ray Joe Hastings through the Missouri Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program, passing on his techniques for another generation.

Mexico, 1991 Photo by Jeff Joiner

Jennifer Simmons rides by her family’s l00-year-old horse barn in Mexico. Jennifer, age 11, was the next generation of a family that made the central Missouri town famous for saddlebred horses.

Jerome, 1993 Photo by Jeff Joiner

Larry Baggett, who lived along Route 66 near Jerome, stands beneath the rock arch he built as a tribute to the Indian trail that preceded the Mother Road. 

Mountain Grove, 1990 Photo by Bob McEowen

Michelle Fortune is all smiles as she sees her baby for the first time thanks to an ultrasound performed by Dr. David Barbe. The Mountain Grove-based medical practice he established offered the only obstetric care in the area and delivered about 30 babies each month.

Ashland, 2004 Photo by Bob McEowen

Karen “Ming” Davis left New York City to find a home and happiness growing and selling flowers in mid-Missouri. She called her business WildThang Farms. She was one of only nine specialty cut flower growers in Missouri.

St. Clair, 2007 Photo by Jim McCarty

Antique dealer Harry Henderson hoists an original terra cotta lion’s head, one of several unique pieces he salvaged from old buildings facing demolition and offered for sale in his store.

Ash Grove, 2002 Photo by Jim McCarty

When Father Moses Berry returned to the family farm in Ash Grove, he brought with him his faith as an Eastern Orthodox priest. Besides establishing the Theotokus Unexpected Joy Orthodox Christian Church, he also opened the Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum using artifacts from family members who were slaves.

Osage County, 2005 Photo by Jim McCarty

William and Mary Huber’s portraits gaze down on new owners David and Barbara Plummer as they sit in the parlor of the old house built in 1881 by William, a ferry boat captain on the Osage River. The Plummers restored the house and opened it as a bed-and-breakfast.

Hartville, 2003 Photo by Bob McEowen

Legally blind Hartville artist David Kontra said,  “I paint what I see, but barely see what I paint.” He retained just enough of his eyesight to create works that were in demand with collectors of folk and outsider art.

Jadwin, 2006 Photo by Jarrett Medlin

Steve Eikermann examines his twisted ‘78 Ford Bronco as it climbs up a 6-foot rock ledge. The obstacle, dubbed Baby Bear, is one of the “Three Bears,” a set of challenging rock climbs at the FLAT NASTY Off-Road Park.

Macon, 2009 Photo by Bob McEowen

Charlie “The Singing Waitress” Jennings shares a laugh with customer Allen Teter at the Maple City Family Restaurant. A waitress for 30 years, Charlie added a new service when she began singing through a wireless microphone while tending tables at the restaurant in Macon. 

Walnut Grove, 2009 Photo by Heather Berry

Walnut Grove resident Jewel Moudy baked, decorated and delivered more than 2,000 wedding, anniversary and baby shower cakes over the course of 55 years.

Owensville, 2018 Photo by Heather Berry

Jane Parres said her Moon Dance Farm in Owensville was home to “happy all-natural grass-fed Angus cows and chatty, friendly egg-layin’ hens.” 

Yarrow, 2018 Photo by Jim McCarty

Clara Straight draws inspiration from the landscape of her home in Yarrow, including the Chariton River behind her. The artist tried to paint every day, despite being close to 100 years old.

Columbia, 2013 Photo by Kyle Spradley

Linemen from Howell-Oregon Electric helping repair outages at Boone Electric had to lug tools and materials into places unreachable by trucks due to the deep snow. Shown are, from left, Rodney Rose, Aaron Nickelson, Gary Blakemore from Boone Electric and Carl Givens.

Warrensburg, 2017 Photo by Paul Newton

Rodney Thomas reacts to the announcement that he won the election for attorney general during the 2017 Missouri Boys State. The annual event, and a similar one for girls, helps Missouri youth become leaders. 

Linn, 2019 Photo by Paul Newton

David Horvath set a quartet of new Missouri Class S state records at the 2019 State Track and Field Championships. His state records included 18 feet in the shot put, 90.8 seconds in the 400, 40.06 in the 200 and 22.45 in the 100.

Camdenton, 2019 Photo by Jim McCarty

Bootmaker Joey Patrickus puts the soles on a pair of handmade boots at JP’s Custom Handmade Boots. He learned the trade from his father, Joe, himself the subject of a Rural Missouri story in 1987.

Fredericktown, 2010 Photo by Jason Jenkins

James Priday holds a barn owl hatched in captivity at the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park. He and his wife, Jean, helped the organization release barn owls from their farm in Madison County, strengthening the bird’s numbers.

Jefferson City, 2014 Photo by Heather Berry

An uncanny resemblance to President Abraham Lincoln led Mark Rehagen to join the Association of Lincoln Presenters and share the president’s history in schools around the state. 

Quincy, Florida, 2018 Photo by Zach Smith

Chris Mennemeyer of Cuivre River Electric updates a sign left for crews after repairing an outage in Florida. He was part of a massive effort to restore power in the wake of hurricanes Michael and Florence. Missouri sent 315 co-op lineworkers to repair power lines for electric co-ops in Florida and South Carolina.

Gower, 2021 Photo by Heather Berry

Mother Cecilia Snell, abbess of the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus, pauses to enjoy a moment of sun after Mass. The nuns here follow a vow of silence except for when they are singing. CDs of their music help support the abbey.

Hermitage, 2022 Photo by Zach Smith

Joy and Rich Porter focus on making everything they serve at the Home Town Diner from scratch. The two gave up a journalism career to open the restaurant in January 2020, only to face challenges when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Trapichitos, Guatemala, 2020 Photo by Jim McCarty

Ritnee Smiley, a lineman from North Central Missouri Electric, may have inspired this Guatemalan boy to become a lineman. Ritnee was part of a group of co-op linemen who volunteered to bring electricity to the village of Trapichitos for the first time.

Plattsburg, 2022 Photo by Zach Smith

With the help of family and friends, Bev McCulloch saved and rebuilt the 1829 cabin of Benjamin Fry on her farm near Plattsburg. Deer Creek Cabin now serves as a hands-on classroom of living history from the pioneer days of Missouri.

Hillsboro, 2022 Photo by Zach Smith

Ten members ­— all rescue huskies — of the Breakaway Siberian sled team practice near trainer Richie Camden’s home in Hillsboro. Over the past decade, he built his team, his gear and a racing pedigree one step and four paws at a time.

Columbia, 2022 Photo by Paul Newton

Colin Higgins, left, reaches for a loose ball against Zach Steger during a scrimmage of Mizzou’s Wheelchair Basketball team. The team is one of a dozen intercollegiate wheelchair basketball teams.

Hornersville, 2022 Photo by Zach Smith

Sunrise outside Hornersville finds crews already hard at work in the watermelon beds at Droke Family Farms. Converted school buses are used to haul the melons from the field to warehouses.

Columbia, 2021 Photo by Paul Newton

Fiddle & Stone Bread Co. owner Chris Foley has been baking and selling his naturally leavened bread at the Columbia Farmers Market for three years. The bread is made in a wood-fired oven on a farm outside Columbia.

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