A Visit To Harwood, Missouri in July 2013
Following the 2013 Steincross reunion and several days in Tulsa visiting Brooksyne's family we made a nostalgic trip to Harwood MO where our grandparents lived and my Mom grew up. This page is especially prepared for my cousins, the grandchildren of George and Nellie Mae Steincross (MaMa and PaPa) who will have pleasant memories of this little town. Perhaps my reminiscing will also prompt your own. Since many in subsequent generations only know the Steincross family gatherings on the basis of the reunions that began after MaMa and PaPa died this is where we had reunions prior to that although we never called it a reunion.
As we drove toward Harwood from Walker these cattle were enjoying an easy fast food meal of recently harvested hay. There appears to be a lot of active farming in the area, an improvement over the fallow fields and abandoned farms I recall in previous visits.
Approaching Harwood we first viewed the barn roof on the old Steincross farm and saw evidence of plain people in the area with warning signs similar to what we see here in Lancaster County PA, These hardworking people are very likely a contributing factor in the farming resurgence!
The old Steincross barn is standing and the barnyard busy. We had lots of fun in that barn and in those fields as children.
Beside the barn is the former Steincross farmhouse, in the family for over 100 years. Our PaPa was born here in 1882. When I was a child Uncle Gentry and Aunt Dora lived here. Lots of memories here for all in my generation. Huge family meals, the bell on the porch side, lots of people sleeping over in every available place, holiday gatherings, shooting rifles across the road, tractor and wagon rides.
All that remains of the small white frame house where my Mom grew up and my grandparents lived till they died is the concrete walkway in the foreground. The house burned down several years after they died. It was a small house and often crowded when we were there with other family. When we arrived my sister and I rushed to the water pump beside the house and pumped till the water surged out. MaMa would meet us at the slamming screen door, opening it part way. PaPa was inside waiting and took his cane and placed the crook around my neck, pulling me in toward him and saying, "How's step-hen" intentionally mispronouncing my name. We remember MaMa's pantry and her pies, especially apple.
A view up the tracks from the back of MaMa and PaPa's house. I recall stories of MaMa feeding the hobos that road the trains. Asa child I recall the trains still went by regularly and it appeared the tracks were still used.
Main Street Harwood.
Harwood Bank where my grandfather (PaPa) and later my Uncle Gentry served as President. It was still open when I was a child and we grandchildren even got to play in the back! The only "businesses" still open in the essentially abandoned town is the Post Office and the grain elevator.
We walked right in and observed the deterioration. As I recall Aunt Zola worked behind this counter.
I had to black-out over the vault door due to some foul language. I tried to open it but it was frozen shut.
The shelves in the storage area in the back of the bank hold a special memory. PaPa would take us back and show us a jar with a tapeworm preserved in formaldehyde that Mom passed as a child! That must have been 30 or 40 years after the event! I don't know whether it embarrassed Mom or not.
Harwood Post Office (your tax dollars hard at work). The little building beside it is used as a community hall and here we had the family meal when we buried my Mom's remains in 2006. See here for some photos. For many years Aunt Dora was the postmistress.
As I recall this is the house Aunt Zola lived in next to the Methodist Church. I couldn't find the one she lived in later and it appeared many houses have been demolished.
A rather typical occupied Harwood home, a satellite dish keeps the folks connected. However they probably learned it's better not to place shingles over a tin roof!
As we drove to the edge of town to see Mom's old school an open buggy was coming into town. I don't recall any plain people in the area when I was a kid. Possibly they originated from here in Lancaster County, PA where we live now and are now spread around the country, utilizing land vacated by the descendants (our parents) of the original settlers such as our grandparents and great-grandparents.
As I recall my Mom (Georgia Mae) was in the last graduating class from this school in the late thirties. It looks just about the same as I remember as a child.
We had some family fun weighing ourselves as we are standing together on the elevator scales at this grain elevator, (of course, you can see us in the window reflection). The real accountability showed up when we weighed individually. You know what vacations do to the waistline! Now we have to pay for our overindulgences.
The only traffic we saw or any signs of life for that matter, was a horse and buggie driving through town. The Methodist Church is in the background.
The little church Mom attended, like so many rural churches, is closed now. When we visited as children it only had about 7 or 8 older ladies as I recall (and that would have included MaMa, Aunt Zola and Mom). It was a treat for them to have some children and even though it was just my little sister Genelle and me they pulled a curtain to partition off the front and we had a Sunday School lesson for us two.
Here's an older photo from inside the church taken in the Spring of 2006 when we had a service durying my Mom's remains.
This is a view from the elevator to where MaMa and PaPa's home would have stood beyond the large tree. The main road from the county road turn is now paved but the pavement is breaking up.
The Baptist Church was in nice shape and appeared to have services.
From Harwood I headed to Schell City to visit the cemetery where my folks are buried. On the way we passed this old barn which has sure seen better days. We also went over the railroad tracks prompting a memory of Uncle Gentry. We were coming into town from Eldorado Springs and had stopped for a train that was coming. Uncle Gentry was behind us and flew by waving and honking his horn crossing the track just before the train arrived!
Across from this farm I had another memory. I was staying with my mom's parents, MaMa and PaPa, one summer. PaPa was a farmer and the president of the local community bank. He was well known and had a great reputation throughout that rural area.
During my visit he called a local farmer to get permission for me to fish in his farm pond and made it clear that the permission was for fishing only. I verbally agreed to that plan, but what do you suppose a bored fourteen-year-old teen does after the fish aren't biting? Yep, I first looked up toward the farmhouse where I saw no one, so I jumped in and went swimming.
Well, it turned out the farmer who had permitted me to fish but ruled out swimming was watching. He called my grandfather and when I got back did I ever get chewed out! PaPa emphasized that he had trusted me and I had violated that trust. I still remember that lesson to this day. Knowing how much I had disappointed PaPa bothered me a great deal. I'm sure it led to some deep soul searching in my young yet untamed teen heart. As a youngster I wouldn't have thought about the danger of one who is out swimming in a deep pond by himself. Likely that farmer made that rule to protect me from danger.
A lake near Schell City in the conservation preserve.
Main Street Schell City didn't look much better than Harwood!
We passed this old Allis-Chalmers tractor on the way out of Schell City. Reminds me of Uncle Gentry's.
One year we had some snow in southern Missouri at Christmas so Uncle Gentry took some of the kids out for a makeshift sled ride on his tractor pulling what appears to be a wood pallet. That's my cousin Steve driving the tractor with the huge smile and I'm in the photo standing on the back of the pallet. I think that's my sister Genelle sitting on the pallet. Uncle Gentry doesn't look like he's in a very safe place!
We were very pleased at how well the Greenlawn cemetery was maintained. The row of tombstones in front right are Aunt Tempy, the two children of MaMa and PaPa who died in childhood, MaMa and PaPa, and my parents, Gene and Georgia Mae Weber.
Ester thoughtfully bought a cross with flowers to place on the tombstone of my folks.
Aunt Tempy, not forgotten.
Another view of the Greenlawn Cemetery from the road.
Harwood Missouri is located here (Google map)