A look at the county in 1921

U.S. 60 didn't exist when the Missouri State Highway Department created this map of Webster County's highways in 1921. Construction began in 1926.

Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Missouri, a Missouri State Highway Department map of Webster County and its state highways paints an interesting picture of the county and its communities in 1921.

The map accompanying this story was compiled between 1919 and 1921, a century ago.

It shows a county with less than 10,000 residents (compared to nearly 40,000 today) and only one city with a population above 1,000.

Per official U.S. Census Bureau records from the 1920 census, Marshfield, the county seat, had 1,371 residents.

Seymour was next in population at 751, followed by Rogersville at 408.

Niangua had 283 residents and Fordland was next at 248.

As is the case today, those were the only five incorporated cities in Webster County.

Diggins, established as a village, had 137 residents, with Elkland close behind with a population of 103.

Other census-counted communities included Northview at 97 residents, Henderson at 90 and Waldo at 78. Northview originally was incorporated, then dropped the status soon after the turn of the 20th century.

There were 10 banks in the county in 1921.

In Seymour were the Bank of Seymour and the Peoples National Bank. Both closed during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In Diggins and Fordland, respectively, were the Bank of Diggins and the Bank of Fordland. The Bank of Diggins ceased operations prior to the Great Depression in 1925, while the Bank of Fordland later sold to the Peoples Bank chain, which later was purchased by HomePride Bank.

The Citizens Bank of Rogersville was founded in 1908.

That bank still operates today.

And in northeast Webster County was the Bank of Niangua, which also closed during the Great Depression.

Marshfield had four banks. All were locally owned; none remain today in their original form.

In 1926, the Missouri State Highway Department, with funding provided, in part, by the federal government, began paving U.S. 60 on a stretch that began in Springfield in the west and continued to Willow Springs in the east. The new highway replaced former “Route 16,” and paving in southern Webster County was completed in 1932.

The accompanying map shows county-seat roads, state roads, county-seat roads approved as state roads, railroads, churches and schools.

As of 1921, there were four-year high schools in Elkland, Fordland, Niangua, Marshfield, Rogersville and Seymour.

All exist today except Elkland, which consolidated and closed its high school in 1960.

Copies of the 1921 map are available at the Webster County Citizen office on the west side of the Seymour square at no charge upon request. The Citizen also can be reached by calling 417-935-2257.

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