March 31, 2021
(Photos and memories from Friday March 4, 2016)
The town of Hartville, Missouri lies in the Ozark foothills of southwestern Missouri, about 50 miles from Springfield. Little Hartville has only 613 residents but it is the county seat of Wright County, Missouri. Its two-story yellow brick courthouse was constructed back in 1964, replacing an older, more ornate building. Two signs saying “In God We Trust” hang above the building’s two entrances.
A man named Carl, one of the courthouse maintenance men, saw me taking photos and we talked a bit. He pointed to a hill east of town and said, “You know that the Civil War was fought here. They put cannon on that hill there and fired at cannon on this hill here,” pointing to the hill west of town where the water tower is today. “People digging in the hollows still find cannon balls buried in the mud today.”
Carl is an older fellow, in his 60s. The talk turned to more recent history. He said he was old enough to remember when they tore down the old courthouse. He said he’d heard stories that people had been hung on the courthouse grounds. That would have been many, many years ago he said. It was a more violent time back then.
I walked around town — not much more than a crossroads where two state highways meet. A few houses along one street, some businesses along another.
Grain silos are located down in the hollow next to the food supermarket.
The town BBQ restaurant is down there as well, its smoker parked in front leaking wondrous aroma throughout town. But I chose to eat at a smaller place on Main Avenue. I saw the name — the Yakety Yak Diner — and I couldn’t resist.
After lunch I took photos of the buildings near the main intersection. Near that corner I found two Civil War murals. One painting showed a Confederate officer seated on a tree stump assiduously reading the Bible before battle.
The other mural showed Union horsemen and foot soldiers rushing into the fray of battle.
Though the Confederate is shown reading the Bible, one would be mistaken in believing that the Soldiers in Gray were more religious than the Soldiers in Blue. As Lincoln said in his Second Inaugural Address 151 years to the day before my visit to this battle site:
Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully.President Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865
Later on, I saw an old bearded man in an old brown hat sitting on the steps of the old bank building (now the county Historical Society). He looked exactly like the Confederate officer in the mural. I surreptitiously took a photo of the good fellow and felt as if I had stolen a gem.
Overall it was a thoughtful day. Near the first of Spring. Good memories of a quiet road trip.
Here are some more photos of Hartville:
The town has an extensive historical marker explaining the Battle of Hartville in detail. If you’re curious, click on the photos are read the text. Both sides claimed victory here.
Hartville has many churches and old church buildings. Here are some of them:
All photos taken by the author on March 4, 2016
A list of all photo posts from the American County Seats series in TimManBlog can be found here.