Lois Roper Beard.
Written in the early 1970’s
|COMPETITION ! A unique name for a unique place. The
only town in the United States by that name is Competition Missouri. It is
located near the southeast corner of Laclede county and borders Wright
The first store was called the Newburg. But in the early 1890’s when a post office was established there was already one Newburg Missouri, therefore a new name had to be selected. There was a strong competition between the trading places. So the name Competition was selected.
Addie Titsworth was the first post master. Some of the other posters masters who have served over the years are, Jim Irick, Harve Gourley, Biege French, Wallace Van Stavern, Dale Hillhouse, and the last postmaster was Lloyd Barton from 1965 to 1967, when the office was closed and was consolidated with the one at Falcon Missouri.
The large spring down the hill was an incentive to the place selected for starting the town. It would furnish ample water supply for everyone. The land was owned by Grandma Shamel. The town was laid out in blocks, but the spring was fenced outside so that all had equal rights to the water. The building was begun in orderly fashion and Competition became a busy thriving town. Its growth continued for a period of several years.
Not many facts were available about the first store. It was located near the spring and folks are sure it was a log building.
In 1912, a large two story block building was built. It faces south and is a short distance west of the spring. The cement blocks were made by John Handiside and were hauled to the place by Lanna Massey. He was paid the unheard of price of $2.50 per day.
During the teens with the approach of World War I, brought the prosperity to the town. There were four general stores, plus a drug store, and all did a thriving business.
And other merchants were Lanna & Grace Massey, who were active merchants in Competition for 24 years.
The merchants at Competition found ways to keep satisfied customers. One of the greatest was buying turkeys in fall,. Most families raised a bunch of turkeys to sell before the Thanksgiving or Christmas market. In this, the farmers were sure to have the money to pay their taxes, and have some extra cash for the necessities and perhaps buy a few luxuries at Christmas time. But getting the birds to market was one big problem. It took two whole days to haul a load to Lebanon in the wagon, do a little shopping, pay the taxes, and return home.
Merchants would go from farm to farm buy the turkeys , bunch them in one large group , get plenty of help and drive them to town. Did you ever drive a turkey?? When night fall came, the turkeys went to roost wherever they were. No amount of persuasion could move them one mile farther. The grub wagon went along with food for the team, for the turkeys and plenty already cooked to last the trip for the helpers When the task became too great, a shed was built and the turkeys were dressed for place there in Competition.
General Juliam had the first drug store in town. Later, Mr. Ed Wright was the druggist, followed by his sons, Will & Ress Wright. The country doctors were much appreciative of having a drug store in town. It save many trips to town for medical supplies. No doubt lives were saved Some of the early doctors mentioned in the community were; Dr. H, B. Wright, Lon Wright, Gourley, Gott & Coats.
The baptist church at Competition was organized in 1897. The revival that was held in a tent when 25 converts were baptized in the icy water of the mill pond at Bowmans Mill. Ministers mentioned were Bro. Spencer ad Bro. Montgomery. Plans were made after the close of the revival to build a new church house. The land for the new church to be built was given by Grandma Verlinda Shamel, who also gave the land for the cemetery. The lumber was sawed for the church by Mr. Gus Schneider and hauled with a wagon and team to Competition. The Rev. H. M. Sutton was the first pastor. He lived in Dixon, Missouri and came on the train to Lebanon on Friday and rode the mail hack out to Competition on Saturday. After preaching Saturday night, Sunday morning and Sunday night, he rode to Lebanon on the mail hack on Monday. The members took care of the minister on the week end of meeting time. Biege French served the congregation as Sunday School Superintendent for 33 years. Other ministers mentioned that have served through the years are F. D. Adams, J. B. Youngblood, Brother Davidson ( a blind minister ), Brother Helley, and Brother R. D. Patteson.
Young ministers, students at the Baptist college at Boliver have filled the pulpit from time to time. Russell Randolph was the minister in the 1970’s.
The school has been at the top of the list in importance at Competition throughout the years. Records show the first school house stood on the corner and was built in 1873.
The community club was first built for the school house As years went by, the need for a high school was more evident The closest high school was either Hartville or Lebanon and there were no buses. Few who completed the eighth grade were privileged to attend high school.
In 1922, with the help of Ernest Fisher, a high school was established at Competition and Mr. Fisher became the first superintendent. The first class to graduate was in 1926. The small school building without a gym was not enough to curtail the activities of the students at the "burg". They were fortunate to have large husky boys who became a power house basketball team, who worked hard and made many sacrifices. But their efforts paid off, for they held a record for many winnings in the game. One year they became the state champions.
In the beginning years of the school the team played on an outdoor court. Then for a time they were allowed to use the Odd Fellow Hall. The need became so great, one day the school decided to build a gym. There was no money, but where there’s a will there’s a way. Donations came in, and the cooperation was great. Lumber, labor, rock for the outside walls, everything was donated as it was needed, until the building was ready for the roof . $300.00 was the price paid for it and the money was borrowed. Don Fike was the president of the building committee and Bill Van Stavern served as treasurer.
Everyone was interested in the schools activities. The girls team was winners of many basketball games. The parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all attended the games. They were there, not to just enjoy the games, but to lend their support to the players.
Biege French will long be remembered for his great enthusiasm at the games. Someone said Biege’s hat took the beating. He was even known to have torn one up.
The sacrifice was never too great for the students of Competition to make so that they might receive their education. Walking several miles to and from school each day was not uncommon... doing the chores at home both mornings and evenings by lantern light.
Money was difficult to come by. Many things we think of today as necessities were unheard of then. Clothing was handed down, books were exchanged and even tablets and pencils were treated as precious commodities. Students found ways to earn money for their own expenses when needed..
A crude little building later used for a chicken house, was the hot dog stand where Bill Van Stavern made his spending money during the his school days.
Elmer Wood (Lovingly called "Old Drum") was too far from school to walk. He stayed with Lanna & Grace Massey where he worked for his board. He also did the janitor work at the school for a small fee. This gave him extra expenses.’
One teacher cut hair on Saturday. He charged 15 cents for a hair cut.
Some boys listed in the early school days at Competition are: Vic Wood, Sherman Hillhouse, Don Fike, Clyde & Clinton Ruble, Wallace and Alvie Van Stavern, Ed & Waldo Vermillion, Elmer Wood, Lindon Fisher, Charley Bond, Wayne French and Oval Van Stavern.
Oh, there are so many others but those were named by a citizen of today. Several who have finished their early journey and gone home.
The Competition school has given to the world many valuable men and woman who are carrying on in important places in our society today.
A few early teachers who left their influence to guide others were Dewey Bohanon , George DeWoody, Billy Amos, John Holey, George McConnell, Lawrence Shelton, and Ralph Hamilton. There are many others in our society today.
The high school was closed in 1951. The school bus transported the high school students to larger schools, but the grade school continues. (This was written in the early 1970’s and the grade school is also closed now.) "The Burg" is still a great community with the church, school and lodge organizations and ladies extension club. All activities have good attendance.
Competition is a wonderful place to call home.