source: Harrison County Bicentennial History, 1976
transcribed by Melody Beery

Cainsville, a town of 454 in 1970 census, is located in Madison twp. In N.E. Harrison co. And borders the mercer county line. Its history dates from the year 1854 but the locality had been settled earlier. It seems W.M. Chambers and family were the first to settle here. They came from Indiana in a covered wagon and camped where Cainsville is now located but after a few days settled two and one half miles south. Jonathan Booth settled along the river later that year. Other early settlers are Alfred Hickman, Joshua Moss, Phillip Davis, Benjamin Grubb, "Bonny" Grubb, Thomas Augery, Calvin Williams, E. Booth, A. Booth and others. Farming is still the main interest of this community.

Cainsville was named after Peter Cain, a farmer who lived about 5 miles S.E. in Mercer Co. Seeing the need of the early settlers for a grist mill he and his partners, Issac Waldrop and Henry Kennedy, erected a frame saw and flouring mill on the Thompson fork of the Grand river in 1854. A wooden dam was erected across the river to furnish power for the mills. It has been said that people came from as far away as 40 miles to Cain's Mill and there would often be as many as 15 or 20 teams tied nearby waiting for their owners to take their "turn" at the mill. Since these men sometimes had to wait several days for their grist, a large shed for sleeping and cooking accommodations was connected to the mill. A short time later Mr. Cain opened a small general store a short distance northeast of the mill site. Then from 1857 to 1861 he operated a mercantile business along with John Bailey. This building was located where the Cainsville bank used to be - now a small park.

Cainsville has had its share of major fires. March 11, 1901 the east side burned with a total loss of $30,000. Oct. 28. 1902 the west portion of the square burned and was still in ruins when the town was again startled with the cry of "Fire. Fire" on an afternoon in April the following year. It started on the roof of Wilson Omer's building supposedly from the smoke stack of J. W. Still's mill. Before this most disastrous fire was under control 2 whole blocks were wiped out; the north side of the square as well as the Christian and Methodist Churches and residences to the northeast. Total loss was $50,000. In June 1914. the Girdner building on the south side of the square was destroyed by fire and again in Jan. of 1921. Other individual buildings have been destroyed from time to time.

The men of Cainsville have answered their call to duty in times of war having served in the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War 1 and II, Korean War and Vietnam conflict. Company M of the Mo State Militia was recruited in and around Cainsville and organized here Mar. 29, 1862. It consisted originally of 106 men and 11 other men later enlisted. The Company was mustered into the service of the U. S. April 4, 1862 at Chillicothe, Mo. The 3 principal engagements in which the Company look part in the Civil War were the skirmish at Newtonia, Mo., the battle of Springfield, Mo., and the fight at Neosho, Mo.

The first doctor in Cainsville was Dr. T. M. Fullerton, sometime around 1855. Other doctors through the years have been; Drs., James Burns, Ewing, Edgar Blatchley. L. H. Perriman.Connell. Pitzell, I. B. Stafford. John Enloe, Sr., Collins, Hisler, S. D. Logan, and W. D. Bryant. Those recalled in recent years are Drs.. Harvey Nally, T. S. Duff. W. E. Smith, A. C. Taff, Hankins, and Stark. Since 1955, Dr. Willard Ellsworth and his wife Margaret, an R N., have served the community. They retired in October of 1975.

The town has had at least three factories. The Cainsville Saw and Planing Mill was erected in 1852 by D W Wells. Broom handles, bedsteads, etc. were manufactured. Mr. Wells was the sole manufacturer of the Ellis Washing Machine which sold in large numbers in the area There was also a brick factory at one time. In the 1940's Olin Booth operated a mouse trap factory.

Cainsville has had 2 newspapers. The "Cainsville Signal" was established in 1885 by C. A. Brannon but only existed about a year. The "Cainsville News" was established by J. H. Rockwell in April. 1885. S P. Davidson bought the office in 1887 and sold to J. D. McDanict in 1888 who operated it until his death in 1937, after which it was operated by his son Cecil. The last few years it was owned by Raymond Koontz then Arthur Caraway, who published the last issue Jan. 16, 1969 and sold equipment to the Bethany Republican-Clipper. The paper is still greatly missed by the community.

Telephones were installed about 1900 by Ortin and Wilcox from Princeton, privately owned. Bertha Baker Craig served as switch board operator for 54 years, retiring in 1956 when Grand River Mutual. Inc. installed dial phones.

It cannot be determined just when Cainsville was first with electricity but owned its own plant until it was furnished electric power by Missouri Public Service. An election was held Oct. 5, 1909 giving them ihe franchise. Votes were 118 yeas, and I nay.

The first railroad came in 1884 when the Des Moines and Osceola Narrow Gauge RR was extended southward from Leon, la. This road was later made into a standard guage and in 1893 the terminus was moved from the north to the south part of town By 1910 three trains came in each day, a morning freight, a noon passenger, and an afternoon freight. Soon after the noon passenger was discontinued and still later the freight trains came at the rate of one every other day. By 1938 the train proved to be unprofitable and in the fall of that year the train was taken out of Cainsville.

With the coming of the railroad, livery barns were established to transport traveling salesmen, theatrical companies, etc. from place to place Some of the owners of the liveries who can be recalled were; McCredy. Phs Wishon, Bill Hamilton, and Barnes and Black. Cleve Barnes, who is probably the oldest former business man now living in the town, recalls these days vividly. As automobiles began to increase, a Ford Garage was established by P. C Davis in 1913 in the building just south of the pool hall. A new building just off the northeast corner of the square was erected in 1919. This business ceased to operate in 1959 as Ford Motor Co wanted their dealerships in larger towns. The automobile also brought better roads and we now have blacktop highways through our town, N east and west, B south, V north and WW east from the N.E. corner of the town.

The first hotel was owned by J. Oxford and was called the Traveler's Rest. Other hotels were Commercial Hotel. Bain House. George Inn. Clifton House. Ristine Hotel, and Riverside Hotel which was last operated by Lovcll Anderson and was destroyed by fire in the late 1920's. This hotel was located at the site of the Shaw Service Station. The George Inn was operated by the grandmother of Stella Wickersham (our oldest resident) and she can recall the busy days at the hotel when court would be held in the lobby. The judge would come from Bethany to hold trials.

The third story of the Ristine Hotel was an opera house, which provided entertainment for the community. In 1904. G. R. Wilson and son erected a commodious two story building on the N.E. corner of the square. The lower floor was occupied by the G R. Wilson and Son Dry Goods and was modern in every respect and equipped with a cash carrier system, very new to Cainsville. The upper floor was the Wilson's Opera House, and it was the newest and most modern in the county. It had a sealing capacity of over 500 and had a sloping floor so that those sitting in the rear of the house could see the stage as well as those in the front row. The acoustics and lighting effects were excellent Many road shows from one night stands to stock companies which would play for a week performed in (he opera house. It was a real treat to the community and was well patronized.

The first high school graduating class to hold it's exercises in the opera house was in 1905 and from then on many classes used it Class plays were also held there. Later there was the Gem Theater owned by W. C. McKiddy at the present site of McLain's Station. The Pastime owned by G. W. Logan and located where Ross Hardware now stands. The last theater in the town was last known as the Roxy. Silent movies were first shown there then talking pictures when they came into being. The theater was last owned by some of the members of the American Legion, but was closed in 1970 when it no longer was profitable to keep it in operation. The building was sold to B and W Sales.

The Cainsville Bank was organized in 1883 with a capital stock of $13,000. The bank first operated in a frame building until it was replaced with a new building in 1897. This building was remodeled and refuted with marble furnishings in 1913 and was quite elaborate The bank closed in 1926 and (he building was later destroyed by fire. The First National Bank is the oldest establishment now in Cainsville. having been organized on Sept 18. 1906. Charter was issued on Oct. 18. 1906. The following men served as Directors: G. E. Girdner, Nate Graham.

A. J. Busby, W. C. Baker. A L. Ackerley. J. R. Girdner. and S D. Logan with J R. Girdner serving as President and A. J Bush as Vice-President. R. W. Bocgcr was appointed first Cashier and Chas. Girdner Asst. Cashier. The bank opened for business in Oct. 1906 in the S D Logan building on the East side of the square. Construction of the present banking house started in the fall of 1907 and was occupied as a banking house in Feb 1908. Several prominent men have served as President during the 69 years of operation, being in order from the First to the present J R Girdner. W. C Baker. W. R Squires. A. J. Bush, Frank Peshck, Nathan Graham, C. E Glaze, and E. S. Gcigcrich. Cashiers who have served during the years are R. W. Boegcr, Chas. Girdner. C C Thompson, K. L. Weary, and Geo. Thompson. Jr K. L Weary served for the longest period of time, being from Jan. 1925 until his death in March 1951. The present Board of Directors are; M. V Baker, E. S. Gcigerich. Robert T. Stanley, Ora Thompson, and Geo. Thompson. Jr Present officers are E S. Geigerich. President; Ora Thompson. Vice-President; Geo. Thompson Jr., Cashier; Joanna Bonduram and Kathleen Oegg, Asst. Cashiers.

The earlier businesses are recorded in other histories and will not be repeated. Those in recent years which can be recalled but are no longer in operation or are now owned by someone else are Chambers Grocery. Goodrich Drug, Cainsville Locker. Beebe Hdwe . Noah's Grocery, Pearson's Gen. Store, Booth Bros. Mdsc., Bishop's Clothing, Kelly's Liquor Store, Baker's Grocery, Lambert Lumber Co.. Logan Drug. Hydorn Produce. Estep's Furniture and Embalming. Johnson Blacksmith, Applegate Blacksmith, Hall's Furniture. Down's Shoe Shop. Addison Service Station, Shaw Service Station, Curtis Cafe. Vaughn's Cafe, Thompson s Cafe. Addison's Cafe. Smother's Cafe. Vanderpool Cafe. Crawley Produce, McLain's Barber Shop. Downey's Barber Shop. Stephen's Feed. Hickman's Feed. Doyles Produce, Ristine Tavern. Carother's Shoe Shop, DeLong's Garage, Doyle's Auio Parts. Phillip's Used Furniture, Phillips' Produce, Skakal Bakery and Cafe, Thompson's Garage, Bain's Saw Mill, Binder's Station. Stallsworth's Garage, Baker's Slaughter House. Smothers Used Furniture, Glinc's Cafe. Calnsie's Cafe.
Cainsville Hog Yards. Thompson's Station. Willis' Station. Johnson's Furniture and Embalming, and T & M Sales.

Organizations which are no longer in existence here are the Modern Woodmen, Odd Fellows. Rebekahs. Knights of Pythias, Yeoman Lodge. G. A R . and C S P. S. (a Bohemian Organization). Businesses located on present Cainsville Square starling at NW corner are: Loren Hickman Car Wash. E. J. Stoklasa Funeral Office (Funeral Home on street south from school house), L Hickman Laundromat, B & W Sales owned by Wilbur Swartz family; East side: U. S.Post Office, B. & W. Bldg. Hy Vee Grocery (managed by Orville Willis), Max Ross Hdwe.; South side: B & W. Sales Bldg #3. Reeve s Clothing (operated by Roberta Reeves. This is the oldest mercantile business, dating back to 1908. Goodrich Drug Building, purchased by the Catholic Church in 1975. West Side First National Bank. Jerry and Gene Brejnik Hardware, Velma Francis Cafe, B & W Bldg. Businesses located just off the square are Carlton Baker Radio & Electric. Earl Van Pelt Pool Hall. Dr. Willard Elsworth's Office, Cainsville Memorial Library, Leland Parkhurst's Cainsville Farm Supply. Earl O'Neals Barber Shop. Darrell Cain's Standard Station. Kenneth Bondurant Standard Tank Wagon, W. Robert McLain's Station. Garland Moss Van Hoozer Tank Wagon, Raymond Skinner DX Station and Garage, Geo. Thompson's Insurance Agency. Wanda Jones' Beauty Shop, and at the east edge of town is Hagan's Grain Elevator. Other businesses are C. B. Downey's DeKalb Seed Corn, Keith Thomas Pioneer Seeds. Roscoe Harrison Trucking, Dale Hamilton Trucking, Pete Ellsworth Carpet & Upholstery. Tindall Ross' Green House, and Russell Cochran's Saw Mill.

Recent improvements to the town have been the State approved Water System in 1970, the Cainsville Park. With the aid of HUD funds in 1974 and in 1975 a 12 unit housing project financed through the FHA is to be built.

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