Memories of Sampsel have stayed pretty fresh in my mind as we moved there
from Arkansas when I was about five years old. Mother and Dad (Bernie and Wilkie
Owen), owned a small acreage, with house,
just back of the Wabash depot in Sampsel and they rented that house to
various people while we lived in Arkansas. Dad had rebuilt that house in 1924 by
adding on to a smaller house that was on the
property when he and Mother bought it from Mr. Albert Holman (Betty Walker's
grandfather) around 1914. Much of the material used for the add-on was from a
pool hall that used to stand across the
tracks in Sampsel. Dad had it moved over to his property and started to work
on the house that I remember.
Questions arose for me, years later, as to why the folks bought in a flood
plain. My only answer was that Grandmother Wilson, who lived just north of
Sampsel, did not like Mother being in Arkansas;
she wanted her as close as possible. (Dad had taken Mom to Arkansas to live
after they were first married.) So, here was an acreage on the edge of Sampsel,
available, and there was nothing more for
my mother and dad to do but buy it and move back to Missouri. The house was
small so adding on to it seemed the thing to do with their growing family. No
sooner had Dad finished the remodeling job
than he and Mom moved back to Arkansas where they first started out. Dad had
a mail route out of Conway, Arkansas and his brother was the postmaster. I was
born there in 1931.
Their family history holds sad times and difficult times that played a big
part in their decisions. In that interim of time they lost three children which
left the whole family in a state of shock. After
moving back to the farm in 1936 they stayed there until their deaths. Dad was
a dreamer of sorts, and continued to search that dream for a better place to
live -- out of the flood plain.
Wabash Railroad depot at Sampsel
The home of Wilkie M. Owen and family is in the background.
The sounds of Sampsel that linger with me are easily brought to mind. I hear
a Redwing Blackbird and I recall the tall cottonwood trees by the old high
school building full of those birds every fall.
They seemed to be thick on the branches and their song rang out over the
whole town. I walked to school, cutting across between the Allnutt house and the
old high school building, so it was hard to ignore them.
The old steam locomotives on the Wabash Railroad that ran through the whole
northeast edge of Sampsel always sounded so lonely in the dead of night. I loved
the sound of those trains and still thrill to the sights and sounds of steam locomotives when I can find one chugging
along on a special excursion.
Charley Walker picked up the outgoing mail from the post office, across the
road from the Wabash depot, and wheeled it over to the depot in a two-wheeled
cart to dispatch out on one of the late night trains. One train went west to Omaha, another went east to St. Louis in the
wee hours of the night. Those trains dropped bags of mail for the Sampsel post
office and Charley would pick that up and wheel it to the store building to deposit in a drop box for the post office housed
in the general store. Carriers would deliver this mail on their outgoing routes.
Local mail was sorted and put into letter boxes for the residents of Sampsel. Our box was number 44. It was a combination box and
I could recall the combination for several years, but now there seem to be more
important things to recall!
Then we don't want to forget the smells of Sampsel. . .the winter smell of
coal and wood burning in the stoves and ranges of each home. All of the garages
smelled of motor oil and gasoline. The blacksmith shop had a fragrance all its own. Coals, heated to extreme
temperatures on a forge that would heat a piece of steel and ready it for the
strike of the smithy's hammer. Nemo Roberts was the smithy and blacksmithing was his love. He worked as a section hand for the
Wabash Railroad during the day and plied his blacksmithing skills on evenings
Spring brought gardening and the sweet smell of freshly turned soil being
readied for the family garden. Onion sets and lettuce seed packets guaranteed
that summer was out there somewhere. With summer came the hay season. . .hot days. . .thirst and sore muscles accompanied the
hard work in the fields. Was a guy job, for sure!
By the time fall came, men were found cutting firewood for the family heating
stove. Dad cut lots of wood along Lake Creek. He worked hard at that job. I
watched him notch a tree, put the saw to the trunk and step back to watch it fall. He would trim the branches and cut the trunk
into lengths he could haul to his home in Sampsel. He would then hire someone to
come and saw it into firewood that he corded along the fence behind the garage.
Winter was a time for ice skating and sledding. Young people never minded the
cold or the thoughts of frostbite. My first shoe skates were a gift to me from
my Uncle Drury Wilson. Before that it was clamp-on skates that caused my ankles to be sore most all winter. We skated
on Lake Creek, south of Sampsel, and sometimes on a lake at Cooley Gravel, east
Christmas was special as Dad and I would go up to Leo Thompson's place and
cut a cedar tree. They were sticky trees and decorating one could be very
challenging. But it was such a wonderful time that one hardly noticed. We had an electric train that went around the base of the
tree and along with the old glass ornaments, icicles and the one string of
lights it made a delightful Christmas tree.
Women and Girls of the Sampsel Community
Front row l-r: Mrs. Ed (Clyta Nothnagle) Raulie, Mrs. Oscar (Clara Nothnagle) Minnick,
Mrs. Jeff (Celia Johnson) Walker, Mrs. Harry (Nellie Roberts) Walker, Mrs. Dan (Rose Wilson) Walker.
Back row l-r: Cynthia Ream (daughter of Dale and Lois Ream), Mrs. Ed (Naomi Sexsmith) Lay, Claudia Ream (daughter of
Dale and Lois) Ream.
This picture was taken in May 1970 at the Mt. Olive Methodist Church in Sampsel Township.
New Years Eve was celebrated with parties in relative's homes. One year,
Uncle Russell and Aunt Peggy Wilson had the party. They served oyster soup to
the gang of friends and relatives that gathered. After soup, celery and olives, we all went off to play cards or parlor games.
I was introduced to "Spin the Bottle. " Have to admit, there were very few of us
young ones to play that game and kissing someone less than desirable was a task! Besides, there were not enough older
girls and guys who needed kissing, and who wanted to kiss a kid?
Happy days. . .those were in Sampsel, Missouri USA a long time ago.
Thanks to Linda Whorton Corona of Gladstone, Missouri for sharing the following images. These photos were taken in 1980.
Sampsel Store -- Back View
Sampsel Bank Building
Bill Trammel's House - Back
Billy Dick Walker's House
Former Grade School in Sampsel
Frances Keith's House
The Sampsel home of Everett "Nemo" Roberts and family
Nemo Roberts' Blacksmith Shop
Indian Creek -- All Dried Up
Lake Creek -- All Dried Up
Linda and Gary Whorton at Roberts' House on Lake Creek
Owens House -- Across the Tracks
Railroad Tracks -- First Trestle
Railroad Tracks -- Second Trestle
Roberts House on Lake Creek
Roberts House on Lake Creek
Sampsel Railroad Sign
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