Skidmore - Maryville Forum, Maryville, Missouri, Bicentennial Edition 1976.
[Transcribed by Pat O'Dell:]
"Uncle Mart" Stopped Roaming in Rolling Hills

Skidmore, the brainchild of an itinerant adventurer who traveresed the old West, is entering its 96th year as the nation celebrates its Bicentennial.

[paper missing] - The traveled man...[Martin Skidmore] was born in Virginia in 1825. He started boating on the Ohio River, a major artery west, at the age of 15. In 1852, he came to Leavenworth and fitted out a trading train with which he traversed the West. That winter he returned to Ohio by way of San Francisco and New York and began farming.

The lure of the western lands, however, was too great for Uncle Mart, to withstand and in 1864 he plunged westward again where the rolling, fertile land of Nodaway County won his heart.

Purchasing 700 acres of land in the Nodaway River Valley, Uncle Mart settled down to live out his life. The town of Skidmore was platted on section 9, township 63, range 37. After founding it in 1880, Uncle Mart watched it grow for eleven years and died at the age of 66.

In founding the town, he felt that the fertile soil, abundant water supply, excellent natural drainage and the newly arrived railroad would lead to Skidmore's becoming the trading center for Northwest Missouri. Although that dream was not realized, Skidmore has grown far beyond the original six blocks plated in 1880.

In 1881, the first addition of two more blocks were added to the city. In 1893, the second, third, and fourth additions, comprising seven full blocks and two half-blocks, had been added and the streets had been named.

H.H. Joy erected the city's first business, a grocery store, in Septeber of 1880 [paper missing].

[paper missing] had to survive two disasterous fires in the late 19th Century. On Sunday, July 19, 1885 the first fire wiped out the town's entire business section with the exception of the J.M. French & Co. Hardware.

The second great fire blazed on the night of April 19, 1895 and destroyed many businesses. Reportedly the fire could have been controlled but a volunteer fireman dropped the first tub of water and before another could be brought up, the fire had gotten out of control.

The second fire aroused businessmen to replace the frame structures destroyed by the blaze with substantial brick buildings which were not only more fireproof but added to the appearance of the town.

The first building built after the second fire was at the corner of Walnut and Elm streets. A few years ago the building was torn down and the site is now an uptown city park on which a flag pole and American Legion memorial to sericemen will stand.

The original town of six blocks grew to 53 blocks through 17 additions to the city. By 1910, there were three churches, a post office--with five rural routes of 24-27 miles each--, two banks, a newspaper, a dentist, two doctors, a justice of the peace, an opera house, a hotel and 26 businesses.

In 1880, the population was about 400. In 1910, it had grown to 560 and increased after that time.

[[paper missing]

The railroad now ends at Skidmore and trains come through only one day a week, some weeks. But in the early days, Skidmore was a hub of rail activity and there were four trains daily, two northbound and two southbound.

In 1911, excursion rates to the San Francisco-Los Angeles area and to the Pacific Northwest were $25.55. These were landseeker's excursions. An overpass constructed of wood was constructed over the tracks on High Street before 1893 and remained until the 1950s.

Skidmore was renown for its businesses. About 1911 or 1912, a serum plant was built by Jim Strickler on land owned by the Garland Shipps where the J.W. Laws live north of Skidmore. A building was poured from concrete, which was a novelty at the time, near Florida Creek on a farm across the road where Mr and Mrs Harry Nelson now live.

Cholera serum was made and shipped through the Midwest. Dr Bert strickler worked at the plant and later became a veterinarian. He was in practice at Skidmore many years. The plant remained in operation 20 years and parts of the building remain today.

Mr and Mrs Roy Strickler and their daughter Margaret riding in the first car in Skidmore--a 1910 Buick.


One of the largest and most well-known industries in the Skidmore vicinity was the W.W. Grigsby apple orchard of about 110 acres located 2 1/2 miles southwest of the city. In 1913, the orchard shipped more that 45,000 bushels of fine, graded apples of which two cars were sent to London, England. During the picking and shipping season, from 60-70 persons were employed.

Education was important in Skidmore from its very early settlement. On Oct 4, 1881 just one year after the town was established, Mr and Mrs Robert Martin sold lots to School District No 7 for the site of the first school.

It was a wooden building located on East Elm Street where the home of Mr and Mrs Donald Twaddell and Mrs Merideth Peter now stand. It served the community for about 17 years and, when taken down, the lumber was used to building the houses.

In 1895, the second Skidmore building was [---]. It was a square brick building 2 1/2 stories high, containing six large rooms with the elementary school on the first floor.

Above is an early photograph of the railroad depot and yards in Skidmore. Below is the Skidmore Modern Woodsmen Forester Drill team which traveled around the country performing and winning prizes. Their uniforms were dark green and gold with black silk braid and gold lettering.


Because there was no auditorium, all special programs, plays and commencements were held in the Cook Opera House, the present Masonic building.

By 1911, the school offered its first four years of instruction, expanding from a three-year course. It originally offered a two-year course.

By 1926, the school building was condemned by state inspectors and students began to attend classes in the Manchester-Dodds building, Christian Church, Mehodist Church, Mike Fries Carpenter Shop and Masonic Hall. Superintendent J.W. Pierce had moved his office from the extreme top of the old building to the American Legion building. The seventh and eighth grades were held in a one-room school building which had been moved onto the shcool yard.

After many elections, bonds were voted for a new school building which was constructed in 1929-30. The school was in operation through 1964 when the last high school class to graduate there included: Allen Chesnut, Bethie Smith, Gail Ward, Barbara Anderson, Susan Linville, Gary Proffit, Larry Hilbert, Roberta Jones, Charlotte Kenny and Susan Comer.

A new school district was formed in 1964 by the consolidation of Maitland, Graham and Skidmore. The junior high school and grades five and six of the Nodaway-Holt R-VII District are now located in Skidmore.

Two schools prospered for some time near Skidmore, Gill School was organized shortly after Oct 30, 1868. It was consolidated into Skidmore in 1956 and the Gill Community Club purchased the building for a community center. The building was destroyed by fire on Feb 20, 1968.

The Peace and Harmony School stood near the banks of the Elkhorn Creek, about five miles east of Skidmore for many years. In 1956, it also was consolidated into Skidmore and the building was used for several years by the Peace and Harmony 4-H Club.

A history of Skidmore would be incomplete without mention of the annual "Punkin Show," one of the oldest celebrations of any of the community size gatherings in Northwest Missouri. Its origins dating back to 1899. James and William Skidmore, sons of the town's founder, promoted the idea of exhibiting agricultural products and calling it "the Punkin Show." The celebration was halted during World War II and wasn't taken up again until 1953. The size of the celebration has grown from a one-day community wide gathering to 1975's five-day celebration.

The annual celebration has seen many novel attractions. Among them was the 1910 appearance of Professor William Evans and his airplane. Although the professor advertised rides, he reportedly never gave any.



The Skidmore community has long been proud of its churches. The Methodist Episcopal Church was formed in 1880 and the first church was completed in July 1881. The wooden frame structure was located where Mrs Kathryn Stevens' home is today. The present brick structure was begun in late 1905. It was dedicated July 15, 1906.

In Oct of 1881 [paper missine].

The Christian Church was organized in 1894. A new church building was dedicated Jan 20, 1895. Before the structure was completed, meetings were held in the building of the Methoidst Episcopal Church South.

The Burr Oak Methodist Episcopal Church, five miles northwest of Skidmore, was organized about 1860. It was one of the Skidmore circuit churches.

The first American Legion Post at Skidmore was charted soon after World War I and was called the James Harvey Hughes Post. The Depression struck and lack of funds to operated forced the closing of the post.

It wasn't until the fall of 1945, that war veterans bought a building and started proceedings to form a new post. A temporary charter was issued Jan 14, 1946 and the post was named in honor of Sam R. Albright, a local man who died in World War II when his destroyer was [paper missing].

Boy Scout Troop 68 of Skidmore was formed in 1937 with nine scouts under Scout master Erman Saucerman. A Cub Scout Pack 68 was organied in 1959.