Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ghost Towns of McDonald County Revisited

Originally the research on the ghost towns of McDonald County came from a story in our reading series about ghost towns of the west. Through serendipity I found a site that listed two ghost towns in our own county. One thing led to another and we end up here. I hope this is not the last post on this subject.

I received the following email in response to questions posted on my first post about Ghost Towns of McDonald County. It is wonderful to have the excellent resources of our county librarians to help with this.

I looked over the comments and questions that your students posted. I couldn't
find a link to post the answers and my comments, so if you could pass this on
to your students, I would appreciate it.

I am glad that your class was excited about learning about ghost towns.
Hopefully, one of them will be interested enough to explore further, so
that someday they can pass along this history when someone in the
next generation asks about it, just as I did.

**Ashley and Jeffery wrote that they didn't think there was so much history
in McDonald County. Please let them know that I can show them pictures and
tell them stories that would blow their minds. Our county has a tremendous
history- some good and some not.
** Jonathan said it was cool to have a ghost town because if you are tired of
people, you can go to the ghost town and camp. Please tell him not to camp
at Coy. It is situated along Patterson Creek and copperheads already camp
there, and don't like to share their space.
** Kiley asked why the town was called Coy. The answer is speculative but
I believe it was because a farmer by the name of George McCoy was one of
the early settlers and they shortened the name from McCoy to Coy.
That is the way they sometimes named towns. Anderson was named after
Robert Anderson; Noel is named after Willis Bridges Noel, and Goodman was
named after Lowell Goodman.
** Colby and Francisco wanted to know if people are still allowed to go there
and if they give tours. Yes, you can travel the road that leads to Coy but there
are no tours scheduled. Sadly, there is not a single building or landmark that
remains that suggests the town ever existed. It is a beautiful spot, though.
If you would like the location, here it is:
From Anderson, drive west on Hwy 76 West 4 1'2 miles to Coy Road- turn
right (north). Appproximately, one mile down that road, you will come to a
bridge. Before crossing the bridge on the right hand side, there was once a store,
blacksmith shop, and mill. The canning factory was located nearby. As you
cross the bridge, you come to a fork in the road. That road is named Patterson
Creek Road. If you turn right, you will see a group of lakes on the right hand side
that are beautiful. If you take a left at the fork, you will see farmland on the left
along the creek and on the right hand side, you will see the Mitchell Cemetery. My
husband's great-great grandfather settled there in 1850 and his son, Robert Lee,
later deeded the land to be used as a cemetery without charge to those who wish
to be buried there. My husband and I decorate it for Memorial Day and keep it
mowed and neat.
[Cemeteries are special to those who have loved family members buried there.]

Now about Cowskin:
Wade and Trystan want to know how Cowskin got its' name. This is what it
written in one of our history books, Sturgis History of McDonald County:

Beginning in the northwest part of the county, the first stream of note, is Buffalo Creek,
flowing and passing into Indian Territory near Tiff City. It is a beautiful stream of clear,
cold water, fed by various streams, and along its' banks are some of the richest farm
lands in McDonald County. It was named many years before a white man thought of
settling on its' banks. The name, Buffalo, was given this creek by the first Catholic
missionary that ever visited the Indians of this part of America. During his journey,
supposedly, heavy rain fell and the Buffalo Creek, as well as Elk River, rose until it was
past fording, and the camp was obliged to go into camp between the two streams until
the water level came down. While being delayed, a buffalo cow was killed by one of the
parties camping there, and the skin was preserved. From this event, the missionary
gave the name, Cowskin to the river. The exact
The location of Cowskin Prairie starts at Saratoga Springs, just west of Noel edging
southward about two miles to Southwest City,and westward about ten miles, extending
northward to Elk River, southwest of Anderson on Hwy 43 . It extends westward about
five miles into Indian Territory(now known as Oklahoma) in Delaware County.
As I mentioned before, it was the scene of some Civil War encampments during the
years of 1861-1865.

Thank you, class for all your kind words and appreciation for our Library. We try to
make it a fun and worthwhile place to visit. Hope to see you soon.

Retha Mitchell,
Asst. Librarian,
McDonald County Library

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