Posted by: marthabernie | May 8, 2015


My mother was born on a farm a few miles west of the little town of Phillipsburg, Laclede County, Missouri.  Lebanon is the county seat, and Springfield is about 40 miles southwest.    At that time, Phillipsburg was a thriving little community of about 500 and the Frisco Train line made a stop there, picking up milk and other goods, and of course, delivering things to the local merchants.  There is a journal written by Anderson McFall, a county judge at one time and a veteran of the Civil War, which chronicles daily local events in Phillipsburg for the last 15 or so years of his life (1898 to 1914).  Most of the entries were related to births, deaths, marriages, planting crops, and other mundane argricultural events.  Not exactly stimulating reading, unless of course, your family was in this little town at the time and were mentioned often in day to day activities.

Take my great uncle Eli Preston McMenus.  He owned a stable at one time until a fire wiped out the building and he lost most of the stock.  He then went into business as a general merchandiser and purchased the above store from Mr. Wells who had purchased it from my great great grandfather, Eli Massie.  The building was known as the “concrete building” because it was built of that material, and apparently was unusual in a town where most of the buildings were made of wood.  Not sure who built it, but when my great great grandfather owned it around 1900 he was also in the general merchant business in that location.  There was a lot of buying and selling for such a small little town as chronicled in the McFall Journals.  The building itself was torn down decades ago so I consider our family lucky to have this photograph.  You can see the concrete blocks on the front of the store.

In the above image, taken around 1905-06, my mother’s first cousin, Ednah Forkner aka Faulkner, is on the left.  Seated on the porch is Mrs. Babe Bilderback, and her husband is standing in the doorway of the store (with the beard).  On the right side of the porch is William Grant McMenus (Uncle Willie) and in the buggy are Eli Preston McMenus (Uncle Pres) and his wife, Sade Bilderback McMenus.  The two older Bilderbacks are her parents.  Willie and Pres were brothers  of my grandmother, Inez McMenus Shank, and Willie worked in the store until Pres’ death in 1921.  A letter written at the time says that there was some sort of disagreement between Willie and the widowed Sade, and Willie packed up and moved to a vacant store across the train tracks where he was in business until he retired in the early l950’s.

One interesting note about “Uncle Pres”.  My mother always said he was an extremely generous man and that if a family didn’t have enough money to buy basics to feed themselves, he would always extend credit.  He never turned anyone away if they were truly in need.  Of course, over the years, we heard stories of his generosity, and sometimes we thought perhaps they might be just a tad embellished.  Then through eBay and the internet, a woman contacted me about Phillipsburg, and when she related the story about how her mother was named, I was dumbfounded.  Turns out the mother’s mother had been pregnant in 1906 and with husband and other kids, needed more credit at the Phillipsburg store.  The owner’s wife had waited on her and told her she would extend more credit on one condition…that if the baby was a girl, that she be named after her.  Turns out the baby was a girl, and she was named Sadie after Uncle Pres’ wife, Sade McMenus.  It’s stuff like this that makes me LOVE the internet.  You are able to connect with people you would never otherwise know about.



  1. Really enjoyed this history – you are doing a great job!!


  2. My grandparents lived in Phillipsburg by the Silver Mill / pond dating at least back to the early 1920’s. I imagine the frequented this store. I wonder when it was torn down? Most of the town buidlings were brick. I recall a neighbor Violet McMenus.


    • What were your parents’ names? The concrete store in the photo was on the opposite side of the train tracks from the rest of the town buildings. I don’t know when it was torn down, but Sade McMenus stayed in that store for about ten or twelve years after her husband died, then bought the cafe and gas station out at Twin Oaks. By the 30’s she had left that store. Violet (Southwood) McMenus was the wife of my mother’s first cousin, Leslie McMenus. My mother went to high school with both of them. Violet’s daughter, Marilyn (McMenus) Hefton lives in Conway now (retired with husband Gene).


    • I meant grandparents, not parents. Do you remember Loreta (McMenus) Chandler, who was another McMenus cousin. She lived across the street, I think, from Violet. Violet’s husband, Leslie, and Loreta were siblings, children of William Grant McMenus and Minnie Brasier McMenus, who also lived across the street/lane from Violet. Willie was my grandmother’s older brother.


  3. The written history is great, but this picture tells the whole story – fantastic post. Thanks for re-posting it.


    • You’re welcome. Since I am still without a scanner, I decided to repost some of my favorite photos.


  4. Great photo!!!


  5. Hi! Boy, I hope you see this comment! I think there’s a good possibility my GG grandfather built that general store, or at least operated it early on – late 1880s possibly up to his death in 1911. Per the census records and his death certificate, he was the merchant owner of a general store in Phillipsburg, Laclede Cty, Missouri. His name was William Spence, and he was born in Scotland, and came to the USA and married Martha (Mattie) Canady in Camden County, then they had children and I believe settled in Laclede. Please email me if you get this – I would LOVE to correspond with you and learn more about Laclede county! THANK YOU!


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