***Today’s blog post was written by Fred Eggers, one of the valuable members of our museum’s research crew. Fred is our local expert on the Farrar area, and he shares some of that knowledge in this post. Thanks, Fred.
March 18, 1925 will always be remembered as the date of the Tri-State Tornado. A search of the internet will lead to many accounts and memories of this event – ustornados.com has this description, “The Tri-State Tornado is currently the U.S. record holder for longest tornado track (219 miles), most deaths in a single tornado (695), and most injuries in a single tornado (2027). While it occurred before the modern record, it is considered by all accounts to be a F5/EF5 Tornado. It crossed the three states, thus its namesake “Tri-State,” tearing through thirteen counties of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. It crossed over and destroyed or significantly damaged nine towns and numerous smaller villages”.
This tornado traveled from west to east through Perry County destroying home and other buildings and resulting in deaths near Biehle, north of Frohna, and in the Ridge community. Warren Schmidt wrote about a part of this in his blog Kaempfe Tragedy….and a Tornado Too on February 8. Today I will write about how this tornado impacted the lives of two towns three miles apart and a family living in each of the towns.
Doctor Otto Moritz Schall left his home in his car to travel approximately three miles to the home of Martin “Tom” and Ella Kaempfe Eggers who lived in the Eggers & Company General Store building in Farrar. Mrs. Eggers had gone into labor and Dr. Schall was going to assist in the delivery. After he had traveled a short distance to near where the intersection of highways C and D is now located, he saw the huge tornado bearing down on him and he stopped his car and laid in a ditch while the tornado passed. By the time Dr. Schall arrived at the Eggers home their son was already born. That boy, Homer Eggers, always said that no one ever had any trouble remembering his birthday because he was born on the day of the Tri-State Tornado. Dr. Schall returned home to find that the tornado had blown his house partially off its foundation. The tornado also did damage at the Fred Miesner farm and the Barthhold Katt farm just a short distance from where he had stopped his car to escape the storm before traveling to the Frohna area.
The photo above shows the Eggers & Company General Store in the early 1920’s. They may have been admiring the Chevrolet truck that was likely the first truck that the store owned. Homer’s father Tom as standing at the back of the truck. On the store porch are an unidentified man, Homer’s sisters Mildred and Vera, and his uncle Walter, who owned the store with his father. On the seat of the truck is his sister Ruby. The store is now Eggers & Company General Store Bed and Breakfast and is owned by Vera’s daughter Ellen and her husband Steve Frye. Homer grew up in that store with his sisters and played football on the only undefeated team in the history of Perryville High School. In 1943 he enlisted in the United States Navy under the V-12 program to become an officer and was enrolled at the University of Colorado for his training. While there he was a member of the football team and was an outstanding player on the Buffalo baseball team. After completing his Navy obligations and his college degree he worked in the wholesale metal business for Hubbell Metals, Inc., which was based in St. Louis. His job relocated him to Kansas City, Missouri where he attended Immanuel Lutheran Church. The Pastor there was Rev. T. A. Weinhold, a native of Frohna, who served as the President of the Western (now Missouri) District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod from 1951 to 1957 and, after his retirement to Perryville, as the Interim Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Altenburg. Homer married Grace Weinhold, the Pastor’s daughter, in 1952 and lived for many years in the St. Louis area. He died on February 16, 2010.
Sadly Dr. Otto Moritz Schall only lived for a short time after the tornado. He died in St. Louis on September 11, 1925 of a kidney disease. He is buried in St. Michaels Cemetery in Apple Creek.
Dr. Schall’s house, now owned by the Koenig family, is the only remaining landmark of the town of Schalls, which was named for Dr. Schall’s father Moritz Schall. Until recently the old Schalls Public School remained just up the road to the north, but it was recently removed after it had deteriorated after many years of not being used.
Moritz Schall came to the United States from Baden in 1847 according to the 1900 U S Federal Census. I did find a passenger list for the Ship Espindola which arrived in New Orleans on November 11, 1847 that includes the name M. Schall, age 16, which is likely him. In the 1850 census he was living in the household of Moritz Biehle, who was a merchant and the first postmaster of the town that bears that name.
Government land records show that Moritz Schall purchased three tracts of ground southwest of Biehle from 1852 through 1854. I did not locate him in the 1860 census but he may have been living in that area and missed by the census taker. In the 1870 census he is located in Uniontown and listed as a merchant but by the 1876 Missouri state census he had moved to the area that became known as Schalls. In the 1880 census he is listed as a merchant with his family including his son Otto, age 2.
Moritz Schall established a Post Office bearing his name in 1877. The Appointments of U.S. Postmasters, 1832-1971 found on Ancestry.com lists the following postmasters for Schalls – Moritz Schall 1877-1890, Frederick Bückman 1890-1894, Leo I. Schall 1894-1910, Joseph J. Grimaud 1910-1914, and John R. Quick 1914-1915. The post office was discontinued on March 15, 1915 with mail sent to the Seventy Six post office after that date.
The 1915 Plat Book of Perry County shows the location of the Schall residence and if you look closely you can see the location of the post office (PO) and Store just across the road to the north. Moritz Schall included in his will written in 1908 the provision that his sons Leo and O M would have the use of the store house, creamery, and blacksmith shop on his property which he bequeathed to his wife. He died on August 15, 1909 and is buried in the St. Michaels Cemetery in Apple Creek.
Leo Schall is listed living with his widowed mother as a Merchant in a general store in Schalls in the 1910 census and Otto is listed as a General Practice Doctor a few houses away. It appears from the change in postmasters that Leo may have moved from the area soon after that. The next record of him that I found was in a 1914 City Directory for San Antonio, Texas where he is listed as a clerk for Sloan & Hagy. He later moved to Los Angeles where he died in 1933. Otto Scholl is listed in the 1920 census as a Doctor in that same location, but there is no one listed in that vicinity as a merchant or blacksmith. It appears that the Schalls businesses had all closed by that time. I would be interested to know if anyone has any further history of the town of Schalls or any of the businesses located there. Many of the smaller towns lost their businesses in the period following World War I because of the increased use of automobiles and trucks and the general improvements in transportation.