The Indian Creek Bridge

An 87 year old bridge will soon be closed and be replaced by a new one.  It happens to be on a very vital artery that serves our community and enables many of our patrons to visit our museum.  When folks are heading west out of Frohna these days, they are seeing these two alternating messages on a sign.

 

The bridge scheduled for replacement is the one which crosses the Indian Creek between Frohna and Uniontown.  Here are a few photos I took of this bridge recently.

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You may note that this is a one lane bridge.  Although I have not officially heard this, I am relatively sure that the new one will be two lanes.  The next image may give you an indication why the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) is replacing this bridge.

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The location of this bridge on County Road A can be seen on this map.

Frohna-Uniontown map HWY A Indian Creek Bridge

I decided to look into who owned the land that is located next to this bridge and came across an interesting family story in the process.  It centers around a family that was located in East Perry County for only about 20 years.  The first place I looked was the 1915 land atlas to see who owned the land near where this bridge is located.  Here is the significant map showing that information.

William Wills land map 1915

This map shows a parcel of land mostly on the east side of Indian Creek which was owned by William Wills.  When I researched his name, I discovered that his family had previously been located in Daisy, Missouri, which is found in north Cape Girardeau County between Oak Ridge and Friedheim.  If you go back farther, you discover that the Wills family, both William and his wife, Mary, can be traced back to North Carolina.  Several of William and Mary’s children were born in Daisy, including one by the name of Oscar Ray Wills, who was born in 1895.

The first census in which you find the Wills family in Perry Country was in 1900.  They were included in the enumeration for the Union Township.  The 1910 census had them in the Brazeau Township.  Those two townships are side by side, and the land shown in the above map is right on the border between those two townships, so it is possible they were living on the same property in both of those censuses.  Here is the 1900 census.

William Wills 1900 census Union Township MO
1900 census – Perry County, MO

It was in 1910 that Oscar Ray Wills married Louise Lueders of Frohna.  They were married at Concordia Lutheran Church.  Louise was the daughter of Henry and Louis (Elbrecht) Lueders.  Here is their marriage license.

Wills Lueders marriage license
Wills/Lueders marriage license

On this land map of 1915, we see where the property of Henry Lueders was located.

Henry Lueders land map 1915

It is probably hard to tell this, but this portion of the map is adjacent to the map which shows the Wills property above, so the Lueders and Wills properties were actually quite close to one another.  It is not hard at all to see how Ray and Louise got to know one another.

The 1920 census tells an interesting tale.  William Wills, the father, can be found in the census in Arriba, Colorado, so he must have left Perry County between 1910 and 1920.

William Wills 1920 census Arriba CO
1920 census – Arriba, CO

William was a farmer in Colorado and spent the rest of his life there.  We have this photo taken later in his life with another of his sons and a grandson.

William Marion Wills Homer son Lerory grandson
William Wills with son and grandson

Ray and Louise Wills had four children between 1911 and 1916 that were all baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna.  However, in 1920, we find that family in Potter, Nebraska, an area where several other Perry County natives settled.

Oscar Ray Wills 1920 census Potter NE
1920 census – Potter, NE

By that year, a fifth child had been born.  The census shows that child being born in Missouri, but there is no record of that child in our German Family Tree.  During his time in Nebraska, Ray was both a farmer and a carpenter, as is shown here on his World War II draft card.

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Oscar Ray Wills – WWII draft card

Ray spent the rest of his life in Nebraska.

The property that was once in the Wills family along the Indian Creek is now in the Lueders family.  I think the reason for the changeover in ownership was due to the Wills/Lueders marriage in 1910.  When the two Wills families left Perry County, I think it was understandable that another Lueders family ended up with that land.

Just last year, Wilmer Lueders, who lived on that property, died at the age of almost 100 years.  Here is the photo of Wilmer that was used in his obituary.

Wilmer Lueders
Wilmer Lueders

You can see a portion of his obituary in this image.

Wilmer Lueders obituary
Wilmer Lueders obituary

We have found out from MODOT that the Indian Creek bridge was built in 1931.  In Wilmer’s obituary, you see that he was born in 1917.  When the bridge was built, he would have been around 14 years old.  Wilmer was about the only one around here that could have had good memories of that bridge being built.  It is too bad that we did not have him around when we wanted to find out what it was like when this bridge was built.  There is an old pier that indicates an even older bridge was located just a little north of the present bridge.  We talked to Wilmer’s grandson this week and found out that there is a section of his field that continues to show evidence of plenty of gravel showing up when it is worked.  He says there must have been a road going through that land just north of where the present paved road is located.  In this photo, you can see the Lueders house in the distance as you look from the bridge.

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I guess if there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that we should ask our more “seasoned” citizens to tell us about their childhood memories while they are still with us.

Our museum has plans to publish alternate routes on our website that can be taken when coming to visit us.  We will place those directions on our home page when we find out what the recommended routes will be.  We know it will be more inconvenient for our guests in the upcoming months.  The bridge project is scheduled to be completed sometime in June.  We will keep you informed.

 

 


2 thoughts on “The Indian Creek Bridge

  1. I remember going to see the water running over the road through that valley when we had a very heavy rainfall. I think it was about the early 1950s. Our neighbor said we had over 12 inches of rain that afternoon. All the creeks in the area overflowed and many wheat shocks were washed down the streams.

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  2. Apple Creek, its scenic valley, and the bridge are one of my favorite memories of returning to East Perry County. I will miss the narrow bridge, though a replacement is obviously needed.

    Great story Warren.

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