Crow's Nest Homes 11-21

11.       Howell Institute. Founded 1881. Built on lots 32-33.
Lots 32 and 33 in Mechanicsville were owned by the following:
Fortunatus B. Castlio to Peter Mades—1874
Peter Mades to Jeannette Muschany—June 7, 1878
Jeannette Muschany to Nannie Muschany—June 2, 1880
Nannie Muschany to R. E. Gamble—January 23, 1882
R. E. Gamble to the school at Mechanicsville—January, 1882
Like his brother Lewis Howell (19, 50), Francis Howell Jr. (18, 50) was interested in promoting the educational opportunities of the community, though he had no children of his own and his adopted son, a nephew, William Jackson Howell, had died on the Pacific Ocean as he was returning from the California Gold Rush and was buried at sea. Great-great-uncle Frank died in 1874, leaving in the ninth part of his will this provision:
            “It is my wish and will after the death of my wife that what personal property may be on hand be sold and the money arriving from the sale of such property and what money may be on hand, together with all outstanding debts, be collected and the same to constitute a fund for building a seminary at or near Mechanicsville, the cost of which not to exceed $3000.00 and the balance of said fund to be put and kept at interest well secured and the interest only to be used in paying or assisting to pay a teacher employed to teach in said seminary.”
            The will dated September 13, 1871, had this further provision:
            “———— In the second place whereas Eliza A. Howell chose not to live with me and my wife until our death, Now the said residence and premise I wish to fall back to my estate and to be managed by those whom I have nominated in my will to manage the said seminary, to the best advantage, either for a seminary building or to be rented or sold for the purpose of erecting one, or the interest to assist in supporting teachers.
            In the third place it is my wish and will that two of the trustees of said seminary shall always be blood relatives and should either of these three now appointed to manage the matter die, I hereby appoint Joseph R. Dunlap to take his place and after that whenever one shall die or resign or leave, the other two shall have the power to appoint his successor taking care however to have two of my blood relatives on the board.”
            The three directors whom Francis Howell, Jr. appointed in his will were Hiram B. Castlio, Jasper N. Castlio, and Lewis Howell.
            After the death of Great-great-aunt Polly at the age of 103 years, Howell Institute was built, a three-story frame building where many teachers in the county were educated. Classes were held in the large room on the first floor. The second and third floors were used as living quarters for the teacher and his family or for other tenants.
            Literary societies met in the classroom, where, too, heated debates were heard. Entertainments, box and pie suppers were held here. Often when the second floor was unoccupied, the Ladies Aid or the Missionary Society quilted in one of the rooms. About every two weeks in the summer time ice-cream socials were held on the lawn.
            In 1904, Howell Institute was further endowed by Hiram B. Castlio. (36) The thirteenth clause of his will provides the following:
            “All the rest and residue of my personal estate including notes, accounts, cash, and personal property of every kind and description and wherever found shall be collected by my Executor and with all reasonable diligence converted into cash or well secured notes (and for the purpose I hereby invest my Executor with full authority to sell and dispose of all my personal property) and the whole including the note to be given Sarah R. Howell in renewal of the one which I now hold against her, he shall pay and turn over to the trustees of Howell Institute of Mechanicsville, St. Charles County, Missouri, to be held by them as an additional endowment of the institute with the same restrictions and upon the same conditions as are imposed by will of the late Francis Howell deceased, in his bequest to that institution, with the additional resolution however that only white children shall be permitted to attend that school.”
            It has been said by those who were familiar with Howell Institute that seldom has an equivalent sum of money been so beneficial to so many people.
            History, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, physics, grammar, spelling, Latin, and bookkeeping were taught by the following teachers:

1881 Miss Cora Bates
1882 Miss Margaret Bates and Miss Hester Bates
1883-1887 Mr. G. W. Burroughs
1887-1892 Mr. Rufus Easton Gamble
1892-1896 Miss Sophie Watson
1896-1899 Mr. Rufus F. Gamble
1899-1901 Mr. G. E. Miller
1902 Mr. E. Y. Burton
1903 Mr. R. E. Smither
1904 Mr. A.T. King
1905-1907 Mr. F. M. Dumm
1907 Mr. W. G. Pence
1908 Mr. R. C. Allen
1909 Mr. J. W. Clarsen
1910 Mr. B. H. Hertenstein
1911  Mr. Vest Sheets
1912  Mr. W. J. Barnwell
1913-1917 Mr. Robert F. Wilson

            On December 11, 1915, Mr. William Stewart, Dr. Mitchell Castlio, and Mr. Calvin Castlio, trustees of the Howell Institute, sold the building and the two lots to Mrs. Elsie Knippenberg (10) who remodeled the building, making of it an attractive home for herself and her daughter Evelyn. In 1940, when this landmark was destroyed in order to make way for the TNT Plant, Mrs. Knippenberg moved to St. Charles.
            A marker near the front of this lot stated that this was the highest point in St. Charles County.

12.       Lot 11. Site of the first store in Mechanicsville. Referred to by many as “The Pink House”
Ownership of Lot 11: F. B. Castlio to Peter Mades—1874
Peter Mades to Jeannette Muschany—June 7, 1878
Jeannette Muschany to Nannie Muschany—June 2, 1880
Nannie Muschany to R. E. Gamble—January 23, 1882
R. E. Gamble to James F. Stewart—January 9, 1885
James F. Stewart to I. N. Howell and H. T. Howell—January 11, 1890
H. T. Howell to I. N. Howell his ½ interest in lot 11—February 25, 1891
Heirs of I. N. Howell owned the lot in 1940

            On this site John Harrison Castlio (14, 36) and his son, F. B. Castlio (4, 36) built the first store in the village, where they sold dry goods and groceries. After the father and son had the store for two or three years, they sold out to John C. Castlio (22, 48) another son of John H. Castlio. Others who kept store in this building were Peter Mades, Julius Berg, Taylor and Brown, Jack Moore, and Monroe Morris. (Most of the information about the stores in Mechanicsville was given to me by Cousin Calvin Castlio. (1, 17)
            Later when this building was used as a residence, some of the occupants were Cousin “Duck” Coshow, the Rev. Mr. Samuel Watson, Mr. and Mrs. Will Blize, Mrs. Blize using the west room as a postoffice about 1908.
            The house burned down in 1929, being unoccupied at the time.

13.       Lot 12. The Audrain Home
The following have owned Lot 12:
F. B. Castlio to J. E. Bacon—1875
J. E. Bacon to Peter Mades—August 13, 1875
Peter Mades to Jeannette Muschany—June 7, 1878
Jeannette Muschany to Nannie Muschany—June 2, 1880
Nannie Muschany to R. E. Gamble—January 23, 1882
R. E. Gamble to A. J. Journey—March 1, 1884
A. J. Journey to B. M. Audrain—June 30, 1891
B. M. Audrain to John Moellering—April 19, 1919
John Moellering to John Cunningham—August 31, 1926
John Cunningham to L. J. Kessler—October 20, 1926
L. J. Kessler to the Rev. H. Henning—May 18, 1939
Both Mrs. F. M. Audrain and Mrs. William Blize used the front room of this house as a post office when they were living here. (26)

14.       Lot 13. The home of John Harrison Castlio
J. H. Castlio by will to his sons—John C., Fortunatus B., Jasper N., and Hiram B. Castlio
            John C., F. B., J. N., and H. B. Castlio to Adam Arns—May, 1887
            Adams Arns to W. E. and Mary V. Morris—February 27, 1888
            Mary V. Stewart and L. Morris to Henry Stratman—August 20, 1913
            Henry Stratman to Mary V. Stewart—February 16, 1917
            C. F. Stewart to O. E. Bacon—August 28, 1922-1940
When Great-grandfather John Harrison Castlio retired from the farm, he moved to Mechanicsville and built this house, after the death of his wife, Nancy Howell Callaway Castlio. (36) He died in this house in 1873.
            The following obituary is copied from “Some Missouri Pioneers, Their Ancestors, Descendants, and Kindred from Other States” by Mary Iantha Castlio:

Obituary and Tribute of Respect
            Departed this life February 1st, 1873, Mr. John H. Castlio of the village of Mechanicsville, St. Charles County, Missouri.
            The deceased was born in the state of Tennessee, on the 4th day of July, 1800, on a farm upon which the city of Nashville has since been built. His age at the time of his death being 72 years, 8 months, and 28 days. When he was about six years old his father left Tennessee and moved to Missouri and settled in St. Charles County, where he has remained ever since.
When he was a little upward of 18, he married the widow of Captain James Callaway (who was killed by the Indians in 1815) by whom he had six children, two of whom preceded him to the grave. After his marriage he betook himself in earnest to labor on his farm, his father being in somewhat easy circumstances, he was considerably indulged, but he became an energetic and persevering man in whatever he attempted, and by this means accumulated an independent living for himself and family.
            On the first of October, 1826, he united with the Dardenne Presbyterian Church, and in 1830 or 1831 he was elected and installed an elder, which position he held till his death, a little upward of 40 years. He was much attached to the tenets of his church, but not sectarian, and felt liberally disposed toward other denominations, and was always ready to help in erecting houses of worship for any denomination supporting the gospel. He was a man who always advocated the principles of truth, integrity, industry, temperance, morality, and religion. Thus this man lived and recommended what he advocated and professed both by precept and example.
            He was confined to his room nearly 18 months, and most of the time closely to his bed, but without a murmur he bore his sickness, which appeared to be a complication of diseases, with great patience and seemed not to dread death but only the pangs of the separation of the soul and body, but when the hour of separation came it was so calm and easy that his dissolution was scarcely observed.
            In the spring of 1868 there was an organization of the I.O.G.T. formed at Mechanicsville, and he was one of the first that had his name enrolled, ever adhering strictly to the principles of the order, even so much so, that although he was not able to attend the lodge for nearly two years, yet he was particularly prompt in paying his quarterly dues.
            Out of respect to this highly esteemed and worthy brother, the members of the Mechanicsville Lodge No. 255 feel desirous of recording the following resolutions:
            Whereas, we have been called upon to announce the death of our worthy and beloved brother, John H. Castlio, who by the will of God has been called from labor below, to reward above.
1st. Resolved, that in the death of brother John H. Castlio the order has lost a Good Templar, the church an exemplary member, the community a worthy and useful citizen, and his children a devoted and affectionate father.
            2nd. While we mourn the loss of a brother we deeply sympathize with the relatives of the deceased.
            3rd. That a copy of these resolutions be sent to the Sentinel, Old School Presbyterian, St. Louis Christian Advocate, and St. Charles News, for publication, also that a copy of this obituary and resolutions be recorded in the minutes of the Mechanicsville Lodge I.O.G.T. No. 255.
                                                                        Lewis Howell
                                                                        Caleb B. Dunlap
                                                                        Melville S. Dunlap     Committee

15.       Second store in Mechanicsville
F. B. Castlio to John H. Castlio and H. B. Castlio—1867
H. B. Castlio to Julius Berg—1879
Julius Berg to Currier and Stewart (Lee), Merchants—March, 1886
Dr. Currier to L. J. Kessler—April, 1908
On this corner lot, John C. Castlio built the second store in Mechanicsville, where later Peter Mades, Julius Berg, Currier and Stewart, and Frank Stewart were merchants.
            Mrs. Linton McCormick told me that her father said court used to be held here. In 1940 Mr. L. J. Kessler had a house and garage on this lot.

16.       Second Blacksmith Shop in Mechanicsville
On this unnumbered lot, bought from E. P. Silvey (19) on December 15, 1903 Calvin Castlio and Mitchell Castlio built the second blacksmith shop in Mechanicsville. The smiths here were Mr. Henry Stratman, Mr. Thomas Love, Mr. Will Zeyen, Mr. Mayburn Snyder, Mr. Herb Yahn, and last Mr. Henderson.
            On many hot summer afternoons the outstanding sound in the village was the ring of the hammer on the anvil—a pleasant, rhythmic sound that no longer breaks the summer silence in what was once Mechanicsville or Howell.

17.       The home of Dr. J. N. Castlio and Calvin Castlio
            In 1864, Dr. Newton Castlio (1, 36) built one of the first houses in Mechanicsville, a twelve-room, two-story frame house for four families. There was a front and back apartment upstairs and down, each consisting of a large room with a smaller one on each side. Two outside stairs led to the second floor apartments. A large chimney in the center of the building was the outlet for a fireplace in each of the four large rooms.
            In 1879, Dr. Castlio and his wife moved from the farm to this residence where they lived until their deaths. (Great-aunt Mahala died April 12, 1896, and Great-uncle Newt, January 30, 1901.)
            From 1901 until 1940 this rambling old house was the home of Calvin Castlio (1), his wife Alice Stewart Castlio, and their daughters—Ivo (Babe), Verna (Kit), and Vasta (Doll).
            In 1940 when everyone had to move from Howell’s Prairie because the Government wanted the land for the Weldon Spring Ordnance Plant, Calvin Castlio, a great-grandson of John Castlio and of Francis Howell, was the last resident to leave the area. During the eighty-four years that he had lived in or near Mechanicsville his roots had penetrated deep into the soil. Now he was forced to leave the house that had been his home for forty years. The house where he expected to spend the rest of his life. He was a typical Castlio. A man of few words. One who hid his emotions. Doll, who with her husband, Linton McCormick, and their two children, Calvin Montgomery (Chappie) and Beverly Jean, lived with her parents, said that during the summer of 1941, her father sat for hours on the front porch or in the shade in the front yard, staring straight ahead, an unlighted pipe in his mouth.
            One by one the neighbors moved away. Friendly lights no longer gleamed from the windows. Each evening dusk enveloped the deserted houses in what had so recently been the tiny village of Howell. Howell was always quiet, but about dusk on summer evenings one could hear cars passing, children laughing and playing, someone practising on a piano, dogs barking, horses stamping to rid themselves of flies, cow bells tinkling, pigs squealing. Now a killdeer. A whippoorwill. Cicadas. Katydids. Crickets. Night birds and insects undisturbed by the exodus.
            One day Doll stood on the back porch and watched the house of a life-long neighbor, Mr. John Dixon, burn. Then the lower barn of her father. All she could do was watch, knowing that soon their house, too, would probably be destroyed in the same way.
            Many families who moved from the area left their cats behind, thinking, I suppose, that they had enough trouble without moving a cat. All summer Doll and Beverly Jean fed as many as twenty or thirty cats—until the sanitary crew put out poison. Chappie and Beverly Jean were permitted to keep a cat and a dog in the yard, but their parents had to dispose of all chickens, cows, and horses long before they moved from the area.
            In July, 1941, Karl Muschany assisted by a foreman of the area and two other TNT employees, according to Government regulations, loaded the possessions of the two families into the truck, which was not permitted to go up the New Melle road, the nearest route to New Melle and the big store room which was to be their living quarters, the only place available, but it and the family car had to go out the main entrance where guards checked them out.
            Can you imagine the feeling of Calvin Castlio as he walked the last time out of the house that had been his father’s and then his home for so many years and as he “—fondly looked his last, And took a long farewell”?
            No need to close the doors and windows this time. Down the brick walk. Out the gate. Then down the familiar Marthasville Road. Vacant houses. Some bearing the sign, “Government Property. Keep Out.” Heavy trucks rumbling by stirred up such clouds of dust that he could hardly see the farm lands once cultivated by the children, grand-children, great-grand-children, and great-great-grand-children of Francis Howell. Then the car carrying the last of Francis Howell’s descendants from Howell’s Prairie passed through the main entrance of the Ordnance Plant and over the crest of a hill.
            Francis Howell, 1800. Calvin Castlio, 1941.

18.       Lot 16. The home of Col. Francis Howell (11, 51) and Mary Meeks Ramsey Howell (“Aunt Polly”)
            Cousin Calvin Castlio told me that this house was built about the same time his father, Dr. Newton Castlio, built his house in Mechanicsville. In “Little Things,” written by my mother in 1935, she states: “Among the first houses built in Mechanicsville were a tobacco factory, Grandfather Castlio’s house, Uncle Lewis Howell’s, and Uncle Frank Howell’s. Before the church was built, and even before Uncle Frank’s house was finished, Sunday school and church services were held upstairs in the Howell Home. It seemed to me that it was very pleasant to sit in church and be able to stay awake by looking at the surrounding country.”
            In “Some Missouri Pioneers, Their Ancestors, Descendants, and Kindred from Other States” by Mary Iantha Castlio, page 157: “Col. Francis Howell (1792-1874) served for two years in Capt. Callaway’s Company of Rangers, organized in 1813, and was colonel of a regiment of St. Charles militia for five years.”
December 29, 1816, he married Mary Meeks Ramsey, the widow of John Ramsey. Aunt Polly, as she was known to everyone, was born in Virginia in 1779 and died in Mechanicsville in 1881.
            In “Pioneer Families of Missouri” by Bryan and Rose we find this interesting paragraph about Aunt Polly.
            “Polly was married in 1807 to John Ramsey, son of Captain William Ramsey. They walked fifteen miles to the house of a justice of the Peace to be married, who performed the ceremony free of charge. Polly Bryan, wife of David Bryan, who was an old lady and wore a cap, acted as bridesmaid, while Henry Bryan, her brother-in-law, officiated as groomsman. Mr. Ramsey was an invalid and died in 1815. He was compelled to make frequent visits to Kentucky to consult his physician, as there were no physicians in Missouri at that time, and his wife always accompanied him. These trips were made on horseback, and they often had to swim the rivers that lay in their course. On one occasion they were accompanied by David McKinney, Aleck McPheeters, and a Mr. Crawford, and on reaching White River they camped for the night. Next morning they all prepared to swim the river on their horses, and McPheeters went first, carrying their bags of provisions, and his saddle-bags containing his clothing, etc. The current was very strong, and it carried away his saddle-bags and the bag of provisions, and they had to go without anything to eat for two days as there were no settlements where they could obtain supplies.”
The lot upon which Col. Francis Howell built his house was sold to him in March, 1867, by his nephew, F. B. Castlio. May 29, 1893, J. N. Castlio, H. B. Castlio, and William M. Stewart trustees of Howell Institute, sold the house and lot to my father, Daniel B. Hays, who kept store in the building until April 21, 1894, when he sold to Mr. Young, who also kept store there for a number of years.
            On March 20, 1919, Mr. M. J. Young sold this place to Mr. William Zeyen, who on August 20, 1921, sold to Mr. and Mrs. Claude Muschany (2, 9), the latter tearing down the old Howell home and building a bungalow which was their home until they moved to the Callaway place. Mr. and Mrs. Muschany owned this property in 1940.

19.       Lots 7-8-9. The Mechanicsville home of Lewis Howell and Serena Lamme Howell. (50-51)
            Across the street from his brother, Francis, Lewis Howell built a large white two-story frame house, which was last owned and occupied by Morris Muschany, and still a very attractive home when it was destroyed in 1940. Extracts from Great-uncle Lewis’ autobiography written in 1875 tell us a little about this house, its use, and its owner.
            “When I was eight or nine years old I went to school to an Irishman, about a year and a half, who taught school near where I lived. In about a year and a half after this, I went to school a few months to a gentleman by the name of Prospect K. Robbins, from Massachusetts, and when I was nearly twelve years old I went to the same gentleman again for a few months and made considerable progress during this term in arithmetic. The War of 1812 then came on, and I was nearly stopped from pursuing my studies. I studied as I had an opportunity. After the war I was placed by my father in a school in the city of St. Louis, taught by a Mr. Thompkins, who afterward became one of the Supreme Judges of this State. I did not continue in this school long, but was brought to St. Charles and placed in the care of Mr. U. J. Devore, with whom I remained several months. English grammar was my principal study while at St. Louis and St. Charles. I was now about sixteen and when about seventeen, as my old teacher, U. J. Devore, had been elected Sheriff, he selected me for his deputy. I was accordingly sworn in and entered the service, young as I was. There were but two counties at this time north of the Missouri River—St. Charles and Howard, the former of which embraced now the counties of St. Charles, Warren, Montgomery, Lincoln and Pike. There were no settlements any further West at this time, until you came to the Booneslick country, embraced in Howard. I had to ride over the five counties before named, collecting taxes, serving writs, etc. I continued in this business a few months, when I relinquished the office of Deputy and entered the store of J. & G. Collier, in St. Charles, as one of their clerks. I remained with them a few months, and as my father and Mr. John Collier, the elder of the brothers, could not agree on the terms of remaining with them, I went back to my father’s farm, where I labored a short time, when my father, having some business in Kentucky, took me with him to that State. On our return to Missouri we overtook a small family on the road, moving to our State, by the name of Reynolds, originally from the city of Dublin, in Ireland. He and my father got into conversation, and he appeared so well pleased with the description my father gave him of this section that he determined, before we separated, to come to the neighborhood where we were living. With this gentleman, who I believe was a profound linguist, I commenced the study of the Latin language. I can say without egotism, that I am very certain I was the first person that commenced the study of Latin between the two great rivers, Missouri and Mississippi. I found it very difficult to get the necessary books, and had to send to Philadelphia for the authors which my teacher recommended. With him I read Ovid, Caesar, Virgil, Horace and a few others. Shortly after this (as Mr. Reynolds had left the State) I went and spent a few months with my old teacher, Gen’l P. K. Robbins, where and with whom I studied a few mathematical branches, and this closed my literary studies at school. I finally gave up studying medicine, which I had long contemplated, and came home to my father’s. I was now about twenty-one years of age, and several of the neighbors and some of my relations being very anxious that I should teach school for them, I at last, yet somewhat reluctantly, consented, and accordingly taught a few months, and was not very well pleased with the avocation.
            About this time there was considerable talk about the province of Texas, and about the inducements that were held out for persons to emigrate to that country. In consequence of this stir about Stephen F. Austin’s colony, a company of us agreed to pay it a visit and examine the country and ascertain the prospects of getting land; but all finally gave up going except my brother Frank and myself. We, therefore, alone, left Missouri January 22, 1822, for the Spanish province of Texas, which, however, we never reached. Having gone fifty or sixty miles south of Red river, my brother, who was seven or eight years older than myself, and of more experience, thought it was imprudent to proceed further, on account of the difficulties in the way. We therefore retraced our steps and arrived at home between the first and middle of March. I labored on my father’s farm until fall, and in October, when a few months over twenty-two, I left home for the State of Louisiana. I took a steamboat at St. Louis and landed in Iberville early in November. This place was about ninety miles above New Orleans, where I remained until spring, having been employed by a physician (a prominent man of the parish) to teach his and a neighbor’s children, and to regulate his books, etc., he having an extensive practise. I was treated rather badly by him, and in the spring I went down to the city of New Orleans and took passage on a steamboat, and returned to Missouri, and commenced farming, my father having given me a piece of land which I commenced improving. A year or two previous to this I went a session to a military school, taught by an old revolutionary officer. I took, at this time, a considerable interest in military tactics, and a year or two after this I was appointed and commissioned Adjutant of the St. Charles Militia, my brother Frank being Colonel of the regiment. This office I held for several years, when I resigned it being the only military office I ever held; and the only civil office I ever had was that of Deputy Sheriff, as already stated. After this time, I turned my attention to teaching and farming, and in June, 1833, I married Serena Lamme, the daughter of William T. and Frances Lamme, and great-grand-daughter of Col. Daniel Boone, the pioneer of Kentucky. I was then in my thirty-fourth year. We have had six children, three of whom have already gone to the grave, the youngest of those living being now about twenty-two years old. I still continued teaching, and kept a boarding school, and had my farm also carried on, until the close of the Civil War, when I stopped farming, as the servants I owned had been liberated. I therefore rented out my farm, moved to the little village of Mechanicsville, where I built and commenced a boarding school, being assisted by an eminent young lady, a graduate of one of the female seminaries of Missouri. This school was carried on for five sessions, the last two or three mostly by the young lady before named, as my health had somewhat failed.
            I have relinquished all public business whatever. I cultivate my little garden with my own hands; am now in my seventy-sixth year; enjoy tolerably good health for one of my age; can ride 35 or 40 miles a day, and I believe I could walk 20. I am a member of the Presbyterian Church, to which I belonged upwards of fifty years. I attribute my health and advanced age to my temperate habits, having never yielded to dissipation of any kind.”
            Walter Williams in his “History of Northeast Missouri,” page 587, had this to say of Lewis Howell:
            “By his fondness for study and his boyish energy, he succeeded even in that early day in acquiring a fine classical education, and became an able teacher. By his energy and scholarly influence, he aided materially in advancing an active interest in education in the county, and assisted in the education of a number of young men, who afterwards became eminent and useful citizens. He lived to be nearly ninety years of age, retaining full control of his bright intellect to the last. He was an educated Christian gentleman, eminently useful to his fellow man, in his day and generation, and the world was better for his having lived in it.”
F. B. Castlio sold lots 7-8-9 to Lewis Howell on March 28, 1867. On July 3, 1882, H. T. Howell bought the three lots and the adjoining acreage from the Lewis Howell estate. H. T. Howell sold to Susan Howell, January 30, 1890. Susan L. Howell, to E. P. Silvey, June 18, 1890. E. P. Silvey, to J. U. Muschany, March 24, 1914.

20.       The Masonic Building and store, on lots 5 and 6
            In 1884, I. P. Ronen sold lots 5 and 6, bought from Michael Kelly, September 18, 1879, to the Masonic Lodge, “being the same lots conveyed to Michael Kelly by deed from David Sheehan, December 11, 1877, and by deed to David Sheehan from F. B. Castlio, October 17, 1866.”
            This third store in Mechanicsville, built by Frank Stewart who kept store there about 1880, was owned and operated successively by Stewart Brothers, C. F. Stewart and Son, and last by the three Muschany brothers—Morris, Claude, and Karl, from September, 1916, until 1940.
Percy Stewart told me that his father, Mr. Ferney Stewart, was a merchant in Mechanicsville for thirty-three years, from about 1883 until 1916. The “History of St. Charles, Warren, and Lincoln Counties,” published in 1895, states that Lee D. Stewart and C. F. Stewart had been established in the mercantile business for eight or more years and that “they carried a full line of merchandise comprising dry goods, groceries, queensware, clothing, boots, and shoes.”
            What former resident of Howell and its environs does not remember this store? A bunch of bananas hanging in one window. Dishes and lamps in another. Strips of fly-paper dangling from the ceiling. On the left-hand side of the store the cabinet of J. P. Coats white and black cotton thread. Another cabinet with silk thread of various colors and shades. Ribbons, lace, bolts of yard goods, hose, socks, underwear, overalls, shirts, shoes, boots, galoshes. On the right-hand side were the telephone—its ring three longs and two shorts—the desk, candy counter and its square jars of rock candy, peppermint and pink wintergreen drops, licorice sticks and pipes, jelly beans, chocolate drops, cocoanut drops, candy bars, chewing gum. Generally a big round long horn cheese on the counter from which wedges had been cut. On the shelves were smoking tobacco, chewing tobacco; cans of fruit and vegetables, bottles of vinegar, catsup, mustard, buckets of red label and blue label Karo, jars of peanut butter and dried beef. In the warehouse were trace chains, horse collars, harness, whips, bridles, halters; washboards, tubs, jars, crocks, iron skillets, buckets, pans, dishes; rolls of wire and rope; kegs of nails; barrels of salt and sugar; sacks of flour, cornmeal, bran, shorts.
            The women of the community were relieved when the stove, chairs, and plug tobacco boxes filled with sawdust were moved from the front of the store to the back. No longer were they embarrassed, when they entered the store, by the sudden quiet which prevailed during the winter months when all the chairs—sometimes even the counters—were full of neighborhood men and boys.
            Around the stove were held heated and good-natured political arguments. Here the weather, crops, and the village gossip were discussed. Past, present, and future local history was “hashed over.” Jokes were told. Pranks were planned and played. No local newspaper was needed. I’m sure some of the village men would rather have missed their supper than an evening at the store. Many of the young men and boys often rode or walked several miles for this nocturnal pastime, especially on Saturday night.
            During the spring, summer, and fall months the men moved to the store porch, some sitting on the edge of the porch, some on grain sacks, some on egg cases, one or two on the scales, and a fortunate few in chairs, all following the shade. Some of the men were so regular in making their trips to and from the store—frequently six trips daily—that the women of Howell could have set their clocks by them.
            The Masonic Lodge held its meetings on the second floor of this red brick building. I was told that in 1940 this building was torn down and the bricks sold.