History of Lockwood

The information on this page was taken from the Lockwood Centennial Celebration booklet, published in 1983.

Founding of Lockwood

Lockwood HotelBorn of the prairie and nestled against the Ozark foothills is "The Queen City of the Prairie" so named by railroad officials of the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad which began construction through the area in 1880. To the east and north is the upland with considerable timber and grassland. To the west and south is some of the finest farm land in southwest Missouri. The first settlers of English, Italian, Swiss, Scotch-Irish and German descent liked what they saw, put down their roots and stayed. The town was officially named Lockwood in honor of the general-passenger agent of the railroad, J.E. Lockwood.

The early years of Lockwood were marked by a struggle for power. Three rival towns were laid out in 1881. William Taggart, a capitalist with large real estate holdings in the area; Titus B. Eldridge, a lawyer of New York, owning a large tract of land with Joseph B. Lindsey as his agent; and William J. Davis, a farmer and early settler of the county, were in a three-way contest for the townsite placement. Mr. Davis platted out the original town that lies south of the railroad. He hoped a town bearing his name, Davisville, would be the result of his promotional efforts, but in order to get the railroad he had to agree to name the town Lockwood and gave 80 acres for the railroad right-of-way. Mr. Taggart, Mr. Eldridge, and Mr. Knight platted the additions north of the railroad. Mr. Davis also gave a block to the public school and another for the city park. Mr. Eldridge platted a town in the northwest part of Lockwood and called it Eldridge. Many of the early buildings were erected north of the railroad in the town of Eldridge; Lindsey and Taggart did much to help promote the Eldridge addition.

After months of struggle among the early "Fathers" a compromise was agreed on and almost all of the business houses from various sections of the town were moved to a common center, which is now Main Street and all streets were to run adjacent to it. New capital was attracted to the settlement with the completion of the railroad; new settlers arrived and new enterprises were started.

On August 6, 1883 the three small settlements incorporated as the Village of Lockwood and a municipal township was formed. F.E. Garrett was the chairman of the first board of the Village of Lockwood. U.S. Keran was the first clerk. On February 24, 1891, the Village of Lockwood was incorporated as a city of the fourth class. W.S. Wheeler was the first mayor and W.S. Pierce was the first clerk of the city board. 

~Written by Fred Frye

Building a Community

Organized in 1885, the Dade County Fair was one of the highlights of the summer. The grounds were located southeast of the city limits and contained a large amphitheater, one-half mile race track, several horse barns for the racing horses, a long shed for displaying livestock and a grandstand in front of the race track. Huge crowds attended the Fair to enjoy the carnival, exhibits, and some of the best harness racing in southwest Missouri. Saddle racing was also on the program but was not as popular as harness racing. Among the attractions from time to time were balloon ascensions, the famous Lefeners, bicycle and unicycle experts, performances by the Lockwood Band both afternoon and evening, and on the last night of the Fair a large and beautiful display of fireworks. The Fair of 1923 was one of the most successful with 72 horses entered in the racing program. After a disastrous fire to many of the buildings on the grounds, and lack of attendance at the Fair, the program was discontinued. However, a baseball diamond was built in later years inside the old race track and brought much enjoyment to large crowds attending the games on Sunday afternoons.

The Lockwood FairIn the early days the railroad played a very important role in the growth of the area and was perhaps the largest economic tool in providing the growth and stability of the town and surrounding farming community. It served as the only means for shipping of farm produce, and much quicker transportation for the individual to distant places than could be attained by horse and buggy. With the advent of the automobile and good roads the railroad lost its impact on the community and gave way to big trucks and fast cars for the movement of farm products and people.

The first telephone service became available in 1895 and in 1899 telephone lines were constructed to Dudenville and towns south. In the early 1900s electricity was brought to the city dwellers, however little use could be made of it in the beginning except for a few lights. One of the early additions to the town was the drilling of a deep well and the construction of a state-approved water system. Not long thereafter a Volunteer Fire Department was formed, a truck and necessary fire fighting equipment purchased and a long-need fire protection district was activated with separate equipment for the rural patrons. Adding to the modernization plan, the city installed a state-approved sanitary sewerage system and within a short time the ever present outdoor privy was gone from the horizon.

Still further improvements included black-topping the city streets and completion of a modern street-lighting system. Both of these projects added to and enhanced the quality of living for the citizens of Lockwood. Guided by the assumption that "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" the citizens of Lockwood added several recreational facilities over the years. The first of these to appear was a swimming pool, and although not built to competition size, it has given the youngsters and oldsters alike many hours of enjoyment during the summer months. This was followed by construction of a building which houses an eight-lane bowling alley. Last to be added to the recreational facilities was a nine-hole grass greens golf course, which receives considerable play during the golfing season. All of the above are part of an 80-acre complex known as Smith Park, the land donated to the city by the late Mrs. Myrtle Smith, a community-minded citizen of long standing.

In 1983 the citizens of Lockwood marked the community's first 100 years with a Centennial Celebration. The celebration was marked with festive music, antique machinery displays, a wagon train, an old-fashioned costume contest, many games, and much more. In 2008 the Community celebrated its 125th Anniversary with similar old-fashioned games and festivities.

Early Lockwood Businesses

Workman BrosThe first business to operate on the north side of the tracks was a livery stable with several teams and buggies. It was operated by J.W. Kennedy, who also operated the first grocery store across the street just northeast of the livery stable. A merchandise store was located at the current junction of Highways 160 and 97, and across the street was a two-story building housing a drug store. A man by the name of Daily built and operated the first hotel, and Oren G. Burroughs was the first carpenter to arrive in the settlement. He built the first frame house in town and was the father of the first child born here, Mae Burroughs.

During the early years as many of the building of the city were destroyed by fire they were replaced by brick. Three brick kilns furnished the brick for rebuilding. One was located north of the city, one east of the city limits and one south of the railroad tracks. In 1881 Louie Perlatti and D. Abbiatti, brick and stone masons, arrived from Italy. They built the majority of brick buildings that still stand on Main Street.

That same year W.R. Eaton established the first lumber yard and in 1884 a second lumber yard was established by Rufus and Charley Hunt, McDermitt and Bailey. The yards were later consolidated into one and purchased by the late Charles C. Meek. He added a manufacturing unit to the yard which still manufactures door and window units. In the summer of 1881 H.H. Steel erected a two and one-half story grain elevator just west and across the tracks from the old railroad depot. The elevator was powered by a treadmill using a horse for the power to run the tread. A Mr. Gillet established a business for the buying and shipping of livestock, poultry, game and eggs just east of the present post office. 

Kerr BuildingOther early businesses included hardware stores, a newspaper, and a number of barber shops. By 1895 business was so good in Lockwood that it kept three draymen busy hauling merchandise from daily-arriving trains to the different stores. In subsequent years, the community gained a furniture store, undertaking businesses, banks, insurance offices, drug stores, and a very successful cigar manufacturing plant owned by William H. Rice. Many other businesses followed.

Because of the railroad through Lockwood, hotels became an important part of the town scene. Traveling salesman, spoken of as "Drummers" needed a place to stay. There were regular boarders who had employment in the town. People who traveled horse-back, by wagons or in buggies into town to get supplies or visit the doctor often could not make the trip in one day so they stayed at the hotels. Railroad employees and people looking for a new location were also customers.

The Commercial HotelThe first hotel was built about 1881 by Mr. Davis and Mr. Dailey and was know as the Daily Hotel. The second hotel was built and operated by Mr. Leak and was called the Southern Gulf Hotel. Customer of this hotel were mostly railroad employees who paid a room rate of $1.00 per day. The Commercial Hotel, The Mansion House Hotel, and The Lockwood Hotel, were three of the last four hotels to be erected during the early years.


As early as 1881 there was a one room "school house" located just north of the present Presbyterian Church. Apparently there was also a "school house' located on the east side of town. An early newspaper tells of the "union into one district of the two school districts in the center of town" in 1883.

Lockwood School 1884Soon after 1883 the first school building was erected, "a handsome and commodious brick building with requisite conveniences and furnishings that were ample for the purpose of which it was devoted." In 1907 an addition to the building was erected which "amply supplies every need for room to every grade of students of the school."

In 1900 the school was organized into grades and high school. In 1904 the term of school was extended from eight to nine months. Much attention was given to increasing the library of the school until it contained several hundred volumes. In 1915 Miss Nan E. Wade, an English teacher in the high school, wrote the words for the official school song, "Lockwood, My High School", which is sung to the tune of "Maryland, My Maryland."

The first brick building was razed in 1922 and classes met in different buildings throughout town until the new building was completed. In 1961 bonds were voted to build a new high school and gymnasium at the west side of town. Overall cost of the building was approximately $310,000. Dedication was held March 25, 1962. Since that time more classrooms have been added to the west side of the building.

Lockwood School 1922In June 1978 voters approved a bond issue for $675,000 for renovating some of the elementary school rooms and adding a new building to the east of the structure. Dedication and Open House was held January 15, 1980. In recent years additional bond issues have allowed for such improvements as air conditioning in the classrooms, and the construction of a new library and computer lab in the high school. (See schools page for more information on the modern school system.)

Immanuel Lutheran Church has maintained a parochial elementary school since 1882. In the late 1990s, the school added many new classrooms and facilities with the construction of its Family Life Center.

Chamber of Commerce

The articles below document the beginnings of the Lockwood Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has done much toward the economic growth of Lockwood, and remains the community's premier business advocate today. (Thank you to Sue Sparkman for submitting these articles)

May 27, 1921 Lockwood Luminary

A meeting of the citizens of Lockwood was called at the auditorium Monday night for the purpose of discussing the advisability of organizing a Chamber of Commerce. A large number were present and discussed at length the benefits to be derived from such an organization and what a successful chamber of Commerce could do for a town and the community. H. G. Caldwell was chosen temporary chairman and Fred B. Heisey temporary secretary.

June 10, 1921 Lockwood Luminary

A meeting of the members of the Chamber of Commerce was called for Wednesday night, to complete the minor details of the organization. The meeting was called to order by President P. A. Peer. After a few brief remarks, Dr. R. A. Frye, who had been elected secretary; tendered his resignation. Dr. Frye is secretary of the fair association and did not feel like he could spare time to look after the interests of the office as it should be. U. S. Keran then presented the name of M. A. Wilkerson as secretary. S. D. McMillen seconded the nomination and Mr. Wilkerson was elected by acclamation.

The entire power of the transaction of the business of the organization will be in the hands of a board of directors. The board will consist of nine members, including the president and secretary of the organization, they each being president and secretary of the board and being voting members. The board is composed of the following: P.A. Peer, M. A. Wilkerson, C. W. Gillman, U. S. Keran, Gus Haubein, Atty. R. A. Mooneyham, A. M. Smith, Dr. J. A. Wren and Wm, Horstman.

June 17, 1921 Lockwood Luminary

The committee selected to rent suitable rooms for the Chamber of Commerce headquarters, secured the second story of the Mrs. Robert Long building north of the railroad. The first story of the building is occupied by the McCall grocery.

The quarters will no doubt be very satisfactory and are rooms that could not have been found vacant at all times. There is an outside entrance which makes it convenient. There is a large front room which will be used as possibly a private office room for the board of directors. It will be furnished with suitable equipment and necessary furniture. There is a large room at the rear of this office room which will also be furnished. This will be used for meetings of the entire membership of the Chamber of Commerce or when larger numbers attend. It will also be used for banquets or social functions.

Another step forward has been gained by the organization in securing permanent quarters. Nothing can progress by the meetings being held first one place and then another, with no place to keep their books or records. Now the meetings will all be held at the same rooms. The members will become accustomed to attending at this place and will always know just where they are to meet.

Lockwood Centennial Celebration Booklet, published in 1983 by Centennial History Committee: Chr. Pauline Knier Carrier, Mildred Heisey Newcomb, Lena Barker Martin, Fred Frye, Ted Kaelke, Harold & Lillian Barker Haubein, Gene & Bette Woijtkiewicz, Gen. Chr. Henrietta Beisner Hayes

An updated History of Lockwood was produced by Sue Sparkman and is now currently available. Please contact the Lockwood Library at 417.232.4204 for more information, or use the Chamber contact form for more information on obtaining a copy.