Built in 1922, this is how it appears today.
Fleming General Store and Masonic Hall
Date unknown, between 1922 and 1932.
Late Dispatch from Bogard, Missouri –
A Piece of Town History Recovered
James Hart – March 6, 2015
The Internet is a wonderful thing. Seek and ye shall find – eventually – either with the correct search terms or after waiting a few years until someone has found that needed piece of information and made it available online. Both of these circumstances have occurred for me in tracking down family history and genealogy over the last fifteen years. Serendipity. Sometimes you find the golden key to everything you need when you’re not even looking for it. That happened today – later in the afternoon. When I began this piece at mid-morning, I first wrote it with the understanding that some of its details were now facts that I could rely on and report truthfully, and that some of what I wrote would be a matter of surmise and speculation. And I finished this piece mid-afternoon with that frame of mind.
An hour afterwards, searching for one thing, I found something else: the golden key that suddenly made some of my speculations unnecessary and demanded revisions of the troublesome portions. That golden key is a map of Bogard in February 1917, identifying structures and businesses for insurance purposes, and it is part of the Sanborn Maps of Missouri collection held by the University of Missouri Library Systems / Digital Library. So with that disclaimer stated, read on, patient reader, and pay a visit to my hometown and learn about some of its features one hundred years ago.
What moved me a few days ago to begin this investigation of the past was seeing some vintage photographs of Bogard locations posted on Facebook by my cousin Nancy C. Wagaman in San Diego. As the pictures and comments among friends assembled throughout the day, something kept troubling me about the image accompanying this essay. To avoid a useless, digressive explanation of that exchange, all one needs to know now is that the original version I saw of this image was printed backwards, leading the participants to question the correct location of the building in the town and the correct purpose of the building’s use. Once I figured out the error of orientation, some of the mystery ended. But only some of it. Nancy posted the corrected orientation of the photo, placing it on the northeast corner of Third Street and Main Street, east of the Memorial Hall which still remains in Bogard. From other details we knew, it was now possible to identify the building correctly as the Fleming General Store.
After determining the picture is the Fleming building, I would like to recount some of its history based on notes provided in the history of the Bogard Chapter No. 271, Order of Eastern Star. Masonic and Eastern Star signs are prominently seen on the second story of the Fleming building, and the chapter’s history easily provides a witness to the building now that we have a face for it.
The following extracts are quoted directly, including capitalization as presented, from the centennial history of Bogard published in 1984, and the complete report in the book provided names of members and history details of the Chapter up to the year 1980:
“Bogard Chapter No. 271, O.E.S., originated when Sister Ethel Walker . . . and Ethel Tomlin Edwards set out with a petition which they circulated among Master Masons, who gave their approval as well as the names of their wives for this petition. Twenty-six names were obtained on that petition.
“On February 8, 1905, the Grand Lecturer, Sister Ella Deiss accompanied by officers from the Hale Chapter arrived in Bogard by way of the Burlington train from the North. The train from the South brought ladies from Carrollton and Norborne. They were conducted through new fallen show to the Fleming Hotel for dinner.
“At 2 p.m. they assembled in the Masonic Hall, a small frame building facing East, located in the Thomas Lumber Yard and there Bogard Chapter 271 was Instituted.
“Candidates initiated . . . . Sister Ethel Walker was appointed first Worthy Matron and Brother J. H. Stone first Worthy Patron.
“The Charter was dated September 29, 1905, and the Chapter was Constituted November 15, 1905.
“The first joint installation of Masons and Eastern Stars was held in the old Methodist Church December 1907.
“Early in 1910 we moved to the new and large Masonic Hall over the Fleming Store. The floor covering of rich red wool carpeting in which was woven Masonic emblems was a thing of beauty. In 1910 Sister Ethel Walker brought honor to Bogard Chapter by receiving an appointment to the office of District Deputy Grand Matron. . . . .
“On July 8, 1910 Bogard Chapter assisted in the institution of Bosworth Chapter.
[Noted details are omitted here for 1916, 1917, 1923, 1924, and 1930-1931]
“In May 1932 our Masonic Hall was destroyed by fire, our equipment and records were lost, only the Charter saved. Since our Chapter had been invited to visit Bosworth Chapter the following meeting night after our hall burned, and our meeting nights being the same date, we took our Charter and were able to keep a perfect record in not missing a regular meeting.
“We conducted our meetings in the Memorial Hall until our New Masonic Hall was completed. Our present Hall was dedicated in September, 1932. [No indication is given of this building’s location, and this paragraph is followed by additional chapter history covering 1940 to 1980. No further facts are provided about buildings or locations. I also don’t know where they met during my youth because it had no connection to my experiences in Bogard. I don’t even recall seeing their signs on a building, even though I know my uncle and aunt, Vercil and Dorothy Hart of Bogard, were Masonic and Eastern Star members.]
“In 1980 we voted to affiliate with Hale Chapter #135 at Hale, Missouri.
“Submitted by Kathryn Bartlett.” [Quoted extracts end here]
An additional interesting detail is provided in the same source in the Directory of Past Matrons and Past Patrons. In 1910, the year the Chapter began meeting over the Fleming General Store, their Matron was Anna Fleming, and she served in that capacity again in 1915. On the same page is a very short history of the Masonic Lodge, Bogard Lodge No. 101, which was chartered October 14, 1886, two years after the town’s founding. The Charter members are listed, followed by a note that the Bogard Lodge consolidated with Wakenda Lodge #52 at Carrollton in 1981. No details of meeting or building locations are given.
Because of the architectural style (a simplified rural version of the Second Empire style popular between 1865 and 1880) and the apparent age of the Fleming building in the present photo, I am offering the following speculation about it in regard to the statements in the Eastern Star history: In February 1905 when the Chapter was originating, the ladies arriving by train went to the “Fleming Hotel” for dinner and then met in the old Masonic Hall by the Thomas Lumber Yard. Early in 1910 the Chapter was meeting in the new Masonic Hall over the “Fleming Store” and Anna Fleming was the Chapter’s Matron. And in May 1932, with no record of either Chapter ever moving to a new site, the Masonic Hall burned, and a man named Harry Glaze recalls living in Bogard when Fleming’s Store burned. More about Mr. Glaze later.
What I surmise about the Fleming building is this: With turn of the century Bogard having some competition among three hotels that have been identified in different sources, I am guessing that sometime between 1905 and 1910 the Flemings (and why would Anna Fleming, Matron of the Eastern Star chapter, NOT be the owner’s wife?) must have determined to give up operating a hotel in their premises, converting the bottom floor to a general store, and remodeling the second floor into new accommodations for a Masonic Hall. This seems a plausible scenario to me, and it satisfied the needs of the Masons and Eastern Star until the fire of 1932. So now we have a time span for the vintage photograph – between 1910 and 1932* – but the architectural style of the building is clearly from as early as the 1880’s, and I propose it’s one of Bogard’s earliest buildings and originally a hotel, built of frame construction before the later brick block built to the east of it perhaps replaced some earlier false front frame buildings. But that last piece is only speculation because there exists at least one old picture I have seen of frame stores and a frame post office in Bogard, with no determination of when or where or on what streets they were situated.
The discovery of the 1917 map of Bogard sheds light on a few matters that had previously been the cause of speculation. The post office was shown two doors down from the Fleming building. Marked as a wood building on the map, it was still the false front frame building I had seen in an early picture of it. I had also raised some speculation of what kind of material was on the exterior of the Fleming building. In the faded photo, it’s not brick, or stone, or covered in clapboard, and I had speculated it was perhaps stucco. The map had the answer for that: the Fleming building was marked as “iron clad,” meaning it is a metal or pressed tin siding that accounts for its smooth finish in the photo. I only include that detail here for the serendipity of it: I could not determine what I saw in the picture; an hour later the answer was placed before my eyes from the depths of cyberspace.
Regarding the previous reference to the Masonic Hall in 1905 being a small building facing east by the Thomas Lumber Yard, the Harry Glaze remarks from the Bogard centennial book remembering the town in 1908 place the lumber yard at the east end and south side of Third Street in relation to these other sites: Burlington Depot (across Culbertson Street by the railroad tracks), Lamb’s Hotel, Worth’s poultry house, Hood Blacksmith Shop, W. E. Thomas’ Store and lumber yard, followed by a succession of other business sites moving west up to the Farmers’ Bank, and then he places the Merchants’ Hotel across the street from the bank corner, which would be the present site of the Church of Christ building in 2015. Other than not always giving the owner’s name of a building (such as hardware store or jewelry store) or revealing changes in ownership after 1908, the details of the 1917 map of the town show that Mr. Glaze’s memories are very accurate for being written down about seventy years later. [Also of note: the map shows the lumber yard situated on the southeast corner of Brown Street and Fourth Street, meaning that it is behind the block of buildings facing Third Street – a location feature that cannot be determined from Mr. Glaze’s remarks – and it is a large establishment, occupying half of its block.]
One more noteworthy sentence from Harry Glaze’s memories is this: “I was living in Bogard when fires destroyed some of the buildings, the Merchants Hotel and Fleming’s Store.”
At this point I have to acknowledge both a contradiction and a clarification of details. Recently reported to me was a memory stated by Hastings Mark Wagaman, a 92-year-old Bogard resident, that Merchants’ Hotel (there is a surviving picture of it with trees beside it from 1913) and Lamb’s Hotel, down by the Burlington Depot, were the same hotel. In other words, it was commonplace in those days to refer to the hotel as Lamb’s because Mrs. Lamb ran it, and that certainly runs true of small town oral tradition and the habits of vernacular speech. On the other hand, Mr. Glaze’s memories, recalling the town in 1908, place the Merchants at the other end of the business section on the southwest corner of Third and Main Streets, which would be facing Memorial Hall on the north and would be diagonal to Fleming’s General Store. Without the 1917 map, I had concluded to let the contradiction stand until it could be solved somehow.
And solved it is. Both men are correct: one in verifying the spirit of vernacular speech and folk reference, and one in the fact of a remembered location. On the 1917 map, the hotel at the east end of town by the train depot is a large L-shaped structure marked “Commercial Hotel” – the hotel operated by Mrs. Lamb. Being shown the 1913 photo of the Merchants’ Hotel, Mr. Wagaman very easily surmised it was Lamb’s, though it was not. However, up to that point we had no other source naming the Commercial Hotel as an enterprise in Bogard. The map of course also shows the Merchants’ Hotel, another large block-shaped structure, right where Mr. Glaze said it was in his memories of the town. What I have learned from this is to value both reports – a living man’s stated memory and a dead man’s written memories – because they illustrate the elasticity of history and an oral tradition, the difference between something that is the truth and something that is a recorded fact. Whether it’s “commercial” or “merchant,” Mr. Wagaman verified my assumption of how people name and speak of things as a commonplace – it’s still Lamb’s hotel down by the depot, just like people said it was.
And ironically, with Mr. Glaze’s memories dangling like a carrot before a mule, the location of the Merchants’ Hotel, a clapboard building that survives now on the printed page, on a map site, and in one known 1913 picture, could not have been the same building it was reported to be when I first saw the picture of the Fleming building printed backwards. For if that picture had been the true orientation, then nothing was right! Memorial Hall appeared to be facing Main Street, not Third Street, and the “hotel” in the picture with masonic signs on it appeared to be west of Memorial Hall instead of south of it. Anyone comparing the two pictures can see that the Fleming building and the Merchants’ Hotel are not the same building, even though two days ago judgment based on an accidentally reversed picture claimed differently. Today the truth of this is an “iron clad” fact.
Now because there are no other details of changes in meeting sites for the Bogard Masonic and Eastern Star chapters, I can only surmise that the fire which burned Fleming’s Store in Mr. Glaze’s remark is the same fire which burned the Masonic Hall, still occupying the second floor of the store, in May 1932.
And thus, from a few words of history recorded in a neglected book, a serendipitous finding of a map, and the ashes of a remembered fire, a piece of Bogard history is restored to another old picture that someone had the grace to save for posterity.
*Actually, the time span for the photo of the Fleming building is 1922 to 1932. I was recently reminded, after posting this essay, that Memorial Hall was built in Bogard in 1922. Rather than write a revision of the paragraph, I have provided updated notes. Considering the building originally honored World War I soldiers, I might have thought of that myself, but missed it. (March 11, 2015)
Bogard, MO 1884-1984 is the title of the centennial history cited in this essay. Lodge history is on pages 18 and 19; and the Harry Glaze memories are on page 9.
The Second Empire style would be characterized on the Fleming building by the mansard roof and the ornamental wrought iron around the flat top of that portion of the roof and would be appropriate, if not a bit out of date already, for a building constructed in the 1880’s. The style would already be anachronistic for a new building put up after 1900, even for a small country town running a little “behind the times.” Remember too, that the original town of Bogard Mound, established on March 29, 1872, was a mile away to the northwest from the present town site of Bogard which was founded there in 1884. It’s hard to know now what kinds of buildings were put up or even moved at the time without the evidence of pictures or written record.
Second Empire is an architectural style, most popular between 1865 and 1880, and so named for the architectural elements in vogue during the era of the Second French Empire. As the Second Empire style evolved from its 17th century Renaissance foundations, it acquired an eclectic mix of earlier European styles, most notably the Baroque often combined with mansard roofs and low, square based domes.
Sanborn Maps Link – Bogard, 1917:
Click on the thumbnail map in the link for size and navigation.