Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Melville to Dadeville

The Ozarks has its share of towns that were formerly known by a different name. For instance, Ava, the seat of Douglas County, was known as Militia Springs until several years after the Civil War.
Another town that used to be known by a different name is Dadeville, located, appropriately enough, in Dade County. The first trappings of a community on the present site of Dadeville sprang up around 1855 or 1856, and the place was called Melville, a name that was supposedly based on a drawing of straws out of a hat. The man who drew the lucky straw had the honor of naming the community and decided on Melville.
During the Civil War, Melville was raided by bushwhackers under Kinch West on two separate occasions, in the spring of 1863 shortly after West's father and brothers had been killed by Union soldiers or sympathizers and again on the morning of June 14, 1864. During the latter raid, guerrilla leader Pete Roberts also came along for the lark, and the rebels rode in and took possession of the place, gunning down a sixteen-year-old boy and a blind black man in the process before the two could make their escape with the rest of the fleeing citizens. After pillaging the stores of the town, the marauders set most of the businesses ablaze and headed northwest out of town, the same direction from which they'd come.
The community was rebuilt, and in 1865 the name was changed to Dadeville, reportedly because post office workers kept getting Melville confused with another town called Millville.
After the war, Kinch West became an outlaw of some note in Oklahoma.

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