Missouri and Ozarks History

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

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Last time I wrote about the Back to the Soil movement that occurred about 1909-1910 in the United States. As a product of that movement, the National Farm Homes Association was organized in St. Louis in May 1910, with Missouri governor Herbert Hadley as its president. The goal was to establish farm colonies, particularly in Missouri and other Midwest states, populated by families who would relocate from the cities and support themselves in communities under the supervision of an expert agriculturalist who would live on a central farm surrounded by the smaller family farms.
One of the first colonies was established at Kinderpost in northern Texas County, Missouri. Kinderpost itself was a post office/general store established about 1902 or 1903 by Texas County resident Columbus Bradford, a Methodist minister. Bradford's original vision for Kinderpost was that it would be a place where orphans and other needy children could live surrounded by nature and away from the corrupting influence of the cities. To that end, he started Ozark Kinderfarm, and in 1904 he published a pamphlet entitled The Kinderfarm Journal outlining his objectives for the place. The experiment lasted only a few years, and Kinderfarm had ceased to exist by about 1908.
In 1910, however, Bradford embraced the "back to the farm" movement, and Kinderpost was selected about the first of August as the site of the second colony of the National Farm Homes Association. (I'm not sure where the first was.) A newspaper report later in the month described the progress of the project. The Kinderpost colony contained about 2,000 acres with Bradford, who was described as "an expert farmer," living on a central farm of about 160 acres surrounded by forty small, family farms of about forty acres each. At the time of the mid-August report, five families had thus far been put on the land, "and the association is ready to receive applications for the other thirty-five homes."
Plans called for the forty-acre homesteads to be cleared to the extent each settler desired, and all buildings, cisterns, wells, fencing, and other improvements were to be constructed at cost (with no profit to Bradford or the association) and added to the price of the land. The base price for uncleared land was $10 an acre. Ten percent of the total cost was required as a down payment, and purchasers would have up to ten years to pay off the rest of the purchase price with no payment due the second year. In other words, the second payment would not be required until two years after the down payment.
The newspaper account further reported, "A limited number of colonists, who may need to do so, can find employment from Bradford in the work of improving the colony, at reasonable wages, and may thus use their wages to help pay for their lands. The colony is already equipped with a sawmill, planing mill, corn mill, sheller and crusher, store and postoffice.
An Immigration Board of the homes association had previously examined the property and found it to be "upland of a good grade, reasonably rolling, but not too bad to wash in heavy rains." The location was "almost exactly in the center of the Ozark region" with "natural and perfect drainage, pure water and ozone-laden atmosphere." Although the report lamented the fact that no railroad ran nearer to the colony than twenty miles, it noted that a new railroad from Rolla to Licking was currently under construction that would run much nearer to the colony.
Alas, the promised railroad was never completed, which has been cited as part of the reason why the National Farm Homes Association colony, like the Kinderfarm that preceded it, was short-lived. Other reasons for the colony's failure included a lack of agricultural experience on the part of many of the settlers and a curtailment in state aid and private donations for the project.
Bradford ran unsuccessfully for U.S. congressman on the Progressive Party ticket in 1914. He died in 1949 and is buried at Licking. Kinderpost is still listed on many maps today, but it is little more than a wide place in the road.


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