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 eighteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bigamy and Bloodshed: The Scandal of Emma Molloy and the Murder of Sarah Graham, Midnight Assassinations and Other Evildoings: A Criminal History of Jasper County, Mo.; and Lynchings, Murders, and Other Nefarious Deeds: A Criminal History of Greene County, Mo.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Success, Missouri

   In the December 31, 1880, issue of the Houston Herald, a brief news item appeared announcing the formation of a new town in Texas County to be known as Success. George H. Bender, owner of the land, had platted a town of forty acres to be located along a proposed route of the Fort Scott and Memphis Railroad through western Texas County. As far as I've been able to ascertain, the railroad project was diverted or never completed, but the town came into being nevertheless.
   Actually, there was a community in the general vicinity of Success prior to 1880. It was first called Ebbing Spring. The name was changed to Hastings, after the principal storeowner. Later, Bender and Hastings became business partners and proposed to make a resort of the springs. They changed the name to Success as an apparent advertising ploy, but if the name was an effort to attract visitors, it didn't work, and Bender moved the town to the proposed railroad location in 1880. Success was a flourishing little community for a while during the late 1800s and early 1900s. It got a post office in 1883, and, at one time or another, it had a public square, a general store, a blacksmith shop, a hotel, a drugstore, a telephone office, and other businesses.
   About 1939, the town was moved again, this time a mile or so south to the junction of Highways 17 and 32. The new place was named Wye Junction because of the shape of the intersection, but the name didn't stick, and it became known once again as Success, while the town site to the north became known as Old Success.
   Today, Success still has a post office. It also has a convenience store but not much else. The community's main asset is its school district, although the school is actually located a mile and half or so south of town on Highway 17. The district formed in 1959 when Success and the schools of a number of other small communities in the area consolidated into one larger elementary school district. High school students living in the Success district attend either Houston, Licking, or Plato.
   Old Success is now little more than a ghost town. One of its remaining landmarks is a cemetery, where, by the way, one of my great great grandmothers is buried. I visited the place one time, about 30 years ago when my genealogy activity was at its peak.

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