Cuivre Township bounded by six other townships of Pike
County, lies in the heart of the county. The township is dominantly prairie,
lending itself to agriculture, and it has contributed greatly toward Pike
County's ranking fourth in the state in producing hogs and 38th in
the production of beef cattle. Pike is consistently among the top three counties
in Missouri in corn and soybean production.
Cuivre township soil is not as rich as that of Calumet, but its topography is conducive to excellent cultivation. In 1973 the average farm in this township produced not only sufficient food for its own use, but enough to support perhaps some 45 others. The census from 1909 to 1969 showed the size of farms to have increased 80 percent, its net income to have increased 500 percent, the value of its products to have increased 1600 percent, and the value of land and buildings to have increased some 900 percent. Hog and cattle production has increased close to 300 percent. As a grazing district, it is unsurpassed.
This township was first settled by J. W. Bayse, who purchased land in 1818 on the very ground that encompasses most of the City of Bowling Green. The county was only nine days old when Bayse came to Cuivre Township, and neighbors were few and far between. On December 14, 1822, the Missouri Legislature by official action moved the county seat from Louisiana (its initial "home:") to the "center of the County" in Bowling Green within Cuivre township. There is no doubt that the question of where to locate the county seat was a hotly contested issue; however, Bowling Green won out.
Cuivre township's industrial history has been marked by change in the past 100 years. In the late 1800's, there was a lime quarry, the Hume Flour Mill (located on South Court Street where Keith Cleaners is in 1981), and the Pugh Pipe factory (located on West Church Street where Dr. Jack Griffen's medical office was in 1980). By the 20th century, some of the larger employers in the township were the Elder Garment Company (started in 1941, then leased to Bobbie Brooks and later to Bridal Originals Corporation, which has been in operation in Bowling Green since 1968); a cheese plant (operated in Bowling Green from 1965 through 1969, purchasing milk from approximately 300 local farmers; eventually moved to Hannibal); and the Morgan Portable Building Corporation (just south of Bowling Green, which opened along Highway 161 in 1972 and employed about 20 people.
With the expansion of Highway 61 to the west and south of Bowling Green, industries have popped up along the highway, giving the township a good industrial base to augment the strong agricultural base.
Booth, a discontinued division point and turntable on the Chicago and Alton Railroad, is located west of Bowling Green. Booth was once a commercial place; however, with the removal of the railroad division to Roodhouse, Illinois, it declined until all that remained were just a few houses and the railroad reservoir known as Booth Pond. The town was named for Dr. Thomas Booth, one of the first physicians in the county, and for his brother, James W., a commission merchant of St. Louis.
Bowling Green was laid out two years before Missouri became a state; and it was named the official county seat of Pike County before the town itself was legally incorporated. John Walter Basye, a native of Bowling Green, Kentucky, was the first white settler in this area. (Although there are legends that Bowling Green was at one time an Indian reservation, more recent research claims that the area was merely an Indian hunting ground abounding with buffalo.) Basye first settled in Louisiana, Missouri, but purchased land in the Bowling Green area on December 23, 1818, only nine days after the county was formed. In addition to Basye, other early settlers of the Bowling Green area included the Thorntons, Culbertsons, McPikes and Readings, all of whom arrived from Bowling Green, Kentucky. This group became known as the "Bowling Green crowd" and therefore the town they helped form was eventually named Bowling Green. When these pioneers arrived, they found a prairie on two sides of town, a timberline on another, and hills and forest on the remaining side. Bowling Green had no swamps or lagoons, because it was 400 feet above the Mississippi River and 12 miles from it. Because the topography and the climate were well-suited to farming, the settlers quickly began crops of wheat, potatoes, flax, tobacco, corn and even cotton. As more settlers came to the area, Bowling Green began to grow and the first school was organized there in 1825 by Edmond Basye.
One of the best guarded "secrets" about Bowling Green was that it was not incorporated on the plat maps as a town until 1826. By that time, it already had a name and had served as the county seat for over three years! Resulting confusion about exactly when Bowling Green should celebrate its birthday has been perpetuated in more recent history. In 1923 the town celebrated its centennial with festivities and gay events. Many people chose to ignore the fact that they were actually celebrating 100 years of Bowling Green as the county seat and not 100 years of Bowling Green's founding as an incorporated town. In 1973 as the town prepared to celebrate its sesquicentennial birthday, this fact was brought to light. Still the town went ahead with the celebration, although there remained some who contended it was three years too early.
Bowling Green is the second largest town in the county (with over 3,000 residents) and the largest in Cuivre township. Contrary to most other Pike towns, it has shown steady growth in the last several decades. It played host to Pike's first county fair in the middle 1800's (and continues to host the annual Pike County Fair in July each year), was the site of the first official county courthouse, and has played an important role in the history of the county ever since it was first settled in 1818. It has modern stores and businesses both around the square and along both highways, which serve a large area of Pike and adjoining counties.
Bowling Green's numerous churches provide spiritual guidance for its citizens. For recreation its residents have available the Bowling Green Lake and the City Park, which includes two ball parks, two tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a swimming pool and picnicking facilities. The town benefits from numerous service, fraternal and civic clubs and organizations.
Champ Clark's home Honey Shuck, is located in Bowling Green and an organization formed by Judge William L. Hungate is in the process of restoring it. It has been declared a National Historic Landmark.
The current Bowling Green Junior High School is located on the grounds where Pike College originally was built. Pike College was attended by many Pike County young men and women from the time it was founded in 1881 until 1922 when the building burned to the ground.
Cyrene, located about six and one-half miles south of Bowling Green, is another town, which has seen a steady decline in recent years. Once a village of approximately 100 residents, a post office, railroad station, two stores and a church, the town itself is comprised of a church, a garage and some residences in the 1980's, and even the mail, which is postmarked "Cyrene", comes out of the Bowling Green Post Office.
Likewise, Edgewood, located in southeastern Cuivre township about one-half mile east of the present Highway 61, now consists farmland sprinkled with residences and a church where once a general store, blacksmith shop, country school and church were a hub of activity. Edgewood was laid out by John McCune and was given its name because of its location on the edge of some woods in rough, timbered country. A post office was established there in March of 1879 and John McCune was the first postmaster. The first post office was in a log cabin, but later moved to a brick building, which burned in the early 1900's. A new brick building served as the post office from 1910 until 1955 when the post office was discontinued. At that time, the population of the town was 47.
In the northwestern part of Cuivre township, about seven miles from Bowling Green, lies McCune Station. The spelling of the town's name has varied slightly over the years with the 1899 Pike County atlas listing it as "McCunes Station", the map of 1893 calling it "McCune's Station" and an 1886 map calling it simply "McCunes." The town was named for John and William McCune from Kentucky, who settled on Ramsey Creek in 1817. There was for a time a small settlement there with a railroad station and a post office, which operated from 1886 until 1918. In the 1930's, McCunes Station had a population of approximately 50 people. The population is less than that in 1980.
Vera, located on the south side of Highway 54 in between Bowling Green and Louisiana, was a post office center in the 1880's and also had a school and a church and several families. The area, which is largely agricultural, is still lightly populated, and while the Providence Presbyterian Church still has an active congregation, the school and post office are both gone, incorporated into the Bowling Green rural mail route and R-1 school system.
© 2000 Rhonda Stolte Darnell