Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Tower commemorates prominent local family

A year ago, many of us were spending time, energy and money to prevent a huge water tower from being built smack dab in front of Olivet Church’s front door. Obviously we lost the battle! This obnoxious structure, one of Boone County’s tallest rural towers, rubs shoulders with the Olivet Church Cemetery. It dwarfs the lovely old Olivet Church built with the "living money" of farmers who made what they wore and ate when a dozen eggs brought 10 cents and chickens 15 cents each. The tower is there, and that’s that. We’ll tolerate it.

I personally wish to thank the board of directors of Water District No. 9 for adding a historical touch to commemorate our busy little community in its infancy. This intersection of Olivet Church Road and the extension of Columbia’s East Broadway - today’s Route WW - was on narrow, winding dirt roads with logs and saplings filling mud holes. The first structure was a log cabin on the southwest corner of the crossroads. The owner also had a blacksmith shop on the southeast corner, and he accommodated his customers by keeping extra food, tobacco and other products on hand to resell.

Perhaps the second structure was a small tollhouse - a place where a man and wife lived and collected a few pennies from users of the privately owned Fulton Gravel Road. Sunday schools were being held in three school cabins: Turner School to the south, Carlisle School to the west and Carter School northeast of the crossroads. The three groups met once a month, weather permitting, to study the Bible, pray and sing the old hymns. In summer, some met under shade trees at various homes. All three groups helped organize and finance Olivet Christian Church.

From south of the crossroads came families named Carlisle and Turner, from the west came the Esteses and Hadens and from northeast - the Carter school area - came the Gibbses and Tekottes. Those and many other familiar names can be located in the oldest part of the cemetery in "spitt’n distance" of the water tower.

Thirty-seven people joined Olivet at the organizational meeting and, with the help of the president of Christian College, named the church "Olivet" and affiliated it with the Disciples of Christ. R. S. Estes donated an acre of ground, to be used for "religious purposes," including burial. Farmers cut and trimmed huge floor joists and dragged them three miles from William Berkley Estes’ wood lot near, Sugar Grove Church, on mud sleds to the building site where the toll road and an unnamed dirt road crossed.

Meeting once a month, five more people were "put under the water" after morning services in March. The building, erected by Columbia Carpenters in 1874, cost $2,000. About this time, a major change gave the crossroads its name. A large family named McHarg came from Maghara in Northern Ireland. Mr. and Mrs. Archibald McHarg with children - Sarah, Hannah, Tillie, Arch, Robert, Tom and William - bought a large farm at the crossroads.

The McHargs became merchants, contractors, teachers, morticians and homemakers. They were leaders in Olivet Church and the community. Perhaps it was when U.S. mail for farmers was delivered to McHarg’s store that the name "Harg" was listed on the Missouri road map. Harg was and is the religious and community center of the area.

Now, look high in the sky, on the tall white tower, for "HARG, 1874."

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