Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Town of Harg is still alive for some who remember

Route WW is becoming a household word; it’s the eastern extension of Columbia’s Broadway and the route east to two rural churches, to a cemetery, to Harg, to Millersburg and to Fulton.

Now thousands of vehicles speed through Harg each day and don’t realize it.

If you’re very old, you perk up your ears in a crowd when you hear the word "Harg."

It was once an active community about five miles east of town, and it’s still alive in the hearts of those of us who’ve always lived east of Columbia.

Check your "1910 Automobile Map of Missouri," and you’ll find Harg.

Harg had a general store, church, blacksmith shop, a private home and a toll house where a chain was suspended all the way across the road. It cost almost nothing to have the chain lowered: 10 cents when going by "team pulling a wagon load of hay," 6 cents for a car, 3 cents for horse and buggy.

A past-middle-age couple lived in the small, white frame toll house. They sold tickets and kept names of all who used the road - and of their various vehicles.

The money went to the men who owned the road. They had purchased it and paid helpers to gravel it. It was soon called the Fulton Road or Fulton Gravel Road. People walking and those going no farther than the church didn’t have to pay.

Mom and Dad didn’t have to pay because Mom was Olivet Church’s volunteer organist, and we usually went back home after services.

At first the little settlement was identified as "the church, the crossroads or the blacksmith shop."

When a large family of McHargs came to Boone County from Maghera, Northern Ireland, they lived in Columbia. When McHarg’s brother and his family followed, they bought land northeast of the Fulton Gravel crossroad and built a large, two-story home. Children of that family included several girls and little William, who was only 2 years old.

Later, as an adult, William was affectionately called "Mr. William" for his Irish wit, good nature, generosity and kindness; he eventually owned the general store and the blacksmith shop and built a new home on the huge boulders on which a log cabin once stood.

Mr. William was a pillar in Olivet Church and benefactor of honest people who could not pay their bills.

He married Miss Cynthia Wilkes, who later taught English at Hickman High School and at Christian College. Cynthia McHarg was the founder and teacher of Olivet’s popular "Friendly Bible Class" of young single adults.

Cynthia and Mr. William had two sons: the older one, William Jr., lost his life in World War II on his final training flight.

Their younger son, Wilkes, voluntarily flew many extras missions over Germany in the war, risking his life in every flight. He survived, trained for the ministry and served churches in southwest Missouri.

One day when Wilkes and I sat, remembering Harg and Olivet, I mentioned Mr. William’s support of poor, hard-working families, and he said, "Yes. I’ve been with him at the bank when he borrowed money - to pay for groceries for which he knew he’d never be reimbursed." Money was hard to come by!

Leslie Mary Wegener put it this way: "Olivet Church was not built with people’s savings - it was with their ‘living’ money."

How had farmers made that living money?

Their hogs sold for only 4 cents a pound, 10 cents a dozen for eggs and 3 cents a pound for chickens!

In 1874 they felt the need of a church, and with great courage, faith and sacrifice they built Olivet Christian Church at Harg.

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