I know that at least person read my book review last week on Jerico Springs, The Mystic City.

Kimball told me that in Chapter 8 of John C. Beydler’s book in his or her 1888 column in his or her Jerico Jottings column in the weekly Stockton Journal  called  it the Mystic City frequently as a synonym for Jerico painting it as a vibrant town full of people of wide-ranging interests, considerable civic pride and intellectual curiosity. In his first report of the year on Jan. 5, Hoosier reports that the “college students are returning and there are more of them.” “The report serves to establish that there was a  college taking students at least as early as 1887.”

When I mentioned on the phone to retired dentist Dr. Bill Neale that several arson fires destroyed much of Jerico’s businsess, Dr. Neale said, “Oh, yeah, that was (and gave a name I had heard). I said “Why didn’t they arrest him?” Dr. Neale said. “He was slick. They couldn’t catch him at it.”

Fires in 1924 and 1927 destroyed four major buildings.  They weren’t replaced. The bank failed in 1929. More retailers failed. The Optic newspaper folded in 1937. No replacement. There were more fires. There was no repairing nor replacing.

“The town had no more luck getting a good highway out of the State of Missouri than it had getting a railroad out of the robber barons at the at the turn of the century. Indeed, it was the mid-1950s before a paved road reached Jerico. By that time it had long ceased to play bigger than what it was – it played for exactly what it was: A used to be backwater where most of several generations found the paved road best for leaving.’

“They’ve left little behind, except a story with a sad ending.”

Moral of the story: Look at all the little towns around that lost their newspaper.       KL

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