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Tell It Like It Was - A Little Mystery

Adapted from the original email-letters from Paul Ovaitt - Original date 5/30/21

(Turn on your sound and press the play button to the right for the full experience!)

Augusta Station in Boles or Labadie?

Hello gentle readers. I promised you more of the Boone/Matson/Koenig story, but I want to get this off my mind first. In fact, it’s not totally unrelated. Alright, that’s a stretch, but several months back I sent you a story about the coal/water station in Matson. I included a photo of a crowd congregated at the Augusta Station on the MKT line.

A couple days letter I received an email from one of my readers in Boston. Okay…it was Charlie Brennecke. He was sorry to inform me that my photo did not depict a site in Augusta. No…it was, in fact, in Labadie. You see, he once lived just east of town by the Katy trail, and he did a little historical research on his venerable old home. His search also included plat maps from across the big muddy. What he found was an Augusta Station in Labadie, he said. Remarkably interesting… but not interesting enough to cause me to drive to a county courthouse and pore over musty old maps. So, I filed his correction in the back of my head and moved on.

Well, not exactly. I emailed the same photo (blue tint) of the Augusta Station to Raymond George of the Katy Railroad Historical Society. He fired back with an email to assure me that it was, indeed, our town’s station, circa 1912. Even better, he sent me another photo (Augusta circa 1912.) It was the same design MK&T used for all its smaller STL division depots. He thought it “ridiculous” that there was another depot in Missouri with the same name. He went on to say that the Post Office would never have allowed that.

But a couple weeks ago, I was looking up a topic in Schiermeier’s Cracker Barrel Country, Vol. I, and stumbled upon a story of Schiermeier’s visit across the river with a young Fred O. Thatcher. (I’m sure some of you remember Fred; he’s rather unforgettable.) The story is dated May 29, 1978. Bill Schiermeier paid a visit to Fred and Sue Schoenberg, who showed Bill their historical dwelling and also took him for a little drive.

Bill writes “…Fred and Sue escorted us over to Everett Koch’s farm nearby. We again drove under the tracks, passed the Boles Station, first called the Augusta Station.” WHAAAAAAAAAAAT? “In this vicinity German farmers from Augusta crossed the river by ferry boat and bought out many Virginians after the Civil War.”

Good grief! So, I found a cell number for Fred O. Thatcher Realtors online and texted him. A day later we talked, and Fred said something like “uhh Paul??... that was maybe 50 years ago.” But Fred did remember, and said he had a plat map on his wall that showed where the Augusta Ferry and the Augusta Station were. (See photo #3.) Thatcher explained that after the Civil War, all the Southerners who farmed that area, were shorthanded without their slave labor. Consequently, many sold their orchards and bottomland to Augusta’s German farmers. This apparently created much back and forth traffic across the Missouri River. But why an Augusta Train Station on the Missouri Pacific RR? I haven’t found a definitive answer yet, but I imagine those industrious Germans were creating enough commerce that they needed to hop on the train often, and the MK&T had not come to Augusta yet. And possibly, St. Louis businessmen might choose to reach Augusta via MoPac and the ferry. Gee, listen to me theorize!! But if anyone has a better answer, I’m all ears.

I also contacted the Missouri Pacific Railroad Historical Society, and they were just plain puzzled. But after looking at the plat map I sent them, I was informed that even though the map shows no date, it would be after 1876, since it says Missouri Pacific on the tracks.

That’s all I’ve got. Anybody know anything about this? Do you have any relatives across the wide Missouri?

Still curious but not headed to the courthouse,


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I should add that Paul Kemner, who is probably the oldest Augusta native and a founding member of Friends of Historic Augusta, informed me of another good reason why there was an Augusta depot in Boles. Before we had train service in Augusta, our mail was sent on the Missouri-Pacific train and delivered to Boles. Then it crossed the Missouri River on the ferry, and you get the picture...

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