BY DOROTHY JEAN VILLMER
1714 - Claude du Tisne crossed Washington County following indian trails and returned with lead samples.
1715 - Lamotte Cadillac (governor of the Louisiana Territory) led an expedition thru this territory looking for minerals.
The Richwoods area is known for its many springs and artesian lakes. Some of the springs are near the top of ridges. The dividing ridge between Big River and Meramac River starts at Brun's Bridge in Franklin County passes thru Richwoods, and we have been told it continues into Arkansas.
The highest point on this ridge is about '/2 mile NE of Richwoods. The water table is very high. An early steamed drilled well is 55 feet deep, 17 feet of water and supplied plenty of water for three farming families.
There is a sign on a highway west of town saying it was settled in 1770's.
My guess on how Richwoods got its name is the woods are rich in game, timber, ore, flowing streams, many springs, artesian lakes, nut trees, fertile land, and friendly indians. Tribes using the area were Osage, Kickapoo, Shawnee, Delaware, and ???
When a couple of friends met one would ask the other, " Where have you been?" The other might answer that he had been in those Richwoods hunting or what ever. Soon they said rich woods. The town was also nicknamed Dogleg. I couldn't find out how it got that name. No one seemed to know. A couple of years ago I was talking to Floyd Rulo and asked him. He told me the hill by Bill Hayne's house is shaped like a dog's leg. Puzzle solved!!!!
Minerals mined in this area were lead, zinc, tiff, and iron. In one year 140 miners produced 1,300,000 pounds of ore. Lead was $10 a ton. At one time Richwoods was producing the highest chemical grade tiff in the world.
The first people to file a deed were Frances Collard in 1820, Auguste la Baume in 1821, Manuel Amelin, Toussaint Charboneau, and Amos Shoak in 1822.
The town of Richwoods has shifted location thru the years. It was a large farm owned by Ettienne Roussin. He donated 9 acres for a catholic church. The town was located about one mile south of where it is today, near the head of Little Indian Creek. There was also a lead smelter; steam powered saw mill, store, and a racetrack. When it shifted east of its present location and the old area became Baugher (bar) town. The new location had three rooming houses and a huge store.
One day at the race track a man named bourbon made a bet that he could out run a horse. Bets were made and believe it or not he out ran the horse. Frank Villmer's father had taken him to the race track that day and it was one of the most wonderful days of his life.
A huge spring was by Baugher's store. People in the area used it for drinking cooking, and keeping food cold. Today that spring feeds three lakes. Just down the road another spring feeds two lakes. Both empty into Little Indian Creek. There are several lakes fed by these artisan springs.
During the civil war General Price came to Richwoods after the battle for Fort Davidson. He was ill and spent three days at the Roussin farm recuperating. According to Madeline Roussin Warnoff her father was eight years old. Her grandfather hid in a cedar tree to keep from being conscripted in the Confederate Army. The weather was cold and rainy and he caught pneumonia and died a few days later.
As the troops went thru Baugher's store they took marbles, pocket knives, and other items young boys would like. They would give boys marbles or knives for information. They wanted to know who had good wagons, horses, food, money, and boys and men they could conscript into their cause.
They raided homes and took what they needed and wanted. Money, food, blankets horses, clothes, shoes, guns and ammo. Many families were left with no food for the winter. Some people had their food well hidden or were not robbed and they shared food with those that had none left. The north did the same thing to towns they passed thru.
Men and fighting aged boys hid in caves, mine shafts, trees, or left the area till the army left.
The catholic and Methodist churches were both hit by lightening and burned down both were rebuilt in the same location. Later the Methodist church was moved from Baugher town and moved to its present location.
Louis Amadee Charboneau was in the Union Army and was captured by the rebels and forced to fight with them. He was recaptured by the Union and was going to be shot as a traitor. The men of Richwoods and Luebbering took up a petition and sent it to President Lincoln to release Louis. It was dated March 23 , 1865 just before Lincoln was assassinated. He was released.