Traveling through the hills on the south side of Webster County, travelers on Route Z have likely passed by the Kindall Store and may have been curious about its history. The store, which first opened in 1914, was originally called the Tella Store and was operated by Charles and Kissee Tella for many years. Under the Tellas’ operation, the store became a part of the activity in the community of Olga. Olga was a small community which at one time housed a church, post office, blacksmith shop and grocery store. Today, Olga has few reminders of its glory days, with only a couple homes and structures standing as a testament to the once-active area.
After running the store for several years, the Tella family decided to relocate to the Zenar community. Their daughter, Corda, was 12 years old when they opened a store in Zenar. They operated that establishment for many years, before eventually deciding to move back to Olga.
The store at Zenar was later run by Allie and Eunice Tella. After relocating to Olga, the Tella family operated their store once more, assisted by members of their family. Corda Kindall played an instrumental role in working at the establishment, and eventually met her husband, Alvis Kindall, there when she sold him a dime’s worth of candy.
Young Alvis had traveled to the area from Harrison, Ark., and had come to the area to do some work for his uncle. However, he took an interest in Corda and never returned to Arkansas. The couple married in 1916, and they purchased the store from her parents in 1942. The present store location was constructed in 1924 and Kindall called it the “new store” for the rest of her life. Alvis and Corda operated the establishment side by side until his passing in 1965. Charles Tella sold the store a couple of times before the young couple eventually took ownership. As Corda was growing up around the store, work related to the business was a family affair. Eventually, four generations of the Kindall family played various roles in the operation. The Kindalls raised their three sons in the Olga community. Charles, Dale and Dain all grew up and became extremely familiar with the daily operations. In later years, Charles picked up groceries for the store, long after the grocery wholesalers and drummers ceased to stop by. In its heyday, the store employed six people; however, after Alvis’s passing, Corda operated the store mostly on her own. She employed a longtime, trusted friend, Joanna Davis, for many years as well.
Corda Kindall played a crucial role in keeping the rural store alive. At one time, the store sold cloth by the bolt, groceries, hats, plow points, coffee beans by the bag, glass-bottled pop, crackers from a barrel, shoes, boots, kerosene, thread, dry goods and various meats. When the store closed for the last time in the early 1990s, it carried small items, which would make a six-mile trip to Fordland unnecessary. The store carried candy, soft drinks, milk, bread, coffee and other small gift items. Kindall also sold meat for sandwiches and offered a selection for those needing to prepare their lunches. For many years, the rural store sold gasoline to its customers, but in later years it discontinued the service.
Local residents still recall Kindall’s trusted companions, first a German shepherd named Haunsel, and later a dog named Poochy. These pets offered security and companionship as time passed by at the corner of Route Z and Olga Road.
In her later years, Kindall, who lived just across the road, opened the store faithfully at 7:30 a.m. and closed daily at 6 p.m. On Sundays, she opened after church services. For many years, she was active at the Fair View Chapel Church of Christ, where her husband was the song leader for many years. The church was just a short distance behind the store, on an acre of land that had been given by Kindalls’ parents and their good friends, N.F. and Dessie Wright. In the 1950s and ‘60s, the rural population declined and the existing members of the small congregation transferred to the Fordland Church of Christ. Kindall fondly recalled the singing at the old church and sat on the front porch of the store and reminisced about the old days in Olga. She told visitors about the hitching rail that had once been a feature at the front of the building, and how it would be filled with horses, carriages, hacks and buggies. She spoke of the large ice cream socials that were held in the yard of the store, and how customers would trade items like poultry, milk and eggs for their grocery items. She beamed as she recounted these century-old tales and how they had affected the small part of Webster County. Kindall was respected by her neighbors as a friend and business owner. She likely never truly realized the lasting legacy she left in and around Olga when she passed away on July 23, 1995. Kindall’s store was lined with memories of bygone eras, and as Kindall was laid to rest in the Fordland Cemetery, those memories were vividly recalled by those whom she had touched throughout her 97 years in the area.
When taking an afternoon drive around rural Webster County, one might end up in the area formerly known as Sarvis Point, about five miles southwest of Seymour. Today, visitors might be amazed to think that the area once was alive with business and trade. Customers at one time traveled from miles around to shop at Jennings Store or to conduct business at the grist mill. Sarvis Point was never located on a state-maintained, paved highway. Today, you can reach the area by gravel road, a simple reminder of the wagons that would have traveled to the area over 100 years ago. The story of Sarvis Point begins with the first general store built in the area in the mid-1860s by resident Rile Stafford (on the north side of the Finley River). This store opened shortly after the Civil War during the era of Reconstruction. This was a time of national rebuilding and many relocated to the rural unpopulated areas of Missouri. Sarvis Point is still listed on some county maps, and many simply assume that the area is named after a local family. The name Sarvis Point, however, was approved by the U.S. Post Office when the area was granted its own post office on Aug. 9, 1869. D.R. Egleston was the first postmaster of the area.
The name originated from the many Sarvis or Downy Serviceberry trees that grew around the creek, just east of the original Jennings Store. Early county settlers originally settled the area in the mid-1840s, with the first business opening years later.
In 1992, the “Seymour Area History” was published, and in it Verbena Philpott Swearengin wrote an article on the Sarvis Point Store. She recalled, “In earlier years, the first store was small. The large new store was located six or seven miles southwest of Seymour, on Finley Creek. The creek was the south border of this 800-acre farm. This was a complete general store. Groceries, dry goods, clothing, hardware and a post office was located here. It was like a small town in a good farming section.”
Sarvis Point also had a blacksmith shop, with Doc Padgett operating the shop for many years. Padgett also was the blacksmith in the small community of Olga, with the blacksmith shop located behind Kindall’s Store. Hiram Jennings purchased the Sarvis Point Store in 1874, when he was 21 years old. He took over running the store until several years later. Jennings was a well-respected man, even serving as the president of the Bank of Seymour. Jennings was noted for making Sarvis Point a thriving center of commerce, and an area that he believed would continue to grow and prosper. He never dreamed that eventually the community would almost cease to exist, with nothing but a small old rundown building as a reminder of the community’s heyday. Swearengin added, “Cattle scales were close to the store. Buyers from Marshfield rode horseback south, buying up to 30 or 40 head and driving them back to Marshfield. My father, Noah Philpott, lotted many of the cattle overnight, then giving the owners bed and breakfast at no charge. People came from far and near. The mill was located here, and sawmill combined, run by a water wheel. It was operated by Jim Towlian and his son, George.” She continued, “People could get what they needed at this store. They bought eggs, poultry and tested cream on Saturdays. They would buy dry beans and potatoes in the fall. The mule barn was famous here. Hiriam Jennings the merchant dealt in those. Tom Cummins helped him with this.” Many of the local residents spent Sunday afternoons or other moments of leisure at nearby Finley Falls, often taking a picnic lunch and enjoying the natural beauty and scenery. A canning factory was also located in the area, with many local residents finding employment in the facility. Local farmers often grew fields of tomatoes to supply the canning factory. One of the local canning factories was owned by Frank M. Hart, owner of the Hart Canning Co. The local cannery canned okra, tomatoes, wild blackberries, green beans and other items. This factory had numerous employees from the Sarvis Point and Olga communities.
Hart also owned a factory at Diggins. Hart and Associates also organized the Bank of Diggins in 1920. Later, the bank merged with the Bank of Seymour on April 12, 1930. Hart relocated to Springfield in 1947, with the local cannery closing before that time.
Merchants at Sarvis Point included Jennings, Sam, Jim and Gilbert Jones, Alex Shaver, Sam Hart, Will Lea, Mr. Bryan, Arthur Parnell and Sam Stephens. Swearengin recalled, “This was a busy place. It was a treat to go to the store. You could get a small sack of stick candy for five cents. There are many cherished memories of this place.” Children in the area attended Ragsdale school through the eighth grade, with several attending nearby Dillion and Burnett as well. Jennings operated the store about 35 years with his son, Everett, until selling the business in 1915 to Jim and Sam Jones. In 1902, he sold the Sarvis Point Flour Mill to James and George Townlian. This was before the town’s demise and around the time that Jennings established himself in the Seymour business community. The store closed in 1929, after the Jones brothers sold it to Alex Shaver and Sam Stephens. The store was later destroyed by a tornado that also tore down a neighboring house, according to longtime resident Harvey Sartin. The Sarvis Point post office closed on the last day of 1909, when rural free delivery ended the post office there. Resident Helen Sartin Wilson added, “Sarvis Point was an active place, they had all kinds of things there. It is really sad, for there is just about no one left who remembers what it was like. This is history, and I hope that it will be kept so that others will remember what happened in this area.” Wilson is a current resident of the Sarvis Point area and grew up in the same area.
Story Credit: Nicholas Inman