Newspaper Archive of
Cuba Free Press
Cuba, Missouri
February 5, 2004     Cuba Free Press
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February 5, 2004

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The Cuba Free Press Feature 12A February 5,2004 Not quite gone...o:r forgotte Another settlement lost to the complexities of modern life is Jake Prairie. Commonly referred to pos- sessively, the area off of Hwy F in the northwestern part of Crawford County was named for the lone Native American who originally inhabited part of the 15-mile stretch of prairie. Varying versions of the legend describe the reason Jake abandoned his tribe. According to James Ira Breuer's book Crawford County and Cuba Missouri, Jake was a member of the Osage tribe, which was con- tinually being forced farther west toward Oklahoma after the signing of the Treaty of 1825 at St. Louis. The book shares John Steele McCormack's account of Jake relo- cating from the large Osage village on the Bourbeuse River north to the prairie between Brush Creek and Bowen Creek after a disagreement with the other members. Sue Brown's father, Oren Stewart, brimmed with fond memo- ries of the community. She and her sister, Sandy Stewart, recorded his engaging stories on audiotape before his passing in 1996. Generations of their family have been active members of the Jake Prairie community. Brown and Stewart inherited the old Jake Prairie store from their parents. Oren Stewart's father, O.J. or Oscar, was a prominent citizen. Farmer, teacher, county superin- tendent of schools, lawyer and coun- ty prosecuting attorney were his titles. "The Indians were nomadic. The rest decided to move on. Jake liked it and decided to stay. They would come back and visit him," said Brown. Although, the version passed onto Brown from her father did not mention a disagreement influencing Jake's move. "He (Oren Stewart) used to say the older brothers always had to go out and help with the farm and he had to stay in and help with the housework. So, he heard all the sto- ries from his morn," Brown relayed. Since Jake's original the town gained a store, post l blacksmith shop and seems the post office was within the store school, was still in about six years ago. Jake also hosted a Job School, the still-standing Prairie church. "Jake Prairie being strictly rural area never very large. A general store smith shop, and about three l I Top left: Former owners of the Jake Prairie store, Ed Biles and his family pose on the front porch. Right: Remnants of Jake PPairie life. Old pictures and a Krewson and Son plate are piled on top of the telephone company ledger. The Krewson family owned the store at one time. Top right: The old appears today. It has the Stewart family's sion since 1978 'immediately converted community center Bottom left: A glimpse.inside the blacksmith shop, which was only in existence for a brief time. Bill Myers opened a shop in 1905 but moved to High Gate shortly thereafter. William Hunter started as a blacksmith in town, and then switched to the mercantile business. Bottom right: The Chapel has had ers. Recent residents refurbishing the where the Job School be held. were the only buildings at any time during its century of existence," reads an excerpt from Breuer's Craw ford County and Cuba Missouri. Herman H. Tieman was the first postmaster in 1878 and established a profitable store. In 1903, postmas- ter "Shade" Rook erected a new store. A third store was in existence briefly before it burned after 1906. The school had a few install- ments as well. The first school exist- ed in 1888, a second was built in 1892 only to burn down a few years later, and a third was built in 1925. During the school reorganization plan, just like 22 other rural schools in Crawford County, Jake Prairie was closed between 1950-1960. The store functioned as a commu- nity center starting in 1978 for about 20 years under the ownership of Owen Stewart. Extension Club and 4-H meetings were held there. Eva Stewart had served as a 4-H leader for 50 years before her pass- ing in 1997. Oren and Eva also taught at the Jake Prairie School. The store had rested in storage for a couple of years. Now Sue's son, Josh is occupying it and fixing it up, although he plans to move down the road soon, (not straying too far away from his family's home.) "We didn't realize how much money it took (to operate,)" Sue said. Sandy estimates the existing wood floor in the store is at least 50 years old. The store counter still stands. "People used to say this store had the coldest soda machine anywhere. They used to sit and talk on nail kegs," she recalled. The Stewarts had lived right across the street from the store in a house built almost 100 years ago by Harrison Gibson, a former owner of the store. Sue and Sandy have an affectionate attachment to the area. Even though Sandy Stewart moved away briefly, she was "wanting to be at the Prairie every day. It was home." Janet Rikard's mother was from Jake Prairie. "I was raised here on the weekends and in the summers." Another legend varies about Story by Christy Hahn Current photos by Rob Viehman Jake's whereabouts. "Old Indian Jake long ago l his wigwam and went happy hunting ground," uratively) and an article in edition of Cuba Hi Backroads magazine Jake's Prairie School the End of an Era" bY Harding, reads, "He and his now buried side banks of Bowen's Creek marked by ground." Clearly, nearby.