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Solving the Mystery of Strickler

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July 7, 2011 by wcobserver

When Larry and I first bought our property, we looked at a map of the area and found Strickler. Only when we got here, there was no Strickler. No store, no gas station, nothing. To the east of the spot on the map was the Strickler fire station, but of Strickler itself nothing existed. Of course Larry got out his snooping hat and started to investigate. That investigation has finally been concluded, as much as anything Larry does is ever concluded.

In 1857, a stagecoach route was established between St. Louis and San Francisco and lasted until 1860 when the company went bankrupt for several reasons, chief of which was the completion of the continental railroad. The route went right in front of our house and was known as the Butterfield Trail. A stagecoach station was built on the east side of Bug Scuffle just south of the intersection with 265. According to Ross Earl Sherry, the current landowner, a bugle was blown as the coach approached the station so they knew the coach was close and could prepare to change horses or spend the night. The trail got really rough down from our place and was considered the roughest part of the entire route.

Larry thinks they may have changed to mules at this point but couldn’t find collaboration. The barn for the exchange animals was to the north of the station. Behind was a storm cellar that was often used during the heavy storms that frequented the area. Norma, Ross Earl’s wife, said, “Whenever people went in, they took a chopping ax in case the door caved in and trapped them.” I would have welcomed a storm cellar during the recent spate of storms and can only imagine how terrified the station people must have been, knowing no help was nearby.

Courtesy Photo - The Strickler stagecoach station was moved from its original location to Siloam Springs, where it is being renovated, possibly in preparation to being moved again.

The original building burnt down during the Civil War and was rebuilt soon after. Norma showed me some old photographs of the building at different times after the reconstruction. For the most part it consisted of two rooms with a covered dog trot open to the elements between them for ventilation during the hot summers. One side was a living area and the other a bedroom area with a lean-to kitchen on the back. The building still exists and currently resides in Siloam Springs on the property of Mike Smith where it is being renovated and possibly readied to be moved yet again. On the same property is the smaller and totally renovated station from War Eagle.

Now back to Strickler. When the stage coach company went bankrupt, Benjamin Strickler purchased the spot after the government released it for sale since it had previously been government land. Ross Earl is a direct ancestor of Benjamin Strickler and possesses the original deed signed by President Buchanan in 1860.

Next time the column will focus on Ross Earl Sherry and his association and memories with the station.

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