Once again this information is from Florence Treasured Memories
Florence was founded in 1837, just two years after Chicago was officially organized as a town. The land grant was entered from the government by Williams after whom the settlement was first named, Williamsburg. Later it was called Nigger Hill, because, as tradition has it, a freed negro settled there and opened a little store. Later when a post office was secured the village was given its present name.
Florence before the Civil War was a thriving town of 500 inhabitants, located on the trail from Boonville to Springfield according to J. F. Casdorph. Here were a hotel, three stores, two blacksmith shops and five saloons. Two large packing houses gave a decided impetus towards prosperity. Hogs were raised on a large scale, sold to the packing houses and later taken to Boonville on scooner wagons drawn by oxen. The returning wagons freighted the necessary supplies back to Florence.
Florence in the days before the war was the center of activity for surrounding county. On Saturday the village was thronged with people from the prairie south of town, then known as “The Nation,” from Akinsville and Versailles. Here they met for horse racing, foot racing, shooting matches and fights. News of a proposed fight would spread for miles around and bring an even larger crowd. Many interesting are the traditional tales of encounters in those days.
In addition to the saloons a barrel of whiskey stood in each store and here each newcomer filled his canteen with agility as the heavy dew or snake bite required. Another place of entertainment was the bowling alley which was popular for miles around.
The late William Baughman was the first Postmaster of Florence and was one of the best-known blacksmiths in the section, and much business came to him from as far as Versailles and Tipton.
The old tan yard near Overton place, was once a thriving business, as was the nearly forgotten pottery plant which was owned by J.M. Hummel.
In 1863 several of the buildings were moved to Sedalia. Among the stores moved was the one owned by Major Beck.
However, today Florence is a model little village with its wide neatly-kept main street, attractive places of business and industrious, prosperous and public-spirited citizens.
Note: There were a few stores left in Florence and I did photograph most of them. None were in business anymore but one had been purchased by a couple who were restoring it. I did get permission to go inside and photograph it. I felt like I had walked back into time when I entered the rooms. It is named “The Ambush” and it is a bar and restaurant.
I have been reading the book I purchased for a whopping $5 about Florence and really enjoying it. Through these memories of the residences of Florence and the surrounding countryside I am imagining living in those days. Although it took place in Missouri it more than likely happened in the whole United States during the early stages of this countries growth. So I hope you enjoyed these two blogs as well as I did creating them.