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Spectacular Ralls rolling hills transform into key highway link

W.A. Haydon, left, and Clarence Shinn are filling a silo on the C.K. Gillum dairy farm in this 1927 photo. Photo was originally contributed to the Hannibal Courier-Post by Ruby Haydon Sheehan, and was contributed for this article by Rich Gillum of Hannibal


In 1911, Charles K. Gillum and his family were contentedly settled on their farm to the south of Oakwood, in Ralls County, which was “conceded to be one of the most beautiful spots in this section,” according to a mention in the Palmyra Spectator ten years later.

The landscape today is vastly different from what it was when Gillum - a Pike County, Mo., native - first purchased his farm – pre 1911 - in Sections 11 and 12, Township 56 North, Range 5 West in Ralls County. U.S. 61 now cuts a swath through what was once his farm, but back in 1911, the highway didn’t even exist. Instead, travelers followed the New London Gravel Road, which was to the east of Gillum’s 460-acre farm.

The portion of the highway in Northeast Missouri now known as U.S. 61 was previously named State Route 9, and was planned in conjunction with the Hawes Road Law circa 1919, and the McCullough-Morgan amendments that followed.

The Ralls County commission had proposed a 16-mile route starting at the Ralls/Marion County line near Oakwood, and heading south through New London, to the Pike County line.

In August 1926 the state route then known as Number 9 was absorbed by the federal road system.

U.S. 61 – with its varying road surfaces - became a continuous link between The Gulf of Mexico and the Canadian border, and cut right through Mr. Gillum’s Ralls County farm.

The Missouri Department of Transportation purchased the land from Gillum in 1930.


It was during the early 1930s that Charles Gillum’s highway frontage became ripe for development. Fermin T. O’Dell, a local businessman and visionary, had seen a cemetery elsewhere where the headstones were flush to the ground. Thinking this was a good idea, he purchased 30 acres of the Gillum farm fronting the new the highway. It was there that he established Grand View Burial Park.

Among the early burials at Grand View was William Andrew Newlon, the 21-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas P. Newlon of the Hydesburg neighborhood. Services were at the Hydesburg Methodist Church in October 1934, followed by burial at the new cemetery.

Early years

Charles K. Gillum was born in 1860, and served with the U.S. Army during an Indian uprising in Colorado in 1885. He married Abbie Carlisle Lynch at Center, Mo., in 1888. Their first child, Clayborne Kirtley Gillum, was born in Grand Junction, Colo.

They returned to Calumet, Pike County, Missouri before their two daughters – Davilla and Louisa – were born. And by 1911, they had relocated to Ralls County south of Oakwood, in the Ocean Wave neighborhood.

Louisa continued her education at Christian College in Columbia, and Clayborne Kirtley Gillum graduated from Culver-Stockton College in Canton. He became a minister in the Christian denomination, and served the First Christian Church at Davenport, Iowa, for 31 years.

Dairy farming

C.K. Gillum’s farm served as a dairy operation, and he took a leadership role in the changes that unfolded in that industry during the first decades of the 20th century.

In 1917, twenty-six Marion County Dairymen united to form a cow testing association. These 26 men had a total of 445 cows, and it was set up so that a tester would spend one working day each month with each member and his herd. Led by Prof. A.C. Ragsdale, extension dairyman from the University of Missouri, the testing procedure was intended to ensure a safe milk supply in the county. Gillum was chosen as one of the directors, along with Harry Houck, G.S. Keller, W.A. Todd and J. Beach Drake.

All milking was still done by hand. Up until the turn of the century, it was considered an impossibility that cows could ever be milked by any mechanical device. But in advance of the Pan-American American exposition at Buffalo, New York in the summer of 1901, word had come from Glasgow, Scotland, that a firm wanted to exhibit such a device, featuring a pneumatic system, with valves and suction rubbers.

It wasn’t until the mid 1930s that electric service came to the rural areas of Missouri.


Clarence Shinn operated the C.K. Gillum dairy in 1927. He and W.A. Haydon worked together in an exchange program. Gillum owned the land.

An undated Hannibal Courier-Post newspaper clipping supplied by Rich Gillum of Hannibal, notes that Haydon rented land that is now part of the cemetery. He planted wheat crops, which were cut and put into shocks. Later a threshing machine would separate the grain from the straw.

Haydon bailed the straw, and some was used for bedding the cows during the winter.

In 1930 Haydon owned 200 acres of land to the north of the Gillum farm, and in 1940, Clarence Shinn was offering his 160-acre farm along U.S. 61 for sale.

Haydon held a sale at his farm, located on Tad Pole Lane, in October 1944. The auction bill included: 8 high producing jerseys

1 cow six years old, fresh 4 weeks, heavy milker; 1 cow 4 years, fresh soon, probably by day of sale; 1 cow three years old; 1 cow 2 years old; 1 cow 2 years old; 1 cow 2 years old; 1 cow 2 years. The last five have been fresh in the last two months and are extra good for heifers; 1 bull 2 years old; 2 yearling heifers.

This herd is strictly clean of disease, been tested for Bang and T.B. In excellent health.

Also, a milk bottler, bottles, crates and other milking utensils, and 2 milk vats.

Mrs. Gillum

During her time as a resident of Ralls County, Abbie Carlisle Gillum was a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In 1921, she hosted a picnic at her rural home in honor of Jefferson Davis’ birthday. She died Aug 28, 1942.

After her death, C.K. Gillum liquidated his farming assets and moved to Davenport, Iowa, where he would spend the rest of his life with his son’s family.

He died on Feb. 28, 1952, at the age of 92, and is buried beside his wife at Barkley Cemetery, New London.

Note: Thanks to Terry Sampson for his assistance with research for this story.

This section of a 1930 Ralls County plat map shows the C.K. Gillam (Gillum) farm. U.S. 61 would later be constructed north and south through the Gillum farm, roughly along the line dividing sections 11 and 12. Grand View Burial Park was constructed to the east of U.S. 61 on the land that was once owned by Gillum. In 1927, W.A. Haydon (Haden) and Clarence Shinn operated the Gillum farm. Note on this map that W.A. Haden (Haydon) owned 200 acres of land to the north of the Gillum (Gillam) farm. To the east of the Gillum farm is the New London Gravel Road. Township 56 North, Range 5 West, sections 11 and 12. The entire segment shown consists of sections 1, 2, 11 and 12. ILLUSTRATION/MARY LOU MONTGOMERY

This 1987 map shows the path of U.S. 61 south of Hannibal, and the Grand View Burial Park is highlighted. Illustration by Mary Lou Montgomery

Rev. C. Kirtley Gillum. Photo from The Daily Times, Davenport, Iowa, Jan. 3, 1948.

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