The History of Markham Springs
Revealed in these ancient geological formations is evidence that some primitive people struggled for survival here 10,000 years ago. More recently, however, the Osage Indians received the first white men trappers and adventures to traverse the eastern plains into the Mississippi Valley. Subsequently arrival to Missouri included the Delaware and Shawnee forced from their eastern homeland by colonial expansion, and French and Spanish traders in pursuit of the Indians fur market. Under this increasing pressure, the Mississippi River became a highway for commerce and colonization and the Indians were pushed still further westward.
The date of the first mill and millpond on this site is not exactly known. Prior to 1850, a mill with an undershot wheel was built to grind grain. This was primarily a gristmill with store burrs, but a sash sawmill that cut 1500 board feet per day was reportedly operating in conjunction with it. After 1874, the Mill was operated under lease until it was sold to the DeHaven Brothers.
Bill and Jo DeHaven rebuilt the mill into a large two-story overshot mill and installed new machinery and equipment for a flourmill. The upper story contained wheat bins, screens, and six bolters or reels. On the lower floor there were three wheat falls, flour bin, and grain elevators. The machinery was driven by a fourteen foot in diameter-overshot wheel with a cog shaft transmission.
In 1901, the mill was sold to Jefferson Markham who continued its operation as a gristmill until 1907. People would come from miles around and camp on the riverbanks while the grain was processed.
Thereafter, the mill stood idle until after the 1930’s when it’s new owner Rudolph G. Fuchs, replaced the mill with the present wheelhouse to produce electricity for his residence. However the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) provided electricity to the area before the wheelhouse could perform it's function.
The Forest Service acquired the site in 1965 and the recreational facilities were constructed by corpsmen from the Poplar Bluff Civilian Conservation Center.
Although it is difficult to locate most of the points at which surface waters enter under the ground stream channels, Blue Hole and Brushy Creek are exceptions. Other conduits like these, to the north and the west maintain the flow of water at Markham Springs from 3.5 to 4.6 million gallons per day.
In the beginning was a bountiful settled by a hardy people who made good use of the free flowing stream, the rich valleys and the timber clad hills. Wood was their basic material for building their homes, their barns, and their mills. They developed the tools and the means to utilize it well.
MARKHAM springs lies near the top of the Ozark dome an ancient geological structure formed by volcanic activity that occurred over one billion years ago. Subsequent intrusions of shallow seas and intermittent periods of uplift began a cycle of sediment deposition and buckling, which produced topographic features of present day Missouri. Limestone sediments laid down as long as 500 million years ago buckled under the stress of uplift in the earth’s crust, forming cracks into which surface water flower and eventually carved out underground caves and stream channels.
As erosion forces cut deep into the earth many of the underground channels issued forth as surface springs like Markham Springs. Currently, there are over 150 large springs of this origin in the state of Missouri.
The gateway to the western frontier was also the end of a rugged trek for many families who carved farms out of these rolling hills. In the wake of war, agriculture was dominated by small family farms. Wheat, corn, and oats were the major grains grown here along with dairy products, poultry, and fruit. Life on the farm even the social side, reflected the farming culture.
For example, corn husking was a popular excuse for a party where the lucky fellow who found the red ear could kiss the girl of his choice. Apparently the corn was husked faster that way.
The WilliamsvillE area Progress COmmittee
In the year 2000, the Williamsville Area Progress Committee, (W.A.P.C.), was formed in order to make improvements to Markham Springs Recreation Area. The Williamsville community received information that the recreation area was to be closed. Upkeep and improvements to Markham Springs, before, had failed to be completed due to lack of funding. Members of the community felt the need to take action in order to keep this historical community landmark alive.
Williamsville residents wrote newspaper articles, and called their representatives voicing their concern for the recreation area, in order to see what could be done to make a difference. There has been much interest in the Williamsville community, and surrounding communities for this beautiful part of the Ozark Forest. W.A.P.C. worked in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service to make improvements possible.
Many families have enjoyed returning home and bringing their families back to the country to relax and enjoy vacations. Markham Springs has always been a place where this has been possible and the community has worked long and hard to not lose that.
In the year 2010, investors had taken interest in making improvements to the historical rock house and mill. Because of their hard work and dedication, the rock house has been made into a vacation home for families to enjoy. A journal has been kept that tells the stories of the visitors experiences.
The Williamsville Old Tyme Country Festival was an annual part of bringing families back to the area. The dedication of W.A.P.C., the Williamsville community, and surrounding communities and businesses made this festival possible.
Since the year 2000, improvements have been successfully made. People here care about their community and want this place to continue to thrive throughout the generations. Markham Springs has been a major attraction for this community with its beautiful springs, rock bluffs, winding trails, beautiful campsites, geographical significance, and rich history. We hope, when you come to visit, you will love the area as much as we do!
To see more improvements for this area please contact the Poplar Bluff Forest Service Office 573-785-1475. Thank you for your interest!
FUchs House Renovation Group
The Fuchs House at Markham Springs attracted the attention of private investors Nick Barrack, Dennis Bennett, John Dills, and Norman Plasse (all from Rolla MO). Nick Barrack, who owns CSE Construction in Rolla, put in a bid to convert the rock home into a rental resort and vacation home for the public. Work began in 2009 and was completed in 2010 with many people involved in the renovation and care of this historical building. With the help of former W.A.P.C. members, the house is still available for rent and has entertained many people coming to visit the area and enjoy the springs.