During the days of Route 66, Central Motel & Station was located in Pulaski County, between Buckhorn and Hazelgreen. It was a popular stop for travelers who were “motoring west” on the “Main Street of America”. Before Route 66 was established, the site of Central Motel & Station was well known to locals as “Dadtown”.
Pulaski County Museum & Historical Society has kindly shared their published article about the Dadtown Store that was submitted by Kirk Pearce for inclusion in History Pulaski County Missouri Vol II in 1987:
Once upon a time in the Ozarks there was a place called “Dadtown,” which was a lively little place. It was located near Hazelgreen.
In the early 1900’s Dad and Betsy Lewis built a store building and put in a general line of groceries. Since Hazelgreen was the major trading center for that day in time, he only stocked items people used often. Folks from the Bellfonte Community would come there to do their small trading.
This little store become known as “Dadtown” in honor of Dad Lewis.
Lewis also built a small grist mill. The mill drew customers from both Pulaski and Laclede counties to have their corn ground. Ruby (King) Doty of Lebanon remembers going to have their corn ground with her parents many times. She tells about sitting up late at night shelling corn so it would be ready to take to mill the next morning. White corn was preferred by most of the natives around here.
The Dadtown store consisted of one large room with a big pot bellied stove in the middle.
The big jars of mouthwatering candy in the store was a delight to any child who came into the store. There was licorice, peppermint, chocolate and white “candy cigars” among other candies.
There was a big coffee mill to grind coffee. Sugar was measured out in paper bags, as well as dried beans.
Besides groceries, Dad Lewis also sold bran and seeds. A peddler would also come around selling brooms quiet often.
The store was a favorite place for visiting. Dad Lewis was a type of person who enjoyed being with people. His byword was “byjacks,” and he used it a lot!
The first silent movies in that community were shown at Dadtown. Marion Lewis, son of Dad, set up a large tent and had a “Wild West” Show. Folks came from miles around. Those were the first silent movies most of these had seen. There were some who thought they were “for real” and got quite shaken up!
There was also a canning factory at Dadtown for a short time. In 1925 Jess Grisel put a canning factory on Jess Watson’s farm near a large spring of water. George Dougan built the factory, which was no more than a shed.
About 10 or 12 were employed there. Some of these were Ollie Carroll, Sis Watson, Hazel and Flo Patterson, Lee Bowling, Alvie Powers, Noble Dougan, Marion Howell, Velma McDaniel, Elsie Howell Dougan and Syble Arnold.
The tomatoes were put in wire baskets and dipped in hot water to loosen the peelings. Then in cold water and poured in a long trough. The ladies peeled and packed them into cans.
George Dougan did most of the scalding: Marion Howell cooked the tomatoes in a large vat, and Noble Dougan ran the capper machine.
Almost every farm in that community raised fields of tomatoes that year.
The cans of tomatoes were taken to Richland where they were labeled and shipped by train to wholesale houses.
Lit Patterson was the last owner of the Dadtown Store and operated the store for several years. He built up a good cream business and bought cream from farmers a long time.
Dadtown Store has been gone many years, but the impact it had on those who were raised there, and the friendship of neighbors, will never be forgotten.
Although Dadtown Store has been gone for many years, the site where it, and later Central Motel & Station, were is still sought out by Route 66 enthusiasts. For free turn by turn directions of Pulaski County, Missouri’s original Route 66 pavement, including locations such as the site of Dadtown and Central Motel & Station, contact Pulaski County Tourism Bureau at 877-858-8567 or visit us at http://www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com.