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The Ogles : A Link to Viburnum's Past, part 2

Johnny Jones, 7 October 2003

There is more to Mary Ogle's story than I shared with you last week. Now 97, Miss Mary remembers back in Viburnum's history, when she was a young school teacher here. She remembers ice storms that made getting to school a challenge. "I'd walk all the way to school having to hold to the fence all the way up the lane - then all the children were already there."

She remembers one child who showed up without his lunch one day, who also had trouble with the ice. "Clarence, where's your lunch?" Miss Mary asked.

"Well, my lunch bucket fell down the hill and I wasn't going down that slick hill after it," he replied.

Sounds like the trip to school isn't as dangerous as it used to be. Besides ice, there was the drive. To get to school in Cherryville, the bus had to cross a skeleton bridge - just two tracks, similar to railroad tracks, bowed in the middle. Miss Mary said all the children had to get off on one side, walk over the bridge, then get back on the bus on the other side

After the pine forests had been cut down, and second growth covered the countryside, the logging, which had been the mainstay of the community, was discontinued. The branch line of the railroad was pulled out. Then the population melted away. In 1951 there were only three homes in the community, besides the old store. Viburnum had become a modern-day ghost town. Nor more than ten or twelve people remained.

Then, just as it was one natural resource, timber, that caused Viburnum to boom the first time, another natural resource, lead, caused it to boom again.

Prospecting in this area by St. Joe Lead (now The Doe Run company) began in 1953. In 1958 St. Joe brought the town of Viburnum back to life - on a third site. St. Joe hired Harland Bartholomew and Associates to design the new town site about a quarter mile from the site of Doc Mincher's store.

This activity and investment by St. Joe allowed some natives of Viburnum to return. Both Ted Ogle and his son, Bob, had moved to St. Louis because there were no jobs in Viburnum.

Ted Ogle expressed it this way in 1982: "St. Joe is the best thing that happened to this county. That way we had opportunities here at home. It kept the kids at home. Otherwise they'd be in St. Louis working."

One of the buildings which remains from the old Viburnum is Dorothy Reed's house. In one room of that house Doc had his store at one time. Doc was a dentist, as well as a farmer, store owner, and doctor. "I ought to know," Ted Ogle said. "He pulled one tooth for me one time. It liked to killed me."

Something else important to the Ogles is church. I noticed in Ted Ogle's home an open Bible with a magnifying glass on top.

Both Ted and Bob Ogle were good at working with their hands, as evidenced by the beautiful picture frames Ted made.

Bob began Quad County Plumbing because he wanted to be self-employed. "I wanted to do something different." He did the plumbing and wiring at both the Cherryville and Viburnum schools.

Betty is a fan of Viburnum. "I think it's a good place to live. It's a beautiful town. Most of the houses have woods behind them. There are good schools and good, friendly people."

The Ogles agreed that family and church are most important to them. The year I interviewed them, 1982, Ted made wooden airplanes for the children in Vacation Bible School.

That concern for the community and its people, going on from one generation to another, helps make the Ogles people who make a difference.

Story based on interviews with Ted, Mary, Bob, and Betty Ogle, Summer, 1982