On a bright, fall, pre-COVID day, there was a knock on my door. Two bicyclists in full brand name biking attire stood on my porch. A couple bicycles that I would bet surpassed the dollar value of the 2012 Ford Edge that was parked in our garage were arm distance away.
The bicyclists were puzzling over an even agenda and GPS coordinates on their phone.
“Good morning,” they greeted. “We are on a scavenger hunt and are looking for the town of Cottonville. Our program says to take a picture of the town sign with population.”
Well, apparently the event planner had an old map with a dot on it showing Cottonville, as there are a limited number of maps out there with such a dot, and thought it was one of Jackson County’s supporting villages.
I explained that Cottonville is merely four corners with a current population of eight. Forty years ago when three of the four homes had kids at home, the population soared to 25. Go east and you will find Bellevue and the beautiful Mississippi. Go west and the Otter Creek Station will be at your service.
According to Adeline Scheckel, a former country schoolteacher and historian who grew up in Cottonville and now rests peacefully at Holy Rosary Cemetery in LaMotte, Cottonville was a Richland Township hub of activity. A blacksmith shop, dancehall, community voting center and coffin maker were an example of the businesses offering services and entertainment.
Scheckel related the story to me that as a young girl, her parents would attend the festivities at the dancehall and the kids were allowed to “run amuck” with no fears on the part of the kids or parents. Adeline said she remembered it well as she was one of those neighborhood kids.
She and a couple neighborhood boys peeked into the window of the coffin maker’s shop, and much to their surprise it was unlocked. The boys dared her to crawl into the coffin that was finished for an upcoming burial.
Not to appear a wimp to the two pint-sized hooligans, she crawled into the coffin and the boys immediately slammed the lid shut and sat on it! She yelled and with all the strength of her arms and feet, she hoisted the lid open with the boys still atop.
Before the cyclists were on their way, they asked to take a picture of me next to our Cottonville farm sign. I declined but snapped a photo of them at the sign to prove they actually found that dot on the map.
As they mounted their bikes I told them to go across the road to the Cottonville Cemetery. It’s a Civil War cemetery that also is the eternal resting place of a veteran of the War of 1812.
They said they would do that and take a picture of the sign as double proof that they had found Cottonville.
Mary Ann Kunde has a rural-Bellevue address but is one of those eight people who populates Cottonville.