January 8, 2004

Gerths Celebrates 100 Years In Business

Longevity is uncommon in these days of business mergers and acquisitions. Last month the last Disney family member left the company. For a company to remain as a business for a century with the same owners is a rarity.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Gerth & Baskett Furniture and the Gerth Funeral Service. The Gerth family has owned and operated both businesses since Fred Gerth Sr. founded them in 1904 in Wyaconda.

It says something about the familys commitment through now four generations to this area, said Fritz Gerth, the business co-owner since 1993. It is rare for one family to own a business this long. Many sell out or close because their children move away or choose not to enter the business. Also, many small businesses have been unable to adapt to the changing climate where they have to compete with the larger discount stores and out of town businesses and are forced to close.

Fred Gerth founded an undertaking and furniture store in Wyaconda in 1904. Now those two businesses may seem to be an odd match, but at the turn of the century many funeral homes owners also operated furniture stores or hardware stores. At the time, it was economical because the wood manufacturers made both caskets and furniture and they were shipped together on the same trains.

One of the seminal events in Gerths history occurred when Ella Ewing passed away in Gorin on January 10, 1913. Her family contacted Fred Gerth to handle the services. The story of how he found a casket and vault appropriate for the 8 foot 4 Ewing is chronicled in Bette Wileys Book, Our Miss Ella.

There had been a heavy snow, and Gerth traveled to the Ewing home in Gorin from Wyaconda via horse and buggy. In those days, most of the funeral arrangements and visitation were held in the home. Even the embalming was done there.

Due to her great height, Ewing was too tall for the portable-embalming table so Gerth had to use her specially made dining room chairs, which were the same height as the six foot long embalming table, to accommodate the procedure.

When he was finished, he spoke with Ben Ewing, Ellas father, about arrangements. Ben wanted his daughter buried in a casket and sealed permanently in a vault. Ella, a proud and private person, feared her body would be experimented on or even displayed after her death.

Gerth remembered he had seen an oversized demonstration model vault at a show and contacted the manufacturers in Burlington, IA. They agreed to sell him the model, and make a casket to fit, but he had to come to Iowa and pick them up. After preparing the Ewing home for visitation, Gerth then left and promised to return the next day.

Immediately after leaving the Ewing home, Gerth rode to Wyaconda and boarded a train for Ft. Madison, IA. From there he traveled again by horse and buggy to Burlington, arriving in the middle of the night at the factory. Upon receiving the casket and vault, he drove them back to Ft. Madison and loaded them on the train for the ride back to Wyaconda.

Arriving in Wyaconda the morning of the service, Gerth loaded the casket into the horse drawn hearse, which had to be modified to carry the large casket, and rode to Gorin. The casket was so heavy that it took 10 men to carry it.

The funeral procession took Miss Ewing to the Harmony Grove Baptist Church, roughly five miles south of Gorin. When they arrived, a crowd had gathered that was so large the small church could not hold it. Wood burning stoves were placed outside to keep the mourners warm.

Miss Ewing was buried in the oversized vault and concrete poured on it to seal it forever, according to her familys wishes.

The funeral service of Ella Ewing garnered Fred Gerth a measure of notoriety. In the next few years, the business grew from Wyaconda to include funeral homes in Gorin and Rutledge, as well as a facility in Bible Grove, which had been owned by the Thrasher family.

The family also grew as George Baskett, Fred Gerths brother-in-law, joined the firm in 1913, creating Gerth & Baskett.

Baskett operated the stores in Wyaconda and Gorin when Fred Gerth moved to Memphis in 1930, when they purchased Mulch and Sons.

As well as having a funeral home and furniture store, Gerths for many years provided free ambulance services in Northeast Missouri. Before Scotland County Memorial Hospital, the nearest health care facilities were in Kirksville and Iowa.

Albert C. Gerth and Frederick Gerth took over operations of the business following the retirement of Fred Gerth Sr. and George Baskett. George Frederick Gerth succeeded his father Albert, following his untimely death in 1959.

During this time, the furniture store expanded to locations in Shelbina and Paris. They also purchased the Individual Mausoleum Corporation (IMCO) in Jamesport. IMCO was one of the first to produce granite top burial mausoleums. There are some of these mausoleums in most of the cemeteries in the area.

Frederick Gerth purchased George Gerths share of the company in the early 1970s and then closed the furniture stores in Shelbina and Paris. The locations in Gorin, Rutledge and Bible Grove were also closed, leaving the current business locations in Memphis and Wyaconda.

Gerth & Baskett merged with D.W. Payne & Sons following a fire that destroyed the Paynes business in 1979. PayneGerth operated until 1993, when the businesses split.

When Frederick Gerth retired in 1993, Fritz and Janet Gerth became the owners of Gerth & Baskett Furniture and Gerth Funeral Services. Melissa (Gerth) Behrens and her husband Jeff will be the fourth generation to run the business. Nathanial Gerth and Reese Hogarth are also the current employees. Tracey Russell maintains the Wyaconda location.

Gerth Funeral Service operates facilities in Memphis and Wyaconda. Both buildings were extensively remodeled in the early 1990s. The Memphis building features a childrens room, library, private family seating, and a full service kitchen.

In 1904, when Granddad started, the visitation was in the home and the service in a church, said Fritz Gerth. Now, we have modern and comfortable parlors and chapels in the facilities. Many families have moved away and only return for the funeral. So our parlor has to serve as a comfortable place for them to visit and grieve.

Also, back then the service was more formal. Now we strive to have a personal experience for our families by providing a comfortable parlor, memory boards to display photos, personalized memorial videos to play on a big screen television, and a website with funeral information for people to express their condolences if they cant get here.

There have also been many changes in the furniture business. Gerth & Baskett Furniture has operated exclusively out of the Memphis location since 1994, following the closing of the Wyaconda furniture store. Over the past 100 years, Gerth & Baskett has carried everything from pianos to appliances. Now the business deals in furniture, bedding and carpeting.

Many of the names have changed, Gerth said. At one time, my granddad sold more Cable Nelson Pianos than any other dealer per capita in the United States. We have carried every major name brand from Krohler to Lazy Boy to now Lane, Benchcraft, Berkline and Bruards. We have sold and represented about every carpet mill in America at one time. (Gerth & Baskett) has sold Simmons, Sealy, Serta, Therapedic, and Spring Air mattresses. The names change, but we are still here.

Gerth said the biggest changes in the business have been in transportation and style. When the business was founded, smaller towns had many stores because goods were shipped cheaply via train. Now merchandise is delivered in trucks, which is more expensive.

Also today, there is such a greater variety of furniture styles and tastes. A business must have a better knowledge and understanding of its market to survive. Customers have a wide range of choices and a business must be able to satisfy them, at a good price.

A lot has changed since Fred Gerth opened his one storeroom in 1904. The business plans several promotions during the year to celebrate the anniversary and the four generations that have maintained this family tradition.

Bash Trash with MDC and MoDOT Trash Bash!


Volunteer to clean up litter through May 15 and report efforts at nomoretrash.org.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.  – Missourians from every corner of the state are asked to do spring cleaning outdoors and help fight litter through the state’s annual No MOre Trash! Bash, which runs through May 15. The Trash Bash is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) as part of their ongoing No MOre Trash! statewide, anti-litter campaign.

The annual Trash Bash encourages people to clean up litter across Missouri from roadsides, parks, neighborhoods, rivers, streams, trails, and other places. Trash Bash activities also include educational efforts in schools, community events, and Earth Day celebrations.

Each year, MoDOT spends about $6 million to remove litter from more than 385,000 acres of roadsides along 34,000 state highway miles. Annual volunteer efforts to pick up litter along Missouri highways are valued at $1 million.

Last year, more than 60,000 bags of litter and several truckloads of debris were picked up during the one-month Trash Bash. People also attended numerous educational events stressing the importance of not littering. Volunteers participated through Adopt-A-Highway and Stream Team litter cleanup events. Missouri Stream Team Program volunteers removed 581 tons of litter from waterways and dedicated over $1.8 million worth of volunteer time to litter removal statewide annually.

“Litter is a big problem because it’s unattractive, costly, and harmful to the environment,” said Stacy Armstrong, MoDOT No MOre Trash! coordinator. “If more people would keep their trash and properly dispose of it, or, better yet, recycle it, we would reduce the amount of litter we need to pick up in the first place.”

Littering isn’t just ugly, it also hurts wildlife and Missouri outdoors.

“Birds, fish, turtles, and other animals get tangled in litter, such as discarded plastic six-pack holders and plastic bags, and it can kill them,” said Conservation Department No MOre Trash! Coordinator Joe Jerek. “Litter can also poison wildlife and can cost a litterer up to $1,000 in fines and one year in jail.”

Jerek added that helium balloons released for social or celebratory reasons can also become a litter threat to fish and wildlife, which may consume or get tangled in the deflated balloons and ribbons.

Volunteers are needed across the state to participate in litter cleanup activities. Participants can report their cleanup efforts and will receive a thank you No MOre Trash! pin. For more information and to learn how to participate, visit nomoretrash.org or call 1-888-ASK-MODOT (1-888-275-6636). 

City of Memphis Marks Earth Day With Tree Plantings

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An estimated one billion or more people in 192 countries commemorated Earth Day on Friday, April 22nd, including the City of Memphis.

Superintendent Roy Monroe reported a pair of trees were planted in Johnson Park as part of the celebration that fosters environmental awareness while promoting such activities as community clean ups, and like this year, planting trees.

This year Earth Day Network focused on the urgent need to plant new trees and forests worldwide.

“Throughout the year, EDN sponsors and takes part in tree plantings across the US and worldwide,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “But this year we are raising the stakes. As we begin the four year count down to Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in 2020, Earth Day Network is pledging to plant 7.8 billion trees worldwide – one for every person on Earth! That’s incredibly ambitious, but we believe this down-payment must be made in order to combat climate change and keep our most vulnerable eco-systems from facing extinction.”

Recognized as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation, Memphis continues to promote tree health and expansion of the tree inventory within city limits. The city offers free tress for planting on city right-of-ways on private property.

“The City of Memphis is again giving a tree to residents who will help with its survival,” said Monroe. “The trees will be planted by city employees on city right of ways.  Species will be determined by tree ordinance with consideration given to utilities at the location of the tree.”

For more information contact City Hall at 465-7285.

According to the US Census Bureau, trees play a key role in the national economy. More than 54,000 people are employed in forestry fields. More than 2.5 million homes nationwide are heated primarily by wood-burning, which is more than 2% of all housing.

Lucas Oil MLRA Late Models Help Kickoff 2016 Scotland County Speedway Season on May 7th

Billy Moyer, Jr., of Batesville, AR, took home the $5,000 top prize with a win at the last Lucas Oil MLRA Late Model race, April 17th at State Fair Speedway in Sedalia.

Billy Moyer, Jr., of Batesville, AR, took home the $5,000 top prize with a win at the last Lucas Oil MLRA Late Model race, April 17th at State Fair Speedway in Sedalia.

After losing a pair of spring shows to Mother Nature, Scotland County Speedway is hoping to kick off its 2016 schedule of special races with a bang on Saturday, May 7th when the Lucas Oil MLRA Late Models will travel to Memphis.

Modifieds have been added to the card courtesy of J & J AG, Jon and Jardin Fuller, for a show that will also feature Stock Cars, Sport Mods, and Sport Compacts.

Gates will open at 5:30, p.m. with hot laps at 6:45 p.m. and racing at 7:15 p.m.

Grandstand prices will be adults $20, students $10 and 6 & under free.  Pit pass will be $30.  Check out Scotland County Speedway on Facebook for more information.

The stop in Memphis on Saturday will cap off a three-day run across Iowa and Missouri. The MLRA late models will hit Donnellson, IA on May 5th for a $3,000 to win race at Lee County Speedway. The following night they will be chasing a similar purse at Davenport Speedway in Davenport, IA before arriving at Scotland County Speedway for another $3,000 race.

The circuit was last in action on Sunday afternoon, April 17th at the State Fair Speedway in Sedalia. A good field of 27 competitors signed in to run for the $5,000 top prize.

Justin Asplin led the field to green from the DirtOnDirt.com pole. An opening lap pileup caused a good deal of body damage to several cars. Once back underway only two additional quick yellows slowed the pace.

Billy Moyer Jr. ventured in from Batesville, Arkansas and was fast from hot laps. Jr. won his heat early in the day and rolled from third. He quickly took the lead and pushed on to his second win of the season and first with the Lucas Oil MLRA since 2012 in La Monte, Missouri.

“We had a heck of a car,” said Moyer Jr. following the feature. “I was just glad to win the thing.”

A 22-lap scamper to the checkers had cars racing all over the track. On a couple of occasions Moyer Jr. had to exercise patience to navigate lapped cars. Terry Phillips closed nearly to his bumper, but he was able to maneuver out of the close quarters.

The runner-up finish for Phillips is his best of the season. Moving from 11th, he made a lot happen in a relatively short amount of time. Phillips also captured the Casey’s General Stores Hard Charger of the Race award.

“I always love coming here,” commented Phillips “I miss this place. I’m glad somebody got it going again here. It was a pretty good race track for a daytime race. They did all they could to get it wet early. All in all it was a good night for us.”

Rolling off just one row ahead of Phillips, Rodney Sanders worked forward into third where he finished.

“It was pretty bottom dominant,” Sanders said. “We had a good car there just a little bit too tight. I can’t say enough about Jimmy (Mars) and the guys, they’ve been working hard. I felt like we had a pretty good weekend. Just got to improve a little bit, but I think we are getting in the right direction.”

Pitch, Hit and Run Competition Being Held at Johnson Park


The City of Memphis Parks Department is hosting a Pitch Hit and Run Competition on Saturday, May 7th starting at 9:00 a.m.  The event is being held at Johnson Park Ball Field.

The competition, a free, 1-day event for boys and girls ages 7-14, is divided into two separate divisions, baseball and softball, and participants may compete in either division.

Divided into three fundamental aspects of baseball/softball, participants are scored on pitching, hitting and running.  In pitching, the participant is tested throwing strikes to a designated “strike zone” target.  Any method of throwing is permitted.  In hitting, the participant hits a ball off a stationary tee for distance and accuracy.  In running, the participant is timed, starting from second base, touching third then touching home plate.

All of the events are individually scored and converted to a total point score through the use of conversion tables.  After competing in each of the three components, participants accumulate a total score based on his/her performance.

Champions at the Local level advance to a Sectional competition.  Those winners then become eligible to advance to the Team Championships held in June and then the final culmination occurs at the National Finals held at the 2016 MLB All-Star Week.

Complete information and rules can be found at PitchHitRun.com.  Registration forms for the Local completion being held on May 7th can be picked up at Memphis City Hall and the Memphis Democrat.  For more information, contact Memphis City Hall at 660-465-7285.

Service Day Brings Out Best In CMU

From sororities and fraternities to sports teams and service clubs, some 700 volunteers from Central Methodist University did their part on Thursday, April 7 to, in the words of the CMU mission statement, “make a difference in the world.”

The University called off classes for its annual Service Day, when students, faculty and staff are encouraged to engage in volunteer activities to support a variety of causes. Event coordinator Matt Williams, associate director for CMU’s Center for Faith and Service, estimated CMU dedicated more than 1,700 hours this year.

Lucas Howard, a Sophomore computer science major from Memphis, volunteered with the Cleanup Fayette project, where over one hundred volunteers worked to pick up trash around town.

The many Service Day projects included yard work at various homes, work at the food bank in Columbia, volunteering at Fayette Head Start, sewing colorful pillow cases for children who are battling cancer, and many more.

“As President (Roger) Drake likes to say, we’re helping to prepare students for ‘advanced citizenship’ in the world around them,” Williams added. “Even though classes were canceled for Service Day, the learning continued.”

Since its founding in 1854, CMU has evolved into a university that confers master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees through programming on its main campus in Fayette, Mo., and through extension sites located across Missouri and online

Delaney Gundy Inducted Into C-SC’s Chapter of Alpha Chi National College Honor Society

Delaney Gundy, senior art education major from Gorin, MO, was among 22 students inducted into the Missouri Beta chapter of the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society. The ceremony was held Wednesday, April 20, in Johnson Hall Parlor on the Culver-Stockton College campus.

Faculty co-sponsors Dr. Scott Giltner and Dr. Lauren Schellenberger welcomed the new members into the society. Dr. Dell Ann Janney, Associate Dean of Instruction and Professor of Accounting, delivered this year’s charge to initiates, family, and friends.

Alpha Chi honors those juniors and seniors in the top ten percent of their class. Founded in 1922, Alpha Chi has over 300 chapters nationally and works toward the goal of “Making Scholarship Effective for Good.”

Culver-Stockton College, located in Canton, Mo., is a four-year residential institution in affiliation with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). C-SC specializes in experiential education and is one of only two colleges in the nation to offer the 12/3 semester calendar, where the typical 15 week semester is divided into two terms, a 12-week term and a 3-week term.

The C-SC Wildcats are members of the Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Show Me Dog Club to Host Dog Day in the Park

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Dog parks are becoming more popular all across the United States. They are different in size and design but share the same purpose: to provide a place where dogs can run freely off-leash and socialize with other dogs. Although they’re not for everyone, dog parks can benefit both people and their pets. Once or twice a year the City of Memphis generously opens Johnson Park as a dog park. Here are some tips on why you should take your dog to the park:

Many behavior problems in dogs are caused by a lack of physical and mental activity. Dogs were born to lead active lives. They’ve worked alongside people for thousands of years, hunting game, herding and protecting livestock, and controlling vermin. Dogs’ wild relatives lead busy lives, too, hunting, scavenging, avoiding predators and complex social interaction. Most pet dogs, on the other hand, spend the majority of their time alone at home, napping on couches and eating food from bowls. Many become bored, lonely and overweight. They have excess energy and no way to expend it, so it’s not surprising that they often come up with activities on their own, like unstuffing couches, raiding trash cans and gnawing on shoes.

To keep your dog happy, healthy and out of trouble, you’ll need to find ways to exercise his/her brain and body. If she enjoys the company of her own kind, visits to your local dog park can greatly enrich her life. Benefits of going to the dog park include:

Physical and mental exercise for dogs: your dog can zoom around off-leash to her heart’s content, investigate new smells, wrestle with her dog buddies and fetch toys until she happily collapses. Many dogs are so mentally and physically exhausted by a trip to the dog park that they snooze for hours afterwards.

Opportunities to maintain social skills: dogs are like us, highly social animals, and many enjoy spending time with their own species. At the dog park, your dog gets practice reading a variety of other dogs’ body language and using his/her own communication skills, and she gets used to meeting unfamiliar dogs on a frequent basis. These valuable experiences can help guard against the development of fear and aggression problems around other dogs.

Fun for pet parents, dogs aren’t the only ones who enjoy dog parks. People do too. They can exercise their dogs without much effort, socialize with other dog lovers, bond and play with their dogs, practice their off-leash training skills, and enjoy the entertaining antics of frolicking dogs. This article was from petsWebMD.com.

Please join us for A Dog Day in the Park at Johnson Park this Saturday, April 30, 2016 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Please no female dogs in heat or unneutered males. We ask that all dogs be current on their shots. Just a fun hour or two for you and your dog to run around, socialize, and have fun. In case of rain, the event will be cancelled.

Ruby Red Hats of Rutledge

The Ruby Red Hats of Rutledge went to the Edina Nutrition Center on April 18th.  Marjorie Peterson was hostess.  She gave everyone a petunia and a packet of flower seeds.

Those attending the meeting were Celine Erickson, Marilyn Dunn, JoAnn Rood, Virginia Hustead, Joyce Bass, Ruth Ludwick, Reva Hustead, Marlene Henry, Neta Phillips and Nancy Jo Waack.

The next meeting will be Monday, May 16th at Keith’s Café in Memphis.  Hostesses will be JoAnn Rood and Marilyn Dunn.

Memphis FFA Hosting 2016 Awards Banquet

The Memphis FFA Chapter will be celebrating the successes of its FFA Chapter members on Thursday, May 5th at their annual Awards Banquet.

The Memphis FFA has had a very successful year and seen many accomplishments.  They have been awarded Proficiencies, attended Leadership Development Events and Career Development Events where they qualified and competed at top levels.  The Chapter credits their successes not only to their own hard work but also to the support received from businesses and the local community.

The Memphis FFA Banquet is being held at the Scotland County High School Gymnasium with dinner starting promptly at 6:00 p.m.  In addition to regular banquet activities, they are also holding a silent auction to raise funds to help with the cost of sending members to leadership conferences, CDE events and state and national conventions.

Is Maintenance Due On Your CRP?

Mid-Contract Management is required on CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) acreage. MCM (Mid-Contract Management) practices must be performed during the program years indicated in the participants’ Conservation Plan. For most contracts, management practices will be required to be performed one time on each contract acre during contract years 3 through 6.

CRP participants, in consultation with NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), have the choice of one or more of the following three required MCM practices after a grass stand is considered established: strip disking, prescribed burning, and chemical application. Mowing alone is not an approved MCM practice. Each practice has a specific time-frame it may be performed. In no case will MCM be allowed during the primary nesting season of May 1 to July 15.

Spring disking ended March 31stt. The deadline to burn cool season grasses is April 30th. The spring deadline for chemical application of cool season grasses is also April 30th. There are additional times later in the year available to perform MCM practices.

CRP participants are to report to their FSA (Farm Service Agency) office when the practice is done. After the bills for the disking, burning, or chemical application are submitted, cost-share of $11 per acre may be issued.

CRP that does not have the required MCM practices applied as required will be subject to a penalty or cancellation of the CRP contract.

For more information about when you need to perform MCM, the specifications for each MCM practice, or any other questions in regards to maintaining your CRP, please contact your county FSA office. The Scotland County FSA office is open Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number is (660) 465-8517.

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