History of Monett
In 1887, Monett was established and marked its beginning as a Frisco Railroad town. Originally a settlement called Plymouth, Plymouth Junction or Plymouth Crossing, this location was part of the Cherokee Indian’s “Trail of Tears” in 1837-38. Monett quickly became a vibrant Frisco terminal. This facilitated the growth in agriculture trade, retail commerce and small manufacturing.
The street names of early Monett identify active railroad officials at the time: Bond, Cale, Wishart, Dunn, Benton and Scott. The street on the county line of Barry/Lawrence was named for the newly-elected President: Cleveland. Some “firsts” of Monett: first mayor was S. J. Courdin; first birth was Monett “Montie” Myers (painter and artist), first newspaper was The Monett Weekly News; first Police Chief Marshall was Anthony Segerer; first city hall was built in 1896 at the current location. The current facility was built by M. E. Gillioz in 1929. The first YMCA was the magnificent “Railroad YMCA” in 1898. Monett also had a full-scale Fred Harvey House and Hotel operating at the Frisco Depot.
Young Monett developed an economy of much diversity -- livestock, apples, tomatoes, cigar factory, ice plant, razor/cutlery factory, creamery, poultry, dairy and the famous “Ozark” strawberries. Monett became known as the Strawberry Capital of the Midwest. The first licensed auctioneer in Missouri operated with the Ozark Fruit Growers Association of Monett. However, the central “hub” of all the early economic activity was from the Frisco Railroad.
Some, but not all, important business leaders of early Monett were J. J. Davis and S. A. Chappell, hardware and postmaster (Chappell); W. F. Floreth, hardware; John Walsh, grocery; John Salzer, lumberyard; Dr. C. T. Dusenberry, Dr. J. M. Russell and Dr. William West, physicians; Logan McKee, druggist and airplane pilot; R. M. and Floyd Callaway, furniture and undertaking; Charles Mansfield, clothing; V. B. Hall, produce; M. E. Gillioz, contractor and banker; D. A. and Pearl Peters, publisher, Monett Times; F. P. Sizer, H. A. Gardner and Jim Sater, law.
The railroad economy of Monett was decreasing in the mid part of the last century. Several farsighted business leaders established the Monett Industrial Development Corporation that encouraged growth in manufacturing firms. Industry developed or relocated to Monett, employing over 6,000 area residents. The City of Monett is a working partner with businesses serving a national and international scope. Monett is headquarters for EFCO, a Pella Company, a major manufacturer of custom windows, and Jack Henry and Associates, Inc., one of the fastest growing and largest suppliers of integrated computer systems for banks and other financial institutions. Tyson Foods, International Dehydrated Foods, Inc., Schreiber Foods, Miracle Recreation Equipment, Dairy Farmers of America and many others have facilities in Monett.