History

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Perhaps if anyone could be termed the founder of Highlandville, Ferdinand Frank Kentling was that person.  Mr. Kentling was a German immigrant who traveled to America in search of a better life.  Also in search of a better life, an Austrian couple, William and Katie Heide came to Mexico with Maximilion when he became Emperor.  William became bandmaster of the court of Maximilion and Katie was lady in waiting to Empress Charlotte, daughter of King Leopold I of Belgium.

Maximilion was executed in 1867 and the Heide's fled Mexico and traveled north eventually to St. Louis, Missouri where William, died from injuries he suffered in Mexico.  After Williams's death, Katie sought work to support herself and her newborn baby daughter.  Frank Kentling met and married Katie and soon traveled to Southwest Missouri.  It was there on Wilderness Road about a days wagon ride south of Springfield, that Frank and Katie built a log cabin near a large shallow pond. In 1868 the Kentling's built a trading post which the locals termed "Dutch Store," because of the fractured English of the Kentlings. The trading post was a welcomed site to wagon travelers migrating south and for trappers and cotton farmers in Arkansas transporting goods north to the trade and railroad center of Springfield.  Frank chose the name Highlandville for his settlement and was appointed as its first postmaster.  Perhaps the name was chosen for the location on a high plateau or from the high times travelers enjoyed as they were entertained by Katie's singing and dancing during their stopover. Later the Kentling's built a larger home on property now where the U S Post Office in Highlandville is currently located. 

Highlandville's first school was built in 1874.  At first it was only a one room, log cabin school.  Then in 1890, a two story, two room building was built.  Building additions continued through the years.  The Highlandville High School building which presently exists was built with WPA funds in 1936.  With state school reorganization Highlandville became the area elementary school.  The last high school class to graduate at Highlandville High School was in 1950. 

Settlers continued to inhabit the area in the early 1900's. Other stores were built including a bank, doctor’s office, saloon, blacksmith’s shop and a motel.  Farmers tilled the land and raised animals.  They would help each other in times of harvest.  Collectively, they would have wheat and oat thrashing days, hog and chicken killings and lard and soap makings to preserve food and supplies for their growing families.

With the advent of motorized vehicles, Highlandville became the cross roads of US Highways 65 and 123, (later named 160.)  Paul Campbell, great grandson of Frank Kentling, operated a Texaco Service Station at that intersection.  Travel through Highlandville increased as Table Rock Lake was built in 1958.  In 1959, four brothers from the Mabe family in Highlandville opened a lake front Country Music Show in Branson called The Baldknobbers.  In 1960 a new attraction opened called Silver Dollar City and area economics changed forever.

With the change of U S Highway 65 routing directly to Branson, just 3 miles east of Highlandville, traffic patterns changed.  Small area farms closed as their owners found they could survive easier working away from home.  Like many small towns, merchants closed their doors; however, Highlandville continued to grow in population.  In 1993, Highlandville was incorporated as a Missouri city.  Today the population sign shows 872, a far cry from the estimated 200 in the booming early 1900's.

Reference: Christian County, It's first 100 Years

Reference: The Kentling's of Highlandville, by Gene Geer, White River Valley Historical Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 5 1962

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Last modified: 10/21/09