Bay and Little Bay, Missouri
Postal service was established for the Bay community in 1860 and continued as an independent post office until 1963. Chester B. Franz of Bay wrote that it was named after a man who signed his name “G. Bay.” Goodspeed's History of Gasconade County (p.685, c. 1888) states, “Bay is a small town about six miles southwest of Swiss. Kasten Buschmann is the postmaster.”
During the century from 1850 to 1950, Bay was a thriving settlement with two mills, a bank, general store and the ever present blacksmith shop. The Bay Bank is known to have been the only bank that did not close during the Depression Era of the 1930s. The general store was owned by the Bay Mercantile Company, in which local residents owned stock. These stockholders would meet annually for their dividend check. It was managed from the 1930s to the 1970s by August Gumper and Elmer Waldecker. Zion-St. Paul UCC was established in 1904, as Zion Evangelical and Reformed Church. Worship services are still held weekly for this active congregation.
Nearby is “Little Bay” which supported a general store owned and run by F.B. Meyer from the 1930s till his death in 1948. His widow, Cordelia, and their daughter, Leona Ridder, continued to operate the store into the late 1960s. Earlier owners of the Little Bay store were Kreter and Hummert. Two churches were established early in the Little Bay community. Bethel Presbyterian (1848) and St. Paul E&R. Residents from the surrounding area came to the store and churches via a road that connected little Bay with Neese School (now on Highway 50). This road no longer exists, but in days before cars and bridges, this allowed people access to businesses that did not require crossing Second Creek, which could be a problem in traveling to Bay. Some students of Neese School came from this neighborhood.
After consolidation of schools, students who had attended the Bay School, went to Swiss Elementary and Hermann High School as part of the Gasconade County R-1 (Hermann) School District. Those who attended the Neese School went to Gasconade County R-2 (Owensville) School District.
Volume I of Gasconade County Family History Book (p. 10 ©1979) describes Bay in a poem written by Johanna Stoehr Gumper.
The Little Town of Bay
O’er the hills and far away,
To the little town of Bay.
O’er the hills, through valleys deep,
Until we get to Second Creek.
Second Creek, with a cement road,
Swinging bridges for the footman’s load.
Round the curve-up Broadway Lane,
You’ll find yourself in “Bay’s Busy Main.”
Turn to left and gaze to your right,
The M.D.’s home will be in your sight.
Shift your gear, for you must not stop,
The State Bank of Bay is at the top.
The Bay Mercantile is right next door,
You can buy most anything in that store.
The post office too is located there,
Letters for gentlemen and ladies fair.
Now look to the east – it will serve as a toast,
A finer home larger cities can’t boast.
Put on the brakes, we will now descend,
To have a look at the other end.
First on the left, when you’re down the hill,
Is Bay Gasconade County Roller Mill.
Now to the right, a garage we behold,
A blacksmith shop there stood in the days of old.
Next on the incline is the parson’s home,
And with pride its included in this poem.
Zion’s Evangelical Church is next,
Where many a parson has read his text.
Very near now at the end are we,
But Brinkmann’s Garage we first must see.
We are not forgetting the homes – oh no!
We look at each one – all set in a row.
Now everyone that lives in Bay,
And all that live around
Will point with pride and say
A finer town is seldom found.