Senath Mo.Class of '58
Before It Became Senath
The following information was taken from a booklet titled
The booklet was initially published in 1982
as Senath prepared to celebrate its 100th birthday.
Three separate pages from that booklet
were edited and rewritten
for placement into our
CLASS OF 58 Web Site.
The Indians told us that this place (SENATH) was once an island.
They said trees were few, and buffalo grass was as tall as a horse.
The grass being marked only by animal trails to water.
The Indians hunted in this land. There were few permanent Indian Settlements.
However the Chickasaw tribe did camp around the banks of Big Lake.
Then came the earthquakes of 1811 1812.
This area sank three or four feet.
The lowest spot in Missouri is in the St. Francis River Bottom.
It is located about four miles southwest of Cardwell.
Small creeks or sloughs ran northeast to southwest.
Much of the land was completely covered by water in the spring.
Cypress, willow and other trees and plants flourished.
Travelers crossing the Mississippi River drove into the impenetrable swamps of Little River.
With relief they would greet Grand Prairie (a sandy ridge) north of Hornersville.
Then the "sandy ridge" would again disappear just north of Kennett.
Those travelers would then cross Buffalo Ditch, Pole Cat Island, and Pole Cat Ditch.
In order to get onto HORSE ISLAND.
This same area would later become what we now know as SENATH.
Horse Island was and is an early part of the Dunklin Countv area history.
It has an elevation nine to eleven inches above the surrounding ditches and sloughs.
West of Horse Island is Buffalo Island, Honey Cypress Ditch, Kennemore Ditch
the St. Francis River bottoms and Arkansas.
North is Varner River, Alien Island and the St. Francis River. South is Arkansas.
Names were then and still are often mispronounced or misused.
Pole Cat Ditch was and is still referred to as The Graveyard or Sewer Ditch.
The Varner River is often called Varney River.
People came to Horse Island (or SENATH as we know it) to hunt and trap.
Many families survived on wild game the hunters killed.
The hides were sold to dealers in various small trading posts.
Game of all kind was plentiful although the buffalo left the area about 1870.
Deer, wolves, coon, opossum, squirrel, beaver, otter, muskrat and even bear and panthers were plentiful.
The rivers and swamps were abundant with fish, and wild fruit.
Wild berries enabled the settlers to survive without gardens or stores.
Jim Finley's family was the first white family on Horse Island.
He came about 1833 while other settlers included Jack Cude of Cotton Plant, and
Pleasant Cockrum of Cockrum and a Harris family at Buffalo Island.
These families came before the big migration previous to the Civil War.
(Ref: The Story titled "Kentucky Belle")
The Civil War did affect the settlers of Dunklin County.
Practically all the men joined Price's Raiders.
These people were Southern Democrats drawn between North and South.
There was some guerrilla action in the county, but no real battles.
Most of the early settlers lived near Cotton Plant, out of the swamp.
After the Civil War, some effort was made to build levees and bridges.
Caruth and Nesbit came into existence about this time.
In 1880, Elizabeth Mott Douglass wanted to build a house on Horse Island.
She wanted it built at about where the Senath City Hall now stands.
She bought a house in Kennett, numbered the boards,
and then had the house torn down and rebuilt it in Senath.
(The house later burned in 1949)
A small, round-faced smiling girl from Tennessee married Alien W. Douglass
in 1875 and came to Horse Island.
Her name was Asenath.
(Bible gives reference to the name "Asenath" in Genesis.)
A. W. later built a larger house near the location of the present cemetery.
That house was located east of the Old Bethel Church.
One of the better roads from Cotton Plant accommodated the mail delivery from Malden and Asenath distributed it.
Her husband (A.W. Douglass) built a small box with pigeon holes
and he hung it in the front gallery of their home.
This was to be
(First) Post Office.
When Asenath Douglass came to Horse Island,
there were about 60 voters in SalemTowship.
Grist mills, cotton gins, stave mills, and of
course farms, were thriving before 1900.
The early cotton gins were run by hand and rope.
One hundred years ago (in 1882) A.W. Douglass
and a brother-in-law, A. W. Satterfield,
built in the middle of the road; a two story building.
That building later housed Bookers Grocery Store.
The bricks for the structure were made and baked
in a kiln north of the store.
That kiln (building) site was located near what later
became the towns library building site.
A. W. later moved the post office into this building.
When it later became necessary to
name the Post Office,
they called it
There is no other town
having such "unique" name.
Asenath raised seven children.
She lived until 1940, as a much -loved,
smiling gentle women.
Today a gravestone marks her burial place
in the Senath Cemetery.
"Mother of Senath"
Betsey Gately is a decendant of Asenath Douglas
(And our teacher Elizabeth Douglas Gately)
was one of the seven children mentioned above.