The town of defiance began with the man Jacob Winemiller.
Jacob Winemiller was born in York County, PA in 1816 and his parents
moved to Ohio when he was a small boy. He grew to manhood and
married in Ohio. In 1858, when he was 42 years old, Winemiller
moved his family to Queen City, Adams County, IA.
In 1864 Winemiller came to Worth County, MO and bought a tract of land from warren & Martha Judd. This parcel of land was in township 66, range 33, section 14. The next year, 1865, Winemiller brought his wife, 7 children and a nephew, John W. Bainum, to his new home on the Platte River.
Mr. Winemiller first operated a saw mill. The 1878 Atlas of Worth County indicates that the mill was on land Mr. Winemiller owned on the west side of the Platte River. He also built a home for his family on the east side of the river on the bluff overlooking the valley.
In 1868 John Weaver, who had moved from Ohio to Iowa, came to the valley and erected a store on the east side of the river along the road which was used to travel between Grant City and Hopkins. In 1869 Mr. Winemiller built a water-powered grist mill on the west side of the Platte River. It was about this time that the little trading post began to be known as Winemiller's Mill.
A blacksmith shop operated by P. Fletchall was an early day business in Winemiller's Mill. J.C. Bohart who came from Buchanan County, MO and J. Bohart from Frederick County, MD both came in 1867 and were merchants.
Other early day arrivals to the area were John N. Barber in 1866, James K. Jones in 1867, Silas A. Round and B.A. Batt in 1868 along with Martin Barkman, John Gray and James Boyle in 1869.
Dr. C.O. Skinner, born in Ohio August 13, 1843, came to Winemiller's Mill in 1879. James M. Simons described Dr. Skinner as being so timid that he would almost faint every time he lanced a carbucle. Dr. Skinner remained in Defiance until 1886 when he left for Beaver City, NE where he lived until his death on January 25, 1914.
Shortly after 1870, Dr. J.R. Standley of Plattsville, IA and William L. Stone opened a general merchandise and drug store.
One can only speculate about the reason for the change but it was about this time that the name of the village changed from Winemiller's Mill to Riverside.
John Weaver sold his store to Nathaniel DeWitt in 1870, who, in turn, sold it in 1872 to Alonzo Stone. A man by the name of Cox also operated a little store and sold wood carvings.
A stage line operated between Grant City and Hopkins and stopped at the little village on the Platte River. It was only natural that a post office would be established here. In 1872 the town was platted by Issac Davis and Jacob Winemiller and a post office was established. The town officially became Defiance P.O. with Jacob Winemiller as the first postmaster.
Jacob Winemaker sold his mill to Charles Freemyer in 1876. Freemyer operated the mill for some two years before selling it to George Henry Orr and his two sons, William and Ed. The flour produced at the mill was known as Orr's Best Flour. Orr operated the mill until 1893 when it was sold to Amos Freemyer.
The dependence of the mill on the river made it the last business to operate in Defiance.
The March 2, 1876, issue of the Grant City Star carried a business directory of Defiance and listed the town as having two blacksmiths, one wagon maker, two doctors, one grist mill, one hotel, one drug and notion store, one hardware and one furniture store. The later issue of the same paper carried a small news item about the Defiance Martial Band playing at the Sabbath School Picnic at Lanning's Mill on Saturday, September 2, 1976.
In addition to the businesses in Defiance there was also a church and a school. The school house was located just west of the present (1987) location of the Vilas Hibbs home. The church was on the north side of the road, just to the east of the general store.
The Defiance Lodge I.O.O.F. was organized July 26,1876, with A.M. Brooks, W.L. Stone, Joseph Engle, C.O. Harris & Dr. J.D. Horn as members. A.M. Brooks was the first N.G. and was succeeded by the following: C.O. Harris in 1877, James Boyle in 1878, R.S. Wheat in 1879, W.L. Stone and D.W. Poor in 1880, Asa Nighsonger in 1881 and A.J. Scott and C.A. Carroll in 1882.
The Defiance Lodge A.F.&A.M. was chartered October 17, 1878. The charter members were: Joseph Engle, Jacob Winemiller, W.L. Stone, Eli bradford, Jacob C. Bohart, R.J. Engle, W.H. Worth, James K. Jones and C.O. Harris. On Novermber 16, 1878, the lodge lost their buiding, jewels and books in a fire. The lodge, organized only a month previously, did not have any insurance.
Even before Jacob Winemiller and John Weaver appeared on the scene a burial site had been established on a bluff southeast of Defiance. The oldest stone in the cemetery is that of Elizabeth Judd who died in 1859.
Little is known of Defiance in its twilight years. One can imagine the excitement when the rumors began about the possibility of a railroad coming through the western part of the county. By 1882 it seemed certain that, sooner or later, a railroad would be built up the Platte River Valley. No doubt the main topic of conversation at the mill and in the stores of Defiance was the railroad. One old timer was heard to say, "Wal, if they've got such a contraption they'll never git it to run."
In 1887 the Chicago, St. Paul and Kansas City Railroad built the garage and laid the steel down the scenic Platte River Valley, missing Defiance by one-half mile to the west. The sound of the rails being laid and the spikes being driven was literally the death knill for the village of Defiance.
This article was written by John W. Bainum. An expanded
version of the article may be found in the Sheridan, MO Centennial
History. Taken from Towns & Trading Posts of Worth County,
MO, Vol. 1 by Mary Ellen Kimble.