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The success of Old Success – Part Two

Photo by Christy Porter
The gravel road where Old Success once thrived as a success story.


By Christy Porter, Managing Editor

Special thanks to Lena McCoy Ward, of Houston, Joan (Cavaness) Brannam, of Success, and Historian Rick J. Gunter, of Sparta, for their contributions and help with this historical narrative.

Old Success continued to flourish as it moved into the 1900s.

John Jesse Wiggains opened a general merchandise store in October 1902 and later added a drug counter. Wiggains lost his sight and both hands in a dynamite accident and became known as “Blind John.” His wife, Mary Catherine Isaacs Wiggains, helped run the store. John died in 1909 and the store burned a few years later. Mary died in 1940. The house stood empty for many years and some called it the “haunted house.”

Photo submitted
Phone calls were transferred to appropriate parties at this early telephone switchboard.

An old crank telephone with a switch house was used in the late 1800s, prior to Bob Rodman establishing the Success Telephone Company about 1917. Lena remembers finding glass insulators among the trees in later years. The telephone system was installed as a closed system for the town and surrounding area, and later connected to surrounding towns. The community of Success did not have widespread telephone service until the 1970s.

Leroy Sullivan General Store was at the southeast corner of the crossroads and in operation in the 1920s through the early ‘30s. It was in the flood plain of the Ebbing Spring branch and flooded during the 1920s. During the Depression of the early 1930s, Sullivan gave credit to needy folks until he lost the store.

Charles T. “C.T.” Smith was appointed the postmaster of Success in 1929, at which time he opened the Charles T. Smith General Store and U.S. Post Office. He was the postmaster until 1936.

Old Success enterprise and public services from 1900 through the 1930s included four stores, a post office, blacksmith shop, saloon, livery stable, doctor’s office, a church, the telephone switchboard, a sawmill and the cemetery. It had indeed become quite successful for its time and location in the Ozarks.

“I remember my mother (Isabell Ramsey McCoy) and Opal (Davis) Davenport (historian Rick Gunter’s grandmother), among others, making ticking mattresses in the 1930s during the Great Depression (1929 – 1939),” shared Lena McCoy Ward. Many homemakers’ clubs began with the assistance of The University Extension in the 1930s. The Extension sent a worker to help women deal with the hardships presented by the Great Depression.

The death knell rang for Old Success when the two through highways bypassed Success. MO-17 was routed in 1926 and it went down the Roubidoux Creek Road, through Mahan, Roubidoux, Turley and Plato. In 1929, MO-17 became a new highway built on the ridge, coming within a mile of Success, missing it. In 1933, MO-32 was built and it also missed Success by a mile. The junction at MO-17 and MO-32 became Wye City in 1934, a.k.a. the new town of Success. Officially it was called “Success” but the new town plat called it “Wye City.”

The Success Post Office and C.T. Smith’s General Store moved to Wye City in 1934. The rock building still stands today next to Pittman’s Store. Many continued to call it “The Wye” even until today. Grove Quick opened a new store across the highway from Smith’s store in 1934, and it was open until 1963. Neva Smith Pittman opened a café in 1964 in that same location. In the early ‘50s Alfred Thompson opened a service station, which Clarence Creason took over in the early ‘60s and then sold to Allison Cline in the late ‘70s. Other businesses at “The Wye” have included the Wilbert Smith Sawmill; the Charlie and Olus Pinkston Store, later known as the Mandy Venable Store; and the Lawrence Hadley Store, later known as the Cavaness Store (Joan’s dad). A new post office was built in the ‘60s.

For several decades, at least through the 1960s, both Success and Old Success were shown on some maps.

The buildings of Old Success are now gone, the drive through what was Old Success looks like any other overgrown, country, dirt road, with no trace of what was a once thriving community. The Success of today has a post office and Pittman’s Store, where snacks, gas and alcohol can be purchased by the locals and those passing through on their way somewhere else.

Photo submitted
Fielden Cemetery.

Other settlers, including Granny Langley, who was Lena’s great-great-grandmother and Braz Langley’s mother, were interred in the Fielden family cemetery. Braz’s brother, Eli, died in the Civil War while at Andersonville Prison in Georgia.

Photo by Christy Porter
Old Success Cemetery today.

The Old Success Cemetery was established in 1885. Lena’s grandparents, Adam “Boy” McCoy and Anna Langley McCoy Pittman, and Lena’s parents, William “Harvey” and Nancy “Isabell” McCoy, are interred at the Old Success Cemetery.

In later years, 1967 – 2007, George McCoy, the son of Harvey McCoy, and Roy A. and Lena Ward, Harvey’s youngest daughter and husband, would maintain the Old Success Cemetery.


  1. Marsha Prock on July 28, 2021 at 11:50 pm

    Civil war graves like the one mentioned in this informative overview of a split community are always fascinating. The horror of Andersonville Prison cannot be overstated or perhaps even understood w/o bringing up old family feelings about a conflict upon which America still traces roots. I taught secondary journalism for years, and I always started production classes by explaining what the word “deadline” was and its origin at Andersonville. The swampy low ground had no potable water or facilities like latrine pits, so under hot summer sun it became a festering misery. There was no attempt at fencing to keep prisoners within the expanding perimeter, only sharpshooters who maintained the deadline—the point at which a prisoner would be shot. The conditions over time caused such privation and misery that more than a few Union prisoners chose to accept the final fate of the “deadline.” Gruesome as it sounds, I would then tell my students about how demanding it would became when a newspaper or yearbook deadline approached and gave them free access to the counselor’s office to change classes! They all stayed, but they may have considered the tension of my computer lab a reflection of the word’s etymology.

  2. Jeffrey campbell on August 30, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    My ggg grandmother Mariah Campbell is buried at old success. Her husband John Campbell is buried somewhere in wright county. Wish I could go further back. I do know they migrated from Pennsylvania, Allegheny county. I someday will make a trip to Pennsylvania to research further. DNA testing shows we tied in to the Campbells of Argyle. My wife and I did take a trip to Scotland a few years back.

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