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History Works

Colonel Torrey, Fruitville and Torreytown

Colonel Jay Torrey      
The story of Fruitville Farms serves as a framework for learning from primary documents in the classroom. Students will explore how one man, Col. Jay Torrey, attempted to develop a planned community in the early 20th century just outside West Plains, MO. Col. Torrey is a fascinating and colorful figure in Missouri and United States history.

In the early 1900's, he owned ten thousand acres of land in Howell County, Missouri, and decided to build a planned community, named Fruitville. The plans were based on the European model, where people would live in town and and raise crops or livestock on nearby small farms outside of the town. Colonel Torrey had big plans for Fruitville, and he did sell some lots, but the planned community never actually thrived.

The primary sources used here come from Torrey's personal scrapbook. Students use these historical artifacts to see the economic opportunities available to rural residents of southern Missouri in the early 1900s. Download the complete lesson plan suitable for 4th grade Missouri history studies.

This material includes the following historical documents, reproduced for the Web:

Teachers: Download the lesson plan (PDF format, easy to print)

Historical research and lesson plan development by Kathy Barr, elementary teacher in West Plains. We are grateful to Howell County historian and archivist Dortha Reavis for her help and for trusting us with the primary source materials about Colonel Torrey and Fruitville Farm.

This is the Web site of the Bryant Watershed Education Project, based in West Plains, Missouri. Our site is a toolkit for exploring the Bryant Creek, North Fork, Eleven Point and Upper Spring watersheds in the southern Missouri Ozarks.
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