|City of Emma, Missouri|
The first Germans arrived in west central Missouri about 1838.
Among these were Heinrich Dierking, Friedrich Frerking, Friedrich Tieman and Christian Oetting. Immediately in love with the area, they wrote long letters to relatives and friends back home. They described fertile prairies, wooded hillsides, and full creeks so graphically that other immigrants followed. Families from Hanover and Westphalia were especially eager to purchase such prime farmland.
Though these Protestants loved their new home, the location proved an unfortunate one during the Civil War. As in much of central Missouri, there were sharp disagreements between the advocates and the opponents of slavery. Unfortunately, these encounters escalated into violence. Bushwhackers raided the area three times; July 13, 1862, October 5, 1862 and October 10, 1864.
Originally, this German community was called, “Kreutz Kirche Settlement.” Mail was delivered from Concordia to the Holy Cross Church for distribution after worship services. Finally, with the help of postmasters in Concordia and Sweet Springs, a petition was sent to the Assistant Postmaster General in Washington, D.C. In 1888, a post office was established and the place named Emma. Why Emma? It seems the people were instructed to select a short name. “Leave off any appendages such as “burg” or “ville,” they were told. Since “Emma” met the specifications, Emma it became.
Shortly after this, a community blacksmith shop was built with Herman Schnackenberg working as blacksmith. Evert and Company opened a general store. A creamery was built by John J. Smith of Sweet Springs.
In 1900, a group of farmers and businessmen organized a cooperative market for dairymen of the area. The first buttermaker was Gustav C. Meyer. In 1901, Charles Dierking was hired as manager and buttermaker. During the first several years of operation whole milk was delivered by horse and wagon to the plant. Here it was separated, then the cream churned into butter. Afterward each producer would take his share of skim milk back to the farm. Later, when the hand separator was available to farmers, the milk was separated at home and the cream delivered to the plant twice a week.
On October 12, 1915, tragedy struck Emma. A fire destroyed all the businesses of town. This did not stop the hard working Germans. They promptly rebuilt, this time constructing their buildings from brick.
A few years later, farmers, convinced of the need for better facilities to handle grain and feed, decided to cooperate in the building and operating of an elevator. This cooperative was incorporated on October 11, 1920. Under the general management of Edwin H. Schelp, the Emma Coop Elevator was opened for business on June 26, 1921.
Thus began a prosperous decade for Emma. In 1920, the Dairy Market Cooperative constructed a new building. In 1924, the Bank of Emma was established. Choosing to take a position with the bank, Charles Dierking left the Dairy Cooperative to the management of his sons, Edwin and Herbert.
By 1926, Emma boasted the following; two general stores, two elevators, one creamery, one blacksmith shop, an oil station, a bank, a garage, two gas stations, a hardware store, a lumberyard, a poultry house, a physician, two churches and fifty houses.
During the Depression of the late 1920’s the bank closed and businesses did poorly. but the Co-op Elevator kept growing and in 1938, the 55,000 bushel capacity concrete elevator in Sweet Springs, formerly owned by the Sweet Springs Milling Company, was purchased. Six years later the other Sweet Springs elevator, Pike Grain Company, was bought.
The 1940’s brought continued growth. In 1942, the Dairy Cooperative installed equipment for cheesemaking. New milk routes were started, increasing the volume of raw material. In 1948, a third building was constructed giving Emma claim to the only cheese factory in Saline County. It was during this decade that a garage was expanded to house a tractor and implement dealership. Now farmers could purchase new equipment as well as have the old repaired.
In 1966, several interested persons from Concordia, Emma and Sweet Springs proposed the purchase of land for the development of a recreational club in Emma. The Tri-City Country Club began accepting applicants for membership in early 1967. Dr. Forrest Long served as the first President of the Board of Directors.
In 1973, the Concordia Bank built a branch office in Emma. this building provided space for a new post office as well.
In 1981, the Emma Civic Club was organized. They planned and implemented the first Emma Summerfest.