Zalma, Missouri

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Zalma, once known as Bollinger's Mill, is a small river town quietly nestled on the banks of the winding Castor River at a point where the river makes a horseshoe bend in southern Bollinger County in Southeast Missouri. When the railroad moved to town, the name Bollinger's Mill was changed to Zalma, named after a railroad worker named Zalma Block. Zalma used to be a busy town of 300 residents. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, it had a population of 93. A 2008 estimate, however, showed the population to be 94. Zalma was not officially recognized until January 25, 1910. Zalma is said to come from a Native American word meaning "the end."

Zalma is part of the Cape GirardeauJackson, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Located along the Castor River, Zalma is home to a number of state parks where citizens can engage in a number of activities with deer hunting and fishing being the most popular. Bird watching, horseback riding, and hiking are also enjoyed by several people who live and visit here.

Blue Pond, the deepest natural pond in the state of Missouri, is located a couple miles outside of Zalma.



The first house built in Bollinger's Mill seems to have been erected about the year 1800 by a German by the name of Asherbranner, who also erected the first water mill and dam. This house was situated about 50 yards (46 m) east of the mill place on Castor River. The DuVall History of Zalma in the Oct. 18, 1954 edition of the Southeast Missourian lists this site as being about where the E.A. Schrader home is now located. It is known that an old log house known as the Henley property was once at this location, but there is some question as to whether this is the site of the Asherbranner house.

The late Ranzy Randolph has often been heard to say that the Asherbranner house sat across the street and to the north of the Henley (later Schrader) property, and an earthen mound which is thought to be the remains of a hearth are still visible at this location today.

The second house, and the oldest one still standing, was reportedly built by Kate Bollinger, a sister of Daniel Bollinger, the miller. It is often referred to by a number of names, including the McMinn House, the Brown House, the home of “Aunt Nora” (Eleanora) Bollinger, the old slave farm. The house used to be occupied by David Welch and his housekeeper, Mrs. Bertha Lawson.

Very few of these early homes had their own water supply, and therefore it was necessary to carry water from a spring located on the river bank, just downstream a few feet from the Mill Dam, and on the same side of the river as the village. A community kettle was kept at the nearby ford, and that was where the family wash was done. Those who were fortunate enough to have a cistern were always faced with the possibility of it going dry, especially in the summer months. The established practice was to run water into the cistern only during months with the letter R in their name, and therefore the gutter was taken down from May through August, the driest months of the year.

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