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2010 Hall of Fame
E. T. Atkinson - Blacksmith
ET. Atkinson was the second of five Atkinson generations in Cameron. His parents arrived in Missouri in 1883 and settled in Wright County. ET. moved to Caldwell County a year later near Far West and opened his Cameron blacksmith shop about 1900.
E.T. was an apprentice blacksmith under his father’s tutelage learning to craft horseshoes, plowshares, axes and other implements from slab steel. Welding was unknown at the time and metal was joined by heating and hammering together. Even nails were hand-made at a time when wood was joined by wooden pegs.
Five Atkinson generations have continued to operate the blacksmith shop on S Walnut St. in Cameron.
J. W Poland - Mortician, Casket Maker
Furniture maker J.W. Poland purchased an existing funeral home from A. H. Pettijohn in 1905. He was joined through the years by his descendants, J. Foster Poland in 1919 and Robert Poland in 1949. Lawrence James Thompson began working there in 1957 and became a partner when J. Foster Poland retired in 1960. The name was changed to the Poland-Thompson Funeral Home in 1966. The firm incorporated in 1993 when sons Kent and Kurt Thompson joined the firm which remains operated today by Kurt Thompson after the death of Kent.
Bert Bernard Witt - Newspaperman, Politician, Promoter, Rotarian
Witt appreciated a good automobile, and a good newspaper.
Witt’s parents moved to DeKalb County from Kentucky in 1878 by covered wagon, became farmers, and came to Cameron when B.B. was four years old. His father found work on the Burlington Northern Railroad, but was killed in a railroad accident at age 34 leaving a widow and six children.
Around the turn of the century, Witt and his wife, Charlotte, built a house at 112 W Prospect where they lived their entire married lives and raised eight children. B.B. was introduced to printers ink when he carried papers for Cameron’s first daily newspaper and he operated a job-printing office for eight years.
In 1905, he bought the Daily News and in 1920 changed the name to the News Observer. Witt acquired his competitor, the Cameron Sun in 1945 and stayed in the newspaper business for 50 years. He put out a City Directory in 1923, the first published since 1910.
Witt was a community activist and used his newspaper to promote Cameron development. He served as mayor and worked to improve the city’s water supply by adding a second reservoir in 1936. He also promoted a new swimming pool which was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1938 plus graveling more than six miles of city streets and three miles of alleys. Witt was city clerk for four years, on the City Council for 12 years, served a three-year term on the Board of Education and was elected mayor in 1938. Witt was a charter member of the Cameron Rotary Club becoming president. He was also known to take meticulous care of his automobiles.
Witt was an active Democrat who supported party activities and candidates. He received a letter in 1937 from Harry Truman thanking Witt for his support. B.B. died in 1966 and Charlotte died in 1953.