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The History of Knobview & Rosati
Click Here for a Summarized History
Rosati, Missouri is located on the eastern edge of Phelps County along I-44 and Historic Route 66, between the towns of St. James and Cuba. Although it was never incorporated into a town, several stores and post offices were located there over a span of 150 years. It was a voting precinct for more than 85 years and has been the home of St. Anthony Catholic Church for over 100 years. The Rosati area is known for its vineyards and wine industry which began over a century ago when Italian immigrants planted the first vineyards there.

Rosati was once known as Knobview and was originally named for the three high hills that overlook the area from the southwest. The name probably dates back to the mid 1850s or earlier when westbound travelers passing through the area reached King's Hill on Springfield Road. This spot provided a perfect view of three high hills to the southwest. Thus, the name Knobview was born. Its beginnings go back more than 300 years when it started as Indian trails, and later became known as the Osage Trail, which was little more than a wilderness path of separate but connected trails. Traders and early settlers going west used this route. The road is still intact and in use in the Rosati area, and is located about two-thirds of a mile north of Rosati. Its path is roughly parallel to the railroad, Historic Route 66 and I-44.

The first store and post office at Knobview were located along Springfield Road at the intersection with the Phelps-Crawford county line road (Johnson Rd. today). It was known as Kinsey's Station and was owned by Thomas Kinsey, Jr., a merchant who moved there from Maries County, Missouri. He was appointed postmaster on May 26, 1856 and was likely the first or one of the first residents of the area, arriving there sometime after 1845. In 1857, Phelps County was formed from portions of Maries, Pulaski, and Crawford counties. The creation of a new county placed the store and post office on the western border of Crawford County with newly formed Phelps County just across the road. The area had been surveyed by Lt. James Abert who was a part of the third expedition of John Charles Frémont and was surveying for a possible future railroad through the area. In the 1850s after the surveying was completed, the government offered large sections of land to any company which could build a railroad through central Missouri, and by early summer 1860, the Southwest Branch of the Pacific Railroad had arrived at Knobview from the east, roughly following the path of Springfield Road. Because the mail would now be arriving by train rather than road, Kinsey's Station moved about 1/4 mile south and reopened alongside the new railroad. A portion of an 1872 map shows that Knobview and Kinsey's Station were situated in the Knobview Township of Crawford County.

Mr. Kinsey died suddenly in 1860, nearly the same time the railroad reached his store. Business was booming after the railroad arrived, so the store was taken over by a son, also named Thomas. Trains brought goods that people in the surrounding area needed and the agricultural products they raised could now be shipped easier and faster. Thomas died in 1865 and the store was bought from his widow by a store employee named Charles Cartall who owned the store until 1880 when it burned. Cartall then opened a new store in St. James.

The 1870 census of Knobview shows only five residents with four of those being Mr. Cartall, his wife and two children. By 1881 the population had risen to 35, and there was a new store owner from Gasconade County named Lorenzo Viemann. It is not known at this time if he rebuilt in the same location of the previous store or if the location changed, but it appears that he owned the store for only 18 months. The post office closed in the autumn of 1882. From 1893-1898, Anvil A. Beezley owned the store and post office. After the 1898 closing, local residents picked up their mail from the post office at Fanning, four miles to the east between Knobview and Cuba. A January 1894 article in the St. James Journal states that A.A. Beezley's store in Knobview was robbed of $100 worth of merchandise.

The railroad was eager to sell the excess land it owned along each side of the tracks because private ownership of the land meant that new towns and businesses could develop along the tracks and increase its revenue. Profits from shipping iron were down in the years following the Civil War, and wood from the Knobview area became one of the major items shipped by train to St. Louis. With the railroad's sale of land, the population in the Knobview area increased slightly during the 1860s-1890s. The population in 1895 was 43.

A school was located at Knobview in the 1880s but little is known about it. It is known that the school was also used as a church. The railroad maintained a section crew at Knobview with a man named Frank Roberts in charge of the workers. Charles Hampton, who was one of the local residents, shipped wood to St. Louis by railroad. A newspaper article from March 1889 states that "Mr. Hampton's iron bank is booming", which refers to a deposit of iron ore. Another local landowner, D.H. Hughes, who owned a large amount of property in the area, donated land in 1889 to erect a building for a chapter of the National Agricultural Wheel Society. Dances and prayer meetings were held at the homes of area residents. Articles mentioning residents of Knobview in various 1889 issues of the Rolla New Era refer to family surnames such as Stulce, Hammett, White, Sallard, Manning, Wheeler, Sozier, Reick, Pancoast, Spading, Ellis, Carter, Smith, Sweeton, Goodwin, Cranmer, Fox, Leeper, Weathers, Wagner, and Reissaus. These families were widely spread out around the Knobview area, and there was no concentration of homes and businesses located along the railroad in Knobview.

Meanwhile, in November 1895 in the southeastern corner of Arkansas at the Sunnyside Plantation, the first group of Italian immigrants arrived. There had been a labor shortage at the cotton plantation in recent years, and the owner, Austin Corbin, came up with a scheme to find hard working sharecroppers at little expense. Corbin negotiated an agreement with Don Emanuele Ruspoli, the Mayor of Rome, to recruit Italians in northern Italy to come to America for a better life. Corbin's sole interest was profit, and he managed to sell the Italians land at his Arkansas plantation at a very inflated price. He provided them with everything they needed including a store, owned by himself, where the immigrants had to purchase needed items. He had things arranged in a way that many of the immigrants worked for him in a virtual cycle of indebtedness. Within the first year of living and working around swampy, mosquito infested land and drinking unfiltered water, many of the settlers died from Malaria and other fevers. They were not accustomed to raising cotton, and they realized that their agreement with Corbin was never going to allow them to experience the better life they had come to America for. It became imperative that they find better living and working conditions, so a committee was formed to find land which was more like their native regions in Italy. Two other areas were found but the group could not agree on one, so they split, with most going to either Tontitown in northwestern Arkansas or Knobview, Missouri. A small number either returned to Italy or moved to other places.

In early October, 1897, Giovanni Taldo, Antonio Asnicar, and Pietro Marchi travelled from Sunnyside to St. Louis where they met representatives of the railroad who took them to Knobview to see what the area was like. The railroad had heard about the group and wanted more business along their tracks. In December, a second group visited in the same way. The group included Fr. Bandini, a founder of Tontitown and the first priest there. The Italians were very pleased with the land and soil conditions which were similar to their native communities in Italy. Bandini wanted to name the settlement "Montebello" (Beautiful Mountain). On Jan. 1, 1898, a contract was signed to purchase 1,200 acres from the railroad in 40 acre parcels. The land was $3 per acre with a required down payment of $15. The remainder was due over the following five years.

On January 21, 1898, a group of about ten men from the Sunnyside Settlement under the management of Tullio Malesani arrived at Knobview. They were offered boxcars to live in until houses could be built. Construction then began on houses for the men, their families, and others who were on their way from Sunnyside. After a few houses were built, multiple families moved into each one while more houses were being constructed. By March, thirty families had arrived and it wasn't long before each family had their own home.

One year later, more families arrived from Arkansas while still other families came from places such as Illinois. A few immigrants had been directed to Knobview by the Italian Consulate in St. Louis. Many of the families who settled outside of the central Knobview area along the railroad lived to the north and west. The Friendship School was located one and one-half miles west-northwest of Knobview and many of its students in the early 1900s were the children of Italians who settled in that area.

With few farm animals and few fruit trees old enough to bear fruit, there was little income during the first few years, and life was very difficult. Starting around 1900 and for the next decade or so, some families and single men left Knobview and found employment in St. Louis or Illinois towns such as Aurora, Staunton, and Galesburg while others moved to Morgan and Logan Counties in Colorado. Some families which had moved to St. Louis and towns in Illinois, later moved back to Knobview.  Despite the hardships, businesses started to spring up within two years of the Italians' arrival in 1898. Within the first ten years, there were two stores, a saloon, canning plant, post office, school, depot, and church, all situated where only trees, brush, and some barren land had existed just a decade earlier.

The Italians began doing business in nearby St. James, five miles to the west on Springfield Road. A merchant there named John Sutton believed that the immigrants were honest and hard working, and he became one of the first businessmen in St. James to offer them credit. They started raising various farm products but they did not have any grapes, which they were accustomed to growing. Grape cuttings were obtained from Italy but the plants would not adapt to their new climate and soil, and all of them died. A New England variety (Concord) was then acquired from French immigrants in the township of Dillon, located along the railroad between St James and Rolla. The Concord grapes did well and became the predominant variety for many decades.

Through the early 1900s, everyone had a garden, and most families raised grapes and other fruits such as apples, peaches, strawberries, and pears. Nearly everyone with a vineyard made wine. There was even a chestnut grove near the Gherardini home. Cows, pigs, and chickens were commonplace and large amounts of cheese were made and sold by several families. Antonio Piazza and his wife Amelia shipped cheese to various places and sold milk to Quality Dairy in St. Louis. Trains picked up the cans of milk and returned the empty containers.

In 1925, the Knobview Boys Club hall was built and in 1927, a new, brick schoolhouse was built next to the hall. The new school was larger and had two rooms separated by a movable partition. One room was for grades 1-4 and the other was for grades 5-8. Knobview had a high school for some years in the 1920s but for most students, grades 9-12 had to be completed at the high school in St. James. The Boys Club wasn't just for boys but was also used as a place for social gatherings such as pie suppers, dances, and the popular St. Anthony Church spaghetti dinners. The girls had their own clubs and met there, too. The school closed in 1963 and all students began attending school in St. James from that point on. In the mid 1960s, the Knights Of Columbus purchased the buildings, and shortly thereafter moved the hall approximately 200 ft. to the east, rotated it 90 degrees and connected the two buildings. In the years following the connection of the buildings, many dances, new year parties, wedding receptions, Christmas parties, turkey shoots, and Knights Of Columbus meetings were held there. The Rosati chapter of the Knights was eventually combined with the St. James chapter and the building was sold near the year 2000.

After W.W.II ended and the sons and grandsons of Rosati's Italian settlers began to come home from military service, most of them took up grape farming. As the years went by, many of them began raising cattle along with grapes while some took part or full time jobs away from their farms. When the next generation began graduating from high school in the mid 1960s to late 1970s, many of these young people went to college and later found jobs in various, larger towns and cities. As their parents got older, the labor intensive farming required for grapes became difficult for them and the total acreage of vineyards owned by members of Welch's Cooperative began to decrease in the second half of the 1970s. By 1990, Welch's stopped renewing contracts to purchase the growers' grapes. During this time, more new wineries opened and the acreage of wine grapes kept increasing. The Concord vineyards which had been owned by many, individual farmers and used mainly for the production of juice and jelly were gradually replaced with vineyards of other varieties needed for modern wine production. They were primarily owned by a few winery owners. Most of the old vineyards planted many decades ago are gone, and modern, irrigated vineyards account for most of the grapes grown in the Rosati-St. James area today. As for passers-by on I-44 and Historic Route 66, they still see vineyards and grape stands, just as they have for more than 90 years.

Below is a timeline of events at Knobview/Rosati starting when the first Italians arrived.

Much of this information was acquired from newspaper articles.


January 21, 1898 - The first group of Italians from the Sunnyside Plantation in Arkansas arrive at Knobview. About 10-11 men arrive to build temporary housing.

February 1898 - Aufder Heide Bros. sells 13 car loads of lumber to the first group of Italians at Knobview.

March 26, 1898 - Three train cars with women, children and others from the Sunnyside Settlement in Arkansas arrive at Knobview.

March 1899 - Italians at Knobview take their first papers of citizenship.

1899-1900 - A.M. Piazza and Peter Marchi open a store in front of the Piazza home.

February 1900 - An article in the St. James Journal states that "Hustling Italians have lately been buying teams and other stock, improving property by clearing land and hauling lumber for new houses–never idle–will do well".

May 20, 1900 - The St. James Journal states "A number of Italians left Sunday for Illinois to work during the summer. They are now all away at work in different parts of the country".

June 1900 - Lindon Marts takes a census of Knobview. Stephen Dellacella acts as translator. Around 200 people are living there.

September 1900 - Aufder Heide Bros. ships more lumber to Knobview for construction of four new homes.

November 6, 1900 - Stephen Dellacella shows Italians how to vote. Citizenship laws at that time allowed most immigrants to become citizens very quickly.

May 1901 - The Piazza-Marchi store is being used as a school for 14 students. The teacher is from Fanning.

April 4, 1902 - Peter Marchi is appointed as the first Knobview postmaster in Phelps county, and a post office is established inside the Piazza-Marchi store. Residents no longer need to go four miles east to Fanning to pick up their mail. The last Knobview post office in Crawford county closed in 1897.

1903 - Grape cuttings are obtained locally from French immigrants at Dillon, Missouri, and vineyards are started in Rosati.

September 1903 - The new school is completed by W.V. Whites and his workers.

January 1905 - Piazza and Marchi dissolve their store partnership.

1905 - Peter Marchi opens his new store. This eventually became the Cardetti store which was located near St. Anthony Church and was demolished in 2014.

January 1906 - Marchi and Piazza close a contract for a small canning and preserving plant which will be established in the spring. Mostly tomatoes will be canned there.

April 1906 - Construction of a church and parsonage has begun by Robert Powell and a force of 20 men. Three carloads of lumber were donated by the Wills Lumber Company of St. James. The Italians had petitioned Archbishop Glennon of St. Louis for a church and priest, and Father Ottavio Leone was appointed.

May 1906 - A depot is built.

November 1906 - Peter Marchi buys an 80 acre farm adjoining the church from August Mais.

December 9, 1906 - The first church at Knobview is dedicated by Archbishop Glennon of St. Louis, and is named Chiesa di Sant' Antonio di Padova, more commonly known as St. Anthony Church. The church was filled to overflowing with a band and guests from St. James. Prior to 1906, Fr. Patrick B. O'Loughlin visited Knobview and conducted Mass for the Italians. Father O'Loughlin was the priest for the Rolla and Cuba parishes and traveled the area, saying Mass at various locations. You can read the newspaper article here.

1908 - The school teacher is Miss Louisa Kroner.

November 1908 - A.M. Piazza opens a new, larger store, and his brother, Matteo, makes the old store into a saloon. The Knobview band plays at the grand opening of the saloon, and all guests receive a free drink. Band members include Peter Marchi, A.M. Piazza, Louis Guidicini, Hector Ramori, Matteo Piazza, Louis Zulpo, Angelo Piazza, and Victor Piazza.

December 3, 1908 - A short article about Knobview appears in the Rolla Herald-Democrat newspaper.

1910 - A.M. Piazza opens a real estate office inside his store.

March 1911 - Peter Marchi sells his store to Zefferino Gandolfi from Illinios.

July. 21, 1911 - Emanuel Caulley is made postmaster. It's unknown which store or possibly other building he was in.

June 12, 1912 - A.M. Piazza is made postmaster for Knobview and he opens a post office inside his store.

1913 - Piazza and Marchi's Knobview Canning Company closes due to a labor shortage.

July 1913 - R.M. Cardetti buys A.M. Piazza's store.

1914-1915 - Zefferino Gandolfi sells his store to Henry Shelton of Knobview.

1915 - R.M. Cardetti purchases Henry Shelton's store and home. This was previously the Gandolfi and Marchi store and home.

January 1915 - R.M. Cardetti's store which includes A.M. Piazza's post office burns down. The post office is moved inside the A.M. Piazza residence where it remains until 1966 when it closes permanenty.

1917 - Louis Zulpo becomes the first Knobview resident to own a car. He drives Fr. Leone to St. James on Sundays so he can conduct Mass there. The Immaculate Conception Church at St. James is still a mission church and has no resident priest.

March 17, 1918 - St. Anthony Church is destroyed by fire. The fire also destroys the parish house and a barn owned by R.M. Cardetti. The fire started from an intentional grass fire which had spread from an orchard west of the church.

1919 - Knobview is made a voting precinct.

April 27, 1919 - A new, brick church is dedicated by Bishop Tacconi, a missionary from China. Baptisms and confirmations are held during the dedication service with Rev. C. Spigardi of St. Louis assisting. Special music is provided by Scott's Orchestra of Rolla, and visitors from St. James, Rolla and Cuba are present. It is not known where Mass was held during the past year.

1920 - Prohibition forces the saloon to close so the building is used as a high school.

February 1921 - Approximately 40 local farmers form the Knobview Fruit Growers Association with Sam Flaim as president, Dr. O. L. Beeney as secretary and Louis Zulpo as treasurer. The cooperative is formed to help area farmers sell their grapes, apples, strawberries and other fruits. Eleven boxcars of grapes are shipped the first year.

May 28, 1922 - The grape growers of Knobview decide to build a shipping house near the railroad.

August 1922 - Due to the needs of the Knobview Fruit Growers Association, telephone service comes to Knobview. The first telephone is for that purpose only but others are soon connected. At that time, customers were required to construct and maintain their line from Knobview to St. James, which was nearly five miles away.

1923 - The St. Anthony Church rectory burns for the second time. Church records also burn again.

March 1923 - The Knobview Boys Club is formed.

December 29, 1923 - The Friendship Schoolhouse burns but is quickly rebuilt one-quarter mile west of the previous location.

February 22, 1924 - Fr. Leone dies in St. Louis. He was Knobview's first priest and helped the Italian settlers establish a church there.

March 1925 - The Knobview Boys Club Hall is built.

November 25, 1926 - On Thanksgiving evening, a tornado rips through the center of Knobview. The depot, Union Store (Ramori's store) and several other buildings are totally destroyed. 13 people are in the store at the time and only two receive minor injuries. No one is killed. Every building near the railroad tracks in Knobview receives some damage. The Cardetti Store and Knobview Boys Hall are moved off their foundations.

1929 - Louis Zulpo opens a filling station along the newly built Route 66, which cuts through the southeast corner of the Zulpo property.

November 1929 - Route 66 is completed through Knobview.

1930 - There are now approximately 1,000 acres of vineyards in the area.

June 26, 1930 - Gentilini's Public Pool opens along Route 66 in Rosati.

February 1, 1931 - Knobview becomes Rosati. Residents petitioned the post office to name their community after Bishop Joseph Rosati, the first Bishop of St. Louis and the first Bishop west of the Mississippi.

1933 - The old school which was being used as a winery by Capt. Eugene "Cap" Maynor and the grape growers of Rosati mysteriously burns down. Arson is suspected. The winery was located just north of St. Anthony Church.

1934 - The Knobview Fruit Growers Association purchases land from Maria Gentilini and builds Bonded Winery No. 72.

1937 - The winery is unprofitable and declares bankruptcy. R.M. Cardetti, along with C.B. Michelson, Director of Agricultural Development for the Frisco Railroad, make arrangements for the sale of grapes and other fruits to the Kroger Company. Grapes are picked and carefully arranged in four and twelve quart baskets, and made ready for sale in their stores. The fruit is shipped by refrigerated train cars.

1938 - R. M. Cardetti purchases and reopens the winery as R.M. Cardetti & Sons Bonded Winery No. 80.

1938-1939 - Electricity arrives at Rosati, thanks to Roosevelt's Rural Electrification Administration.

1939 - Dr. Swarthout from the University of Missouri at Columbia is experimenting on the vineyards at Rosati. Black rot, a fungus which makes the fruit inedible, has become a major problem. He develops a chemical mixture which stops the black rot and saves Rosati's grape industry.

1942 - R.M. Cardetti is forced to close the winery due to the start of W. W. II and a lack of sugar and labor. The Welch Grape Juice Company purchases the winery building and begins buying grapes from local growers. Welch's has a contract with the federal government to make jam and jelly for the military.

August-October 1944 - German prisoners are brought to Rosati to work for Welch's, processing grapes for the U.S. Army at the winery building. A barracks across the road from the winery houses the prisoners, and a tall fence surrounds the area. In 1945, prisoners are brought in daily by bus from Fort Leonard Wood.

November 24, 1946 - The second St. Anthony Church is destroyed by fire.

December 17, 1947 - A third St. Anthony Church is dedicated. The church is still in use today.

1948 - The Missouri Department of Conservation erects a fire lookout tower on the southwest side of Rosati where it had purchased 92 acres of land from Sam and Mary Vitali in 1947. The tower still stands today but it has become obscured from view due to the height of the trees around it. It stands on top of the westernmost of the three knobs which Knobview was named for.

1949 - R.M. Cardetti sells his store to his son, Joseph "Peno".

1951 - The Skelgas company builds a propane gas tank refill and distribution plant in Rosati. Bulk gas arrives by railroad tank car, and the gas is moved to large storage tanks for use in a refill operation. Empty gas cylinder tanks used by many homes and businesses for cooking and heating are picked up from customers, repainted, refilled and distributed back to customers.

June 1954 - The convent closes due to concerns about Catholic nuns teaching in public schools.

January 3, 1956 - Amelia Piazza dies at 88 years of age. She was the wife of  A.M., and the last known, living, original settler in Rosati from the Sunnyside Colony. Mrs. Piazza helped run the store and post office, and made cheese for the Piazza & Co. cheese factory.

1958 - Welch's sells the winery building and moves grape processing to Springdale, Arkansas. Rosati growers with Welch's contracts ship their crops there for the next 34 years.

1962 - The schoolhouse closes and students begin attending school in St. James.

May 6, 1966 - The post office operated by Joe A. Piazza, A.M. Piazza's son, closes. Everyone with a Rosati address will now have a St. James address, and mail will be delivered to each home from the post office at St. James. Previously, there was no home delivery, and Rosati residents picked up their mail at the post office in Rosati.

1971 - Robert Ashby reopens the Rosati Winery.

1974 - A mechanical grape harvester is purchased by William Stoltz, owner of Stoltz Winery, and most of the major growers in the Rosati area have their grapes picked mechanically for the first time. Most growers' grapes are picked in less than two days, rather than the typical two weeks required by hand picking. In 1977, Louis Marchi and Joe Zulpo purchase the Rosati area's second mechanical grape harvester.

January 1, 1976 - The Cardetti store closes.

1988 - The Rosati Winery closes.

1989 - Leo Cardetti's Ristorante opens in the Rosati Winery building.

1992 - The restaurant closes.

1994 - Jim DiPardo reopens the quarry at the former De Luca farm south of Rosati.

1996 - The winery building is reopened by Marvin and Donna Rippelmeyer as a bed and breakfast along with a store.

2001 - Dennis and Cindy Klinefelter open Essence of the Vineyard Bed & Breakfast.

2003 - Rosati residents start a Neighborhood Watch group.

2006 - St. Anthony Catholic Church celebrates its 100 year anniversary.

2009 - Drew Mendez, an architect and native of Rolla, Missouri, purchases the Rosati Winery building and begins major renovations to convert the building into a museum and gift shop, along with a banquet hall/meeting room.

 If you have corrections, suggestions, photos or information to contribute, please email me.

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