History of Greene County, Missouri
1883

R. I. Holcombe, Editing Historian


Chapter 2
From the Organization of the County to 1840

Part 1
Organization — The Organizing Act — Sketch of Gen. Nathaniel Greene — First Sub-Division of the County — First Session of the County Court — Organization of the Townships — Miscellaneous Matters — August Election, 1833 — First Circuit Court — First Criminal Cases — Murder of Sigler by Ferguson — The Free Negro Cases — The "Star Shower" of 1838 — Miscellaneous Proceedings of the County Court, 1834 — Miscellaneous, August Election, 1834 — Springfield Matters — Doake's Case — Transactions of the County Court, 1835 — The Cholera Season — Survey of Springfield — The August Election — Opening of the U.S. Land Office, 1836 — Miscellaneous Historical Items — The August Election — County Seat Proceedings — First Presidential Election — Killing of John Roberts by Judge Yancey


ORGANIZATION.

Upon the admission of Missouri into the Union, the territory now comprising Greene county, — at least by far the greater portion, the possible exception being a strip along the northern part, — was in what was known as Wayne county, one of the original counties of Missouri Territory, organized in 1818. January 23, 1829, Crawford county was formed out of Wayne, and the present limits of Greene were embraced therein. Four years later, or January 2, 1833, Greene county was created by a special act of the legislature. Its limits extended to the western and southern boundries of the State, to the Gasconade river on the east, and to the Osage fork on the north. [156]

The following is the act of the legislature organizing the county and prescribing its metes and bounds:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri [as follows]:
1. All that part of the territory lying south of the township line between townships thirty-four and thirty-five, extending in a direct line due west from the point where the said township line crosses the main Niangua river, to the western boundary of the State, and south and west of the county of Crawford, which is not included in the limits of any other county, and which was attached to the said county of Crawford, by joint resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, approved on the eighteenth day of January, eighteen hundred and thirty-one, be and the same is hereby organized into a separate and distinct county, to be called and known by the name of Greene county, in honor of Nathaniel Greene, of the Revolution.

2. The qualified voters residing within the limit of the said county shall meet at the place at present appointed by law for holding elections, on the first Monday of February next, for the purpose of choosing three fit and proper persons to compose the county court of said county, and one fit and proper person to act as sheriff; and the persons so elected shall be commissioned by the Governor, and shall hold their offices until the next general election for those officers, and until their successors are duly appointed and qualified.

3. The county court, when organized as aforesaid, shall have power to designate the place of holding the county and circuit courts within and for said county of Greene, until otherwise provided by law.

4. The county court of the county of Greene shall be holden on the second Mondays of March, June, September and December.

5. The election proposed to be holden under the provisions of the second section of this act, shall be governed and conducted in all respects by the laws relating to general elections, except that returns thereof, instead of being made to the clerk of the county court, shall be made directly to the Governor, who shall issue commissions accordingly.
January 2, 1833.

(See "Territorial Laws of Mo.," otherwise Laws passed between 1824 and 1836. Vol. 2, 1842, p. 306; chap. 235.)
The territory originally embraced within the county of Greene, by the foregoing act, comprised what is now all of the counties of McDonald, Newton, Jasper, Barton, Dade, Lawrence, Barry, Stone, Christian, Greene and Webster; the greater portions of the counties of Taney, Dallas, Polk and Cedar, and parts of Vernon, Laclede, Wright and Douglass, while a large portion of territory to the north and northwest was "attached for some time, "for civil and military purposes." [157]

Concerning the distinguished patriot, Gen. Nathaniel Greene, in honor of whom the county was named, Col. S. H. Boyd, in his "Historical Essay," says: "The spot where he is buried is unknown. No imposing shaft stands out in bold relief to catch the patriot's eye, and invite him to prayer, or to drop a tear over a nation's hero. No tablet, rich in design and elaborate in finish, spreads itself out to commemorate the heroism and fame of departed greatness. Not even a rude headboard marks the spot where Gen. Nathaniel Greene rests. But Missouri remembered him, and raised to him a monument and immortalized him by giving his name to the fairest, freest garden of her dominions, Southwest Missouri." In the acts of the legislature, and in the early records, the name Greene is written and appears without the final e, — evidently an error in orthography, as the autograph of the old hero and all histories of the Revolution attest.

The first subdivision of the county after its organization seems to have been when Rives (now Henry) county was organized, December 13, 1834, and the next was upon the creation of Barry, January 5, 1835. It now became necessary to readjust the boundaries of Greene county, and this was done by an act of the legislature, approved March 20, 1835, wherein they were declared to be established, as follows:

Greene.

Beginning where the line dividing townships 26 and 27 crosses the line dividing ranges 17 and 18; thence west with said township line to its intersection with the eastern boundary of Barry county; thence along said line to the southeast corner thereof; thence south to the beginning.

FIRST SESSION OF THE COUNTY COURT.

Perhaps the most important event in the history of the county during the first year of its existence as a county, was the first session of the county court, held March 11-14, 1833, at the house of John P. Campbell, which stood on the present site of the town of Springfield. Previously, on the 14th of February, Jeremiah N. Sloan, James Dollison, and Samuel Martin, having been elected at an election held on the first Monday in February, pursuant to a provision of the organization act, had been commissioned justices of the county court by His Excellency Governor Daniel Dunklin (John C. Edwards, Secretary of state). February 23, John P. Campbell was appointed county clerk. The county judges took the oath of office before Esq. A. J. Burnett, an acting justice of the peace in and for the county. John D. Shannon had been elected and commissioned sheriff. [158]

The proceeding of the first county court may thus be summarized: Samuel Martin was appointed presiding-justice for six months. Letters of administration were granted Joseph Weaver and John A. Langles on the estate of John Marshall, the wealthy old Indian trader, well known throughout Southwest Missouri in early days, and who had died some time previously. Spring River, Jackson, and Osage townships were organized and justices of the peace appointed. The road then leading from Springfield, via Delaware Town (a large encampment of the Delaware Indians) to Fayetteville, Arkansas Territory, was declared to be a public road. Commissioners were appointed to "view, lay out, and mark a public road from Springfield westwardly until it strikes the main fork of the Six Bulls, at or near Samuel Bogart's, thence in the direction of Fayetteville, Arkansas." Commissioners were also appointed to lay out a road from Bledsoe's ferry, on the Pomme de Terre river, to air indefinite point on the Twenty-five Mile prairie. Absalom Bledsoe was granted a license (for $2) to keep a ferry across the Osage river and charge for every foot passenger 12½ cents; for every two-horse team $1.25, etc. These proceedings were had the first day.

On the second day (March 12) a public road was ordered viewed and marked out from Springfield to the Twenty-five Mile prairie, in the direction of Boonville. Another road was ordered reviewed from Springfield to Swan creek. James Caulfield was appointed administrator of the estate of John Fitch, deceased. A settler named Brantlet had died a short time previously, leaving his family in destitute circumstances, and his three children, John, Finny, and Judy, were "bound out " to Kindred Rose, Larkin Payne, and Joseph Price; the two boys to serve until they were twenty-one years of age, and the girl, Judy, until she was eighteen. Richard C. Martin was appointed county assessor; A. C. Burnett was made collector, but declined, and later Larkin Payne was appointed; Junius T. Campbell, treasurer; Samuel Scroggins, surveyor. Of these officials Mr. Burnett died in Jacksonville, Oregon, in April, 1877, aged 89 years. [159]

The third day justices of the peace and judges of election were appointed for the several townships, and elections were ordered for constables. Oliver township was organized on this day. A. J. Burnett was appointed to lay out road districts and apportion hands to work on the roads in Campbell township. The roads at that day were not such splendid thoroughfares as are now to be seen. For the most part they were openings or "traces," along which a carriage, or even a wagon, could proceed only with difficulty. Happily, however, there were not many carriages or wagons then, and no very great inconvenience was experienced on that account. The "main " roads were in tolerable condition, and, save that there were no bridges, and quite frequently no ferries, across the streams, were fairly traversable. The road to Fayetteville and that to Boonville were all that ought to have been expected.

After a four days' session the court adjourned until June 10, the judges each receiving $1.75 per day and the sheriff $1.50 for their services.

ORGANIZATION OF THE FIRST TOWNSHIPS.

Upon the first day of the session, the county court, as before stated, proceeded to lay off the county into municipal townships, and establish the metes and bounds thereof. This was a work of no small magnitude. The county comprised such a vast extent of territory, with which the judges could not be expected to be thoroughly familiar, that it was extremely difficult to divide it into equitable portions suitable for all civil purposes. Besides, the court could not with certainty fix the boundaries of each township, perhaps because no map of the county had been furnished, and in one or two instances the township boundaries were extended beyond the limits of the county. The townships were laid off very irregularly as to area and conformation. The boundary lines did not follow those of the government surveys, but ran along, "dividing ridges," and were sometimes very indefinite, uncertain, and even speculative. It was not strange, therefore, that the township boundaries were changed soon after their establishment and from time to time. With these various changes it would be difficult to keep up, and besides the result would be uninteresting and unprofitable. The following were the first boundaries of the first townships of Greene county, as established by the county court, March 11 and 12, 1833: [160]

Spring River Township.—All that portion of territory lying, and being in Green(e) county, and included in the following boundaries: beginning on the west boundary line of the State of Missouri, west of Vivion's creek; thence east on the dividing ridge between the waters of Vivion's creek and Oliver's creek, so as to include the settlements on Vivion's creek; thence north on the dividing ridge between the waters of the Osage and Grand river; thence west on the same dividing ridge, to the boundary line of the State of Missouri; thence south to the beginning. Elections were to be held at Samuel Bogart's, wherever that was.

Jackson Township.— Beginning at the north boundary line of Greene county, as now established, running with the dividing ridge between the north fork of Sac1 river and the Pomme de Terre river, without limit, or so far as to include the convenient settlers; the south boundary running, so as to include all the settlements on both sides of Sac River. Elections to be held at Ezekiel M. Campbell's.

Osage Township. —Beginning at the mouth of the Little Niangua river, running so as to include the place where Wm. Montgomery now lives; thence to the mouth of the Little Pomme de Terre ; thence west to Sac river, and down Sac river to the Osage river; thence down the Osage to the beginning. Elections to be held at Wm. Brinegar's ferry, on the Pomme de Terre.2

Mooney Township.—Beginning at the Pomme de Terre river, where the Niangua trace crosses; thence taking the waters of the Pomme de Terre to the mouth of the Little Pomme de Terre; thence up the Little Pomme de Terre to the dividing ridge between it and Sac river; thence along the Jackson township line to Sac river; thence taking the waters of Sac river up to include John Ross; thence up the Dry fork of Sac river to the beginning. Elections to be held at John Mooney's. Judges of election, James Smithson, Aaron Rugle, and John West.

Campbell Township.— Beginning at the mouth of Finley, running thence to include the settlers on Finley, to the eastern boundary of Greene county; thence with said line to the Niangua river; thence with said river to the Niangua trace; thence with said trace to the Mooney township line; thence with said line to John Ross', on Sac river; thence to the Widow Leeper's; thence to the Parr Springs; thence to the point where the road leading [to] Washington Clay's crosses said creek; thence in a direct line to the mouth of Finley to the beginning. [161]
__________________
1 Spelled Sock, in nearly every instance, in the first records, as it was pronounced in early days.
2 Pomme de Terre — literally earth apple, or potato,— is spelled in the first records Pomada Tarr. Sometimes "Pumley Tarr."
__________________

White River Township. — Beginning at the mouth of Finley, on James' fork of White River; thence down said James' fork, so as to include all the settlers on both sides thereof, to the mouth of said James' fork; thence due south to the State line; thence east with said line to the county line; thence with said line to Campbell Township; thence with said line to the beginning. Elections to be held at Felch's old place, on the north side of White river. Edward Mooney, John H. Glover, — Newsom, judges.

Oliver Township. — All that portion of territory lying south of Spring river and west of White River township, and not included in any other township.

At the June term, 1833, the township of Sugar Creek was created, with the following as its metes and bounds:

Beginning on the south boundary of Missouri, where Brown's lane crosses the Missouri line; thence north with Brown's lane to the dividing ridge between the waters of Friend's river and Col. Oliver's fork; thence east to the Elkhorn spring; still east to the "Peddler's cabin," on Flat creek; thence southeast to White river; thence up White river to Roaring river, and to the Missouri line.

At the first term of the county court, justices of the peace were appointed for the different townships of the county, as follows: Jackson, Wm. H. Duncan; Osage, Christopher Elmore and John Riparton; Campbell, Andrew Taylor, Richard C. Martin, and Larkin Payne; White River, Samuel Garner; Oliver, Thos. B. Arnett. No appointments were made for Spring River and Mooney. Upon the creation of Sugar Creek township, Samuel Vaugh was appointed justice of the peace therefor. In the following December, Elk Creek township was organized.

MISCELLANEOUS MATTERS.

The county was now fully and duly organized, and took its station among the other counties of the State, then, and destined always to be, the peer of any of them in general worth and importance. True, matters became at times a little disarranged and complications occurred that sometimes were difficult of adjustment. In June, many complaints having been made and other circumstances rendering it necessary, the boundaries of Jackson, Mooney and Campbell townships were extended so as to take in certain settlers who had been set off to other townships and inconvenienced thereby. Treasurer Campbell and Collector Payne resigned their offices June 10. John Fulbright succeeded Campbell, and Sheriff Shannon was appointed collector. Mr. Shannon frequently rode fifty miles to summon a witness and received for his trouble the munificent sum of fifty cents. Perhaps, however, he considered the glory of his office worth the remainder of an equitable sum! [162]

It now became apparent that it was costing something to run the complicated machinery of a county government. June 29, the first warrant on the treasury was issued to Martin B. Brame, for $5. This was to pay for a good stout table on which to write the county records, and a strong box in which to keep them. A few days previously a tax of $15 had been levied on E. W. Wallis (or Wallace), "for the privilege of exercising the business and trade of a grocery in Greene county." By an act of the legislature, a fund arising from the sale of certain lands had been created, and was known as the "three-per-cent. fund." It was ordered apportioned among the different counties, and to be used in aid of internal improvements. Greene county's share was ordered drawn out of the State treasury, "and loaned out at 10 per cent until some suitable object of internal improvement presents itself." Samuel Scroggins was ordered to receive the money and pay it out upon the order of the county court, when sitting as a board of internal improvements.

Many of the first settlers of the county had brought their slaves with them to the new country, and the number was now considerable; and so, in accordance with law, the county court appointed patrols to look after the bondmen and keep them within proper bounds. Chesley Cannefax, John Sturdivant, John Fulbright, Barton Warren and Andrew Taylor, were appointed the first captains of patrol. The days of patrols have passed long since, never more to return, and the chorus of a once popular melody is now ill-timed and inappropriate: ———"Run, nigger, run! De patrol 'ill ketch ye."

THE AUGUST ELECTION, 1833.

The first election in the county after its organization, occurred August 5, 1833. It has been found impossible to obtain completer records of this election than the poll books of Campbell township, containing the vote for Congressman. The township cast 103 votes, of which George Shannon received 96; James H. Birch, 3; John Bull, 3; George F. Strother, 1. The election resulted in the choice of John Bull, of Howard county, who only served one term. Wm. H. Ashley was his colleague, at that day the State only having two representatives in the lower house of Congress. Of Mr. Bull's competitors, J. H. Birch was a prominent lawyer; Gen. Geo. F. Strother was an old pioneer who had been with Lewis and Clark, in 1804, and badly wounded in an encounter with the Indians; Mr. Shannon was a prominent citizen, and, it would seem, Greene county's favorite. The judges of election for Campbell township in August, 1833, were Joseph Rountree, Alex. Younger, and D. B. Miller; clerks, Thos. F. Wright and J. M. Rountree. The election lasted three days, or from the 5th to the 8th of the month, under a provision of the law in force at that time, designed to allow all the voters "from the back settlements" to attend the polls. [163]

FIRST CIRCUIT COURT.

Monday, August 12, 1833, the first term of the circuit court for Greene county, convened at Springfield "at the Court House." Hon. Charles H. Allen ("Horse" Allen) was judge; Thomas J. Gevins was circuit attorney; Charles P. Bullock, a son-in-law of Judge Allen, was clerk; John D. Shannon was sheriff. A grand jury was empanelled, consisting of the following gentlemen:

Alex. Younger, foreman; Peter Epperson, Dan'l B. Miller, Joseph Rountree, Bennett Robinson, George Yoacum, John Pettijohn, Reuben Harper, John Fulbright, Daniel Johnson, John O. Lock, John Mooney, Ezekiel Campbell, Ephraim Jameson, Wm. Lunsford, Sam'l M. Scroggins, Samuel Vaughn, Humphrey C. Warren, Robert Patterson, Samuel Garner.

But little business was transacted at this term except by the grand jury. Thos. J. Gevins and Littleberry Hendrick were admitted to practice as attorneys and "councellors," and there do not seem to have been any other lawyers present. The only case disposed of, and the first heard, was an appeal case from the northern part of the county, which was entitled "Manual Carter vs. Nathan Newsom."

Carter, who was a free negro, was the appellant, and on his motion the case was dismissed.

It is a matter of much regret that it must be recorded that the first grand jury of Greene county had its hands full of business, so to speak. At that time, however, it must be borne in mind that the area of the county was very large and that a few turbulent, law-breaking spirits were to be found among many reputable and peaceable citizens. It may also be supposed, moreover, that the practice of the early pioneers was to "let no guilty man escape," and hence all offenders against the majesty of the law were duly arraigned—a proceeding unfortunately not in vogue at the present day. The grand jury returned indictments against Joseph Ferguson for murder; against John Patterson, James Patterson and James Cornelius for murder; against the following parties for "adultery and fornication;" Matthews, or Mathes, "a free man of colour," and Jane Murray, a white woman; Manuel Carter, "a free man of colour," and Miss Ramey, or Rainey, a white woman; Elijah Carter, "a free man of colour," and Miss Ramey; Edmond J. Carter, "a free man of colour," and Susan Evans, a white woman. "True bills " were also found against the following parties, for gaming:" Samuel Teas and Wm. Fulbright, E. R. Fulbright and Samuel Teas, Wm. Fulbright, L. C. Fulbright, Martin Fulbright, and Sam'l Teas, Wm. M. Payne and Robert Paulding, Wm. M. Payne and Jacob Yoacum, E. W. Wallace and Lester T. Gillett, Samuel Teas and Thos. Horn. George Winton was also indicted, but for what offense is not learned.

Of the particulars of these cases it may be stated that Joseph Ferguson lived on Bear Creek, in what is now Polk county. He had a difficulty with a neighbor named Sigler, and meeting him afterwards at a gathering of some sort, drew his rifle and shot him dead. Ferguson escaped to Texas and some say was never apprehended. But Mr. John H. Miller says that he heard Littleberry Hendrick, in 1833, at a place six miles west of Bolivar, now Polk county, then Greene, make his first speech in Southwest Missouri "in defense of Joe. Ferguson for killing Jacob Sigler." Col. Gilmore thus mentions this case in his sketches in the Patriot. He is mistaken, probably, in the statement that Ferguson was wounded in the affray mentioned:

"In 1833 two men named Sill (or Sigler) and Ferguson, had a shooting affair in this county. Sill was killed, and the other was badly wounded. Jno. D. Shannon was then sheriff. He went with a large posse to capture the survivor, and could not find him. But they found two men named Brown and Sanderlin, who frankly acknowledged they knew where the object of their search was concealed, but refused to tell where. The posse, to compel them to disclose all they knew, tied up both Sanderlin and Brown to a black-jack tree, and whipped them very severely, indeed. But this summary "aid of execution" did not avail the officer and his assistants. Brown and Sanderlin kept their secret, in spite of all the torture inflicted; and afterwards brought suit against those who had so abused them. These suits, however, after pending, for a year or two, were compromised and the matter was dropped."

The scan mag, cases were from north of Warsaw, now in Benton county. The three Carters were brothers, and, as stated, were all negroes. The women were degraded white females, of whom but little is known. Manuel Carter was long afterward tried, convicted, and fined $50 and sentenced to six months' imprisonment; Elijah was convicted, fined $100 and given six months in jail; Edmund Carter and Matthews and the women were never tried. [164-165]

Of these cases Col. Gilmore gives the following information which he received from old Chesley Cannefax himself:

Chesley Cannefax, the sheriff of Greene county, when the county embraced all the State south of the Osage river and west of Phelps, came here with his father in 1831. He was elected [appointed] sheriff in 1834. One of his first official acts was the arrest of two free negroes, who lived on the Osage river, about fifty miles from Springfield. They had been indicted for "adultery," by the grand jury, some time before, and the sheriffs of Cole and Cooper counties had tried in vain to capture them. The negroes were desperate fellows, and had shot and wounded several of those sent to arrest them. Cannefax took but one man, Jas. Martin, and the two succeeded, after a long and difficult chase, in catching their men, but the women who were indicted with them, eluded the officers successfully at the time, by hiding while they were pursuing the men. The prisoners were tried, convicted and sentenced to one year's imprisonment and a fine of $500 (?) each. As there was no jail in the county then, they were turned over to the custody of Joseph Weaver and John W. Hendricks, to guard, until the sheriff of Cooper county could take them to Boonville, where the nearest jail was located. Weaver and Hendricks handcuffed the prisoners, and attached a heavy trace chain to the cuffs, and so manacled started with them to Weaver's house, which was about two miles west of Springfield. The guard was mounted and the prisoners on foot. Yet, under all these disadvantages, the negroes managed to escape into the brush, and were never recaptured. A good deal of feeling was excited by this escape, and Cannefax was cited before the court— "Horse" Allen being circuit judge—to answer for it. Cannefax was sick in bed at the time of the escape, so he was cleared of all blame. The negroes afterwards sent him an insulting message, saying where they could he found and daring another trial of capture.

In a majority of cases those who were indicted for gaming pleaded guilty and were fined $5 and costs. Court was in session but three days, when it adjourned "till court in course," the next term being held in December.

Judge Allen was succeeded at the April term, 1837, by Hon. Foster P. Wright, who was commissioned by Gov. Lilburn W. Boggs. At the same time Benj. F. Robinson became circuit attorney. At the March term, 1841, Gen. Chas. S. Yancey was appointed judge of the 13th circuit, of which Greene county was then a part, succeeding Judge Wright. Judge Yancey was at the time a resident of this county. [166]

THE "STAR SHOWER" OF 1833.

Between 3 and 4 o'clock, on the morning of November 13, 1833, there occurred in this county and throughout a great portion of the United States the great shower of meteors known as the "star shower," or the "falling of the stars." The splendor of this remarkable meteoric rain will never pass from the memory of those who witnessed it. Old settlers of Greene say that in the firmament above, and all around the horizon, thicker than the stars themselves,— which were on that morning, uncommonly bright and beautiful,—were beheld innumerable balls of fire of a whitish, pallid color, rushing down and across the sky, drawing after them long, luminous traces which clothed the whole heavens in awful majesty, and gave to the air and earth a pale death-like appearance. Ali inconceivable number of meteors or falling stars shot across and downward from the heavens, as though the whole framework of the blue and cloudless arch above had been shaken. These small and luminous bodies had the appearance of flying or floating with great rapidity in every direction, occasioning the greatest wonder among the beholders, mingled with fear and consternation. Some described them as the slow and sparse descent of large flakes of snow, and that each flake—some smaller, some larger in size, from accidental aggregation or otherwise—take fire in their passage, and, fusing like a bombshell before bursting, leave a long train of lurid light, and that thousands of these, or as many as were within the range of vision, continued to descend and scatter and become extinct before they reached the earth. In some parts of the country the shower continued until near sunrise, when it is supposed they "paled their ineffectual fires" before the greater brilliancy of the sun.

In Greene county the celestial phenomenon was fully as brilliant as elsewhere. Hundreds of people witnessed it, and it was an occasion of much excitement. Very many of the poorly informed people concluded that the Judgment had come. It is said that the incident upon which is founded an oft-told story happened in this county. A man and his wife were sleeping, the sleep of the just, the lady by a window. Awakening, she saw the wonderful celestial pyrotechnical display, and arousing her husband in great terror, she exclaimed. "Get up, old man, quick! The day of judgment has come?" Her liege lord hesitated but a moment, and turning over grumblingly replied: "O, lie down and go to sleep, you old fool; do you suppose the judgment day is going to come in the night?" [167]

MISCELLANEOUS.

As a reminder that the poor we have always with us, it may be instanced that in December of the year 1833 the county granted relief to its first pauper, Mrs. Sarah Craig, who, being in a destitute condition, and seeing a hard winter before her, applied to the authorities for help, and received an allowance of $30 per year, which, however, was not made payable until the end of the year.

December 12, Elk River township was organized, and a voting precinct established at Solomon Forrester's. The boundaries of Osage township were extended to include territory on the north side of the Osage river "for civil and military purposes." About this time Maj. D. D. Berry, was appointed to two civil offices— that of justice of the peace of Campbell township, vice Larkin Payne resigned, and county treasurer in the room of John Fulbright, whose resignation had just been tendered and excepted. Maj. Berry's bond was fixed at $2,000.

The county court, acting as a board of internal improvements, appointed Treasurer Berry agent to receive and loan out the three-per-cent fund, at ten per cent interest for only six months at a time. The total running expenses of the county for the year ending December 31st, amounted to $363.32, while the receipts for taxes and licenses were only $299.31, leaving a deficiency of $64.01.

1834 - MISCELLANEOUS.

At the first session of the county court, March 11, John Williams was appointed county assessor, and D. D. Berry, county treasurer for one year. The county clerk was ordered to procure, for the use of the county, standard weights and measures. He was also instructed to procure a county seal, which should be of brass and contain besides the words, "Seal of Greene County, Missouri," an effigy of an elk. In June the county treasurer and the collector made their settlements, and the treasurer was allowed the munificent sum of $5 for his services, until the 1st of the next March, nine months. Judge J. N. Sloan was appointed collector for the year. In July, J. W. Hancock, B. T. Nowlin, and other citizens of the county were relieved from the payment of taxes. Times were hard with them, as with the majority of the settlers, and in addition certain misfortunes had befallen them, rendering them proper objects of the county's favor and assistance.

A county tax double the State tax was levied this year for county purposes, the court being determined that no deficiency should be found in the treasury at the close of the year. John Sturdivant, John Walker, Chesley Cannefax and John McElhaney, were appointed patrols, and E. R. Fulbright made captain thereof. John Williams, county assessor, finished the work of assessing the county, for which he received $126. Some idea of the magnitude of the job may be obtained from a knowledge of the fact that it required 84 days, when there were not more than 500 families to be visited. Mr. Williams rode from the Arkansas line to the northern portion of Benton county, and from the Gasconade river to the western line of the State, swimming streams, climbing mountains, and often camping out at night. For this work he received $1.50 per day. [168]

THE AUGUST ELECTION, 1834.

The general election of this year was held August 4. A total of 503 votes was cast, of which Campbell township threw 185. The election lasted two days, and the following is an abstract of the returns:

Senator.— Joseph Weaver, 373; James Campbell, 66; John Duncan, 64.
Representative.— John D. Shannon, 399 ; Thatcher Vivion, 93.
Sheriff. — Benj. U. Goodrich, 198; Frank Leeper, 178 ; Wm. Townsend, 67; P. L. Smith, 43.
County Justices.—James Dollison, 339 ; Alex. Younger, 330; Benj. Chapman, 168; Samuel Martin, 145; Littleberry Hendrick, 125; Larkin Payne, 115.
Coroner.— John Robards, 29.

Following is the vote of the county by townships:

OFFICIAL CANVASS OF THE AUGUST ELECTION, 1834.

 

State
Senator

Repre
sentative


Sheriff


County Justices


Cor

 


TWP

Weaver

Campbell

Duncan

Shannon

Vivion

Goodrich

Leeper

Townsend

Smith

Dollison

Younger

Chapman

Martin

Hendrick

Payne

Robards

Campbell

175

3

5

179

5

62

42

50

15

159

138

85

57

45

51

29

Mooney

15

13

26

20

30

24

21

5

2

34

37

14

6

20

26

--

Spring River

34

6

15

26

25

15

24

--

14

22

34

32

2

5

5

--

Jackson

55

14

4

70

2

52

18

2

--

56

59

34

3

8

6

--

Osage

9

24

--

29

5

24

4

--

7

6

8

--

8

32

4

--

White River

12

2

3

11

6

5

7

5

2

6

3

9

15

16

--

 

Elk River

24

4

--

25

--

3

23

1

--

25

25

--

25

--

--

--

Oliver

29

--

11

19

20

4

34

2

--

16

18

--

17

--

--

--

Sugar Creek

20

--

--

20

8

12

--

--

19

5

--

18

--

15

--

 

TOTAL

373

66

64

399

93

198

178

67

43

339

330

168

145

125

115

29

[169]

Benjamin Goodrich, the sheriff elect, died on the evening of the election, from the effect of the bursting of a blood vessel, and in response to the prayer of a numerously signed petition, borne to him by "Buck" Rountree, then a young man of 22, Gov. Daniel Dunklin appointed Chesley Cannefax sheriff for two years. At the September term of the county court Cannefax had not yet received his commission, and John W. Hancock was appointed sheriff pro tem. Dr. C. D. Terrill was appointed county clerk.

In the fall of this year the first post-office was established at Springfield. J. T. Campbell was appointed postmaster. The mail came in twice a week from Boonville, Mo., and Fayetteville, Ark. All mails were light. There was not a great deal of correspondence at that day. Postage on a letter from outside of the State was 25 cents, payable on delivery. Letters were commonly sent without envelopes. One page of the sheet was not written on and the letter was so folded as to leave this page on the outside, whereon the superscription was placed, the documents being seated or fastened by wafers.

The business men of Springfield at this time were D. D. Berry, Henry Fulbright, and Cannefax & Ingram (R. W. Cannefax and S. S. Ingram), who were dealers in dry goods and groceries; James Carter and John W. Ball, who were the village blacksmiths, and S. S. Ingram, who, as a cabinet-maker and wheelwright, made coffins, bedsteads, chairs, cotton spinning wheels, etc.

In December, on the recommendation of the county court, Joseph Rountree was appointed justice of the peace of Campbell township. Thomas Horn was appointed deputy sheriff under Cannefax. James Dollison was again made presiding justice of the county court. At the close of the year it was found that 31 county warrants had been issued in 1834, calling for $465.65½. The receipts for taxes and licenses amounted to $688.55, enough to pay this year's expenses, last year's deficit, and leave a balance in the treasury of $160.52½ —and this notwithstanding the fact that Collector Sloan was $186.66 behind on collections. [170]

DOAKE'S CASE.

Another of the "celebrated cases" of the Southwest occurred in 1834. A robbery or larceny had been perpetrated near Cane Hill. A man named Doake suspected a stranger traveling through the country, and followed him to Farmington, where he arrested him and charged him with the crime. The stranger employed three persons, named Berry, Holburt, and Culton to defend him, and agreed to give them two horses and a rifle he owned for doing so. These three were not lawyers, but defended the stranger successfully, and he was discharged. He gave them the gun and horses as he had promised. Doake concluded if the stranger was not guilty, Berry, Holburt and Culton ought not to have the horses, and that he would make the effort to get them for himself. He therefore hurried to Springfield, told his story, raised an excitement, got out a writ, and had John P. Campbell and a dozen armed men waiting the arrival of the three persons who were quietly on their way to town. At this juncture, Cannefax, in virtue of being sheriff, took the writ from Campbell, discharged the crowd, and when the men came in, took their horses and arrested them. When told the charge against them they quietly submitted until Culton saw Doake, when it was with difficulty Doake's life could be saved.

The sheriff summoned a jury, and upon a trial of the rights of property a verdict was immediately given in favor of the three defendants, who took their horses and went on to the Delaware village at the mouth of Wilson creek. In the meantime Doake, determined to have the horses, persuaded a young man named Sturdevant, to believe his side of the story, and the two went down to the village and stole the horses.

At the next term Doake was indicted for horse stealing, but no bill was found against Sturdevant, who bore a first-rate character, it being thought that he had been deceived into the scrape by Doake.

As the trial of Doake drew near, he ordered every man between Springfield and the west State line to be subpoenaed as his witnesses. Cannefax rode diligently for weeks, and got all but one man named Reed. Doake finding that the sheriff had not got Reed, made affidavit that he could not get a fair trial, if Cannefax filled the jury panel. "Horse" Allen ordered an officer pro tem., to fill up the jury, and it was done by selecting Doake's friends from off the Osage, and he was acquitted, of course.

After Doake's acquittal Culton made another effort to kill him, but Cannefax and John G. Lock, managed to prevent it, and Doake lost no time in getting out of Greene county, to which he never returned.

1835 -A HARD WINTER.

The winter of 1834-5, was intensely cold. "The cold Friday and Saturday" were long remembered. Cattle had their horns frozen, many old settlers assert, and in some instances, had their legs frozen off up to the knees. Pigs and fowls perished in great numbers, and there was much damage done to peach and other fruit trees. [171]

The snow was unusually deep and drifted to extraordinary depths, laying on from December to March. The people were thereby subjected to many inconveniences, not to say privations. It was impossible, in many cases, to go to mill or to a store, owing to the distance and the impassable condition of the roads, and so the hominy block was called into requisition to supply breadstuff, and the "store goods" were dispensed with.

TRANSACTIONS OF THE COUNTY COURT.

In February the county court went into an election for assessor for this year. J. W. Hancock, Joseph Burden, and Daniel Gray were candidates for the office. Each received a vote, and there was a tie. The court ordered the clerk to give the casting vote, which he did, voting in favor of Mr. Gray. Chesley Cannefax was appointed collector, and D. D. Berry made treasurer. Samuel Scroggins, the county surveyor, was ordered to survey and mark off the northern boundary of the county. The survey was ordered to begin at the northeast corner of section 1, tp. 31, range 18,— or twelve miles east of the present western line of Webster county, and two miles north of the village of Niangua,— and run thence due west, on the line between townships 31 and 32, a distance of 42 miles, to the northwest corner of section 6, tp. 31, range 25. The greater portion of this line is the present northern boundary line of the county. The change in the boundary was made necessary by the creation of Barry county., January 5, and Polk, March 13, 1835. At the May term Swan, North Fork, and James townships were organized, and at the June term Porter and Finley were formed.

THE CHOLERA SEASON OF 1835.

In the month of June of this year, Asiatic cholera visited Greene county and occasioned great alarm and excitement. Its ravages were confined to Springfield and the immediate vicinity, however, and, though there were some deaths, the mortality was not extraordinarily large. The dread contagion was supposed to have been imported from St. Louis in goods brought in by Henry Fulbright. The first case was that of James Carter, a blacksmith, who was taken at 9 in the morning and died at 2 in the afternoon of the same day. The day of Carter's death, Cowden Martin, a brother of Judge Samuel Martin, came to town, was attacked, and died that night. Two negro men belonging to J. P. Campbell died in one night. Moses Foren and one or two others whose names are not now remembered also fell victims to the fearful scourge. Many persons, among whom were Solomon Cotner, John Ingram, and Mrs. Martin Ingram, were attacked, but were saved by the "steam doctors." Still others recovered by the help of the regular physicians, while some got well without using any medicine at all, merely being very careful in their diet and exercise. Fortunately the cholera only lasted some ten days in this county. It prevailed in St. Louis this year and the next summer was very fatal in that city. [172]

SURVEY OF SPRINGFIELD.

July 18th, 1836, a special session of the county court was held for the purpose of receiving and adopting a plan for laying out the county seat, the town of Springfield. A plan submitted by J. P. Campbell was approved, and D. B. Miller was appointed a commissioner to lay off the town and sell lots. The location of the county seat had previously been made by the commissioners appointed for the purpose;1 but there were many who doubted that this location would be permanent, as strong efforts were being made to relocate the county capital, and there was great uncertainty as to what would ultimately become the final county boundaries, and its geographical center, usually selected as the county seat. Consequently lots were not sold with great rapidity at first.

THE AUGUST ELECTION, 1835.

The county court ordered that in this year a two days' election be held in the town of Springfield, commencing on the first Monday in August, and that general elections thereafter be held for two days until otherwise ordered. The election was held August 4, and the official vote of Campbell township, is recorded, was as follows:

Circuit Clerk. — C. D. Terrill, 105; D. D. Berry, 79.
County Clerk. — J. P. Campbell, 141; Joseph Rountree, 41.
Assessor. — John H. Clark, 84; Wm. A. Allen, 94.
Surveyor.— Samuel Scroggins, 182.
Justices of the Peace. — C. S. Yancey and David Appleby, 142 each.

________________
1 Section 12 of "an act to organize the counties of Polk and Barry, and to establish a permanent seat of justice for Greene county," approved January 5, 1835, provided: "That Jeremiah N. Slone (Sloan), George M. Gibson, of Barry county, and Markham Fristoe are appointed commissioners for the purpose of selecting a permanent seat of justice for the county of Greene." (Chap. 349, page 438, vol.2,"Territorial Laws.")
___________________
[173]

Upon the assembling of the county court James Dollison was again elected presiding justice. About the first of August the public square of Springfield was enlarged from one and a half to two acres.

OPENING OF THE U. S. LAND OFFICE.

About the 1st of September the United States Land Office was opened at Springfield. The seventh cash entry was made Sept. 8th. Joel H. Haden, of Howard county, was the first register, and Robert T. Brown, of St. Genevieve, the first receiver. Mr. Haden removed his family to Springfield, and became a permanent resident, but Mr. Brown never removed his family, and in about three years returned to St. Genevieve. Mr. Haden died in Howard county, February 7, 1862.

The establishment of the land office at Springfield was quite an event in the history of the place. It brought hundreds of persons to the town who desired to enter land in the Springfield district, and was of great convenience and accommodation to the settlers of Southwest Missouri.

Miscellaneous. —About December 1, County Judge Younger resigned and was succeeded by Hon. Chas. S. Yancey, who was appointed by the Governor. The aggregate expenses of the county this year were $668.50; the receipts only $414.28, which, with the balance in the treasury from the year 1834, left a deficit of $87.50. The following were the merchants and grocers of the county doing business under license this year: Fulbright & Sons, David O. George, J. T. Campbell, D. D. Berry, B. W. Cannefax, and D. Prigmore.

1836 - MISCELLANEOUS.

At the session of the county court, C. D. Terrill was reappointed deputy county clerk. D. D. Berry was appointed county treasurer for the ensuing year and allowed $35 for his services in 1835. Thos. Horn, as captain, and Jas. A. L McCarroll, and Joseph Burden, J. W. Ball, and L. H. Freeman, were appointed patrols for Campbell township, and directed to patrol at least twelve hours in each month during the year. A judgment was obtained in the circuit court against ex-Collector Sloan and his securities for the full amount of his defalcation as such collector, and an execution was ordered out against them; but before it was served a compromise was effected, by the terms of which the county recalled the execution, and in March Sloan made full and satisfactory settlement of all his delinquencies, in an honorable manner, and did not depart for Europe or Canada as is the practice of many defaulting officials in these degenerate days.

In March, Wm. A. Allen, having, failed to qualify as county assessor, Daniel Gray was re-appointed to that office for one year. David Appleby and Joseph Burden were appointed justices of the peace for Campbell township.

In June Josiah T. Danforth was appointed as another justice of the peace for Campbell township.— Jackson township was re-organized.— A "main" road was laid out and opened, running from Versailles, Morgan county, and passing through this county, to the Arkansas line. This thoroughfare was afterwards much traveled in going to and from Boonville. The expense of the road was borne by the counties through which it passed. Greene county's share of the surveying expenses was $53.14, which was paid to the surveyor, Wm. Monroe, out of the three per cent. fund" for internal improvements.— Thos. Horn was elected county collector.—The first case of insanity in the county was brought into public notice in this month. The sheriff brought James Renfro, said to be insane, before the county court, and the question of his sanity was tried by a jury composed of Thomas Shannon, J. W. Ball, N. R. Smith, Benj. Cannefax, James Warren, Andrew Hodge, Chas. Hatler, G. N. Shelton, Henry Fulbright, S. S. Ingram, John Ingram, and Littleberry Hendrick. The jury decided that Mr. Renfro was insane, and incapable of managing his own business. Therefore Joseph Porter and Benj. Chapman were appointed his guardians and trustees.

THE AUGUST ELECTION, 1836.

At the August election of this year the following were the candidates: Leislature, J. W. Hancock and J. D. Shannon; sheriff, Chesley Cannefax and Frank Leeper; assessor, Samuel Martin and Spencer O'Neil; surveyor, Joseph Burden, Joseph Rountree, and Stephen Fisher. The first named candidate for each office was elected. At the session of the county court in this month Judge Yancey was chosen presiding justice. [175]

COUNTY SEAT PROCEEDINGS.

In August, D. B. Miller was ordered to employ a competent surveyor to lay off the town tract of Springfield, donated to the county by J. P. Campbell, and to file plats and field-notes of the same. He was further ordered to order two lots for sale, as soon as surveyed, by advertising for two months, by three insertions, in the Missouri Argus, published at St. Louis, and the Boon's Lick Democrat, published at Old Franklin, Howard county, and also by "setting up handbills at the county seats of Greene, Pulaski, Barry and Polk counties." The court ordered two lots reserved, one for building a clerk's office, and one for a jail.

October 31, plats and field-notes of Springfield were filed and approved and lot 18 of block 5, "where the present court-house is situated, is hereby reserved from sale at present." The proceeds of the sales of lots were ordered set aside for the erection of public buildings, etc. Lot 11 was substituted for lot 10 for a clerk's office.

Nine days thereafter Commissioner Miller made a settlement for town lots sold Nov. 1, showing that sales had been made to the amount of $649.88. The sales were well attended, and bidding was thought to have been very spirited, at that day, very many caring to take their chances that Springfield would become the "permanent county seat" of Greene county, as the act appointing commissioners had stated, and therefore they bought lots and prepared to reap any resultant advantages that might accrue. The commissioner was allowed $131.51 for the total expenses of the sale, and was ordered to pay the balance into the treasury.

As has been stated, a public jail, the first in the county, had been built by contributions of the citizens, who had come to the help of the young county at a time when its treasury was empty—if indeed it had a treasury—and at a time, too, when such an institution was imperatively needed, and generously "chipped in," to a sufficient amount to complete a good strong, commodious log building in which offenders were to be confined. This building stood somewhere near the corner of Main and Boonville streets. In process of time the county became better off, and in November of this year the county court ordered the treasurer to refund out of the money received for town lots, to each person the amount by him donated to build the county's bastile.

The county court having decided to erect new public buildings, appointed Sidney S. Ingram superintendent thereof, and ordered him to prepare and submit a plan for a court-house. November 28 Mr. Ingram's plans were submitted, examined, and approved, and a court-house for the county was ordered erected in the center of the public square of Springfield, to be a two-story brick, covering an area 34 by 40 feet, with divers and sundry specifications. The sum of $3,250 was appropriated for its erection. [176]

The first prisoner ever incarcerated in the present State penitentiary at Jefferson was sent up from Greene county this year (1836). His name was Wilson Edison, a native of Tennessee, and at the February term of the circuit court had been convicted of grand larceny (horse stealing) and sentenced to two years and six months' imprisonment, less the time he had already spent in jail. He was admitted to the penitentiary March 8th, 1836, and was the sole occupant until the 28th of May following.

FIRST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

In November of this year occurred the first Presidential election since the organization of the county. The candidates for President and Vice-President were Martin Van Buren and Richard M. Johnson, of the Democratic party; Wm. Henry Harrison and Francis Granger, of the National Whig party; and Hugh L. White, of Tennessee, of the independent Democrats and Whigs. The vote of Greene county was as follows: Van Buren, 140; White, 11. Only two townships, Campbell and Jackson, voted regularly at this election. Campbell gave Van Buren 113 votes and White 11; Jackson gave Van Buren 17; White, none. North Fork township gave Abram Bird, one of the Van Buren electors, ten votes, and these seem to have been counted for all of the electors on that ticket.

The vote of the State stood: Van Buren, 10,995; Harrison, 7,337; White, 3,256.

Miscellaneous.— The number of cash entries of land at the land office in Springfield for the first year was only 90.— October 3, John H. Miller was appointed deputy county clerk instead of C. D. Terrill.— The collector, in November, returned the State and county land delinquent list for this year as amounting to only $90.27. — December 3l, the treasurer's books showed that the total expenses of the county for the year had been $829.96; the receipts into the treasury $557.43½, showing a deficit of $272.52½. Adding to this the $87.50 deficiency of the last year, made the total county deficit January 1, 1837, to amount to $360.03. [177]

KILLING OF JOHN ROBERTS BY JUDGE YANCEY.

In the fall of 1836 John Roberts, a well-known citizen of the county, was arrested by Sheriff Chesley Cannefax and brought before the couuty court, charged with a misdemeanor. Between Roberts and Mr. Campbell there existed a feud of some standing and considerable bitterness. When Roberts was brought into court Campbell was present and Roberts began to quarrel with him. Judge Yancey, as presiding justice of the court, commanded silence. Campbell obeyed, but Roberts persisted in abusing his enemy, and when Judge Yancey again commanded him to keep quiet, Roberts rejoined: "I will say what I d—n please, in this court or the high court of Heaven, or hell." For this and other intemperate language, and for violent conduct generally, Judge Yancey fined Roberts $20.

Roberts paid his fine, but with many threats against the judge who had imposed it, and whenever under the influence of liquor, which was frequently the case, he sought every opportunity to insult Judge Yancey by all sorts of villification and abuse. The latter for a long time endeavored to avoid a collision by paying no attention to Roberts' remarks, and avoiding him whenever possible. Thus matters went on for about a year, or until some time in the fall of 1837, when one day Roberts met Yancey on the public square in Springfield, in company with Littleberry Hendrick, who had persuaded Yancey to go home in order to avoid an encounter with Roberts, who was known to be in town and to have made threats against Yancey, and, after some insulting language, Roberts put his hand in his bosom as if for a knife, a weapon which he was known to have used before in personal difficulties. Instantly Judge Yancey drew a pistol and fired. He then drew another pistol and was in the act of firing again, when Mr. Hendrick knocked the weapon upward and the ball passed into the air. Roberts pressed his hands to his breast and exclaimed: "Don't shoot again; I am a dead man now,"1 then he reeled and fell to the ground, shot through the body. He died the following day. [178]

At the time of his death Roberts was under indictment for assault with intent to kill. At the December term, 1837, Hon. John S. Phelps, prosecuting attorney pro tem., dismissed the case on account of the death of the defendant. One year thereafter, or at the December term, 1838, Yancey was indicted for manslaughter, for killing John Roberts, and was bound over for trial at the ensuing April term, in the sum of $2,000, Joel H. Haden, John P. Campbell, N. R. Smith, James McBride and Z. M. Rountree becoming his bondsmen. At the April term, 1839, JudgeYancey was tried by a jury composed of Thos. Lawrence, Asa J. Simpson, Joseph Moss, Joseph B. Carey, John W. Thompson, Wm. Parrish, James Nugent, John H. Tatum, Lewis Tatum, John Murray, Geo. Cook and Griffin P. Saunders. Foster P. Wright was the judge, and Littleberry Hendrick, who was present when the tragedy occurred, was the prosecuting attorney. The trial occupied the greater part of two days. The jury was absent from the courtroom but a few minutes, when it returned a verdict of "not guilty," and Judge Yancey was discharged.

Judge Chas. S. Yancey was a native of Kentucky and came to this county in 1833. Not long after coming, here he was admitted to the bar, and in course of time, as elsewhere stated, became circuit judge. Judge Yancey was not a profound lawyer, according to an estimate placed upon him by an admirer and friend, but was fairly successful and had many friends. He was very sensitive, kind-hearted and polite, and, remarks Col. Gilmore, it was very remarkable and one of the curious commentaries of human life that he, who was among the most unwilling of men to do a personal injury to any one, should be compelled to take the life of a fellow-man.

John Roberts was a determined and dangerous man, especially, when intoxicated. He had been frequently arrested for participation in affrays and quarrels, and was regarded as a desperate character generally. When sober he was a man of many good qualities, and much respected by his neighbors.

______________
1 Col. Gilmore.

[179]


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