History of Greene County, Missouri
1883

R. I. Holcombe, Editing Historian


Chapter 4
History of the County from 1850 to 1856

1850 — Miscellaneous — Another Indian Scare — The First Wire Fence in Greene County — Statistics — Fatal Casualties — Official Proceedings — The Political Canvass of 1860 — Four Candidates for Congress — The Benton and Anti-Benton Democrats — The "Wily Whigs" — Newspaperdom in 1850 — The August Election — The California Gold Fever — List of Those Who Caught it. 1851— Miscellaneous — Schools — Examinations — Resuscitating a City Charter — August Election — Springfield Markets — Deaths of Prominent Citizens —Prohibition — Democratic Reunion — Improvement of White River. 1852 — Prohibition Again — Miscellany — The August Election — The Presidential Election — Deaths of Prominent Citizens. 1853 — Miscollaneous. 1854 — County officials — Railroad Matters — August Election — Hanging of Willis Washam — The First Legal Execution in the County — History of the Crime — Miscellaneous Matters. 1855 A Hard Winter — The Poor House — Betting on Elections — New Paper and a New Party — The Know Nothings — Railroad Tax — Soldiers on the March — August Election — Court of Common Pleas — Business Firms and Business Done in Springfield in 1855 — Trial of John A. J. Lee for Murder.


1850—MISCELLANEOUS.

January 14, the county was visited by one of the deepest snows known for many years. The snow was from 10 to 14 inches deep on a level.

About the 20th of January Col. Marcus Boyd was appointed receiver in the land office, in the room of Robert Smith, who had resigned. Judge Dade was register of the office at the time.

It was during this winter that another "Indian scare" occurred. A small party of Delawares, under a chief named "Long Horn," came into Jasper county and encamped on the north fork of Spring river, near a Mr. Petty's. They were in search of stolen horses, as written certificates in their possession showed. While the most of them were at Mr. Petty's procuring provisions, a man named Roope and six or seven of his sons and sons-in-law came upon the Indian camp and secured all the guns and other property and were about making off when (an alarm having been given by an Indian boy) the Indians returned. "Long Horn" tried to take his gun away from Roope and was fired at by one of the white men. Other shots were fired at the Indians, but the latter stood their ground, and Roope and his party went away and soon afterward spread a report that another "Indian outrage" had been perpetrated on "unoffending white citizens." The truth was established very soon by Mr. Petty and other reputable citizens of Jasper county. [213]

It may here be set down that in the early spring of this year some farmer of Greene county, in a communication to the Southwestern Flag, announced that he had made a wire fence about certain portions of his premises, which was "a complete success." This was years before such a fence was patented, and seems to have been the farmer's own invention. "It turns cattle and horses perfectly," the writer said, "but I think it would work better if it had some sharp prongs attached to the wires to prevent the stock from scratching themselves against it so much." Who this farmer was that first used a smooth wire fence in Greene county (if not in Missouri) and suggested one of barbed wire, cannot now be learned as he only signed the name "Farmer" to his letter to the newspaper.

The population of the county this year was: Whites, 11,653; slaves, 1,146; total 12,799. Of Campbell township: Free white 2,142; slaves, 561. Number of school children, 4,548. Number of farms yielding annually $100 worth of produce and upwards, 296. Manufacturing establishments producing $500 worth of manufactured articles, 21.

Mrs. Martha Blakey, wife of Judge James Blakey, died August 1, after a protracted illness. She was a native of Logan county, Ky., and at the time of her death was 31 years of age. Mrs. Olivia M. Berry, wife of Maj. D. D. Berry, died July 18, aged 39. Mrs. Berry was a daughter of Wm. Polk, of Arkansas, formerly of Tennessee.

The Southwest Missouri High School opened in April with a large number of students, and in a flourishing condition generally.

FATAL CASUALTIES DURING 1850.

About the first of February a Mrs. Sanders, an aged and respected lady of the county, was drowned in James fork of White river by accidentally falling into the stream. The water was shallow, but very cold, and the lady, enfeebled by age, was unable to extricate herself and drowned before assistance reached her.—A little boy, a son of Col. F. S. Coleman, in attempting to run from under a falling tree, which his brothers were cutting, fell and was caught, by the tree, and crushed to death.—May 28, Rev. Jesse Mason, an aged and respected minister of the gospel, and a citizen of this county, started from home for Greenfield, Dade county, to fill an appointment. About three miles from his home his horse became frightened and threw him. He lay until evening before being discovered. After being taken up he never spoke thereafter. Four days later be died. [214]

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS.

In this year the sum of $206.40 was paid by the county to the patrolers for their services in keeping straight " the slave population.—At the meeting of the county court in October, Henry Fulbright, one of the justices elect, was made presiding justice.—Some time during 1850, Wm. C. Price resigned the office of probate judge and was succeeded by Hon. James Arnold.—The official reports showed the total expenses of the county for the year 1850 to be $3,263.44; receipts, $2,472.97 ; deficit, $780.47. Deducting from this deficit the balance in the treasury at the close of the last fiscal year, $397.70, still left the country in debt to the amount of $382.76, on January 1, 1851.

THE POLITICAL CANVASS OF 1850.

Never since the admission of Missouri into the Union has there been a more exciting political canvass than that of 1850. It was an exciting period in the history of the United States, that year. The question of the admission of California into the Union with a constitution prohibiting slavery; the compromise or "omnibus bill" under discussion in the U. S. Senate; the passage of a fugitive slave bill by Congress and of "personal liberty" bills by certain Northern States calculated to interfere with the operations of the fugitive slave law,—these and other exciting questions caused great agitation throughout the country.

In the early part of the year 1849, South Carolina,—always a State "touchy," in the extreme, proposing nothing, and never satisfied with anything,—wanted to secede from the Union, and invited the other Southern States to go with her. A convention of the Southern States was called to meet at Nashville, Tennessee, in June, 1850, to consider the situation and to take action "to preserve the rights and protect the interests of the South"—whatever that may have meant. The passage of the "Jackson resolutions" by the Missouri Legislature, in 1849, in some sense committed the State to sympathy and co-operation with the Nashville convention, but no delegates were authoritatively sent.

The Democratic party of the State was divided into two factions—the Benton Democrats, or the "hards," who indorsed Col. Benton's course and views, and favored his re-election to the U. S. Senate for the sixth term of six years, and the anti-Benton Democrats or "softs" who opposed him, and were bent on defeating him in his contest for re-election. The Whigs—"the wily Whigs"—constituted the third party, and, taking advantage of the bitter and uncomprising warfare between the Democratic factions, made shrewd and careful preparation to capture the senatorial, certain legislative, and other prizes for themselves—and in the end they were successful. [215]

In Greene county the campaign was hotly contested. The Benton Democrats held a county convention, April 8, which was presided over by Wm. Coyne, and which nominated a full county ticket, headed by Elisha Headee and L. J. Morrow, as candidates for representatives. Resolutions were adopted, indorsing Col. Benton, condemning the "Jackson resolutions," and saying of the Nashville convention: "That although Missouri is bound, by the resolutions of the Legislature, to take part in that convention, we repudiate the resolutions so binding her, and will cast the same odium on every Missourian who favors the holding of that convention, or who may attend it, that now attaches to every representative and delegate that attended the notorious 'Hartford convention' of 1812." Another resolution declared, that we are a law-abiding, and Union-loving people; therefore, we repudiate all measures and men who might, by any possibility, endanger the perpetuity of the American Union." G. W. Dodson was chairman of the committee on resolutions and one of its members was F. T. Frazier, who, eleven years later, was an enthusiastic secessionist, a member of the Senate of the "Claib. Jackson Legislature," and one of those who voted for the Neosho ordinance of secession.

The anti-Benton Democrats, on "softs," put out a ticket some weeks later, substituting W. C. Price, for Headlee, for representative, and associating with him at first, Col. Staley, who was afterwards withdrawn. John W. Hancock was the candidate for State Senator, from this district, then composed of Greene, Taney and Ozark counties. Burton A. James was the Benton nominee.

The "wily Whigs" met in convention at Springfield, May 31. Hon. John S. Waddill, father of the present Adjutant General of Missouri, presided; W. G. Roberts, was secretary. The convention made no nomination for count officers, deciding, wisely enough, to do nothing towards uniting the wrangling Democrats, but to make a "still hunt" and bring out quietly two or three prominent men of their own party as independent candidates, and try to elect them. Resolutions were reported by a committee composed of Littleberry Hendrick, Hugh Stewart, S. S. Vinton, W. Blakey, Wm. B. Farmer, and Dr. John W. Chenoweth, endorsing President Taylor's administration, and declaring: "That we most cordially approve of the course pursued by the Hon. Henry Clay, of Kentucky, and Hon. Daniel Webster, of Massachusetts, in their endeavors to harmonize the conflicting interests and feelings of the American people, growing out of the questions in regard to slavery, and their course on that subject entitles them to the confidence and respect of the nation." The resolutions were unanimously adopted, and after appointing fifteen delegates, headed by Dr. H. M. Parrish, to a Congressional Convention to be held at Osceola in June, the convention adjourned—expressing no opinion in regard to the merits of the question of Benton vs. anti-Benton. [216]

In the 5th district there were four candidates for Congress. Hon. John S. Phelps was the regular Benton candidate; Wm. Shields, of Lafayette,1 anti-Benton; Samuel Woodson, of Jackson, Whig; and Wm. Gilpin, of Jackson, independent Benton Democrat.

In Greene county the canvass fairly opened in Springfield July 6, when at a large meeting, speeches were made by three of the candidates for Congress—Woodson, Shields and Gilpin. Col. Phelps was at the time in his seat in Congress. From this time onward the fight waxed hotter and hotter until the close. The two factions of the Democrats had each a newspaper. The Southwestern Flag, edited by John M. Richardson, was the organ of the Benton men; the Advertiser, by Warren H. Graves, supported the anti-Bentonites. Each side, too, had good speakers.

It is a mistake to suppose that political canvasses were conducted thirty years ago with more of courtesy, more of gentleness, more of mild words, than they are today. The crimination and recrimination were as common with party papers as they have ever been or are likely to be. The Benton men charged the anti-Bentons with being, "disunionists, "nullifiers," aiders and abettors of treason and traitorous schemes, and bestowed upon them a choice lot of epithets calculated to bring them into the contempt of all classes of patriotic people. They extolled their leader, Mr. Benton, "to the skies," and denounced all his opposers, from his colleague in the Senate, David R. Atchison, to the humblest voter in the ranks.

The anti-Benton men were as severe on their opponents. They denounced Col. Benton as a "boss"— at least that would have been the term employed in these days—of whose imperious, domineering conduct and bullying spirit they had become thoroughly tired, and with whose vacillating record on the subject of slavery they had become thoroughly disgusted. The Benton men were called "lick- spittles," "Benton's slaves," "free-soilers," and even "abolitionists," and to call a man an abolitionist at that day in Missouri was to bestow upon him the sum of opprobrious epithets. The anti-Benton men, for the most part, denied that they were disunionists under all the existing circumstances, and professed unreserved loyalty to "the government established by Washington and Jefferson." [217]

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1 In 1861 a prominent secessionist and one of Gov. Jackson's financial commissioners.
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The Whigs—ah! the "wily Whigs,"—kept aloof from the Democratic quarrel, occasionally patting each side on the back when they could do so without being observed by the other side, and all the time remaining in an attitude as if they stood with their arms folded and saying, very meekly of their own party: "Behold how great an institution is Whigery! See those unfortunate Democrats how angry they are! We Whigs never quarrel, for Whigism means peace on earth and good will to men."

In this county there was the most intense interest taken in the canvass. Discussions between the contending factions sometimes resulted in personal difficulties, altercations and brawls. Each side accused the other of fraud and corruption of all sorts. The Advertiser and the Flag bristled with black lines and such headings as, "Another Lie Nailed!" "Keep it Before the People! " "Look Out for Fraud!" "Read This," etc., etc. Meetings were held in every township in the county, and the "organizers" were abroad in every precinct in the land. Finally came the August election, and with it the conflict for a time ceased.

Following is the official vote of Greene county at the

AUGUST ELECTION, 1850

 

Congress

Senate

Representatives

Justices County Court

Sheriff

TWP.

Phelps

Woodson

Shields

Gilpin

James

Hancock

Morrow

Headlee

Price

McFarland

Fulbright

Bodenhamer

Chapman

Dollison

King

Gibson

Kelly

Matlock

Boone

56

30

19

 

58

39

57

55

40

45

56

55

61

36

29

28

67

35

Benton

43

14

11

 

41

24

44

34

24

29

49

43

39

22

22

26

50

18

Campbell

191

259

44

2

150

295

180

162

267

296

226

215

169

286

217

222

198

257

Cass

88

45

8

1

86

32

85

76

20

58

86

82

75

34

17

19

105

31

Dallas

56

15

21

 

54

36

58

50

35

36

39

62

49

33

60

32

66

17

Finley

142

63

67

 

129

132

167

128

107

107

114

119

135

130

113

147

132

128

Jackson

56

28

17

 

53

46

56

54

40

42

59

75

58

38

34

30

64

36

Ozark

30

37

11

3

30

47

32

28

43

47

26

57

25

22

54

16

42

36

Porter

27

18

4

 

23

23

26

24

20

23

28

28

23

21

17

20

26

21

Polk

46

33

16

 

48

49

45

45

49

47

45

46

46

49

42

43

46

43

Robberson

90

35

13

 

84

48

89

85

38

52

88

94

84

47

36

49

99

41

Taylor

35

32

7

 

36

31

36

29

31

37

30

40

31

31

34

38

40

33

TOTAL

860

589

236

6

792

792

875

765

714

819

846

906

795

749

674

670

965

696

 The contest for State Senator in this district resulted as follows: Greene county—James, 792; Hancock, 792, a tie; Taney county— James, 570; Hancock, 147. Ozark—James, 183; Hancock, 164. Total—James, 1545; Hancock, 1103; James's majority, 442. The result in the county was the election of one representative, Morrow, a Benton. man, and one "wily Whig," Wm. McFarland. At the election of U. S. Senator in the Legislature on the final ballot, (the 59th) Senator B. A. James and Representative Morrow voted for Benton, and Mr. McFarland for Henry S. Geyer, who was elected. The election in Greene, except in the case of Mr. McFarland, was a complete triumph for the Benton democrats. That year all Southwest Missouri went for Benton. [218]

THE CALIFORNIA GOLD FEVER.

The discovery of gold in California in 1849 greatly excited the people of the West, and Greene county caught the infection.

That yellow slave which doth knit and break religions;
Bless the accursed; make the hoar leprosy adored;
Place thieves and give them title, knee and approbation,
With senators on the bench—

Tempted many to perilous journeys and sore hardship that they, might become its master. In the summer and fall of 1849 a few left the county for the new Eldorado, of whose riches such marvelous tales were told—where it was said even the wave of the river and the spray of the fountain were bright with the glitter of drops of virgin gold. In the year 1850 many men left the county and joined the great caravan of gold-seekers. Some of these made great sacrifices in order to obtain the means to procure an "out-fit," and afterward had good cause to regret that they did so, having failed to strike "pay dirt," and the trip generally not "panning out."

In the spring of 1850 Judge James Brown secured a number of young men to cross the plains with him in the capacity of teamsters, they receiving as pay for their services their board on the way, free freightage for 100 pounds of baggage, and twenty days' rations after they should reach California. The majority of the emigrants from Greene county to the Eldorado went by the northern route, via Forts Kearney and Laramie, and through the great desert. "A few parties took the southern route, through Kansas, New Mexico and Arizona. Mr. J. F. Danforth took this route, and died on the way. The largest company set out May 2.

It is believed that the following list comprises a majority of the names of the Greene county Argonauts who left the county for California during the years 1849-50:

Wm. L. Thomas and W. B. Anderson, G. B. and Samuel Andrews, Robert Adams.

A. S. H. Boyd, W. H. Burden, W. H. Bedford, John B. Bedford, E. H. Boyd, Frank Beal, Willis Beal, T. G. Beazley, Dr. R. D. Barker, Dr. T. W. Booth, Joel Beal, W. C. Beal, Wm. Byrum, —Bristo, and Taylor Beal.

Chesley, W. R., and Joseph Cannefax, Crawford Crenshaw and son, L. A. D. Crenshaw, B. M. and John B. Cox, R. B. Coleman, Wm. Caldwell, J. P. and H. J. Cain, Wm. Cunningham, Wm. Campbell. [219]

C. Duke, Jonathan Durham, J. W. Dagan, N. Dryden, Thomas Davis, Geo. Dewitt, Rev. John Dillard and family, Josiah F. Danforth.

John E. Edwards, Sidney East.

John Farrier, Wm. and Marion Fulbright, Robert Foster, A. Fine, Joseph Fairer.

Benj. Gainer, Jesse Grigsby and family.

John H. Harton, S. W., C. N. and S. H. Headlee, Royal and Thomas Hazelton, John Hoover.

W. C. Jones, James and Thomas Jeffries, Samuel Jopes, Michael Johnson, John Inman.

James Lee, G. Leeper, Robert Long.

J. H. McBride, T. F. Miller, A. Morris, Jr., Moses Moore, Alex. and W. McLane, Wm. Murray, N. McCorkle, James Myers (died).

Thos. Norton, P. B. Owen.

Dr. C. Perkins, Jacob and Moses Proctor, Willis Perryman, E. Potter, Dr.Perham.

Elbert Reuben, and G. Rose, J. Rowan, John S. Robberson, A. Rountree.

Patrick R., DeWitt C., and Wm. Smith, Henry Small, Jos. Sharp, E. Shipp, W. D. Sproul, G. W. Swift, Garland Shackelford, Wm. D. and Wm. Sims, Henry Somroe, Augustine and Thos. Simmons, John Perry, Wm. and W. Summers, J. Small, John H. Smith (died).

James and A. C. Thompson, Elijah Teague, J. R. Townsend,Tunnehill, Dr. Tate (died).

Seth Vaughn, Robert Wills, Marion and R. B. Weaver, Wm. Walls, Wm. and James Wilson, John H. Wisener, Daniel Webb, —Walker.

After divers hardships and privations, perils among Indians, sufferings from hunger and thirst and from heat and cold, and the ravages of disease, the exhaustion of long and arduous travel, many of the Greene county gold-seekers died in a strange land and never saw their homes again. Only comparatively a few bettered their condition.

1851—MISCELLANEOUS.

February 10, Stone county was formed by cutting Taney county in two by a line running north and south and a portion of Greene. In February (the 8th) the following were elected officers of the Springfield bank: Warren H. Graves, president; Elijah Gray, Charles A. Haden, Hugh Stewart, and N. R. Smith, of Greene, James Atkinson, of Benton, and J. N. B. Dodson, of Camden, directors. In June J. R. Danforth was elected cashier, and S. S. Vinton, W. C. Price, and P. H. Edwards were elected directors.—In June Mr. J. M. Richardson, the well-known editor of the Flag, the Benton organ, retired after having performed valuable service for his paper and his party. [220]

Schools.— In addition to the schools already in operation in the county, Mrs. Fisk opened in Springfield, on the second Monday in March, a select school "for misses and young ladies." The school year was to consist of two sessions of five months each; terms $5 per session.— The examination at the close of the summer term of the Ebenezer High School, September 9th, 10th, and 11th, attracted a large audience. Compositions were read by eighteen young ladies. Three of these compositions were thought worthy of publication: One by Miss C. Mitchell, subject, "Home;" one by Miss R. Mitchell, subject, "Childhood;" and the valedictory, by Miss C. Hoover. The principal of Ebenezer school at the time was S. S. Headlee, Esq.— March 31, Mrs. Mary A. Elgin opened a select school for young ladies, in Springfield.

Attempt at Resuscitation.— March 3, an election was held in Springfield to choose municipal officers. Of this election the newspapers said that it was "an attempt to resuscitate the almost defunct act of incorporation, making Springfield a city." The election resulted in 45 votes being cast for Wilson Hackney, and 5 votes for Peter Apperson for mayor. Mr. Hackney received a majority of 40 votes, but it seemed that he had not resided in the "city" for two years, and was therefore ineligible, and Mr. Apperson was declared elected. W. B. Logan, Wm. McAdams, S. S. Vinton, A. A. Mitchell, and Presley Beal were elected aldermen; E. P. Gott, constable; Richard Gott, assessor.

The August Election.— At this election the county voted on the proposition to take $100,000 stock in the "Southwest Branch" of the Pacific railroad. The people were enthusiastically in favor of it, and the proposition carried by a large majority. Also this year Greene county elected its first probate judge. The official vote of the county was: For circuit judge, C. S. Yancey, 377; Littleberry Hendrick, 577; C. W. McCulloch, 14. For probate judge, James Arnold, 401; J. L. McCraw, 348. In favor of the county's taking $100,000 stock in the Pacific railroad, 703; against, 184; majority in favor, 519.

Springfield Markets in 1851.— As reported by Sheppard, Kimbrough & Moss, the prices of certain articles, during the summer and fall of 1851, ruled as follows: Sugar, 10 cents per pound; coffee, 12½; salt, $3 per sack; nails, 15 pounds for $1; rolled steel, 40 cents per pound; castings, 5 cents per pound; wagon boxes, 5 cents per pound; domestic (muslin) 7 and 10 cents per yard; spun cotton, $1 and $1.10 per bunch; bacon, 8 cents per pound; flour, $1.25 and $1.50 per hundred; meal, 40 cents per bushel; feathers, 25 cents per pound; beeswax, 20 cents per pound. [221]

Deaths.— Among the citizens of the county who died this year were Mrs. Permelia E. Beale, wife of C. W. Beale, who died May 17, aged 22; at Ebenezer camp ground, May 20, Mrs. Elizabeth Norfleet, aged 45—she was the wife of David Norfleet; Thos. Daniel, of near Springfield, died in June; the wife of Judge E. W. Sims died July 17 after a long illness; John Edwards, an old citizen, died at Springfield, July 7, aged 85 years.

Prohibition.— In October the county court ordered that no dram shop license be granted in the town of Springfield for the ensuing twelve months. This was done in response to the petition of E. P. Gott and others, praying to that effect, and was the first prohibition legislation ever adopted in the county. For some time there had been a great deal of drunkenness and disorderly conduct in the place, attributable, for the most part, to the dram shops and those who frequented them, and the people, aided especially by the Sons of Temperance, set about abating those institutions in order that peace and quietude might prevail and a potent evil removed from their midst. The next year the county court rescinded and re-rescinded its action on the prohibition question two or three times.

Democratic Reunion.— October 4, the Benton and anti-Benton Democrats met in mass convention at the court-house for the purpose of uniting the party and putting it in condition to meet the common enemy, the Whigs, the next year in the presidential canvass. John M. Richardson (Benton) called the convention to order. Wm. Coyne (Benton) was chosen president, and T. B. Neaves (anti-Benton) vice-president. A committee on resolutions, composed about equally of Bentons and anti-Bentons, reported the Baltimore resolutions of the national Democratic convention of 1844, and these, with a few additions, formed a common platform on which both factions henceforth agreed to stand. Speeches were made by Hon. John S. Phelps, Joel H. Haden, and others, and after a general fraternization the meeting adjourned. Subsequent developments demonstrated, however, that the so-called "peace" proclaimed this day between the quarreling factions of the Democratic party, was in effect but a "hollow truce" which was to terminate on sudden notice within two years thereafter.

Improvement of White River.A bill was passed by the Legislature and approved March 3, 1851, appropriating $8,000 out of the State treasury for the improvement of White river within the State of Missouri, "so as to make it navigable for steamboats and other water craft." The bill further appropriated, for the same purpose, all the moneys then or thereafter to become due to the counties of Barry, Greene and Taney arising from the 500,000 acre grant donated by Congress to the State in 1841; and the internal improvement fund of the three counties named was also added to the appropriation. [222]

By the terms of the act Buckner S. Durham, of Barry; A. L. Yarbrough, of Greene, and Isaac S. Baker, of Taney, were appointed river improvement commissioners. In July the appointment of Yarbrough as Greene county's commissioner was confirmed by the county court, and in October the treasurer was ordered to collect such portion of the internal improvement fund as had been loaned out and pay it over to the commissioner. Mr. Yarbrough died in 1858, and .upon settling up his estate it was found that he had received $2,666.57 of Greene county to be used as aforesaid. John Young was appointed commissioner in the room of Mr. Yarbrough. Some of the prominent wealthy citizens of the county invested in the White river improvement scheme, but the scheme eventually proved a total failure and in 1858 was practically abandoned.

1852—PROHIBITION AGAIN.

The temperance question was again to the fore in the county this year. The anti-prohibitionists were greatly incensed at the closing of the dram shops by the county court, in the fall of the previous year, and January 5, the court, in response to a petition to that effect, rescinded the anti-dramshop order made the previous October. Five days later, however, Allen Fielding applied for dramshop license, and there being a strong petition, very largely signed by citizens and taxpayers, demonstrating against the license being granted, the court refused it, and thus rescinded its order for granting license. There was a great hubbub among the anti-prohibitionists consequent upon the action of the court, and an agitation against prohibition was begun and carried on until the April term, when the county court again rescinded its order and agreed to grant dramshop licenses thereafter at $75 a year—$30 of which went to the State. Then the temperance people were disgusted; but, taking heart of grace, they set to work after awhile to again change the minds of the members of the court to their (the temperance people's) way of thinking. [223]

MISCELLANEOUS.

On the second of February a special election was held and Judge James Dollison was elected probate judge to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge Arnold, who died the previous month.

In April Elisha Headlee again took his seat as county justice in the room of Henry Fulbright, who had been appointed receiver in the land office.1 Upon his accession to a seat in the county court, Judge Headlee was made presiding justice. At the August election Henry King was elected in the place of Headlee, and upon the reorganization of the court, in October, Benjamin Chapman became presiding justice.

The assessor's books showed that in this year there were in the county 2,425 persons owning property subject to taxation.

Linden township was organized July 5th.

August Election, 1852.— At this election John S. Phelps was re-elected to Congress over John C. Price. L. J. Morrow and P. H. Edwards were elected as representatives to the Legislature from this county, Thomas Potter was elected sheriff; Henry King, county justice (vice Headlee); John MePettijohn, assessor; Abner McGinty, coroner; John L. McCraw, surveyor. All of the successful candidates were Democrats, except John L. McCraw, who was then a Whig, but a gentleman of large personal popularity. The official vote of the county at this election cannot now he found. It is known that the Democrats carried it, however, by their usual majority. This was the year in which Sterling Price, afterwards the distinguished Confederate general, was elected Governor of the State on the Democratic ticket over James Winston), Whig, by a majority of 13,461, the vote standing Price, 46,245; Winston, 32,784. The vote for Governor this year was larger than that cast for President by about 12,000. Wilson Brown was elected Lieutenant Governor. Price had been a strong Benton man, but in l853 turned against "Old Bullion." At this election, also, Hon. John M. Richardson, of this county, an ardent Benton man, was elected Secretary of State and served four years. [224]

————
1 Richard M. Jones was appointed register.
————

Presidential Election.— The Democrats were united in Missouri this year and sank their ideas on Bentonism for the time for the purpose of assisting in the election of a Democratic President. The Presidential canvass excited considerable attention. "Liberty poles" were raised at various places in the county by both Whigs and Democrats, and many spirited meetings were held. Gen. Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire, and Wm. R. King, of Alabama, were the Democratic candidates for President and Vice-President, and Gen. Winfield Scott, of New York (or New Jersey), and Wm. H. Graham, of North Carolina, the Whig, nominees. A free-soil ticket composed of John P. Hale, of New Hampshire, and George W. Julian, of Indiana, was voted for in the Northern States, but received no support in Missouri. The result in this county was as follows: For the Pierce and King electors, 920; for the Scott and Graham electors, 484; majority for Pierce and King, 436. The vote in the State stood: Pierce, 38,353; Scott, 29,984; Pierce's majority, 8,369.

Deaths.— Prominent citizens of the county who died this year were Judge James Arnold, the first probate judge of the county, in January; ex-Judge James M. Blakey, in March; John P. Campbell, the founder of Springfield, so frequently mentioned in these pages, at Oil Springs, Cherokee Nation, May 28; and Joseph Weaver, the first State Senator from the county after its organization, August 14.

1853—MISCELLANEOUS.

The previous year C. B. Holland had been appointed postmaster at Springfield, but July 4, of this year he was removed, and Arch. F. Ingram, then a Democrat, appointed in his stead.

In July, the county court, granting the prayer of some hundreds of petitioners, made an order "that no more dramshop licenses issue for the ensuing twelve months within the incorporate limits of Springfield." Victory for the temperance people. In October, however, the July order was rescinded, and B. G. Andrews granted a dramshop license for six months. Victory for the whisky people. Verily an accommodating sort of a court, that.

Sometime this summer the Southwestern Flag, newspaper, suspended and was succeeded by the Lancet, a paper as sharp and cutting as the instrument for which it was named.

February 24, 1853, the Legislature of Missouri passed an act creating the office of commissioner of common schools for the several counties of the State. The commissioner was to hold his office two years. In December, A. H. Matthis was appointed the first commissioner for Greene county. [225]

At the August election A. G. McCracken was elected circuit and county clerk over Joshua Davis, John D. Brown, and A. M. Julian. No complete returns of this election are now to be found.

In the summer of this year the Benton and anti-Benton Democrats dug up the hatchet, which had been buried about two years, and renewed hostilities, which did not cease entirely until Col. Benton ceased to breathe. Each faction charged the other with renewing the quarrel.

In the summer and fall of 1853 occurred a severe drought. Corn was scorched so badly in the fields that it did not make half a crop; hay was ruined; root crops failed almost entirely. Even stock in some parts of the county, suffered intensely for water. In the fall hogs could be bought for $1.00 per hundred, owing to the scarcity of corn to feed them. There was considerable sickness in the county during and after the drought, and many children died of flux.

1854—COUNTY OFFICIALS.

There was a number of changes among the county officials this year. In January A. G. McCracken became county clerk, and upon taking the office appointed Warren H. Graves, the well known editor of the Advertiser, his deputy. About the first of February Sheriff Thomas Potter died, and for a short period Abner McGinty, the coroner, acted as sheriff. February 24, Junius T. Campbell was appointed to the shrievality, and served as sheriff until after the August election. J. K. Gibson was Campbell's deputy. In April Col. Marcus Boyd was appointed county commissioner of comnon schools until Nov. 1, 1855, vice A. H. Matthis. Three months later, however, Boyd resigned and John D. Brown was appointed to the office. In July J. E. Danforth, county treasurer, resigned, and was succeeded by Wilson Hackney.

RAILROAD MATTERS.

Renewed interest was awakened in the subject of the completion of the Pacific railroad into Southwest Missouri. This county had already shown that it was heartily in favor of the project, and willing to give it considerable substantial aid and encouragement.

In 1851 the people, by a large majority, voted to instruct the county court to take $100,000 stock in the railroad, and this year, so interested were the people in the success of the enterprise, and so many were the reports that it was likely to fail for want of sufficient financial aid, that in May the county court ordered an expression of the voters of the county to be taken at the August election as to the propriety of taking another $100,000 in stock of the proposed road.

Nearly two months previous to the ordering of this election, Hon Wm. C. Price had been appointed agent of the county to take $50,000 of stock, $10,000 of which was to be paid on the first Monday in April, 1855, and $10,000 annually thereafter until the whole should be paid. [226]

It had been ascertained that the amount which Judge Price was authorized to subscribe was a far less sum than that demanded or expected by the railroad company, and the county court was unwilling to direct him to subscribe a larger amount without first ascertaining the will of the people in that regard, and receiving their approval. Not long thereafter, in July, representations were made to the court that whatever subscription the county should make must be made at once, and could not await the decision of the August election. Accordingly the order made in May for a submission of the question of the $100,000 subscription to a vote was rescinded, and Judge Price was authorized to subscribe an additional sum of $50,000, on like conditions as to payment as the former subscription, with an additional condition that a depot should be located within one-half mile of the court-house in Springfield. In the latter part of August, however, it being represented that to insist on these conditions would be to hazard a chance of losing the road, the court instructed Judge Price to withdraw them if necessary.

THE AUGUST ELECTION, 1854.

Hon.Waldo P. Johnson and Hon. John S. Phelps were the candidates for Congress this year in this, the 6th district. Phelps was re-elected. In this county there was a multiplicity of candidates for the most important county offices. Wm. C. Price and W. B. Garoutte, both of this county, were the candidates for State Senator in this district, and Judge Price was successful. The result of the election in this county was as follows:

For Congress.— Phelps, 1,118 ; Johnson, 948.
State Senator.— Price, 1,159 ; Garoutte, 842.
Representatives.— Marcus Boyd, 895; Wm. McFarland, 765; J. W. Hancock, 649; N. A. Davis, 411; F. T. Frazier, 754; L. J. Morrow, 783; R. E. Blakey, 70.
Sheriff.— R. B. Colman, 514; A. H. Payne, 449; Samuel Fulbright, 579; P. C. King, 569.
County Justices.— J. W. Gray, 998 ; B. W. Henslee, 401; A. R. Leslie, 869; R. W. Jameson, 1,056; Henry King, 749; J. M. Bailey, 620; N. D. McCall, 457.
Assessor.— John McPettijohn, 851 ; P. C. Roberts, 619.
Coroner.— Abner McGinty, 108; Presley Shockley, 55.
School Commissioner.— E. C. Davis, 157.
Bank.— For, 1,323 ; against, 186.
[227]

Of the successful candidates; it may be said Senator Price was an anti-Benton Democrat; Representative Boyd was a Whig; Representative Morrow, a Benton Democrat; the others, Democrats. The "wily Whigs" came near electing both representatives, Hon. Wm. McFarland failing of election by only 18 votes.

This year Mr. Phelps ran as an anti-Benton candidate; previously he had been a supporter of Col. B., and his "change of heart" was widely and diversely commented upon. Benton himself denounced him roundly. At that time "Old Bullion" was himself a member of Congress, having been elected in 1852. He did his best to accomplish Phelps' defeat by sending letters into the State from Washington, charging him with voting against Missouri's interests on different occasions, with "dodging" the vote on the appropriation for the St. Louis custom-house, etc. The Jefferson Inquirer was the journal selected as Benton's chief organ and hundreds of copies of that journal were scattered throughout the district. In Greene county the Lancet was the Benton paper, while the Advertiser was still anti-Benton.

———————
1 One version of the story is that the child was born after Washam and his wife were married, but that Washam always denied that he was its father.
—————

HANGING OF WILLIS WASHAM— THE FIRST
LEGAL EXECUTION IN GREENE COUNTY.

August 25, 1854, the first legal hanging came off in Greene county. The subject was one Willis Washam, of Taney county. The crime which it was alleged Washam committed, and for which he was hung, was thus described at the trial: Washam lived on a little farm down on White river, near Forsyth, in Taney county. He was a poor man, somewhat well advanced in years, and lived a retired, obscure life. He had married a woman, who had a son,1 some fourteen years of age at the time of his death. The Washam family was not a model one. The old man and his wife had frequent quarrels, and both of them treated the son with great cruelty, frequently beating him with uncommon severity. It is said that the boy often showed fight, and was known to strike his mother with a single-tree and with a hoe.

One morning Washam and the boy went down on Bee creek to fish. According to the old man, when they reached the fishing place they separated. The boy never returned home alive. Some days afterward his body was found in Bee creek, with a heavy stone tied about the neck and marks of violence on the body. Mrs. Washam at once accused her husband of having killed her son, and, giving an alarm, he was at once arrested and imprisoned at Forsyth. [228]

Becoming alarmed, Washam struck out for Arkansas, taking with him his own little boy, aged probably eight years, and riding a famous horse which he called "Tom Benton." He worked on a cotton plantation down on the Arkansas river for some months, or until, as he said, he had a buckskin purse a foot in length full of silver dollars. His little boy never murmured for a long time, but at last one morning, while the two were lying in bed, he threw his arms about his father and said, "Daddy, when are you going to take me home to see my mammy?" Washam immediately arose, and in two hours was on his way back to Taney county, and behind him on old "Tom Benton," was his little boy, who was overjoyed at the prospect of soon seeing his "mammy."

Arriving at home, Washam was cordially received by his wife, who told him that he was now considered innocent of the crime of which he was accused; that no proceedings had been commenced against him, and that indeed the matter had almost died out in the minds of the community. Washam lay down to sleep in fancied security, but before morning, he missed his wife, and searching for her found that she had left the premises. Suspicioning that she had gone to Forsyth to betray him (which was true) Washam again mounted "Tom Benton " and started to escape. He had not gone far before he was overtaken by the sheriff of Taney county, and arrested and taken to Forsyth. On his way to Forsyth the sheriff said Washam offered him "Tom Benton" if he would let him escape; but Washam said that the sheriff himself offered "to look the other way" if Washam would give him his horse.

Washam had been indicted and on being arraigned at Forsyth took a change of venue to this county. There were many threats made to lynch him by the people of Taney county.

At the July term, 1854, of the circuit court of this county Washam was brought to trial. Judge Chas. S. Yancey presided. E. B. Boone was circuit attorney, A. G. McCracken clerk and Junius T. Campbell sheriff (by appointment). Hon. Littleberry Hendrick was the counsel for the prisoner. The jury before whom Washam was tried was composed of Ezekiel C. Cook, foreman; Wm. Gray, Qualls Banfield, Wm. White, James S. McQuirter, Sam'l McClelland, Mark Bray, John Freeman, Thos. Green, Joseph Moss, John R. Earnest, and Jabez R. Townsend. The trial lasted two days. The testimony was mainly of a circumstantial character, and that most damaging to the prisoner was the evidence of his wife. On the 21st of July the jury returned a verdict of "guilty of murder in the first degree." The next day Judge Yancey sentenced Washam to be hung at Springfield on the 25th of August following,—speedy punishment and short shrift certainly. [229]

Mr. Hendrick made a hard fight for his client, but it was without avail. He made a strong speech to the jury, and urged the members to be careful not to hang a fellow-man on circumstantial evidence. After Washam was sentenced Mr. Hendrick moved for a new trial and for arrest of judgment; both motions were overruled. He then moved for a suspension of the sentence until the case could be heard in the Supreme Court; this motion was also overruled. He then prepared to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, but as there was to be an adjourned term of the circuit court held in August, he decided to attempt to set aside the sentence of the court then. At this adjourned term, two days before the hanging of his client, he moved to vacate, set aside, and annul the judgment of the court and set aside the verdict of the jury, but Judge Yancey refused to take any action in the matter.

It is doubtful if Mr. Hendrick could have secured a new trial for his client in the Supreme Court, since all the proceedings had been regular, and there remained but the matter of guilt and innocence, questions of fact, which the jury had passed upon; yet it is strange that he did not take the case to the Supreme Court, at any rate, even if but for the purpose of delay, and it is said that he afterward expressed regret that he did not do so, as he was fully convinced of Washam's innocence.

On the 25th of August, the day set for the execution, without commutation, postponement, or mitigation of the sentence, Willis Washam was hung. The execution took place in the northeastern part of Springfield, on the north side of "Jordan," and west of the present site of the cotton factory. The gallows stood not far from the tree on which the negro ravisher was hung. An immense crowd from all parts of Southwest Missouri was present, coming from Buffalo, from Bolivar, from Warsaw, and other points miles away. Washam made a short speech on the gallows, saying he was innocent of the crime for which he was to be made to suffer, "and," said he, "if I had plenty of money to hire big lawyers with and pay expenses, I could get clear. My old woman has sworn my life away, but I am ready to die. I never done it, though, boys; I never done it."

Sheriff Samuel Fulbright had been elected sheriff a few days previously, and he was the executioner. It is said that he always regretted the part he had to perform on this occasion, even to his dying day, and there are those silly enough to allege, without any good reason, that this was the moving cause that impelled him to take his own life, which he did, by poison, only a few years since. [230]

Washam died game, and after being pronounced dead his body was cut down and given to Dr.— of Springfield, who used it for scientific purposes.

A few years since a story was put in circulation and obtained some credence, that Mrs. Washam, wife of him who was hung, and mother of the murdered boy, had died at her home in Taney or Wright county, and on her deathbed, it is said, she made confession that her husband was innocent of the crime for which he died at Springfield, and that she, herself, had perpetrated the dreadful deed and murdered her own son with her own hands, tying the stone to his neck and sinking the body in Bee creek, and, then by all manner of devices, had contrived to fasten the burden of guilt upon her husband, and caused him to suffer what should have been her punishment. After careful investigation the writer has been unable to obtain a corroboration of this story, and does not hesitate to declare it a fabrication. At any rate, from the evidence and all of the facts adduced, there seems no reasonable doubt but that Washam was guilty of a deliberate and atrocious murder and suffered a just punishment. It is said that the story of Mrs. Washam's confession was first told by an ingenious but unscrupulous attorney, who was trying to acquit a client of murder in the circuit court of this county.

MISCELLANEOUS.

January 27, 1854, Judge Samuel Martin, a prominent citizen of the county, died at the age of 78. Judge Martin was a native of North Carolina, born November 19, 1776. He came to this county in 1830.— In February Fanny Mitchell was sent to the State Insane Asylum. She had been insane since 1848.— When Wilson Hackney took the treasurer's office, in July, there was on hand and he was charged with $16,553.31, the principal of the township school fund; $1,261.50, of the 500,000 acre fund, to be used in internal improvements; and $43.90 of the three per cent. fund. The sum of $156 was paid to John Lair, Benjamin Kite, and John Gott for their services as patrols during the year, they having patroled at least four times a month. About the 1st of September Wm. Jones was appointed postmaster at Springfield, in the room of A. F. Ingram, who had been removed. The delinquent tax of the county for this year, as returned by Sheriff Fulbright, amounted to only $25.28 county tax and the same amount of State tax. [231]

1855—A HARD WINTER.

The winter of 1855 was an exceptionally hard one in Greene county, and was long remembered by the people, and indeed is not yet forgotten. On the 4th and 5th of February the thermometer stood at 20 degrees below zero and the snow lay upon the ground to the unprecedented depth of 18 and 20 inches. Travel was greatly impeded for some days, and the Bolivar stage came in two days behind on one occasion. On the 19th of August following there was sharp frost.

MISCELLANEOUS.

The Poor-House.— In April Judge W. B. Farmer, who had become one of the county judges in place of Judge Jameson, was authorized to select a location for a poor-house, ascertain cost, etc. In July he reported that he had selected 200 acres belonging to James Douglass. The court approved the selection and authorized Judge Farmer to pay Mr. Douglass $1,000 as part payment for the property and a tax of 12½ cents on the $100 was levied for building a poor-house and making all suitable improvements on the farm.

"Betting on Elections."— The practice of betting on the results of elections was in 1855, as it is today, a very common one, notwithstanding, a stringent law in force against it. It had become so frequent in this county and was deemed so reprehensible that stringent efforts were made to suppress it. At the March term of the circuit court, 1855, James Woods, J. P, Gray, David Payne, P. Nowlin, and H. S. Blankenship, were indicted for betting on an election—the previous one—and all were convicted and fined. In the course of the trial one of the lawyers, a Democrat, proposed to acquit his client, a Whig, on the ground of insanity, alleging that the defendant had bet that the Whigs would carry the State, which is certainly sufficient evidence that the prisoner is not of sound mind (non compos mentis) and not responsible," jocosely stated the facetious counselor.

New Paper and a New Party.May 3, 1855, the first number of the Springfield Mirror was issued, by J. W. Boren, Esq., editor and proprietor. The new paper was the organ of the new "American" or Know Nothing party, the successor to the Whig party, which virtually died after its defeat in 1852. The "Native American" party had for its corner-stone the principle that "Americans must rule America;" in other words that none but native Americans and non- Catholics ought to hold office in the United States, and it also favored a repeal of the naturalization laws requiring twenty years' residence in this country on the part of a foreigner before he could become naturalized. The party was a strange one, as it was a secret political order, whose members were oath-bound, and which had its lodges, its signs, its grips, its passwords, and worked secretly to accomplish its openly professed motives. The party was composed chiefly of old Whigs, although there were many Democrats in its ranks. It is said that the order was started from patriotic motives, intending to divert the public mind from the discussion of the slavery question, then threatening to dissolve the Union. In Greene county the Know Nothing party was very popular at one time, as it was in many other localities, and carried the elections for two or more years, but received its quietus in the Presidential contest of 1856.

Railroad Tax.— In September a tax of one and one-twentieth per cent was levied for the payment of $20,000, the amount of the first installment due on the county's subscription to the stock of the Southwestern Branch of the Pacific railroad, then heading for Springfield. Sheriff Fulbright was ordered to give an additional bond of $80,000 for the faithful collection and disbursement of this tax. [232]

Soldiers on the March.— About the middle of November the greater portion of the 2d United States regular cavalry passed through Springfield and Greene county on their way from Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, to Ft. Belknap and Utah Territory, to maintain the authority of the Government against the Mormons. The regiment was commanded at the time by Col. Albert Sidney Johnston, then in the regular army, afterward the distinguished Confederate general who was killed in the first day's fight at the battle of Shiloh, April 6, 1862. When they marched through this county the soldiers attracted great attention and presented a fine appearance. The people were glad to see them, showed them many attentions and seemed to regret that they had to depart so soon. But when the next soldiers came into the country, some six years later, the people were sorry when they came, and only too glad when they left!

August Election.— James Dollison was elected probate judge at this election by a vote of 509, to 341 for Geo. W. Mitchell. John L. McCraw was re-elected county surveyor, receiving 563 votes to 80 for W. P. Dabbs. In January there was a special election throughout the State to choose a judge of the Supreme Court in the room of Hamilton R. Gamble, who had resigned. W. B. Napton, Democrat, of Saline, and Abiel Leonard, "American" Whig, of Howard, were the candidates. It is remembered that Leonard carried Greene county. [233]

Court of Common Pleas.— December 13, an act was passed by the Legislature establishing a probate and common pleas court in Greene county, to be held at Springfield. Gov. Price appointed Hon. P. H. Edwards the first judge of this court and S. H. Boyd, its first clerk. The establishment of this court was of great advantage to the county. Judge Patrick H. Edwards was born in Rutherford county, Tenn., Nov. 9, 1821, and died at Neosho, Nov. 24, 1882. He came to Greene county in 184- and married in Springfield in 1845. For a time he was connected with W. H. Graves, in the publication of the Advertiser.

The number of school children in the county this year was 5,980.

Certain County Officers.— In April, Wm. B. Farmer became county judge, vice Judge Jameson; C. B. Owen and J. K. Gibson were appointed deputies under Sheriff Fulbright; in July, John S. Waddill was appointed county attorney and counselor; in the same month the county judges began to receive $3 per day for their services, their former compensation being but $2; in December, Benj. Atkinson was appointed county assessor in place of John McPettijohn, resigned; D. L. Fulbright was appointed deputy sheriff at the same time.

Business Firms.— During the year 1855 the following were the leading business firms in the county, and opposite the name of each firm is set the amount of ad valorem tax paid on merchandise sold during the year:

Name of Firm

Tax Paid

Name of Firm

Tax Paid

Sheppard & Kimbrough

$15.86

Morrow & McDerrell

$ 5.00

Burden & Stephens

4.88

H. G. Ramey & Co.

7.00

J. A. Casey

1.75

C. Sheppard & J. B. Kimbrough

13.00

C. B. Holland

17.27

 

 

Van Bibber & Staley

3.53

R. W. Donnell

1.35

Wm. McAdams

7.50

L. J. Morrow

4.00

G. L. Mitchell

1.60

J. L. Holland

12.49

R. A. Plumb

.40

Bigbee & Clark

11.69

G. P. Shackelford & Co.

15.51

G. W. Hancock & Co.

3.00

T. J. M. Hawkins

3.94

McGinty & Haden

15.13

B. G. Andrews

.60

Stephen Bedford & Co.

12.00

A. E. Goss

.50

W. B. Logan & Co.

39.77

McElhaney & Jaggard

38.47

 

 

TRIAL OF JOHN A. J. LEE, FOR MURDER.

Some time in the year 1854, John A. J. Lee, the town marshal of Buffalo, Dallas county, shot and killed a young rough from the country, whom, with some of his companions he was trying to arrest for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Lee was indicted in Dallas county, but the case was sent to this county on change of venue.

After various continuances by reason of the absence of witnesses, etc., the case came to trial at Springfield, at the September term, 1855,—Judge Yancey on the bench. On the 15th, Lee was tried, and the jury, after a brief consultation, returned a verdict of not guilty, basing the verdict on the ground of self-defense. The jury before whom Lee was tried consisted of John S. Gott, P. C. King, R. W. Donnell, Joseph Winfield, W. D. Proctor, Alexander Evans, J. M. Bailey, Geo. D. Blakey, Wm. Smith, Alfred Horseman, Joseph D. Haden, and Chesley Cannefax, the latter the foreman. [234-235]


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