Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


Chapter 21
City of Springfield
by A. M. Haswell

Part 1
BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR

ITS FOUNDERS--INCORPORATION--FIRST SETTLERS--EARLY DAY BUSINESS INTERESTS--GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT IN RECENT YEARS--CITY GOVERNMENTS--LIST OF MAYORS--STREET MAKING--BONDED INDEBTEDNESS--CITY SCHOOLS--FIRST AND PRESENT SCHOOL HOUSES--INDUSTRIES--PUBLIC LIBRARIES--FIRE DEPARTMENT--WATERWORKS--ELECTRIC LIGHT AND POWER PLANTS


It was not until the year 1830 that the Indians were finally removed from what is now Greene county; and it was not until the next year that the original great territory, called Wayne county, was cut in two to form Crawford county, which, in 1833, was again divided and Greene county became an organized body politic.

But even before the final departure of the red men the man who more than any other is entitled to the name of "The Founder of Springfield," was on the ground where was to grow the little hamlet of his own beginning, into the proud "Queen of The Ozarks" of today.

This man was John P. Campbell, a native of Maury county, Tennessee, who first reached his future home in the Ozarks, in the fall of 1829. It is one of those fortunate things for which all future writers about Springfield will be duly thankful, as are those of the present generation, that we have the story of John P. Campbell's coming to Greene county in the words of one who took part in that migration. Some thirty years ago Mr. John H. Miller, then residing in Ritchey, Newton county, Missouri, and a nephew of Mr. Campbell's, who accompanied that pioneer on his final journey from Tennessee to Springfield, wrote a series of articles descriptive of those days, for the Springfield Leader, and those columns are today a perfect mine of unique and first-hand information. I avail myself of the privilege of quoting much from Mr. Miller's invaluable account. Of Campbell's first trip to the present location of Springfield, Mr. Miller says:

"In the fall of 1829, Madison and John P. Campbell left Maury county, Tennessee, on horseback, traveling towards the setting sun in search of homes for themselves and their families. [682]

"Crossing the Mississippi river, thence west through the then Territory of Arkansas, on to the present site of Fayetteville, then almost an entire wilderness. Thence making a circle back in a northeasterly direction into southwest Missouri, striking the old Delaware town, the only place of note on the James fork, ten miles southwest of where Springfield now stands.

"From thence they went on to Kickapoo prairie, and then north into the timber, discovering the Fulbright spring, and the natural well. Near the latter they cut their names upon some trees to mark their claims to land in that vicinity."

It is doubtful whether one person in a dozen now, living in the busy metropolis of the Ozarks ever heard of this "natural well," but it exists today as certainly as it did nearly a century ago when the two Campbell brothers discovered it. It is located just south of Wilson creek (now commonly nicknamed the "Jordan"), and between that stream and the Missouri Pacific railway tracks on Water street. It is apparently the opening into an immense underground lake, and almost inexhaustible supply of water. Some thirty years ago it was tested as a source of supply of water for fire protection. A large steam pump driven at full speed for several days and nights, raised many hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, but failed to reduce the level in the lake at all. The day will doubtless come when this great reservoir of inexhaustible water will be utilized for the protection against fire which it would insure. Its use as a supply for general use is naturally forbidden by the drainage which must reach it in greater or less degree, from the increasing city, but there have already been great conflagrations which could have been stopped at far less loss if connection could have been had with this wonder of nature, ready whenever Springfield says the word to double and treble our fire protection.

The Campbell brothers returned to their homes in Tennessee, and in a few months we find John P. Campbell starting back for the land of promise. I can do no better than to give Mr. Miller's description of the coming to Missouri of these who were so literally "The first citizens of Springfield." He says:

"In February, 1830, John P. Campbell and his brother-in-law, Joseph Miller, fixed up with their small families and set out for Kickapoo prairie. Mr. Campbell's family consisted of himself, wife, and one child, Talitha, then less than one year old, who afterwards became the mother of Lulu, wife of Frank Sheppard. [683]

"Mr. Miller's family consisted of himself, wife and two children, Rufus was one year old and John (the writer) was twelve. They also had six darkies, one five-horse team and one Derbin wagon, which was driven by John. Madison Campbell did not move until 1832.

"They journeyed via Nashville and Hopkinsville, crossing the Ohio at Golconda; thence over the south end of Illinois to Green's old ferry on the Mississippi. It being February, they encountered great difficulties in crossing on account of the quantities of floating ice, but after making several trips across the river in an old rickety piece of a flat, the wind being high and cold, they succeeded in landing safe on the Missouri side.

"Thence they were obliged to almost cut their own road, but onward they went towards the west, by Old Jackson in Cape Girardeau county, stopping one day to rest at old Colonel Abram Byro's, five miles west of Jackson. Thence they proceeded on to Farmington in St. Francois county, and by Caledonia in Washington county, which was the last town, and it contained only one little store, and two or three dozen inhabitants.

"Then on west with scarcely any road to the present site of Steeleville in Crawford county, and on twelve miles further to Massey's Iron Works, which had been in operation but a very short time, and so on to where Rolla now stands. Twelve miles further on they came to old Jimmy Harrison's at the mouth of Little Piney on the Gasconade, about four hundred yards south of the present Gasconade bridge (of the Frisco railroad). Mr. Harrison kept a little store for the accommodation of the few settlers up and down the Piney's and Gasconade. That was also the court house for the whole of southwest Missouri; and so it was the only post office until 1832.

"Thence west twenty miles brought them across the Big Piney on the Roubidoux, near Waynesville, Pulaski county. Continuing their journey they went up the Gasconade to the mouth of the Osage Fork, where they found a few white settlers. From there they came on to the Cave Springs, where they crossed the Osage Fork, leaving it at the old Barnett place. From there to Pleasant Prairie, now Marshfield, and striking James Fork twenty miles west, thence down to Jerry Pierson's, where he had built a little water mill at a spring just below the Danforth place. Thence on west they struck the Kickapoo prairie, one mile east of the present Joe Merritt place. Thence five miles more brought them to the natural well, a short distance north of the present public square of Springfield. Here they first camped on the night of the 4th of March, 1830.

"In the meantime Uncle Billy Fulbright had got about three weeks, ahead of them, and stopped at the Fulbright spring. His brother, John F., had settled at another spring nearby, and had a cabin up, and his brother-in-law, A. J. Burnett, had succeeded in putting up a small oak pole cabin, 12 x 15, just on the spot of the old 'Squire Burden residence on Boonville street. Mr. Campbell having rather the oldest claim, his name being cut on an ash tree at the well, Mr. Burnett gave way, and commenced an improvement five miles east, at the Merritt place." [684]

OVER ROUGH ROADS.

If the reader will take a map of Missouri, and trace the route of that little caravan of pioneers, he will find that they covered probably two hundred and fifty miles of the roughest hill country in the Ozarks, a route which even today, with all the improvements in roads and bridges that have been made in eighty-four years, would put any automobile on wheels out of business, and would prove a strenuous road for even the best teams and wagons of our day.

That these people followed that route at that date, and tell of their journey in the unassuming manner I have quoted, sheds a fine sidelight on their sturdy and vigorous manhood, and that modesty which is the age old accompaniment of the ability and courage of the men who "do things."

The little pole cabin, only twelve by fifteen feet in size, built by A. Burnett in 1830, was without doubt the first dwelling for white men on that territory which is now Springfield. As we have seen in Mr. Miller's description of the arrival of John P. Campbell in Springfield, or where Springfield was to be, William Fulbright, affectionately called by all who knew him, "Uncle Billy Fulbright," had reached the new location some three weeks ahead of Campbell and Miller, and had settled at the spring which bears his name in the western part of the city.

During that first year, 1830, there also came to the new settlement Thomas Finney and Samuel Weaver. Next year there followed Daniel B. Miller, Joseph Rountree, Sidney S. Ingram, Samuel Painter and Junius Campbell, a brother of John P. Campbell. This last named brother of the founder of the city, Junius Campbell, has the honor of being the first merchant of the settlement. He had a little store near the south end of the present Frisco building. After a few months he had as a partner, one James Feland, said to have been an old Santa Fe trader. Mr. Feland's name does not appear much in the records of the city, and probably his residence was brief. [685]

And now the tide of immigration flowed steadily. The new comers found the hearty and friendly welcome always to this day characteristic of the people of the Ozarks. Nothing that the older settlers could do for the help and comfort of the new people was considered as too much. One of John P. Campbell's daughters has left on record the fact that that wonderful man built no less than thirteen cabins in one year, turning himself and family out of one of them after another, that some newly arrived family should have shelter. At last, in 1833, the region had enough inhabitants to entitle it to be set aside as an independent county, and the Legislature organized the county of Greene. The territory included in the bounds of the new county were so great that there have been carved from it in the years that have passed since 1833, at least a score of counties. Naturally there was much speculation as to the location of the county-seat. At first, it is said, that the newly elected judges of the County Court favored putting it about at the center of the county as created by the Legislature. This would have thrown it some thirty- five miles to the west, somewhere near where Mount Vernon, the county seat of Lawrence county, is now located.

But the fact of the legislature which had given the county life, had stated that the County Court, when elected, should meet at "The house of John P. Campbell, in the county aforesaid," and it was here that the newly elected judges selected one of their number as presiding justice of the court, and placed John P. Campbell himself as county clerk. It used to be quietly hinted by old-timers that Mr. Campbell entertained the judges so sumptuously that they at length agreed with him that the place, which by that time had begun to be called Springfield, was the proper place for the county capital.

Still the matter remained unsettled for some time. But at the session of the Legislature for 1835, on the fifth day of January, was passed an act appointing a commission of three men "For the purpose of selecting a permanent seat of government for the county of Greene." This commission met, and officially named Springfield as the "Permanent seat of justice for Greene county."

At this time, it must be remembered, that Springfield had not attained to the dignity of even a survey. There were perhaps twenty-five log cabins, scattered around irregularly, as convenience to the natural well, or some other water supply suggested. The name Springfield was supposed to have had its origin from the springs that drew the first settlers, and the field that soon occupied much of the ground soon to be occupied by the town. Mr. J. G. Newbill, editor for many years of the Springfield Express, and a descendant of one of the early settlers, asserts that several names for the town were suggested by various settlers. Among others, Kindred Rose handed in the name Springfield, in honor of his former home, Springfield, Robertson county, Tennessee. Which ever version is correct, the name was given to the little hamlet at a very early date, and no one has ever suggested changing it. [686]

The immediate cause of the official survey of Springfield was the urgent need for public buildings for the new county of Greene, and the impossibility of raising the means to build them, by taxation, because of the poverty, and scanty numbers of the inhabitants. Then, when it seemed as if the hopes of having here the county-seat were doomed to a sudden and permanent ending, there stepped into the breach the same man who had first set foot upon the land where the future city was to stand, John P. Campbell, with a proposition which is without a doubt the only offer of its kind in American history. This was what he would deed to the County of Greene a tract of fifty acres of land for a town site. That this tract should be laid off into streets, alleys and lots, and that the lots, being sold to the highest bidders, the proceeds should be placed in the county treasury for the purpose of erecting the needed public buildings.

Imagine one of our latter day real estate "Boomers" doing such a thing as that! At the best the modern way would have been to donate every other lot and then sit back waiting for the fortune sure to come to the giver as the result of other men's labors. Or the gift would have been so tied up and hampered with conditions as to rob it of half its value. Not so with John P. Campbell. His offer had no "strings to it." It was the free gift of a noble, public-spirited man who seemed almost to have been endowed with prophetic foresight, and able to see something of the future which his generosity made possible. Springfield owes it to herself, far more than to him, that some fitting and permanent public monument be reared to hand down to future generations the name and fame of this man who was so truly the father of the city.

JOHN P. CAMPBELL'S GOOD WORK.

Not only did Mr. Campbell give the ground on which the city grew but to him we are indebted for the very plan of the original town. For we are told that he drew the first plat from the plan of his former home, Columbia, Tennessee. Thus, at a special term of the County Court, held July 18, 1835, we find the following order entered in the records:

"It is ordered by the court here that the plan presented by John P. Campbell be filed and received as the plan for the town of Springfield, and the county commissioner for Greene county is hereby ordered to lay off the town of Springfield accordingly, viz: to lay off the public square and one tier of lots from said square; the square to contain one acre and a half, and each block to contain one acre and a half, to be divided into six lots or parts by said commissioner, or by some person for him, and each of the other lots back to contain two acres, subject to division as the court may hereafter order. The streets leading to the square, in the above named plan, to be sixty feet, and an alley-way fifteen feet back of said first tier of lots; and the commissioner is further ordered to establish the front corners on the second tier of lots; and that Daniel B. Miller be appointed commissioner of the county." [687]

All these measures would seem to-indicate that the question of the permanent location of the county-seat at Springfield, was forever set- tied, but we find that such was not actually the case, for although the commission, appointed by the Legislature to locate the permanent seat of Justice for Greene county, filed their final report in favor of Springfield, in this same month of July, 1835, the agitation in favor of other locations still continued. The uncertainty of the final permanent boundaries of the county gave a good argument to those advocating other points for a county-seat. Some urged that the eastern line of the county was much further from Springfield than the western line, therefore the county seat should be removed to the east; and the matter finally came to a head when a petition was circulated asking that the seat of government be located upon the land of Josiah F. Danforth, some eight miles cast of Springfield. The representative of Greene county in the General Assembly that year was John W. Hancock, and like a wise politician he offered to work in the Legislature for that site which should send in the longest list of names. That put the friends of John P. Campbell and Springfield on their mettle, and the result was an overwhelming majority upon the petition for Springfield. That settled, and settled forever, the harassing question, nor has it ever shown signs of a resurrection.

But all this had taken time, and the elements of uncertainty had hindered the surveying of the town site. In August, 1836, however, all having been finally decided in Springfield's favor, we find the County Court ordering the county commissioner, Daniel B. Miller, to "employ a competent surveyor and 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."

It is claimed by some that Mr. Campbell suggested the names for the first streets, naming the ones that ran east, south and west, East street South street and West street, and the one that ran north was named Boone street, after Daniel Boone. None of these names was retained except that of South street.

Mr. Miller was also ordered to offer lots for sale at once, and to advertise the same in three insertions in the "Missouri Argus," published at St. Louis, and the "Boones 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. From this sale Mr. Miller was ordered to reserve one lot for the location of a jail and one as the site for a clerk's office. [688]

On October 31st Mr. Miller filed his plat and field notes of the survey of the town, as directed, reserving in that report lot 18 of block 5, "where the present court house is situated, from sale at present." At this term of court the proceeds of sale of lots were ordered set aside for the erection of public buildings. Lot 11 was substituted for lot 10 as the site for the clerk's office.

The very next day, November 1, 1836, Mr. Miller conducted the sale of lots, as advertised beforehand. People were at last convinced that here was certainly the permanent seat of county government, and the bidding was spirited, so much so that on the 9th of the month the commissioner made a settlement with the court for the proceeds of that first day's sale, turning over to them no less than $649.88, and was, himself, allowed $131.51 as the total expenses of the sale, the balance of $518.37 being turned into the county treasury.

The records show that the total income of Greene county from taxes that year were only $557.43 ½, and there was a deficit between receipts and expenditures of $272.52 ½. Therefore, we may be sure that the sum placed to the credit of the building fund from that first day's sale of lots seemed a perfect godsend to those first custodians of the county interests.

The County Court was now so certain of the means to pay for a court house that they appointed Sidney S. Ingram commissioner of public buildings, and ordered him to prepare and submit to the court a plan for a court house for Greene county. This Mr. Ingram did, and on the 28th of November laid before the court the plan of a two-story brick building, 34 x 40 feet, which was accepted by the court and ordered erected in the center of the public square of Springfield. The faith of the court in the future sales of town lots was shown by the fact that they appropriated the sum of $3,250 for the new court house, when, as a matter of fact, they had only a little over $500 in the treasury wherewith to meet the bill. But before the building needed it the money was on hand, and thus was the plan of John P. Campbell to erect public buildings without cost to Greene county, crowned with success.

At the time that the future of Springfield was thus assured the following men were carrying on business in the little hamlet, the forerunners of the princely establishments of our day: D. D. Berry, Henry Fulbright and Cannefax and Ingram, dealers in dry goods and groceries; James Carter and. John W. Ball, blacksmiths, and S. S. Ingram, cabinet maker. There was no hotel, but the great hearted John P. Campbell kept open house for all who came, and we may be sure that none asked for a better hotel than that. [689]

The first year of Springfield was not to pass without the stain of blood. In the autumn of 1836 one John Roberts had been fined for contempt to court, by Judge Charles S. Yancy. Roberts paid the fine but went away threatening the judge for imposing it. Nearly a year afterwards, in the fall of 1837, he met judge Yancey on the public square and renewed his threats, even to thrusting his hand into his pocket for a knife, and was instantly shot dead by Yancey. The first of many men who have died in that environment "with their boots on." Yancey was tried and acquitted on the grounds of self-defense, and lived in Springfield many years. Served as circuit judge, as colonel of a regiment of Militia and was in many ways a valuable and honored citizen.

During this first year the business concerns of the place had in creased in number, the following being those who paid license to the county: C. A. Haden, Campbell & Hunt, Harper & Goanville, D. D. Berry. Danforth & Bros., Fulbright & Butler, Cary & Perkins & George, B. H. and J. C. Boone, merchants. The following are listed as grocers: R. J. McElhaney, James Y. Warren, B. W. Cannefax & Co. Alexander Hollingsworth, J. W. Ball and A. H. Payne, as shown by the merchant tax paid by them; these firms did a business in 1837 of $22,450. Old records seem to prove that these "grocers" dealt principally in groceries in a fluid form! In other words, they would nowadays be called simply saloon keepers.

SPRINGFIELD INCORPORATED.

The year 1838 was an important one for Springfield. The place now had something like two hundred and fifty inhabitants, and practically every voter of them all joined in a petition to the Legislature for the incorporation of the town. The request was granted. The boundaries of the incorporation being set by the County Court as follows:

"Beginning twenty-five rods west of the northwest corner of the northwest quarter of section 24, township 29, of range 22; thence east one hundred and fifty-five rods to a stake; thence south one hundred and thirty-five rods to a stake; thence west one hundred and fifty-five rods to a stake; thence north to the beginning." These dimensions cover a fraction less than one hundred and thirty-one acres, almost exactly one-sixteenth of the size of the city limits of Springfield, in this year, 1914.

The territory included in the measurements as set forth was quaintly described as "A body politic and corporate, by the name and style of the inhabitants of the town of Springfield." A board of trustees was appointed, consisting of Joel H. Haden, Daniel D. Berry, Sidney S. Ingram, Robert W. Crawford and Joseph Jones. [690]

And now the little town began to grow faster. The work on the new court house progressed in due course; new houses were built for those who came almost daily in their wagons along the traits from the states. new business concerns opened their doors Commissioner Miller turned in a steady flow of monies, either on first payments for town lots or for deferred payments on those previously sold, and the business concerns in the town had increased until they numbered nineteen in all, as follows: Merchants-Flournoy & Hickman, D. D. Berry, B. W. Cannefax, Campbell & Hunt, Danforth & Bros., John Pullian & Co., John P. Campbell, C. A. Haden & Co., Cannefax & Co., Wm. and L. H. Davis, Casebolt & Stallings; Isaac Sanders and Jacob Bodenhamer; Grocers—John P. Campbell, Casebolt & Stallings, B. H. and J. C. Boone, John Edwards, Joshua Jones and C. A. Haden. The list shows that some of the merchants dealt in wet as well as dry goods. These several firms are on record as doing a business, in 1838, of $62,600, or an increase over 1837 of almost one hundred and eighty per cent, which shows something of the growth in population of the town and surrounding country. According to the United States Gazetteer, the population of Springfield this year was "about three hundred."

It would be impossible, as it would be tedious, to try and make detailed record of each year of the happenings in the little town, But a touch here and there can be made to indicate the progress of the city and the region surrounding it. Those were days when whiskey was in almost universal use. No gathering was considered complete without it, whether the pioneers met to raise the frame of a neighbor's barn or gathered at an election or a dance, liquor was a prime requisite. But the temperance movement that at about that period, swept a large part of the United States reached even to this little frontier village, and we find a steadily increasing sentiment against the liquor traffic. From time to time we find records of petitions presented to the County Court against the granting of dramshop licenses in the town. And when in some instances the prayer of the petitioners was granted, forthwith there were petitions from the other side demanding that the licenses be issued; and the County Court almost as often reversed their action and let the saloons open again. But the temperance people never ceased in their opposition.

We read that in 1849 there was a genuine temperance revival. A division of the Sons of 'Temperance was organized and soon numbered seventy-five members. In April there was a grand all-day celebration, with marchings, sermons and general demonstrations against the liquor foe. Later on the temperance people were strong enough to erect a two-story brick building, on the northeast corner of the public square and St. Louis street. This was quite an addition to the town. It stood all through the days of war, and was finally destroyed by fire in 1875. [691]

Springfield has always had a very strong temperance sentiment. In 1873 a petition was presented to the city council asking for an election to be held to decide the future policy of the city to liquor licenses. The election was held in December of that year, the temperance ticket being printed in black with the words "No License" in white letters, and this "black flag" ticket, as it was called, won by a decisive majority. In the spring of 1874 a "No License" ticket was put forth by the temperance people. This was strictly a bipartisan ticket, being headed by John, W. Lisenby (Republican) for mayor and J. M. Wilhoit (Democrat) for city marshal, and so alternating to the end of the ticket. It was elected with a good margin to spare.

In 1887 Springfield again "went dry," under the then new local option law. The majority was two hundred and fifty. This election was contested by the liquor interests and was decided illegal on a technicality by the St. Louis Court of Appeals. In the vote of state-wide prohibition, in 1910, the vote of the City of Springfield was in favor of the saloons by a majority of less than twenty, but the majority of the "drys" outside of the city was such as to carry Greene county by nearly twelve hundred majority. Thus it is acknowledged by even the most strenuous advocates of the liquor traffic that if the county unit law is ever endorsed by the people of the state the days of the saloon in Springfield are certainly numbered.

STAGE COACHES TO FAR WEST.

In 1858 the Butterfield Stage Company started its line of stages for California, from St. Louis through Springfield. The passing of the first stage through the little town was a proud day for Springfield, and was celebrated by bonfires, fireworks and much gratulatory oratory. On Christmas day of that year the population of the place was estimated as "about twelve hundred." There were nearly twenty mercantile establishments doing a business of three hundred thousand dollars per annum. There was but one saloon, and that was located just outside of the city limits, so as to be beyond municipal control. And now began to be heard the first rumblings of the great storm of the Civil war that was approaching. A "Union" meeting was held in the court house in Springfield on April 7th, which denounced alike the extremists, North as well as South, whose fanaticism threatened the perpetuity of the Union. A strong committee was appointed, and ringing resolutions were passed.

This meeting resolved that a new political organization should be formed, having for its only platform the preservation of the Union under the Constitution. It was resolved to call a convention for this purpose for the 17th of May. A "vigilance committee" was appointed for each township in the county, and the members of the movement were evidently in dead earnest. [692]

The convention met on May 7th, as called, and nominated a full county ticket. That this movement was a popular one is shown by the fact that at the election following the new organization elected the entire County Court, two members of the Legislature and the sheriff. But time was to show that matters had gone too far between the advocates and opponents of slavery in the United States for a cure to be effected by any political means. Passion was rapidly gaining the ascendency over reason, and nothing but blood would satisfy the opposing forces.

And now Springfield was to find herself swiftly swept into the very vortex of civil war. The energies of her citizens, which had hitherto been so successfully devoted to her upbuilding, were now to be turned to purposes of destruction. Men who had been friends and neighbors found themselves aligned against one another, and soon with guns in their hands were eagerly seeking each others' lives! When the lines were finally and definitely drawn it was to be seen that the town and county were by a good majority for the Union. Nevertheless, many of the strongest and best loved men of the community felt impelled to cast their lots with the Southern Confederacy.

In the election of 1860 the result of which nationally was the final cause proclaimed by the South for seceding, Greene county had elected what was called the "Union" ticket, by a majority of an average of nearly two to one. Altogether the new party in national affairs. the Republican, cast about fifty votes in the county. The county as a whole, however, went strongly for the Union ticket headed by John Bell, of Tennessee, for president and Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, for vice-president.

Then, as all know, followed swiftly that series of fateful events, the secession of states, the attack upon Sumter and the call of President Lincoln for seventy-five thousand troops to save the Union. An army which subsequent events were to show was but a drop in the bucket, against the mighty bodies of citizen soldiery that were to face one another during the next four years.

That Springfield was regarded by the generals on both sides as the strategic center for all southwest Missouri is shown by the following paragraphs taken from records of those stormy times:

In a work entitled "Lyon and Missouri in 1861 is the following: "In conversation with the committee of safety, about the 1st of May, 1861, Lyon divulged the plan of making Springfield the outpost of St. Louis, in case of imminent danger from rebels in the State." Peckham's "Lyon in Missouri in 1861," page 117. [693]

The value set upon the place by the Confederates is evidenced by the following:

"The town of Springfield ought to be occupied by a strong force at once, and made the base of operations in that quarter." Ben McCulloch to the Confederate Government, May 28, 1861. See "Rebellion Record," Vol. 3, page 228.

At a special election held in Greene county to elect delegates to the State convention that had been called by act of the Legislature, passed the preceding January, to ascertain the will of the people as to the proposed secession of Missouri, the average vote of the three "Unconditional Union" candidates was one thousand four hundred and forty-six. That of the three "Conditional Union" candidates was two hundred and ninety-three. And with this line-up Springfield and Greene county faced the great contest.

In May Benjamin Kite, one of the citizens who had voted for Lincoln, received a commission as postmaster of Springfield. The incumbent at that time was Nathan Robinson, an ardent secessionist, and it is told that he was so ardent in his cause that he had a secession flag flying over the post office.

Benjamin Kite was a man of courage and determination, destined to serve Greene county for long years after the war, and to leave a record of faithful service in her behalf. It is said that Mr. Kite went to the post office with his commission in one pocket and a loaded revolver in the other, and presenting both evidences of his authority demanded and received possession of the office, and ordered the immediate lowering of the secession flag, which order was naturally and promptly complied with by the retiring official.

The Union men of Springfield represented all of the old political parties. The leading man of the Douglas Democrats had been Hon. John S. Phelps, member of Congress from the district for several terms. Mr. Phelps came out uncompromisingly for the Union. The Bell and Everett men were for the Union, unanimously, and there were not lacking men who had voted for the extreme Southern wing of the democracy, Breckenridge and Lane, who were now found as strongly for the Union as any. On the other hand there were not lacking cases where some of the men who had joined in the first Union movement in the county, in April, 1858, now followed their friends and associates into the ranks of the Confederacy. Time has cured the bitterness of those days, and today it would be hard to find a representative of either side, or one of their descendants, who, is not willing to acknowledge the patriotism and good intent of all alike, and to quote with approval the couplet:

"That all who took part in the terrible fight,
Each believed in his heart that he fought for the right."
[694]

In May, 1861, the air was full of rumors of threatened invasion, attacks by the secessionists upon Springfield and a thousand disquieting reports which rendered life in Springfield sufficiently strenuous. About the last of the month the Union men determined to organize a patrol for the town to guard against the enemies of their cause entering and carrying away powder and other munitions of war. Accordingly every road leading into the place was carefully watched for days and at nights the streets and alleys of the little town were kept by watchful guardians through the hours of darkness.

A picture of Springfield during the Civil war will be found in the military chapter in this volume. [695]


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