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 5
Early Settlement
by A. M. Haswell

Part 1
First Settlers


In writing this chapter I shall endeavor to confine myself strictly to the story of the first permanent white settlers of Greene county, leaving to others the interesting account of the few white men who were in this region from to time, but who made no permanent homes here. In order, however, to write intelligibly the story of the first men who here opened their permanent homes, it will be necessary to go back of them a little, and state how the way was first blazed, and how from one of these pathfinders the first permanent settler obtained land rights, that, after great trouble and several years of waiting, resulted finally in establishing the first home in this then wilderness.

In the year 1818, as we have seen stated in other chapters of this work, Congress passed a joint resolution organizing the Territory of Missouri. At that time there was an old veteran of the Revolution, named John P. Pettijohn, living in the State of Ohio. He was a Virginian by birth, and had resided in that state until 1797, when he removed with his family to Ohio. When this old soldier heard that Congress had opened a new territory West the Mississippi for settlement, he gathered together his sons and their families, his friends Joseph Price and Augustus (or Augustine) Friend and others to make up a total of twenty-four people, and set forth to find homes in the new territory of the West.

The expedition was loaded upon a keel boat, which carried not only the people, but such of their simple belongings as they felt to be indispensable in the wild land to which their faces were turned. Some day perhaps, an American poet will arise with the genius and the will to write an epic telling of that pioneer voyage. Certain is it that the voyage of the Pilgrim Fathers upon the historic old Mayflower, two centuries before this voyage, did not compare with this, either in the danger attending it, the time it required to make it, or the bravery and resolution necessary to bring it to a successful conclusion. Suffice it to say here that after floating down the Muskingum river to the Ohio, down the Ohio to the Mississippi, and down that great river to the White river, this intrepid expedition proceeded to force their clumsy craft against the strong current of this last named stream. Marooned by floods, going for eight days at a time without food, escaping by the closest possible margin from death by starvation, leaving two of their number sleeping in unknown graves in the wilderness, at length they reached a little group of frontier farms and log cabins around the junction of the Big North Fork and White river.

Here they remained some two years or more. Meanwhile the restless frontier blood of their old leader, Pettijohn, drove him on long hunting and exploring expeditions to the Northwest. Returning from one of these trips, he informed the little settlement on White river that he had discovered the land mentioned in Scripture, which "floweth with milk and honey."

He had reached the plateaus of the Ozarks; his fabled land was none other than what we now call Greene county. The "milk and honey" of which the stalwart old man told, he explained, to be none other than "buffalo marrow" and "bear's grease," two pioneer delicacies par excellence!

Either on this trip or one soon after, Pettijohn erected a log cabin close to a fine spring on the north bank of the James river, the spot which was afterward to become the permanent home of the first white settler in Greene county. This spot, which is certainly entitled to be marked with a permanent monument, is located some eight miles, southwest of Springfield, in section 27 of township 28, of range 22.

Here stout old John Pettijohn came with his family, with some other of his Arkansas friends, in the spring and summer of 1822. Among those who followed at practically the same time from the Arkansas settlements was Thomas Patterson. He was by birth a native of North Carolina, but had, by a series of those successive migrations so characteristic of the American pioneer, crossed the Cumberland mountains, traversed the entire length of Tennessee, and finally forced his way up the White river into the Ozark country. When he reached the Pettijohn cabin upon the James river he was pleased with the location, and soon succeeded in buying the "claim" from Pettijohn. The actual opening of Patterson's farm was in 1822.

About the same time a brother of Thomas Patterson, named Alexander settled upon what was afterward for many years known as the David Wallace place. Another Thomas Patterson, a cousin of those just mentioned, settled farther up the James probably at a point south of the present town of Northview. A man named Ingke also moved into the country at this time and settled at a point about where the Ozark road crosses the James river. Here he built a mill. Some claim that this was actually the first mill in southwest Missouri, and it is probable that such is the case, although two or three others were erected at about the same period. [129-130]

DELAWARES OBJECTED.

But all these settlements proved premature, and great disappointment and loss was to come to the pioneers. It was in the autumn of that year, 1822, when everything seemed prosperous for the little colony in the wilderness, that the settlement was thrown into terror and dismay by the arrival of an army of no less than five hundred Delaware Indians! Fortunate, indeed, was it for those isolated white men that these were Delawares, the tribe that from the day when they entered into treaty with William Penn have always remained the white man's friend. If these unexpected visitors had been members of almost any other tribe in all the continent, the history of Greene county would have been ended then and there so far as these pioneers were concerned. The log cabins would have been given to the flames, the men and boys massacred and scalped, and the women and girls led away into captivity.

However, these were the gentle Delawares, and no violence or threats were used by them. But, with all their gentleness, they were firm, and told the white men that these were their hunting grounds, their reservation, given to them by the word of the Great Father in Washington, and that the white men must move off at once!

One can imagine the terror and dismay of those pioneer families on receipt of this message. All their plans for the future, all the fruits of their hard work, the little homes gained after coming so far through the perils of the wilderness to win them, all swept away in a moment, as it were, far more effectively destroyed, indeed, than if the flames had consumed them. However, these were not men to yield without taking every possible means short of violence to save their homes, so some sort of an agreement was made with the Indians, and then Thomas Patterson, the elder, was sent to St. Louis to submit the case of the settlers to the government authorities there, and learn definitely the rights of the Indians and themselves.

That was no holiday trip that the old pioneer was sent upon by his neighbors. It was two hundred and fifty miles to St. Louis. The roads were mere bridle paths; the country for almost the entire distance was of the roughest n Missouri. Instead of the palace car, gliding over steel rails at fifty miles hour, the old man made his way on foot, or, at best, on horseback. He camped where night found him, in the woods, or, if unusually fortunate, in the cabin of some hospitable pioneer like himself. The journey was far and away more of an undertaking than it would be now to start for San Francisco or New York.

All these things were so much matters of course that we find no mention made of them in the scanty records of the time. All that we do know is that Patterson made that journey, and that when he returned to the pleasant valley of the James, he did so with a heavy heart. For the decision of the land office authorities had been against the settlers. The Indian rights were affirmed and the white men were ordered to move out of the reservation.

Then there was a flitting of those families. Some of them made their way to Illinois and never returned. Some found a stopping place upon the Meramec river in Crawford county, and much nearer St. Louis than the homes which they were abandoning. Some of them, including old Patterson himself stopped upon the Osage Fork of the Gasconade, probably in the eastern part of what is now Laclede county.

Some few of the settlers rented land from the Delawares, but most of those who did this had come into the country with the Indian invasion, and were probably traders or members of their families. Among these was a man named James Wilson. He was what later on came to be called a "squaw man." In fact, if tradition is to be trusted, he had acquired a three-fold right to that title. Three times, we are told, had he chosen a copper-colored "affinity," and as many times did he discard his choice for another. Finally he journeyed to St. Louis, from whence he returned to the wilderness with a French bride. With her he lived several years prior to his death. This couple had a farm near the mouth of the creek that bears his name to this day. The banks of this stream were the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil war. This is the stream, by the way, the headwaters of which flow through the city of Springfield and bear the local nickname of "Jordan."

There is a story that during the Indian regime, this man Wilson had been intrusted by some of them with a considerable sum of money. The temptation was too great for his honesty, and he buried the money, probably intending to quietly slip away with it after the loss had been forgotten by the owners. But the unsophisticated red men did not propose to quietly submit to being robbed. They took the shrewd Mr. Wilson and, putting a rope around his neck, hung him in midair, a treatment that in short order unloosened his tongue so that he revealed the hiding place of the cash.

But in 1830 Congress, in response to frequent and urgent petitions, finally ordered the Indians to give up this part of Missouri and move to other regions farther west, and the submissive Delawares at once proceeded to obey and moved on, as they ever have, all the way across the continent.

This Indian occupancy had greatly retarded the settlement of southwest Missouri. Although it was fully ten years since the state had been admitted to the Union, and the other parts had been rapidly settled, there were very few white people in this region, and the territory covering thirty or forty of our modern counties was still included in Wayne county as before the admission of the state. [131-132]

MANY SETTLERS CAME.

But now the doors were swung wide open, and at once immigration began to flow in. Most of those who had been driven out eight years before now led the procession of the inflowing tide of settlers, and hastened to resume possession of the places which they had been forced to abandon. Pettijohn who has been mentioned, returned from Ohio, but did not locate within the present bounds of Greene county, but settled near the mouth of the James on White river.

Here the old frontiersman lived out his days, and his family retained possession of the land for many years. This tract is in the present limits of Stone county, although when Pettijohn settled upon it, it was, of course, still included in Greene county.

Joseph Porter was another of those who came in immediately after the Indians were removed. He made his home at or near Delaware Town, upon the James, and in the present limits of Christian county, a short distance south of the Greene county line.

Thomas Patterson, Sr., had retreated with his family no further than to the Osage Fork of the Gasconade, probably in the eastern limits of what is now Laclede county. There he waited with what patience he might, during the eight years, and he was among the first to return to the abandoned claims in Greene county. He took possession in that year, 1830, of the claim which had been located nearly ten years before by Pettijohn, and purchased by Patterson from him in 1821 or the year following. Here this first citizen of Greene county lived to the end of life, and here, in the old family burial ground, he sleeps beside the faithful wife who had followed him into the wilderness.

The "Patterson spring" still flows into the James, and over and around it is a grove of fine black walnut trees. Beneath their shade is an acre or so of as beautiful blue grass sod as any city lawn can boast. Here have gathered, in the past, hundreds of happy picnic parties, very few of the members of which, probably, knew that they were upon the first land occupied by a white man's home in Greene county. [133]

Another early arrival in Greene county was Samuel Martin, who settled in Taylor, or what is now Taylor township, in the eastern part of the county, near the James river. When the county was organized in 1833 Mr. Martin was elected one of the County Court, and when, on the 11th of March of that year, the court met for its first term, he was chosen by his two colleagues to be the presiding justice. John B. Mooney and his brother Edward rented land from the Indians somewhere about 1827. This was located upon Davis creek, a small stream that falls into the James in Taylor township. The Mooneys remained in that neighborhood permanently. John B. Mooney was an active and prominent man in the early history of the region. He was a pioneer preacher, one of those strong and sturdy men whose influence for good so largely helped to mold the better forces of the new countries of the West. Mooney township, one of the first organized by the County Court at its first session, was named for this man. Mooney township in Polk county is a part of that original division of Greene county.

But the man who probably did more toward building up and advancing Greene county than any other was John P. Campbell, a native of Maury, county, Tennessee. Later on I propose to give in detail the story of Campbell's journey to Greene county, as written by one who shared its trials and perils with him. But just at this point I will only quote the words left one record by one of those who knew and honored him in life:

"John P. Campbell was an organizer of men, a stranger to reverses. The touch of his hand was success to any enterprise. Kind, prompt, generous and benevolent, his word was as sovereign as a state statute. He amassed a large, property, and extended his field of operations over an empire. He built up schools, raised churches and gave freely to the poor. He died leaving a name honored and respected by everybody." Surely no man could ask for a noble panegyric!

Andrew Bass came from Tennessee late in 1829 and located close to the present site of Strafford, in the southern part of Jackson township. Later he moved some miles farther north in the same township, near the little trading point now called, after his family, Bassville. His descendants compose one of the prominent families of Greene county, and they are largely settled around the original location of their ancestor.

Alpheus Huff came from, Franklin county, Missouri, with the tide of immigration that flowed into the southwest after the Indians were expelled in 1830. He settled near Andrew Bass. Alexander Chadwick also came from Tennessee about 1831 and settled near Mr. Bass.

Major Joseph Weaver arrived in March, 1830, and bought out a settler near Delaware Town, where he lived three or four years. He then came Springfield and purchased the farm of Joseph Miller, the brother-in-law of J. P. Campbell, just southwest of the town. Mr. Miller had come in with his brother-in-law some four years before selling to Weaver. Mr. Weaver lived on this place some years, when he moved to a farm two and a half miles west where he died in 1852, His numerous descendants have always held a prominent place in the history of both the city of Springfield and of Greene county. [134]

In 1831 Daniel B. Miller, a brother of Joseph Miller, settled in the northwest part of what is now Springfield, at a great spring, still called for him, "The Miller Spring." After serving as a water supply for the first Springfield woolen mill, which enterprise, soon died and remained with the brick building standing vacant for twenty years, this spring and a fine tract of land of twenty acres is now being turned into a city park, with a beautiful lake of several acres. Mr. Daniel B. Miller only survived some nine years, dying in 1839. Samuel Lasley came to Greene county with Daniel B. Miller and settled on Little Sac at the crossing of the Bolivar road. Spencer O'Neil, who had been one of the first men to take up claims in the Indian country, and had been forced to move away with the others in 1822, now returned and settled in the southwestern part of the county. Many of his descendants are citizens of Pond Creek, Republic and Brookline townships to the present day.

Joseph Rountree, born in North Carolina in 1782, first emigrated to Tennessee in 1819, and afterward to this county, in 1831. He brought with him to his new home a family of seven, sons and three daughters. From that day to this the name Rountree appears with great frequency and honor in the records of Greene county. Probably no one name shows to any better advantage than this. This large family, it is recorded, made the latter part of their arduous journey to Greene county through a deposit of snow of the remarkable depth, for this latitude, of eighteen inches. [135]

A PIONEER'S JOURNAL.

Among the treasures of the Rountree family there existed for many years, and probably exists today, a journal kept by Joseph Rountree of his journey from the east into Greene county. It is given here, as printed some thirty years ago, and is a priceless record of the strenuous life of pioneer days. Beginning with the arrival upon the eastern shore of the Mississippi at Green's ferry in Illinois, this journal reads as follows:

"Thursday December 23, 1830—A cloudy day. The ice was very thick in the river; we went to Kaskaskia; the ice nearly quit in the river in the evening; at night it rained and froze over. Our expense was 37½c.

"Friday, 24th—A wet morning. We prepared for crossing the river after breakfast; we removed our family to Peter Robert Derousse's, at the lower ferry on Sunday last—a very respectable gentleman with a peaceable family; we found the ice so thick and wide on the other side that we could not land, and had to go down the river more than a mile, where we got a landing, and it took till about an hour in the night before I got my wagon and family over; we had to make five trips; we went about three miles and camped, and had a merry night. Expense $5

That touch, "had a merry night," is exceedingly suggestive. One would think that a long and dangerous day's work, ferrying the turbulent Mississippi five times, would have been but a poor prelude for a night of merriment. But these pioneer folk were not of the stuff that deplores and whines over the difficulties in their way. They had at last crossed the Mississippi; they were in Missouri, if only at its farthest bounds, and they proceeded to make merry over dangers past and to rejoice over their arrival in the hither edge of the promised land. [135]

"Saturday, 25th—We started early; proceeded to Ste. Genevieve Town; Mr. Beard had to get a skein mended; my family stayed with a very friendly French family, Bovie by name; in the evening we went on eight miles and camped at Mr. Bell's. Expense $1.62½

"Sunday, 26th—A cloudy, cold day. We traveled on and about two o'clock Mr. Beard's hind axletree broke at Mr. Moreare's. We traveled 14 miles, and camped at Mr. Barrington's. Expense, 62½c.

"Monday, 27th—I went to Mr. Donaldson's; found them well, and our wagon waited for Mr. Beard's and then went on; camped at Mr. Baker's; traveled nine miles today. Expense $2.56¼.

"Tuesday, 28th—The day was clear and cold. We traveled on very well; found that the fore bolster of Mr. Beard's wagon was broken. We came through Mine a' Burton and got a new bolster; encamped at Mr. Tucker's; it began to snow before day. Expense 62½c.

"Wednesday, 29th—This day was snowy, rainy and freezing; we started and broke the tongue out of Mr. Beard's wagon; made a new tongue an traveled 7 miles and encamped at Mr. Compton's. Expense $1.

"Thursday, 30th—Started on and it was snowy and freezing; last night it snowed; we had only got one mile this day when Mr. Beard's wagon turned over in a branch and got the most of my goods wet; we had to take up camp and dry our things; it continued snowing. Expense 62½c.

"Friday, 31st—This day we packed up our wagon and started about twelve; traveled 7 miles. Expense $1.96¼.

"Saturday, January 1st, 1831—A clear, cold morning; it moderated a little; we proceeded and crossed the Cotway (doubtless this is meant for the "Fourche a' Courtois"), Huzza and Dry creeks; traveled about 13 miles and encamped on the ridge between Dry creek and the Merrimack. Expense $2.75.

"Sunday, 2d—Cloudy; we started early; it rained very hard this day and thundered; we crossed the Merrimac; traveled 16 miles; encamped at Massey's iron works. Expense 56¼c.

"Monday, 3d—Last night it rained, sleeted and froze all night; this morning it began to snow; we continued in a cabin we had took up in; snowed all night. Expense 62½c.

"Tuesday, 4th—A cold day; snow very deep; continued at the cabin all day. Expense $1.19.

"Wednesday, 5th—A clear, cold day; Mr. Beard took his load about 4 miles to Mr. St. Clair's, and we deposited it there and returned to the cabin. Expense 662/3c.

"Thursday, 6th—Clear and cold; Mr. Beard took his departure for home; we continued in the cabin; in the evening Sidney (Ingram) and me went for to look us out a place for to make a camp near St. Clair's; we concluded on a place, returned in the evening and brought home Junius and Lucius, who had went to another cabin on the Dry Fork of the Merrimac the day before. Expense $5. [136]

"Friday, 7th—We began to prepare for making our camps; but in the evening Joseph Phillabare (Philabert) came on and we concluded to go on with him; so we left the cabin and came on to St. Clair's and stayed all night. Expense 62½c.

"Saturday, 8th—We started about 10 o'clock and proceeded up the bad hill with some difficulty; the day was cloudy and cold, the snow was deep and it snowed some more, but we traveled 18 miles. Expense 18¾c.

"Sunday, 9th—Quite cold; traveled 17 miles. Expense $1.43.

"Monday, 10th—Cloudy and cold; we proceeded and crossed Rubidoo (Robidoux); traveled 15 miles. Expense 37½c.

"Tuesday, 11th—This morning it was very snowy, we discovered that Mr. Philabare had one of the skeins of his wagon to get mended; so we stayed in camp until nearly 12, and then traveled about 12 miles and encamped at Stark's. Expense 81¼c.

"Wednesday, 12th—Cloudy and cold; we traveled on slowly on account of the snow; crossed the Osage fork of the Gasconade and traveled 14 miles. Expense 18¾c.

"Thursday 13th—A cold day, but we traveled on pretty well; passed Eastwood and traveled 18 miles. Expense 37½c.

"Friday, 14th—Last night it snowed very hard; we encamped at the Indian Grave branch; the snow increased in depth four or five inches; we traveled with a good deal of difficulty; we passed Tygart's. Traveled 20 miles. Expense 50c.

"Saturday, 15th—It continues to snow; the day is most intolerably cold; we proceeded on our way and after traveling six or eight miles we met Joseph H. Miller and Lemuel Blanton coming to meet us. Great joy! We went on Robert Patterson's, twelve miles, and got lodging for the night in his house, the first night's lodging in a house since we left the cabin at Massey's Iron Works. Expense $1.25.

"Sunday, 16th—Today was extremely cold; snowed a little; we proceeded and got to Joseph A. Miller's between sunset and dark; found the people about the prairie all well, and glad to see us all arrive safe. Traveled 23 miles."

Compare that journey with one over practically the same route, from St. Louis to Springfield. Instead of more than three weeks, over rough, hilly, roads, in cold, and flood, and snow, the traveler now lies down in his comfortable berth in a palace sleeping car, goes to sleep at 10 o'clock at night in St. Louis and awakes next morning in Springfield! [137]


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