PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY SETTLERS
TOLD AT THE DINNER OF 1910
Mr. Hubble: I am moved to tell about what Maj. Hart told awhile ago of what took place when he came here. He brought out sixteen families—
Maj. Hart: Twelve to sixteen.
Mr. Hubble: Four of them stopped at Hartville, and the rest came on to town here and stopped at Dr. Shackelford's. The doctor was a Tennesseean and he undertook to show them the courtesies that men showed then. They went into Sheppard's store and did a little trading, then started out the "wire road" and went out to the Adams spring, six or seven miles southwest of here. They had a dog that kept camp for them, and the dog was missing, and the major came back to town after him and Mr. Sheppard told him the dog ran around all the time and they could not do anything with him, so finally the major left, but came back the next morning after "Bulger," the dog. It pretty nearly broke them up to lose that dog, but he could not find him. Some weeks later they got a letter from the old home that the dog had come back. He told his brother to get him and take care of him, but the dog would not stay and went back to the old home place and died there. He had to cross both the Mississippi and Ohio rivers to get there.
Mr. Woods: That reminds me of a man my father used to tell about who asked if there was any way in the world to get to Missouri without crossing the Mississippi River. "Yes,'' my father says, "there is---by going far enough north; but it is a good ways around."
Mr. Wilson: Talking about that dog going back reminds me of another that belonged to one of the early settlers here that was missing. After he had been gone two or three weeks they got a letter from the old home that the dog had gone back home, having crossed the Tennessee, Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. I cannot recall the old man's name who owned the dog, but he was a justice of the peace and kept a drug store there.
Mr. Hubble: Oh, yes, a dog can swim the Mississippi River, but of course he lands a long ways down river from where he starts in.
Mr. John Holland: If I had been in the dog's place I would not have crossed the river. I would have come back.
Mr. John Y. Fulbright: At the request and solicitation of our friends, I desire to make a few remarks. As the children of the pioneers of this country, and as friends and companions of years, we have met under your hospitable roof from year to year to renew friendships and to recall and perpetuate while we still live the early history of our country. How well we may succeed, those who read after us must judge, yet we have the consolation of knowing that we have given a true and correct history as far as we were able and as far as we have gone. At this time, being the anniversary of the birth as a citizen of Springfield of our honored friend and companion, and to mark one more epoch that will make our history a pleasure to review, and as an evidence of our appreciation for the many acts of kindness shown to those present and others, I now present you (addressing Mr. Hubble) with this cane. Although it may not be of great intrinsic value, yet it is rich in love and good wishes from those who give it; and in the years that may follow we all wish you and your family health, happiness and prosperity; and, knowing well that the physical man as he walks the hill downward toward the setting sun of this life must grow weaker, we all hope that this token of esteem will make the path easier, and will support and strengthen you to the end. (Presentation of cane.) I will read the inscription "`Presented to M. J. Hubble by his friends at dinner, March 31, 1910."
Mr. Hubble: I think everyone of you know how much I appreciate this. As a general thing, I Can always say something; but now all I can say is that I never was any more surprised--I could not be-than I am at this gift; and that I hope everyone of you will be here next year; and for many years after, and if you do, you will find your gift at the head of the table.
Mrs. Hubble (aside): Well, I hope you will give up your old broomstick now. [Laughter.]
Col. Murray: I was going to say to Mrs. Hubble that where there are a lot of good ladies around the house and not one word has been said in their favor, and a lot of men sitting around throwing taffy at one another, is fairly disgusting to me.
Mr. Hubble: Well, you're a widower.
Col. Murray: I learned to like the ladies, young and old, before I was graduated around here at the school house. I have carried that idea in my mind ever since that wherever I could pledge them, I would be glad to do so; and I desire you to understand and know that, while I may have faded, so many years have passed behind me, my love and friendship for them are the same and not on the wane. On this particular occasion, I have in mind to present to Mrs. Hubble, the individual who has really had charge of this household for at least half a century, who has always been pleasant to her friends and associates, and, but for her, the house might not be what it is today. Few houses or few homes amount to much without a good woman. I desire, Mrs. Hubble, to present to you this umbrella, inscribed: "Mrs. M. J. Hubble, from the guests of March 31, 1910.''
Mrs. Hubble: It is no use to say I am surprised, for I did not feel that I was a representative at this dinner, except to welcome all these dear friends, and I enjoy them very much indeed. I will always remember this day as a pleasant day, though I, like my husband, have not prepared a speech for the occasion; but you will always be welcome, one and all, as long as I am hostess at this home. [Applause.]
Mr. Hubble: John Yount Fulbright has a good character in this county, and yet he is a deceiver. I don't know whether I ever will trust him again or not. I have been after him to talk here today. I want him to tell some stories of the old times. He said he would come to the office and see me, and he tramped all the way to the office and said he could not do it. I insisted that he should tell something, so he told me two or three stories up there and I tell him right now he has got to tell them. I let him off at first, he was so earnestly opposed, but he has to talk. He is an old fraud. He said "I will talk a little after things have gone on a little while." I did not think the old boy was so deceptive.
Mr. Fulbright: Well, he kind of forced it on to me.
Mr. Hubble: Why did you not give me a hint they were going to give me that cane"
Mr. Fulbright: Well, give me a rap with it; give me a rap with it, if it will relieve you.
Mr. Hubble: Now when he was up there the other day, he told two old incidents I think ought to be recorded; the one about "Old Red," which was the nickname of Mr. Lucius Rountree, for all the boys wore nicknames then, the one about following the Indians to take them out of the country, and the other about Henry and "Old Red'' following the elk. Now that is something the children do not know about.
Mr. Fulbright: So far as the Indian story is concerned, the Governor ordered Col. Yancy and others to go down on the North Fork and get the Indians out of the country. Now my grandfather was a very large man, and the Indians considered him a special friend. They would not do anything without him. So they went down and were camped on the river, the Indians on one side and the boys on the other, and they had a powwow, but the Indians would not go. So they made it up that at a certain time they would charge the Indians, not hurt them, of course; and they would have to charge across that river. Now the boys were not putting bullets in the guns, but were shooting to make a noise, but still the Indians would not come to time. So they made a charge, and Capt. Rountree said he never saw such a lot of water flying in the world as when those seventy-five men charged and struck the river. When the Indians saw that water splashing it brought them to time immediately, and that charge is what did it.
The other story came about this way: There used to be a man down in this country, that I heard tell that when he came here there were a great many buffalo here. I know as far as I knew the old settlers never saw any buffalo here, and we were talking about this. But there were a few elk, and on one occasion there were fifteen went through town and they followed them down into Arkansas, but never overtook them. They were seen, but the hunting party never overtook them. The elk were very poor and were probably the last elk in this country. I only got the elk story by asking these people about the buffalo and none of them, Rountree or my uncle, ever saw any buffalo in this county. They had been here, though, at an earlier time.
Mr. Hubble: They were not here when the white people came here.
Mr. Woods: It was always said that all the depressions out by the cemetery were made by buffalo.
Mr. Fulbright: Oh, they had been here.
Mr. Hubble: As early as the 40s there were no buffalo east of the Missouri line. They had all been driven out.
Mr. Woods: Bear were seen passing through the country after I came here.
Mr. Fulbright: Yes, there were bears after the war. Bill Hickock was here at the time and I went along with him looking for the last bear I ever heard of.
Mr. Wilson: In 1884 I saw a bear down near Cedar Gap where they were building the railroad. I was loading ties and the bear crossed the track right in front of me. If I had had a gun I could have shot it.
Question: Was it a pet bear?
Mr. Wilson: No, it was not a pet bear, I guess.
Mrs. Hubble: I have seen wild deer between here and Paris Spring--wild ones.
Mr. Shockley: A lady who lived out near and adjoining the old Frazier place was milking a cow and a bear came up and wanted the milk and liked to have scared her to death. It had a chain on its neck. She ran over to the nearest neighbor, the Boyd's, and they came with guns and a pack of dogs. The bear broke for the pond near and got in the water, and just knocked the dogs winding as they came, so finally my father he shined his eyes--it was a very dark night, just could see his eyes-and shot several shots, but never touched the bear until finally he got its eye and finished it and they brought it to the house and next morning found it was Maj. Berry's pet bear, so they sent word if he would come he could help them eat it and have bear meat.
Mr. Hubble: Mr. Murray, could you not say a good word for the old settlers?
Col. Murray: I have made my speech--all the one I intended to.
Mr. Hubble: Well, that was a good speech, I am bound to say, wasn't it, Mammy?
Mrs. Hubble: Yes, it was a good speech.
Mr. Hubble: I don't believe any country on the face of the earth ever was settled up by a better class of people than the men who settled Springfield and its vicinity. Now I say that, after my experience all over the world with the people I have met. I have seen the educated people-I have seen all classes of people,but I don't believe I ever saw any set of people actuated by what was just and fair to his neighbor more than were they. They meant to do that which was right and they did, and the other fellow expected them to do right and, just as Judge Fulbright said here a good while ago, if he did not do right he got a quiet little hint that the best thing to do was to move, and he moved, and it did not take more than a hint to move him because the right man gave the hint. And if a man abused his family he had to move, too.
Col. Murray: It brings to mind one thought. I believe all you have said about these good men before us and that it comes on down to these men here. They are the salt of the earth, and have been for fifty years of this county; and no better men, perhaps, ever lived in any community so far as their morals are concerned and their honesty and integrity and all that goes to build up a country strong and good-that element must be among them. But did you ever stop to think? Suppose every man in this town was like those men were you are talking about; if the County of Greene, State of Missouri, if you like, was all composed of men like these, we, the people, what would we amount to in this day and time of rapid financing, railroad building, gas companies, insurance companies, everything grasping by the millions of dollars? Do you know that Judge Page, of the Criminal Court down here, would have to close its doors tomorrow morning? No criminals would have to be tried; there would be no crime. The other Judge Page, the police judge who fines men for a dram too much, about $6.50 fine, and then puts them in jail; and $1 goes to the city and some $5.50 in the pockets of others, and Mr. Loveless and his police would disband tomorrow morning. There would be nobody to arrest; no one breaking criminal laws. The judges of all the courts, and the clerks and the $350,000 to $400,000 Missouri pays annually for her criminal courts would all be banished, don't you see? Now I am not belittling our side of the question, you understand, but I am trying to show you how they run things nowadays; that they are not looking for this kind of men to represent them in the council or the State. They are seeking men who are rapid runners and can transfer money from one account to another quickly.
Mr. Hubble: That is right.
Col. Murray: There would be no murders committed. But if it were so many people would say it was too slow. We must run over people with fast trains and tell the section men to pick up the fragments, but all means to get to the next town without stopping, and the faster the better; get out of the way. The question is this necessary now to make this a good country, better, stronger, more enterprising country? While we are not all teetotalers, yet one saloon an hour a day could sell all we would want. So that would all be done away with, and there would no longer be crime committed around dark alleys. To us trained along with this lot, we think our lines the best. But the other is the larger element now in the community, and we are the mere fragments of what the community once was when it all existed throughout the neighborhood composed of these men you talk about. They were in the large majority. You can tell by the stories that if one of the wrong sort happened to get in, he was notified to move on. It was a glorious country. At the same time, as I said, with all this rapid transit business from congressman to constable, the moral side of the question has been dropped out of existence almost, don't you see? After awhile everybody, I mean this older class of people we were talking about, will have passed away, except for now and then a boy who follows in his father's steps, and then these rapid runners will have taken charge of everything. I don't know where they are going to run it to-the other place, or not. Sometimes I think they will run against a snag and burst the thing up, but I hope I am mistaken as to that idea. But there is one thing that may happen, that has already happened continuously from the foundation or settlement of the Country until now, one thing for which we are glad-that their sentiments and their views have permeated the young people to an extent that will make good citizens out of them, even though they may not be as entirely free from crime in this generation as the older ones were-that they will have some manhood, some ambition to be somebody morally as well as financially. Nowadays, I am sorry to say that the standard of a man's power and influence in a community depends somewhat upon the amount of dollars he can stack up, and so long as that idea controls and outweighs the moral side of the question, then we are in danger of a landslide to the wrong side.
I did not mean to preach a sermon, because Father Lilly will do that when I get through. I beg your pardon.
Father Lilly: I am very well pleased, indeed, to meet you all and be of your company. It has been a source of deep thought to me as to what I should say in regard to the subject we have before us. Many of you may think that language would be simple in regard to recording the early facts of pioneer life. Remember that truth is simplicity itself, and the more simple the manner the better in which you state those facts and views of your youthful days, of the burdens, trials and troubles of that life, the defeats and the victories of other days and the growing up of the families, and the few laws of those days, when you come to think of it in the gathering of these facts of your county and city to be laid up and placed aside for the historian. When he comes to delve into the real truth of the matter he has it to hand and we fathers can say to ourselves we had a good hand in giving what was proper and right to the history of the county. Your work and your labor on your land here and there, now what was that in reality? It was preparing for the future. Those who have come after you have divided and subdivided; they have inherited the riches you have accumulated in a certain way. They are now the citizens of the land. So when you look back to those times, it is with gratitude, kindness and love. You remember those gone before, the fair love of those around about you. Then your lifetime work is not yet over. You are now gathering together all these items, not for yourself but for the future generations that they may read and understand and then place your names all the higher and more noble in their own minds and say that as pioneers you did well your work and labor, bodily and mentally, to give them the real truths and facts of the early history of this county and of the city. I think, therefore, that as we have a member who is known so well as an insurance agent, that he can certainly insure the truth and the facts of these matters if he will go to work and gather them right in .As an insurance man, he ought to insure us each twelve months amply of all the facts gathered of this county and city and that, giving him this advantage, it will prompt him to be all the more energetic and all the more thorough in his work so that at each annual celebration he will bring in a large amount of the facts recalled of your early days. I thank you all very kindly for the privilege of being present among you. Not only do I feel highly' honored by the invitation extended me, but, knowing that our days are few and our eternity before us, while in life, we should show that good will and friendship to one another so that, God speeding us homeward, we may be friends now and, I hope, friends in eternity.
You insurance man, see that you do better next time.
I arrived in Springfield on the last day of March, 1856. It was a beautiful day, and the town was full of people from the country, large numbers of which were preparing to go to California, and each of them had on a red belt with a single-barrel pistol sticking into it, and a good many of them with knives in the belts. It was a nice warm day, and most of them having on woolen shirts had pulled off their coats, and I didn't understand what it meant. I got here from Columbia, Tennessee, where the men who carried pistols kept them hid, and I just supposed that there would be bloodshed here directly.
The highest point around the Square was at the southeast corner of the Square and South street in front of Sheppard & Kimbrough's Store, so I went there to see what was going to happen. There was a circus in town that day. I stood around for some time, and I saw nothing of a bellicose nature, and so I asked a gentleman why there were so many people in town armed, and he explained to me that they were getting ready to go to California, a trip across the plains, and that they always went armed to protect themselves against the Indians, so I hunted up my kinsman, and he told me that my uncle, Jonathan Carthell, had, on the request of my grandfather back in Tennessee, secured me a position to clerk in the store of Sheppard & Kimbrough. I went to the circus that day as the guest of Dr. Shackelford, and went to Uncle Jonathan Carthell's that afternoon, and came back to town Monday morning, and went into Sheppard & Kimbrough's store as a clerk.
I can see the old Public Square exactly as it was the day I got here. The first house that I went in was at the corner of College street and the Public Square, in which was the drug store of Burden & Stephens, and also the postoffice. The next door to that south was the clothing store of John L. Holland; next to that was McAdams' saddlery store; next was the store of Charles Sheppard and J. B. Kimbrough; then there was a little one-story house between that and the southwest corner of the Square, which set back a few feet from the Square; the next house was on the south side of the Square, and was the Store of W. B. Farmer; next to that on the corner of South street and the Public Square was a log house used as a saloon, and on the southeast corner of South street and the Public Square was the two-story store of Sheppard & Kimbrough, running back to Pickwick alley. The south part of the store, however, was only one story high; next east of that was a small house 16 by 20 used as a law office; next east of that was McElhany & Jaggard's store; next east of that was C. B. Holland's store; next east of that on the corner was "Judge'' Andrew's saloon, and fronting on the Square was a long one-story building occupied by W. H. and H. T. Hunt as a shoe shop; next to that north was Dr. Mitchell's drug store, and next north was a tailor shop occupied by a Frenchman by the name of Gounart; next on the Corner of St. Louis street and the Square was the store of J. S. Moss & Co., the company being Maj. D. D. Berry; across the street on the corner of the Square and St. Louis street stood the Temperance Hall; next to that was Jacob Painter's gun shop; next to that a livery stable. On the northeast Corner of Boonville street and the Public Square was a hotel, fronting on the square. East was a small frame house unoccupied. On the northwest corner of Boonville street and the Public Square was the State Bank; between that and the northwest Corner of the Square there was a little frame house, perhaps twenty feet square; next to the northwest corner of the Public Square and fronting on the Square was a two-story building owned by Allen Fielding; next to that on the corner where the Court House stands was a Store occupied by McGinty & Co. These were all the buildings there were on the Public Square. The brick houses were as follows First, the Court House in the center of the Square; second, the Bank building, northwest corner of Boonville street and the Square; "`Temperance Hall," on the northeast corner of St. Louis street and the Square; the school house in the grove near what is now Washington avenue and Water street; the residence of Gen. Holland on Jefferson street, and one room on the Hayden place on Olive street, and that moves me to say right here that Olive street was named for Col. Mordica Oliver, who had been a member of Congress from North Missouri, and bought a residence on that street. He was a fine lawyer and a great orator, and was Secretary of State by appointment of Governor Gamble after the Civil War had begun. I had come from a city of three thousand people with four large schools, one male and three female, situated in one of the richest counties on the face of the earth, and I had been a clerk in a store there, and I was utterly surprised at the amount of goods sold in this little town. Our trade came from one hundred miles all around, and the merchants bought wool, cotton, bacon, cedar posts, plank and shingles, two and three-foot boards, feathers, ginseng and many other things that I had never seen bought by merchants. I think that more than half of the people paid cash for everything they bought; the other half settled up once a year, and what was more they paid. There were four of us In the Sheppard & Kimbrough store, and we were all active, and all good salesmen, and we would keep busy from ten to fifteen hours a day because we didn't try to keep the goods in ship-shape during business hours, but always had them fixed up before we went to bed.
In 1867, I think, the United States bought from Russia the Territory of Alaska. Of course, everybody knows now that it was a splendid purchase so far as dollars and cents are concerned, but there were very few who knew why it was purchased, and all the balance of us "howled'' about "Seward buying an ice-berg.'' I was in the office of Governor John S. Phelps shortly after people knew about it. He had been a member of Congress from this district for eighteen years, and he stood high with the big men who were governing the country, and I said something about how foolish it was in Mr. Seward to buy the iceberg, and he looked over his spectacles and said: "If you knew why you would not say that. I will tell you why, but it must not be talked about now." So I never told the reason of the purchase until after I saw it published some two or three years ago, and one of these days it will become part of the history of the United States.
It seems that Louis Napoleon and Earl Salsbury, backed by Mr. Gladstone, were determined to recognize the Southern Confederacy as a belligerent nation. their reason for it was that that would be enabled to obtain cotton from the South, and their need of cotton had stopped the running of many mills in England, and created great hardship among the laboring people. Louis Napoleon `s reason for it, as was afterwards asserted, was that he wanted to conquer Mexico. Charles Frances Adams was at that time our minister to England, and he warned Mr. Seward and Mr. Lincoln of the danger, and before England and France could act, the entire fleet of the Russian navy showed up in the harbor of New York one morning. It will be remembered that there was no cable then, and no wireless telegraph, and consequently news could go no faster than a ship took it, so the first news that England and France had of the concentration of the Russian fleet in the New York harbor was either just before it got there or when it did get there. The wise men understood that there must be some agreement between the United States and Russia, or else that fleet would not have been there, and the assembling of that fleet destroyed the last hope the Confederacy had of recognition by foreign nations. Of course, it cost a lot of money to take that fleet to New York and back, and neither nation could afford to have the Chancelries of Europe know that there was a secret agreement between the Government of the United States and Russia, so after the war was over in hunting for some way to pay Russia, somebody suggested that Russia sell the United States Alaska. Russia had no use for Alaska, neither did the United States, so the United States paid Russia seven millions of dollars for Alaska, and that wiped out the expense of the fleet, although that was never mentioned in the transaction.
One of the queerest criminal trials that I have ever known of occurred in this County. I tell the story as it was told to me by Judge Littleberry Hendricks, who was the greatest lawyer in Southwest Missouri up to the beginning of the war.
A man living down on Sac River was shot while sitting on his porch by some man who stood behind a tree. His wife had gone to the spring for a bucket of water, and she was coming back when the shot was fired that killed her husband. She saw a bob-tailed brindle dog running away from the house. Now that dog was owned by an early settler who lived in the bottom of Sac just below where the man lived who was assassinated, and he was a true frontiersman, who had four or five acres, on which he raised corn, and he spent the balance of his time hunting, trapping and fishing. He was a quiet, peaceable man without an enemy so far as anybody knew, but during the investigation of the killing the patching around the bullet that killed the victim was found, and when they went to the house of this old trapper and hunter, and looked into his shot-pouch they found the piece of cloth out of which the patching had been cut; it fitted the hole in the cloth, and was the same kind of material, and the brindle dog was known to belong to him. They went back to where the assassin had stood, and found the tracks of a man who wore moccasins, and they followed that track to the house.
Upon this evidence he was suspicioned, and as he had been out fishing that day by himself it was impossible for him to prove an alibi, and the patching and the dog and the moccasin tracks (he being the only man in the neighborhood who wore moccasins) seemed to be conclusive proof that he was guilty of the crime. He was arrested, brought to town and put in jail; was too poor to employ a lawyer, but Judge Hendricks' sympathy was aroused for the man, and he went to see him, and became his attorney. The man could not understand how the patching, the moccasin tracks or the dog came to be there.
In due time the trial began, and the proof made by the State was as above stated, and Judge Hendricks had no evidence to offer in favor of his chant except his previous good character, and the jury was out but a little while until it returned a verdict of guilty, fixing the penalty at hanging.
The next morning the Clerk read the proceedings, and the Judge signed the record. Judge Hendricks had read the record before it was signed, and after it was signed he filed a motion to have his chant discharged because the records did not show that the defendant was present at the trial, and of course, everyone knows that you cannot legally try a man for his life unless he is present; neither could he be put in jeopardy of his life the second time.
Hendricks filed a motion for the Judge to dismiss his client, and let him "go hence without day." He quietly handed the motion to the presiding Judge, who read it with consternation, and asked the Clerk to show him the records, which he did. Of course, Hendricks was in the right, and a hasty consultation of the lawyers and Judge was held. It was agreed that the motion should lay over and not be read, and that night the jailer would quietly turn the man loose, which was done, and Judge Hendricks never heard of him any more. His wife left the country shortly afterwards, and no one ever knew where they went.
Now for the sequel. At that time when a man settled on a piece of land no one attempted to enter it. He might live on it four or five years because he was not able to enter it, but no one attempted to enter another man's claim. The fall after these proceedings a man thought to be one of the best citizens in the country took a drove of mules down to Louisiana. While there he took desperately sick, and sent for his brother, and he told him that he thought be was going to die, and that he wanted to clear the name of this man who had been found guilty of the assassination, and that he had committed the crime himself because this man had entered his claim, and that the way he did it was, he went to this old trapper's house and found that he was gone; pulled off his shoes, and put on the trapper's moccasins, took his gun and shot pouch, and went there and got behind the tree and killed him, and that he didn't regret it; that the dog followed him because he had the gun and shot pouch; that he went back to the old trapper's house, pulled off his moccasins, put on his shoes, hung the gun on the rack, and the shot pouch on the buck horn. and went home.
Since I heard that story it will be an awfully hard thing to have me convict a man for murder on circumstantial evidence.
N. B.:-The defendant had been tried at a former session of the Court. Abraham Woody "hung the jury. "I asked him why, and he said the evidence was all circumstantial against the defendant and, judging from the habits of defendant, circumstances favored the theory that he did not commit the crime.
Springfield-Greene County Library