Volume 36 , Number 4 , Spring 1997
Editor Herald: It has now been a long time since the 4th of March, 1830. Well, thats the first time the writer ever laid eyes on the ground where Springfield stands. The raccoons, rattle snakes, bull nettles and Delaware Indians owned the country. A small squad of us were intruders on their possessions. They were all peaceable and friendly except the snakes, and they were very hard to make friends with, but after so long a time were reasonably subdued. The Indians left in the fall of that year and then we had peaceable possession.
Over the branch (Jordan) north of the old natural well, was the first ground cleared and plowed. All around about there was thick timber of black and burr oak, walnut, white hickory, black and white ash, red bud, grape vines, black and red haws. And, oh! the beautiful shivery water in that natural well, and the Fulbright and other springs around there.
The first store house ever built there was just about where R. J. McElhaneys residence is, or where he did live some years ago, a little east of the large brick. School building--well if I was there I could show you. It was a small log house with a little back room on the north and the logs stuck out at the corners and were not sawed down. This was in 1831. This store was kept by James T. Campbell and James Friend. They had their goods hauled from Boonville, or old Franklin. Mr. Friend was a single man and an old Santa Fe trader. He went back to Howard [County] and died. Mr. Campbell was married in that year one and one-half miles southwest of town, to Mary Blackwell at the old Nowlin or Sh??? place. Seems to me his widow is living yet, a few miles northwest of the city.
John Robinson was the first blacksmith and James Carter the next. He died with cholera in 1832. Some have said that Carter was the first, but not so Robinson was. The tip end of his nose was ofT. Ask Uncle Buck Rountree about this, for he was the first man (or boy) that ever made a boot or shoe there.
The first school house that was ever built in that region or neighborhood was a few rods south of Dabney Dades residence, a mile west of town, but the first one in town stood on the north side of what they call College Street, just where the old wooden Christian Church now stands, or did stand a few years ago.
Yes, the first court house in Springfield or even in Southwest Missouri stood about three rods west of the northwest corner of the present court house - Was built of small black oak logs, about twenty feet square, the sides scalped, a loose plank floor, a rough oak stand or pulpit in the east end. I heard Albert G. Harrison and James H. Birch speak in that place. They were both candidates for Congress. That was before the State was distracted. Harrison was elected, this was in 1834 or 135. The first time I ever heard old Parson Joel Hayden preach was in that old court house, I think in 1836. In 1837 they began the foundation for a new brick court house in the center of the square. It aint there now!
Well, I guess you know where the first jail stood. If you dont and I was there I could show you the exact spot. It was a little bit east of Boonville or North street, just behind and east of Mrs. N. H. Smiths late residence. I know the first fellow that was ever put in it. We called it the jug." You know John T. Shanks who killed Jim Davis, bored out of it once. Just ask Oscar Smith about that.
I shall have more to say about this and other things hereafter.
Very Respectfully, M. H. J.
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