Volume 1, Number 5 - Fall 1962
Come, if you will, and take an imaginary journey with me to McCullah Chapel as it used to be, back in the early 1850's, and on until, like many another pioneer settlement, it faded from the scene.
There we will be presented with these facts: first, it was named for its founder and first citizen, Alexander McCullah. He, with his family, came from Roane County, Tennessee, near Kingston, to northern Stone County (then a part of Taney County) in 1849 and settled near a plentiful water supply, a big spring that gushed out of the hillside.
He built his home, the usual two log houses with a dog trot between, on the hillside near the spring. There was a long porch across the front, a smoke house out back, and at the east end of the house he built on an extra room for the Negro woman servant who came with them from Tennessee.
Soon other settlers came and they, too, bought railroad land for their own homesteads. Children were born, and as families grew, there was need of a worship center, and a school. Alexander McCullah, a deeply religious man, set aside a piece of his land for camp meetings, and later established a church on that ground. It was the first church to be built in the new County of Stone. In this church, McCullah Chapel, which gave its name to the settlement, Alexander and his family sang and prayed. He never lacked enthusiasm for any task whereby he might glorify God.
After the church came the school, also the first to be built in Stone County. A general store was established, then a black smith shop. The Butterfield Stage line ran almost in front of the house, and the McCullah home became a regular stop on the stage line. Travelers were furnished food and drink, thus adding to the McCullah family income.
Times continued to be good. Then rumor had it the stage line would be discontinued, and hardly had the Word been spread until it came to pass. Soon troops began using the old road, only it was going by a new name, the Wire Road.
Over in Greene County (now Christian County), at a spring near the present site of Clever called Dug Spring, on a hot after noon in August, 1861, regulars from General Lyon's troops fought with General Rains' Missourians. It wasn't much of a battle, so far as battles go, but it was sort of a prelude to the bloody battle at Wilson's Creek on August 10, 1861.
That same afternoon another skirmish took place at McCullah Chapel, and by that time there was little doubt that the war had suddenly come close to home.
McCullah Chapel continued to be an important link in early day history for some years after the war. But when the old log house, where weary travelers found rest and food, went up in flames, something of the spirit of the settlement went with it. One by one the buildings disappeared.
All that remains of the once thriving regular stop on the Butterfield Trail, known as McCullah Chapel, is the spring, and of recent years, it has not been flowing to the extent it once did. For a century or more, larkspur bloomed where the garden used to be and morning glories from the original start turned bright faces to the sun.
Now and then a plowman turns up old nails or bits of hardware, left from the old store. But mostly only memories remain, and they are handed down by word of mouth from those who once knew Alexander McCullah, founder of McCullah Chapel.
Copyright © White River Valley Historical Quarterly