Volume 2, Number 2, Winter 1965
(Part I appeared in the Fall 1964 issue, and dealt with Stone County history up to 1852.)
The County Court in January 1852 ordered that the Courts hereafter to be held in Stone County, Missouri, shall be held at Jamestown. The name Jamestown was changed to Galena. How or why it was done remains in obscurity. The first mention of Galena is in a County Court record of February 1853. The order of January 1852 for all courts thereafter to be held in Jamestown evidently was the cause of wholesale resignations: John B. Williams as County Clerk, who was succeeded by Bowling Baker; John H. Stone as Treasurer, who was succeeded by Austin Melton; and Hugh Dennis as Sheriff, who was succeeded by William H. H. Overstreet. On account of the small amount of revenue, it is likely that the small emoulments for the service was no inducement for these officers to move to the county seat at Jamestown. Melton lived on James River about a mile south of Jamestown. He had immigrated to Polk County from Tennessee and thence to this county in 1840. All of his sons served on the Union side in the Civil War. James A Melton served as a Major under Grant at Vicksburg and afterwards commanded a force to hold Cassville, Missouri. James A and Joel O. held county offices here. The oldest son, Elisha J. (known as Uncle Horn), rode on horseback annually to carry the State Revenue from his father to the State Treasurer in Jefferson City. It was the only way to remit the same. Austin Melton served as County Treasurer for about ten years.
The Circuit Judge of the District, Charles S. Yancey, held his first term of court on June 7, 1851, at the house of John a Williams. The court received the report of the Board of Commissioners designating Jamestown as a permanent seat of Justice, and shows that the following grand jurors, with William Goff designated as Foreman, were duly empanelled: Austin Melton, Berriman Shoemaker, William Anderson, Calvin Cloud, William Owen, James J. Rhodes, Boling Baker, George W. King, John W. Moore, Elisha Henson, John Benham, Charles Byrd, Isah Dennis and Silas Carr.
The next term of Circuit Court was held the second Monday of December 1851 by Judge Yancey at the house of John A. Williams, and another was held on June 7, 1852, in the town of Jamestown with the same Judge Yancey holding the court. No more Circuit Court was held in the county until June 6, 1855, at Galena. An explanation of the failure to hold Circuit Court for three years is found in a very peculiar statute enacted by the
General Assembly on March 1, 1855, which reads as follows:
Whereas it appears that the county of Stone contains the limits required by the constitution, and that the County of Taney, from which it was cut off, is not reduced thereby below the ratio of representation, nor the constitutional limits; and whereas it has been represented to this legislature that the people of Stone County have suffered great inconvenience from the refusal of the judge of the Judicial circuit to hold court in said county of Stone, therefore, "Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, as follows:
"Sec. 1. That the act entitled "An act to organize the county of Stone", approved February 10, 1851, and the act entitled "An act supplementary to an act entitled an act to organize the county of Stone" approved February 10, 1851, which supplemental act was approved February 26, 1851, be and the same are hereby reenacted and declared in full force.
"Sec. 2. The judge of the Judicial circuit to which Stone County is attached is hereby required to hold his court in said county of Stone as is required by the supplemental act above referred to, and all acts of the county court and other officers of the county of Stone are hereby legalized and declared to have full legal and binding effect, and all elections held in said county of Stone for county offices are hereby legalized and binding in law.
"This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage. Approved March 1, 1855."13
That Act of 1855 did the job. The Circuit Court of the county was reactivated and Circuit Court was held by Judge Yancey June 6, 1855, and by him and his successors from that time thenceforth.
It will be observed that the Act undertook to reenact and declare in full force by a mere reference thereto two statutes enacted four years previously. The other peculiarity is the order of the Legislature to the Judge to hold Circuit Court in that county. Evidently some technical lawyer had raised the question as to whether or not the county had been legally created and whether the intervening acts and conduct of the county officers were valid, and therefore by this Act the Legislature undertook to declare valid and binding everything which the local county officers had done. Modern day lawyers would likely have held that the General Assembly legally could not do what it sought to accomplish.
The General Assembly thought great inconvenience resulted from the failure of the Circuit Court to convene regularly. The character of the people, as we know it from tradition, raises some question as to whether or not very much if any inconvenience really resulted. In those days there were no divorce laws whereby a divorce would be sought in
the local Circuit Court as readily exists in our day. The Legislature granted the divorces, which were few. Violations of the criminal laws, particularly by a citizen, were rare indeed, although passing strangers might be charged with crimes and need restraint and it might be an inconvenience to await the trial of a criminal charge of sufficient gravity as to be beyond the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace court.
The Act creating Stone County provided that it should be attached to Taney County for purposes of representation in the General Assembly. It was a common practice in Missouri to so attach new counties to another for representation purposes. Perhaps this Act of 1855 previously mentioned severed this relation to Taney County, but the records show no representative from Stone County in the General Assembly until Charles Byrd appeared and served in 1861 as the first known representative in that body from this county.
The County Court records show various orders respecting a Courthouse. In its May Term, 1852, the court ordered that the erection of the Courthouse be let to the lowest bidder, acknowledged that $376.00 was available and appointed Samuel O. Nelson as Superintendent of Construction. Afterwards in the next three or four years many orders were made for repairing the Courthouse. One was to underpin it with rocks; others for a partition upstairs in the Courthouse to cut off a Circuit Clerk's office; another to cut off a County Clerks office; another for new locks; another in 1859 for a window in the Courthouse with 12 Lites; and another to build a new chimney.
The Court (County) in November 1851 set apart one certain lot in the town plat of Jamestown for the erection of a jail. The location was later changed to another lot. In October 1858 the County Court set apart $400.00 from sales of town lots for the purpose of erecting a jail. In June 1859, the County Court ordered John O. Shannon, superintendent of jail erector, to advertise and let out the building of a jail. The county in 1860 had its first jail.
Naming this county in honor of William Stone was an honor well bestowed, and the designation of the house of John a Williams as the place of holding all courts until a permanent seat of justice shall be established, no doubt, was because the place was well known. William Stone, Maryland born, lived in Virginia and in Tennessee prior to his immigration to Missouri about 1833. He had served throughout the War of 1812, including the Battle of New Orleans, under General Jackson. After coming here, he held various positions of honor and distinction, including Judge of the County Court of Taney County. No doubt he was one of Jacksons marksmen at New Orleans, for he was a well known skilled marksman in this region thereafter. He lived on land adjoining the present site of Galena on the south and there died n 1849 or about two years prior to the creation of this county. 14
John B. Williams had immigrated from Kentucky In 1835 to a point about a mile up
Flat Creek from its confluence with James River. There he established a store, a grist mill, a cotton mill, and built one of the first powder mills west of the Mississippi River. This village of his was an important trade center for a radius of about 50 miles.15 He sought, but failed, to have this trade center named as the county seat. It really was not very centrally located, and the uninhabited land now the site of Galena was chosen. The county paid the Government $75 for this land.
Joseph Phillibert, like James Yocum. operated a trading post at the confluence of James and White Rivers. He served as a judge on the first county court.
Solomon Yocum and his son, George, immigrated from Ohio to lower White River. Afterwards they moved upstream to the confluence of Finley Creek and James River where they built a mill and farmed a large acreage. In very early days they floated flour downstream to towns on the Mississippi River to market it. These operations likely came to an end as the region was settled up to afford a closer market or at least with the death of George in 1848.16
The Reverend Thomas Henson, a primitive Baptist minister, immigrated from Tennessee in 1835, arriving with John B. Williams after their caravans had converged somewhere in Southeast Missouri. He preached over a large part of Southwest Missouri until his death in 1853. His locality never reached an economic status to justify the erection of a church in this region. His son, Zachariah Henson, age 21 at the time of the immigration with his father, married John B. Williams daughter Armelia, age 18, enroute here. 17 It was an exceedingly happy marriage. He held positions of honor and trust in the county including many years prior to and after the Civil War as a judge of the county court of this county. He established a home and built a mill on Flat Creek.
Many other immigrants settled on upper James River and its tributaries such as Crane Creek, Spring Creek, Goffs Creek and Wheeler Branch. By the time this county was created the population of this region exceeded the Flat Creek area. This may have influenced the more central location for the county seat.
Theophilos Bass lived on Wheeler Branch where he was an active figure in this area. He was elected as Representative of Taney County in 1848 to the 15th General Assembly. His untimely death at the age of 38 on March 11, 1849, or the day preceding the adjournment of the Assembly, may have deprived him of the honor of participating in the creation of this county. He was buried on the States Cemetery lot in Jefferson City where some fourteen other Representatives who died at other sessions are buried. The first news the widow had of his death was when two fellow members led his horse and brought his personal belongings to her door. She implied
the news at sight of their approach. In those days it would have been impossible to have handled the situation otherwise. His widow afterwards married Samuel D. Nelson who was an active agent of the county's many developments. One of the daughters of this marriage, Ophelia, was married to J. Frank Seaman, later to become cashier of the Stone County Bank with William B. Cox as its president. It was the first bank in this county. Another daughter, Octavia, was married to John A. McCullah, a son of John Wesley McCullah, who came here in 1849 and thereafter was an early day merchant a few miles north of the present site of Crane, Missouri.
John Wesley McCullah was instrumental in locating the road known as the old wire road which in this section came through Springfield, Delaware Town and Cassville. It was a sector of the Butterfield Stage route operating between the terminus of the Pacific railroad and the state of California for a short time prior to the Civil War. He operated a stage station at his store. He married Melcena Short, a sister of John Short. He brought his father, Alexander McCullah, to Missouri in 1850. The latter promptly built a chapel about a mile north of his sons store which was the first religious edifice erected in this Stone County territory.
John Short immigrated to this region in 1850 from Roane County, Tennessee, and settled on Spring Creek. He was a staunch Union man in the Civil War and once was taken by guerrillas ten miles away, was shot and left for dead. He revived and reached a neighbors who dressed hi s wounds and got him back home.
At another time another band, after killing Mr. Shorts brother-in-law, John Wesley McCullah, came to kill Mr. Short. He was away. They undertook to burn his home, and set fire to some bedding. His brave wife grabbed the bedding and dashed outside. It saved the house. The commander of the group said that a woman as brave as that deserved to keep her home, and the band retreated. Once after that two men came, found Mr. Short at home and, while they were trying to disarm him, his young son George brought his mother an ax. She killed one with the ax as the other fled.18 The unknown soldier is buried where he was killed which is near the present site of Hurley. John Short was the father of the late Jackson G. Short and the grandfather of Dewey Short, former Congressman from this district.
John D. Shannon was very ouch interested and was active in the development of the newly-created county. During the latter part of his life, he lived at the county seat and was what would be called a booster in present-day parlance. He supervised the erection of county buildings and was often the agent of the county in various enterprises. He located on White River in 1840 for a short time, after having served as the first Sheriff of Greene County in 1833 and 1834. In 1834 he was elected as the Representative of Greene County (its first one) in the 8th
General Assembly.19 In 1842 he was elected as the Representative of Taney County to the 12th General Assembly.20 His daughter Mildred married Theophilus Bass, previously mentioned, who died in the legislative service.
Silas Carr, William A. Carr and Frank Carr were pioneers. The latter laid off one of the early additions to Galena. His daughter Delia married W. O. Craig, a Galena merchant who served Stone County as a Representative and on the Commission which located the State Sanitorium at Mount Vernon.
"The most striking difference between these two immigrations, the Indians and the whites, is that the Indian had nothing to hope for; he well knew that ultimately he would be moved on further westward, while the whites had something to hope for--that is, permanent homes. While the whites were retarded by natural barriers and by their inability to acquire lands until after the slow surveying processes were completed, they persisted in their home- building, over came all obstacles, and finally reached their goal. Subsequent supplement al legislation was necessary before the county could come into full fruition and it was some years before it was financially able to obtain necessary county buildings. About that time the Civil War broke out and, as a result, immigrations and all developments were halted for five to eight years. But these colonizers, led by the lamp of hope and faith in God, survived the Civil Wars ravages, and then resumed work in a peaceful environment. Now, ninety years after that conflict, we have a progressive and rapidly developing county.
The duty to sketch the history during the last ninety years is a task for others. I have tried to cover the preceding sixty years from rapidly diminishing sources for its better preservation for posterity.
13. Laws of Missouri, 1855, pp. 15-16.
14. Reminiscent History of the Ozarks Goodspeed, p. 597.
15. Ozark Country, Rayburn, p. 22.
16. Reminiscent History of the Ozarks, Goodspeed, p. 383.
17. Reminiscent History of the Ozarks, Goodspeed, p. 389.
18. Reminiscent History of the Ozarks, Goodspeed, p. 426.
19. Missouri Manual, 1935-36, p. 191.
20. Ibid., p. 195.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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