SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI, AND SURROUNDINGS 1889
(previous page) glades, the finest forests, the brightest streams, the richest valleys and mines, and the most hospitable homes of the continent; but they were in old Missouri, and that settled it. Did not the bank robbers and train wreckers live in Missouri, and were not all the rest of the people in fear of them? The newspapers and politicians had said so, and half the world believed them. And so, through long, hard, unkindly, cruel years, it grew unfashionable to settle in Missouri. A vast multitude, too, were sure it was unsafe and unwholesome to settle in Missouri that crime, intolerance and proscription were everywhere rampant and dominant; that disorder reigned supreme; that there were no free schools, no protection of life and property and personal rights, and that the whole State was hopelessly cursed and blighted. So reasoned the outside world for twenty long years, and by comparison, Missouri stood still while the newer States prospered. Meanwhile there must have been a big company of royal good people in Missouri, for in these twenty years they have built up the waste places made desolate by the ravages of war, restored their lost or ruined homes, replanted their fields and orchards, founded schools and colleges and new towns, built railways and opened mines, until it BEGINS TO DAWN upon the great and somewhat changeful American public, that old Missouri is a deal better than her reputation. That in truth she is one of the richest States in the Union. There is a highly respectable minority who are sanguine and friendly enough to believe that she is the richest State in the Union. How strangely it reads and sounds. Despised, maligned, and long neglected Missouri, “THE RICHEST STATE IN THE UNION.”
How grandly the light is breaking over the gray old mountains of prejudice! Only yesterday it was the proper thing to call her “Poor old Missouri.” To-day the rumor goes along a thousand lines of American and European life that Missouri has more of the means of perfectly INDEPENDENT STATEHOOD than any other State in the Union; more mules, lead, zinc, iron, bituminous coals, blue grass, and superb fruit land than any other State, and with her vast wealth of forest, field, mine, factory, navigable rivers, herds and orchards, could maintain a condition of independent statehood, possible to no other State in the Union. To-morrow it will have passed from mere rumor to popular conviction, that in point of natural wealth Missouri is the foremost State in the American Union, and henceforth to the great ever-changing progressive world, it will seem meet and proper to call her GRAND OLD MISSOURI.
The repeated failure of crops in Kansas, the withering blizzards of Nebraska and Dakota, the rapid development of forest, mineral and farm wealth in Missouri, and the marvelous growth of Kansas City, Springfield and other Missouri towns, together with the steady growth of the railway system of the State, have each and all done much to dissipate prejudice and attract attention to the manifold and magnificent resources of the State, which, for the next ten years, promises a more rapid increase in population and wealth than any other State in the Union. The reasons for this prediction are as valid as they are numerous. The power of prejudice against the country and people is pretty well broken; and in response to a very general and rapidly growing spirit of honest inquiry, as to the material resources and possibilities of the State, comes abundant proof that it has a more equable climate, more really good cheap land, more undeveloped forest, mineral and grazing wealth, a more versatile agriculture, greater possibilities in fruit growing, and by virtue of her location in the geographical centre of the Union, upon the two great navigable rivers, and surrounded by a cordon of such towns as Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Omaha, better general market facilities than any other State in the Union. The same spirit of inquiry into its moral, social and political conditions, is met with equally gratifying response. Politics are becoming so fairly divided, as between the two great parties, that only good men are available for office. No State has a more rational, intelligent or refined social order, none a more law-abiding and thoroughly loyal population, and but few a better common school system than Missouri. As a field for safe and profitable investment in farming lands, mining lands or city properties, no region between Boston harbor and the Golden Gate offers so promising a field as Missouri. It has been little advertised and never boomed, and under the cloud of almost universal prejudice, has been to the great mass of Eastern and Northern people almost as veritable A TERRA INCOGNITA as the shores of the Polar Ocean. Under such conditions it is not at all remarkable that lands are relatively cheaper than anywhere else in the country, and that the whole State teems with such opportunity for investment, either in town or country property, as may be found nowhere else on the American continent. Especially is this true of that grand division of the State known as SOUTHWESTERN MISSOURI, some twenty-five counties, with a total area of about 15,000 square miles, bounded on the north by the Osage River, on the west by Kansas and the Indian Territory, on the south by Arkansas, and on the east by Oregon, Shannon, Dent and Crawford counties.
This region, of which the city of Springfield is the geographical and commercial centre, has attracted more immigration and capital within the last year than any other portion of the Union, with the exception of Washington Territory; and considered in connection with the dozen northwestern counties of Arkansas, about 5,000 square miles of the north-east corner of the Indian Territory, and the neighboring counties in Southeastern Kansas, the (next page)
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