FORSYTH IN 1837 AND THE EARLY SETTLEMENT OF SWAN CREEK
By S. C. Turnbo

At the mouth of Swan Creek opposite Forsyth Taney County, Mo. is a towering bluff the summit of which commands a magnificent view. The fine town of Forsyth with its substantial business houses and neat dwellings; the beautiful waters of Swan Creek and White River, and a combination of other scenery form a picture that is not easily forgotten. At a low stage the waters of both streams flow gently along and glisten in the bright sunlight. From the top of this elevation the author enjoyed the pleasure of a view of the town of Forsyth and vicinity a short time ago. It was a lovely afternoon in the month of September and the sight was an interesting one. The beautiful scenery fairly thrilled me with delight as I contemplated its lovliness and let my mind wander back to the incidents of the years in the long ago. Looking across the river at the farm opposite town I thought of Hack Snapp the noted farmer and stock raiser who lived on this farm many years ago. Glancing my eyes to the top of the ridge along which the Kirbyville Road leads calls to mind McCajor Haworth and Doctor Maynard, the latter of which manufactured the cooks pills and Maynards tonic pills which sold at 25 cents and 75 cents per box respectively. These three men mentioned have passed beyond this life and their mouldering bones lie in graves widely separated. Turning my eyes toward Forsyth and looking over the town the names of several old time residents loomed up before me, but I can mention only a few of them here. Among the early merchants I remember seeing were Jesse Jennings and John P. Vance. Later on Jim Huddlestone, Tom Anderson, Jake Nave, George McDowell and Dick Moore engaged in merchandising in Forsyth. I well recollect Doctor Wilson the noted physician and surgeon and also Jake Grider the popular blacksmith. Wm. C. Berry was a noted county official of Taney County. He served eight years in succession as county clerk. Mr. Berry was known as Uncle Campbell and was a brother of the merchant James C. Berry who died at Yellville, Ark. Through honesty and courtesy Mr. Berry was held in great esteem by the people all over Taney County. At the breaking out of hostilities between the north and south Mr. Berry embraced the southern cause and served in the southern army where he rose to the position of major in the quarter masters department. After the close of the great conflict he made his home in Augusta, Ark., where he engaged in the mercantile trade and died there in 1875. Forsyth is an old town; its existence as a white settlement dates back to 1837. Dave McCord said that when he came with his parents to mouth of Swan Creek In the month of September 1837 there were no Indians living there then, they had deserted their village several years before. "A white man named David Shannon lived in a new log house in the bottom where Forsyth now stands. This man was a trader and sold goods to the few white settlers along White River and the roving bands of Indians. Shannon had about $100 worth of goods in his house when we came there and from appearances this settlement was recently made and the cane in a small space around the house had been cleared off. With the exception of this the entire bottom was covered with a dense growth of cane some of which was 20 feet high." Forsyth has been a prominent trading point since the year 1840. In the olden time the pioneers of Taney County visited Forsyth to buy supplies of coffee, sugar, salt and ‘Spun thread" and paid for it in gold silver furs and peltry. There were no trust companies or other devouring corporations then to be enriched by the laboring classes. Trusts, combines and monopolies were unknown then and the people did not feel themselves oppressed or bound down by the money power. As I sat on the top of this high eminence I noticed the substancial court house built of stone which I am told rests on the same spot where the brick court house formerly stood that was built several years before the Civil War began. I well recollect seeing the workman lay the foundation stones, this brick house when completed was said to have cost fifty five hundred dollars. Here on this same spot is where the old log court house once stood. Turning my eyes and looking up the beautiful valley of Swan Creek I was reminded of the old time settlers who once occupied the rich bottom lands on this stream. These old timers lie in neglected graves. As my thoughts went back to the first settlement of Swan Creek I wandered how many of us now living cherish the memory of those pioneer families. I am told that Bill Stacy camped a few days on Swan Creek just above its mouth in 1834 and he settled on the head of this stream In 1836. A year or two after this Lewis Clarkstone settled on this water course. Then John Pelham was another early settler and lived at the mouth of Lost Hollow. Joel Hall settled at the mouth of Elk Horn Branch and John Edwards who lived between Mr. Pelham and Hall, these old pioneers were followed by Amos Edward and two other men of the name of Brown and Anderson. By this time the few settlers along this pretty stream of water began to feel at home and wanted a house or worship and the settlers combined their work and built a small log house above Mr. Halls for a church house and decided to have a meeting, but no preacher resided in the neighborhood. But there was a minister named Leven T. Green who lived on Little North Fork and they sent for him to pay them a visit on a certain Sunday and Mr. Green responded to the call ahd arrived on the designated day in the garb of a hunter and carried his old flint lock rifle with him. A small audience had collected at the little church house and Green gave them a lively discourse. This was the first religious service held on Swan Creek. A year after this a protracted meeting was held at this same house the result of which eight persons were baptized in the clear and beautiful water of Swan Creek. Among them was a negro woman that belonged to old Jimmie Cook.

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