HOW SOD LAND WAS BROKE IN THE PIONEER’S DAYS
By S. C. Turnbo

One of the veteran soldiers of the war between the states that was born and reared in Southwest Missouri is A. C. (Alph) Mullanax who served on the Union side. Mr. Mullanax is a son of Joseph and Mary (Davis) Mullanax and was born in Green County February 24 1845. His father lies buried in the cemetery at the Whittenburg School House on Asher Creek, a branch of Sac River. Mr. Mullanax says that his parents lived on this same creek 3 miles from Cave Springs where a man by the name of Staley kept a store in the pioneer days. "Our home was 14 miles northwest of Springfield. I remember two of the prominent citizens of our neighborhood who took part in the Civil War. These were Capt. Steve Julian and Capt. Isaac P. Julian. There were two more citizens in our settlement that I was well acquainted with whose names were Thomas Perryman and Frank Milligan. The latter died before the beginning of the Civil War. The first time I saw Springfield it was composed of log cabins and was quite a small place." In speaking of farm work in Green County, Mr. Mullanax had this to say, "When I was just large enough to drive a team of oxen I was kept busy part of my time at driving cattle hitched to a sod plow and I will tell you how we turned sod in Green County in the early days. It was common to use 5 and 6 span of cattle to a big sod plow. Once and a while we used 8 yoke of cattle to one plow which required two drivers and a third man to guide the plow. I recollect that during one season I and John Spradlin who married my sister Josephine Mullanax with the help of another hand we broke a great deal of sod land together. We used 8 yoke of stout cattle with a big heavy sod plow. We kept an ox fastened on the beam of the plow and if we struck a stump that we could not plow up we would stop and untie the ox and cut the stump out by the roots and thus get rid of it. We usually tore all the stumps out with the plow that was less than a foot in diameter. Sometimes if the hazle thickets were not too rough we would not take time to shrub it off but would plow through it and cover up all the brush except the tops and the longest limbs. In breaking sod in the spring season of the year we would drop corn in every third furrow and the next round would cover up the grains of corn. In this way we hardly ever failed to grow good crops of corn. In the following fall and winter after gathering the crop we would clean off the hazle bresh if any and plant the ground in corn again during the following spring, and sow, it in wheat the next fall. I well recollect one year that Spradlin and myself and another man sodded in 25 acres of corn in this manner."

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