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Local History

Pioneer Life of 1833, Part 2

 Written Over 50 Years ago by John H. Miller of the Greene County pioneer Miller family. From the Springfield Farm Club News January 5, 1933, pages 1 and 8.

The Personal Tax List

"A hundred years ago in Greene County there was no tax payers conservation league. The total collections were, for the state, $379.53 ½ personal taxes; for the county $169.76 ½ personal taxes. The sheriff often rode 50 miles on horseback to summon a man to court for which trip the sheriff received 50¢.

"The wealthiest man in the county, according to the personal tax list was Humphrey Warren who paid $13.74 in personal taxes. He listed 25 slaves, value $6950.00, four horses, $150; 20 cattle, $200; one mule, $30. Total personal valuation $7330.00. The personal levy was 50¢ per hundred dollars valuation for state purposes and 25¢ for county purposes. The county included all of south west Missouri, from the Gasconade River west to the state line and from the Osage River south to the state line.

“The heaviest personal taxpayers were as follows: Humphrey C. Warren, 14.74%; Wm. Fulbright, 7.59%; Peter Epperson, 6.98%; Andrew Taylor, 6.69%; Jno. P. Campbell 6.37 ½%; Radford Cannefax 5.69; Jno. Bartelson 5.43 ¾%; Alexander Younger 5.27 ¼%; Jos. Weaver 5.27 ¼%; Richard Tankersley 5.22 ¾%; Wm. Polk 4.66%; Matthew Edwards 4.53 ¾%; Stephen Fisher 4.04%; Wm. Montgomery 3.48 ¾%; Wm. Townsend 3.37 ½%. All of the above paid poll tax, 37 ½ ¢ except Warren, Cannefax and Polk, who were probably past the age limit for poll tax, 50 years.

A Hundred Years Ago

"A hundred years ago in Southwest Missouri, oxen were used for the heavy farm work. The day of the Missouri Mule was yet to come. In 1833, there were only eight mules in this part of the state. They were owned by William Fulbright, Humphrey Warren, Andrew Taylor, two by William Polk and three by the estate of William Marshall, deceased, which was being administered by Major Joseph Weaver. There was one man who had no given name. He is shown as – Nelson on personal tax assessment list of 1833 and 1834. That he was a white man is indicated by the fact that he was assessed poll tax. He owned a horse and a cow.

"In 1833, a hundred years ago, there were 31 watches in this part of Missouri. Ephriam Fulbright had the best watch in these parts and admitted to the tax assessor that his watch was worth $140. The 31 fortunate men who possessed pocket timepieces in 1833 were: Ephriam and William Fulbright, Ransom Cates, Radford Cannefax, John G. Campbell, James and Joshua Davidson, Stephen Fisher, Joseph Ferguson, Aaron Friend, John H. Glover, Alpheus Huff, Thomas Hodge, Sidney S. Ingram, Zacheus [H]arper, George Leonard, Judge Samuel Martin, Samuel McKee, Robert A. Neal, Spencer O’Neal, Joseph Price Sr., Joseph Philabert, Edwin Robberson, Edmund Regan, A. G. Reed, Junius Rountree, Jacob Sears, Richard Tankersley, James Winton, Elisha Wallis, E. W. Wallace.

"For many years, genealogists and historians have searched for the original personal tax assessment lists of Greene County. There were no directories published prior to 1873 and it was difficult to determine whether or not a family resided here in the early days. Through efforts of the local historical society, the lists for 1833 and 1834 have finally been located. The first list is in the flourishing script of John P. Campbell, founder of Springfield. It includes all of Southwestern Missouri from the Gasconade River west to the state line and from the Osage River south to the Arkansas line.

"There were 629 persons assessed on the 1833 list and 880 on the 1834 list. In 1833, 98 per cent were exempt form the customary 37 ½¢ poll tax due to being under 21, over 50 or crippled. The greater part of the personal tax valuation in 1833 was on slaves. There were 267 slaves in this part of the state. There were 1,271 horses, 2,078 cattle, 8 mules and 31 watches. In 1833 the county levied half the amount of the state tax and went into the red. The following year the judges raised the levy.

"John Williams was tax assessor of Greene County in 1834. The county included all of Southwestern Missouri at the time. Williams started out on horse back to assess property on March 24, 1834 and continued the work until July 1st. Deducting Sundays and other days lost from the work, he worked 75 days and was paid $1.50 per day. As in the previous year, Humphrey C. Warren was the heaviest tax payer on personal property.In 1834 there were 880 persons listed for personal tax, as against 629 the previous year.The county was being rapidly settled.

"The three county judges had the right to select officials such as assessor and treasurer.In March 1834 the judges appointed D. D. Berry county treasurer and John Williams assessor.Judge Jeremiah N. Sloan was appointed collector.Berry was allowed the munificent sum of $5.00 for his services as treasurer for nine months. In July, John W. Hancock, B.T. Nowlin and certain other citizens were relived from the payment of taxes. Times were hard with them as with the majority of the settlers and in addition certain misfortunes had befallen them rendering them proper objects of the county’s favor and assistance.

"In August, Benjamin U. Goodrich was elected sheriff. On the evening of his election he died from the effect of the bursting of a blood vessel. The citizens sent Buck Rountree, then a young man of 22, to the governor with a petition, asking that he appoint Chesley Cannefax sheriff, which was done."

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