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The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Local History

Walnut Grove Cannon

 Click to enlarge.Springfield Leader & Press, March 13, 1926, page 10

Walnut Grove will be given cannon

"The old brass cannon which has been neglected on the county court house lawn since July 1912 belongs to Walnut Grove and is to be restored to that town, members of the county court announced today.

"J.C. Swink of that city, member of the Walnut Grove Community Club and chairman of a committee appointed by the club to lay the claim of the town to the gun before the court appeared at the court house late yesterday and explained the claim of his town to the old gun, which is a relic of Civil War times.

"Swink brought with him a letter written by J.N. Smith who stated the gun was on Smith's property in Walnut Grove for several years and that it was taken to Springfield by order of the county court in 1912 without the permission of the citizens of the town. Smith stated that the gun was removed on instructions by County Judges W.R. Gorsuch and William McQuire. Judge Gorsuch stated yesterday he has no recollection of the matter.

"The statement of Smith was concurred by G. F. Hamstead, E. W. Osborne, John O. McLemore, L. E. McClure, W. H. Jones, J. A. Brim, V. L. Looney, D. O. Bloomer and I. J. Kelly, all prominent men of Walnut Grove.

"Swink yesterday gave a bit of history in connection with the old gun while it was in his town. He said that several years ago a little child strayed away from home and was lost for several hours. The entire neighborhood turned out to search for the child and there was much excitement, some fearing the youngster had been stolen and other fearing it had met its death in some way.

"The search spread out over some miles of territory and the old cannon was loaded with the understanding that if the child was found it was to be fired as notification to the searching parties. A heavy charge was put into the gun and the breech firmly anchored and the muzzle elevated and turned in a direction where there were no houses near.

"After several hours the child was found and I.J. Kelley fired the cannon. 'And it sure was heard by everybody in that part of the world,' Swink says.

"The community club plans to mount the old gun and to take care of it in the future.

"'We saw in the papers that the county court was intending to mount the gun on the court house lawn and as none of the three judges now in the court knew of Walnut Grove's claim we thought it best to get busy and ask for our property before it was too late,' Swink said.

"A truck will remove the cannon to Walnut Grove in a few days."

According to Walnut Grove teacher Robert Vestal, the cannon was displayed on a concrete form in front of the high school until recently. The photograph above was taken by Zava Six just before the cannon was taken down for refurbishment.

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