The Library

thelibrary.org Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Local History

An Ozark Sensation

An Ozark Sensation
Leader-Democrat, November 22, 1899

"The burning of the Ozark water mill last Saturday night and the finding of an infernal machine in Thompson’s livery stable in that town yesterday have caused a great sensation in Christian County. There was a suspicion that the fire was not an accident from the start. The mill was saved from the torch of an incendiary several years ago.

"On Monday the hands employed at Thompson’s stable discovered a strange little box in the barn. It was about a foot long and six inches wide. On the top was the single word, ‘spring.' The men eyed the box for a time and wondered how it came there. No one could tell anything about the mysterious device.  At last Bob Logan, a resolute fellow with a good deal of curiosity, decided to investigate the mystery. He began to pull at the lid of the box. The covering moved and the infernal machinery within exploded. There was a sheet of sandpaper above a row of matches. Around the matches were charges of dynamite, fulminating caps enough to blow up the whole barn and kill a dozen people. The machine had been exposed to the rain and the matches were wet. The friction of the sandpaper made a little cloud of smoke and Logan’s hair stood up at the sight of his peril. Had there been no rain Thompson’s stable would perhaps have been blown to atoms. Bob Logan will never again pry into a strange box. 

"No one can suggest a clue to the origin of the murderous machine. Thompson is a very popular man having been sheriff of Christian County. That he should have such a cowardly and infamous enemy seems almost incredible. It is believed that the box came to Ozark by mail. Every effort will be made to discover the author of the dastardly plot.

"The fire made by the burning mill Saturday night was seen for miles around Ozark. Two of Mr. Lawing’s horses were burned to death in a stable attached to the building. All the town turned out to help save the surrounding houses. The heat was so intense that the people could not cross the wagon bridge above the mill and they waded the creek to get to the fire."

In the same paper this article also appeared:
"The Ozark Republican thinks that the infernal machine lately found in Thompson’s stable was a genuine anarchist’s device, intended for some more important victim than the liveryman or any of his employees. The theory of the paper is that the contriver of the deadly box abandoned his murderous purpose and hid the little death device in the stable to get rid of it. That Thompson is a man with no bitter enemies contradicts the idea that the box could have been intended for him."


There are many articles that use the phrase "infernal device" that appear in this same era. The descriptions of the devices suggest that the phrase was used for any type of bomb.

Find this article at