George S. Escott

History and Directory of Springfield and North Springfield


Other Settlements In Southwest Missouri, Before The Organization Of Greene County-Kickapoo And Other Small Indian Tribes.

The probable removal of the Indians from Southwest Missouri, about the year 1830, seemed to be the signal for quite a large influx of pioneers. Although Missouri had been admitted into the Union, ten years before, and the eastern and northern portions had been rapidly filling up with immigrants, there were very few white people southwest of the center of the State, and all of this vast amount of territory, now comprising forty or fifty counties, was still attached to Wayne county.

On the organization of Crawford County in 1829, this territory was transferred to its jurisdiction, under which it remained until the organization of Greene.

There were no regular roads, and the usual way of reaching this part of the country was either by way of the rivers, as we have already described in the former chapter, or by following the Indian trails across from Green's Ferry, on the Mississippi. For a description of this route we cannot do better than to quote the description published not long since in the Springfield Leader, and written by John H, Miller, of Ritchey, from whose writings we expect to draw pretty freely for this chapter:

"In the fall of 1829, Madison and J. P. Campbell left Maury County. Tennessee, on horseback, traveling toward the setting sun, in search of homes for themselves and their families. Crossing the Mississippi river, thence west through the then Territory of Arkansas, on to the present site of Fayetteville, then almost an entire wilderness; thence making a circle back in a northeasterly direction into Southwest Missouri, striking the old Delaware town, the first and only place of note on the James fork, eight miles southwest of where Springfield now stands. From there they went on to Kickapoo prairie and then north into the timber, discovering the Fulbright Spring and the natural well. Near the latter they cut their names on some trees to mark their claims to the land in that vicinity."


Mr. M. next goes on to mention several families who were living on the James, the names of whom we have already given in the preceding chapter, and says that Messrs. Gilliss and Fillabert had a little log store on a knoll near the Delaware town, where they kept a few pieces of blue calico, &c., for sale to the Indians. After mentioning their return to Tennessee, he says:

"In February, 1830, J. P. Campbell and his brother-in-law, Joseph Miller, fixed up with their small families, and set out for Kickapoo prairie. Mr. C.'s family consisted of himself, wife and one child, Tabitha, then not a year old, who was afterward the mother of Lula, wife of Frank Sheppard. Mr. Miller's family consisted of himself and wife and two children. Rufus was one year old, and John, who is now a citizen of Ritchey, was twelve. They also had Six darkies, one five horse team and one Derbin wagon which was driven by John. (Madison C. did not move until 1832).

They journeyed via Nashville and Hopkinsville, crossing the Ohio at Golconda, thence over the south end of Illinois to Green's old ferry on the Mississippi. It being in February, they encountered great difficulties in crossing on the quantities of floating ice, but after making several trips across the river in an old, rickety piece of a flat, the wind being high and cold, they succeeded in landing safe on the Missouri side; thence they were obliged to almost cut their own road, but onward they went toward the West, by old Jackson in Cape Girardeau county, stopping one day to rest at old Col. Abram Byro's, five miles west of Jackson. Thence they proceeded on to Farmington, in St. Francois county, and by Caledonia, in Washington county, which was the last town, and it only contained one little store and two or three dozen inhabitants. Then on west, with scarcely any road, to the present site of Steeleville, in Crawford County, and on twelve miles further to Massey's iron works, which had not been in operation but a very short time, and so on to where Rolla now stands. Twelve miles farther on, they came to old Jimmey Harrison's , at the mouth of Little Piney, on the Gasconade, about four hundred yards south of the present Gasconade bridge. Mr. Harrison kept a little store for the accommodation of the few settlers up and down the Piney and the Gasconade ; that was also the courthouse for the whole of Southwest Missouri. and so it was the only post office until 1832. Thence west twenty miles brought them across the Pig Piney on to Roubideaux, now Waynesville, in Pulaski County. Continuing their journey, they went up the Gasconade river to the mouth of the Osage fork, where they found a few white settlers --some of the Starks, Ballous, Tygarts, O'Neals, and one old `Jim Campbell,' who was sheriff of all of Southwest Missouri. This was in the neighborhood of the present Oldland Post office. From there they came on to Cave Spring, where they crossed the Osage fork, leaving it at the old Barnett place, from which they came to Pleasant prairie, now Marshfield, and striking James fork 20 miles east, thence down to Jerry Peirson's, where he had built a little water mill at a spring just below the Danforth place ; then on west they struck the Kickapoo prairie one mile east of the present Joe Merritt place ; thence five miles more brought them to the natural well a short distance north of the present public square of Springfield. Here they first camped on the night of the 4th of March, 1830.


In the meantime, Uncle Billy Fulbright had got about three weeks ahead of them, and stopped at the Fulbright Spring. His brother, John Fulbright, had settled at the spring where Capt. Geo. M. Jones now lives, and had a cabin up ;and his brother-in-law, A. J. Burnett, had succeeded in putting up a small oak-pole cabin l2x15, just on the spot of the old `Squire Burden residence. a little west of Mr. McElhany's. Mr. Campbell having had rather the oldest claim, by his name being cut en an ash tree at the well, Mr. Burnett gave way and went and commenced an improvement five miles east, at the Merritt place. Both Miller's and Campbell's families then moved into the pole cabin, the negroes having a good cloth tent to live in. This cabin had a splendid dirt floor.

"Then all pitched into cutting and clearing, and soon succeeded in opening a few acres on the north side of the branch (Jordan) and just north of the natural well. They also cleared a field on the top of the hill, where the city now stands, and just about where the old Bigbee house stands they had a pair of draw-bars going into the field, the north string of the fence being about in the middle of the public square running west and including the ground where the Metropolitan hotel now stands." The remains of the old Kickapoo Indian village still stood in the southwest portion of the present limit of Springfield. It was built of bark and small hickory poles bent over. The Kickapoos had moved northwest in 1828, but of their previous or later history but little seems to be known, as they were but a small tribe, and are not mentioned in any books within our knowledge. It is probable that they came here from Illinois, as there is still a postoffice in that State which bears their name.


We find a remnant of them mentioned by Mrs. Rush Owen, in a communication to the Leader, and also published in the Historical Atlas of Greene County. Her description of the present site of Springfield is so graphic, and her style so interesting, that it will bear reading again ; so we venture to reproduce it. It reads as follows:

"In 1827 my father, John P, Campbell, and my uncle, E. M. Campbell, took refuge from an autumnal storm in old Delaware town on the James, not far from Wilson creek battle-ground. The braves had just brought in a remnant of Kickapoos which they had rescued from the Osages. Among the Kickapoos was a brave boy, ill with a kind of bilious fever recently taken, Just before leaving home my father had been reading a botanic treatise and became a convert. In his saddle-bags he carried lobelia, composition and No. 6. He gave them to understand that he was a 'medicine man,' and, against Uncle Mat's protest, who feared the consequences if the Indian died, he undertook the case. Not understanding the condition of his patient, or, perhaps, the proper quantity of the emetic to administer, he threw the Kickapoo into an alarm, or in other words a frightful cold sweat and deathly sickness. Then there was work for dear life. Uncle Mat, the older and more cautious of the two, pulled off his coat and plunged in to help my father get up a reaction, which they did. leaving the poor patient prostrate, and 'weak as a rag.' My father always laughed and said: 'But feel so good, good-all gone,' laying his hand weakly on his stomach. They remained some time with the Indians, hunting and looking at the country. They finally made up their minds to return to Maury County, Tennessee, and bring their families. Piloted by the Kickapoo, they went some distance up the James, and made arrangements with an old trapper to get oat their house logs ready to be put up immediately upon their return, They had selected lands where Springfield now stands. They found four springs whose branches uniting formed Wilson creek, About the center of the area between these springs was a natural well of wonderful depth, now known to be a subterranean lake, hard by which my father `squatted,' after a toilsome journey through the wilderness, the Mississippi river being frozen over so hard that they crossed on the ice in January, 1828. Several families accompanied him, among whom was glorious Uncle Joe Miller. Who ever saw him angry? Who ever caught him looking on the dark side? The moment he was seated every child clambered and buzzed over him like bees over a honey comb, and we had implicit faith in his 'honey pond' and `fritter tree,' and have to this day. The Kickapoo came over immediately and became an almost indispensable adjunct to the family, Seeing that my father was very tender with my mother, he looked upon her as a superior being, something to be guarded and watched that no harm came near. He was out on a hunt when my sister was born, the first white child in Kickapoo prairie. When he came in, my father, who had thrown himself on the bed by my mother, said:."Oh, ho! look here!" He approached, looked at the little creature with quaint seriousness, and said, `What call?" My mother, to please him, said 'Kickapoo;' and my father, who was cheerful and bright, had just taken baby's tiny hand and exclaimed, 'My Beautiful;' so that the child was ever to the Indian 'Kickapoo, My Beautiful,' and exceedingly beautiful she proved to be, The old people discourse upon her loveliness to this day, and refuse to believe that there was ever another to compare with her. The Kickapoo's greatest pleasure was guarding the rustic. cradle, and drawing the delicately-tapered hand through his own.


Springfield soon became a habitation with a name. Cabins of round poles were hastily put up, and filled with immigrants. My father vacated and built thirteen times in one year to accommodate new comers. Log huts filled with merchandise, groceries, and above all that curse of America-whisky-soon did a thriving trade with the Indians and immigrants. On a cool autumn afternoon my mother, who was remarkably tall, with black hair and fine eyes, went to one of the primitive stores to buy a shawl, and could find nothing but a bright red with gay embroidered corners. She threw it over her shoulders, and crossed over to see a sick neighbor. Returning at dusk, she was forced to pass round it crowd of Indians who had been trading and drinking. A powerful, bare-armed Osage, attracted no doubt by the gay shawl, threw up his arms, bounded toward her, shouting, `My squaw.' She flew toward home. Just as she reached the door her foot twisted and she fainted. A strong arm with a heavy stick came down on the bare head of the dusky savage, and he measured his length on the ground. The Kickapoo, for it was he that came so opportunely to my mother's rescue, carried her in, closing the door, for by this time everybody had rushed to see what was the matter, the Osages calling for the Kickapoo who had dealt the blow upon their companion. He passed on to the kitchen, making a sign to Rachel to go in, took "Kickapoo, My Beautiful", from Elizabeth, pressed her tenderly to his heart, looked at her wistfully, returned her to the nurse, and was gone. The blow dealt really killed the Osage. Nothing but Rachel opening the door wringing her hands, with tears running down her's and Elizabeth's cheeks, with "Kickapoo, My Beautiful", screaming, the finding of my mother in a death-like swoon, and no trace of the Kickapoo, saved the village from serious trouble. Days, weeks, months and years passed, and all my father's efforts to find out the fate of his red friend were futile, and he concluded he had been assassinated by the Osages, though assured by them, "They so find him'".

It seemed to be a peculiar trait in the character of these Delawares that they were ever ready to assist and protect the smaller and weaker tribes. Besides the above reference to the Kickapoo, whom they had rescued from the hands of the more cruel and barbarous Osages, we are informed that they had under their protection, while here, small remnants of several other tribes, among whom were Potawatamies, Piankeshaws and Muncies. About the time that Messrs. Miller and Campbell settled in Springfield, there were settlements being made in various parts of what was soon to become Greene County, the county seat of which should finally become a flourishing city. As we have before mentioned, the Fulbright family had settled in the west part of what now constitutes the city, or perhaps just outside of the present city limits; the spring which bears their name, and furnishes and abundant supply of 'Adam's ale,' being, but a short distance from the fountain of that more recently invented beverage, lager beer. Wm. Fulbright had passed through what is now Greene County in 1819, but went back East, and settled in what afterwards became Crawford County. In 1829, just after the return of Mr. Campbell from his first trip, as we have before stated, Mr. Fulbright, with his brothers Levi and John, and his brother-in-law, A. J. Burnett, removed to this place and pitched their tents in the wilderness. They brought with them their families, and a number of negroes, among whom was Aunt Hannah, so well known to all citizens of Springfield claiming to be over a hundred years old, and to have assisted in the construction of that first little pole cabin. In 1832 a mill was erected by Wm. Fulbright on the site now occupied by the one owned by Lawson Fulbright, near the head of Little Sac. Many of the descendants of this family are still living in the vicinity of Springfield, and from the pen of Mr. Miller, in a communication to the Leader, we quote the following honorable tribute to some of the departed members:

"In making further drafts upon the tablet of memory, fond recollections are awakened of more, and not to be forgotten, men and women who once lived in and about Springfield, but are long since gone. I call to mind the Fulbright family and others; William Fulbright and his amiable wife (Aunt Ruthy) and their interesting young family of sons (they had but one daughter). When I first knew them in 1830, they lived at the spring, opened a large farm on the high ground south of the spring, and were the very first to break the soil in the way of plowing, in the neighborhood. Uncle Billy's late and last residence was at the site of the old fort or earth work, where he died in 1843, after spending a very energetic and useful life. He was very punctual, honest and strict in all his dealings. He taught all of his nine sons true habits of industry; to get money, but to get it honestly, or not at all. Some of their sons are still living in Boone county, Ark., one in Greene, and one in Lawrence County. Their third son, Henry, held several responsible offices in the county, and was for one term Receiver of the U. S. Land Office, and while adversity has overtaken some in the decline of life, they still struggle on, not forgetting their early training. It was my good fortune to be personally acquainted with Old Grandmother Fulbright, mother of Uncle Billy and great-grandmother of the present John Y. she was of Dutch or German origin from North Carolina, and had in her possession a very old Dutch Bible, the first I ever saw. She died, I think, in 1832, at a very advanced age. Aunt Ruthy, who died a few years ago, is well remembered, no doubt, by many for her kind, generous and amiable disposition. Though passed away, may they long be remembered."


Andrew Bass, the father of Sampson Bass, of Jackson township, left Tennessee in the fall of 1829 for Missouri, arriving in Greene county toward the close of the year. His first location was half a mile west of where Strafford now stands, but on the departure of the Indians, the following year, he removed to the place now owned and occupied by his son, in Jackson Township. Alpheus Huff, whose sons still live in that township, came from Franklin county, Missouri, in 1830, settled within a mile of Mr. Bass, and Alexander Chadwick came from Tennessee in the fall of 1831, after which there were no other arrivals in that part of the county for several years.

On the south side to the James, where John Caldwell now lives, Edward Thompson, from Tennessee, settled in 1830. Mrs. Page and her family, who were of French descent, came also about the same time, and remained for several years on what is known as the Galbreath place, in the same neighborhood. In the same year, Thos. Finney and wife and Samuel Weaver came, and lived for about a year, just below the present Boonville street bridge, where G. N. Shelton afterward had a tan-yard. Mr. Weaver was a son-in-law of Wm. Fulbright, but his wife had recently died, leaving an infant son named Marion, who is now a merchant in Lawrence County.


Joseph Miller settled at the spring, a short distance southwest of the city, where Mr. Beiderlinden has since lived, after which he sold out to Maj. Joseph Weaver, and removed to Sac river, thirty miles northwest of this city. Mr. Weaver came in March, 1830, from Marshall county, Tennessee, and first settled at the Delaware town, where he purchased and improved the farm now known as the Porter place, upon which he lived until his removal to the above named point. On this farm he remained three or four years before removing to the place known as the Weaver grove, two-and-a half miles west of town. After one or two other removals, he died in September, 1852, on the farm three miles northwest of the city.

Of his family of thirteen children, eleven were by his first wife, to whom he was married in Georgia. His second wife, and the mother of his two younger daughters, was the widow of Dr. Wm. Shackelford, who will hereafter be mentioned. Of the first family eight are still living, and one of the second. Of these J. J, and E. L. Weaver, and the wives of J. L. Carson and J. M. Griffith, all living in this city, are well and favorably known to most of our readers ; also another son, Thomas J. Weaver, who lives at the Weaver Grove. One brother, R. B., and two sisters, are living in Boone county, Arkansas, Mr. Weaver being at the present time the Representative of that county in the State Legislature. Joseph J. Weaver has taken a prominent part in the affairs of this city, having served two or three terms as Councilman from the Third Ward, and one year as Mayor.

In 1831, Daniel B. Miller, a brother of Joseph, settled at what is still known as the Miller spring. in the northwest part of the city. and which furnishes power in the form of steam for the Springfield woolen mills. Here he made a field, which was afterward used as the Federal burying ground. He also cleared a small field in the 'bottom," where the depot of the S. & .W.M. R. R. now stands. Mr. Miller remained in Springfield until his death, which occurred in January, 1839.

Samuel Lasley, who came with Mr. Miller, settled on Little Sac, where the Bolivar road now crosses ;and we are informed that Spencer O'Neil, mentioned in the former chapter, who had been absent during the general abandonment of homes, also referred to in that chapter, returned about this time and settled in the southwest part of the county, near where his son Charles, now resides.


Next came Joseph Rountree and family, from Maury County, Tennessee, reaching here in January, 1831. They had started in November, 1830, and after crossing the Mississippi were Snow-bound at Massey's Iron Works on the Merrimac. Here they fell in with Joseph Fillabert, the French trader mentioned in the former chapter, who was coming through with some Canadians and about thirty ponies. Mr. F. kindly piloted them through, and became a firm friend of the family. Mr. Rountree settled on the farm now owned by his son, Z. M. Rountree, two-and-a-half miles southwest of the Public Square. In honor of the old gentleman we insert the following from the pen of Col. Wm. E. Gilmore, as published in the Patriot of Feb. 14, 1867.

"Father Joseph Rountree, the patriarch of an exceedingly numerous and highly respectable family in this county, was born April 14th, 1782, in North Carolina, the State which, next to Tennessee. gave the most pioneers to Southwest Missouri, Mr. Rountree in 1806 married Nancy Nichols and remained upon the homestead farm in Carolina until the fall of 1819, when, having heard that in the far West there actually was land that would produce more than two barrels of corn to the acre, he started out to find it in the then remote Territory of Missouri.

"Having two brothers living in Maury county, Tennessee, whom he visited on his way to the West, he was induced by them to give up his intention of going to Missouri, and settle there. He accordingly bought a farm there and remained upon it eleven years. But he could not forget the glowing accounts he had heard of Missouri, and in the fall of 1830 he again "pulled up stakes" and came on to this place, as we have before stated.

"Father R., not long after coming here, was elected Justice of the Peace, which position he filled for several years, and in 1856 was chosen one of the Judges of the County Court. This office he filled acceptably until the war threw everything into confusion. In 1865,, the venerable old man was assaulted most wantonly by a brutal soldier, and after a struggle he was shot through the shoulder with a revolver bullet, after which the soldier made two or three unsuccessful attempts to shoot him through the head, but the weapon missed fire, and assistance coming at that moment, the brute was prevented from completing his murderous intentions, The soldier was promptly arrested, tried. and convicted by a court martial, and sentenced to ten years confinement in the penitentiary. Mr. Rountree suffered acutely for a long time from this wound., but finally recovered and lived several years. When he came to this State he brought with him a family of seven sons and two daughters, who have filled honorable places in society.


In company with Mr. Rountree on his journey from Tennessee was Sidney S. Ingram. who settled where Mr. John Demuth now resides on East Walnut street, just north of which he erected a cabinet and wagon shop. Mr. Ingram remained in the city a number of years, and afterward removed to a farm about one-and a-half miles southwest of town, after which he removed to the place On the James, where, in company with F. C. Howard, he erected a saw and grist mill, There he remained until his death, which occurred about the year 1847. Mr. Ingram will hereafter be mentioned in an official capacity. Of his family but few remain among us, Sidney P. living one-and-a-half miles south of town, and Benoni L., who lives in Texas, being his only children now living.

Somewhere about this time Randolph Britt came from near Bowling Green, Kentucky, and settled five miles southeast of town. on the farm now owned by Dr. Blake. and we are informed that Edmund Vaughn. living ten miles east of town, is probably the oldest permanent citizen of the county now living, he halving come while the Delawares were still here. He is said to be a well-read man, but not very communicative. Mr. Bufford also settled at an early day, some thirteen miles east of town.

Kindred Rose, who is still living on a farm a short distance southwest of Springfield, settled upon the same in .1831. We learn that he had been living about one year before this at Richwood, near Ozark.

Also in the same year Junius Campbell, then eighteen years old, came and put up a little log store, within a few feet of where the public school building now stands, and had a few goods hauled from Boonville. His partner was James Feland, an old Santa Fe trader. Mr. Campbell traveled all the way from Tennessee alone, on horseback, and Mr. Miller says that in a lonely region he halted at a small wayside cabin and asked permission to stay all night. The lady replied that she had no meal. "Well," said he, ."just make me a little mush." However this may be, citizens of Springfield have reason to be thankful that he reached the little hamlet in safety and entered into business, where he remained until his death in 1878, one of the staunch business men of the growing city. But as Mr. Campbell's name will occur again in future chapters, we leave him for the present and pass on to notice other arrivals.


Andrew Taylor, from West Tennessee, settled in 1831, one and a half miles southeast, on the prairie just east of the Phelps place, D. D. Berry, his brother-in-law, just south of him, where he put up a little log store, bringing his goods from Tennessee. Mr. Taylor soon moved back to Tennessee, and after a village began to be shaped here, Mr. Berry removed his store to town.

In the fall of 1831, Peter' Epperson and family came from Tennessee and settled on a place adjoining Mr. Rountree's, having sent an overseer with about twenty slaves, in the spring, to erect a house, open up a farm, and make necessary preparations to receive them.

Radford Cannefax and his family, including two grown sons, Benjamin and Chesley and a daughter, who afterwards became wife of S. S.. Ingram, arrived in 1831, and settled four miles southwest of the city, on the farm afterward owned by Chesley. They were originally from Campbell county, Virginia, where, in 1809, the elder Cannefax was compelled, in self-defense, to kill a man by the name of Pitts. Cannefax surrendered himself to the authorities, was tried and acquitted, He soon after removed to Kentucky, where he remained until his removal to this place, as before stated.

In the same year, Finis Shannon, brother-in-law of Joseph Miller, settled just below the Uncle Joe Rountree place, on Wilson creek , where he soon died and was buried. He was the first person ever buried in the neighborhood, the plank for his coffin being sawed from a green walnut log by Joseph Miller and a negro man, with a whip-saw, and the coffin was made by Junius Rountree and Sidney Ingram.


In the latter part of 1831, Samuel Painter came here from Montgomery County, Illinois, where he had lived about five years. He was formerly from Lincoln county, Tennessee, to which place he removed in 1813, when his son Jacob, who still lives in Springfield, was but two years old, Mr. Painter and his family, consisting of his wife and three sons-John, Jacob and Elisha-remained a few months in Springfield, after which they removed to the beautiful prairie in the north part of the county, where they remained about One year. on the place now owned by William H. Payne, near Ebenezer. Mr. Painter sold out to Thomas Wilson, and then removed to what was called the "Mill Bottom," on the James, the place first settled by Mr. Ingle, and afterward by a man named Seigler. Jacob. at the same time, removed to the place known as the "Brashear's Cave" farm, four miles southeast of Springfield.

About the time of the laying out of the town they both returned to Springfield. where the old gentleman remained until his death which occurred in 1836. Two of his sons, John and Ehas, are also dead. Jacob still lives in the Third ward. and is, without doubt, the oldest white settler in the city. In 1845, he purchased, for ten dollars, the ground on Olive street. where his present house and shop stand, and where he has ever since resided. Col. S. H. Boyd thus refers to him, in his Historical Essay, delivered at the meeting of Pioneers, July 4th, 1876:

"He was a professional gunsmith, and has turned out thousands of fire-arms, and he gained quite a celebrity for his pistol pattern. known as `Jake's best.' Californians, in 1849, 50, and 51, bought them in preference-to any other. Jake married the daughter of William Freeman, a soldier of the Revolution, who died in 1836, and was buried on the Gardner farm, two miles east from Springfield. Jake remembers well the house of John P. Campbell the only one where now is our city, in l83l. William Fulbright, Benjamin Cannefax, Joseph Rountree and Joseph Miller were the nearest residents to where now is Springfield. Jake, in those far-gone days, was accustomed to church-going, to hear the Rev. Thomas Potter, an uncle of Col. Thomas Potter, a leading man and politician of Greene County. The county was full of game, and the water courses filled with fish. Jake was champion then, but he always played fair and practiced no deceit, even upon the finest game and fish. Jake never told a falsehood, and be says honey was used as a lubricator for wagons, it being so plenty then. He has continually resided here since 1831, except for a few days, when he went into the country to his brother's. Some claim that is not now the oldest settler that he lost that right when he left as he left in a hurry. The story is that Henry Fulbright, son of William Fulbright, came from St. Louis, and brought the cholera with him, in 1835; and that when Jake left, he left for good. To a Tennesseean, that pest was more terrible and frightful than a thousand painted Indian warriors. Samuel Campbell, brother to John P. Campbell, a Mr. Foren, and some colored people of the Fulbrights, died of it. But it subsided, and Jake returned. Knowing the demoralizing effect cholera, has upon a Tennesseean, the court decided that Jake's domicile was not abandoned, and that he is entitled to carry the knife. Jacob Painter has filled well his part; always the quiet, fearless advocate of right, he never had an enemy. political or personal. Such is the oldest living settler of Springfield."


Some time in 1831, James K. Alsop, Samuel Scroggins and Daniel Johnson, settled on the Little Sac, and were followed, in 1832, by John Headlee and two brothers-in-law, Benjamin Johnson, and James Dryden. As an exception to the general rule, we notice that Mr. Headlee does not trace his history back to Tennessee, but to New Jersey.

In the same year came Thomas P. Whitlock. the father of W. P. Whitlock, of this city. He arrived in June, from Hardeman county, Tennessee. and settled in what is now Franklin township, in the north part of the county, near where he still lives. He brought with him a wife and one son. He has had in all, a family of eight children, all but one of whom are still living. We also learn the names of Zachariah Simms, Benjamin Johnson, Henry Morrison, David and John Roper, Drury Upshaw, and Larkin Dewitt, all of whom settled about the same time in that part of county. After 1832, we are informed, the settlers began to pour into that part of the county quite rapidly, and so we shall not attempt to mention all of their names; but, passing over a space of three years, we mention one of the pioneers whom we had rather overlooked. He was no less a personage than Mr. Panther, and he was so neighborly that he came within a hundred yards of Mr. Wheeler's house. where. being chased by dogs, he took refuge in a black-jack tree, and was shot by Mr. Benjamin Johnson, who, like most of the pioneers, was a great hunter.


John Briscoe, with his sons-in-law, Jacob and Andrew Roller, arrived from Tennessee in 1831 or 1832, and settled in the south part of the county. the former on the farm where William M. Ward now lives, and the two latter respectively on the present farms of Elijah Gray and Scott Fry.

In 1832, Bennett Robberson, the father of Dr. E. T. Robberson, who is. one of the oldest and most highly respected citizens of Springfield. came from Tennessee and settled near Mr. Rountree's about two miles southwest of Springfield, and about a year afterward his mother (the grandmother of the doctor) came with her sons William. Allen. John, Edwin, Russell and Rufus, who all settled in the north part of the county. on the prairie which still bears their name, She also had three daughters, who married, respectively, Rev, David Ross, father of Dr. Ross, Thomas Stokes and Richard Say.

John G. Lock settled on Flat creek in 1832. He was what is now known as "a sport"--i.e. a gamester--and the owner of race-horses, which he often matched for large wagers. He was, nevertheless, a good and genial man, who had many warm friends among the pioneers. Mr. Lock terminated his life in an affray with one of his cousins, John Short, by whom he was fatally stabbed in the abdomen. Short also received wounds in this affray, from which he never recovered.

In the spring of 1832, Humphrey Warren located in the prairie three and one-half miles from town, which is about the main and extreme head branch of Wilson creek, where James Massey afterward lived and died. Mr. Massey was the father of William Massey, Mrs. McAdams and Mrs. `Buck" Rountree. There is where Mr. Rountree and Mr. McAdams were married.


Thomas Horne also in the same year settled on the branch below the Beiderlinden place. James Dollison came from Tennessee about this time, and settled near where the cotton mills now stand, but soon afterward removed to a farm three and one half miles south of town, near where his son Grundy and several daughters still live. Mr. D. was for several years one of the Judges of the County Court.

We have only succeeded in getting a rather indefinite record of early settlements in the vicinity of Walnut Grove, although it is among the old landmarks of the county and this portion of the State, Among its early settlers, all of whom, probably, came before 1833, we find the names of Allen Williams, Michael Walsh, William Mallory, Joseph Moss, Mr. Sloan, (the father Of Dr. Sloan of Walnut Grove.) and Hugh Leeper, from whom the large prairie in the northwest part of the county took its name.

In the "Historical Atlas of Greene County," before mentioned, we find this sketch of the Boone family, and their connection with the early history of Greene county:

"The western part of the county wits explored at an early day by Nathan Boone. He was the youngest son of Daniel Boone, was a captain in the United States service, and was one of the first white men who traversed Southwest Missouri, He was pleased with the appearance of the west part of this county, and selected some land in the neighborhood of Ash Grove, and sent out his son to take out pre-emotion rights. Several of the Boone family has since lived in the county. Nathan Boone located in the heart of Ash Grove-a large grove of timber composed principally of walnut and ash, and receiving its name from the predominance of the latter. James, John. Benjamin and Howard were his sons, His sons-in-law were William Caulfield and Alfred Horseman, who also settled in the grove. Nathan Boone at one time owned several hundred acres of land. James Boone, his oldest son, is said to be the oldest American white male child born in Missouri, west of St. Louis County. He was born in St. Charles county in 1800." His two daughters, Mrs. Frazier and Mrs. Horseman, and his grandson, James W.. besides some other grandsons and granddaughters, still live near Ash Grove.

Again we quote from Mr. Miller: "In 18:31 Dr. James H. Slavens, then a young preacher from Warren county, and who married Joseph Rountree's oldest daughter, Amanda, in 1832, was the first Methodist that ever preached in this county. He is now a citizen of Buffalo, Dallas County. I will here mention old man Sol, Cotner as being one of the early settlers, who, with Jacob Painter, could kill more game, and they were considered -the most expert hunters in the country, and long after wild game had disappeared, they could find and kill deer almost in sight of town, when no one else could. Old man James Carter put up and run the first blacksmith shop, which stood not far from the northeast corner of the present Public Square. Mr. Carter died of cholera in 1835, as also two of Mr. Campbell's negroes-old Davy and Jim-and were buried just under the hill a little way above the present bridge. At the Miller spring is a disappeared graveyard of six or seven persons of the Miller family. It is some eighty or one hundred yards east of the spring, may be a little southeast, which I presume is now covered over with houses and fences. I am very sure they have never been taken up. The graves were near the foot of a solitary large black oak tree that then stood there, which was surrounded by a thick growth of young oak saplings or bushes. They were buried there in 1831-'32-'33-'34-'35 and '36.


In 1832, a Mr. Eads settled at the Schultz spring, one mile and a half southwest. Afterwards, Maj. Blackwell father-in-law of Junius Campbell, lived there, and at that place Mr. C. was married, The writer was at that wedding in 1833. Samuel Teas, another son-in-law of Maj. Blackwell, settled at the spring one mile south of town. He afterward put up a store at Sarcoxie, in Jasper County.

"Now, in rambling further, with your permission, I will lead you fifteen or twenty miles northwest into the noted Ash Grove and Walnut Grove neighborhoods-where, in by-gone days, lived the old stock of the Boones and others. Major Nathan Boone, of old United States army notoriety, whom I well remember, and his three honorable sons, James, John and Howard, have all long ago bid adieu to time, except, probably, John; and of the Boone daughters much might be said as to their amiability and respectability. They were the belles of the county at that date--say forty-four years ago-several of whom have long since passed away, One is, if living, the wife of Col. F. T. Frazier who is another highly respected old citizen. I would be much pleased to know what portion, if any, of the old Greene county Boone family are left, having spent many pleasant hours with different members of the old stock away back in the past, and they are remembered with respect.


"And near the Boones was another old and honorable citizen Dr. Constantine Perkins, who lived there a long and useful life as a physician. I have forgotten when he died, but it was a long time ago. You will find the names of Dr. Perkins and the Boones on the books of the first Masonic lodge in Springfield.

"Not far away we find traces of other old-timers of respectability among whom were the Caulfields, Kelleys, Whittenburgs, Looneys, Tatums, Wilsons, Murrays, Robinsons, Wadlows, and further south we come to mention that noted family the "Lepers," of "Leeper's Prairie," and the Reynolds, Yeakleys, Lindseys--all remembered, that is, the old ones, forty-eight years ago, who, together with the above named, with others, helped to brave the storms and bear the hardships of the then western wilderness country, and I am now proud to class them prominently among the distinguished adopted sons of Greene county.

"In 1831 a strange, odd and remarkable individual, in the person of an old and somewhat demented white man, appeared amongst us, named Jesse Bails. He had some English education, but lived a wilderness life among the wild beasts and Indians, seemed half crazy, dressed very scant and odd, wore an old white wool hat tucked up at the sides, and written thereon, in large red letters, "DEATH". He carried a long butcher knife and a tomahawk, and seemed dangerous to look at, but was harmless and even lively. I was with him considerable. He was fifty or sixty years old. He said no harm should befall me ; that he intended to keep the panthers, wolves and Indians from `ahold' of me. In a year or two he disappeared. He either died or followed the Indians.

About the same time another extraordinary and remarkable old man, then over sixty years of age, came 'round amongst the few settlers. His name was Robert Alexander ;originally from North Carolina; came West, alone, in 1825; lived several years with the Miami Indians, at the mouth of Swan, on White River (at present, Forsyth, Taney county.) He was well educated, had been a fine looking man and had been in high life, but ardent spirits had 'got away' with him, as it is getting the best of some of our American statesmen at this date. This old man, Alexander, came within a few votes of being elected Governor of the State of North Carolina in 1821, but, by domestic and political trouble, disappointment and defeat, he came West and lived a roving, reckless, dissipated life. He was a man of fine sense, always had good horses, would gamble with cards and race horses and drink whisky. Finally, in 1835, he found his way to William C. Campbell's, in Polk County, and, drunk, undertook to swim Sac river on horseback, and was drowned just below Orleans, and that was the last of poor old Bob Alexander."


Mr. Miller also mentions Christopher McElhannon, Randolph Lanham and Billy Warren, living just north of town, and a number of other families living in the northwest part of the county, but we are of the opinion they did not come before 1833, and are consequently out of the range of this chapter.

Some time in the year 1832, Wm. Ross, originally from South Carolina, but more recently from North Missouri settled the place now owned by Widow Wilson, in the north part of the county.

Alexander McKenzie came from Pulaski county, Kentucky, and settled, about the year 1830, on a farm three and a half miles southwest of Springfield, where he remained until 1832, when he sold out to Mr. Wm. Townsend, the father of A. M. Thomas B., and William M. A. Townsend, who still remain among us, their parents having long since "passed over the river." The oldest son, W.G. Townsend, removed about the year 1850 to Cassville, Barry County, where he still lives. The oldest daughter, Nancy, was married to Benjamin Cannefax, and lived three and a half miles southwest of town; the second, Lizzie A., became the wife Wm. Britt, who was the son of Randolph Britt, before mentioned; the third, Lucetta A., married Rev. Matthew Barnes, and lived three miles east of town; the fourth, Mary was the wife of Chesley Cannefax, who will hereafter be mentioned in the official records of the county and the youngest daughter, Drucilla, was first married to Meredith Carter, who lived near the Wilson Creek battle ground, and afterward to Jas. Kelley, with whom she removed to St. Clair county, where they still live. A.M. Townsend informs us that his father and mother, Wm. and Mary Townsend, came from Logan County, Kentucky, when he was but ten years old. He says that where Springfield now stands, was a fine forest of- red-oak timber, with but a small clearing around the residence of John P. Campbell, which was a small log cabin, and at that time the only house in what is now the business part of Springfield. He speaks in glowing terms of the happy times "when this old town was new,"

In the days when we were pioneers,
Some fifty years ago."


To hear these old settlers tell about it, one would almost think they were describing the Canaan of the Israelites. If it did not flow so freely with milk, it seemed to be made up by the abundance of honey. They all agree that if a person lacked Sweetness. all he hid to do was to cast his eye upward toward the heavens, and he would see that industrious little insect, the honey bee, heavily laden with his sweet Store, flying homeward to his storehouse, which was generally a hole in the side of some lofty oak. These bee-trees were so plentiful, and so easily found at that time, that a person had no difficulty in finding one, whenever he set out to look for it.

They also tell us wonderful stories of the productiveness of the soil, which would then produce abundant crops with little or no attention after breaking the new turf and planting the seed. Venison and other game was plentiful, and although these hardy pioneers were deprived of nearly everything which people of today consider the necessaries of life, and surrounded by the wilderness filled with Indians and wild beasts, they lived a comparatively happy life.

Again we quote from Mr. Miller: "The settlers in those days were driven by necessity to use their inventive wits. Doors were made of clap-boards, floors of mother earth, bedsteads with one leg were fastened to the walls in the corners of the houses, and wagon grease was made of honey, which was only twenty-five cents a gallon, or about one cent a pound in the comb. When they were able to afford good puncheon floors, and two bedsteads it seemed quite like civilization.


"Bread was scarce, and what little crops were made, were liberally divided, so that all could have a little bread. Very few hogs, and pork hard to get but wild game was plenty, and with the faithful dog and flint-lock rifle, every one had plenty. The meal was made by pounding the corn in a stump mortar, the coarsest. for hominy and the finest for bread, and very dark at that. Men worked then at fifty cents per day, and I say this to put a correct idea and feeling into men who now-a-days think it is a disgrace to work at that price. Honest labor at even twenty-five cents per day, where a man can't do better, is far more profitable and honorable than idleness.

"In those days neighbors were few and far between, but everybody was friendly and willing to divide the last mouthful. The first grist of corn was ground on a little wing-dam mill that old John Marshall had on James, near the mouth of Finley, although Jerry Pearson had a little rattletrap of a mill some nearer, but it was hardly competent to grind for his own use.

Prior to mill building, corn had to be beaten in wooden, mortars with a pestle, and these were used to some extent for a long time in preference to the little "one-horse" mills of the new country. The hand-pestle was a small wooden one, similar in shape to the pestle used by a druggist in compounding and pulverizing medicines, but the sweep-pestle was fastened to a spring-pole, after the manner of a well-sweep. The mortars were made by boring or burning holes, conical in shape, in the top of a stump, or section of a large tree, and were made about a foot wide at the top and eighteen inches- deep. Bread made from this meal was called "pound cake," and Mrs. Campbell used to tell her friends that for a number of years after coming to Springfield she had scarcely anything to eat but "pound cake."


Next Chapter | Table of Contents | Keyword Search
Greene County History Home | Local History Home

Springfield-Greene County Library