History of Greene County, Missouri

R. I. Holcombe, Editing Historian

Chapter 22
Pond Creek Township

Description — Early Settlers and Settlements — Tragedies of the Civil War —M. E. Church — Hopewell Baptist Church — Christian Church — Biographies of Old Settlers and Prominent Citizens.


Pond Creek township is in the southwest corner of Greene county, and comprises the north thirty sections of township 28, range 24. A considerable portion of the township is prairie, but by far the greater part is timbered land, and some portions are very rough. Along Pickerel creek discoveries of lead have been made and certain quantities mined. When the country is developed, as it can be, and will be, lead mining will be a leading industry in this township.

Pond Creek township was first organized in April, 1859, after Christian county had been cut off of Greene. (See general history, events of 1859.)


According to the Greene County Atlas, published in 1876, David Reynolds was the first settler of Pond Creek township. He came from East Tennessee in 1834, and settled in section two, of township twenty-eight, range twenty-four. His death occurred a few years ago. Edward Blades, the father of R. D. Blades, settled in section ten, in the year 1836. He was a native of North Carolina, but emigrated to Missouri from McMinn county, East Tennessee. William McDaniel settled in 1836, on section eleven, coming at the same time with Blades. Robert Batson settled in section three, in 1840. Samuel Garroute emigrated from Greene county, Tennessee, to Gasconade county, Missouri and after living there perhaps ten or fifteen years came to Pond Creek in 1837, and located in section twenty-seven. Anthony Garroute and William D. Garroute came from Ohio in 1838. James Garroute came about the same time. The Garroutes have been public-spirited citizens of the township. They are all descended from an old soldier of the Revolution who came over with the French troops to assist in securing the independence of the Americans, and after the war was over, remained in this country, and settled in New Jersey where his descendants have emigrated West. A man named Connor lived at an early date for a period of two years on Pickerel creek. John Loose lived on a branch of the Pickerel, near the southern line of the township, but he also only remained two or three years. Magruder Tannehill came about 1840 and settled in the southeast corner of the township. In the southwest corner Robert Carr settled on the waters of the Turnback. G. W. Brittain, now one of the leading farmers of the southwest part of the county, emigrated to Missouri in 1833 or 1834, first settled ten miles west of Springfield, and afterwards came to Pond Creek township. N. B. Neil, from East Tennessee, settled in section seven in 1836. Stephen Batson came from Ohio in 1842, and lived on the Pickerel, near the south line of the county, but afterward removed. Esquire John Laney was one of the old settlers. George M. Laney came to Greene county in 1848. [665]

The first school taught in this township was by Robert Batson in a private house built by R. D. Blades on his father's place on the northwest corner of section ten. Stephen Batson also taught school in the township, as did also William B. Garroute. The first school house was built on section ten; it was a log, 14x15 feet in size. The first church erected was the Bethel church, a frame meeting house, used for meetings for various denominations, which stood on section sixteen. It was burned down in May, 1872.

The first white child born in the township was either William Blades, son of Edward Blades, or Jackson McDaniel, the son of William McDaniel. The latter was born Aug. 30, 1837.

The first female child was Betsey Blades, born in May, 1837. She was a daughter of Edward and Penelope Blades. In the Atlas, it is set down that in Pond Creek township the first marriage was that of Duncan Hood to Nancy Blades, but old settlers say that a marriage antedating this was that of Harvey Hazelton, and Martha Reynolds. The marriage service was performed by Rev. Thos. Ashley. The couple afterward removed to Oregon, where an unfortunate disagreement occurred, and a separation followed. Mrs. Hazeton returned to Pond Creek township and died in 1879. The first death was a child of David Reynolds that died immediately after its birth, May 9, 1844; a few days afterward Edward Blades died. Both bodies were buried in the graveyard on the old Reynolds place.

The first sermon preached in the township was by Rev. Thos. Ashley, a Methodist, who held services in the house of old David Reynolds in the year 1838.


Some of the fearful murders growing out of the civil war were perpetrated in this township. Each side furnished victims, and the bloody incidents are remembered with horror to this day.

The first victim was John S. Reynolds, a Union man. Mr. Reynolds was a worthy citizen, and was generally respected and held in high regard by those who knew him. He was a Republican in politics and one of the ten men in Pond Creek township who voted for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. He was killed on the night of November 22, 1861, while the Confederates occupied the country, their headquarters being at Springfield. [666]

At about 8 p.m. on the night named, two or more men came to the house and coming in told Mr. Reynolds that they had come to hang him for voting for Lincoln. The man who said this was standing near the fire-place, where also Mr. Reynolds was. Reynolds caught up a fire-shovel and struck the intruder over the head and then threw him out of doors. He then fastened the door and. held it to keep the murderers out. While leaning against the door one of the diabolical assassins broke a window on another side of the house, put a musket through and fired, shooting Mr. Reynolds through and killing him almost instantly. He held to the door with a strong grip and sank down slowly. Mrs. Reynolds sprang from her bed, caught her dying husband in her arms, and he died on her breast. He muttered, "O! that —," naming a Confederate enemy of his from Lawrence county, whom it was thought he recognized.

The next man murdered was a Confederate sympathizer named Daniel McCray, who, in the summer of 1862, was waylaid and shot and killed by two boys, neither of whom was over 16 years of age. The boys hid in the bushes and did their work effectively.

On the night of Nov. 8, 1862, Joel M. Skelton was murdered. Mr. Skelton had removed from Georgia to Pond Creek township in 1854. His sympathies were with the Confederate cause, but he was a harmless and inoffensive man, without an enemy among his immediate acquaintance, so far as he knew. On the night in question two men, believed to be from Lawrence county, came to Mr. Skelton and began abusing him shamefully, threatening to kill him, in retaliation for the killing of John Reynolds, and forcing him to dance, turn somersaults, and perform other humiliating and shameful antics in the presence of his wife.

Mrs. Skelton, poor woman, was greatly terrified and implored the miscreants not to murder her husband, and when they said he had done enough to deserve death, she declared he had done nothing, and begged them not to kill him until she could run half a mile away and bring the old pioneer, David Reynolds, well known as a staunch Union man, who would come and testify as to the harmless character of her husband. The villains promised to spare him until Mr. Reynolds should come, and away the poor lady ran as fast as her weak, trembling limbs could carry her. [667]

Reaching Mr. Reynolds' house, and imploring his help, the man refused to return with Mrs. Skelton, saying he was afraid of his own life, but that his wife might go, and so the two women started. But they had not gone far when they heard the report of a revolver, and on arriving at her home, Mrs. Skelton found her husband a corpse weltering in his blood, almost in his own doorway. Ever since Mrs. Skelton has been partially deranged and what wonder?

The same night that Joel Skelton was killed, Andrew Owen was inhumanly butchered, presumably by the same brutes that murdered Skelton. Two men came to Owen's house, called him out, shot him down, and rode way singing merrily.

Soon afterward, Richard Owen, a citizen of this township, was killed while on his way to Springfield by some Federals. Mr. Owen's son was driving the team and Mr. Owen himself was walking behind the wagon. Two soldiers rode past Mr. Owen and past the wagon, and then turned back and riding to where the unsuspecting man was walking along suddenly shot him dead.

A Union man named John Dower was murdered at his home by Confederate bushwackers in 1863.

In 1864 a young man named Lum. Johns, a nephew of Mrs. Townley Rose, was visiting his aunt, was waylaid and killed. He was a Southern sympathizer.

In 1865, James Everhart, an ex-militiaman, was killed by Lieut. Harshbarger, of the 16th Mo. Cavalry, in Nathaniel Batson's door-yard, and was there buried. Everhart had won for himself the name of a horse thief, a robber and rascal. It was believed that the killing was authorized by Gen. Sanborn.


M. E. Church. The M. E. Church congregation, which formerly met at Bethel church, was organized in 1867. The original members were George Laney, Amy Laney, George W. Brittain, Betsay Ann Brittain, James Brittain, Elizabeth Brittain, Mrs. Martha Skelton, Wm. McDaniel, Sarah A. McDaniel, R. D. Blades, Mrs. Gillis Blades, James C. McDaniels, Adeline McDaniels, John W. McDaniels, and Sarah McDaniels. The congregation worshiped at Old Bethel church until it was burned down in May, 1872. Since that time, meetings have been held at the Grandview school house, in section 14.

This congregation was first organized at the time of the division of the M. E. church of the United States, in 1844. The first members were Anthony Garoutte, Margaret Garoutte, James Garoutte, Charlotte Garoutte, John Laney, Sophia Laney, R. D. Blades, and Frances Blades. Services were first held at the residence of Anthony Frances Garoutte, afterwards at Bethel. During the war the congregation was broken up, and was reorganized in 1867. In 1882 the congregation numbered fifty members. [668]

Some of the pastors that have served the church are: Revs. J. J. Bentley, H. Gardner, B. F. Pool, E. E. Condo, James M. Darby, S. Warner, and A. A. Lawson.

Hopewell Baptist Church. The congregation of the Hopewell Baptist church was first organized in section 19, on the 15th of June, 1867. The original members, or some of them were: Elizabeth, Jane, Martha, and Mary Garoutte, Ann Skelton, Susan Batson, and E. M. Howard. The first church building was erected in 1873, at a cost of nearly $600. It is a frame and stands on section 15. The committee appointed to see after the building funds was appointed December 18th, 1872, and consisted of W. W. Garoutte, Dallas Thurman, John Etheridge, and Alpha Hazelton. The pastors that have served Hopewell church have been: D. R. Clark, Geo. Long, Isaac Stanley, and D. T. Balcom. The present membership is twenty-five.

Christian Church. A congregation of the Christian Church meets at St. Elmo school house, on section 8, in this township. It was organized May 1st, 1881, with the following among other members: A. C. Greene and wife, James W. Hargus, Margaret J. Hargus, Franklin Porter, Mary Porter, Mary Porter, James Porter, and Mary Ann Porter. The pastor has been Rev. Clark Smith; the elders: A. C. Greene, James W. Hargus, Franklin Porter. The number of members is thirty-two.


M. F. BRITAIN. Mr. Britain is the son of George W. and Betsy A. (Bailey) Britain, and was born in Greene county, Missouri, July 19, 1849. His father is one of the leading farmers of the county, and the largest tax-payer in Pond Creek township. Mark, as he is familiarly called by his friends, is an energetic, active business man and prosperous farmer. He owns 240 acres of good land, which he keeps in a high state of cultivation. Mr. Britain was appointed deputy sheriff in 1880, and reappointed in 1883, discharging the duties of his office satisfactorily. He was married March 5, 1872, to Miss Mary J., daughter of John and Christiana Jackson, of this county, formerly of Tennessee. Their union has been blest with four children, Hubbard M., Pearle M., Zillah R., and Mary C. [669]

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