History of Greene County, Missouri

R. I. Holcombe, Editing Historian

Chapter 26
Washington Township

Description Early Settlers — Kelley Chapel — Biography of Jacob E. Bodenhamer and Abel J. Neaves.


Washington is the southeast township of Greene county, and comprises the north thirty sections in township 28, range 20. It is considered the least important township in the county. For the most part its soil is poor and unproductive, and its people are not of the most thrifty and enterprising, having little taste for books and newspapers and but a meager acquaintance with the outside world.

Pioneer life, in many respects, is lived by the people of Washington. The old log cabins, with the mud-and-stick chimneys, the carpetless doors, the rough interiors and rougher exteriors; the homespun and home-made clothing, the guns, and dogs, and other adjuncts of frontier life are still to be seen here. There is no progress or desire for any improvement. The people are mostly uncommunicative, suspicious of strangers, and seemingly desire nothing but to be let alone. Their motto is "laissez faire," and while in obeying it they are singularly persistent and consistent, they are often ridiculous. Perhaps the best thing a large majority of the old fogies of this township could do would be to die and go straight to heaven, and give room on earth to others who would not become mere cumberers of the ground.

But it must not be supposed that thirty sections of land can be found in Green county whereon live none but Yahoos. A few man of intelligence and enterprise abide in Washington township, have comfortable homes, pleasant surroundings and are hospitable, and generous. There is also one church reported.


Washington township was early settled. One of the first settlers was James Thompson, from Tennessee who came to the county in 1836, settled in Taylor township a few months, and then moved to a place on the James. A man named Phillips was also an early resident, and made a settlement in the southwest corner of the township, afterward moved to Wester county and is said to be now living at the head of the James. John Gwin settled in the southeast corner of the township in 1836. Robert Beattie arrived from Middle Tennessee in the spring of 1837, and settled on section eleven. William Dillard has been mentioned as one of the early settlers of Taylor township. His son, R. D. Dillard, came to this township in 1849. William Sawyers, since deceased, came to the township in 1840 from Virginia, and settled in the northeast corner. D. M. Logan, lived on section eight since 1847, although he came to the county from Tennessee in 1836, and first settled in Campbell township, five miles northeast of Sprinfield.


Kelley Chapel. The church congregation at Kelley chapel belongs to the M. E. Church South and was first organized in 1847. The first members were Jessy Evans, Peggy Evans, Dennis Evans, James Gray, W. M. Rogers, E. B. Garrison and wife, John Refar and wife, and David Cosby and wife. The first church building was a log, built in 1847. The second was a frame, completed in 1872. It stands on section 23. The present membership of the organization is reported at 18.


JACOB E. BODENHAMER. This gentleman is the son of Jacob and Nettie Bodenhamer, and was born in Giles county, Tennessee, November 20th, l884. His father came to Greene county, Missouri, when Jacob was six months old. He grew to manhood and received his education in this county. He began teaching at the age of seventeen, and has taught nearly ever since, farming part of the time. During the war he was in the Home Guards for three weeks, but was always called a "rebel." He was married September 3d, 1867, to Mrs. Sarah A. Neaves, widow of Abel T. Neaves, whose sketch also appears in this work. Since his marriage, Mr. Bodenhamer has been engaged in farming and teaehing. He is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, Patrons of Husbandry, Brothers of Freedom, and Good Templars. Politically he is a Democrat.


Mr. Neaves was a native of Kentucky, born October 12th, 1833. His parents brought him to Missouri when he was an infant. His father, Thomas B. Neaves, was sheriff and representative of this county. Abel grew to manhood and was educated in this county. He was a farmer and stockdealer, and one of Greene's best citizens. The farm he owned is the one his surviving wife, now Mrs. S. A. Bodenhamer, resides upon. He was married in Arkansas, January 29th, 1854, to Miss Sarah A., daughter of Philip O. Holledger, of Pope county, Arkansas. They were blest with four children, three of whom still survive, all daughters. Mr. Neaves was a Southern man during the war, and was a recruiting captain for Waldo P. Johnson. He was killed at Yellville, Arkansas, in October, 1863. During his lifetime he was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. [700]

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