History of Greene County, Missouri

R. I. Holcombe, Editing Historian

Chapter 30
Affairs in 1865

Part 1
Peace, Sweet Peace — Election — Wild Bill Kills Tutt — Burning of an Academy — Coleman-Orr Tragedy — Wild Bill Again — Newspapers Items — Hazelwood Cemetery — Matters in 1864 — Improvements — R. R. Convention — Miscellaneous — More Items — From 1865 to 1866 — Location of R. R. Depot


With the dawn of peace Springfield began to improve very rapidly and substantially. The place was well advertised, and many who had seen it during the war began to seek it for a permanent home. In August Holcomb & Thompson rebuilt their foundry at the intersection "Jordan" and Campbell street; the steam mill was rebuilt and started up; a large brick yard was in operation, and several fine brick residences were going up. September 14, M. F. Hudson started up his plow factory. About this time there was a large emigration to the place. October 1st, there was a revival of interest in the public schools, two of which were opened, two more contemplated, and one colored school started.


September 13th occurred the first city election in Sprinfield after the war. The election passed off quietly, and the following was the vote:

For Mayor—Ben. Kite, 159; George C. See, 73
For Recorder—J. S. Bigbee, 121; A. Vangreuder, 110
For City Attorney—James K. Waddill, 122; J. H. Creighton, 102.
For City Marshal—Charles C. Moss, 107; J. B. Hickok ("Wild Bill"), 63; James R. Mays, 57; Thos. O'Neil, 3; Gott, 1.
City Council—First Ward—Jas. Vaughan, 35; James Baker, 33, J. L. French, 30; A. F. Bigbee, 9; Joseph Morris, 9; L. Bigbee, 1.
Second Ward—R. J. McElhany, 35; J. W. D. L. F. Mack, 22, James Boren, 12.
Third Ward—John B. Perkins, 41; Elisha Painter, 39; David Smith, 16; Bedford, E. Henslee, 14; John Caynor, 13; A. F. Church, 11, A. Mitchell, 4; R. S. Gott, 1.
Fourth Ward—A. F. Inigram, 44; F. W. Scholten, 37; Chas. Hoenick, 14.


For some time after the close of the war Springfield was the resort of many hard characters. Adventures of every sort came in and met the ruffians of both armies, who, lately disbanded, were seeking a livelihood by any means not involving hard work. Among those who were in the town in the summer of 1865 was one J. B. Hickok, who came to be known as "Wild Bill," and as such has been made the hero of divers improbable adventures set forth in certain flashy, sensational publications. [762-763]

Hickok had been in the Federal service in Southwest Missouri and Northern Arkansas, as a scout for the army of the frontier, and in the performance of his duties had grown to be well acquainted with danger, and being by nature a ruffian he soon became a desperado—a drunken, swaggering fellow, who delighted when "on a spree" to frighten nervous men and timid women, After settling in Springfield a favorite diversion of his was to ride his horse on sidewalks and into saloons, hotels, stores, and other public places, and make the animal lie down and perform other tricks, to the infinite delight, no doubt, of the proprietors, none of whom, unfortuately, had grit enough to blow the bully's head off.

A man after Wild Bill's own heart was one David Tutt, an ex-Confederate soldier, who had lived at Yellville, Arkansas, and had come, with his mother, sister and younger brothers, to Springfield, early in the spring. Tutt was a ruffian and a crack pistol shot. He was said to have "gotten in his work," not only on Federal soldiers, but on citizens who had crossed his path against his protest. Both Tutt and Hickok were gamblers, and good ones, although the ex-Confederate was the more proficient of the two. The two men were boon companions for a time; the one touch of ruffianism made them both akin. They walked the streets together, they drank together, they gambled together—and in the latter pastime Tutt effectually "cleaned out" Bill.

On the night of the 20th of July the two men played poker in a room at the "Lyon House," now the Southern Hotel, on South street. Hickok was the loser. First his money went; then his watch, a fine gold hunting-cased "Waltham," with a flashy chain and seal, then his diamond (?) pin and ring. He rose from the table completely "strapped," and much irritated and crest-fallen. Everybody knew Wild Bill's watch, and after it had been surrendered to Tutt this night, Bill asked him at a special favor, not to wear it publicly, or let people know that it had changed owners, as he (Bill) felt bad enough already and did not want the evidence of his misfortune, of his ill-luck and bad playing, flaunted in everybody's face.

Tutt laughed a mocking laugh at Bill's humiliation, and assured him that it would give him as much pleasure to wear the watch on the streets as it had already given him to win it. "I intend wearing it in the morning," he added. Bill replied with an oath, "If you do, I'll shoot you, and I warn you not to come across the square with it on." The two men parted and retired to their rooms—to put fresh caps, on their revolvers! [764]

The next morning Tutt put on his watch,—and his revolver, too, and went down on the square. Going along the west side he entered the livery stable on the northwest corner and sat in the door where he could command a view of all four sides of the square, and especially of the Lyon House and South street. Very soon afterward Hickok came out of the hotel and down on the square, at the corner of South street. He stood on the west side of the street, and stopping one or two passersby inquired if they had seen "Dave Tutt down town this morning?" On being told that Tutt was on the square, Bill said, "Well, it's all right if he hain't got my watch on, but if he has there'll be merry hell, you bet your life!" Tutt's younger brother came up, and to him Bill said, "You had better go and tell Dave to take off that watch;" and when young Tutt said he thought his brother had a right to wear what he pleased if it belonged to him, Bill answered, "He shan't wear that watch anyhow." Just then Tutt came out of the livery stable and walked south along the square. Bill saw him and exclaimed, "There he comes now." The little group about Bill scattered, and he took a few steps forward and drew his revolver, a Colt's dragoon, with cap and ball.

Just as Tutt reached the corner of the court-house and Campbell street, Bill called out, "Dave, don't you come across here with that watch." Tutt, as some say, drew his pistol, and almost instantly Bill fired, using one arm as a rest for his revolver. Tutt fell, shot nearly through the heart, and died very soon.1 Some deposed that Tutt's revolver was out of its scabbard when the body was first examined, and that Tutt had fired first. One chamber of the revolver was empty, and there were those who swore that they heard two pistol shots. Bill's shot was a fine one, but it is said by those who knew him well that it was a chance shot, for it is averred that when here Wild Bill was not considered a crack shot at all, and that his shot which killed Tutt at a distance of 75 yards was an accident. [765]

As soon as he had fired and seen that his shot had taken effect Bill handed over his pistols to the sheriff, who came up, and informed that officer he was his prisoner. A few minutes afterward Bill was observed riding leisurely up South street taking the morning air. The circuit court was in session at the time. Bill was promptly indicted, arrested on a bench warrant, and brought to trial. He was vigorously prosecuted by the circuit attorney, Maj. R. W. Fyan, and ably defended by Hon. John S. Phelps. Witnesses testified that they heard two shots, and that the first came from near where Tutt's body was found. The empty chamber of Tutt's revolver was exhibited, and upon the ground of "reasonable doubt" that Hickok was the aggressor, the jury acquitted him. There were those, however, who, asserted that Hickok was cleared because he was an ex-Federal and a Radical, and the man he shot was a "rebel," and the jury were all men who could take the "Drake oath." A prominent attorney harangued the crowd from the balcony of the court house, and denounced the verdict as against the evidence and all decency, and there were threats of lynching Bill, but nothing was done, and he was allowed to live until shot by another desperate character, named Jack McCall, at Deadwood, D. T.

In the spring of this year the old female academy, which stood on the corner of State and Campbell streets, across the street to the west of the cemetery, was burned down. At the time, and for several months previously, the building had been occupied as barracks by the soldiers, and was for a long time used as a military prison. It was so used at the beginning of the Marmaduke fight, the prisoners being, transferred to the jail. It was occupied during the fight by some of Shelby's men. The building was set on fire by the negligence of some of the soldiers who slept there.

1 Tutt's body was at first buried in the old cemetery, inside the city limits. In March, 1883, it was disinterred by Lewis Tutt, a former slave of the Tutt family, and reburied in Maple Park cemetery.


On the 25th of January certain citizens of Springfield made overture for the purchase of the telegraph line from Springfield to Rolla. August 15 the line was purchased by Isaac Hoff, C. C. Dawson, and Ingram & Teed, the latter of the Patriot newspaper. The purchasers assumed a debt of $1,400 that had accumulated against the line.


On the 25th of January one James Coleman, a young man living in the country, was shot and killed in Springfield by a policeman named John Orr. The circumstances were that James Coleman, his brother Samuel, and another man named Bingham, rode into town that day and got on a spree. As they were riding out on South street Bingham, who was very drunk, began whooping and yelling. A policeman arrested him. Sam Coleman followed and seemed to be trying to effect Bingham's release. James Coleman, who had been left with the horses, came up, a scuffle ensued, and he was killed. The notorious "Wild Bill" (J. B. Hickok) was an eye witness of the affair, and detailed the circumstances under oath as follows: [766]


When I got where the fuss was, the police took a man off a horse. After they had got him off the horse, Chas. Moss came and took hold of him; he did not appear to want to come with the police; kept talking, and when they got opposite Jacob's store he commenced scrambling, and they threw him down the second time; then they took him along to where Ladd keeps grocery, and by that time one of his comrades came up; those they stopped; Samuel Coleman commenced talking, and the one who was killed had tied the horses at the blacksmith shop and came up and joined them at Ladd's, or near Ladd's grocery; the two Colemans wanted to stop the police and have a talk with the police; from that they got to jarring worse and worse until they commenced shooting; the first I saw of the shooting I saw John Orr jerk his pistol and put it up against the man and shot; did not see whether James Coleman had a pistol or not; his back was to me, and Samuel Coleman grabbed a stick and struck, but I do not know whether he struck John Orr or Charles Moss, and as soon as the first shooting was done Orr turned and shot Samuel Coleman; the crowd scattered around, and some person, or persons, grabbed the first man arrested and ran off down town this way; we pulled the man up on the platform and intended taking him into Ladd's, but he was locked up, and he was then carried to the drug store of N. P. Murphy & Co. The affray commenced first opposite the Lyons House and closed opposite Ladd's grocery, on South street, Springfield, Missouri.
J. B. Hickok

There was much excitement over the killing of Coleman, and a great deal of ill-feeling on the part of the country people toward the Springfield police, who, it was alleged, arrested country people for trivial offences, and allowed the town gentry to go unmolested grave ones. The excitement culminated in a public meeting, which was held on the Monday following. The meeting was presided over by Capt. See, Col. Marcus Boyd, and other prominent citizens. A resolution calling on the city authorities to discharge the police was unanimously adopted, and then the meeting adjourned, the country people being apparently satisfied.

Orr was arrested, but managed to be released on bail. He fled the country, and was never afterward brought to trial. It is said that on one occasion this same Orr, in Springfield, made Wild Bill "take water," and put up with a gross insult. [767]


In May, J. West Goodwin, now the well-known newspaper publisher of Sedalia, arrived in Springfield for the purpose of establishing a Democratic paper—the first in the county since the war. Hon. John S. Phelps and certain other prominent Democrats gave him a considerable amount of money—perhaps $1,500—quite a list of subscribers was secured in this and adjoining counties, and June 8th the first number of the paper, which was called the Southwest Union Press, was issued. September 5th, Goodwin sold out the Press to Kneeland & Waddill.

September 11th, the Patriot issued the first number of its daily edition, Ingram & Teed, publishers. The Daily Patriot contained telegrams, local news, etc., and was a sprightly little sheet. In October, A. F. Ingram retired from the paper, being succeeded by E. B. Shipley.


On the 8th of February, the city council of Springfield passed an ordinance prohibiting dram-shops inside of the corporation—this, in view of the killing of Coleman, and because there was a great deal of disorder in the place growing out of the use of liquor.

February 15th, the Springfield Public Library was thrown open to the public.

About the 1st of March, there was a large influx of people to the place, who came in from Iowa, Illinois and Ohio.

At the city election in April, J. H. Creighton was elected mayor by a vote of 117 against 46 for W. H. Warrell.

On June 7th, the branch bank of the State was entered by burglars, who broke open the safe and carried away $12,000, of which sum $11,100 was said to have belonged to John T. Smith, of Springfield.

October 10th, a twelve-year-old lad named George Benton was drowned in the public school well. His hat had fallen in the well, and he was descending for it, when the wall crumbled and fell with him into the water.

November 1st, the census showed the population of the town to be as follows: Whites, 2,863; colored, 700; total, 3,563. There were three newspapers, one of which, the Patriot, was a daily; and the town was "booming." [768]

November 15th, the town council took action to forbid the erection of any more wooden building on blocks 4, 6, 9, and 10—probably the first definite action toward establishing fire limits.


In January of this year (1867), the taxable property of Springfield amounted to $554,000. The number of polls was 260. A property tax of one-half of one per cent, and a poll tax of one dollar, produced a revenue of a little over $3,000, which, added to the fines collected, made a total of about $4,000.

Fire. On the 3d of February, a fire broke out on the north side of the square, which destroyed nearly all the buildings from Booneville Street to the northeast corner. The fire originated in a two-story building owned by Mr. McQuister, in the first story of which was Clark's store, in the second the Union Press office; the latter was totally destroyed, except four cases of type. Westward, it burned the old Union Hotel, one of the oldest buildings in Springfield, then owned by Messrs. Olive; from this northward, Watson, Staley & Co.'s store, and the shoe shop of P. & W. Daly was torn down to save adjoining houses. Eastward from the starting point, it burned another building occupied as a saloon and residence; two warehouses, a number of small buildings on the alley occupied by negro families, scorched the Danforth building, occupied by Massey & Keet and J. L. Carson, and did other serious damage.

About two weeks after the fire, a hook and ladder company was organized, with nineteen members.

In the spring of this year the town was crowded to overflowing by the large number of newcomers. Hotels, boarding houses, and every room capable of sheltering a human being was occupied, and the cry was "still they come and more are coming." There was a very heavy emigration to Southwest Missouri from other States, including New York, Pennsylvania, and other Eastern States.

In April Hon. John S. Waddill was appointed by President Johnson register of the land office, and Mrs. P. C. Stephens, widow of John A. Stephens killed at the time of Zagonyi's charge, was given the post-office. Previously, and for some months after the death of Col. Boyd, Mr. J. B. Winger had been acting postmaster.

May 23 Hon. H. E. Havens assumed full control of the Weekly Patriot newspaper. [769]

June 6th a savings bank was organized with a capital of $75,000. The first officers were: R. J. McElhany, president; T. J. Bailey, vice president; J. C Culbertson. Among the directors were S. H. Boyd, W. C. Hornbeak, and James Abbott.

August 8th the town was first lighted with street lamps.





Saturday, October 26, pursuant to previous notice, a large concourse of citizens assembled on the public square, and organized in procession under Col. W. E. Gilmore as marshal and Lieut. J. C. S. Colby as assistant marshal, and proceeded to the cemetery grounds, which had been purchased by the city June 13th, for the purpose of performing the dedicatory services. The procession was headed by the Springfield band; then came the ministers of the city; then members of Star Lodge No. 5, A. F. & A. M., followed by citizens in carriages and on horseback.

After arriving at the grounds Mayor R. B. Owen called the audience to order and stated the object of the assemblage. He alluded to the design of the city in purchasing the grounds, and stated that ten acres had been conveyed to the government to be used as a national cemetery for the interment of the remains of the Federal soldiers then buried at various points in the Southwest. Prayer was then offered by Rev. J. J. Bentley of the M. E. church. Addresses were delivered by Rev. R. S. Nash, of the Episcopal church; Rev. I. A. Paige, of the Presbyterian church; Rev. Kirk Baxter, of the Christian church; Rev. McCord Roberts, of the Baptist church; Father Graham, of the Catholic church, and M. J. Rubble, presiding officer of the Masonic fraternity. After the benediction had been pronounced by Rev. McCord Roberts, the assemblage dispersed. [770]


February 20th the Greene County National Bank was organized with a capital of $100,000. The first officers were John S. Phelps, president; W. J. McDaniel, vice president; and a cashier.

The Y. M. C. A. held its first meeting February 18th. R. B. Chappel was the first president; W. D. Sheppard, secretary.

November 16th a destructive fire occurred on St. Louis street. The Leader newspaper office, Skinner & Rainey's furniture store, Dittrick's dry goods store, and Bigbee's livery stable were entirely destroyed. The loss was about $40,000.

As the Atlantic & Pacific railway was rapidly approaching Greene county and Springfield, the greatest interest was felt in the location of a depot. Efforts to have the site fixed within a few hundred yards of the public square were without avail and about the 1st of December Andrew Pierce and Thos. McKissick, the railroad commissioners, located the depot about a mile north of the court-house. The people were greatly indignant, but could not help themselves.

August 14th, an extraordinary rain-fall occurred in Springfield. For the first time since 1850, Wilson's Creek overflowed its banks. Many families living along on the bottom were driven to the second story of their houses. The foundry of Holcomb & Thompson was injured to the extent of several hundred dollars, and Allen, Mitchell & Co.'s mill was greatly damaged.

At the municipal election in April, Col. Wm. E. Gilmore was elected mayor by one majority over J. B. Dexter. The election was decided illegal, and held again May 2d, when Dexter was declared elected by three majority over Gilmore. [771]


January 12th, the Leader newspaper was re-established.—On the 1st of January, the Odd Fellows' Hall was dedicated.— July 12th, a stranger named Wm. Hartley, who lived on the Gasconade somewhere, died suddenly of rupture of the heart, while driving in a spring wagon along Rolla Street.—May 16th, the M. E. Church was dedicated by Rev. Mr. Hagerty. The building cost over $7,000, of which sum $2,100 were raised that day.—August 12th, David Durst stabbed a bar-keeper named Stevens, wounding him four times very seriously. The affray came off in a saloon on Boonville street.—August 17th, the sheriff, Capt. Budlong, and James Long, the city marshal, arrested a man named J. J. Leeper, for killing another man named Ferguson at the old fort, near town. The killing was done with a stone of several pounds weight, with which Ferguson's skull was crushed.—The total number of school children in the town this year was 937.—April 15th the carpenters and builders formed a permanent organization, of which J. D. Six was president.

Trying to get the Depot. The location of the depot of the Atlantic & Pacific (now the "Frisco") railroad upon the present site of North Springfield was due to the niggardliness and selfishness of some of the moneyed men of the old town, who refused to pay the expense of making a deflection in the route of the road from its original surveyed line. Whereupon the railroad men went a mile north, and selected not only a location for a depot, but site for a new town as well. No sooner was it known that the depot would be a mile from the public square than a desperate effort was made to change the location. May 11th, of this year, a public meeting of citizens passed a resolution requesting the city council to issue bonds to the amount of $75,000, to be donated to the railroad company if it should "chance the location of its depot to within one-half mile of the public square." Too late. The stakes had been driven, the matter settled, and now twice $75,000 could not prevent a formidable hinderance to the prosperity of Springfield, when $25,000 would have done so at the proper time.

City Improvements. This year the town council asked for in expression of the citizens as to the propriety of expending $75,000 in the improvement of the city, as it was evident something had to be done to offset the establishment of the new town of North Springfield. July 6th, the proposition was voted on and carried by a vote of 156 to 91. Much opposition to the measure was allayed by certain members of the council, who declared that only $25,000 should be expanded in improving the streets, etc., and that $50,000 should be given to the proposed Springfield & Ft. Scott railroad; but,a s the latter action would have been unlawful, it was never done. [772]

Extension of the Corporation. March 4th, the Legislature passed an act extending the boundaries of the corporation and defining its limits, and also investing it with certain powers. This act was as follows:

An act to amend an act entitled an act to incorporate the city of Springfield, and morefully done its powers.

Be it enacted by the, General Assembly of the State of Missouri, as follows:

SEC. 1. The following shall be the corporate limits of the city of Springfield, in Green County, and State of Missouri: Commencing at the northwest corner of section 14, township 29, range 22; thence south to the southwest corner of section 23, in said township and range; thence east to the southeast corner of section 24, in same township and range; thence north to the northeast corner of section 10, in said township and range; thence west to the place of beginning, so as to include the whole of sections 13, 14, 23, and 24, aforesaid. Provided, that such portions of the real estate as is embraced within the foregoing limits, and which is not subdivided or sold in lots of less than three acres, shall not be subject to any municipal tax, except for the improvement of such streets, lanes, avenues, or alleys as are immediately adjoining the same, or for school purposes. Provided further, that when any real estate hereby excepted from municipal taxation shall be divided or sold in lots of three acres or less, the same shall thereupon and from thenceforth be deemed and considered within the corporate limits of the city of Springfield, for all purposes, as fully and completely as if the same was not excepted by the provisions of this section.
SEC. 2. Section two of the act to incorporate the city of Springfield and more fully define its powers, approved December 13th, 1855, is hereby repeated.
SEC. 3. This act is to take effect and be in force from and after its passage.
Approved March 4, 1869.

Railroad Convention. August 25th a large convention was held at the court-house in favor of the Memphis, Springfield & Kansas City railroad. Delegates were in attendance from all of those cities named, as well as from other towns and cities along the proposed line. Enthusiastic speeches were made and it was resolved to build the road. Probably this was the first important action taken regarding that great enterprise, now rapidly approaching completion. At the April election of this year Col. Wm. E. Gilmore was elected mayor, by 202 majority, over J. B. Winger. [773]

Burned to Death. About the 3d of September, a Mrs. Clark, wife of a lumber man of Springfield, was filling a lamp with coal oil from an ordinary can. The lamp was not lighted, but a fire was burning close by in an open fire-place. From some unknown cause the oil ignited, the can in Mrs. Clark's hands exploded, scattering the burning oil over her and her three daughters who were close about her. The two younger daughters died from the effects of their burns, the mother was in a very dangerous condition, and the older daughter was painfully injured, but not seriously.


About the 1st of February the first number of a newspaper called the Southwest was issued by R. Lick. In June the office was removed to North Springfield, and the paper was issued by Taylor, Hedges & Co.

In March the annual conference of the M. E. church met in Springfield. Bishop D. W. Clark presided, and Rev. L. M. Vernon was secretary.

At the city election this year Col. Gilmore was elected mayor without opposition. The vote for marshal stood: C. C. Avery, 328; J. L. French, 216. This was the first election where colored men voted, and a negro, J. H. Rector, was elected alderman from the second ward over a Mr. Imler, by a vote of 101 to 54.

At a meeting of the council March 8th the sum of $30,000 in bonds was voted to aid in building a street railroad. In order to evade the law, which would prevent the council from giving money or bonds to the street railway company, an ordinance was passed appropriating $30,000 to grade and macadamize Jefferson street from the northern boundary of the city to Water street, and Water street from Jefferson to Boonville street, the object being to prepare these streets for the laying of the railway track.

On the 24th of February a company was organized and steps taken to raise means for erecting the present Metropolitan Hotel. Col. F. S. Jones was the first president of the company. The various principal streets were invited to bid in stock for the location. March 24th the location was made, the bids having been as follows: College street, $31,150; St. Louis street, $26,500; South street, $34,250, but the latter bid provided that the old Lyon House should be made a part of the new hotel. [774]

A boy named Richard Fitzgerald was accidently shot and killed in the laundry room of the Lyon House about April 12th. A colored boy, Albert Abernatty, was playing with a pistol when the boy Fitzgerald came up and wanted to look at it, and was in the act of taking it when the pistol was accidently discharged, causing death in twenty minutes.

June 30th a well digger named David Smith was suffocated in a well which he was digging for Col. Young on South street. The body was recovered by a negro man, named Charles Womack.

September 18th a convent school for young ladies was opened on Walnut street. Madame Ligouri was the principal.

December 15th a man named Morgan, a painter, shot his wife, making a dangerous but not fatal wound, and then in a few minutes committed suicide by shooting himself through the brain. The couple had separated, and Morgan was trying to induce his wife to live with him again. There were evidences that he was insane.

The population of the city this year was 5,814.


At the city election in April the Democrats and Liberals swept everything and elected every officer but one alderman as follows: Mayor, L. H. Murray; recorder, D. C. See; marshal, J. L. French; attorney, J. R. Waddill; councilmen, R. L. McElhaney; L. A. Huston, F. S. Jones, and J. N. Miller, the latter a Republican.

June 26th the post-office was removed to its present quarters, in the Metropolitan hotel building.

September 7th the new Metropolitan hotel was opened by a grand banquet and ball. Messrs. Kitchen & Young were the proprietors.

In May a board of trade was organized with J. T. Keet, Esq., as the first president. And yet, just at that time trade was duller and the prospects of gloomier than they had been for years. [775]


On the 1st of March, the Springfield Wagon Company was organized. Its capital stock was $20,000, and its declared object was the manufacture of plows and wagons. Hon. S. H. Boyd was elected the first president of the company. In May following, the city, by a vote of five to one, decided to issue the sum of $22,000 in city bonds, in aid of certain of its manufacturing establishments, in order to help along its "infant industries" until they should grow strong enough to take care of themselves.

At the city election, this year, in April, Jonathan Fairbanks was elected mayor, defeating L. H. Murray, Esq.

Some idea of the character of the city at this time may be gathered from a report of its business for this year, which report was made December 31, and showed the aggregate amount of sales to have been $2,797,572.07.




At the city election in April, there was a tie vote on the mayor. John McGregor, Democrat, received 406 votes, and Jared E. Smith, Republican, the same number. Another election being held, McGregor was elected by 85 majority.

On the 1st of July, there was a severe wind storm. The woolen mill was damaged to the extent of $5,000, and some buildings in North Springfield was considerably injured.

Drury college was located July 28th, of this year.

A fire on South street, August 1, destroyed a row of frame buildings, causing a loss of $5,000. The fire originated in Capt. Johnson's photograph gallery, in Mrs. Hackney's property. [776]

November 22, Jones' Female Institute, a school for young ladies, on Walnut Street, was burned to the ground. Loss, about $5,000.

In December, Dan Whitfield shot and killed Bob Fitzhugh, as the latter was coming out of the house of T. J. Keet, where the wife of Whitfield was employed as a servant. The shooting was done at about 4 o'clock in the morning. All of the parties were negroes.

Also in December, Bob Wyatt, another negro, was killed in the jail under the following circumstances: He had been arrested for some misdemeanor and confined to jail. The marshal ordered him out to work on the streets, but the negro refused. When visited again after two days, it was found that he had a revolver which he brandished about, and with which he threatened to shoot any one that interfered with him. In attempting to remove him from his cell, he drew his revolver on the marshal, and was immediately shot and killed by the deputies.


On the 1st of March, the Odd Fellows Hall was dedicated, a large crowd being present.

In March, the noted defalcation of Maj. W. J. Bodenhamer was discovered.

May 21st, the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church convened in Springfield. Rev. Dr. Blake was moderator. Representatives were present from Pennsylvania, California, Texas and even from Scotland. The session lasted more than a week.


In January, during the progress of a religious row at the African M. E. church, a negro, named Bob Johnson, was fearfully stabbed.

During the month of February there was a great religious revival in the city, conducted by Rev. T. Marshall. There were 192 converts. The religious meetings were followed by a temperance revival in March.

March 15th a fire on College street destroyed Denton's livery stable, and Cassler & Co's. furniture and coffin store, and damaged Chas. Evan's restaurant. May 9th another fire destroyed ten business houses occupied by J. L. Carson, H. O. Dow & Co., McCormick & Co., Wade Bros., A. R. Fearn, and Stone & Gatewood. Loss nearly $40,000. [777]

March 24th Dr. J. C. Reed died of pneumonia, aged 56, and on the 8th of April. Dr. A. A. Shutt committed suicide by shooting himself while alone in his office, on the corner of College street and the public square. He left a wife and three children. The cause of his suicide was supposed to be financial embarrassment.

Mrs. Mary Picher, a daughter of Col. Henry Sheppard, died about September 1, at Logansport, Ind., while on her way to Clifton Springs, N. Y. The body was brought home and buried at Springfield.

Sudden Deaths. May 18th Wm. Barren, a tinner, aged about 40, fell dead in the alley at the northeast corner of the public square. The verdict of the coroner's jury was that the death was "superinduced by intoxication." In the same month a stranger from Arkansas, drove up in front of a wholesale house, and as he pulled up his team he fell over backwards dead, from heart disease. A collection was taken up for the proper preparation of the body, and it was sent home in charge of a companion of the unfortunate man.

Homicide. November 5th Amanda Collins, living in the South part of town, killed her husband, James Collins, by crushing in his skull with an ax. The cause, as shown, was his ill-treatment of her and threats to "fix her with a knife," he being jealous of her. The woman gave herself up. A little boy nine years of age witnessed the killing. Collins and his wife were negroes.

The erection of the gas works was begun in in May of this year.

RESUME FROM 1865 TO 1875.

As soon as the debris of the war had been swept away, Springfield began to improve very rapidly and very substantially. Indeed, the town outgrew the country tributary to its local trade, and, to use the common but incorrect expression, business of all kinds was "over-done." The effects were soon felt. About the summer of 1870, shortly after the completion of the present St. Louis & San Francisco railroad, and the location of that portion of the city known as North Springfield, a reaction occurred from which it took several years to recover. The mushroom population, whose presence added to value only in point of numbers, disappeared as suddenly as it had come and, while in itself this detracted nothing from the city's real status, it had a disheartening effect which told upon values. This was supplemented by the financial troubles of 1873, and for a time empty business houses and residences confronted the passer-by in every part of the city. [778]

But all this, like the lopping off of superfluous limbs from a healthy tree, was for ultimate benefit. While the city was at a stand-still, the county was making, rapid improvement. Enterprising, intelligent farmers filled the vacancy in the population caused by the fleeing idlers from town. Under their experienced and careful supervision, the rich lands throughout the county that had hitherto been "hidden talents" were made to equalize the ruinous differences heretofore existing between town and county, and the result was soon visible in a generally improved condition of affairs. Another lasting benefit derived from "hard times," to which the town was subjected in those years, was the awakening of its capitalists to the fact that Dame Fortune would not persistently smile upon those who would not help themselves. This forced realization was made manifest in a concentrated effort toward establishing manufactories, public improvements, and other essential adjuncts to healthy advancement and permanent prosperity.

It may now be well to speak of the effect produced by the laying out of North Springfield—or "Moon City", as it was at first called and the circumstances connected therewith. Some of these circumstances are noted elsewhere, but will bear repeating in this connection. Immediately before the old Atlantic & Pacific railroad (now the "Frisco") was completed to Springfield—and for some time before—a controversy arose in regard to the location of the depot. This was in the flush days of 1869-70, before spoken of. A proposition was made by the company to run the road in on a survey that would bring the depot within a half mile of the public square, provided a certain sum should be raised. If this was not done, another route would be taken which would be less expensive in construction, but which would necessitate the location of depot buildings at least one mile north. An indifference, or rather a stinginess on the part of some of our moneyed men at this crisis cost the immediate advantage incident to the co-operation tendered by that corporation. The depot was located at the threatened point, about one mile to the north, and antagonistic interests at once sprung up. The new town, or North Springfield, as it was called, developed a wonderful vitality, and was aided in all its enterprises by the railroad company. [779]

A bitter rivalry arose between the two places. The company built an enormous frame hotel—the Ozark House—three stories in height, handsome in appearance and elegant in its appointments, which was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1875. As an offset to this, the citizens rallied to the assailed pride of "old town," and, forming a joint stock company, erected the commodious, four-story brick structure known as the Metropolitan Hotel. In a thousand different ways, during the first few years succeeding the completion of the road, was this antagonism promoted. After it had been demonstrated that "old town" could not be "busted," and that "new town" could not be kept from growing, the hatchets were, by tacit agreement, buried; and since then the prosperity of both towns have been promoted by a very general recognition of the fact that our interests are mutual. The short, open space between the places has been gradually occupied; and it will be but a brief period when it will require a sharp-sighted and well-informed person, indeed, to point out the line of demarkation between old Springfield and "Moon City," or "new town." [780]

Biographies | Table of Contents | Keyword Search

History of Greene County Home | Local History Home

Springfield-Greene County Library