History of Greene County, Missouri

R. I. Holcombe, Editing Historian

Chapter 34
Franklin Township
Position and Description-Caves and Springs--Early History--Items
The "Firsts"--Incidents--In War Times--Hickory Barrens--Hunt's Mill--Belleview Church--Mt. Comfort Church--Biographies of Old Settlers and Prominent Citizens of Franklin Township


Franklin township comprises all of congressional township 30, and the south twenty-four sections of 31, in range 21. In character the topography of the country is varied, although inclined to be rough and broken. Like many other portions of Southwest Missouri, a great deal of the soil is poor and unproductive, with occasional fine farms and many fertile spots. Only a comparatively small portion of the township is prairie.


On section 17, tp. 30, on the farm of A. S. Sweet, in this township, is a small cave, in which is a fine spring. The cave can be entered some thirty yards. The spring is never-failing. On the same section, on the farm of Thos. Wright, are a similar cave and spring, except that the cave is larger and more roomy, and the spring, finer. Both the cave and spring are among the most noted in Greene county. The township abounds in springs, and these and the branches of the Sac supply it with plenty of water.

On section 22, tp. 30, there are two fine springs sending out a large volume of water, with a fall of forty feet in less than 200 yards, and affording plenty of water and power to turn a mill of two run of buhrs.


Franklin township had as one of its first settlers, James K. Alsup, who came from Tennessee in 1831 and settled on the Little Sac, in section 17, tp. 30. An old gentleman named Daniel Johnson came the same year, and settled in section 7. Samuel Scroggins came also in 1831, and made an improvement on the Little Sac, on section 22, tp. 30. In the fall of 1832, John Headlee arrived from Maury county, Tennessee, and put up his first cabin on section 10, near the line between that and section 9. At the same time with Headlee came Benjainin Johnson and James Dryden, and settled on section 9. The widow Simms, the mother-in-law of Mr. Headlee, also came at the same time with him, and made her home in the township. Larkin DeWitt came the same year (1832) and settled on the Sac. Robert Ross, who came in 1832, lived farther east. Thos. J. Whitlock came to Greene county in 1832, locating first on the Kickapoo prairie, but soon after removing to this township, on the south side of the Sac, on section 21. Thomas James was an early settler of the township. He was born in North Carolina, afterward removed to Tennessee, and came to Greene county in 1835. Caleb Headlee, the father of Hon. Samuel W. Headlee, emigrated from Maury county, Tennessee, in 1836, and settled in the township. In the fall of 1834, David H. Bedell came from North Carolina and made a settlement in section 5, where he died in April, 1860. Nearly all the early settlers of the township were from Tennessee, but a great part had originally come from North Carolina before reaching Tennessee. The Headlee and Bedell families trace their ancestry back to New Jersey. [895]

In the southern part of the township David Roper and family game from East Tennessee, and settled just over the township line on the south. David Appleby and James Appleby, with their families, came to section 33, from Bedford county, Tennessee, in 1833. Aboui 1835 C. C. Williamson came from Kentucky and settled on section 29. About the same time came Erastus McMurray and his mother and brother.

Farther to the north, on section 7, came Daniel Johnson, from Illinois, as early as 1831. He made the first improvement on the prairie in that quarter.

Drury Upshaw was another pioneer in the extreme northern part of the township, and the prairie now called "Upsher" prairie was originally named for him. Francis and Zachariah Simms and Henry Morrison, in other portions of the township, were early settlers.


The first marriage in the neighborhood of the settlements in Franklin township was that of Lawson Fulbright and Elizabeth Roper, at the house of the bride's father, David Roper, in 1831. The ceremony was performed by Rev. J. H. Slavens, the pioneer Methodist minister. At that time, however, old David Roper lived in what is now Campbell township. This is claimed by some to have been the first marriage of white persons in Greene county at least within the present limits. [896]

Probably the first marriage in this township proper was that of Harrison Joplin and Miss Sims, a daughter of the widow Sims (or Simms). This marriage occurred in 1833, at the house of Mrs. Sims, on section 4. Rev. Slavens officiated.

The first death in the township was that of James Dryden, in August, 1834. The body was buried in the Mt. Comfort graveyard.

Dr. C. D. Terrill, of Springfield, was the first physician who practiced his profession in the township, and Rev. J. H. Slavens held the first religious services.

On section 10, township 30, Robert Foster taught a subscription school at a very early day. He received 50 cents per month for each pupil. The school house was built in 1837 by the contributed labor and material of the settlers. In 1835 a small log school house was built just across the township line, in Campbell township, and here David Appleby taught the first school, many of his pupils being from the settlements in this township. The house had no floor, and no patent seats or desks, or globes, or black-boards, or any of the modern appliances, but Mr. Appleby taught a good school, and received $1 per month for each scholar as his compensation. Robert Foster received, only 50 cents per scholar for his work.


The first settlers of Franklin township, like those of other parts of Greene county, had to go to St. Louis and Boonville for their supplies. Sometimes the journey was made with ox teams and the trip occupied a month. The first mill visited was at the mouth of the James, or near where Ozark now is, in Christian county. Marshall's old mill, on Finley, was also visited, while very often the old mortar and pestle were resorted to for corn meal.

The first grist mill built in the township was a steam mill, put up in 1858 on section 16, township 30. On the same section, on Sac river, Dysart & Headlee built and operated a saw mill, in 1848. The mill stood near the southwest corner of the section.

The first burying ground was at Mt. Comfort, on section 16, town- ship 30. The first settlers in this part of Missouri often brought the dead bodies of their friends from twenty miles away for interment in this cemetery, and here many of the "rude forefathers" of the country sleep.

As long ago as 1834, when old Thomas Whitlock was out hunting on one occasion he found a large pile of stones. Making an investigation the bones of a dead Indian were found. It may be presumed that the dead warrior belonged to the Osage tribe, and had died while on a hunting expedition to this country, since the Osages frequently visited this section on such expeditions, and a favorite method with them of burying the dead was to cover the body with a heap of stones. Sepulchral mounds of this character have been found in Taylor township. [897]

Wild animals were plenty in these parts when the settlers first came. In the fall of 1834 one Isaac Smith was out hunting, and found the carcass of a deer all covered up with leaves. He came home and secured some of his neighbors and their dogs, and returning, found a huge, fierce panther up a tree. The beast was shot five times before it was killed.

Wolves were plentiful, and wolf-hunts were common and often exciting. There were hundreds of herds of deer and thousands of turkeys, and venison and turkey were common articles on every pioneer's bill of fare.


During the civil war the majority of the people of Franklin township were Unionists, and many of the, men enlisted in the Federal service at the start and served through the war. The first Union flag in the township was made by Mrs. T. J. Whitlock, for Capt. Gattly's company of Home Guards. The banner was afterward carried through the war by Capt. Reed's company, Twenty-fourth Missouri.

Some time in 1862, the house of Burrell Sims was robbed and his family abused by a Confederate raiding party. Some money was taken. The same party committed other depredations in this township.

Mr. Mansel Putman, accused of being a Confederate sympathizer, but never in the military service, had a thrilling experience. He was arrested by a party of Federal troops, and was being, taken to Springfield. Fearing, that his captors intended murdering him, Mr. Putman, when a few miles from home, just over in Campbell township, started to run. His guards fired on him, and one large minnie ball passed through his body, entering, near his right shoulder and coming out at his left side, making a fearful wound. Badly hurt as he was, Mr. Putman contrived to make his escape. He ran and hid in the brush for a time, and then crawled to a cave, where his family found him and fed, nourished, and cared for him until his restoration to complete health.

Hickory Barrens is a post office in Franklin township, located on section 10, township 30. There is here a store, a blacksmith shop, and a school house. The store was built in the winter of 1881, by C. & W. Appleby. The post-office was established before 1861, but was discontinued during the war, and re-established afterward. [898]

Hunt's Mill is located on section 22, township 30. There is here a general store, recently established. Jonathan Hunt is the proprietor of the mill, which is turned by the water from the spring before mentioned.


Is located on section 28, township 30, range 21. It was organized about 1849. The names of original members were David Appleby, and wife, Nancy Bell, B. Thomas and wife, James McCurdy and wife, J. N, Appleby and wife, W. B. Logan and wife, Henry Sheppard and wife. The church building was erected in 1876. It is a frame building, the cost being $860. It was dedicated by Rev. Mr: Dunlap in November, 1876. The names of the pastors that served are the following Daniel Emmerson, G. A. M. Renshaw, A. G. Taylor, U. S. Messmer, J. M. Brown, John H. Wilson, E. M. Hulbert, G. F. Davis, C. C. Hembry (the present pastor). The present membership 30. The first services were held at the residence of David Appleby, and for a number of years at the Hall school house, located on William A. Appleby's farm on section 27, township 30, range 21. In the winter of 1865 a revival was held by Brother Halbert and some 13 members additional was the result.


Was organized in 1834 near where the Presbyterian church now stands under a brush arbor. It is situated on section 16, township 30, range 21. The names of the original members are as follows: William Allen and wife, L. Deroitt and wife, Mrs. Montgomery and daughter, Robert Rose and wife, T. J. Whitlock and wife, William Dysart and wife, Hosey Williams and wife, C. C. Williams, Sterling Allen, Robert and Mary A. Dysart, David Headlee, wife and son S. G. The first church building was a log house erected in 1837. The present one is a frame structure costing $800, built in 1859. It was dedicated in the fall of 1860, soon after it was built, by Rev. Silas Hinman. The pastors that have served the church were William Piland, Anderson Young, J. Blair, Thomas Johnson, G. Buckhanan, C. C. Williams, Waters, T. J. Garrett, D. W. Amos, T. H. Henderson, C. W. McBride, B. P. Fullerton, J. Barr, S. W. Delzell, A. D. Delzell, William Albright (present pastor); number of present membership is 70. This church was first called the Kisteopoo congregation. The services were held in different houses before the church was completed, the first protractive meeting was held in August, 1844, at the house of T. J. Whitlock. The meetings were held at this house once every mouth till, the church was completed. [899]


JAMES ALEXANDER. Mr. Alexander is the son of Squire and Mary (Roney) Alexander and was born November 24, 1809, in Blount county, Tennessee. His father was a native of North Carolina, but moved to Tennessee, and then in 1840 came to Greene county, Missouri, and settled in Franklin township. He died in 1863 and his wife in 1862. They are buried at Mt. Comfort. They had nine children, five sons and four daughters. When James was quite young his parents moved to Stewart county, Tennessee, and in the spring of 1841 he came to this county, but returned to Tennessee in the following winter. In 1843 he came back to Greene county where he has lived ever since. He improved the farm now owned by Col. Thrasher, where he lived about thirty years and in 1874 he moved to his present home upon section 21, township 30, range 21. During the war Mr. Alexander was in the Home Guards. He had one son in the regular U. S. service and one in the militia. Mr. Alexander was married in 1832 to Nancy Sugg, of Stewart county, Tennessee. They had three daughters by this marriage, two are living. His first wife died June 14, 1840, and in 1842 he was married to Miss Mary P. Ford, of Stewart county, Tennessee. Their union has been blest with four sons and four daughters, all living. His wife was stricken blind by a spell of fever in 1844, and since then she knits about one hundred pairs of socks a year. She is an exemplary member of the Baptist church, and bears her affliction with Christian fortitude and patience.

JAMES N. APPLEBY. This gentleman is the son of David and Catherine (Bell) Appleby, and was born December 6, 1819, in Bedford county, Tennessee. In October, 1832 his parents left Tennessee, and came to Wayne county, Missouri, where they lived about ten months. Then, in 1833, they moved to Greene county, and settled in the southern part of Franklin township. James moved to Platte county, Missouri, in 1841, and returned to his old home in Greene county in 1843, and has always followed farming. He was elected, upon the Republican ticket in 1880, justice of the peace, and re-elected in 1882. 'Squire Appleby was married in March, 1841, to Susan Thornburg, of Platte county, Missouri. That marriage was blest with three sons and one daughter. His first wife died in 1852, and in 1853 he was married again, to Mary McCurdy, of this county. By this union they have four sons and three daughters. During the war Mr. Appleby was in the enrolled militia, and was at Springfield when it was attacked by Gen. Marmaduke January 8, 1868. He was a strong Union man in 1860, voting for Bell and Everett, Bell being a cousin of his mother. His father was a native of Pennsylvania, who removed to Georgia, then to Tennessee and then to Missouri, where he died in 1867. His mother was a native of North Carolina, and died in 1866. They were married in Tennessee. They had a family of three sons and four daughters. [900]

ISAAC M. HALL. Mr. Hall is the son of Pleasant and Cynthia A. (McAden) Hall, and was born April 15, 1886, in Halifax, Virginia. His parents moved to North Carolina, thence to Tennessee, and next to Greene county, Missouri. In the fall of 1849 they settled the place where Isaac M. now lives and has remained ever since. Mr. Hall was a lieutenant in the Home Guards and after the battle of Springfield January 8, 1863, he was elected 2nd lieutenant of a company of enrolled militia. After the war he returned home and has since lived quietly upon his farm. He owns several tracts of good land in Franklin township. He was married in this county, December 8, 1864, to Miss Martha A., daughter of Thomas King. Their union has been blest with eight children, five sons and three daughters. One son died in infancy. Mr. Hall's father was a native of Virginia, and died August 18, 1854, aged seventy-two years. His mother was also a Virginian and died March 1, 1875. They are buried at Mt Comfort church. They reared a family of thirteen children, four sons and nine daughters.

HON. SAMUEL W. HEADLEE. This distinguished citizen of Greene county is the son of Cabel and Mary (Steele) Headlee, and was born in Maury county, Tennessee, March 6, 1828. His parents were from North Carolina, but emigrated to Tennessee where they lived until 1836, when they came to Missouri and settled in Greene county, where his father died in August, 1847. Samuel W. was educated in the common schools of that early day, and for some time taught school in the county. In 1860, having caught the "gold fever" he went to California, and in four years returned, having been successful in mining, and purchased the old homestead farm upon which he has since resided. He was elected to the lower house of the Legislature by the Benton Democracy, re-elected in 1862 and in 1864. In 1866 he was elected by the Republicans to the State Senate, and in 1872, he to heal the breaches in his party, became a candidate for the lower house, and was elected by a handsome majority. He was again elected to the Legislature in l876. In all that period of sixteen years' service he voted as his conscience and judgment dictated, and won for himself the applause and approval of all good men. During the war he took an active part in the support of the Union, and in 1862, to that end, was commissioned captain of militia. From 1863 to the close of the war, he was captain in the 16th Missouri cavalry, U. S. A. In 1874 he was complimented by a nomination by the people's committee as their candidate for lieutenant governor upon the ticket headed by Major Gentry. Since retiring from public life he has followed farming, and in the decline of a long, honorable and useful life enjoys the satisfaction of peace with himself and the full confidence of those who know him best. He was married May 2, 1855, to Emily L. Armor, and their union is blest with eight children.

JASON R. JAMES. Mr. James is the son of Thomas and Nancy (Gately) James, and was born Feb. 25, 1827, in Madison county, Tennessee. His father was born in South Carolina, Dec. 21, 1791. He was a son of David and Nancy (Atchison) James. His parents moved close to the Tennessee line, where he was educated. His marriage with Nancy Gately was blest with nine children, five sons and four daughters, JasonR. Being the seventh child. Only three are now living, Jason, Winfrey, of Oregon, and Mrs. Minerva Putnam. Their father died Nov. 9, 1837, and their mother died April 11, 1863, aged about seventy. Thomas James was justice of the peace in Tennessee years before he came to Missouri. Jason M came with his parents to Greene county, Missouri, in December, 1835, and settled the farm where our subject is now living. He was educated in the common schools of the neighborhood, and has always followed farming. During the war Mr. James was in Capt. Jenkins company of militia, and was at the battle of Springfield, Jan. 8, 1863. Since the war he has farmed upon the old homestead. [901]

CAPT. IRWIN W. JENKINS. This gentleman is the son of William and Susan (Gateley) Jenkins, and was born July 17,1831, in Caldwell county, Kentucky. His parents moved to Greene county in 1836, where he grew to manhood, and received his education in the country schools. He remained at home upon his father's farm until the war broke out, and in October, 1862, he enlisted in company G, 72nd regiment infantry militia. He was elected first lieutenant at the organization, and in about a year was elected captain of company G. He was at the battle of Springfield, January 8, 1863. He remained in the service until the close of the war, and since then has been actively engaged in farming. He has a farm of three hundred and fifty acres, two hundred of which is in cultivation. He has one of the finest barns in the county. His father was born in Virginia, but removed to South Carolina, then to Tennessee, and then to Missouri. He died January 15, 1863. His mother was born September 11, 1791, and died April 14, 1881. They had eleven children, Irwin W. and his twin brother, James W., being the youngest.

WILLIAM WESLEY MASON (DECEASED). Mr. Mason was born in Maury county, Tennessee, April 4, 1837. In 1847 he came to Greene county, Missouri, with his mother, Mrs. Ruth Mason, and settled on Roger's prairie in the northern part of Jackson township. Here he lived until after the war and then moved to section 9, township 30, range 20, where he lived eleven years. He then moved to section 13, township 30, range 21, in Franklin township, where he died March 10, 1880. Mr. Mason was married in 1860, to Miss Martha McGehee. She died April 10, 1882, leaving eight children, James A., born July 10, 1861, a well known teacher of this county, Harvey N., Wm. B., deceased, Josie L., Clementina, Mollie, George Lee, and Stella. During the war Mr. Mason was a Union man, and served in Capt. Herd's company of Federal militia. Both he and his wife were members of the M. E. church South. Mr. Mason was an extensive dealer in stock, and a man of sterling integrity.

JAMES D. SPENCER. This gentleman is the son of Andrew J. and Christiana (James) Spencer, and was born Sept. 20, 1838, in Cape Girardeau county, Missouri. His father is a native of North Carolina, and is now living in Barton county, Mo. His mother died Oct. 12, 1864. They had six children, three boys and three girls, James D. being the oldest. When he was quite young his parents moved to Platte county, Mo., and in June, 1852, came to Greene county, and settled on section 32, township 31, range 21, Franklin township. Mr. Spencer was educated in the common schools of Platte and Greene counties. During the war he served for a time under Captain Gately. He was elected justice of the peace for Franklin township upon the Republican ticket in 1874, and re-elected in 1878 and 1882. Squire Spencer was married Dec. 5, 1869, to Miss Mary E., daughter of Jeptha Wallace. She is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. During the time the squire has been justice of the peace he has discharged the duties of his office impartially, and no one stands higher in the regard of the good people of Greene. [902]

REV. CALVIN COLEMAN WRIGHT. Mr. Wright is a son of John and Peninah (Dale) Wright, and was born May 17, 1830 in Fentress county, Tennessee. He was educated in his native county, and in 1852 he emigrated to Benton county, Arkansas, and in 1853 came to Newton county, Missouri, where he lived until 1855 and then went to McDonald county. In 1853 he was licensed to preach by the M. E. church South, and from 1855 to 1858 was a local preacher in McDonald county. In 1858 he entered the itinerant service of the church and was preaching until 1862, when he joined the Confederate army, and served until the war closed as chaplin of Gen. John B. Clark's division. He lived in Louisiana until 1867 when he returned to Missouri and entered the traveling ministry. In 1869 he was appointed to the Springfield circuit, and was upon that work until 1871. He was next appointed to Bolivar station until 1874. During this time he had his residence at Morrisville, and was largely instrumental in organizing and starting the college at that place. He then went to California where he preached four or five years. He then came back to Missouri and in l880 took charge of the Marshfield station, and in September, 1881, located by consent of the Pacific Conference. Mr. Wright was married in August, 1852, to Miss Nancy Adkinson. They had four children. He married the second time in March, 1881, to Mrs. Mary A. Montgomery, nee Headlee. Mr. Wright's father was a native of North Carolina, and died in Tennessee in 1845. His mother died in Tennessee in l867. They had fourteen children, seven boys and seven girls. Calvin C. was the seventh son. [903]

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