History of Greene County, Missouri

R. I. Holcombe, Editing Historian

Chapter 5
History of the County From 1856 to 1860

Part 2
1858 — Miscellaneous — The First Grange Meeting — Items — Springfield in 1858 — Arrival of the First Coach on the Butterfield Overland Stage Line — Statistics — The Political Canvass — The "Union" Meeting — August Election — The Fair of 1858 — Building the New Court House — Deaths — Review of 1858 — Statistics — 1859 — Miscellaneous — The Court House — Formation of Christian County — Items — Organization of Pond Creek, Wilson, And Clay Townships —"Pikes Peak or Bust!" — The August Election — Springfield Matters — Hanging of "Martin Van Buren" Danforth, a Negro Ravisher.


In January the county court appointed H. R. Jarrett, John Murray, L. A. Rountree, A. H. Payne, and John Elam, district assessors, under the new law and John M. Richardson county attorney. At the same session a dramshop license was refused J. F. Fagg & Co., of Springfield, because a majority of the citizens of Campbell township, including about three hundred ladies, had remonstrated against granting any more licenses in the township. There was not a licensed dramshop in Springfield at that time.

On the last of January one Arthur Blankenship, of Barry county, who had poisoned his wife, a sister of Enoch Jessup, of this county, and who had shortly thereafter married another woman and then fled the country, was arrested in Searcy county, Ark., and returned to the jail at Cassville. Mr. Jessup had been especially active in procuring the arrest of Blankenship, offering $500 reward for his capture. In March thereafter Blankenship, with some other prisoners, escaped from the Cassville jail, but Blankenship returned and surrendered himself to the sheriff. His trial coming on in April, he took a change of venue to Lawrence county, and in September following be broke jail at Mt. Vernon and again escaped.

Owing to the numerous failures of banks of issue about this time there was great financial depression throughout the country. The people of Greene had to contend not only against this adverse circumstance, but against a great scarcity of produce, owing to the failure for two seasons of the corn crop. Many farmers became discouraged, and in the spring of this year sold their lands for low prices and removed to Kansas and elsewhere. [252]

On the 18th of May a small steamboat landed at the mouth of the James, in Stone county, and landed some freight for the merchants of Ozark, then in this county. In this year the improvement of White river by public aid practically ceased. Occasionally thereafter, even up to the present time, a steamer winds its way as far up as Forsyth.

July 3, a meeting of farmers and others was held at Ozark, Linden township, to consider the situation of affairs generally. The chairman was John Collins, of Taney county. Resolutions were adopted that, in view of the stringency of money matters and the extortions of "middlemen" it was the duty of those composing the meeting to start a "co-operative store." The resolutions were similar to some of those adopted by the Patrons of Husbandry fifteen years afterward, and this was doubtless the first "grange" meeting ever held in Greene county.

In August it was first made public that the sulphur springs near Ash Grove, possessed "remarkable medical properties."

March 20, a child of Mr. Hargiss, living in the northern part of the county, was burned to death by its clothes taking fire. In August a little son of R. B. Coleman, of Springfield, fell from a horse and fractured his skull, making a dangerous wound. October 20, a man named Gillmore was caught in the machinery of Nowlin's mill and literally crushed to pieces.


In February Mr. Stephen Bedford killed a gray eagle in this county which measured six feet between the tips of its wings.— In March, at a negro sale in Springfield, one negro girl, aged 18 or 20, brought $875; another, aged 30, brought $552; a "boy," of 22, sold for $1,615; a small boy, $1,000; another, $1,100; one woman and three children, $2,125. A " grand " 4th of July celebration was held in Mr. Haun's yard, in Springfield; orations were delivered by Revs. Woods and Morrison.— This year the county court imposed a license tax on "menageries" of $50 a day; on "smaller affairs," $25 per day.— August 21, J. D. Hade completed his new steam mill at Sprinfield.— In October Thos. J. Whitlock's steam mill, six miles from Springfield, was put in operation.— On the fourth of September there was a considerable frost in portions of this county and the weather was cold enough for fire.— A Mr. Coleman picked an apple from his orchard in the autumn of this year, measuring nearly five inches in diameter and weighing two pounds.— November 20, Mr. Richardson's Tribune newspaper, at Springfield, died, aged one year.— The corn crop was short this year again, and in December sold for $1 a bushel; corn meal was worth $1.25.— A tax of 30 cents on the $100 for county purposes was levied this year. [253]


In the winter of 1857-8 a local dramatic organization, called The Thespian Society," gave a series of entertainments at Temperance Hall, which were well attended. The proceeds of one event were donated to the Springfield Female College.

Upon the removal of the post-office to the house occupied by Drs. Wooten & Goodall, in January of this year, the Mirror remarked that, if one or two more removals had occurred, every house in town would have been the post-office at one time. In September it was again removed to a new building on South street.

Two lodges of Good Templars were in good condition in the town this spring. "Eureka" lodge had for officers: N. F. Jones, W. C. T.; Mrs. J. M. Morgan, worthy vice; R. P. Faulkner, secretary; J. R. Danforth, treasurer; Chas. Fox, inside guard; J. B. Perkins, outside guard. "Pride of the West" lodge was officered as follows: E. J. Beal, worthy chief; Jane Gott, worthy vice; John Ricks, secretary; Jasper McDonald, treasurer; Benj. Gott and J. P. Bailey, guards.

The Odd Fellows celebrated their anniversary this year by a procession and a supper in the evening at Temperance Hall. Hon. Sample Orr delivered an address. The Masons made a similar observance of St. John's Day, June 24.

June 17 Mr. Ingram's foundry was fairly opened at Springfield. This was the first institution of the kind in Southwest Missouri, and its inauguration was a matter of much interest to the people. Mr. Wm. Massey had the first piece of casting made.

The Presbyterian church was dedicated July 4th, and at the same time the M. E. South church building was well under way.

The sum of $5,000 was subscribed for a male academy in the place, (such an institution being imperatively demanded at that time), in July, and by the 1st of September there were two such academies in the town, besides five female schools and two music schools, all of which were well attended.

In September, there having been great complaint made of certain nocturnal disturbances and disorderly conduct, the city council passed an ordinance directing the marshal to arrest all persons found on the streets or "loitering or wandering about" at unusual hours. White persons so offending were to be imprisoned until 8 o'clock the next morning; negroes were to be soundly whipped. "So shall ye put away evil from among you," etc. [254]

Notwithstanding the hard times following the crash of 1857, and the partial failure of crops in this county for three years, property in Springfield advanced to fair prices this fall. In September some lots in the south part of town sold for $200 per acre. A house and lot on South street sold at sheriff's sale for $2,000; another on St. Louis street brought $2,052. A lot adjoining Temperance Hall brought $1,000. The corner lot on the west side, known as the Haden property, but bought of Sheppard & Kimbrough, was purchased by the county for the present court-house site for $3,000. A large lot of land near town and in other parts of the county was sold, even at sheriff's sale, for fair prices.

In the fall of this year the Butterfield stage company decided to run a line of stages from St. Louis to California via the southern route, through Kansas, New Mexico, Utah, in order to avoid the snows and the fierce Indians to be encountered on the northern route. September 17th the first outward bound overland mail stage for California passed through Springfield, which had been made a station on the line, three hours ahead of time. It was a great event to be sure when the driver came bounding in on the square on the top of the huge old Concord stage, loaded down with mail bags and baggage and crowded with passengers, and cracked his whip like a rifle shot, then drove up in front of Gen. Smith's hotel, and brought up all six of his gaily harnessed and spirited steeds with a pull of the lines that set them back on their haunches, and yelled "Who-o-o-a there, blame your hearts; all you think about is runnin'!"— when all this happened, as it did, Springfield took off its hat and cheered heartily and lustily. There was great rejoicing. That night the event was celebrated by letting off sky-rockets, throwing fire-balls, reducing dry goods boxes to ashes, hurrahing, and violating the prime obligations of the Good Templars! October 22, the first overland mail stage from California—23 days out from San Francisco—passed through town having on board five passengers, the mail, some treasure, etc. One of the passengers is said to have been Gen. J. W. Denver, from Pike's Peak. Denver City was named for Gen. D. [255]

On Christmas day, 1858, the population of Springfield was about 1,200. There were sixteen mercantile houses doing a business annually that aggregated $300,000; two drug stores, one cabinet shop, one furniture store, seven blacksmith shops, two tin shops, two saddle and harness shops, three hotels, three wagon shops, three jewelry establishments, two printing offices (the Mirror and the Advertiser) three churches, five schools, ten lawyers, five doctors, four clergymen, four secret orders (Masons, Odd Follows, Sons of Temperance, and Good Templars), three tailor shops, two milliners, a daguerrean gallery, Capt. Julian's carding machine, a gunsmith shop, three butcher shops, a hatter's shop, three confectionery stores, one livery stable, three boot and shoe shops, one dentist, a land office, a bank, land agents, twenty carpenters, house and sign painters, two brick masons, and one saloon, the latter institution being located beyond the "Dead Sea."

During the year 1858, 300,000 feet of lumber had been sold in the place. Smith & Graves were engaged in putting up a planing mill, which was completed the following spring. Mr. Ingram was engaged in repairing and adding to his foundry. Hitherto the foundry had not been able to do good work because of the presence of so much sulphur in the coal used. Four hundred bushels of dried fruit were shipped to St. Louis in 1858. J. H. Caynor & Co. had a tobacco manufactory which employed thirty hands, and invested $15,000. It had consumed 175,000 pounds of tobacco, and turned out 800 boxes of the manufactured article. A Mr. Fagg was also engaged in tobacco manufacturing. The city authorities began, at about the close of the year, to take the first steps for the permanent improvement of the streets, alleys, sidewalks, crossings, etc., which hitherto had been in a deplorable condition. The majority of the business houses around the square were temporary structures, and all, or nearly all, were frame buildings, a sample or two of which could recently be seen.


The following is an abstract of the assessors' books on the county for the year 1858, together with an abstract of the tax books:


Assessed Values



No. of slaves, 1,589, value


County tax, from polls


No. acres of land, 365,713; value


State tax from polls


No. town lots, 166; value


County tax from property


Money and Notes


State tax from property


Other personal property


Lunatic Asylum, from property






The number of polls paying taxes was 2,044.


On the 5th of April there was held in the courthouse at Springfield what was called a "Union meeting." It was presided over by Joseph Goodin, and Z. M. Rountree was secretary. The object of this meeting was to put on record the fact that those composing it were opposed to the dissolution of the Federal Union, and to do everything possible to prevent such a thing. Already the best men of the country feared for the fate of the republic. Northern fanatics and Southern fire-eaters were striving to rend it asunder. The former did not want to live in a country (so they said) whereof one-half depended for prosperity, on the begetting and bringing up of children for the slave market, and so the constitution which permitted slavery was denominated an instrument of infamy, and the flag of the stars and stripes was denounced as a flaunting lie. The fire-eaters of the South were blustering and complaining that their "rights" had been or were about to be trampled on by the North, and therefore they were for seceding and breaking up a government which they could not absolutely control.

With neither of these factions had the "Union" meeting of 1858 any sympathy. Resolutions denouncing the intemperate politicians of all parties for the injuries they were working were unanimously adopted. The attempt of Congress to fasten the Lecompton constitution upon the people of Kansas against their will was denounced as "an act of tyranny, oppression, and injustice." The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill and the repeal of the Missouri compromise the meeting believed to answer the intention of their authors as "entering wedges for the detestable plot of severing the American Union." The people, irrespective of party, were invited to join with the members of the meeting in forming a new organization, having for its object and motto the preservation of the Federal Union under the constitution. The members of the committee on resolutions were Elijah Gray, Hosea Mullings, Simon Bird, Joseph Headlee, George Howard, James H. Edwards, A. H. Leslie, H. R. Jarrett, J. W. Boren, Marshall Murray, J. L. McCraw, R. B. Owen, and Joseph Burden.

Hon. Marcus Boyd and Hon. Sample Orr addressed this meeting in strong Union speeches. It was agreed to call a nominating convention on the 17th of May to select county officers and a "vigilance committee" was appointed for each township. [257]

May 17, according to appointment, the Union convention reassembled. Its members were chiefly old Whigs and Americans, although many former Democrats participated. Judge Sample Orr presided; "Alphabet" Mack was secretary. Col. Marcus Boyd and Oscar B. Smith were nominated for the Legislature, Henry Matlock for sheriff, Joseph Burden for treasurer, and James W. Gray, John R. Earnest, and Samuel Hall for justices of the county court. R. B. Owen, E. Headlee, James Murray, R. W. Donnell, George McElhaney, John Elam, J. R. Weaver, Dr. Frazier, R. Teague, J. L. McCraw, and I. N. Jones were appointed an executive committee.

Speeches were delivered by Sample Orr, Stephen Bedford, John M. Richardson, of Springfield, and John W. Payne, of Mt. Vernon. All of the speakers warned the people of the danger of the dissolution of the Union and civil war, and declared that a national success of either the "National Democrats" or the "Black Republicans" would be dangerous to the life of the republic.

The Democratic convention, composed principally of anti-Benton democrats, and called "anties," "Sag Nichts," etc., by their opponents, held their convention May 8. Resolutions professing devotion to the old Union, "formed by Washington, Jefferson, and the patriots of '76," were adopted and the following ticket nominated: For Representatives, W. C. Price and Henderson Greene; for sheriff, Joseph K. Gibson; for county justices, Joseph Rountree, Greenberry Robberson, and John T. Boles.

About the 1st of June F. T. Frazier, of this county, was nominated for the State Senate, by the Democratic senatorial convention, at Ozark. Mr. Frazier had formerly been a strong Benton man and hostile to the "anties," who now nominated him. Hon. John S. Waddill, also of this county, was his opponent, being then in office and a candidate for re-election. He was an old Whig and received the support of old Whigs, Know Nothings, Benton men (if it can be said that there were Benton men after the death of Col. Benton in the previous April), and "Union men."

The candidates for Congress were Hon. John S. Phelps, Democrat, and Hon. John M. Richardson, Whig, Benton, Union, etc., both gentlemen of this county. They stumped the district, then largely Democratic.

The August election in Greene county resulted as follows: [258]

For Congress.— Richardson, 1,135; Phelps, 1,029.
For State Senator.—Waddill, 1,156; Frazier, 969.
— Marcus Boyd, 1,128; O. B. Smith, 1,075; Henderson P. Greene, 984; Wm. C. Price, 977.
Sheriff.— Henry Matlock, 1075; J. K. Gibson, 1,014.
Treasurer.— Wilson Hackney, 1,207; Joseph Burden, 901.
County Justices.— J. W. Gray, 1,121; Jos. Rountree, 1,106; J. R. Earnest, 1,093; Sam'l. Hall, 1,032; Allen Robberson, 1,005; J. T. Boles, 918.

So far as the county ticket was concerned, but one Democrat, Joseph Rountree, was elected to any office, but Frazier beat Waddill for the Senate in the district by a majority of 273, and Phelps' majority over Richardson in the Congressional race was 5,280. This year the Emancipationists ran tickets in portions of Missouri, and their candidate for the Legislature in Gasconade county, Mr. Sitton, was elected.


The third annual fair of the Southwestern Association was held at Springfield, in September, lasting four days. There were large crowds present each day. In addition to the ordinary attractions of first-class agricultural fairs, there was a "grand tournament" one day, wherein a number of the young men of the county took a tilt, with wooden lances and mounted on horseback, at a suspended ring, and he who displayed the most dexterity and exhibited the best horsemanship was to receive a gold chain and cross, which he was to bestow on some "maiden fair," who thereupon was to be considered "queen of beauty." Mr. J. A. Foster wielded his hickory lance and managed his horse most successfully and was awarded the prize, which he presented to Miss Mattie C. Nevill. On the last day of the fair five young ladies rode for a prize side-saddle. The contest was decided in favor of Miss Clem Ware, of Dade county; but there was great dissatisfaction at the award, and some ladies speedily raised a purse of $60 to buy a fine saddle for Miss Sue Moore. At the close of the fair T. G. Newbill, Esq., was chosen president of the society for another year. [259]


August 28, 1858, the first steps were taken by the authorities to build the present courthouse. W. B. Farmer, Warren H. Graves, and Josiah Leedy were appointed a board of commissioners on public buildings to select a suitable location for the erection of a new court-house and jail and to select plans and report the probable cost. On the 4th of October the commissioners made their report, and the same day the county court appropriated $3,000 to pay for the site of the building, which was purchased of Chas. Sheppard and J. B. Kimbrough. The game day an appropriation of $40,000 was made for the building of the court-house and jail, according to the plans and specifications drawn by Josiah Leedy, who was paid $163.25 for his work. In the latter part of December sealed proposals for completing the now structure were opened by the court, and on Christmas day the contract was awarded to Josiah Leedy for $36,000; the highest bid made was $45,000.


May 8, Gen. Nicholas R. Smith died at his residence in Springfield, aged—. May 23, Mrs. Marion S. McGown, wife of H. C. McGown, died at her home on Leeper prairie. S. G. Headlee died some time in June. A. W. Maupin, of Springfield, died June 15, aged 50. The wife of R. E. Blakey, of Springfield, died Nov. 16. Wm. Abernathy, of Springfield, died December 1. Mrs. Mary A. McClure, wife of Dr. M. M. McClure, of Springfield, died Dec. 24, aged 30.


During the year 1858, notwithstanding the "hard times," some money was made by the people of the county, or at least considerable amounts were brought in. Over 1,000 yoke of oxen were sold to parties outside of the county, chiefly to those interested in the Santa Fe and Utah trade. The average price paid was $75 per yoke. About 1,450 horses and mules were sold; the most of them going south to the planters of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, although many were sold to Butterfield and the Overland Stage Company. The average price at which these animals sold was $140, and the aggregate amount realized from the sale of oxen, horses, and mules was not far from $275,000. Owing to the shortness of the corn crop no hogs were fatted and sold to any considerable extent. Pork was scarce at $5 per hundred. At the close of the year there were more than 250,000 pounds of tobacco on hand, which, it was expected, would be manufactured and worked up in the county by the four tobacco factories then in successful operation, whose sales for the current year had not been far from $50,000.

Besides Springfield, the other towns of the county were in thriving condition. Ozark and Linden were flourishing, and confidently expected soon to cut loose from Greene and form a part of a new county. Ebenezer had two stores, sundry mechanical shops, and considerable village population. There were 17 post-offices in the county. At Springfield there were 35 regular arrivals and as many departures of the mail each week. Improvements of all kinds were going on, and the county had undertaken to build a $40,000 court-house. The Pacific railroad company claimed 168,000 acres of land within the boundaries of Greene, and there were 15,000 acres of unsold swamp land belonging to the county. [260]


On the 5th of January a military company was formed at Springfield under the laws of the State. The company was organized at a meeting held at the court-house, presided over by J. A. Foster. The following officers of the company were chosen: Captain, H. R. Jarrett; 1st lieutenant, John Hursh; 2d lieutenant, J. A. Foster; 3d lieutenant, R. E. Blakey. A uniform for the company was adopted, to consist of a blue frock-coat, light-blue pants, and. a stiff cloth cap, five or six inches high, with a plume. Col. Jarrett, the captain, forwarded a copy of the constitution and by-laws of the company to Gov. Stewart for approval, together with a petition for arms and for admission into the service of the State.

In January a remonstrance of the citizens of Linden township, against granting a dramshop license for that township, was granted. In Finley township there had been no whisky or other intoxicants sold for four years, and on the 15th of January there was not a single "grocery" or dramshop in Greene county. In October application for dramshop license for Springfield was made but refused, and an order made that no such license should issue for Campbell township for twelve months.

January 29, an act incorporating the "Springfield Male Academy passed the lower house of the Legislature, and February 12, C. B. Holland, J. Robinson, R. P. Faulkner, J. M. Bailey, and Littleberry Hendrick, trustees, advertised for sealed proposals to build a brick college building in the southwestern part of the town of Springfield—to be 30x65 feet in area, and two stories high. March 28 the incorporation act became a law.

About January 20, State Senator Frazier introduced a bill in the Senate house of the Legislature, which passed that body, for the abolition of the common pleas and probate court of this county. [261]

In the spring of the year Christian county had been formed. The southern part of this county, including the greater portion of the townships of Finley and Linden, had been made a part thereof. This cut down the area of the county very considerably, and lessened the value of taxable property very materially—so much so, indeed, that the county found itself in very straightened circumstances toward the close of the year, as it had paid out an extraordinarily large sum for costs in criminal prosecutions, notably in the prosecution of numerous parties for violations of the liquor law during the year.


In January the sheriff was ordered to sell the building then used as a court-house to the highest bidder, the proceeds to be applied on the new court-house, and the purchaser to remove the property off the square, and "clear away all the rubbish." W. H. Graves was appointed commissioner of public buildings, in place of Gen. N. R. Smith, deceased. The county court made an order to loan the sum of $8,000, without interest, to Josiah Leedy, the contractor for the new court-house, on his giving proper security. The money was to be applied to building the new county structures. Work progressed fairly at the start and through the summer of this year, but in the fall it began to lag, owing to the failure of the court to comply with the contract in respect to payments as fast as the work proceeded.

In December the county court ordered that, whereas the contract for building the new courthouse had been let December 25, 1858, the work to be paid for as it progressed, the last payment to be made December 31, 1861, and whereas, since the letting of the contract, the. county had lost a large portion of its most valuable territory, by the formation of Christian county,1 which territory contained a large share of its taxable wealth, and whereas, by reason of unusually large payments of costs in criminal cases, the county treasury was well nigh depleted, leaving the ordinary expenses of the county unprovided for—therefore, the county's representatives were instructed to ask the Legislature to pass an act allowing Greene county to borrow $16,000. The representatives, Boyd and Smith, introduced the bill, prepared by County Attorney Richardson, and the Legislature passed it January 10, 1860. [262]

1 All the printed authorities consulted show that Christian county was not organized until March 8, 1860. See Campbell's Gazetteer (ed. of 1874), p. 137; Switzler's History of Missouri, pp. 495 and 592; Missouri Hand-book, etc.


January 12 occurred the examination at Ebenezer High School, Mr. Avery, principal. Boarding could be had in the place for $1.50, which included lodging, washing, fuel, and lights.— February 12 the stage coach between Springfield and Tipton was stopped near the northern line of this county, in Polk county, and an attempt made to rob it by a band of highwaymen, who were after the "treasure box" from California, carried by the coach.— About the 1st of March W. R. M. Campbell killed what was known as a "Washington eagle," measuring seven feet from the point of one wing to the tip of the other.— The tax for county purposes was twenty cents on the $100 this year.— There was considerable excitement among the people when the news of John Brown's insurrection at Harper's Ferry, Va., reached the county, and many declared that the first gun had been fired in what would prove to be a bloody civil war.— In January the post-office called Pond Creek was changed to Little York.


In April, 1859, after the formation of Christian county, and a loss of a portion of Greene county territory, included in the townships of Linden and Finley, it became necessary, for our county court to adapt itself to the circumstances, and so there were created three new townships in the southern part of the county, Pond Creek, Wilson, and Clay.

The boundaries of Pond Creek were a line beginning at the northeast corner of section 2, tp. 8, range 23; thence south with the section line to the south boundary of the county; thence west to the Lawrence county line; thence north to the northwest corner of township 28, range 24; thence east with the township line to the beginning. Elections were to be held at Wade's Chapel.

Wilson township was bounded by a line beginning at the northwest corner of Pond Creek township; thence east on the township line between townships 28 and 29 to the range line between ranges 21 and 22; thence south with said line to the Christian county line; thence west along the county line to the southwest corner of Pond Creek township; thence north to the beginning. Elections to be held at J. M. Rountree's school-house. [263]

Clay.— Beginning at the northwest corner of Wilson township; thence east to northeast corner of sections 6, tp. 28, range 20 ; thence on the section line south to Christian county; thence west on the county line to the southeast corner of Wilson township; thence north to the beginning. Elections to be held at H. Hollingsworth's.


During the fall of 1858 there was some interest felt in this county in the reported discovery of gold in vast quantities, at and in the vicinity of Pike's Peak, Colorado, In the spring of 1859 there was considerable emigration from this county to the alleged "new Eldorado," but in the fall of the year many who went to find fortunes at "Pike's Peak or bust," returned, somewhat disappointed and crestfallen, and "busted, by thunder." For some time the excitement over Pike's Peak ran as high as it did over California in 1849 and 1850 but, as the real truth was sooner learned, it did not last so long. It made a good market for work cattle and horses during the year, and the ill wind, that it proved to be, blew somebody good after all.


At the August election, 1859, "Alphabet" Mack was elected circuit clerk over James Bond; Frank J. Abernathy, county clerk, over A. M. Julian, W. B. Farmer, H. D. Trantham, and J. M. Rainey; R. B. Owen, clerk of the probate and common pleas courts, over S. D. Galbraith; and J. L. McCraw, county surveyor, over G. W. Mitchell. This being "an off year," there was not much interest felt in the result of the election and party lines were not much regarded in voting for candidates.


In the winter of 1859 there were two first-class music teachers in Springfield. Mr. E. B. Narcross taught a vocal class, and Mrs. Burden gave instruction in instrumental music.

In April the citizens complained of the authorities for allowing certain of the streets and sidewalks to go without certain badly needed improvements, and called upon the authorities to show what had become of the money paid into the city treasury the past year. Whereupon the treasurer, W. McAdams, Esq., published a statement, from which it appeared that the receipts of the treasury from all sources from July 2, 1858, to March 31, 1859, had been $673.89, of which there had been paid out $256.50 for improving streets and alleys, fencing, and shrubbing the graveyard, taking the census, etc. [264]

At the city election, April 5, S. H. Boyd was elected mayor; Josiah Leedy, marshal; John S. Bigbee, recorder, and R. P. Faulkner, N. F. Jones, and Benjamin Pegram, councilmen.

Early in March J. E. Smith and W. H. Graves started their new steam planing mill, the first of the kind ever in the county. The first lumber in the town had been sawed with a whipsaw.

DIED IN 1859

January 11, Thos. W. Jernagin; January 14, Kindred Rose, Jr., and the wife of John Gardner; January 25, A. B. McClure.


In August of this year occurred a most horrible affair in this county, long remembered and not yet entirely forgotten. A Mr. John Morrow lived five or six miles south of Springfield with his wife, a most estimable lady, and one or two children. Mrs. Morrow was a sister of the Hunt brothers, well known in the county.

At the time in question, Mr. Morrow had been absent from home on business, and his wife was left alone in the house, which was in an isolated quarter, remote from other houses. A negro man named Martin, belonging to the Danforth estate, had been engaged in hauling past the residence of Mrs. Morrow and knew that she was alone. Taking advantage of her condition the black villain came to the house, fought his way in, despite the frantic efforts to repulse him on the part of the poor woman, who threw hot water on him and resisted him as best as she could until her strength gave out, and at last succeeded in perpetrating that nameless crime for which there is no adequate earthly punishment.

As soon as possible Mrs. Morrow gave the alarm, and soon a dozen or more negroes upon whom the least suspicion fell were apprehended and brought before her for identification. It seems that she was unacquainted with the brute who had dealt so cruelly and outrageously with her. At last "Mart." Danforth was brought to her and she at once recognized him. There were other circumstances tending to connect him with the offense, and he was at once arrested and taken to Springfield, and placed under guard in a room on the east side of the square. Here he confessed his guilt in the presence of the officers and others, and exhibited the wounds on his breast made by the scalding water thrown by Mrs. Morrow. There was not the slightest doubt of his guilt without any mitigating circumstances whatever. [265]

Court was in session at the time, and "Mart." alias "Martin," was promptly indicted. Before he could be tried, however, or even arraigned for trial, a mob of men made their way up to the room where the negro was confined, on the east side of the square, took him away from his guards, hurried him down the stairs and through the streets to a tree which stood on the north side of Jordan, west of where the cotton factory now stands, and strung him up. In a few minutes be was dead. The body was cut down and given hasty burial. Afterwards it was "resurrected," and dissected by a Springfield physician. No attempt was ever made to punish those composing the vigilance committee, and, August 19, the circuit attorney dismissed the case against Martin, without stating the reason why, and so the matter ended.

In view of all the circumstances, without justifying mob violence in general, it is proper to state that there was excuse for this one act of lawlessness on the part of those who hung Mart. Danforth. Negro men were prone to commit offenses of the most terrible character upon unprotected and defenseless white women, and it is said that many a crime of this description was perpetrated in this quarter of Missouri that went unpunished, because of the unwillingness of the poor victim to make public her horrible misfortune. Women were afraid to be left alone or to travel unprotected, and this was a state of affairs not to be borne with complacency. The law then provided no punishment, save a mutilation that rendered the commission of a second offense of the kind impossible, and this was not considered a penalty at all adequate to the gravity of the offense.

This same year in Saline county, three negroes were hung for outrages upon white women, and one was burned for murder. A few years before, in Jasper county, two negroes had murdered a physician, outraged his wife, then murdered her and burned her body, and that of her children in the house where she lived. The perpetrators were caught and burned to death in the Diamond Grove. Greene county people were not alone in taking the law into their own hands in extreme cases. Nine years thereafter it was deemed necessary to apply the same remedy for the perpetration of rape—in the case of "Bud " Isbell's taking off. [266]

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