Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri • ca. 1914

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens

Chapter 20
by Graham Young

The institutions which, during recent years, have made Springfield one of the most important manufacturing centers in the Southwest, originated in modest beginnings. They came in response to the demands of the times growing from primitive industries into great establishments with the progress of the community from a village into a town and afterward into a city. The "fix it" man came into the country with the first pioneers, making repairs to everything that was needed by them from clothing to guns, tools and wagons.

The "tinker, the tailor, the candlestick maker" were in evidence among the first citizens of Springfield in the early days, occupying a place corresponding in importance to that of the proprietors of the most extensive establishments of later times and relatively they were persons of greater consequence in the community than the managers of the great plants in which vast industries are now carried on. The all-around mechanic who opened a shop in a frontier settlement commanded business as soon as he was able to demonstrate skill and ability to handle the work which was needed in his line. H often carried on his business for years without additional help. His handiwork was his advertisement and he was known far and wide if he was able to meet the requirements of those whose welfare was largely dependent upon his thoroughness and efficiency.

One of the necessities of the pioneer's equipment was firearms, and the man who was skilled in the art of their manufacture and repair was one of the most useful craftsmen among them. Such was Jake Painter, son of Samuel Painter, who came to Springfield in 1831, dying here in 1836. Jake's brothers, John and Elisha were devoted to the sports of the field and continued in the occupation of hunters and fishermen long after the big game had disappeared from this vicinity and the rivers and creeks had been depleted of much of the original abundance of the finny tribe. Jake bought a lot on Olive street near the northwestern corner of the public square in 1845 and established there a gunsmith shop which afterward became famous. Among other things he was the maker of a pistol known as "Jake's Best" which was much in favor with the adventurers who came through Springfield in 1849, 1850, and 1851 bound for the California gold fields. It was one of the busiest shops in town where this redoubtable weapon was manufactured and all kinds of guns and pistols overhauled, repaired and remodeled. [663]

About the same time another pioneer concern was established here by J. C. better known as "Chap" Bigbee, an unassuming descendant of the Virginia family of whom the illustrious Patrick Henry was a member. He was a tailor, such a good one, it is related, that some of the old-timers would not wear any suit for their Sunday best except those made by the painstaking Bigbee. Another skilled artisan, Wilson Hackney, occupied the same shop with him, engaged in the making of hats.

Grandfather Jamison and John Lair were pioneer blacksmiths; Michael Boren was a tinner of antebellum days who continued in the business here, until several years after the war. W. H. Lyman was a blacksmith of the Civil war period and the decade following. An antebellum shoemaker named Jopes had a shop on Boonville street.

The first foundry in Springfield was started by Martin Ingram in 1858. It was during this year that Charles Gottfried opened a furniture shop on Boonville street in a location since continuously occupied by him and his sons, the concern now being known as the Gottfried Furniture and Carpet Company.

The rapid extension of commerce in every direction during the years immediately preceding the Civil war, opened the way for the establishment here of stores carrying stocks of goods sufficient to fill large and small orders for merchandise of various kinds. Among these was one opened in 1862 by J. T. Keet and William Massey on the west side of the square. Newton Rountree became identified with the firm afterward and it is now known as the Keet-Rountree Dry Goods Company. G. D. Milligan who started in the grocery business on the east side of the square was the pioneer jobber in his line. This was the beginning of the wholesale trade of Springfield, which has had much to do with making this city a manufacturing center.

At that time an old-fashioned pioneer mill, a one-horse affair was grinding the grist for the community and sawmills were still in operation in the vicinity of Springfield, no great inroads yet having been made into the forest primeval hereabouts which was soon afterward denuded of its most valuable timber by the ravages of the Civil war and the activities of the years which followed. [664]


During the first thirty years of her existence Springfield grew from a frontier settlement into an enterprising community of two thousand inhabitants the industrial progress of which corresponded to that which had been made in a gradual development of the natural resources of the country in its immediate vicinity and the beginning of the extension of its commerce to other sections. The rush to the California gold fields and the initial movement of emigration to Texas had opened up lines of travel and traffic to the far West and Southwest, but Springfield was still surrounded by dense forests and wide prairies reaching in every direction over the plateau on which the town was situated into the rugged country beyond, a vast region of almost unbroken wilderness spreading over an interminable succession of hills and hollows, in which the inhabitants lived mostly in log cabins and divided their attention between hunting and fishing, and the pursuits of agriculture. There were some fine farms around Springfield and other towns but farther away it had not been thought worth while to cultivate the land except in the valleys along the principal streams and in other choice locations. Prospecting for mineral had scarcely been begun except in a wild-eyed search for a certain "lost Louisiana" gold mine sought in vain for a hundred years through the Ozark and other ranges of lesser mountains running south and west to the foot hills of the Rockies. In this quest the adventurers passed over a world of mineral wealth in lead, zinc, iron and other ores the partial development of which has been the basis upon which great manufacturing interests have been built up, to say nothing of the coal mining industry in which millions of dollars are now invested and thousands of men employed. No attention was paid to coal and other mineral products which were of comparatively little value as long as the country was without the means of transportation required for their utilization.

The growth of the milling interest of the city to its present great dimensions illustrates in an interesting manner the development of manufacturing industry from the arduous labor and painful processes of early days to the facilities and prodigious capacity of the present.

When the first settlers reached this section of country not quite a hundred years ago they brought with them in addition to such tools, implements and supplies as were necessary, an industry and ability indispensable to the welfare, sometimes even the existence of the pioneer. There was abundance of fish and wild game to furnish meat, the Woods were full of wild fruits, berries and nuts and it is related by veracious chroniclers that wild honey was so abundant that it retailed at a cent per pound, being not only a cheap and delicious article of diet but making an excellent substitute for wagon grease. But bread, the staff of life was lacking. It was too far to haul flour from. St. Louis and it was years before communities were sufficiently large for the establishment of even the one-horse grist mills which marked the first step in the development of the present system. As soon, however, as the first corn crop was gathered, not reverting to the method of the Indians in its preparation for food but by a process almost as crude, the settlers began to produce their daily bread. A conical shaped hole was made by boring or burning into the top of a stump or a section of a large tree, the hole being about a foot wide and eighteen inches deep. A great wooden pestle was made to fit the hole, sometimes it was swung to a pole when it was called a sweep pestle, sometimes it was lifted up and down by hand. The hole was filled with grain and the process continued as long as was necessary for the reduction of the grain to something like the corn meal of later days. The bread made from it was called "pound cake." [665]

It is related that a man named Ingle erected the first grist mill in southwestern Missouri at a point on the James river about eight miles south of Springfield, where the first settlement was made in this vicinity in 1821. There is record of another mill being put up by William Fulbright in 1832 near the head of Little Sac.

Mills driven by horse power and small water falls became numerous in southwestern Missouri as the population increased and one of them was operated in Springfield, known as the Julian mill.

In similar manner gradual progress was made toward the sawmill and planing mill of these days. When the settlers built their first houses the logs used were round with the bark on. Then came the logs hewn flat on two sides, and the squared logs. Puncheon floors followed the dirt floors of the first hastily constructed cabins. Then came the whipsawed boards. Logs were laid across frames and boards sawed out with tedious labor. Then followed the mill with the circular saw. Planing mills and lumber yards were soon among the busiest institutions in the city when the people of Springfield began the work of rehabitation, immediately after the war, in 1866. Quarries were opened and brick yards and lime kilns started to meet the extraordinary activity in building operations which in a few years transformed the town into a populous little city. Among the planing mills in operation at that time was one owned by "Uncle" Davy C. See, a venerable gentleman who soon disposed of his interest to S. W. McLaughlin and he to Redington and Chester of Chicago. They shortly afterward sold their interest to R. E. Everett and his associates, who have since built up the great institution known as the Springfield Planing Mill, Lumber and Construction Company.


Among the industries which flourished here in the early days were the carding of wool to be used in the making of homespun cloth and the tanning of hides to furnish leather for various purposes. Two important institutions of antebellum days were a carding machine operated by horse power on the east side of the Boonville street bridge over Jordan and a tan yard on the west side of Boonville street near by. Thus the manufacture of leather goods was begun with the initial process of converting the raw material supplied by the hides into the leather which was worked up into boots, shoes, harness, saddles and whatever else in this line was needed by the pioneers. [666]

There has been continuous progress in the manufacturing of saddlery and harness, carriages and other vehicles and in recent years, the accession of collateral industries in connection with the automobile business. Minor industries are represented by numerous concerns some of which have prospered greatly. Charles Perkins established a carriage factory soon after the war and continued in business a number of years. His shop was on Boonville street. The City Carriage Shop was established in 1876 and conducted for years by Jess & Sturdy, Mr. Sturdy coming in later. M. Bowerman was the proprietor of a popular paint shop which was in operation a number of years. William McAdams was a leader in the saddlery and harness business. John S. Carson head of a family who have been well known here for many years was one of the first skilled leather workers employed in the McAdams and other establishments. Hackney and Speaker opened a tin shop in 1880 and built up a prosperous business.

In the meantime the spinning wheel and the hand loom have been succeeded by textile mills which flourished here for years but did not continue in operation, a failure concerning which it is outside the province of this chapter to speculate. A brewery has been built up and disappeared in a wave of prohibition sweeping over the western country and a distillery also, perhaps on the same account. When the sawmill gave place to the planing mill it was but the beginning of a diversification of industry which in this day has given us the furniture factory and other shops in which nearly every kind of wood work is done.

The development of the southwestern country during the decade from 1850 to 1860 made busy times in Springfield in which industrial progress was fully proportionate to increase of population. There was as yet no opening for anything like a factory in a community of a few hundred people engaged in various occupations but the hum of industry was heard on every hand in small shops located on Boonville and South streets, St. Louis and College, Walnut and Olive, all close in around the public square. The longest street was made by the continuation of Boonville and South streets from the present location of Center on the north to Mt. Vernon on the south.

A census of Springfield in 1854 showed a population of five hundred and fifty. A school enumeration made by Reuben Blakey two years later showed an increase of about two hundred. Cary Jamison and John Lair established blacksmith shops here about this time, the former on what is now west Walnut street and the latter on St. Louis street. [667]

The O. K. Flouring mill on what is now West Mill street was established by Allen Mitchell and John Caynor shortly afterward. Hancock Haden & Company established a small tobacco factory in 1858 near the present site of the gas tank on Main street. A. M. Julian was operating a carding machine on the east side of Boonville, and there was a tan yard on the opposite side of the street.

W. J. McDaniel, who came to the city in 1862, from Ozark, at first engaged in the tinning business, starting a small bank at the same time, afterward becoming prominent in the business and financial affairs of the community. Jonathan Fairbanks embarked in the planing mill business on his arrival here from Ohio. Others whose names have since become household words were early identified with the establishment of different industries.

The first foundry was opened with elaborate ceremonies in 1858. It occupied a site near the present location of the Woodruff building. W. H. Worrell opened a confectionery in 1858 on the lot at the corner of College street and the square afterward occupied many years by the Greene county court house. Cy M. Eversole and others of his family established the Eagle mill on a farm southwest of the city in 1867.

Doctor Bailey, a pioneer citizen, took the lead in the establishment of the cotton mill in the interest of which the Messrs. Sheppard, McGregor and others were active. The financing of this and other manufacturing concerns was the beginning of promotive enterprise in Springfield.

The industrious printer was on hand early in the history of the city beginning his activities with the establishment of the Ozark Standard in 1837. Job work was incidental to the occupation of the typographical force in the shops from which different newspapers were issued. There was continuous improvement in the "art preservative" with progress in other lines but it was long before ambitious projects and concentration of effort in different lines made way for separation of the newspaper and job office in different departments and eventually for the establishment of concerns which in the extent of their operations and the value of their products have attained the importance of manufacturing institutions.

The establishment of a trans-continental stage line through the city in 1858 and the extension of the government telegraph line to Fort Smith in 1860 marked the beginning of a period of great development following the lines indicated by those pioneer movements in the extension of the facilities of communication. Of similar significance was the formulation of plans for the building of railroads through this section, projects which engaged the attention of public-spirited citizens early in the history of Springfield and were consummated in the successful inauguration of great enterprises which bridged the bloody chasm of the Civil war with high hopes of prosperity that was interrupted but not long delayed by the great conflict. [668]

Bountiful crops in 1861 had given people here a great surplus which was of inestimable value in meeting the demands made upon them during the first two years of the conflict. Growing scarcity resulting from the depredations of contending armies and the waste of war caused a great advance in prices of products. This was maintained for several years after the close of hostilities by abundant circulation of currency, stimulating enterprise of every kind in a new country in which the development of vast natural resources had but just begun and the people, anticipating a general revival of business, were fully awake to the opportunities of the times. Thus, the interruption of material progress here was brief and inconsequential compared with the results of arrested development in other parts of the country not so fortunately situated. There was an influx of enterprising men during the next few years some of whom were to make their mark in the shaping of Springfield's destiny. Among those who came just before during and immediately after the war were John McGregor who in 1866 opened a hardware store which afterward grew into a great wholesale and retail establishment; James Abbott who was instrumental in the establishment of a well equipped foundry and other institutions of permanent value; Job Newton, pioneer dealer in grain, hides and other products; Doctor Bailey, one of the principal promoters of the cotton mill; Jared E. Smith, who introduced the use of steam in Springfield in a planing mill afterward owned by John Schmook; Dr. E. T. Robberson, prominent in public enterprises of all kinds, who started a steam elevator at North Springfield; Jonathan Fairbanks, who helped put in one of the first new planing mills after the war, in 1866; William Nagler who established a small meat packing establishment in this year, and a score of others who were active in starting new enterprises and developing old ones and in a general way shaping the industrial affairs of the city so as to make possible the achievements of the present.

With the advent of the Atlantic and Pacific railroad which reached North Springfield in 1870 came a tremendous impetus to business followed by a short period of bounding prosperity. It was at this time that the first railroad shops were built and several manufacturing enterprises which have figured prominently in the history of the city were established. Among these were the improved foundry with James Abbott at the head of it; the Springfield Wagon Works, started by H. F. Fellows; the cotton mills, with Doctor Bailey and other prominent citizens in charge; and the woolen mills operated by M. K. Smith.

Twenty-two thousand dollars in bonds in aid of manufacturing enterprises was voted by the city to encourage manufacturing, in 1872. Sprinfield had an extensive trade in cotton and wool in those days, as well as in hides, furs and other products in which there has been a falling off while there have been steady gains in the volume of trade in grain, fruit, vegetables, etc., all of which has affected the different manufacturing interests to a considerable extent. [669]

There were one hundred and fifty business houses in the old town, with stocks aggregating a million dollars in value in 1878, according to Escott's city directory. The Springfield Gaslight Company had then, after three years of operation, eighty-two regular consumers, and fixtures and furnishings for about forty more. The company had thirteen thousand feet of first-class mains and the city had leased fifty street lamps.

Rapid development of mining interests followed discoveries of lead and zinc at different points in southwestern Missouri during the decade between 1870 and 1880. Joplin became famous and rich strikes were made at other points in that vicinity and later at Aurora in Lawrence county and Ash Grove in Greene county. Meanwhile extensive coal fields were tapped by new railroads in this section, assuring abundant supplies of fuel needed by the great manufacturing institutions which had begun to grow up in Springfield. Later lead and zinc mines were opened in the southern part of Greene county and in Christian county.

Minor industries of the old town at that time included the job offices of the Springfield Leader, Times and Patriot-Advertiser, and book-binding and. blank book manufacturing concerns of J. A. Harris and C. B. McIntyre. The Frisco machine shop, erected in 1873, was the principal institution of North Springfield employing one hundred and seventy men and turning out over a hundred new cars in addition to keeping up repairs on three hundred and sixty-three miles of road. Among other industries of North Springfield in 1879 was mentioned a new steam elevator erected by Dr. E. T. Robberson; F. A. Heacker's cigar and tobacco factory and the Southwester job office.

The period of business depression which followed the panic of 1873 was now drawing to a close. Springfield had successfully weathered the storm of adversity, from the effects of which some important cities had scarcely begun to recover. Immigrants continued to come into the country, the development of which continued steadily.

Meantime plans for improvement of the situation were being worked out, including, among a number of important new enterprises, the building of Kansas City, Ft. Scott and Memphis railway to this city and the building of new branches of the Frisco, all of which were in the end to contribute greatly to the prosperity of this city. [670]

The Springfield Directory of 1881, published by the United States Company, gives an interesting review of the city's industries. The Springfield cotton mills, established in 1872, now employed about three thousand spindles, driving sixty looms, with an annual capacity of one thousand bales of cotton converted into fabrics, which, it is stated, found a ready and profitable market at home. There was also a ready sale in the vicinity for products of the Springfield Woolen Mills, in operation at that time, manufacturing a superior grade of cloths and yarns from wool grown in this section. The Queen City Mills, established in 1879, supplied with the best improved machinery, were turning out one hundred and fifty barrels of flour per day, most of which was shipped to Eastern and Southern markets. The Eagle Mills, with capacity for fifty barrels, produced an excellent grade of flour, which found favor in the home market. The Springfield Wagon Works, giving employment to one hundred hands, was turning out annually two thousand wagons of light weight and great strength and durability, a type of vehicle much needed for the rough country of southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas, in which most of them were sold. The spokes, felloes and axles were made from choice timber procured in this section. There was at this time another wagon factory, conducted by James Hodnett. About this time the manufacture of white lime of superior quality from the lime stone abounding in this vicinity became an important industry, which has since grown into great magnitude here and Ash Grove and other points in this vicinity.

Other industries included two iron foundries, a carriage factory, grain elevators and smaller industries relating to the trades. Special mention is made of the Old Coon Tobacco Works, in which cigars, plug, twist and smoking tobaccos were manufactured. Mention is also made of an establishment conducted by H. O. Dow & Company, which carried on an extensive business in agricultural implements. The jobbing trade of the city that year was estimated at two million five hundred thousand dollars, extending throughout southwestern Missouri and into adjacent sections of Arkansas, Kansas and the Indian Territory.

The Kansas City, Fort Scott. & Memphis railway was completed from Kansas City to Springfield, May 25, 1881, opening direct communication with Chicago and other cities north and west of here. The subsequent extension of the road to Memphis and connection with the southeastern seaboard greatly increased the commercial importance of this city, which had now become the principal shipping point for the various products of a rich region, including cotton, wool, corn, wheat, oats, potatoes, onions and other vegetables, hay, tobacco, ginseng and a long list of miscellaneous articles. Ten thousand bales of cotton were handled in Springfield the first year. The trade in hides, furs, and peltries had then grown to great proportions, while poultry and dairy products were beginning to assume importance as factors in-the jobbing business of Springfield. The Frisco machine shops at North Springfield were giving steady employment to about two hundred skilled workmen and were in process of enlargement to double their capacity. The mercantile establishments embraced one wholesale house and representation of all leading lines of retail trade. Two extensive brick yards had a combined annual production of one million five hundred thousand dollars of the best quality of brick. The two towns were now connected by a street railway and plans for uniting the two corporations were being discussed following rapid progress in building up the vacant space between them, which has been filling up steadily ever since 1886, when the two Springfields became one. [671]


Much of this vacant space has since been utilized in sites for factories, public buildings and various other institutions, while various metropolitan improvements have come in regular order, including waterworks, electric power plants and other things which conduce to the development of manufacturing interests. Industries have multiplied here since that time, becoming too numerous for particular mention except of the most important. A hundred lines of industrial enterprise are represented by establishments, having an aggregate capitalization of millions of dollars. Their plants occupy some of the largest and most substantial buildings in the city, and they give employment to several thousand skilled workmen and a host of other workers. Springfield more than held her own during the decade from 1880 to 1890, a period in which few cities of the country made great gains, while there was retrogression in some sections in consequence of spasmodic growth. There was a steady improvement in conditions with constant development of established institutions and gradual addition of new ones. Greater gains were made in the following decade. Population increased from 21,850 in 1890 to 23,267 in 1900. The next decade was marked by extraordinary progress and an increase of 51 per cent in the population of the city, which in 1910, had reached 35,201. In a resume of progress, published by the Springfield Club, December 15, 1911, the population was estimated at 45,000. The assessed valuation, on 30 per cent. basis, was $16,537,740. Six hundred retail stores had an invested capital of $5,000,000; two hundred jobbing concerns, $2,000,000. Total sales aggregated $30,000,000 annually. Fifteen banks had a capital and surplus of more than $2,000,000, with deposits aggregating more than $8,000,000. This progress was due largely to industrial development. In five years Springfield had made a gain of 45 per cent in the amount of capital invested in its manufactures.

Rapid development of timber and mineral resources in the country tributary to Springfield and diversification of its agriculture have in the meantime added greatly to the extent and variety of the city's industries while building up other great concerns the prosperity of which promotes the continuous development of manufacturing enterprise. The establishment of a great electric power plant at Powersite, on White river, has added greatly to the advantages of Springfield and may be regarded as the initial step in a general movement for the utilization of long neglected resources of this kind in the Southwest. It may not be vain to imagine a day in which this power will not only drive the wheels of industry in this city, but will be used in conveying hither the products of a great scope of country in the hilly region to the south which might never have been reached by steam railroads and have been all but inaccessible by other means. Facilities of transportation will eventually bring into market much fertile land which lies among the hills in that section, as well as the products of its forests and mines. All this adds greatly to the prospects of Springfield as a manufacturing center but not more than a recent revival of interest here in the subject of home industries. All the factories of the city are more or less dependent upon the good will and patronage of friends and neighbors and public-spirited citizens generally, and especially many struggling industries in the early stages of development, which if they receive timely encouragement and assistance may grow into great institutions but which may otherwise be doomed to failure. [672]

— — — — — — — —


— — — — — — — —

The Springfield Jobbers' and Manufacturers' Association, organized in 1910 had done much to promote cooperation in the upbuilding of the city's commercial and industrial interests. The following are members of the association: Anchor Broom Company, Crighton Provision Company, Harry Cooper Supply Company, Creswell Lumber Company, Garner Office Supply company, Hall Drug Company, Hermann-Sanford Saddlery Company, Heer Dry Goods Company, Holland Banking Company, Inland Printing & Binding Company, International Harvester Company, Jarrett-Richardson Paving Accompany, Keet & Rountree Dry Goods Company, Landers Lumber Company, L. E. Lines Music Company, Martin Brothers Piano Company. G. D, Milligan Grocery Company, McGregor-Noe Hardware Company, Newton Grain Company, Quinn-Barry T. & C. Company, Rogers & Baldwin Hardware Company, P. R. Sinclair Coal Company, Simmons Sales Company, Frank B. Smith Laundry Company, Southern Missouri Trust Company, Steineger Saddlery Company, Stewart Produce Company, Springfield Candy Company, Springfield Creamery Company, Springfield Grocer Company, Springfield Furniture Company, Springfield Hat & Clothing Company, Springfield Seed Company, Springfield Wagon Company, Union National Bank, Upham Shoe Company, E. B. Wilhoit Oil Company; Williams Lumber Company, Wood-Beazley Seed Company Woods-Evertz Stove Company. [673]

The association has been active in looking after the various interests which it represents, and needs only the united support of all concerned to become most influential in the development of the manufacturing and commercial business of this section. Much progress has been made in the improvement of the freight rate situation here and more is to be expected with the continuous development of the spirit of cooperation in the community and the increase of transportation facilities, together with a somewhat slow but very certain growth of understanding in regard to the relative importance of various interests involved in the consideration of rate problems. The advantage which accrues to manufacturing institutions of Springfield in several important lines by reason of abundance and consequent cheapness of raw material in this vicinity has been offset to a considerable extent by difficulties of transportation in the more remote sections of the Ozark region and the great differentiation in railroad rates between inland points, like Springfield, and those which are allowed the advantage of water rates in the adjustment of freight schedules by the powers that be. Navigation, actual and mythical, constitutes an important factor in the interstate rate problem which presents various difficulties from different points of view to be solved with the progress of events in the interest of the greatest good to the greatest number. In the meantime negotiations are in progress for the extension of Springfield's metropolitan electric traction lines to the different points in this vicinity, thus forming the nucleus for a great system of interurban lines which may play an important part in the development of this section. The evolution of the motor truck and widespread interest in road improvement are expected to greatly increase facilities of communication in this vicinity. And while points hitherto deemed practically inaccessible for the purposes of general commerce or complete development are thus being reached, other lines of communication are being opened by building of new railroads, extension of old ones, while the improvement of the inland waterways proceeds apace. Actual deep water at Memphis and Little Rock may eventually do much toward establishing n. equilibrium in freight rates, and in the meantime, the continuous pressure for recognition of interests, like those of the manufacturing industries of the cities of the Middle West and Southwest, may force important modifications of railroad policy if not the adoption of new principles in the readjustment of freight rates for rapidly growing industrial centers like Springfield. This is but a cursory mention of the more important matters which the officials of the Springfield Jobbers' and Manufacturers' Association have constantly under consideration, together with a great number and variety of other questions affecting many interests and altogether involving the destiny of Springfield and the welfare of its people much more than some of them may imagine.

The present extent and variety of Springfield's industries may be represented by a statement embracing general figures, facts of interest in regard to some and lists of others in proper order. [674]

By far the most important of the industries of Springfield at the present time, the great railroad machine shops of the Frisco system, are interesting not only on account of the magnitude of the plant and the extent of its operations but in the events connected with its development, a full account of which would constitute the epitome of the history of railroad and industrial development in this section, much of which has been otherwise related. These shops comprise three separate plants, the original Frisco shops, erected in 1873, On forty acres of land adjacent to North Springfield, now in the northeastern part of the city; the shops of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad Company, built on Mill street near the western limits of the city after the construction of their road in 1880; and the splendid new plant in the northwestern part of the city, erected in 1909, one of the most extensive and completely equipped establishments of the kind in the country. Recent statistics show that the Frisco has been paying to the employees of its shops here on the average of more than a hundred thousand dollars per month. The number of its employees ranges between two and three thousand at different times. Other industries of the city, numbering something over a hundred, give employment to nearly eight thousand workers. The aggregate value of their annual products is about nine million dollars.


There has been rapid expansion of later years in the business of the public service corporations of the city and similar great institutions. The Springfield Water Works Company, the Springfield Gas and Electric Company, the Springfield Traction Company and the Missouri and Kansas Telephone Company have made extensive additions and improvements.

The Springfield Ice and Refrigerating Company was established in 1889. Its plant, fronting on Mill street and extending through to Phelps avenue, in the block between those thoroughfares and Boonville and Campbell streets, furnishes cold storage capacity of 360,000 cubic feet and turns out from fifteen to twenty thousand tons of ice per annum. Its business covers Springfield and tributary territory for a hundred miles around. The concern is capitalized at $150,000 and employs from thirty-five to forty men.

The Swift and Armour establishment, dealing in supplies of meat, poultry and eggs, fish, etc., represents a combination of industrial and commercial business, the magnitude of which it is difficult to estimate. Rebori & Conipanv and the Stewart Produce Company have built up a great trade in fruits, which are also handled extensively by other concerns, while still others have specialized in vegetables, etc., all of this trade being closely related to the development of different industries.

The Eisenmayer, Link and the Meyer Flouring Mill Companies are operating establishments here which have a combined daily capacity of 3,300 barrels of flour, which, together with feed, etc., about 2,500 bags, makes their combined annual product worth about $5,750,000. Their combined storage capacity of their elevators in Springfield and vicinity is about 900,000 bushels. The Eisenmayer mill was established in 1884; the Link Mill several years later. [675]

The three mills have eighty-seven employees on their pay rolls. The Link Milling Company's establishment is located on Phelps avenue and, that of the Eisenmayer Company on Commercial street. The merits of their products are well known at home and abroad.

The John F. Meyer & Sons Milling Company are the proprietors of two mills in Springfield. One of these was rebuilt in 1895 from the plant of the Queen City Milling Company, purchased the year before. The other mill was erected by the Meyer Company in 1900, on a site in the eastern part of the city. Improvements have been kept up in these mills, both of which are equipped with the best of up-to-date machinery, and the excellence of their products commands a ready sale in competition with the best in all parts of the United States, while about one-fourth of their output is exported to Europe.

The United Iron Works, the largest manufacturing concern of its kind in the city, has two plants here, one occupying the building originally erected for the cotton factory on East Phelps avenue and the other known as the Crescent plant, located a half mile west of the other at the corner of Phelps and Prospect avenues. The Springfield plants are equipped for doing almost anything in the line of iron work that may be needed. Their specialties are ice and refrigerating machinery and railroad casting. They supply the Frisco company with all the great castings needed on its system. Orders for large and small jobs have been handled expeditiously and with such satisfaction that there has been a constant increase in the business of the concern since it was established in 1903. This business extends over the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas with frequent special orders from various points all over the United States. Several hundred men are employed. The institution is the outgrowth of A combination of the Sterling and Crescent works of this city and other plants located in Aurora and Joplin, Missouri, and Pittsburg, Iola, and Independence, Kansas. [676]


In point of age as well as of magnitude and other important respects, the Springfield Wagon Works is one of the most interesting manufacturing institutions of the city. Springfield wagons are known throughout all that portion of the United States in which wagon wisdom has been most-widely diffused, comprehensive and correct during the past half century of prodigious development in this country. From the Mississippi river to the Pacific coast and from Canada to the Gulf and the Mexican border the strong light carry all made here has been seen traversing the roughest of the Ozark trails and the roads across the plains and through the mountains beyond, while from year to year there has been a steady increase in the demand for the Springfield wagon from agricultural sections, together with numerous orders for vehicles adapted to special purposes in the oil and lumber regions and in cities and towns in various sections of the country. For more than forty years the Springfield Wagon Works, established by Col. H. F. Fellows in 1872, has been turning out a wagon which has been winning favor in competition with the vehicles turned out by the greatest factories in the country. The Springfield wagon lasts longer and gives more general satisfaction than any other wherever it has been tried. Why? The answer involves a statement of facts which reveal much of general interest in connection with manufacturing problems. Colonel Fellows was one of those far-seeing men who assisted in laying the foundations of the future prosperity of Springfield broad and deep by the establishment of legitimate enterprises based on natural conditions, making the most of opportunities and advantages afforded by a favored location. He began operations with a limited capital in a factory of moderate dimensions on Boonville street, near the Jordan branch of Wilson's creek, which supplied the water needed for steam and other purposes in the-works. He called to his aid a number of honest and capable mechanics, whose skill and efficiency properly rewarded was counted upon as the first element of success in his undertaking. Of scarcely less importance was the material to be used, but this in those days was not so much of a problem as it has become with many manufacturers in later years. Work was begun with well seasoned hickory, the toughest timber to be found among the choice products of the Ozark forests. This and second growth white oak have since been used exclusively in the construction of the running gear of the Springfield wagon, which in a few years became known far and near for its strength and durability. Progress was made in the face of extraordinary difficulties, a competition which began when the first of these model wagons were offered for sale and which continued through four decades of struggle, perseverance and continuous triumph and development for this splendid memorial of home enterprise and business integrity. Meantime the forests in this vicinity were searched by various interests for their most valuable timber and the source of supply of the material needed in the manufacture of Springfield wagons was moved back to points more and more remote. The wagon-making industry of the country, after a period of prodigious growth, began to be monopolized. The name and good will of many a factory acquired in the days of honest Wagon building passed into the hands of a syndicate to be exploited for all it was worth while it was sought to overcome the defects caused by the use of inferior material and cheap, inefficient labor by "ways that are dark and tricks that are vain." Few, indeed are the institutions which have stood the tests of time in this extraordinary period more successfully than the Springfield Wagon Works, which, after overcoming the extraordinary adversity of total destruction by fire in 1883, was rebuilt in 1885 and has continued making progress, until today, with a plant covering thirteen acres of ground at the intersection of Phelps avenue and Sherman street, it has become one of the bulwarks of the city's prosperity. Stored in the capacious yards there are over six hundred thousand feet of hickory timber and immense quantities of second growth white oak undergoing the old-fashioned process of seasoning by air drying, which requires from three to four years. In the factory are found a hundred and fifty workers, all skilled in their tasks and many of them veterans in the employment of the company. Throughout the factory is found indubitable evidence of the fact that it is up-to-date and thoroughly equipped. It is a unit electric motor plant, the motor having one hundred and seventy-five horse-power. Water is furnished by a reservoir of 1,250,000 gallons capacity. Provision is made for fire protection by the automatic sprinkling system, supplied by direct pressure of the city water works with the reservoir in reserve, operated by an independent system fire pump having a capacity of a thousand gallons per minute. The plant is provided with special machinery for electric welding and other work in which manual labor has been succeeded by the latest appliances of mechanical invention. The greatest care and diligence are manifested in the operations of the works from the selection and preparation of the material, through all the processes of fashioning in perfectly fitting parts, to the assembling of the same in a finished product of rare excellence. Improvements have been made in the Springfield wagon from time to time with a view to insuring service ableness. It is widely known as the only wagon made with second growth spokes and steel tire and is confidently claimed to be "the best wagon on wheels." The annual output of Springfield wagons is six thousand, with prospects for rapid increase in the number in the near future. The company, doing business with the moderate capitalization of seventy-five thousand dollars, is conservatively managed and under the direction of men who have grown up in the business fully imbued with the traditions of this unique establishment and having no interest except in its continuous growth and improvement in accordance with the wishes of its founder. The officers are: H. F. Fellow, president and superintendent: Peter McCourt, vice-president; F. J. Curran, secretary and treasurer; Lewis Potter, assistant manager, George H. Booth, sales manager. [677-678]


The city of Springfield is not behind other progressive metropolises of the Middle West in the matter of a packing industry, for there has long been located here a modern and well-equipped plant not so large, it is true, as the vast slaughter houses of the large live stock markets of the country-but large enough to meet local requirements and to supply a considerable territory, with very promising outlook for the future. We refer to the Welsh Packing Company, successors to the Tegarden Packing Company.

This plant was established by A. Clas in the year 1896, which was conducted by him until it was sold to Tegarden Brothers, in May, 1904. Their business increased until it became necessary to enlarge the plant in 1908, increasing the capitalization to one hundred thousand dollars, the name being changed at that time to the Tegarden Packing Company. The Tegardens continued to operate the plant until in December, 1912, when they sold out to local business men, but the firm-name was not changed until in January, 1915, when it was changed to the Welsh Packing Company, after the name of the firm's present efficient and popular city salesman, Thomas N. Welsh, who is also president of the firm. The other officers are: Thomas J. Glynn, secretary and manager; L. J. Kennedy, treasurer.

Ninety-five per cent of the stock of the firm is held by Springfield people. Both Mr. Welsh and Mr. Glynn have been connected with the firm during the past ten years, and are well versed in every phase of the packing house business.

The plant is situated one mile from the county road, on St. Louis street. The buildings are substantial, convenient and well adapted for the purposes intended, and thoroughly equipped with every up-to-date appliance, insuring rapid and first-class work; in fact, this is one of the most modernly appointed packing plants in the country. All animals are carefully inspected by an expert, both before and after killing, thus insuring the patrons of the plant good, wholesome meat. A specialty is made of curing mild hams and bacon, and these products find a very ready market throughout the state of Missouri, having made the plant famous.

The plant has a capacity of one hundred hogs and twenty cattle a day. From twenty to thirty experienced men are constantly employed. During the past year the firm paid over three hundred thousand dollars for live stock to the farmers of Greene county.

A plant like that of the Welsh Packing Company is of inestimable value to the farmers of this locality, and it should be fully appreciated, for it insures a better local market and a more steady one than would otherwise be the case. They pay from thirty to forty cents a hundred of the maximum prices paid at the great market centers—St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago. Thus it can readily be seen that this is a great saving to the farmers, for the expense of shipping and the usual shrinkage on live stock would be from fifty to sixty cents per one hundred pounds. [679]

Of all the productive industries of this city there is none of more importance in its relation to the development of the neighboring country than that represented by the Springfield Creamery Company, the mission of which is to put the dairying business of the Ozark region on a cash basis. The phenomenal growth of this institution since its establishment in 1910 has demonstrated its usefulness in promoting the prosperity of the farmers in this section in an extraordinary manner. The original equipment, consisting of a small plant with one horse and a small wagon for delivery purposes, was valued at six thousand dollars. In October, 1910, the business was purchased by the present company, incorporated with a capital stock of fifteen thousand dollars; F. R. Patton, becoming president; C. L. Ibinger, manager and C. L. Dille, secretary. The output of the first year was seventy thousand dollars, since which time it has doubled annually. The Ozark Ice Cream Company was absorbed in 1912 and the Harrison Ice Cream Company during the present year. J. B. Dunlap, who headed this company, became secretary of the Springfield Creamery Company in March, 1914, succeeding Mr. Dille who had died. The business of the consolidated company has increased until an equipment valued at thirty-five thousand dollars is required. The plant at the corner of Mill and Dollison streets is one of the most excellent in the country, everything being up-to-date and completely sanitary. Five teams, and two auto trucks are kept busy handling the product which during the current year will amount to about one and a half million pounds of butter and a hundred thousand gallons of ice cream. The plant is run by thirty skilled employees while four traveling men are kept busy and the company has over a hundred local representatives at various points. The payroll amounts to two thousand dollars per month while over a quarter of a million dollars is distributed annually among the farmers of this section in payment for cream. There are two branch receiving and distributing stations in this city and a distributing branch was established in Memphis during the past March while, other outlets are being arranged. The efficiency of management which has brought such great success in this enterprise is due to the fact that those in charge are exceptionally capable men and well qualified for their work. Messrs. Patton and Dunlap had years of experience in leading creameries of Kansas. Mr. Ibinger is a graduate of the State University of Wisconsin, where he took special agricultural and creamery courses and has since had ten years of practical experience. [680]

The Springfield Bakery Company, located at 715 Robberson avenue, is one of the thriving twentieth century business institutions of the Queen City of the Ozarks that demands special attention. Its present officers are: President, J. H. Hasten; vice-president, S. L. Eslinger; secretary and treasurer, Frank Lippman; general manager, C. C. Millikin. These are all well known- and influential men in the commercial world of the Queen City of the Ozarks.

This concern was incorporated under the laws of Missouri, in 1905; its capital stock at present is fifty thousand dollars. Operations was begun ten years ago in a one-story brick building, one hundred and thirty by sixty-two feet on on Robberson avenue. Later a site, seventy-two by one hundred and seventy feet on Boonville street was purchased. In the spring of 1914 a modern substantial brick building, sixty-two, by one hundred and seventy feet was built, adjoining the original building. It is a one story red brick front, two stories high in the rear. The plant throughout is equipped with all up-to-date and first-class machinery to insure prompt and high-grade service at all times, and this is not only one of the best equipped but one of the most sanitary and well arranged bakeries in the state of Missouri—everything is under a superb system. Only skilled, neat clean and trustworthy employees are to be found here. All the interior of the plant is white enamel. Both the old and the new buildings are devoted exclusively to the bakery business. The capacity of the plant is forty thousand loaves per day, and it is the home of the much-sought after "Top-notch" brand of bread, which, owing to its superior quality, finds a ready market over a large territory. This bread is not only sent daily by a large number of neat-appearing delivery wagons to all parts of the city but large quantities of it is shipped to nearby towns. The ovens are equipped to burn either coke or oil. The entire plant is open to inspection at all times. The office is on Boonville street. The company owns its own buildings and property. It has a driveway ten feet wide running from Boonville street to Robberson avenue. The Springfield Bakery Company would be a credit to any city. [681]

Next Chapter | Table of Contents | Keyword Search
Greene County History Home | Local History Home

 Springfield-Greene County Library