Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

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

Chapter 21
City of Springfield
Part 2

After the War

In April, 1865, the end came; Lee surrendered, followed by the various other Confederate commanders of armies, and the war was over. Springfield had recovered to some extent from her worst estate, for she had had no touch with an enemy since the battle of January 8, 1863, but her condition even at that was sad enough. She was a shattered and war smitten little city. But her people were then, as they had ever been, of the kind who do not sit down to bewail any misfortune but set to work with heart and hand to render conditions better.

Many men who had fled with their families to the North now returned and set to work to repair the waste places. New men, many of them Union soldiers who had been here at some time during the war, flocked in by hundreds. Quickly new business houses and new homes began to rise on every hand. Many of the ex-Confederates also returned, and it is to the everlasting credit of both sides in the war that these men almost at once settled into their former places in the community. Many of them practically penniless, yet with a sterling manhood and a determination to make the best of things, which in many cases quickly enabled them to establish themselves in business and in the community at large. Springfield has scores of honored names, the bearers of which wore the gray for four years. [695]

From that time Springfield had rapidly advanced in all that goes to the making of a thriving and growing city. In 1870 the railroad from the East hoped for, and worked for, and paid for, long before the war, at last penetrated to Springfield, or to speak accurately, to near Springfield. For when the survey was finally located it was found to be the great surprise and indignation of Springfield proper that it had followed the height of land to the north and that the depot would be more than a mile and a quarter from the business center of the town. Then there followed deputations to the railroad authorities in St. Louis; conferences with those authorities in Springfield, protests, appeals to Congress and confusion and contest generally. But the railroad company had become half owners of the town plat to the north and beneficiaries by the gift of land for their shops, and by rights of way granted without cost and the original survey held. The railroad was built through north Springfield, and a seed of mutual jealousy was sown that bore its crop for years to the injury both of the original town and of its ambitious little neighbor to the north. But in 1887 the Legislature passed a law allowing the two towns to vote on consolidation, and the proposition carried by an overwhelming majority. The old time jealousy was not yet dead and was destined to work harm to the united city in the future, but as the years have gone by these quarrels have grown less and less. The clubs of business men at either end of the town have learned to pull together for the mutual benefit; and as a consequence Springfield has grown and thriven during the past decade as never before. A glance at the population of the place as shown by the Federal censuses of the past will tell in brief the story of Springfield's growth.

In 1861 Springfield was said to have had "about 2,000 people."
In 1870 first census after the war it was 5,555.

The most conservative estimate, based upon the school census, the assessor's lists, etc., in 1914, is that Springfield has 40,000 people within her limits. And it must further be taken into consideration that several large and populous additions are just outside of the city limits which add not far from 5,000 people to the residents of Springfield.

Springfield has almost without exception been greatly favored throughout her corporate existence in the class of citizens chosen to head her city government. Even before the war she chose for her mayors such men as Sempronius H. Boyd, afterwards a Colonel in the Union army, a Congressman for several terms and to the day of his death a leader among men and honored by all. [696]

The first mayor elected after the actual close of hostilities was Benjamin Kite, who for many years was presiding justice of the County Court, and who stood for the rights of the people in the great railroad bond controversy. He was elected in September, 1865. In April, 1868, B. Dexter was chosen by only three majority over Colonel William E. Gilmore. In 1870, however, Colonel Gilmore was elected without opposition. He was an able man, an old Union Colonel, and made a progressive officer. In 1871 the successful man was L. H. Murray, then and for thirty years after one of the strongest and most enterprising men that ever filled the office. The next year Mr. Murray was retired by Jonathan Fairbanks, now for more than thirty years the able superintendent of the Springfield schools. In 1873 the vote at first was a tie between John McGregor, Democrat, and Jared E. Smith, Republican. At a second trial Mr. McGregor was elected by a majority of eighty-five. He was the founder of the great hardware house of the McGregor-Noe Hardware Company, and a leading man in the upbuilding of the town. In 1874 there was a temperance agitation in the town which resulted in the putting up of a bipartisan temperance ticket, headed by John W. Lisenby for mayor. The entire ticket was elected. No better mayor, no better citizen, ever lived than Mr. Lisenby. In 1875 the mayor was Doctor Joseph McAdoo, a leading merchant and an upright and progressive citizen. Doctor McAdoo was followed in 1876 by William A. Hall, the founder of the Hall Drug Company, and a man worthy to follow such men as those who had preceded him in office. In 1877 and again in 1878 the mayor was Homer F. Fellows, who more than any other man founded the institution which has grown into the Springfield Wagon Factory. To him too, Springfield owes its first successful street railroad and various other successful enterprises. 1880 brought M. J. Rountree to the mayor's chair; a member of an old and honored pioneer family and an able man. In 1881 James Abbott was the choice, a man who from the day he became a citizen of the place was probably responsible for starting as many enterprises that grew into successful concerns as any other one man. Following him was Judge Ralph Walker who had the record of being elected as mayor of Springfield four times, although not in successive terms. 1888 brought John S. Atkinson to the office, and in 1890 and 1892 E. D. Parce, at the time a leading business man of the north end of town, was the mayor. In 1896 the choice fell upon V. S. Bartlett, who was followed in 1908 by B. E. Meyer. Since that date we have had Judge Walker, for a final term, Louis Ernst, George W. Culler and our present mayor, T. K. Bowman, each and all richly worthy of the honor. [697]


Springfield has always been rather conservative in the issue of municipal bonds. In 1869, when the final survey of the railroad and the incorporation of north Springfield excited anxiety in the then Springfield, it was proposed to issue $75,000 in bonds as a bonus to the railroad, to change the location of its depot to within half a mile of the public square. But matters had gone too far for the company to alter its plans, and the bonds were not issued at that time. Later in the same year the proposition came up again, and on an election held July 6th the bonds carried by a vote of 156 to 91. These bonds were said to be for the improvement of the city, as it seemed to be thought that unless something decisive was done to offset the boom of the new town the result would be disastrous to the old town. The argument was also used in this campaign that $50,000 should be given to the Fort Scott & Springfield Railroad, which was then much talked of. This being declared illegal, that part of the project was never carried out. In May, 1872, the city by a vote of nearly five to one carried -an issue of $22,000 in bonds to be donated in aid of such manufacturing enterprises in the city, as needed help until they became established and able to walk alone. Probably the hottest fight in the history of Springfield for any bonds was that for the purpose of issuing $250,000 bonds for the construction of a sewer system. This was in the years 1890 to 1892. The population at that time was only a little above 21,000 .people. The town had not yet attained the pre-eminent position that she now holds, and rival towns were many and active. Many of the best citizens actively opposed going so heavily into debt. Those opposed had a great advantage in the State law requiring a two-thirds majority before any community could issue bonds. Twice was the issue joined, and each time the majority, while always large, lacked the necessary two-thirds. But at the third trial the proposition carried with a good margin to spare. Those bonds have been paid off and burned long ago, and few now residing in Springfield remember the strenuous battles by which they were carried.

Another hard struggle for bonds which finally carried was in 1911 when the proposition was submitted for an issue of $270,000 to be apportioned as follows: $100,000 for sewerage reduction plants; $70,000 for sewer extension; $50,000 for improved five fighting apparatus and new fire buildings, and $50,000 for street, improvements. This proposition was defeated in 1911, but coming up a second time on the 2nd of April, 1912, it carried.

At the present writing the above $270,000 of bonds form the only long time indebtedness of the city. In addition to that amount there have been issued $70,000 of current expense bonds, which are payable January 8th, 1915.

The location of Springfield, while rolling enough to give perfect drainage, and while ideal in most other respects, was also of a stony soil. Consequently, the streets of the town, in their natural state, were rough and uneven. As long as the place was nothing more than a growing country village this did not matter much, but as population increased and traffic grew, the demand for better streets and modern roadways increased proportionately. Especially was this true after the advent of that great modern apostle of good roads, the automobile, and as a consequence the past ten years have seen more streets paved in Springfield than in all its preceding history. We quote in this connection from the annual statement of the city, published at the close of the year 1913, as follows: [698]

Miles improved with wood block


Miles improved with brick


Miles improved with concrete


Miles improved with asphaltic concrete


Miles improved with sarcolithic


Miles improved with Hassam


Miles improved with Macadam asphalt


Total number of miles of improved streets


The year 1914 has seen the improvement of streets pushed vigorously, and there are today more than fifty miles of paved streets. All business streets are now paved, and a large percentage of the best residence streets, and, while the cost has been a heavy tax, it is paid in tax bills that extend the time for payment and hence make the payment comparatively easy. Also, the immediate increase of the values of property facing upon a paved street far more than doubles the amount of the paving cost.

Springfield has always been a great school town, and possesses at the present time a system of schools and a series of first-class school buildings not surpassed in the United States in a city of the size. The founders of the place were quick to provide schools for their children. When the little hamlet was only one year old, in the year 1832, the first building for school purposes in what is now the city was built on the spot which is now the northwest corner of Main and College streets. This was a log cabin of one room. One who was a scholar in that building has left on record the fact that it had "a stick and clay chimney, a loose plank floor and a door shutter."

This primitive structure, with its window formed by cutting out a log to admit the light, its open fireplace and its equipment of three-legged benches, was the lineal ancestor of the beautiful brick and stone structures that adorn Springfield today. The city had, at the close of 1913, seventeen brick and stone buildings for white pupils and three for colored children. The value of the buildings and grounds was $560,000, and that of equipment and furniture $30,000. The bonded indebtedness was at that time $33,000.

Included in the number of buildings stated above is one of the most complete and modern high school plants in the entire state. Fuller and more complete statistics concerning the public schools will be found in another chapter. [699]


In addition to the public schools, Springfield is admirably equipped with facilities for the higher branches of learning. Fuller descriptions of these various institutions will be given in the appropriate chapter, and in this place they will merely be enumerated. First in the list, by virtue of age, is Drury College, established in the fall of 1873, on a beautiful campus of nearly forty acres, centrally located in one of the finest parts of the city. It was named after the first of its generous benefactors, Samuel F. Drury, of Olivet, Michigan. From the first it has prospered, and today has an endowment of $350000, a plant worth $525,000, a faculty numbering twenty-five and an annual enrollment of 556 students.

The Springfield State Normal, established in 1906, occupies one of the finest sites in any city, a tract of forty acres in the southeast part of the city, facing upon the national boulevard. This tract was donated by the people of Springfield. The value of the building and grounds is placed at $400,000. The number of instructors is forty-two and the enrollment 2,048.

There are also the Loretto Academy, and just outside the city limits to the southwest, the beautiful grounds and buildings of the St. De Chantal Academy, on the Elfindale estate, these last two being high grade schools for girls, and are conducted by the Catholics.

In the line of industrial concerns Springfield ranks among the highest in the State. First in importance are the great shops of the Frisco system. The original shops of the railroad were built upon a forty-acre tract donated for the purpose when North Springfield was laid out in 1870. When the Kansas City, Springfield & Memphis railroad was built, in 1880, they erected fine shops in the western limits of the old town, these shops coming to the Frisco when that company absorbed the Kansas City road.

In 1908 the great expansion of the Frisco system rendered greatly enlarged shop facilities imperative, and for a time it looked as if some other town than Springfield would capture the great prize. However, as always when the necessity arises, the business men of Springfield, the Springfield and Commercial clubs and every organization and almost every man in the city united for a pull all together. A fine tract of three hundred acres was bought, outright and presented to the railroad for the site of the new shops, and on that tract has since been erected a Plant that is so large, so perfect in all its details, that railroad experts from all over the United States, and from beyond the seas, have visited it to learn the last word in building and operating railroad shops. [700]

In 1913 the Frisco paid to its shop men in Springfield $1,262,113.74 The payroll of the Frisco offices, which are also in Springfield, was $428,934.05. The total annual payroll of the system in Springfield was $2,269,110.55. A live asset that in the building of a city!

The number of other manufacturing industries in the city is 108. The number of employees is 4,443. The capital invested is $5,573,206.00, and the total value of products is $5,382,098.00.


Springfield's location makes it a great wholesale center. The record shows that in 1913 we had one hundred such establishments. The capital invested was $10,000,000.00 and the annual sales were $25,000,000.00.

Springfield is among the cities that are indebted to Andrew Carnegie for a fine public library building. This is located on the northwest corner of Center and North Jefferson streets. It was built in 1903 at a cost of $50,000.00.

June 1, 1912, the number of books in the library was 3,482. During that year there were 689 books added to the number, and 269 books were withdrawn, leaving at the close of the year 3,904 volumes on the shelves. The library is largely patronized, has a well stocked file of newspapers, and is constantly adding to the books in stock. The total value of building and grounds, furniture and fixtures, and books and records is placed at $67,000.00. The city appropriates $5,000.00 annually to the upkeep of the library.

Springfield's water supply is principally drawn from a large spring some two miles north of the city limits. At this point the Springfield Water Company has a modern filtration plant, built in 1912 at a cost of $100,000.00 and here also is the large and complete pumping plant. The company can, with its present sources of supply, pump eight million gallons per day. Owing to the rapid growth of the city and a shortage at times from prolonged drouths, complaint arose, and this caused an investigation by the State public utilities commission, who have directed the drilling of two deep wells, with the view of increasing the supply. At this writing the first of these wells is down about five hundred feet, and the indications are for an abundant flow of pure water. The water company furnishes the city with 382 fire hydrants, distributed throughout the city and furnishing the best of fire protection.

The Springfield Gas and Electric Light Company has a modern plant for supplying gas, located on Main street and Phelps avenue. The gas tank is at Main and Olive streets. This company derives its electricity from the great hydroelectric plant on White river, forty-five miles southeast of Springfield. The original large power plant of the company is also retained for use in emergencies. [701]

There has been much controversy between citizens and this company over the price of electricity both for lighting and power. The State public utilities commission was called upon to settle the differences, and has rendered a decision which apparently, settles the matter equitably to all concerned.

No city of its size has a better equipped or more effective fire department than Springfield. The equipment consists of two large steam fire engines, two motor-drawn chemical engines, two motor-drawn hose carts, one combination pumper and hose cart, motor; aerial truck, hook and ladder trucks, hose reels, electrician's wagon, chief's car and all else that goes to the equipment of a high-class modern fire department. The number of men in the department is forty-five and the value of the property included in the department is $110,313.00.

The city has a fine sewer system, established in 1892-3 after a long and hard battle to carry the bonds to build it. There are at present eighty-one and three-quarter miles of sewer conduits belonging to the city. Added to these are the various district sewers which are put in at the cost of tax-payers in the respective districts. There are two sewage reduction plants, one to the southwest and the other to the north of the city. These plants were built at a cost of $100,000.00, and are of the most modern and perfect construction. The total value of the sewer system and the reduction plants, combined is $224,000.00.


By Walter A. Coon.

Republic township is situated in the southwestern portion of Greene county, and is seven miles in extent north and south, and four miles east and west. It helps to form the boundary line between Greene and Christian counties on the south, and Pond Creek township separates it from Lawrence county on the west. Republic township is in the southern part of Grand Prairie and consists of very fertile land, formed by a clay sub-soil with lime-stone formation, thereby creating a very productive combination of natural elements. The prairie is dotted, with many beautiful farm houses, large barns, concrete silos, and extensive improvements. The farmers are in a prosperous condition and look after their farms in a very scientific manner. Dairying, stock-raising, grain and fruits are the principal products.

In and about Republic are to be found many small tracts of land devoted to small farming, fruits and vegetables. The soil is peculiarly adapted to strawberry fruitage, and under the guidance of Dr. E. L. Beal, for a number of years has attained quite an enviable record in this splendid industry. This product alone brings many thousand dollars into the community each season. [702]

The township contains about ten miles of macadamized rock roads costing about one thousand dollars per mile, all of which was paid for by public donation, showing the liberality and progressiveness of the citizens of this portion of Greene county.

Evergreen cemetery, situated near the northeastern limits of Republic, is one of the really beautiful cemeteries to be found anywhere. Lindsay Chapel cemetery, southeast of Republic, is a very pretty country cemetery. The famous Wilson Creek battleground, where General Lyon fell August 10, 1861, is some four or five miles south and east of Republic. There is no better farming land or more sociable people to be found in this section of the state than can be found in Republic township, and fortunate indeed is he who owns and lives on a well located farm in this splendid vicinity. The future alone will always verify this statement.

The town of Republic is located in the southern part of Republic township, and is ten miles west and six miles south of Springfield. In 1915 its population consists of about one thousand two hundred people, the large majority of whom own their own homes. Republic is fortunate in being located in the midst of a rich, thickly populated and well settled section of the country, and the town enjoys an excellent trade from the surrounding country. It is a prominent station of the Frisco railroad and is one of the best towns of its size in the Southwest. Its main street and business section, as well as the residence districts, present an attractive appearance and make a good impression to the casual visitor, and plenty of good substantial walks are to be found throughout the town. Taking it all and all and looking at it from every angle, Republic is a sure enough "live wire" and is a prosperous, hustling little city. Its growth and development have not been phenomenal by any means, but rather continuous and steady since its inception. Its origin dates back to the extension of the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad through this vicinity in the fall and winter of 1871 and 1872. There was no town then, nothing but prairie and very few houses. To, make matters worse, the railroad company refused to build a switch or even a station for the accommodation of the people. A few hustling citizens, consisting of such men as Josiah F. Brooks, W. H. Noe, H. A. Noe, H. A. White. E. T. Anderson, and, perhaps, others, got together and raised one thousand dollars and built and graded the ground for a switch. It was under such conditions and circumstances as these and backed by men of pluck and energy that Republic was born. And it might be said with much truth that energy and pluck and perseverance have dominated and built the town ever since. The first building was a two-story frame store building erected by W. H. Noe and is still standing across the railroad tracks, known as the "red" building. Other houses were built and the post office of Republic was established. Mark Ritter was the first postmaster, and the office was located about one-half mile south of the depot, where George Edgar now lives. Much credit for the permanent success of Republic is due "old man" Brooks, as he was called. He led in the fight for a depot and switch. He contributed largely of his time and means. He set out the shade trees on Elm street, and he it was who founded and fostered the beautiful Evergreen cemetery, where his body now rests. It is but a fitting tribute to say that Josiah F. Brooks, the man from New York state, who was a quarter of a century ahead of the times, was really and truly the "Father of Republic."

Republic has four churches and is noted for its morality and church influence. Very few towns the size of Republic can boast of a larger Sunday school attendance or more faithful Sunday school teachers. The following denominations have good substantial church buildings and all but one have parsonages: Baptist, Christian, Congregational and Methodist Episcopal churches. The attendance at the various Sunday schools each Sunday will average between four hundred and five hundred. This is certainly a great showing for a town the size of Republic. Indeed the moral and educational features of this little town have always been a great attraction not only for outsiders but to hold those already located there. [703]


The Republic public school is the pride of its citizens and Republic enjoys the distinction of having the best high school outside of Springfield in Greene county. It belongs in the rank of first-class high schools and is fully affiliated with the State University at Columbia, as well as the various colleges throughout the country. The building is a large two-story brick, modern in improvements, and was built in the year 1893, and is centrally-located on a beautiful campus with nice shade trees and concrete walks extending entirely around the building. At the present time the school maintains an excellent four-years' high school course, including Latin and German, and the length of term is nine months. The entire enrollment is about three hundred and fifty, and more than one hundred students have graduated in the high school course. Many students from the surrounding country attend the school each year. The following members compose the present school board: Walter A. Coon, president; J. P. Kitchen, vice-president: Dr. O. N. Carter, H. B. Ingler, Ed. Gammon and W. S. Cliborne. W. P. Anderson is treasurer and J. W. Robertson, clerk. The teachers for the year 1914-1915 are as follows:

High School Teachers—W. R. Rice, superintendent; Ira H. R. Welch, principal; Gladys G. Sherwood, language.

Grade Teachers—Miss Gracie Youngblood, Mrs. Fannie Washam Garbee, Miss Cleo Youngblood, Mrs. Ira Welch, Mrs. Virginia McGuire Squibb and Charles Roper. [704]

There are three things that Republic can always boast of. One is the sociability of its people; another is the large number of people who own their own homes, and a third is the excellent school system maintained by its progressive citizens. Too much credit cannot be given to the people of Republic for their educational spirit.

Republic has two banks well, adapted for the needs of the people. The Republic State Bank was organized in 1911. Its capital stock is $10,000.00 and surplus, $4,000.00. Its officers are E. Deboard, president; Lon Edmonson, cashier, and Ray Grove, assistant cashier. The Bank of Republic was organized in 1889 and is the fourth oldest bank in Greene. county, including Springfield. Its capital stock is $10,000.00, surplus and profits, $10,000.00. This splendid institution is ably managed and its motto has ever been "safety first, safety last, and safety all the time." Its deposits for a number of years have been more than one hundred thousand dollars and are growing all the time. The officers are: Walter A. Coon, president; C. N. O'Bryan, vice-president, and William P. Anderson, cashier.

Republic enjoys the enviable distinction of having a city lot enclosed with sheds and stalls for the accommodation of the horses and vehicles, free of charge, from the heat of the summer and the chilly blasts of the winter.


The first copy of the Monitor was issued by J. J. and I. S. Jones, April 7, 1894. The printing was done on a Washington hand press in a small frame building on the east side of Main street, known as "smoky row." Charles E. Gentry was the first "paid up" subscriber. In a short time the Green County Republic, a paper published by R. C. Viles, was bought and a part of the material added to the office and the balance was sent to Exeter, Missouri, where "Ike" Jones established the "Kodac." The Monitor subscription list continued to grow until a country Campbell press and a gasoline engine was installed in order to facilitate matters. After ten years of strenuous work the plant was sold by the Jones Brothers to F. E. Anderson, who afterward sold it to Elder W. B. Cochran. It was then purchased by R. C. Stone and others and finally passed into the hands of J. R. Derry, the present owner and editor. The plant is, well equipped with up-to-date machinery, and in addition to a good subscription's list is well patronized by the business men. Mr. Derry is a practical printer, an able writer, and always stands ready for any enterprise that will help to build up the town and community. [705]

Republic can boast of one of the largest and best equipped flour mills in the state. The first small mill was founded in 1890 R. C. Stone and L. E. Prickett. This mill went up in ashes in September, 1894. In 1897, through the efforts of the citizens of Republic, who contributed one thousand dollars as a donation, R. C. Stone re-established a much larger mill of five hundred barrels capacity, which was known as the R. C. Stone Milling Company. In 1903, through the efforts and contributions of the citizens of Republic, the mill capacity was increased to one thousand five hundred barrels and several hundred feet of warehouses were built, together with several large elevators, making this mill at one time the largest exclusive soft wheat mill in the United States. It was reorganized and taken over by the Republic Flour Mills Company in 1909-1910, and sold to the present owners, Messrs. Becker & Langenberg, in March, 1913. At the present time the business of this mill is in a very flourishing condition and is under the most successful management in the history of the mill. It employs a large number of men and is of great benefit to the people of Republic and vicinity. When the mill runs full time it is a difficult matter to find vacant houses for rent.

Republic Custom Mill.--This mill, known as the "little mill," was organized in 1904, principally through the efforts of G. W. Thurman and P. A. Chaffin. Its capital stock is twelve thousand dollars and, in addition to doing a large custom business, it ships carload after carload of its products throughout southern Missouri. In 1911, the mill owners purchased the electric lighting plant, which was then in its infancy in Republic, and run it in connection with the mill. G. W. Thurman is manager of the mill and is largely responsible for the excellent business established.

Republic is a great lodge town and nearly all the lodges are in a prosperous condition. The principal lodges are as follows: Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Woodmen of the World, Modern Woodmen of America, Order of the Eastern Star, Court of Honor, Yeomen, Grand Army of the Republic, Knights of the Maccabees, Woodmen Circle, Royal Neighbors of America.

Lack of space and time will not permit of a more extended description of Republic and vicinity. [706]

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

 Springfield-Greene County Library