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 5
Early Settlement
by A. M. Haswell

Part 2
First Economic Development


In company with Mr. Rountree and his family on their journey from their Tennessee home to Springfield, was Sidney Ingram, whose name we have seen once mentioned in one of Mr. Rountree's entries. This is the first mention of another name that has ever since been held in honor in Greene county. Sidney Ingram at first settled in Springfield, or where Springfield was to be. He here built a cabinet and wagon building shop. In a few years, he moved to a farm a short distance south of town, and afterward to the location on the James, where, in company with F. C. Howard, he built a grist mill, which, with its successors, have continued to the present day, and always, as "Ingram's Mill." At this mill Mr. Ingram died in 1847.

Mr. Ingram served the county in an official capacity with credit to himself and satisfaction to the community. His son, Arch F. Ingram, was treasurer of the county for so many years that it grew to be a standing joke that he was elected for life. Others of the name have served this county in the Legislature, as editors of our papers, and in many other capacities, and always with honor and uprightness.

In 1831, too, came Kindred Rose, ancestor of a large family, many of whom are still citizens of this county. Mr. Rose settled on a farm about a mile and a half southwest of Springfield, and there passed a long life. Andrew Taylor and his brother-in-law, D. D. Berry, located in 1831 on the prairie about a mile south of Springfield. Here they built a little log building and put into it a stock of goods brought all the way from Tennessee. This was probably the first store in the county as now located. Taylor soon returned to Tennessee, and when Springfield began to take on the promise of being a town, Berry moved his store into the place and became a noted and wealthy merchant.

In 1831 came Peter Epperson and his family from Tennessee and took possession of a farm near Joseph Rountree's, to which an overseer and score of slaves had come the previous spring, to prepare it for the master's residence. Then there were Radford Cannefax and his sons Benjamin and Chesley, coming in 1831, and settling on what has for sixty years at least been known as "The old Cannefax place," four miles southwest of Springfield, on the Wire road. The Cannefaxes were originally from Virginia, but came to Greene county from Kentucky.

Samuel Painter arrived here in the winter of 1831. He was a Tennessean, but had lived in southern Illinois about five years prior to coming to Missouri. Soon after reaching Springfield this family moved to a prairie farm near Ebenezer, and in about a year after that to what went by the name of "The Mill Bottom," on the James, where Ingle had erected a mill in 1822. When Springfield was laid out as a town, the old gentleman moved into town, as did his son Jacob. The latter, of whom more will be said in another chapter, was for long years the busy gunsmith of the little town. [138]

The year 1831 also saw the coming of the Alsups, Scroggins and Johnsons, who settled upon Little Sac. In that year, too, came Thomas P. Whitlock, who arrived in June from Harderman county, Tennessee. He settled in what is now Franklin township. About the same time there settled, as neighbors to Mr. Whitlock, Zachariah Simms, Benjamin Johnson, Henry Morrison, David and John Roper, Drury Upshaw and Larkin De Witt. Nearly all these family names are yet borne by residents of the township where their forefathers first made their homes. The year 1831 or '32 also saw the coming of John Brisco and his two sons-in-law, Jacob and Andrew Roller, who came from Tennessee and located in the southern part of the county.

Bennett Robberson came from Roane county, Tennessee, in 1832, with his wife and family. About a year later, his mother came with her sons, William, Allen, John, Edwin, Russell and Rufus, as well as three daughters who afterward married, respectively, Rev. David Ross, Thomas Stokes and Richard Say. The widow, with her numerous family settled on the beautiful little prairie which still bears their name, as does Robberson township, wherein that prairie is located.

Bennett Robberson's son, Edwin Taylor Robberson, became a prominent physician and honored citizen of this county. One of God's noblest noblelmen, throughout a long and active life he was first in every good word and deed; with a a heart large enough to take in all mankind, he was the helper of the helpless, the father of the fatherless. By sagacious investments in lands and city realty, and by a large and actively followed practice of his profession, Dr. Robberson amassed a large fortune. His family are still residents of Springfield, and among the most prominent citizens.

The words of an old farmer whom, among hundreds of others, the Doctor had at one time befriended, are a fitting and truthful epitaph for this nobleman: "God Almighty never made a better man."

In 1832 Humphrey Warren located in the prairie some three miles east what is now the northern part of Springfield, at the extreme head of Wilson creek. This place was afterward owned and occupied until his death by James Massey, progenitor of the prominent family of that name.

In 1832 also came Thomas Dollison, who settled near the present three-story brick building owned and occupied by one part of the United Iron Works, in the eastern part of town. This building was built for, and occupied for some years as a cotton factory. But for some reason the enterprise was not successful. Thomas Dollison was one of the first judges of the County Court. Dollison street gets its name from him. [139]


In the extreme northwestern part of the present limits of Greene county, in what is now Walnut Grove township, there settled, during the first three years after 1830, Allen Williams, Michael Walsh, William Mallory, Joseph Moss, Sloane, whose son was a practising physician for many years, and Hugh Leeper, from whom the large and beautiful Leeper prairie in Boone township gets its name.

Greene county has not been without association with one of the great names of American frontier history. Long before the region was open for the settlement of white men the county was explored by Nathan Boone, the youngest son of the immortal pioneer of Kentucky. Nathan Boone was a captain in the United States army, and was without doubt one of the first men of white blood to see the prairies and forests of beautiful Greene county. So well pleased was he with the northwestern part of what is now included in our county limits, that he selected some land near where the little city of Ash Grove now stands, twenty miles northwest from Springfield, and as soon as possible sent his son out to take pre-emption rights. Later on Nathan himself located in the center of a fine grove consisting mostly of ash trees, from which the town that afterward sprang up took its name.

Several of the Boone family have lived in the county. The sons of Nathan Boone were James, John, Benjamin and Howard, and two of his daughters married, respectively, William Caulfield and Alfred Horseman. Nathan owned several hundred acres of fine land in the neighborhood of his home. He died in 1856 and is buried about one and a half miles north of the city of Ash Grove.

Mr. John H. Miller, a son of Joseph Miller, who has been mentioned among the very earliest settlers, has laid all succeeding generations in debt to him by printing, some thirty-five years ago, in the columns of the Springfield Leader, a series of articles giving his personal recollections and experiences of the very dawning of Greene county history. The writer will quote from some of these articles of Mr. Miller's, for they are the words of one who had an actual part in the scenes and incidents that he describes. And in these words of his it can truthfully be said of him: "He, being dead, yet speaketh." In one of his sketches he says:

"In 1831 a strange, odd and remarkable individual, in the person of an old and somewhat demented white man, appeared among us, named Jesse Bayles. He had some English education, but lived a wilderness life among the wild beasts and Indians, seemed half crazy, dressed very scant and odd, and wore an old white wool hat tucked up at the sides, and written thereon in large red letters, 'Death!' [140]

"He carried a long butcher knife and a tomahawk, and seemed dangerous to look at, but was hardness and even lively. I was with him considerably. He was fifty or sixty years old. He said that no harm should befall me; that he intended to keep the panthers, wolves and Indians from 'a'hold' of me. In a year or two he disappeared. He either died or followed the Indians."

Another writer, Col. Gilmore, in a sketch in the Springfield Patriot in 1867, says of this strange character:

"Jesse Range Bayles was, like Wilson, a resident among the Indians when Mr. Campbell came here. Poor Jesse was an educated man, but his mind was disordered. He was a quiet, inoffensive person, constantly wandering around the country, dividing his time pretty equally between hunting for lead mines and a wife, but it is said he never found either. Some wicked boys caught Jesse at one time, saturated his clothes with turpentine and set him on fire. He was shockingly burned. He wore what was then called a 'Bee Gum,' and is now called a 'stovepipe' hat, and he told his disaster by placarding his hat in large letters, "Death, Hell and Destruction!" and pointing all he met to the inscription. He remained here when his friends, the Delawares, left, and died about 1835."

Mr. Miller tells as follows of another human derelict, that had drifted into the wilderness in those early days:

"About the same time another extraordinary and remarkable old man,then over sixty years old, came 'round amongst the few settlers. His name was Robert Alexander; originally from North Carolina. Came west alone in 1825; lived for several years with the Miami Indians at the mouth of Swan (at present Forsyth, Taney county). He was well educated, had been a fine looking man and had been in high life, but ardent spirits had 'got away' withhim, as it is getting the best of some of our American statesmen at this date. This old man, Alexander, came within a few votes of being elected governor of the State of North Carolina, in 1824, but by domestic and political trouble he came west and lived a roving, reckless and dissipated life. He was a man of fine sense, always had fine horses, would gamble with cards, race horses and drink whiskey. Finally, in 1835, he found his way to William C. Campbell's, in Polk county, and, drunk, undertook to swim Sac river on horseback, and was drowned, just below Orleans, and that was the last of poor old Bob Alexander."

In 1832 came William Townsend, from Logan county Kentucky. Mr. Townsend bought out Alexander McKenzie, who had come in from Pulaski county, Kentucky, two years before. The sons of Mr. Townsend, A. M., Thomas B. and William M. A., were long prominent in Springfield and Greene county. [141]

I will close this part of this chapter by giving a list printed in a history of the county published over thirty years ago, and which has with many other sources been of great aid in compiling the records of the first settlers in Greene county:

This list is called: "A partial list of early settlers in what was then Campbell Township, Greene county, in August 1833:

"John Roberts, Peter Apperson, John D. Shannon, James Carter, Joseph Porter, Chas. P. Bullock, Chelsley Cannefax, Wm. H. Duncan, E. Brantly, G. Gay, Randolph Britt, J. P. Campbell, Samuel Martin, John Patten Campbell, James Fielding, Daniel Gray, Thomas Caulfield, E. R. Fulbright, G. N. Shelon, Jos. Price, Sr., Radford Cannefax, David Roper, Moses Matthews Zenas M. Rountree, A. Morris, J. R. Robberson, G. Maberry, A. Stillion, John Buden, Jas. Wilson, Jos. Smith, John Fulbright, Stephen Fisher, William Stacy, Wash Williams, A. Shaddock, Spencer O'Neill, F. Leeper, William Price, Thomas Horn, William Stout, A. S. Borne, Kindred Rose, Edward Thompson, James R. Smith, Cornelius D. Terrell, Newell Hayden, Larkin Dewitt, J. McKinney, David Johnson, Martin B. Borne, Joseph Weaver, B. W. Cannefax, C. Hottler, J. L. Martin, Wm. Fulbright, William McFarland, J. Woods, Richard C. Martin, John Sturdevant, L. Fulbright, Watson Forbes, John Roberts, Jr., John R. Brock, John Ross, H. C. Morrison, John Slagles, George Shoemaker, Abram Slagles, Jerry Pierson, James McCarroll, John McKay, Elisha Painter, Joseph Rountree, Alexander Younger, D. B. Miller, David Wilson, Julius Rountree, Thomas F. Wright, Samuel Lasley, Gilbert McKay, Littleberry Hendricks, James Cooper, John Roper, Drury Upshaw, James Dollison, James McMahan, James Renfro, John Pennington, William Birdsong, Thomas Stokes, John W. Triplett, A. J. Burnett, R. Harris, G. Martin, John Williams, James Price, Jr., Simeon Postion, Thomas Patterson, Robert Patterson, William Ross, R. Ross, Samuel Painter." [142]


These determined, patient and industrious men, and their equally brave wives, laid the foundation on which has been raised the superstructure of the Greene county of today. More than that, they laid those foundations so broad, and strong that though the fair edifice of the queen county of the Ozarks, shall certainly grow and increase in the future as in the past, it shall forever remain firm, to the days of remote generations. Before passing to other items naturally coming under the headings of this chapter I am tempted to quote again from the story of Mr. John H. Miller, as he tells something of the life lived in the then far backwoods of Greene county:

"The settlers in those days were driven by necessity to use their inventive wits. Doors were made of clap-boards, floors of mother earth, bedsteads with one leg were fastened to the walls in the corners of the houses, and wagon grease was made of honey, which was only twenty-five cents a gallon or about one cent a pound in the comb. When they were able to afford good puncheon floors and two bedsteads it seemed quite like civilization.

"Bread was scarce, and what little crops were made were liberally divided, so that all could have a little bread. Very few hogs, and pork was very hard to get, but wild game was abundant, and with the faithful dog and flint-lock rifle everyone had plenty. The meal was made by pounding the corn in a stump mortar, the coarsest for hominy and the finest for bread, and very dark at that. Men worked then at fifty-cents per day, and I say this to put a correct idea and feeling into men who now-a-days think it a disgrace to work at that price: Honest labor at even twenty-five cents a day, where a man can't do better, is far more profitable and honorable than idleness.

"In those days neighbors were few and far between, but everybody as friendly and willing to divide to the last mouthfull. The first grist of corn was ground on a little wing-dam mill that old John Marshall had on James, enar the mouth of Finley, although Jerry Pearson had a little rattle-trap of a mill some nearer, but it was hardly competent to grind for his own use."

Old timers have told me that one of the first tasks of the pioneer, after he had found a suitable place for a home, and had thrown together some sort of a rude shelter to protect his family from storm and cold, was to fashion a mortar wherein to reduce the grains of corn to particles small enough to serve as food. And this, we may be sure, was no small under-taking to a man whose only implement for the purpose was, in most cases his faithful axe.

The best mortars, so those who know have assured us, were those made in the standing stump of a post oak, or white oak, tree. At the same time the extra labor required to form a sufficiently large cavity in the tough perpendicular grain of the stump was ten-fold that of fashioning the mortar in the horizontal grain of a prostrate tree or log. Hence most of these home-made contrivances were in logs, and the farmer who boasted of a well proportioned and deep mortar in a solid post oak stump congratulated himself on his own industry and good fortune. In both cases fire was used to aid the axe in hollowing out the necessary cavity and the result is hinted at in Mr. Miller's statement, which I have quoted, that the bread "Was very dark at that!"

After the mortar was at length completed a wooden pestle was made, and with this the corn was laboriously pounded until it was more or less pulverized, when it was sifted through a thin bit of muslin, the coarser particles used for hominy and the finer for meal or corn-bread. Most of these rude contrivances were soon improved by what the settlers called "Sweep pestle." This was a much heavier pestle than could be worked by hand, and was hung on a balanced pole something after the style of an old fashioned well-sweep. A single blow from this improved machine was much more effective than a dozen from a hand-worked pestle. Many of the farmers continued to use these spring-pole mortars even after there were, here and there, small mills in the region. [143]


The plentiful water power, running to waste in every Ozark creek, river and spring branch, at once suggested to the first comers the utilizing of some of this waste energy to grind their corn, and later to saw their timber into lumber. We have seen that among those who came in from the direction of Arkansas, in 1822, and who so soon had to vacate because of the prior rights of the Delawares, there was one, a Mr. Ingle, who is recorded to have built a mill on the James river, at about the old bridge over that stream on the Ozark road. This mill was probably operated by power obtained from a wing-dam for evidently anything approaching a regular dam sufficient to restrain the James at that point was far beyond the ability of a few pioneers at that time. Long after the writer came to Greene county, in 1868, there was the remains of an old dam of this sort, at the ford just below the old bridge. It is probably there yet. This I have been told was the remains of Ingle's work.

Jerry Pearson also built, at a very early date, a mill below the spring that is at the head of the creek that still bears his name. We have seen that Mr. Miller speaks rather contemptuously of this "mill," stating that it would hardly do Mr. Pearson's own grinding. Mr. Miller, too, tells us that the first grist was ground at a little wing-dam mill, operated by John Marshall, on James river near the mouth of Finley. This man, Marshall, by the way, was a "squaw man," living with the Indians until his death, just before they finally removed from the region. His mill was the same that Ingle had put up on the James, and had been bought by Wilson and moved to the lower location when Ingle was forced to vacate his claim.

Another mill was built at a very early date (I have never been able to learn the exact time), by William Fulbright, just below the great spring flowing from under a bluff on Little Sac, some two miles and a half north of Springfield, on section 3, township 29, range 22,and which is now the source from which the Springfield Water Company draws the supply for the city.

This mill, with some later improvements, was standing and operating as late as 1870, and I think some years later. I have stood by its great over-shot water-wheel and heard the whirling of its old fashioned mill stones myself. Augustine Friend, one of those driven out in 1822 and returning in 1830, had a mill at the large spring on section 27, township 29,range 21,about five miles east of Springfield. This was in 1832 or 1833. This spring was afterwards the site of Henderson Jones' distillery, and still bears the name of Jones' spring. Most of these pioneer mills were rude contrivances, yet withal constructed with marvelous ingenuity. I remember coming onto one of them in Stone county forty years ago, which the old settlers there-abouts told me it was certainly forty years old at the time. That would have placed its building well within the time when Stone county still formed a part of Greene. This was a characteristic old pioneer mill, and as such it merits a short description.

It was located nearly at the head of one of the tributaries flowing into the James from the east—I think it was Aunt's creek, but am not certain. Just above it a fine bold spring gushed out of the hill. This was led by a raceway of hewed logs to the top of a huge over-shot wheel, nearly or quite eighteen feet in diameter. The wheel was geared on to a horizontal shaft and that to the shaft that operated the mill stones. There was not an iron wheel or shaft in the whole concern. The wheels were hewed out with an axe or an adze and fitted together with wonderfully perfect joints. The cogs were hickory pegs, varying from one to three inches square, and fitted into holes mortised in the edge of the wheels, or upon the circumference of the shafts.

This machinery had no roof over it, and had stood the storms of years without any protection whatever. There was no house near it, and no one seemed to be in charge. While we were looking over the curious contrivance a boy came riding horseback, on top of a sack of corn, and dismounted at the mill. He poured his grain into the hopper and then lowered a gate that sent the stream along the race onto the wheel, and with creaking joints the ancient affair took up its duties and a pretty fair article of corn-meal began to trickle from below the mill stones. That undoubtedly was a fair specimen of the first mills that supplanted the mortars in Greene county

The early routes of travel were of course merely foot paths or, at the best, bridle paths. Most of them followed the old Indian trails. Such were the "Traces" which we find frequently mentioned in the descriptions of township boundaries and the like.


At the very first term of Greene County Court we find the Court giving attention to the matter of public highways. There we see on the record that: "The road leading from Springfield to Delaware Town, and thence to Fayetteville in Arkansas Territory, be, and the same is hereby declared to be a public highway in Greene county to the State line."

Long before the outbreak of the war, in 1861, the Fayetteville road had abandoned the route through Delaware Town and passed, far to the westward the old road. [145]

Another order of that initial term of the County Court, appointed six commissioners to "View, lay out and mark a public road or highway from Springfield, in Greene county, westwardly until it strikes the main fork of the Six Bulls, at or near Samuel Bogard's, thence in the direction of Fayetteville, in Arkansas Territory, until it reaches the State line."

I have made diligent search of maps and have asked many of our oldest citizens as to the identity of this stream, "Six Bulls," but without being able to locate it. Commissioners were also appointed on this first day of the court to lay out a road from Bledsoe's ferry, on Pomme De Terre river, to some point on the Twenty-five mile prairie. On the second day of the court, March 12, 1833, additional commissioners were ordered to view and lay out a road from Springfield, to the Twenty-five mile prairie, in "the direction of Boonville." This is the road still known as the "Boonville Road," and gives its name to Boonville street, in Springfield. Another road was, ordered established from Springfield to Swan creek. Swan creek is now in Christian and Taney counties. Forsyth, the county-seat of Taney, is at the mouth of this stream, and the road in question was long known as the Forsyth road.

On the next day of the court A. J. Burnett was named to "lay out road districts and apportion hands to work on the road in Campbell township." Campbell township, as we have seen elsewhere, covered more than twice the present area of Greene county, so that Mr. Burnett's office was no small job.

Thus we see that in the important matter of affording easy communication between the different parts of the county, and with the outside world Greene county was active from the very first. Steadily, year after year, better roads, bridges and culverts have been built, until with the advent of automobiles, and the passage of the legislation allowing of road districts issuing bonds for road building, the county is rapidly acquiring a system of roadways second to none in any part of the United States.

From the very earliest days the people of Greene county have believed in, and sacrificed to obtain, the two great foundation stones of American institutions, the church and the school. Rev. James H. Slavens, a celebrated Methodist preacher, is probably entitled to being recorded as having preached the first sermon in the county. This was in the house of John P. Campbell, in what was soon to be the town of Springfield, that good pioneer father of Springfield being first in this as in nearly all else for the benefit of the town he founded. There was another Methodist preacher, named Alderson, who labored through this region at a very early date.

The Rev. James H. Slavens, above mentioned, was appointed at the conference held, at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on September 14, 1831, to what the conference denoted as "The James Fork of White River Mission.," He at once started for his field of work. He had left the record that he preached, the first Sunday after conference at Greenville, Wayne county. By the next sabbath he had reached the Gasconade, where he again preached. About the middle of the next week he was in the little hamlet of Springfield, and, stopped with William Fulbright, in the western part of town. The next Sunday, October 10, 1831, he preached to his new charge for the first time. I have stated from what seemed good authority that this first sermon was delivered in the house of John P. Campbell. Another source of information says it was at William Fulbright's house. At all events this was undoubtedly the first sermon in Greene county.

Three weeks later, October 31, 1831, Mr. Slavens again preached, and afterwards organized the first class of the Methodist Episcopal church in Missouri, west of the Gasconade and south of the Osage river. It is of interest to here record the names of these first members of a Methodist class in this region. They were:

Mrs. Ruth Fulbright, Isaac Woods and his wife, Jane Woods, Bennett Robberson, Elvira Robberson, Samuel S. Mackey and Sarah Mackey. At the close of 1831 Mr. Slavens reported that, he had forty-seven members on his circuit. This circuit covered a vast territory, and its boundaries give a strong light on the strenuous work of the pioneer circuit rider. With Springfield as a center, this faithful pastor covered a field reaching from Hartville on the east to Greenfield on the west, and from Bolivar on the north and Buffalo on the northeast to James Fork on the south. A region something like one hundred miles square. Much of it a rough and hilly section of the Ozarks, and all of it just emerging out of the wilderness. [147]


This first leader of the Methodists was a man of great force of character an versatility. It is told of him that he practiced medicine in Greene county for many years, thus being a healer of the body as well as a "cure of souls." An old story is that when Mr. Slavens was on his long journey from the conference that appointed him to his field of work, he one noon overtook a party of movers who had halted at the roadside for dinner. Being invited, in the wholesome pioneer fashion, to alight from his horse and eat dinner with them the parson did so. Evidently there was a strong case of "love at first sight" that noon, for that family afterward settled near Springfield, and within a year one of the daughters became the wife of the preacher. It is also of record that before he could be united to the girl of his choice Brother Slavens had to go to Cooper county, Missouri, a long hundred miles to the north, to find a preacher to tie the knot. But he certainly found one, brought him back to Greene county with him and was married. It would be interesting to know the amount of that wedding fee. The chances are that the officiating minister would accept nothing. The preachers of the frontier were not in their work for the sake of the loaves and fishes.

The first Presbyterian church in the county was organized by Rev. E. P. Noel, from a company which met at the home of Mrs. Jane Renshaw, in Cass township, some mile or two south of Cave Spring. This was on the 19th day of October, 1839. The new church was called the "Mount Zion Presbyterian Church of Cave Spring." It originally consisted of ten members, and has continued to this day. This church is one of the very oldest of the Presbyterian denominations in the entire State of Missouri. It claims to be the first church of that order in the state west of St. Louis. It is also the worthy mother of at least three other churches, one of them being Calvary Presbyterian church, of Springfield,

In 1834 the Cumberland Presbyterians organized a church in Franklin township, near where Belleview Presbyterian church now stands. They first met under a "Brush Arbor," but after organization they gathered at the house of the membership in rotation. Once every month the meeting place was the house of T. J. Whitlock. Mr. Whitlock was up to the time of his death one of the most active and highly respected citizens of the county. He was a large land owner, and became wealthy. The name Whitlock appears frequently and always with honor upon the records of Greene county.

The Baptists are a strong denomination in Greene county, and their ministers were early on the ground and at work. Doubtless there were Baptist churches organized in pioneer days, but if so I can find no record thereof. John B. Mooney, who has been mentioned in this chapter as a very early settler in Taylor township, in eastern Greene county, was a Baptist preacher, and used to cover a vast territory, holding meetings in the cabins of the pioneers.

Jesse Mason, described as "A Hard Shell Calvinistic Baptist," was another Baptist preacher who was very early on the ground, having settled on the Sac, in Boone township, before 1840. He is credited with doing much preaching in that township, and also with being the first to hold meetings in Center township, south of Boone.

McCord Roberts is the name of another Baptist preacher of an early day. He was a man of commanding presence, an eloquent speaker and one who was known from one end of Missouri to the other, and has left an enduring monument of work accomplished.

The Christians are another strong denomination who had a representative in Greene county at an early date. Rev. Thomas Potter, of this denomination, located in Taylor township soon after the removal of the Indians. I do not find, however, that any churches of the denomination were organized in what may strictly be called "pioneer" days. Like American pioneers always and everywhere, from Plymouth Rock and Jamestown to the Pacific, the pioneers of Greene county first formed the church, and next the school. So we find that in 1831, when there were yet but a few families on the site where Springfield was to grow up, a small building of oak logs was put up at a point somewhat more than a mile west of the present site of the city for school purposes.


Here old "Uncle Joseph Rountree," whose journal we have read in this chapter, taught a little group, almost every child of which bore a name that has since become historic in this region. The settlers were quite proud of this, their first educational edifice. It is described by Mr. John H. Miller as having "a dirt floor; one log cut out for a window; no shutter to the door, and no chimney!" Here good old Uncle Joe taught the young ideas of Greene county, as they perched on the rough three-legged stools, "to spell, read, write and cipher in 'Pike's' Arithmetic."

The next year, in 1832, a somewhat better school house was provided, being built about where now is the northwest corner of Main and College streets, in Springfield. Mr. Miller assures us that this building "had a loose plank floor; a door shutter, and a mud and stick chimney!" What more could be asked?

Other parts of the county were not much behind Springfield in establishing the beginnings of our present public school system. On section 10, township 30, range 21,in Franklin township, Robert Foster taught in 1835. This was, a "pay school," and Mr. Foster received the munificent sum of fifty cents a month per scholar. In 1837 the settlers in this part of Franklin township gathered and built a log school-house, whether Mr. Foster still continued as a teacher is not recorded. Foster was also a Methodist preacher.

In 1835, a small log school house was put up in the northeast part of Campbell township, and David Appleby, ancestor of the numerous and influential family of that name, taught here, at a stipend of one dollar per scholar, each month.

Taylor township is recorded as having a school in 1836, "In an old log house on the Danforth farm." Nothing is said as to who was the teacher. The territory now called Brookline township had a school held, in the barn, on the farm of Thomas Hazeltine, in 1834. This was on section 4, township 28, range 23. It is worth noting, to prevent confusion of names, that this Thomas Hazeltine was not relation to the prominent family of that name now living around Haseltine Station, only about three miles from the location of the school just given. This last named family came to Greene county from Wisconsin in 1871.

Walnut Grove township had a school taught by B. F. Walker, in a little old log cabin that stood about a fourth of a mile west of the present town. This was in 1836-37. It is but truth that each and every township of Greene county is on record as having organized schools among their first public acts. But as this chapter is concerned only with the pioneer days we will not here mention others.

Postal facilities in the earliest days of the county were conspicuous for their entire absence. We have noted that at the time of the general immigration into Greene county, in 1830, that Harrison's store, at the junction of Little Piney creek and the Gasconade river, was the nearest postoffice to Greene county. This was almost exactly on the location of the station of the Frisco, in Arlington, in Phelps county, and a full one hundred miles from Springfield.

It was not until 1834 that Springfield and the surrounding territory had enough population to be deemed of sufficient importance to be afforded postal facilities. In the latter part of that year the first postoffice in the county was opened at Springfield. Junius T. Campbell, then only twenty-two years of age, was appointed as the first postmaster. The office was located in a hewed log house that stood on the west side of south Jefferson street, not far from the present location of the building of the Missouri and Kansas Telephone Company.

Mail was received twice a week from Boonville, Missouri, and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and twice a month from Harrison's store, on the Gasconade. There was not much letter writing among the pioneers. The postage was twenty-five cents for a letter from any point outside the state, and this was payable on delivery. What the postage was on letters from points within Missouri, history does not state.

There were no envelopes in those days. One side of the sheet was left blank, and the letter was folded with the blank side out on which the address was written. The letter then being seated with sealing wax or wafers.

As Springfield increased in size and importance it became more and more the commercial center for the entire region. Going to market to sell the products of the farm, the hides and peltry, and the medicinal barks and roots, was no small matter. When it became necessary to make the trip, frequently the entire family went together. More frequently than otherwise the mode of travel was by wagons drawn by oxen. This was exceedingly slow, and when, as was often the case, the distance to Springfield was fifty or seventy-five miles, the time involved ran into several days. The farmer and his family, if as usual they accompanied him, came supplied with food and bedding, and camped along the road, and after reaching town. Very little actual cash was received for the produce brought to town, nearly all the purchases being made in trade.

There were also the long journeys made to St. Louis, by some men from each community each year. These trips were for hauling wheat or deer skins, and the other products of the new country, and exchanging them for salt, sugar, coffee, calico and such other of the common necessities as were not yet produced by the pioneers themselves.

Cloth for the ordinary wear of both men and women, with the exception of a small amount of calico and muslin, was very soon after the settlement of the county began, the product of the home-made looms of the pioneers. On practically every front porch stood the great four posted loom. Hewed out with an axe and pinned together with mortises and wooden pins. These rude machines produced a strong serviceable cloth, either wholly of cotton or mixed cotton and wool, the last of course being the "jeans" for which Missouri is still noted. These cloths were woven wholly by the women of the farms, and were dyed with white walnut or other natural dye stuff furnished by the woods. Even to this day one frequently sees the old-time loom standing on the porch of some houses among the hills, and man many a suit of good old fashioned blue jeans is still worn in the Southwest. And no more serviceable cloth was ever fashioned into a farmer's suit than this.


Near the Pomme de Terre river and the pretty village of Fair Grove, in Greene county, Missouri, may yet be seen the ruins of what in its day was the most useful mill in the stake of Missouri, and few, if any, mills in the world have had a more attractive history than the one which may there be seen in the last stages of decay. But there is yet enough of the crumbling pile to prompt the traveler to ask its history, and this is the story he learns:

Early in the year 1858 Sampson Bass, who then, as now, was one of the most enterprising citizens of the Southwest, concluded that the advancement of the times warranted the building of a steam flour mill at the place mentioned. The country was rich in resources and the soil yielded abundant harvests. Of the finest grain, but there was no modern mill in that territory to make flour for its inhabitants and the markets of the world. Sampson Bass thought a steam-mill would pay, and so he set out to build one. What an undertaking that was can not be measured by the rules governing such an enterprise today. It was an undertaking that all men, before him shrank from because it involved such a great venture and the expenditure of an immense amount of money. Indeed, if in these times of progress and commercial boldness it were necessary to haul all the machinery by wagon over hills and mountains, across rivers and swamps the distance from St. Louis to the Pomme de Terre over two hundred miles, but few men if any, would care to identify themselves with the undertaking and hope for success. But Sampson Bass was bold and he was far-seeing and what he undertook to do was done, and thus it happened that though great trials were endured and a fortune risked in the enterprise he did not falter until the end was reached—nor then.

After months of hard work and many mishaps the mill was completed and the people from all the country side came to see, for the first time in their lives, the operation of a steam plant; and wonderful stories of it were told for many a day thereafter. That was in the year 1859. At that time there, were many water power mills throughout the country, but their owners did not pretend to run every day, nor half so often; and it was not expected that a mill should run every day, and few people there thought it possible to rig one up, that it could be made to turn stones one day with another. But Sampson Bass was one of those few who believed in advancement, and was the only one in his neighborhood who was willing to stand by his faith in acts. And so it happened that he was to demonstrate to all his neighbors and to the residents of other counties that what was claimed for his mill was true. The people believed just enough of what they had heard of steam power in mills to regard it as a probable success, but nothing more. All old timers remember the drouth of 1859-60, which disabled the water powers throughout the Southwest. Then it was that the people of Greene, Polk, Webster, Ozark, Dallas and other counties in Missouri turned to the mill erected by Sampson Bass for bread. In their misfortune they hoped he would succeed it running every day, and they were surprised beyond measure to find that it was quite easy to keep the mill going one day as another. That settled whatever question there might have been of the success of the mill, for it was thereafter known as the only one in southwestern Missouri to be relied upon at all times.

And it is not surprising therefore that at the breaking out of the war the troops operating in that part of the country should be stationed as near as possible to Sampson Bass mill. At that time it had a wide reputation and the soldiers knew of it. Accordingly the Federal and Confederate troops were massed by their commanders as near the mill as possible, the armies being on either side of it. That was before the battle of Wilson Creek, when both armies were dexterously laying plans for the other's defeat in the battle which, to both, was inevitable. Naturally both belligerents believed themselves superior in numbers and prowess, and both claimed the mill. At that juncture, Sampson Bass' good sense stood him greatly in hand. It had been a matter of conjecture with the people as to which cause the owner of the mill would espouse. Some thought he had a weakness for Confederate cause and others were equally certain that he was a stanch Union man. Sampson said nothing. He gave no sign as to what he would do until General Lyon called on him and demanded his mill to be used in grinding flour for his army.

"You can not have it," said Sampson Bass, firmly.

"Then you are a rebel"? retorted the Union general.

"No more than you," said Sampson Bass.

Just then a messenger from General McCullough put in an appearance and notified the miller that his superior expected to take possession of the mill at once and to use it exclusively for his army.

"Tell, him I will not agree to that," said the miller at once.

The Federal officer stood a little apart from them, but in the light of what transpired, evidently heard what was said, and mentally agreed to it.

"But we will take possession whether you agree to our request or not,"' said the Confederate officer, following instructions.

"You will not take possession until I bid you do so," said Sampson Bass, and the officer who had thought otherwise a moment before was not of the opinion that be had been mistaken.

At that the Confederate officer moved away, and the conversation he had interrupted between General Lyon and Sampson Bass was resumed.

"You have taken a wise course," said the general, "and I respect you for your firmness. What do you do with your mill?"


"My mill," said the miller, "is at the disposal of my countrymen, but, not for the use of one army as against another. We are all Americans, no matter how much we may differ in opinion; and the man from the North gets just as hungry and has just the same right to have that hunger satisfied as the man from the South, and as long as Sampson Bass has anything to say in the matter every American shall have an equal show for his daily bread."

"Good!" said the general, "but suppose the Confederate army should march upon you, and you could not repel it?

"With the help of your army I would try," said the miller deliberately.

"And what do you propose to do? asked the general.

"I propose that the two armies shall take turns about using the mill, and that its owner act as superintendent and referee in the matter; and, furthermore, that if you are the first to agree to my proposition your army will be the first to use my mill for a day."

Just then the Confederate general's representative returned, and the proposed agreement was mutually ratified, and for several weeks the two armies were in sight of each other, maintaining a neutrality strange in war, at the dictation of an individual.

Sampson Bass had been advised against this neutral course by friends of different beliefs, but realizing the critical condition in which his country men on either side would be placed if he took sides with and delivered his property to the control of either army, and also realizing his own situation as the proprietor of a comparatively new property on which was a debt of three thousand seven hundred dollars, his judgment told him that it was better to have two friends than one enemy, while at the same time he could do humanity a service. And so he did, and continued to do, until the Confederates gained control of the surrounding country and captured his mill, but even then he enforced his right to be superintendent and to grind for his customers on certain days.

Shortly after the Confederates took possession of the mill a friend of Bass, who had early advised him to give his property into the hands of the Confederates, and thus establish his friendship for their cause, met him and in a spirit of pleasantry made this remark, the answer to which will live longer than its author of his posterity:

"I thought you could whip two armies, Sampson, but I see one has captured your mill."

"He is a poor soldier and has been little at war who thinks he can defeat one belligerent as easily as two opponents."

During the years 1862-63 the mill continued to run day and night, both, grinding and sawing, in order that no one should want for bread or shelter. But when the Confederates obtained control they put out a picket line, and it was not until the Union army took possession of Springfield that the Confederate forces thought of surrendering the mill. Three times during these years of strife had a council of war decided that Bass' mill was a help to the enemy, and as many times was it condemned and ordered burned, but each time it was decided, when possession was gained, that it was a good thing to keep. In 1863 there was established near the mill a post office, blacksmith shop, dry goods store, drug store, two grocery stores and a potter's shop. That was the commencement of the village which has but partially outgrown the appearance it took on in war times. The first election after the war was held in Sampson Bass' mill, which had become a famous rendezvous.

In 1867 Sampson Bass sold the mill to James Gray, who moved machinery away, Springfield by that time having acquired a steam mill and the impression being that profitable milling days on the Pomme de Terre had passed. But Sampson Bass did not think so, nor does he yet. He soon after built a one hundred-barrel roller mill at Strafford, three miles from the site of the historic mill, for the possession of which armies contended. When asked his object in building this new mill, he replied:

"I am building it for the benefit of my sons, my country and myself. The new mill cost ten thousand dollars and was a model plant but never eclipsed the old one in point of history. Mr. Bass sold this mill and soon thereafter it burned down. The world may never know of all, the heroism and the wealth of romance that was brought out within the shadow of that mill, but enough is known to prove Sampson Bass, the miller, was a great hero in the times that "tried men's souls" as even Lyon, who fell at Wilson's Creek, and who now sleeps 'neath a stately monument towering above a mound decorated with flowers, and around the base of which imperishable slabs is inscribed Theodore O'Hara's immortal poem, "The Bivouac of the Dead." [154-155]

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