Personal Reminiscences
and Fragments of the Early History of
Springfield and Greene County, Missouri



Among the prominent settlers of the early 30s, that we did not mention at our last dinner, none were more prominent than D. Bird Miller (after whom the Miller Spring, which is west of Grant street and south of Scott street, was named), who came here with Col. Campbell, and his brother, Joseph Miller, who was one of the kindliest old gentlemen and best raconteurs I have ever known, both Tennesseeans, big of bone, body and mind.

William Anderson was one of the first settlers and was our first nurseryman. He had a large family of sons and daughters and, like him, they were the "salt of the earth." he lived south of the city five miles.

Hon. Marcus Boyd, several times a representative in the Legislature, settled three miles east of town and raised a large family of children. He was Grand Master of Masons for the State and colonel of the Eighty-third Missouri regiment, and a man of sterling character and a big brain. One of his sons, Col. S. H. Boyd, was colonel of the Twenty-fourth Missouri Volunteers and member of Congress from this district and minister to Siam. Another was Secretary of State for many years and member of Congress from Alabama, and another, Dr. Erastus, I think, was the most eloquent orator I ever heard. His youngest daughter, Lula, married Col. Dan C. Kennedy, founder of the "Springfield Leader,'' and Robert Kennedy, one of the present editors, is son and grandson.


Hon. William C. Price and John H. Price settled on James River, east of town, and William C. was Judge of our Circuit Court and Treasurer of the United States under Buchanan's administration. He lived to be an old man, dying in Chicago two years ago. John H. was a colonel in the Confederate service.

Among the most active and forceful of our early settlers was Judge James H. Blakey, who settled what is now known as the McDaniel farm. He was from Kentucky and raised a large family of boys.

Dr. Sanders settled at what is now known as the Berry Spring. I don' know where he went when he left here. Judge Henry Fulbright married his daughter.

Solomon H. Owen settled four miles north of the city. He had a large family, one of whom intermarried with Capt. A. M. Julian, one of the kindest hearted old men I ever knew. Judge James Dollison came with "Uncle" Neddy Thompson in 1831. They were brothers-in-law. He was County Judge for years and when I knew him lived four miles south of town on the old "wire road." He used to tell a story on a doctor who stood high and had a large practice, and was noted for his fondness for "roasting ears." The story was that the doctor rode up to the judge's house at noon and said "Give my horse fifteen roasting ears and me sixteen."

Benjamin and Chesley Cannefax were brothers and settled about four miles southwest of town. Chesley Cannefax was our first sheriff, a mighty good man. They were from Kentucky. Ralph Ott, the artist, is his grandson.

Dr. Edwin T. Robberson was raised on the Robberson Prairie, ten miles north of town, where his father had settled in the early 30s. After graduating from a medical college, he began practice in Springfield and was a determined and decided Union man at the outbreak of the Civil War, and was one of the three men who went to Rolla to urge the advance of the Union troops to Springfield from that place. He was assistant surgeon during the war. He was always active and his death was sincerely regretted by all the old settlers, among whom he had hosts of friends, because of his many actions of kindness. He left a large family which still stands high with all who know them.


William Townsend settled about three miles southwest of town and raised a large family. He was the very best kind of a citizen and many of his descendants still live here and keep up the good name.

Horace Snow settled about four miles northeast and was an enterprising citizen, raised a large family, and died regretted by all who knew him.

Joseph and Resin P. Haden were early settlers. R. P. settled and entered the "Hooper" farm, two miles east of town, about which the courts are now "wrestling.''

Gen. Nicholas R. Smith, was an early settler, about three miles north of town. He entered land and made a home. Afterward he moved to town and kept a hotel at the northeast corner of Boonville street and the square. Board was $1.50 per week in 1856. He raised a large family of sons and daughters. The most prominent and forceful of then was Hon. Oscar Benton Smith, who, with Col. Marcus Boyd, represented this county in the Lower House in 1859 and 1860, and was afterwards a soldier in the Confederate Army and Judge of our County Court for many years.

Anderson Hampton came in the early 30s and settled on Wilson Creek about six miles southwest. He was a good citizen and left many descendants, all good citizens.

Maj. Joseph Weaver came to Greene County in the early 30s from North Carolina. He settled one and a half miles west of the city and sold to Mr. Shook and settled four miles northwest, where he died of the cholera. He was our first Senator. He left a large family of sons and daughters, only two of whom are now living, Mrs. J. L. Carson and Mrs. D. L. Fulbright of Double Springs, Arkansas. I never knew Maj. Weaver, but did know all of his children, and I will never forget what an old friend told me when he found out my brother was going to marry one of his granddaughters, "that the Weaver women made the best wives in the world.


Judge Charles S. Yancey, who succeeded Foster P. Wright, who succeeded Charles H. Allen (Horse Allen) on our Circuit Bench, came in the early '30s. The family were of Virginia origin. He settled out in the country north of town (near the corner of Broad and Commercial streets) and died there, previous to 1860. He was tall and dark and a gentleman of the old school. There were few appeals from his decisions on the bench. One of the most forceful men I have ever known was Lewis Allen Dickon Crenshaw, who came in the late `30s, and settled on the Kickapoo Prairie, four miles south of town. He came from Nashville, Tennessee, but was of the old Virginia stock of Crenshaws and Dickons. He was "small and wiry," seemed to never tire if he could get to sleep from 2 till 8, but was fresh and good natured all the balance of the twenty-four hours, and was the best husband I have ever known. He was one of the three who started to St. Louis to get troops after the "Goose Pond Rally'' and met Sigel and the Third Missouri and part of the Fifth at Rolla, coming out. Intensely loyal, although a large slave holder, he never faltered while the Confederacy was in arms, but the day they laid down their arms he began to do just as earnestly his utmost to "heal the wounds'' the awful strife had made. He was one of the three men I have known who did not understand personal fear, and yet he was gentle as a child to the injured and innocent. All of you knew him and I know you will join with me today in hoping and believing that our Heavenly Father, not forgetting the frailties of man, has taken him from the grave of transgression to the land of the just, made perfect to shine as the stars forever and ever.

Capt. James Massey came to Greene County in the early 30s and settled four miles east of town. He was born in Ireland, landed in South Carolina, moved to Tennessee, where he served in the war of 1812, and from there to this county. He raised a large family of sons and daughters and died at the close of the war. He was intensely Union, although a slaveholder. So were all of his descendants except one, who lost a leg in the Confederate Army. His children and grandchildren all made good citizens.


Gen. Joseph Powell was born in North Carolina, married Jane Massey in Tennessee and came to Missouri with Capt. Massey. He died in 1846, leaving four children. He was in command of the troops at the expected uprising of the Sac and Fox Indians. The first frame dwelling in Greene County was built for him by Garland Shackelford (who died one year ago at the age of 97), two and one-half miles east of the Public Square. The lumber was sawed by two negro men belonging to Capt. Massey with a whip saw. A part of the old house is still standing and one of the windows of 8x10 glass, 12 panes to each half, is still in the house. I suppose the oldest part of a house now identified, without doubt, in the country.

Thomas and Boyd Edmonson came in the early 30s and settled five miles northeast of town. They were both good citizens and left families.

Jonathan Carthel came to Greene County in 1833, I think. He was born in Alabama. His father was Josiah Carthel of Snow Hill, Maryland. He was of Scotch ancestry. His great-grandmother was Keren Happuck Turner, the only woman of the Revolutionary War to whom a monument has been erected. It is at Guilford Court House, North Carolina, and in Commemoration of her great services as a nurse after the battle of Guilford Court House. She had a son and grandson wounded in that battle, and rode horseback from Snow Hill, Maryland, to Guilford to nurse her sons, and while doing so nursed and directed others how to nurse the other wounded. In the National Cemetery at Guilford Court House the monument may be seen. Mr. Carthel was 6 feet 6 inches high, a born orator and a minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He had several children, all of whom except Mrs. Sophronia Denton are now dead. He settled six miles southeast of the city.

Bennett Robberson, Hosea Mullings and Joseph Evans settled in the Robberson Prairie, ten miles north of town. They were splendid citizens and each raised a large family. Many of their descendants are living in the county now and are first class citizens. Gen. Hosea O. Mullings, son of Hosea, Sr., has represented this county in the Legislature several times and was the best parliamentarian I ever saw in a legislative body.


Dr. Thomas J. Bailey came in the late 30s and opened a farm, the southeast corner of Center and Jefferson streets. He was a Kentuckian, a large slaveholder and a wealthy man. He was intensely Union at the breaking out of the late war and subscribed liberally to all funds for the Union side. The splendid monument to Lyon in the National Cemetery was erected by his administrator, Hon. J. W. D. L. F. Mack, under the terms of his will. He was witty and loved a good joke. Being my wife's guardian, I had to ask him for her, and he sighed, spit and looked so serious I thought he was going to refuse, and I like to had a fit, until he said "I could have her if 1 would make all the children vote the Whig ticket," and after the ceremony be wished us a long life and happiness and many children who would vote the Whig ticket.

One of our earnest merchants was John D. DeBruin. His store was on the lot at the corner of College street and the square where the Court House now stands. He was a splendid business man and made a comfortable fortune for those days and moved to St. Louis. He lived in a log house, one and one-half stories high, on Walnut street just east of the seed store.

Dr. William Shackelford was born in Kentucky and came in the 30s and lived at the corner of Campbell and Walnut streets. He was a fine gentleman and physician. He was father of Mrs. J. M. Wood, Mrs. Rountree and Mrs. Lack. Samuel S. Vinton was born in the city of Baltimore. He was a nephew of Maj. D. D. Berry and came here at an early date and was a clerk in the store of Maj. Berry and finally became a partner. He married a daughter of E. M. Campbell of Polk County and entered business for himself. He was a splendid business man and very energetic and left sons and daughters who are among the best citizens of our present day. His brother, Robert A. Vinton, came afterwards and lost his life on the plains some time in the latter 50s.

John S. Waddill came here from Tennessee in 1836. He was born in 1805, and died in 1880. He married Sarah Kellogg, one of the best women that ever lived, who died in 1907. He settled the present home of the family just east of the Government building. He was one of our most prominent lawyers for years, also Judge of the Circuit Court. He was one of the few who always wore a silk hat and walked with a gold-headed cane. The "Mary S. Boyd'' School is named for his oldest daughter. The oldest son, John B., was a good soldier, and rose to the rank of major and adjutant general, young as he was. His second son, James R. Waddill, represented his district in Congress and is now practicing law in New Mexico. The youngest son is now in business on Boonville street.


One of the most active and useful men who lived in the county was Charles Anthony Haden, son of Joel Haden, about whom we talked at our last dinner. He was born in Kentucky in 1812 and died in 1905. He came to Springfield in 1836, when the land office was opened, and was the first clerk. He married a daughter of Maj. Joseph Weaver, who bore him eight children. She died in 1859 and although Mr. Haden lived forty six years he never thought of marrying again. He was a strong, vigorous man up to within three years of his death, riding horseback from the farm he settled on when he first married, six miles south of town. He was one of the firm of Haden, Hancock & Co. and Haden, Jones & Co., large stock dealers, also was one of the largest stockholders and organizers of the large tobacco factory operated here prior to 1860 under the name of Caynor, Henslee & Co. His oldest daughter married Judge John Yount Fulbright and they are today the oldest living couple who were born and married in Greene County and now living here.

The man who did more than any other to give prominence was Hon. John Smith Phelps. He was born and raised in Connecticut and I think came to Springfield in 1835.He was a lawyer, but settled south of town where he acquired by purchase and entry 1,100 acres of the beautiful Kickapoo Prairie. He represented this county in the Legislature and Congress for twenty years and the last ten years he was as influential as any member of the body. To him we owe the "Overland Stage" and the Frisco railroad. He was colonel of. a Missouri regiment of U. S. volunteers and was wounded at the battle of Pea Ridge, was appointed Military Governor of Arkansas and afterwards was elected Governor of Missouri. He only lacked one vote of being nominated for Vice-President in 1864. He was over 6 feet high and straight as an arrow. He had a wonderful capacity for work and was a good lawyer. He is buried in Hazelwood Cemetery.



My father, Maj. Daniel D. Berry, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in July, 1805, and was brought up and educated there. When he was about 21 years old he, having the spirit of the pioneer in his make-up, "came west," and first stopped at Bolivar, West Tennessee, where he spent five or six years, and while there married my mother, who was Miss Olivia M. Polk. He then moved further west and came to Greene County and settled where the Country Club now is. This was in 1832. In 1836 a county seat was to be selected and three places were contesting for the site, each offering to donate land for the location. One was at the Danforth Spring, six miles east of here, on ground owned by Finley Danforth; another two miles southeast and owned by Daniel D. Berry, and the other on the present site on ground owned by John P. Campbell. My father and J. P. Campbell, fearing a divided interest so near each other would result in the selection of the Danforth place, concluded to unite their forces and agreed on the present site, which was carried. My father then moved to the new county seat and went into merchandising where Holland's Bank is now. He afterwards formed a partnership with his nephew, Benjamin Snyder, and afterwards with a Mr. Sterling Allen, and then with S. S. Vinton, and after this with J. S. Moss, which continued up to the "war."

My father was never a politician, but was in 1833, as shown by old records, a justice of the peace, and some years after this was county treasurer and was the first treasurer to make an itemized settlement with the County Court. It may seem that I am giving a biography of my father instead of writing a history of Greene County, but the history of one is almost the history of the other, as he was so prominently connected with the early history that it would be difficult to disassociate them. He died in Memphis, Tennessee, in October, 1862, and is now buried in Hazelwood Cemetery. He was the father of twelve children, ten of whom arrived at maturity and survived him.

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