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



My first acquaintance with Hon. Champ Clark came about in this way: At Luray there had been a mob. When Governor Phelps was inaugurated he determined to punish the men concerned in it. Hon. John M. Wood was then a young man, and only those well acquainted with him knew how big he was. Governor Phelps intended to send Gen. E. Y. Mitchell, who was then Adjutant General, and who was a fine criminal lawyer, to aid in the prosecution of those indicted but as Gen. Mitchel was to be the assistant, Governor Phelps wanted to know for certain that the legal Prosecuting Attorney had the "sand in his craw" and "backbone" to stand up for the enforcement of law and order while bearded by the leaders of the mob and those who participated with them. So he asked me to see, and become well satisfied myself, whether Mr. Wood would prosecute in the face of all difficulties. He did not care so much about his legal abilities, as General Mitchell would furnish them, but he did want to know that he would favor vigorous prosecution of those engaged in the mob; and if I didn't think that he was the man he wanted, he asked me to see Champ Clark, and size him up. It so happened that it was convenient to interview Clark first. Of course, he did not know or even suspect that I had invited him into the interview on the porch of the "Old Hotel.'' But I spent a very happy two hours with him in chatting on that old porch discussing law, politics and religion. I found he was a decided believer" in the Scriptures as interpreted by Alexander Campbell; for his copious quotations from the New Testament and great writers showed me that he knew on what he based his faith. It did not take me long to find out that he was not a Seventh Day Democrat, but was a Democrat seven days in the week, and that he knew of no reason why the lenient laws of State of Missouri should not be enforced, but that he did know of many reasons why they should be. And the reasons that he gave me were so entirely satisfactory, and his illustrations so ample and so appropriate, that I felt certain that if Hon. J. M. Wood did not come to the "scratch" in first-class manner that Champ Clark would. Some days afterwards I met the Hon. J. M. Wood, and without his "knowledge and consent" I put him through the same "course of sprouts.'' The interview proved entirely satisfactory, and I so reported to Governor Phelps. It is a matter of history that Mr. Wood and General Mitchell defeated the leaders of the mob at the next trial. This will be news to Judge Wood, as it was to Champ Clark. When I wrote him about it, some six months ago, I got a characteristic letter from Clark in answer to mine, informing him why I interviewed him on the porch of the "Old Hotel.'' He said substantially "What little things change the course of human life. If I had prosecuted those men, I would probably be practicing law in Missouri, but as I failed to get the chance I am what I am."


I see that the farmers of Greene County are organizing in order to take better care of their farms, raise bigger and finer stock and greater cereal crops of all kinds than they have done in the last few years. To encourage them, I want to write that prior to the war we had what was called the Southwest Missouri District Fair. In 1860 the fair association offered a prize for the best ten acres of corn and one for the best five acres of meadow. I cannot remember how many people competed for the different prizes, but I can remember that Robert P. Faulkner, whose farm was a part of the southwest part of town, Kindred Rose, who lived in the Grand Prairie, and Elijah Gray, who lived southwest of town, were the three best exhibitors.

Robert P. Faulkner raised 126 bushels to the acre; Kindred Rose raised 123 bushels to the acre; Elijah Gray 121 bushels to the acre. The men who exhibited the corn were required to explain how they cultivated it. I remember Mr. Faulkner's, because it was the first time I ever heard of level cultivation. In his statement as to how he cultivated his corn he stated that he broke the land with a turning plow made by John Lair, whose shop was where the Woodruff building now stands. Following that furrow was an old-fashioned bull tongued plow drawn by a big mule, and sunk as deeply into the ground as the mule could pull it. He then harrowed the land twice and planted it, and then harrowed it twice again; then plowed it with bull-tongue plows four times, always leaving the land as level as he could. Part of the ten acres was an old Indian field when the first settlers came here, but old Colonel Neville stated that Mr. Faulkner was "cultivating another farm lower down."


The premium on hay was taken by Benjamin Cannefax, and I know of but one man living who helped to measure the corn or weigh the hay, and that is Mr. J. G. Dollison. I talked with him the other day and he told me that Mr. Cannefax's hay weighed 3 ½ tons to the acre.

Dr. T. J. Bailey's favorite cow was milked on the fair grounds one day and gave a little over one bushel of milk. Fine horses and mules, it seems to me, were as plentiful as they are now, although the mules were not so large. One of the largest hogs that ever was raised in the county up to that time was brought and butchered by Joseph Morris and weighed over 825 pounds.

Col. Solomon C. Neville, who settled in the Grand Prairie country, came here from Kentucky. I have always understood he imported his Angora goats, either in 1859 or 1860. I know I have never seen any finer ones than he had, and I have seen them at the fairs, I suppose as fine as there are in the world. Hewas very enthusiastic over his prospects for successful Angora goat raising, but the war, of course, put him out of business.

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