Volume 5, Number 4 - Summer 1974

By H. Hall

These two Ozark, Christian county stories were told to me by Herbert Rogers. Mr. Rogers is 89. He grew up in the shadow of a banker-farmer family (Rogersville) with an intellectually oriented mother.

Ozark, at one time, was part of the Springfield judicial district. One of the judges who came and held the regular scheduled court was a man named Nevill. In those days transportation was by train from Springfield, with only one train a day. People from the county came in by wagon or horseback. A good deal of gambling and drinking went on around the courthouse previous to court sessions, and visitors for whatever reason were often involved.

On one occasion Judge Nevill entered the courtroom which was already filled with onlookers, put on his robe which was hanging over the chair, picked up his gavel, rapped, and said, "The court is in session.

He hesitated a minute, rapped again with his gavel and said, "Court is dismissed—The court is drunk." Whereupon he removed his robe, hung it over the chair and left.

When the railroad west of St. Louis was being built, south Missouri became populous and prosperous because of the railroad tie industry. A spur of the Frisco was built from Springfield to Chadwick, and that town had two banks and as many saloons. Along with the railroad, of course came the telegraph, a mythical marvel to many of the woodsmen and farmers. Indeed, the railroad itself was such a novelty that people came from miles around to see the train arrive in Ozark or Chadwick on a Sunday afternoon, which was the time of day it arrived. One afternoon one of these onlookers spied a piece of yellow paper at the foot of a telegraph pole. Picking it up he waved it about, saying, "Here’s one o’ them spatcher things that dropped off of the wire. I’ll take it into the office."


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