Volume 9, Number 1 - Fall 1985

Submitted by Maxine Springer

This gentleman is the son of Samuel and Betsy Painter, and was born in Burke Co., N.C., in 1810. When he was two years of age his parents moved to Tennessee, and when he was fifteen they moved to Montgomery Co., IL. In 1831 he came to Green Co., Mo., and settled at the "Big Spring", five miles southeast of Springfield. 71n 1832 Mr. Painter built a mill near his home. He built it all himself, hewing the timber and forging the iron for the machinery used. This was about the first or second mill erected in the county. People came for fifty miles to get their corn ground. He also ran a blacksmith shop, and he would fill up the hopper of the mill and start it grinding, and then work in the shop until it was ground. He is also a lock and gunsmith, and carried on the business before anyone else in the county. He made for years, on an average, two pistols per day, selling them for ten dollars a pair to those outfitting for trips across the plains. Mr. Painter was married, in 1830, to Miss Betsy Compton. Their union was blest with two sons and two daughters. His first wife died in 1836, and in 1839 he maried Fannie Freeman of this county. They had four sons, all living. His second wife died May 15, 1880. Mr. Painter is the only one living of a family of six children. He is living in the same house built by him forty-five years ago. He is one of the old landmarks of the county, and politically is, and always has been, a Democrat.
In the latter part of 1831, Samuel Painter came in from Montgomery County, Illinois, where he had lived about five years. He was formerly from Lincoln county, Tennessee, to which place he removed in 1813, when his son Jacob, who still lives in Springfield, was but two years old. Mr. Painter and his family, consisting of his wife and three sons John, Jacob and Elisha remained a few months in Springfield, after which they removed to the beautiful prairie in the north part of the county, where they remained about one year, near Ebenezer. Mr. Painter sold out to Thomas Wilson, and then removed to what was called the "Mill Bottom", on the James, the place first settled by Mr. Ingle, and afterward by a man named Seigler. Jacob, at the same time, removed to the place known as the "Brashear’s Cave" farm, four miles southeast of Springfield. About the time of the laying out of the town they both returned to Springfield, where the old gentleman remained until his death, which occurred in 1836. Jacob still lives in the Third ward, and is, without doubt, the oldest white settlei in the city. In 1845, he purchased, for ten dollars, thE ground on Olive street where his present house and shop stand, and where he has ever since resided. Cot S. H. Boyd thus refers to him, in his historical essay, delivered at the meeting of pioneers, July 4th, 18 76: He was a professional gunsmith, and has turned out thousands of fire-arms, and he gained quite a celebrity for his pistol pattern, known as "Jake’s best". Californians, in 1849, ‘50, and ‘51, bought them in preference to any other. Jake married the daughter of William Freeman, a soldier of the Revolution, who died in 1836, and was buried on the Gardner farm, two miles east from Springfield. Jake remembers well the house of John P. Campbell, the only one, where now is our city, in 1831. William Fulbright, Benjamin Cannefax, Joseph Rountree, and Joseph Miller were the nearest residents to where now is Springfield. Jake, in those far-gone days, was accustomed to church-going, to hear the Rev. Thomas Potter, an uncle of Col. Thomas Potter, a leading man and politician of Greene county. The county was full of game and the water-courses filled with fish. Jake was champion then, but he always played fair and practiced no deceit, even upon the finest game and fish. Jake never told a falsehood, and he says honey was used as a lubricator for wagons, it being so plenty then. He has continually resided here since 1831, except for a few days, when he went into the country to his brother’s. Some claim that he is not now the oldest settler: that he lost that right when he left, as he left in a hurry. The story is that Henry Fulbright, son of William Fulbright, came from St. Louis, and brought the cholera with him, in 1835: and that when Jake left, he left for good. But it subsided, and Jake returned. Knowing the demoralizing effect cholera has upon a Tennesseean, the court decided that Jake’s domicile was not abandoned, and that he is entitled to carry the knife. Jacob Painter has filled well his part always the quiet, fearless advocate of right, he never had an enemy political or personal. Such is the oldest living settler of Springfield.

Historical Essay of Col. S. H. Boyd-1876
One of the necessities of the pioneer’s equipment was firearms, and the man who was skilled in the art of their manufacture and repair was one of the most useful craftsmen among them. Such was Jake Painter,


son of Samuel Painter, who came to Springfield in 1831, dying here in 1836. Jake’s brothers, John and Elisha were devoted to the sports of the field and continued in the occupation of hunters and fishermen long after the big game had disappeared from this vicinity and the rivers and creeks had been depleted of much of the original abundance of the finny tribe. Jake bought a lot on Olive street near the northwestern corner of the public square in 1845 and established there a gunsmith shop which afterward became famous. Among other things he was the maker of a pistol known as "Jake’s Best" which was much in favor with the adventurers who came through Springfield in 1849, 1850 and 1851 bound for the California gold fields. It was one of the busiest shops in town where this redoubtable weapon was manufactured and all kinds of guns and pistols overhauled, repaired and remodeled.
from "Past & Presentof Green County, Missouri-1915" Contributor’s Note: Jacob "Jake" Painter was a brother to my great, great, great grandfather, Elisha Painter. Elisha died December 8, 1862 (age 56J and is buried in Painter Cemetery, Shell Knob, MO. The grave of Jacob is in Christian County.


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