An 1887 Frisco Timetable, the Year Monett was Founded.  Collection of L. A. Reed.


A railroad for Southwest Missouri was approved by Congress in 1852, but had only reached Rolla by the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.  After the war, an exasperated state government took the road away from its original owners and sold it to investors led by the famed western explorer General John C. Fremont.  When the Fremont group managed to build only 15 miles of railroad in a year, the state dumped them too.  Finally, in 1868, the South Pacific Railroad, as it was then known, was sold to Boston investors with the drive -- and the money -- to push it forward.  It reached Lebanon in October, 1869, Springfield in May, 1870 and Neosho in November.  From there it pushed into the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) as far as Vinita, where it met the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad coming south from Kansas.

In late 1870, the South Pacific Railroad was renamed the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, and in 1876, it became the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, commonly referred to as the "Frisco."  The Frisco founded Monett in the 1880s and dominated it economically for over 70 years.  In April, 1918, the Monett Times said that the railroad had 1150 employees in Monett. A 1938 city directory put the number of its employees at 535 with an annual payroll of over $18.4 million in today's dollars.  As late as the early 1950s, the Frisco had about 300 employees, and the Monett rail yards handled as many as 2,500 rail cars a day.  There were Frisco employee picnics in the park, Frisco ball teams and a regular column in the Monett Times called "Frisco News."  Monett was a railroad town.

Pierce City and Eureka Springs

In the spring of 1870 the South Pacific Railroad passed through the future location of Monett, then only a cow pasture.  Five miles west, it founded Peirce City, named after Andrew Peirce, Jr., the railroad's managing director.  Peirce's spelling of his last name was so eccentric that even the railroad's contemporary newspaper ads sometimes got it wrong and spelled it "Pierce."   Many years later, when the odd spelling created problems with the post office and mail deliveries, the town gave up and formally changed its name.  This page uses the modern "Pierce" except where it is quoting original sources.

The intial importance of Pierce City was simply as terminus of the railroad.  The "terminus" was the moving end point of the expanding railroad.  It was where freight and passenger traffic temporarily stopped and construction on the next segment of road began.  As the South Pacific built across Southwest Missouri, Lebanon, Springfield, Pierce City, Neosho and Seneca were all briefly terminus cities.  Each in turn became a "hell-on-wheels" boomtown for several months -- the center of wagon freighting and stagecoach traffic for the whole area and a great construction camp with tent cities, saloons and whorehouses for the construction crews.  In July, 1870, the Springfield Missouri Weekly Patriot reported the murder of a man and woman at Pierce City without bothering to give their names.  "If report is true, this kind of business has become quite a matter of custom about Peirce City, and it hardly pays to look up the facts.  A railroad terminus always enjoys an unenviable reputation, and Pierce City, it seems, is not likely not to be outdone in such little courtesies."  (Note that the newspaper spelled the town's name two different ways in the space of two sentences. The ad is from the Neosho Times, October 27, 1870.  Within a few weeks, the terminus had moved from Pierce City to Neosho.  Click on the image for a larger view.)

In July, 1872, long after the South Pacific terminus had moved west, the Memphis, Carthage and Northwestern Railroad (later renamed the Missouri & Western Railway) was completed between Pierce City and Carthage.  It soon expanded to serve the mining area around Joplin and to tap the coal fields of southeast Kansas around Oswego.  About 1875, it became part of the Frisco system, which made Pierce City a Frisco division point with its own roundhouse, stock yards and other railroad facilities.

More importantly for the future of Monett, however, Pierce City also quickly became a center of trade for Northwest Arkansas.  Within a year of its founding, it had over 300 buildings and a population of 1,000, and merchants in Fort Smith, Arkansas ran newspaper ads heralding "the latest goods by wagon from Peirce City."  For the next decade, there was continual agitation for an Arkansas branch to the railroad as well as considerable controversy about where the branch might leave the main line.  As an existing division point, Pierce City was the leading candidate, but Verona and Neosho were also prominently mentioned.

In September, 1868, a stage passenger between Springfield and Lebanon counted 110 freight wagons moving west in a single day.  Sedalia was another freighting center and probably sent as many wagons south.  When it reached Southwest Missouri in 1870, the railroad expected to serve several specialized markets in addition to this trade in general merchandise.  First, well before the Civil War, Granby had become a major lead mining center and had been shipping tons of lead over a hundred miles by wagon, initially to the Osage River at Linn Creek and later to the Missouri Pacific Railroad in central Missouri.  About the same time the railroad arrived in Southwest Missouri, the tri-state mining district opened up around Joplin, producing even more lead.  Second, after the Civil War, the Texas cattle trade became important to the area and offered another enormous market for freight.  Finally, Kansas had its coal fields and grain fields.  All of these freight markets pulled the railroad's attention west.

In 1879-80, a new specialized market beckoned to the south -- tourism.  In July, 1879, Eureka Springs, Arkansas, was founded as a health resort whose waters were suppposed to have miraculous healing powers.  The idea of healing waters was very old, going back at least to the Romans, and was not new to the Ozarks.  As early as June, 1868, a card ad appeared in the Springfield Patriot for Chalybeate Springs (today's Paris Springs) in Lawrence County, Missouri, whose waters were claimed to benefit invalids.  Except as a campground for occasional church revivals, however, it seems never to have attracted much attention.

Eureka Springs, by contrast, was a phenomenon, a gold rush town whose gold was in its healing waters.  Founded from scratch in July, 1879, its population at the time of the June, 1880, census was nearly 4,000, larger than Bentonville, Fayetteville and even Fort Smith, Arkansas.  The town then was larger than it is today and larger than it has been in any subsequent census.  This explosive growth began at a time when the nearest railroad station was Pierce City and when the road to Eureka Springs from the north was a torturous path from Cassville through Roaring River and Eagle Rock.  Farmers coming into Pierce City for provisions in the summer and fall of 1879 and spring of 1880 reported passing scores of wagons on the road south to better health.

The Frisco quickly saw in Eureka Springs a chance to fill its passenger trains with tourists.  It had run premliminary surveys for an Arkansas branch as early as 1870 but had continually deferred construction.  Apart from general merchandise, the only immediate freight market to the south was the hardwood timber of Northwest Arkansas.  Yet, it was more profitable for the railroad to haul one passenger a given distance than to haul a ton of freight the same distance.  The passenger rate per mile was over 50% higher than the rate for a ton of freight, and passengers cost less to move.  Passengers weighed less, took up less space and loaded themselves.  In 1880, the Frisco had only 23 full or mixed-use passenger coaches, but 766 box cars, 841 ore cars (gondolas) and 478 stock cars.  Passenger cars constituted about 1% of the railroad's rolling stock but generated almost 16% of its revenues.

Before railroad officials gave final approval to the southern branch in April, 1880, they personally visited Eureka Springs.  In the gold rush atmosphere of the time, the Frisco's 1880 annual report claimed, and probably believed, that the town had a population of 8,000, about twice the number counted by the census.  Subsequent annual reports continued to emphasize its importance.  As soon as the railroad reached south Barry County, it helped finance a spur railroad to Eureka and founded the new town of Seligman as its railhead.   In March, 1882, almost a year before the spur opened on February 1, 1883, the Frisco published a promotional booklet on Eureka Springs.  It then financed construction of the Crescent Hotel there, completed in 1886 at a cost of over $7.8 million in today's dollars, and opened with great fanfare by James G. Blaine, the Repubican presidential candidate two years earlier.  The railroad's 1884 general timetable featured a separate listing for the Eureka Springs Railway and emphasized the connection through Plymouth, the forerunner of Monett.

In 1881, the first full year of operations on the Arkansas branch, passenger traffic accounted for 45% of branch revenues compared to 19% on the main line from St. Louis to Seneca and 23% on the Kansas branch from Pierce City to Wichita.  In 1882, after the railroad had reached Fayetteville, passenger traffic was still 38% of revenue.  Figures aren't available by branch for later years, but in the early 1880s, the tourist traffic to Eureka Springs was clearly a major incentive for early construction of the southern branch -- and for the founding of Monett.

Plymouth and Monett

According to the Frisco's 1880 annual report, actual construction on the Arkansas branch began on July 9, 1880.  Pierce City was made the division point, but the physical junction with the main line was made at the present location of Monett about five miles east.  The Frisco made no effort to promote a town there at the time and seems to have chosen the site solely for reasons of geography and construction cost.  If the new branch had proceeded directly south from Pierce City, it would have had to cross the drainages of Hudson and Capps creeks.  By moving the junction east and proceeding south parallel to the present route of highway 37, the railroad found a relatively flat divide between drainages.  Most of the streams to the east of highway 37 flow east and eventually empty into the White River. Most of the streams to the west flow west to the Grand River.  Only a mile or so east or west of highway 37, the terrain is much more rugged.  The Frisco estimated that this move saved it about $1.35 million in construction costs in today's dollars.

The Frisco established a flag station and telegraph office at the junction between the Frisco main line and the Arkansas branch, which soon became the center of a new town named Plymouth and often called Plymouth Junction.  Based on the 1880 census and contemporary newspaper accounts, there was apparently no settlement of any kind at Plymouth before railroad construction began, but there is reason to believe the railroad's engineers had spotted its geographical advantages as a southern gateway much earlier.  An April, 1870 newspaper account had mentioned "Kings Prairie Depot" to be located between Verona and Pierce City, and Campbell's Gazetter of Missouri, published in 1875, had shown Plymouth on a map between Verona and Pierce City and listed "Plymouth, on the A.&P.R.R., 285 miles from St. Louis."  (The ad is from the Peirce City Weekly Empire of March 1, 1883.)

Whatever Plymouth's planning history, the trains in the early 1880s only stopped there if they were "flagged" (signaled to stop) or had passengers or freight, and the railroad did not "break bulk" there.  Pierce City remained the local railroad town and continued to benefit from Frisco improvements all through the early 1880s.  Plymouth's business center was today's Main Street west of Central Avenue, where the feed mill and V. B. Hall antique mall are located.  In addition to the railroad, the town's known businesses were the Wither's House hotel, Leroy Jeffries' grocery store, S. D. Withers' grocery store, a blacksmith shop and Frederick Von Gonten's restaurant. Von Gonten was also the postmaster. The name Plymouth was in use elsewhere and not recognized by the post office, so Gonten was the postal name of the town.

After its founding, Plymouth idled while the Arkansas branch built south.  The branch began construction in July, 1880 and reached Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1882.  There it stalled for four years awaiting construction of a bridge over the Arkansas River between Van Buren and Fort Smith.  The bridge had first to be approved by Congress, then its design approved by the Army Corps of Engineers and finally built.  In the meantime, railroad cars crossed the river on a steamboat, which was subject to all the vagaries of flood and drought, high water and low.  The Van Buren bridge was opened for traffic on February 10, 1886.  The Frisco then resumed construction on its southern branch and completed it to Paris, Texas in the summer of 1887, making connections with various Texas railroads.  This extension more than doubled the mileage of this branch, from 133 to 303 miles, and another 50 miles or so of spur lines were built to reach coal fields and timber along the way.  What had heretofore been the Arkansas division of the Frisco became the Texas division.

The opening of the Frisco's Texas division was the immediate cause for the founding of Monett.  Beginning in the spring of 1887 and continuing into 1888, the Frisco spent about $2.6 million in today's dollars expanding it rail facilties at Plymouth.  In addition to a new freight terminal and a passenger station with dining hall, it built a 12-stall brick roundhouse with turntable, coach and ice houses, coaling facilities, stockyards and over 6 miles of sidings.  In May, 1887, Plymouth was renamed Monett after Henry Monett, a prominent official of the New York Central Railroad.  What was essentially a new and larger town was laid out east of Central Avenue, adjacent to the old Plymouth, and town lots were sold.  Finally, in October, 1887, the Frisco division points for the Kansas and Texas divisions were moved to Monett from Pierce City.

After the division points were moved, Pierce City's newspaper, the Empire, launched an extended populist rant against the Frisco and the new town, calling Monett "turniptown" and describing it as a real estate scheme to line the pockets of Frisco officials and their friends.  There was some irony in this attack, since Pierce City itself had been born as a Frisco real estate promotion in 1870 and had been described by a Mt. Vernon newspaper at the time as a "cut-throat swindling machine."  The Peirce City Real Estate Company was half-owned by the railroad, and it's a nice question who owned the other half.  On October 28, 1886, however, when the Frisco's expansion plans at Plymouth had first come to light, the Empire had admitted the business basis for the railroad's actions. "The purchases made at Plymouth recently by the Frisco [are] nothing more than they have desired for some years. . .  They needed more room, and when the extensions now in course of erection [i.e. the road to Paris, Texas] are completed, still greater facilities for handling trains will be needed there, and the purchases recently made will give all the room needed for that purpose.  We see nothing more than this in it at present. . ."  In fact, the change of division points was not exceptional.  In 1883, near Rolla, the Frisco had moved a division point from Dixon to Newburg, where it had room for extensive improvements to accomodate expanding rail traffic.

It is possible, as the Empire alleged, that some Frisco officials and their friends profited from the founding of Monett.  Town promotion was a well-established way for railroads, and sometimes railroad officials, to make money.  The Frisco's predecessor, the South Pacific Railroad, had established a particularly ugly reputation in this regard in 1870, promoting towns to rival Springfield (North Springfield), Marionville (Logan), Granby (Granby City) and Neosho (Neosho City), but as the Empire itself said, these early town promotions had not been particularly successful or encouraging to the railroad.  Pierce City had probably been the railroad's greatest success.  In any case, by the time Monett was founded in 1887, real estate promotion was a trivial source of railroad revenue.  In 1887, in 1887 dollars, the Frisco had total revenues of over $6.2 million, of which only $4,134 came from selling town lots.  The real economic significance of towns was the passenger and freight traffic they generated for the railroad for decades to come, and the Frisco had solid business reasons for moving its division points.

In its coverage of the Monett "boom" in 1887, the Empire portrayed it as an abject failure.  In fact, it was quite successful.  Goodspeed's History of Barry County, published just a year later in 1888, gave a long list of businesses already established or building in Monett.  The population of Plymouth before the move of division points is unknown but it was probably no more than 100 to 200 people.  By the 1890 census, Monett had a population of 1,699 persons compared to 2,511 at Pierce City.  The Empire also tried to portray or promote a rivalry between Plymouth and Monett, the old and the new, but this idea seems never to have gained any traction in Plymouth, which was apparently happy to become part of the larger town. However, occasional newspaper references to "West Monett" -- i.e. the part Monett that was once Plymouth -- continued into the 20th century.

Original Sources

The preceding account of Monett's railroad history is based almost entirely on my reading of original sources, which are presented below.  The newspaper stories are transcribed from microfilm available through the State Historical Society of Missouri.  The Society has begun a project to digitize its microfilm of Missouri's historical newspapers, and images of some of the original articles may be available online.  Ad images are from the Society's microfilm, either scanned from a paper copy or clipped from the online digital image.  The Frisco annual reports from the 1880s are online at the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

The original source material is presented under the following headings:

Peirce City Weekly Empire, April 8, 1880

Gen. Winslow and Capt.
Rogers go over the Line.
Engineers on the Line.

The meager notice last week of the arrival of engineer Dun and his party to make a survey of the projected Peirce City and Southern railway, was but an inkling of what was to follow.  On Friday, Gen. E. F. Winslow, President of the St. Louis and San Francisco, and Capt. C. W. Rogers, its General Manager, went out over the Kansas Division on a tour of inspection, to twelve miles west of Severy, where track was being laid at the rate of one mile per day, and returned to this city on the afternoon of Saturday, and during the evening a careful survey was made of the stock yards, tracks and location of depots, which only confirmed the Capt. in his former plans for many important changes, necessary to be made for the convenience of the road in this city.  The stock yards we believe will be moved further west; a round house for the accomodation of a number of additional engines will be erected, the track being laid on a grade so that in case of fire the engines may be run out by their weight, without fireing up; the freight depot will be moved northward and various tracks changed so that freighters teams may not be exposed to the frequent trains, and it may be the passenger and freight deposts will be combined in one.

On Sunday morning President Winslow, Capt. Rogers and Geo. A. Purdy departed for Fayetteville, Ark., it may be said on an inspection tour.  The President and General Manager had never been over the proposed line, and were anxious to know just what kind of a country it would run through, and something of the resources and agricultural productions of Northwestern Arkansas.  The abundant fine timber of that country also figures largely in estimating the advantages of a road running south from this city.

As there are some fears and speculations on account of the line run by the present engineer following the main line to a point four miles southeast of the city, we will state that this matters not the least.  If that is the best route to get south, why not adopt it?  We want the most practical route adopted, for Peirce will be made the terminus in any event.  Capt. Rogers has his plans well matured.  This city will be made the terminus of the Kansas Division, and the same with the Southern railway, yet the two lines will be so connected as to make one continuous line, without interruption by the main line running to St. Louis.

The surveyors have been out now more than a week; they are provided with tents and all necessary accouterments for camping out upon the line.  The party now out began the line at this city and followed the main line to a point four miles southeast, thence more directly south, running through the eastern edge of Stone's prairie, near the Methodist church at G. M. Goodnight's, Jr.  However, this line has not yet been fully adopted, and there may yet be an entire new route selected.  We might suggest that the McCarthy line is more direct, but then our friends through whose farms it would run in Stones prairie would not thank us.

The President, Manager and others returned yesterday morning after visiting Fayetteville and Eureka Springs.  The trip was well enjoyed, and the officials were highly pleased with what they had seen, and were as much as ever determined to carry out a previous determination to build the road.

Capt. Rogers says the road will be built to Fayetteville the present year, and within two years will go through the State of Texas.  All that is asked of the people of Missouri is the right of way to the State line and the donation of land at the different stations for depot grounds, sidetracks &c.

The above facts are given briefly and it is hardly necessary to make any comment.  That fortune favors Peirce City cannot be doubted.  Every one understanding the situation will comprehend the whole without any flouish or bragadocio from us.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, June 17, 1880

Missouri, Arkansas and Texas Railway.

The early building of the line of railway from this city south, through the county of Barry, in this State and by way of Fayetteville, Arkansas now seems to be a certainty.

Articles of incorporation were filed at Jefferson City last week.  The surveyors have been at work for a couple of months, and the company began last week paying for and obtaining the right of way some distance out.  From the best authority we learn that contracts for the grading have been let.

Mr. C. W. Rogers, General Manager of the St. Louis and San Francisco road, and the contractors on the new line are expected to arrive in the city to-day, and it is believed that work will begin at once.  The many laborers who have been camped in tents about the city for the past weeks, waiting for employment on the new line, will hail with pleasure the command of forward march.  Unless there is yet a radical change in the minds of those controlling the stock, the road will leave the main line four miles east of Peirce as heretofore stated.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, July 1, 1880

The grading has fairly begun on the new road.  The sub-contractors under Mr. Burgess went upon the line the first of the week, and began clearing the line of timber.  Maj. McCarthy has received eight car-loads of scrapers, plows, lumber &c., which has gone out upon the line of the first ten miles; his store has been erected in the Italian settlement.  Grading was begun yesterday about ten miles southeast of this city, on Stones prairie.  The right of way has not yet been secured for some miles from the main line, hence the contractors have gone to where the way is clear.  The work progresses all along the line.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, July 8, 1880

M. A. & T. R. R.

Capt. C. W. Rogers, Gen. Manager of the St. Louis and San Francisco railway, was accompanied to this city yesterday morning by a number of officials of the Houston and Texas Central railway, with which line the St. Louis road has agreed upon terms for building the new line of railway, and will make a speedy connection with the Texas road, making a through line to Houston, Texas.  We are assured by the very best authority that the whole line will be built within a very short time.  There will be no stopping at Fayetteville, or any other point in Arkansas, but on to Texas will be the watch-word.  Work was begun on Tuesday at the junction east of this city, the right of way and twenty acres for the use of the company having been secured at that point.  Grading has now begun in earnest, and there appear no breakers ahead to prevent the work from proceeding.

The road will surely be built on the line as at present adopted, as it is a saving of 55 to 60 thousand dollars.  Though Peirce will be made the end of the division, and the immediate superintendence will be directed from this city.  A small depot and telegraph office will be erected at the junction, but there will be no breaking of bulk there.  A round house with stalls for nine engines will be put in at this city.

Peirce City is master of the situation, and will be the railway center of the Southwest.  Jay Gould will make a survey from the north to Peirce within a short time, and give us the much desired northern outlet, and competition on freight.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, July 15, 1880

Maj. McCarthy, contractor on the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas railway, advertises for 100 men and 200 teams to work on the first ten miles grade of that road, and offers the following wages on and after the 19th day of July:  Team on scrapers, $2.50; teams on wagons $2.25; laborers $1.25 to $1.40 per day.  Headquarters 6 miles east of Peirce.  Major McCarthy already has several gangs at work, and expected by to-day to have at least 50 teams in the first gang, which has begun work at the junction.  Other contractors further down on the line have gone to work, though so far have been mostly engaged clearing the timber and brush.  Owing to the absence of the attorney for the road, the right of way has not been secured except where the owners and company have agreed upon the price, and the work has been delayed on that account.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, July 22, 1880

Grading progresses on the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas railway.  The roadbed looks to be completed as far as one can see from the junction.  A switch was completed yesterday at the junction.  Twenty-five hundred ton of steel rail will arrive in this city for the new line, by the 15th of next month, and the laying of iron will begin soon after.  The iron and all other material except the ties will be stored in this city; the ties are contracted to be furnished along the line. We have been promised reports of progress from the different gangs along the line, but as none have reported we must conclude that they are too busily engaged.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, August 5, 1880

Railway Briefs.

The depot at the junction is about completed and there will within a few days be established a station, with agent and operator at that point.

The steel rails for the new road will begin to arrive about Monday next, and will continue to come for some time at the rate of ten car loads per day.

Track laying will begin on the new road not later than the 20th inst.  Mr. S. Lyman will have charge of that work, and Mr. C. E. West will have charge of the boarding train which will be put on the line as soon as work is begun.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, August 12, 1880

Railroad Racket.

Boarding cars are at the junction, where the gang laying track are boarding.

A Telegraph office has been opened at the junction.

Tracklaying began on the St. Louis Arkansas and Texas railway on Monday.  There is quite a cut to be made a few miles out, which will not be completed for about a week, when a regular force will be put to work.

The first 20 miles of the Fayetteville road will be completed within about 10 days.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 7, 1880

The first section gang on the Arkanas branch was organized on the 2st inst., with headquarters at Plymouth junction.


This is the first use of the name Plymouth in 1880 that I have found, but the history of this name is complex.  The town of Billings in Christian County was renamed for a director of the railroad, Frederick Billings of Woodstock, Vermont, sometime prior to the 4th of July, 1871.  Before that, it was known as Plymouth, and occasional references to this earlier Plymouth can be found in the Springfield newspapers -- for example, the Missouri Weekly Patriot, February 16, 1871, and the Springfield Leader, April 13, 1871.  These newspapers are available online at the State Historical Society's Missouri Digital Newspaper Project.  See also the entry for Billings in Moser's Directory of Towns, Villages and Hamlets Past and Present of Missouri.

Then, in 1875, Campbell's Gazetteer of Missouri listed in Barry County "Plymouth, on the A. & P. R. R., 285 miles from St. Louis."  This is clearly a reference to the future location of Monett, and in fact, the railroad map in Campbell's shows Plymouth between Verona and Pierce City.  This book is online at the Hathi Trust Digital Library.  See pages 52, 306 and the railroad map, about page 34.

The newspaper articles transcribed above concerning the building of the Arkansas branch of the railroad make no reference at all to an existing settlement at the location of the junction.  It is just a point "east of Peirce."  Similarly, there is no hint of a settlement in the 1880 census taken in June.  From this it appears there was no actual settlement of Plymouth before 1880, but Campbell's Gazetteer strongly suggests that the junction was listed on a railroad planning map years earlier.  In fact, there is an 1870 newspaper reference to a "Kings Prairie Depot" to be located between Vernon and Pierce City.  Monett exists because of geography.  It is the gateway to a relatively flat stretch of land leading south along the current route of highway 37.  Apparently the railroad's engineers spotted the junction long before they got around to building it.

1880 Annual Report, St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, Year Ending December 31, 1880

After a personal examination of the route I submitted a plan for building a road from Plymouth Station (285 miles from St. Louis) southwardly to Fayetteville (a distance of 70 miles), which was approved.  But for the unusually long and severe winter this road would now be fully completed.

Two corporations were formed (one in Missouri and another in Arkansas) under general laws and with the title of the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railway Company. . .  The roads will be operated for the present under a lease.

This line of road extends in the right direction, will add to our traffic, increase our main line earnings largely, and if extended to Fort Smith, will still further improve the value of our property.  It should be built through to a connection with the railways of Texas and Louisiana. . .  [President's Report, page 10.]


On the 9th of July, 1880, we commenced the construction of the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railway, which leaves our main line at Plymouth, Mo., a point 285 miles west ot St Louis, and 5 miles east of Peirce City.  This road is already built to the State line of Arkansas (32.4 miles), and cars are running thereon.  The building of this road to the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas, to which place we expect to be running cars by the 1st of April next, is provided for.  We would have reached this point earlier in the year but for the unprecedented hard winter, which has delayed the work of construction, although it is now well advanced.  This line is laid with steel rails, 52 pounds to the yard, and with first-class ties, 2,800 to the mile.  It has already proved a valuable feeder to our main line, and if extended South, will be one of the best pieces of property controlled by this company. The construction of the road is in charge of Mr. James Dun, our chief engineer, and is being prosecuted in a thorough and economical manner, and as rapidly as the nature of the country and the season will permit.

The station of Seligman, Mo., 1.5 miles north of the State line, to which point we are now running our trains, is 18 miles from the famous Eureka Springs, in Carroll County, Ark., a place with eight thousand people, although but eighteen months old.  Travel to the Springs is growing largely every month, and will, I believe, prove of value to this road.  Parties are now preparing to construct a branch line from Seligman to Eureka Springs, intending, it is stated, to extend such line through to Little Rock via Harrison.  [General Manager's Report, pages 20-21.]

Peirce City Weekly Empire, March 24, 1881

S. D. Withers has filed a plat for a town at Plymouth Junction.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, August 4, 1881

Gonton is the name of the Post office at Plymouth Junction, and a number of our weekly subscribers in that locality have ordered the paper to be sent there.


Frederick von Gonten was born in Spitz Switzerland July 28, 1844, and died in Seymour, Missouri, February 16, 1912.  According to his obituary in the Monett Times February 23, 1912, he bought the first lot sold in Plymouth in 1881 and was the town's first postmaster.  The name Plymouth was in use elsewhere and was not recognized by the post office, so Gonten became the town's postal name.  The weekly edition of the Monett Times for 1909 through 1922 is now online through the Library of Congress

Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 20, 1881

Mr. S. D. Withers informs us that at the auction sale at Plymouth Junction last Saturday week, about thirty lots were sold.  The lumber for several buildings is now upon the ground.  Mr. W. is building a very nice two story frame hotel, a blacksmith shop and several residences will be erected at once.  In all about seven buildings are in immediate contemplation.  One drawback to the rapid growth of the town may be mentioned, and that is the lack of roads of any kind; the roads -- bypaths, they might be called -- leading south are hardly "navigable."  (The ad is from the Peirce City Empire of August 21, 1884.)

Neosho Times, October 27, 1881

A village is starting at Plymouth junction, a few miles east of Peirce City, but it is not likely to prove a formidable rival to a town as well established as Peirce City.

1881 Annual Report, St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, Year Ending December 31, 1881

At the close of the year 1880 the construction of our Arkansas Division was completed from Plymouth, the point of junction with the Main Line, to the State line of Arkansas, a distance of 32 and 4-10 miles, and put into operation to Seligman, Mo., a point 1 1/2 miles north of the State line.

Since then this line has been completed to Brentwood, 55.50 miles south of the State line of Arkansas, and put into operation from Seligman to Brentwood, a distance of 57 miles.

On this portion of the road 2.95 miles of side tracks were built.  The grading and masonry, for 41 miles yet to be constructed from Brentwood to Van Buren, have been placed under contract, and a large amount of the work done.  Steel rails, fastenings, cross-ties and bridges have also been contracted for, and it is expected the road will be completed to the latter point in August next, which will be in season for us to compete for the carrying of the crops of that section.

The construction of this line has been delayed in consequence of the heavy work through the Boston Mountains, which includes a Tunnel 1,700 feet long, but it is being vigorously pushed forward.  [General Manager's Report, page 27.]



For some time past there has been a large passenger traffic over our lines to and from this place, which is situated about twenty miles from Seligman on our Arkansas Division.  The Springs are reported to possess great medicinal and healing properties, and have recently attracted many invalids and others, and have increased our passenger receipts. At present, the place is reached by stages from Seligman.

A Railroad is now projected by the Eureka Springs Railway Company to run from Seligman to Eureka Springs, which when built, will, it is believed, attract a still larger number of visitors.  To encourage the construction of the Road this Company has entered into a traffic agreement with the Eureka Springs Railway Company, subject to the approval of the Board.  [President's Report, page 14.]

Peirce City Weekly Empire, February 9, 1882

Plymouth Notes.

No lard or butter in our market. . . . Hen fruit 15 cents; scarce, and hens on strike. . . .

Room for a tin shop and for a harness shop at Plymouth.

Madam Rumor has it that Plymouth is to have a new hotel and store. . . .

Gonten is building an eating house at the east end of the depot platform between the R. R. tracks.

The cars are stopped too often and left standing across the wagon road.  Whose fault is it? and to whom should complaint be made? . . . .

The mule men above town are putting the finishing touches to their buildings. . . .

The school exhibition was a success not withstanding the inclement weather, and reflects credit on the industry and perseverance of the teacher. . . .

One dollar and twenty three cents takes the wheat from Plymouth to Peirce City.  We ought to have an elevator and lumber yard here. . . .

1882 Annual Report, St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, Year Ending December 31, 1882

The most important construction work of the year has been the extension to Fort Smith, Ark.  At the close of 1881 the terminus of this line was at Brentwood, Ark.  Since then the many difficulties in the way of progress through the Boston Mountains have been successfully overcome, and, on the 31st day of December, the road was ready for business to Fort Smith, a distance of 102 miles south of the State Line of Arkansas, and 45 1/4 miles from the former terminus at Brentwood.  The entire work has been done in a first-class manner.  Steel rails have been used throughout; and, where extensive trestling was necessary, it has been built of iron, so as to withstand the requirements of the traffic for many years to come.  These iron trestles are three in number: the first being 780 feet long and 115 feet high; the second 420 feet long and 106 feet high; and the third 450 feet long and 72 feet high.  The tunnel at Winslow, 1693 feet long, which was the most difficult and expensive part of the work, was finished August 30th.  While the work there was in progress, a temporary track over the mountain, in the form of a switch-back, was used for transferring materials, so that the work at the front could be pushed forward without delay. This track was taken up as soon as the tunnel was completed.

In order to make this a complete all-rail line, it will be necessary to bridge the Arkansas River at Van Buren.  The river being a navigable stream at this point, it was necessary to have an Act of Congress granting us the right to build the bridge.  This Act has been passed by Congress, and the Secretary of War has ordered a Board of United States Engineers to confer with our Engineers as to the exact location of the bridge.  The Little Rock & Fort Smith Railway Company have a steam transfer boat for carrying freight and passenger cars across the Arkansas River at Van Buren, and we have made a contract with that Company for the use of this ferry to cross our freight and passenger cars until such time as our bridge is completed.

The completion of this extension gives our Company a railway line of 92 miles less distance than any other between St. Louis and Fort Smith.


During the year, the Eureka Springs Railway Company has nearly completed a railway from Seligman, on our Arkansas Division, near the State line of Arkansas, to the popular curative resort at Eureka Springs, Carroll County, Arkansas, a total length of road of about 20 miles. They expect to have this road ready for business by February 1st, 1883.  [General Manager's Report, pages 32-35.]


The railroad to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, referred to in my last Annual Report, has just been completed and put in operation.  The line of that road now extends from Seligman on our Main Line to Eureka Springs, a distance of about 20 miles.  The road was built by the Eureka Springs Railway Co. under and in accordance with an Agreement and Traffic Contract with this Company by the terms of which this Company agrees to devote a limited percentage of its earnings derived from the traffic interchanged therewith towards the payment of the interest of the First Mortgage Bonds of the Eureka Springs Railway Co., should the same be necessary for that purpose.  In consideration of this Agreement this Company receives a portion of the Capital Stock and of the Second Mortgage Income Bonds of the Eureka Springs Railway Company.

With this new road in operation, and with first-class day and sleeping coaches running to and from St. Louis, without change, a large increase of passenger and freight traffic for our lines may be expected.  [President's Report, page 15.  This report covered the year 1882, but was written in early 1883, just after the railroad to Eureka Springs was completed.]

Peirce City Weekly Empire, March 1, 1883

We tarried a few hours at Plymouth on Tuesday night.  We learn that Dr. T. H. Jeffries [photo right] of Washburn, has rented the Withers Hotel for a year and will take possession March 1st, and will move his stock of drugs into the building and add a line of groceries.  A brass band with nine instruments with station agent J. F. Mitchell as leader, has been organized.  S. D. Withers has sold about 40 of the 130 lots laid out at Plymouth, and the town is gradually improving. -- Beacon.

1883 Annual Report, St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, Year Ending December 31, 1883

The transfer of our business across the Arkansas River, between Van Buren and Fort Smith, continues to be done by ferryboat, the Company having been prevented from building its bridge there owing to a difference of opinion which has existed between the Company's Engineers and those of the United States Government in regard to the proper location.  At the date of writing this Report the Government Engineers have finally waived their objections to our location, and the same, as at first decided upon by the Company, has been duly approved by the Secretary of War.

Until the bridge question was satisfactorily settled it was deemed inadvisable to further consider that of building southwardly from Fort Smith, through the Indian Territory, to Paris, Texas.  The importance to the Company of the extension of this line has been set forth in former Reports.

The Railway to the Eureka Springs has been in successful operation during the past year.  It was built by the Eureka Springs Railway Company of Missouri and Arkansas under and pursuant to a traffic contract made with this Company.  The results attained have been quite satisfactory to the proprietors and to our Company.  Our own lines have enjoyed considerable additional traffic to and from this new line, and we have received the first year's interest (6 per cent.) on the Second Mortgage Bonds of that Company, received by us as part consideration for the traffic contract.  [President's Report, page 10.]

Peirce City Weekly Empire, July 3, 1884

Mr. A. G. Powers, the night watchman for the Frisco road at Plymouth Junction, met with a serious accident last night.  A couple of tramps were loafing around the depot at Plymouth, watching their chances to get a free ride in a box car, and when they saw a freight train approaching they made for a car which was standing near by on the side track and climbed in.  Powers had been watching them for some time and when he saw them get into the car he went and made them get out and ordered them to leave there.  This enraged one of the tramps and as Powers turned to go back to the depot the engraged tramp run up in front of him and dealt him a terrible kick in the stomach, knocking him senseless.  He staggered and fell near the main track when an engine came up and struck him in the side fracturing the hip bone and severely bruising him up otherwise.  Mr. Powers was brought to this city on this morning's train and taken to the residence of his father-in-law, Mr. Cannady, where he will be well cared for.  Dr. Hanserd was called and examined the fractures, and pronounced them of a serious though not fatal nature, and it will probably be several months before he will be able for duty again.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, August 21, 1884

Hamp Jeffries is down from Gonten to-day, and seems to think that all that Gonten likes of a boom, is the boom.  The space is there for a town, and there is a great deal of country around. They lack the people and capital, that is all.  They want a wheat elevator and a flouring mill to begin with.

1884 Annual Report, St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, Year Ending December 31, 1884

The Fort Smith and Van Buren Bridge Company (the Capital stock of which is owned by our Company) has undertaken to build a first-class iron and steel railway and wagon bridge across the Arkansas River at Van Buren . . .

The Bridge is expected to be ready for the crossing of trains in December, 1885, and will be of great advantage in view of the increasing proportions of the traffic over the Arkansas Division, and will effect a saving in expense.  To this time our cars have been transferred at this point by means of a steam ferry owned by the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railway Co., which Company will also use this Bridge.  Owing to sudden and frequent changes in this River, crossing was often liable to be entirely suspended or attended with much delay.  [President's Report, page 9.]

1885 Annual Report, St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, Year Ending December 31, 1885

The bridge at Van Buren across the Arkansas River, is nearly completed at the date of this report, and will be open for crossing of trains on February 10th, 1886.  This bridge is of highest standard and is entirely of steel and iron, with masonry piers and abutments.  It is 1,798 feet in length, including the pivot draw span.  It was built for the Fort Smith & Van Buren Bridge Company, by the Union Bridge Company, of New York, builders.  All the work was done under the inspection and supervision of the Chief Engineer of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway Company, and subject to his approval.  [General Manager's Report, page 9.]

Peirce City Weekly Empire, September 9, 1886

Five Thousand Dollars Worth
of Property Consumed

At about two o'clock yesterday afternoon, a fire broke out on the roof of the depot at Plymouth, caused by a spark from a passing train.  In a few minutes it was beyond control and the building was a mass of flame which lapped across the tracks and took in the business houses that were adjacent thereto, and in about forty minutes, before scarcely anything could be removed, they were all enveloped in fire, and burned to the ground. 

The losses are as follows:

Gonten, two buildings, one used as restaurant -- houses and fixtures, $700.

M. J. Jeffries, drug and grocery store, 18 by 44 feet, and hotel 50 by 55 feet, two stories high.  Loss, stock $1,500, hotel furniture $700, buildings $800.

Sig J. Lang building where the postoffice was kept, $200.

Postoffice fixtures $100.

Mail and mail bags also burned.

No insurance.

A high wind prevailed, which added to the hot dry weather for some time past made it difficult to save the other buildings situated some two hundred yards north of the track, several of which took fire from burning shingles falling on the roofs.  Everything north of the railroad track in the way of business houses was burned.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, September 23, 1886

Savage Visitors.

At a few minutes past four last evening, a special train in two sections arrived, carrying 382 of the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Indians.  They were from the San Carlos reservation, from which place they left a week ago, and were bound for Fort Mason, Florida.  Col. Wade, of the 10th cavalry, Majors Dickey and Worth, and forty men each of Co. K, of the 8th, and Co. E, of the 22nd, made up the military detachment which had them in charge.  Of the 382 there were about 70 squaws and 40 papooses, and many of the former had painted faces, and bore evidences of the wild life of the mountains.  Geronimo and twenty odd of his bucks, recently captured had been sent by the Southern Pacific, as it was thought best to place them under special guard.  Rations are issued twice per day, consisting of hard bread, corned beef and coffee.

Neosho Miner and Mechanic, September 25, 1886

The Apache train yesterday stopped twenty minutes at Talmadge while the cars were cleaned and the Indians fed.  At Plymouth Junction one of the bucks got away, but was captured afterwards and forwarded by the mail train; three more escaped at Rolla, but we failed to learn whether they were captured or still at large. -- Carthage Banner, 17th.


On September 3, 1886, the southern band of Chiricahua Apaches, led by Geronimo, were the last Apache Indians to surrender to the U. S. Army.  Geronimo and his followers were exiled from Arizona and sent to prison in Florida.  Later, they were moved to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.

1886 Annual Report, St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, Year Ending December 31, 1886

The most important undertaking of the Company in the extension of its system has been the building of a railroad from Fort Smith, Arkansas, southwesterly through the Indian Territory to Paris, Texas, a distance of about 169 miles.  Construction in the Territory was authorized by Act of Congress.

The road was begun in June of last year [1886], and will be completed and in operation by June of this year [1887].  The construction is of thorough and substantial character.  The estimated cost, without equipment, was about $3,750,000, and it is believed that this limit will not be exceeded by the actual outlay.  New cars and engines have been purchased with special reference to this extension, although intended for use also on other roads operated by the Company.  Means with which to build this line, and buy additional equipment, have been provided by proceeds of the Company's General Mortgage 5 per cent. Bonds.

This extension to Texas has been long contemplated and earnestly desired; but for various reasons commencement of the work has been from time to time postponed.  Now that the completion of the undertaking is assured, good results may confidently be expected to follow.  From Fort Smith southwardly the line runs for many miles over very extensive and valuable coal lands.  The coal traffic to points in Texas and elsewhere promises to be large.  At Paris the new road will connect with the Texas & Pacific Railroad and with the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad.  By building about 70 miles to Roberts, Texas, a connection may be made with the Houston & Texas Central Railroad system.


Early last year [1886] the large "Crescent Hotel" at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in which our Company has an interest, was completed and opened.  It is situated on the summit of the Ozark Mountains, and is reached by means of the Eureka Springs Railway, which connects with the line of the San Francisco Company at Seligman, in Missouri.  The hotel is built entirely of stone of fine quality, taken from the extensive quarries of that region.  It is handsomely furnished and well equipped, being provided with all modern improvements. The attractions of high elevation, clear and dry atmosphere, pure water, and the curative properties of numerous overflowing springs, added to the conveniences and excellence of the hotel, are calculated to make this a very popular resort, and add to our passenger traffic.  [President's Report, pages 7-8, 14-15.]

Peirce City Weekly Empire, March 10, 1887

The Paris Extension -- Local
Nomenclature -- A Signifi-
cant Drive



F. E. Merrell, superintendent of construction for lines being constructed by the Frisco Company, spent Monday in the city.  He reports matters in his department progressing very satisfactorily.  Track laying on the Paris extension is gaining at the rate of from one to two and a half miles per day, and it is confidently expected that the main line will be opening to Paris, Texas, for regular business by the first of June.

The Arkansas division of the Frisco will then comprise all of the track between Plymouth, Mo., and Paris, Texas. . . .


Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 21, 1886

The Frisco has purchased two hundred acres of land at Plymouth which causes some conjectures and uneasiness with those who have been inclined to think the road would attempt to give that point a boom.  All would feel more confident of the future of Peirce City if the junction of the Arkansas branch proper was at this city, instead of Plymouth.  As it is, we must look for a competing line which secured would make us as independent as we could ask.


The rumors are numerous concerning future improvements by the Frisco road.  One says a number of additional engine stalls will be built at the round house in this city with[in] the next thirty days while others say the road will make no further expenditures here for some time to come.  The needs of the road demand more sidetrack, yard facilities, and better repair shops, but there is an interest and an influence averse to Peirce City with it seems largely controls the management.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 28, 1886

The purchases made at Plymouth recently by the Frisco is nothing more than they have desired for some years, and it does not indicate anything of special importance at this time, nor does it stand conclusively that the road will ever try to build a large town there.  They needed more room, and when the extensions now in course of erection are completed, still greater facilities for handling trains will be needed there, and the purchases recently made will give all the room needed for that purpose.  We see nothing more than this in it at present, and while we would be better pleased if all these preparations were being made here, there is no cause for immediate alarm.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, December 9, 1886

Plymouth Junction is attracting considerable attention just now.  Reports have it that the Frisco road intends making that the end of the Arkansas division.  That they also intend putting in a round house there some time in the near future.  The Rogers Coal Co., bought a house and lot there some time ago, and it is reported that the railroad company has purchased all the town lots that they could get hold of. -- Cassville Democrat.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, December 16, 1886

A correspondent from Plymouth to the Cassville Republican says the R. R. Co. have bought three hundred and twenty acres of land here, and Mr. Hobert and Ramsey of Springfield are drawing up a plot for a town.  They will be ready to survey it off in a few days.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, February 3, 1887

Frisco Patronage and Influence

For some time vague rumors have been flying around to the effect that the Frisco contemplated making important investments at Plymouth Junction in Barry county near the Lawrence county line.  It was at first reported that their influence would be thrown in favor of Plymouth and its Peirce City properties moved thither.  There is no question but that the officials of the road have cast an eye of favor upon the Junction and important developments may be expected.

In conversation yesterday with an official of the road, a Herald reporter learned that Messrs. O'Day and Cale had spent the day at Plymouth examining the lay of the land and its adaptability for the contemplated improvements.

Mt. Vernon, one of the oldest towns in the State, the county seat of Lawrence county, one of the richest counties in the state, is about fourteen miles north of Plymouth and has no railroad.  It contains an enterprising class of businessmen, and they are alive to the importance of securing a road.  They have already offered inducements which are now under advisement by Frisco officials.  The air is pregnant with news, and some town is going to get a black eye. -- Springfield Herald.

Neosho Miner and Mechanic, April 23, 1887

Plymouth Strikes Water

The Peirce City Empire of Monday last, says a telegram was received this morning from T. F. Mapes, Plymouth Mo. which says,

Disappointed!  Steam pump too small, only get eight thousand gallons of water per hour.

From other sources we learn as well that they seem to have struck a subterranean stream at a depth of 18 feet, which will furnish an almost inexhaustible supply of water.  The stream was found in an opening about fourteen inches deep and two feet wide, between two rocks.  A steam pump was put in which threw about one hundred and forty gallons to the minute, and after consuming six tons of coal as fuel, had made no perceptible reduction of the water supply.  The shaft was sunk by Mr. Vermillion, as a well, a quarter of a mile southwest of the Plymouth depot.  The test made seems to be all that would be necessary to guarantee all the water required for all purposes of the road and people of the town.


The status of Monett's water supply remained controversial for some time.  Over a year later, on April 26, 1888, the Peirce City Empire reported that an Aurora paper was predicting that Monett would be abandoned for lack of water.  The problem was not completely solved until the period 1914-16 when a typhoid epidemic caused by contaminated water forced the city to drill a series of deep wells.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, May 5, 1887

The Frisco has changed the name of Plymouth station to Moneet [sic], and the company has also dropped "City" from all the new stations along its lines.  [From the daily edition of Monday, May 2, 1887.]

Mr. James Lyons departed this morning for Monett with a number of laborers where he has a contract to dig a number of wells.  It is thought an effort will be made higher up the valley to tap the stream recently struck below the town.  There is nothing so sure as the uncertainty of what course will be pursued to secure water for the station.  [From the daily edition of Tuesday, May 3, 1887.]

Neosho Miner and Mechanic, May 7, 1887

The city of Plymouth, or Gonten, or as it will soon be, Monett, will now have the boasts of her citizens and friends realized.  The "Frisco" will proceed at once to build a round-house and numerous other necessary buildings in connection therewith.  Arrangements have been completed, so we are informed, for the completion of one of the largest stock yards on any western line of road.  These, together with the elegant hotel which is to be erected (as it will be of course an eating station) will give the place one of the best and most sensible booms that any city in the entire southwest (except Springfield) has ever had.  It will not interfere with Springfield, and consequently, as remarked in the commencement of this article, the coming city of Monett has our heartiest congratulations and best wishes for the future. -- Springfield Herald.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, June 9, 1887

Hamp Jeffries was down from Monette [sic] this morning, and reported the foundation on the round house progressing rapidly, a number of graders at work on the sidetracks, and plenty of hard limestone in the wells which the company are sinking.  [From the daily edition of Friday, June 3, 1887.]

Peirce City Weekly Empire, July 21, 1887

Depot policeman Dumont was at Monett this morning and reports that the subterranean stream struck there recently contains fish, an inch and a half in length, and transparent, as they always are when so found.  The volume of the stream has not yet been truly tested, but it is certain that it is very strong.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 6, 1887

The Frisco boys pulled out Saturday evening [October 1, 1887] with seven engines going to Monett, and the change of divisions was made Saturday night; and there is no doubt but that everything will be done by the road to aid in booming a pet town until certain friends are given an opportunity to dispose of town lots, and thus fill individual pockets.  The employees have not yet been roped in to any great extent, and appear to look upon the effort with suspicion.  We wish our neighbors prosperity, but not to the extent of pulling down others.  It requires a long hard pull to build up a town equal to Peirce City, and it is a thing which the Frisco has never yet accomplished, when stimulated with a desire to destroy towns already in existence, although a dozen of their own wrecks mark the line of their road.  Citizens of Peirce City with capital should become aroused and invest in manufacturing enterprises which will furnish employment to laborers, and encourage everything which is calculated to make the town the most desirable place to live in the southwest and they will have no reason to fear the outcome.  [From the daily edition of Monday, October 3, 1887.]

Neosho Miner and Mechanic, October 8, 1887

All trains now stop at Monett instead of Peirce City for meals and the various train crews are also changed to Monett.

1887 Annual Report, St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, Year Ending December 31, 1887

The following were the New Improvements for the year 1887:

Monett Division Terminal Yard, including passenger and freight station, dining hall, 12 stall brick engine house with iron turntable, 6.29 miles of siding, coal chutes with trestle incline, coach shed, ice house and various smaller buildings.  Two 24-foot standard water tanks, and two large wells affording an ample supply of water.


The most important improvement made during the year was the establishment of the division yard and terminal facilities at Monett, Mo., at the junction of the Texas Division with main line, and made necessary by the extension to Texas.  Forty acres of ground were secured in addition to 20 acres previously acquired, and ample facilities furnished for the handling of business in an efficient manner.  [General Manager's Report, pages 25-26.]


The 1887 Annual Report, page 45, says the Frisco spent $48,321.91 on Monett's new yards and buildings.  The 1888 Annual Report, page 47, says it spent $51,986.32 in that year, but does not give any details of the expenditures.  In today's dollars, the total expenditure over two years was about $2.6 million.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tuesday, September 20, 1887

A Little Town That Will Beat All Previous

"I have heard of phenomenal towns," remarked B. H. Wilson of Ash Grove, Mo., this morning, "but I never saw anything to equal Monett.  I was down there a few days ago, and the way the place is building up is simply incredible.  The place is located in Southwest Missouri, where the Texas branch of the St. Louis & San Francisco connects with the main line, and until a few months ago there was no sign of a town there, the point being known as Plymouth Junction.  The 'Frisco road determined to moved their round-houses from Peirce City, Mo., to Monett and to erect machine shops there, as they deemed the location more advantageous.  They also decided to build a dining-room there and have all their trains stop at Monett for dinner instead of Peirce City as heretofore.  As soon as the intentions of the road became known there was a terrible rush for the new place, which has been on a most phenomenal boom ever since.  People who held ground there for which they paid about $25 an acre are now dividing it up into town lots and are selling lots of 25 feet front each for $1,000 apiece as fast as they can lay them out.  They can make just ten of thse lots out of an acre of ground, so that they are now receiving $10,000 for what cost them $25.  How is that for a return on money?  I never heard anything like it.  It is leaping forward like some phenomenal mining camp.  Houses are going up as fast as lumber and building material can be procured.  If the place keeps on at its present rate, inside of three years it will be by far the biggest town in southwest Missouri, with the exception of Springfield.  It is said that the 'Frisco also intend to build a branch to Kansas City from Monett very shortly and this, together with the rich strike in the Aurora lead and zinc mines, which are only a few miles from the new town, are apt to keep up the present craze for some time to come.  The people of Peirce City do not look with much favor upon the new place, however, as the railroad features which have built up that city, are now all being removed to Monett."

Peirce City Weekly Empire, September 29, 1887

The following appeared in a recent issue of the Post-Dispatch:

In your issue of September 20 appears an article which purports to come from one B. H. Wilson, a stockholder to a limited extent in a place four and a half miles east of here, on the Frisco road, in Barry County, and known to travelers along the road as "Plymouth," a small town of seventy-five to one hundred inhabitants.  Adjoining this town B. F. Hobart has laid out some lots.  A round-house and hotel of small dimensions have been built, and some sidings put into accommodate the Texas business of the Frisco road, which makes its division headquarters at this so-called phenomenal town of "Monett," which is great only in the eyes of those who are seeking to beguile unsuspecting individuals into a purchase of a few town lots at a fabulous price in order that they may leave a taxable legacy to their children.

The city of Peirce City, four and a half miles westward, is a city of the fourth class and the best business center on the 'Frisco road west of Springfield, with a population of 4,000 souls, eleven churches, school-houses and a college, hotels, opera-house, city hall and magnificent private dwellings that compare favorably with any in the State outside of St. Louis.

Any effort on the part of B. H. Wilson or anyone else to belittle the flouishing city of Peirce City will fall still-born, and this city will move on to new commerical victories in the future as in the past.

A corps of engineers are now surveying a direct line from this city to Kansas City, which route will be extended as fast as men and money can accomplish such a result to Sabine Pass on the Gulf.

Neosho Miner and Mechanic, October 8, 1887

A Big Swindle.

The Rogers Coal Syndicate is making great efforts to secure a big crowd at their public sale of lots at Monett on Wednesday next.  Passengers will be carried at lower rates than ever, even to democratic conventions, and this big Octopus will do everything to pull the wool over the eyes and blind the judgment of its victims.  What inducements can a location like Monett offer a business man?  It is simply a wart on the muzzle of the stingiest and most selfishly managed railroad corporation in this corporation-ridden and feebly governed state of Missouri.  Cheap transportation rates, or healthy competition will be unknown there, and the transportation problem is the key to the success or failure of any business enterprise.  There is no competition in Russia, Constantinople, Abysennia, or the infernal regions, all of which are as autocratic as the Rogers Coal Syndicate.  A square, honest mechanic or laboring man will not want a home in Monett.  He will be harrassed by rememberances of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the more recent fate of Peirce City.  Speculators will try Monett, they would take chances on options in Tophet, for the prospect of making a few dollars.

We trust that among the thousands who are carted to Monett, next Wednesday, to speculate on the "lay-out" of the Frisco bummers, a few wise men may cast a wishful eye to Neosho's Fair and happy land.  To a beautifully built city, resting in groves and fountains, with elegant brick business houses and homes, with churches, schools and a thrifty, happy people.  The center of three railroads, instead of a side track on one.  Come over, ye hungry souls; leave the barrenness and desolation of a bald hillside and come abide with us.

Neosho Miner and Mechanic, October 15, 1887

The sale of lots at Monett by the Hobart-Rogers coal syndicate, on Wednesday last, was a dead failure.  There was a good crowd of lambs present, but none were ready to be sheared except a few old black wethers troubled with the foot rot.  It's funny, sure enough.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 20, 1887

More Chilly Than a Blizzard,
A Boom Without a Sale!
Kansas City and Sabine Pass R. R.

Since early last spring the Frisco magnates have heralded through their organs, posters, and every other conceivable way, the opening of their new town site at Monett, where a new hotel, a round house and the end of several divisions were to be the foundation of a new-born city, which was to eclipse everything else in the west.

Yesterday morning a special train of five coaches ran from Springfield, bringing Hobart's Military band, and about fifty persons in high expectation of seeing fortunes invested at the call of auctioneer P. S. Lanham of St. Louis, who by the way is regarded as one of the most successful men in the state to wield the hammer when dirt is put up for cash.

Arkansas, Kansas and the Indian Territory were represented, the farmers came in from the vicinity, Hon. W. A. McCause, postmaster Cecil, sheriff Reynolds and attorney Davis of Mt. Vernon, Judge Wellshear and others of Cassville, O. L. Rose and friends of Purdy, and a few others were present to witness this wonderfully manufactured boom.  Lee D. Bell was on hand with glowing descriptions of Neosho, and about seventy-five citizens of Peirce City were there to speak a few words and distribute a few papers and circulars relative to the Empire town of the southwest.

The band led the procession to the northward from the eating house about one-fourth of a mile, and the ball was opened by offering residence lots, and continued until four had been bid off by some slick-hatted fellows, believed to have been imported to run up prices.  Thus the sales closed in the forenoon, and the general feeling was anything but encouraging to the Frisco crowd.

After dinner the band rendered some of their best selections, and again led the procession to the corner of Fourth and Broadway, and on this street five business lots were offered, three were bid in by parties interested in the town company, the auctioneer refusing to cry the small bids offered for the others, and the sale was declared off, and thus ended the boom to the disgust of the interested parties, without a genuine sale having been made so far as the public are aware, and Monett stands out prominently, only by reason of an eating house with seventeen rooms, three or four little real estate offices and barber shops, three buildings in course of construction, and about as many little residences said to be located in the timber on the north side.

It was the most absolute failure to boom of any boomerang ever chronicled, and had a more cooling effect than a wet blanket on Christmas day.

A number of disappointed gentlemen were given room in the hacks and came to this city last night, and have already purchased more land than was sold at Monett yesterday.

Business men of Peirce City are greatly encouraged, and property is more valuable to day and they have already begun with new hopes and energies, and are determined to press forward in building up the best town in the southwest.  And they have much reason so to feel.  Col. H. H. James, president of the Kansas City and Sabine Pass railroad, after spending a couple of days inquiring into the resources, transportation business and the topography of the country submitted a proposition last evening to make Peirce City a point on the new line, and the same was readily accepted.  All he required was the right of way through the county and depot grounds, and within the next 18 months we shall expect a direct line to Kansas City, the value of which has already often been refered to in our columns.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 20, 1887

"Phenomenal Monett" did not appear to go off like hot cakes from all reports at the "big auction sale" that was to be.  The thing was advertised from Dan to Ber Sheba, but some how it failed to draw as expected.  Birds are not caught now-a-days by sprinkling salt on their tails. -- Verona Independent.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 20, 1887

Peirce City is "keeping a stiff upper lip" and whistling bravely as it goes through the railroad graveyard.  The Monett ghost is not going to frighten that lively little town off as easily as some suppose. -- Carthage Banner.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 20, 1887

There is more building in Plymouth than in the new town of Monett.


Plymouth denies being a twin-sister of Monett.  They don't propose to ask the world for a grain of sand.


There is a post office by the name of Monett in a town named Plymouth, to which the residents of Monett go for their mail.


The residents of Plymouth are confident they will be able to hold their own.  They hold the Monett postoffice, and are selling more property than the Frisco crowd east of them.  [All from the daily edition of Friday, October 14, 1887.]

Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 20, 1887

The Hobart-Frisco crowd would have been better off if it had not attempted an auction sale.


A farmer said at Monett the other day that he was a little on the communistic build, and as the business men of Peirce City had made their fortunes he thought it time to allow another set on the ground floor, and was there to encourage the boom.  But when he saw the Frisco crowd was determined to pocket all that was in it, his sympathies banished.  He didn't think they deserved any encouragement.  [From the daily edition of Friday, October 14, 1887.]


A live business man from Vinita, I. T., is now in the city, who recently bought two residence lots at Monett for $295 each and paid one-third down, now proposes a $20 discount to any one who will take same off his hands, as he has been badly soaked.  He says he would prefer to invest in Peirce City property.

The special train of six coaches, returning from Monett to Springfield, after the land sale, carried six persons beside the band and employees.  Col. Tracey of the Springfield Herald explained the matter at the G. A. R. re-union at Verona next day, by saying that an ordinary Springfield man required a whole coach.  [From the daily edition of Saturday, October 15, 1887.]


Mr. McCormick of Monett brought his wheat to this city this morning, and remarked that a change had taken place in his vicinity within the last week, and Perice City was better than ever appreciated.  [From the daily edition of Monday, October 17, 1887.]

St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat, October 22, 1887

A Wheat Field Quickly Converted Into
a Thriving City

The Phenomenal City of Southwestern
Missouri -- A Town of 1500 People
Established in Less Than Four
Weeks -- Its Resources.


Nestling on the western slope of the Ozark Mountains, in Southwestern Missouri, is Barry County.  Barry County has not a very extended reputation for possessing the most rich and fertile soil in this section of the State, nor does it glory in being the most thickly populated of this portion of Missouri, or having within its limits any very large cities or towns.  Among those, however, who go to make up its long list of old inhabitants and those who live in adjacent counties, together with the comparatively few travelers or visitors who have spent any time there at all, it is known to be one of the best parts of the State for farming and fruit raising purposes.  Its soil is of the richest kind, and its climate is the most healthful and agreeable.  So true is the latter claim that at no distant day will it become one of the places most eagerly sought by persons in search of a climate where impaired health may be speedily improved.  Although comparatively unheard of outside of the country in its immediate vicinity, its health-giving qualities have drifted to lands far distant, and the persons who have been benefited by a stay within its boundaries, and the invalids there now from afar, of whom the pure fresh mountain air is making new persons, are numerous.  The summer months are characterized by cool and pleasant nights, and the days, while sometimes quite warm, can not, by any means, be spoken of as hot or uncomfortable.


It is unreasonable to expect that a place possessing such advantages in soil and climate should, for any great length of time, remain thinly populated, or be without any large towns, once that its numerous resources become known.  The day is not a great way in the future when within the limits of Barry County there will be one of the most thriving, if not the largest city in Southwestern Missouri, and it is this place whose future prospects could not be brighter, and whose growth has, to put it mildly, been phenomenal, that forms the principal subject of this article.  Less than a month ago Monett, Mo., was a wheat field, and a railway station and an uncompleted hotel formed its total of buildings and were the only marks of habitation.  To-day Monett can show a population of 1500 people, and the barren wheat field of a month ago is now dotted with business blocks and dwelling houses in the course of erection.  On every side is bustle and activity, and the music furnished by the tools of many carpenters is heard from early morning until late in the evening.  It must not be thought, however, that Monett now is within the confines of a single wheat field, for such an impression would be very wrong.  It started there, to be sure, but has long since stretched out in every direction, and the land it now occupies would make any number of wheat fields, and big ones too.  In every direction buildings in all stages of erection appear, and many tents, in which people are compelled to live until their houses can be built, deck the prairie, and their white sides faintly gleam thorugh the oaks on distant hills.  Facts about a place whose growth has been so wonderful can not fail to be interesting, and here they are:


Monett is in the northern part of Barry County, about five miles east of Peirce City, formerly the principal railroad center in this section, and is about the geographic center of the great St. Louis and San Francisco Railway system.  It is 282 miles from St. Louis, 44 from Springfield, 239 from Kansas City, 223 from Whichita [sic], 140 from Fort Scott, 133 from Fort Smith, Ark., 302 from Paris, Tex., and 78 miles from Vinita, I. T.  Some idea of its magnitude as a railroad center may be obtained from the fact that it is now the end of four distinct divisions of the great Frisco system, and another one will be added whenever the road to Kansas City is built, which will doubtless be accomplished at no distant date.  The Frisco Company was not long in seeing the benefit to be derived by making Monett its headquarters for this part of its system, and caused the speedy removal of its round-house, repair shops and other buildings from Peirce City, where they were formerly located.  The company first constructed an elegant hotel and depot adjoining it, both of which are costly, artistic in design and finish, and modern in all appointments.  The round-house has been completed and work on the repair shop is nearing an end.  A large coach shed is already half erected, and work on the other structures is being pushed as rapidly as possible.  Forty acres of land have been set aside for the company for tracks, buildings, and also stock yards when required.  The train dispatcher for the four divisions has already taken up his quarters in a new and elegant office.  The railroad alone will furnish employment for 300 people, and the transfer of its interests from Peirce City will cause the removal from that place to Monett of not less than 1200 persons.  The Frisco is contemplating another change, which if carried out, will not at all be satisfactory to Peirce City.  The heaviest grade on the road between Springfield and Wichita is just out of Peirce City, and to escape this grade as well as shortening the line two and three-quarters miles in eight, it is proposed to build, or rather straighten, the line from Monett to Talmage, thus cutting Peirce City off the main line and leaving it on the Vinita branch.  As this change will result most advantageously to the road, there is but little doubt that it will be made.  A road is also being surveyed by a new company, the Sabine Pass, from Monett north to Kansas City, and while its construction is not an assured fact, it is very probable that it will be built.  So much for the railroads and their improvements, but Monett has something besides railroads and just as much importance and consideration.


Some mention has already been made in a general way of the country and climate, but a more graphic description of Monett and its numerous natural advantages, which would be not an easy matter to equal, may prove interesting.  It is on a rolling prairie, and the value of the soil immediately surrounding it for agricultural purposes will be shown further on.  Southeast is King Prairie, the most densely populated portion of Barry County, and on the north and northeast is Spring River Prairie, which is thickly settled, and which contains as many fine farms, with good improvements, as will be found anywhere.  The town proper lies is a slight valley, small hills rising up on either side, and there are just enough trees and woodland to furnish abundant shade.  Only a pleasant impression could be obtained from a visit to the place, everything going to make up a most agreeable scene, and one of the best spots imaginable for the location of a town or city.  Great care has been exercised in laying out the town into streets, and dividing the land into lots, for which work the property owners and persons who make the place their home will have cause to feel grateful to the Monett Town Company, whose interests there are now very great.  The town is in the very heart of the great lead and zinc mines, the fame of which have extended far and near, and is located on the edge of the Arkansas and Kansas coal fields.  Adjacent, and easily accessible, are almost inexhaustible quantities of a superior quality of timber and the best lime rock and brick clay are to be found almost within a stone's throw of the depot.  The water supply, which is an item of the most vital importance in establishing a town, is another one of Monett's many excellent features.  The supply is inexhaustible.  Peculiar subterranean springs abound in this section of the country, and ponds, or miniature lakes are to be seen on almost every farm.  An instance which will serve to illustrate the abundance of water is found in the fact that when the cistern was being dug for the hotel, and after a depth of 18 feet had been attained, the bottom suddenly fell out and a subterranean stream of the purest water was found.  In proof of the fact that such a stream does exist, several eyeless fish were caught in the cistern.  More conclusive evidence of the plentifulness of water has also been established to the satisfaction of all.  A well was dug by the railroad for supplying the water tank and hotel, and another underground stream affording an abundant supply was fortunately struck.  Water is found almost at any place at a distance from 17 to 50 feet, generally nearer the first figure than the latter.


The first lots were placed on sale less than three weeks ago, and since that time over $100,000 worth of town lots and suburban property has been sold -- a remarkable result the town has attained simply on its own merits.  This alone is testimony sufficiently strong to show that the town has come to stay, and that the people are not very long in learning the value of Monett property.  The lots thus far disposed of have been purchased by people who intend to build and permanently settle there.  Of course there are the usual number who buy with an eye to speculation, and these have found a good investment for their moeny, and their profits already run up very high.  Within the last two days thirty houses have been started, and altogether there are now 300 in the course of construction.  The houses, too, are unlike the majority of dwellings usually erected in new places, and that painful regularity in size and style which is found in most settlements is wanting here.  Some taste is displayed in their design and they are mostly large and commodious.  The Town Company has kindly donated ground for the erection of a school house and churches, and work upon these buildings will be commenced at once.  The foundation for a brick hotel and bank and another one for a large business block have already been laid, and the work commenced the early part of next week.

The farming land in the vicinity of Monett could not be better. It is rich and fertile, and the crops produced upon it are as good, if not better, than those raised upon the average farm of the United States.  The following facts in regard to the crops produced this season are furnished by Mr. Vermillion, one of the oldest farmers of the county:  Potatoes ranged in yield from 80 to 200 bushels to the acre and in price from 40c to 50c a bushel.  Wheat ran from 30 to 40 bushels and brought 55c, which, however, is the lowest price paid in Mr. Vermillion's recollection.  The corn crop was not as good as usual, but it averaged about 40 bushels, and oats 60 bushels.  The farms hereabouts are mostly in a very improved condition, and the buildings upon them are in a majority of cases first class.  As a fruit growing country its reputation is widely known, some of the largest and most extensive orchards in this part of the country being located within a short distance of Monett.


All the country, which is now tributary to Monett, formerly transacted business with Peirce City.  Temporary arrangements were made at Monett about sixty days ago for shipping purposes, and since that time 156 car loads of wheat, 87 cars of potatoes, 11 of peaches and apples and 89 of turnips have been shipped.  There is great need of an elevator, as the one now in use is small and wholly unable to do the great amount of work required.

Lots are sold on the easiest terms possible.  One-third must accompany the purchase, one-third in one year and the balance in two years.  There is still a plentiful supply of land which can be had, but in order to get desirable pieces the purchase can not be made too quick.  Any number of Peirce City people have already bought lots for dwelling and business purposes.  Among them are Johnson & Frazier, who will erect a building for a grocery store; George & Brown will also build a grocery store; Mr. Peper a hotel, and P. Martin, James Johnson, C. P. Cass, Mrs. Guinney, F. Shannahan, Ed Butler, Mrs. Powers, Jos. Elwick, B. Callander, Anna Lyons, John Cain, J. Y. Goeble, E. H. Ball, M. Tiernan, M. Popp, J. A. Fitzgerald, John Dailey and others might be included in the list of Peirce City people whose purchases already amount to $25,000.  Among the real estate agents located here are Saunders & Crewson, Badger & Campbell, Redwine & Withers, J. H. Lackens and Fulkerson & Co., all of whom are thoroughly reliable gentlemen and well known for their liberality and squareness in all transactions.


Monett people point with great pride to the Frisco Railway Hotel and Eating House, of which the Bicksler Brothers are proprietors and managers, as one of the finest hotels in that part of the country.  It is first class in every respect, and a better table than is set here would be hard to find.  It is lighted by gas made in the hotel, has hot and cold water, and possesses all other conveniences of a modern and useful nature.

There is much more to tell about Monett, but to recite one-half of it would require a good-sized book.  The best way to become acquainted with the place is to go and see it, and having once been there the visitor will remember it as one of the most delightful spots to live that can be found.  That it will be a great city and that the purchase of property there now will prove a great investment, there is not the slightest desire to question.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 27, 1887

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat of Saturday morning chronicles the transformation of a wheat field into a city of 1,500 people within four weeks, in Barry County.  The whale of Turniptown doubtless is the correspondent.  He says, "Barry County has not a very extended reputation for possessing the most rich and fertile soil in this section of the State, nor does it glory in being the most thickly populated of this portion of Missouri, or having within its limits any very large cities or towns," and then proceeds to build up a phenominal [sic] city in a wheat field in the month of October, five miles east of Peirce City, admitting that Peirce City had been the railway center of the Frisco system until four weeks ago, when he claims this was ruthlessly snatched away from us and bodily removed to Turniptown.

In his graphic description of the place he says the Monett Town Company has great interest in the townsite, though their sales have been enormous, aggregating at least $100,000, and that there are 300 houses in course of construction, all of which is a fabrication emanating from the fertile brain of a realestate [sic] adventurer.  Those who attended the attempted public sale some time ago do not believe there was more than one bonafied sale made during the day and that a resident lot, and they will be slow to believe that the total sales, made thus far, outside the snide transactions of the real estate agencies, would tout up the tenth part of that claimed.  The writer again says:

"All the country, which is now tributary to Monett, formerly transacted business with Peirce City.  Temporary arrangements were made at Monett about sixty days ago for shipping purposes, and since that time 156 car loads of wheat, 87 cars of potatoes, 11 of peaches and apples and 89 of turnips have been shipped."

He knows that not even temporary arrangements have been made for shipping produce from Monett, while all the shipping done from that vicinity has been from Plymouth, under [the] same train and track arrangements which have existed for years.  Think of it, 89 cars of turnips from Monett.  If this was a fact it would deserve to be known as Turniptown.  We venture to say there has not been loaded and shippped from that town a bushel of turnips, unless they were deadheaded as baggage.  The other statements may well be taken with similar allowance.  Men who have been induced through these paid misrepresentations to visit the town have witnessed wagon loads of produce driving through it to Peirce City, and following them have come and located here.  Such misleading representations build high expectations and leads to disappointment, and the stranger arriving there will seek a location elsewhere, and Peirce City and other neighboring towns will be greater gainers than the Hobart-Frisco Turniptown.

One further fact may again bear repetition in this connection.  The Frisco railway has yet to demonstrate a single instance of ability to build up one town at the expense of another.  The experiment was tried in Springfield, when the right of way would not have cost a cent to have run through the town, and seventeen years afterwards it cost them about a half a million to get a branch into old town.  Logan was another striking failure, and only last year they yielded and gave Marionville a depot.  Martling was a thriving village fifteen years ago, and now the structures would not make creditable cow sheds for Neosho.  Divisions were changed at a point in Kansas, and after property had depreciated, and investments had been made by the Frisco strikers in a mill and other property at low figures, the divisions were again restored.  A few months ago it was declared that Dixon was dead and Newburg was the coming town, as the divisions were changed to the latter place, and the railroad boys were forced to give up their property and make their homes in the new town.  Commercial men say Dixon not only lives but is doing an increased business.  And we might go on in the enumeration of similar instances, but it is unnecessary.  It is not our desire to do an injury to any town, and especially would we avoid anything which would tend to retard the prosperity of a neighboring city, but the EMPIRE is ever on the side of the people in contests where railway corporations get down so low as to engage in individual speculation, to the detriment of business and general prosperity.  Already the indications are very prominent that the Frisco is engaged in an effort to avoid giving shipping facilities to business men in this city.  This would not only work an injury to the town, but to the country which looks to Peirce City for a market, and nothing short of a competing line of railway will be the unanimous voice of the people.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, October 27, 1887

Just at this time there is a very large western immigration, and many have been attracted to the Hobart-Frisco townsite east of us, by thousands of flaming posters and circulars distributed at the expense of the stockholders of the road.  Arriving at the much advertised paper town, they find no quarters to shelter their families, no employment and little promise of business, and the most hopeful of its future growth say at least they prefer to see "which way the cat jumps" before investing.  Some have come to Peirce City already, and many others would follow if a live, active and energetic agent should be stationed to guide them to a city in which there is room and comfort for hundreds and finding schools, college, churches, and similar conveniences already built, and in prosperous conditions, they would make permanent homes among us. Let some suitable person be selected for this purpose.  It will bring ten fold returns, besides making many feel that lasting favors have been bestowed upon them.  [From the daily edition of Saturday, October 22, 1887.]


Ten cisterns in a row upon a lake only seventeen feet from the surface.  However, cistern water is preferable for cooking turnips.


A party arrived in Turniptown this morning, and when they inquired for the whale found in the cistern at the hotel, they were pointed to the recent correspondent of the Globe-Democrat, who chronicled the great discovery.


For real estate agents Turniptown beats the world.  About a half dozen real estate offices and a barber shop is all that surrounds the eating house.  The agents are like the boys trading jackets on a wet day, by which they would both be several dollars better off when the day closed.  These agents deal among themselves, all agents for the sale of the same lots, and as each day draws near to an end they feel they have made fortunes by the rise the price of the property.

That "palatial hotel," a combination of European barbarism and sythian, which the architect could not produce if called upon to do so, is a wonder of this or any other age, and as a tinder box no doubt will serve its purpose for a grand illumination of the little hamlet of Turnip Town when the Hobart-Frisco combination make their next short cut town-lot speculation from Verona to Purdy. [All from the daily edition of Monday, October 24, 1887.]


These is nothing which so successfully booms a town as turnips, and Monett has already made the reputation in this respect.  As Col. Sellars would say there's millions in it.


Two or three foundations were pointed to at Turniptown on the 12th instant, as the site for a national bank, a large mercantile establishment, &c., and those foundations still remain, and nothing more.


Fair and impartial minds will give the Frisco credit as a great benefactor, in providing transportation for eighty-seven car loads of turnips.  Wheat, potatoes, apples and the like can be kept stored until the turnip crop is disposed of.  [All from the daily edition of Tuesday, October 25, 1887.]

Peirce City Weekly Empire, November 10, 1887

Interesting Denial by Hon. John

St. Louis & San Francisco R'y Co.
Office of the Vice-President

JOHN O'DAY, Vice-President.
ST. LOUIS, Mo., Nov. 5th, 1887.

Editor Daily EMPIRE.
Peirce City, Mo.

DEAR SIR: -- My attention has lately been called to various editorials in the EMPIRE, in which it is charged that this company is discriminating against Peirce City, and is the founder and owner of Monett and doing everything possible to depreciate the value of property at Peirce City and boom Monett.

This statement, and all others of a similar character, are without the least foundation in fact.  In the management and operation of this company's road, Peirce City is in no manner or form discriminated against, but, on the contrary, it is afforded equal facilities with the most favored town on the line.  Not only is the charge that the company is the proprietor of Monett incorrect, but in truth it is not now, nor has it nor have any of its officers ever been, directly or indirectly, interested in any real estate in the town of Monett save and except the grounds used for depots, round-house, side tracks, switches and yards, aggregating forty-three acres.

In consequence of the volume of the Arkansas and Texas business, the extra cost of running Arkansas and Texas trains from Monett to Peirce City and return, a distance of ten miles, would at least equal twenty-five thousand dollars a year, saying nothing of the loss of time and annoyance to the public caused by this unnecessarily increased mileage.

I regret as much as any citizen of Peirce City the inexorable logic of the situation which made it necessary to remove the division headquarters from Peirce City to Monett.

No doubt, being actuated by a sense of justice and fairness, you will give this letter the same publicity that you have heretofore given to the statements the correctness of which are here denied.

Respectfully yours,


While we may suspect that Mr. O'Day took this method to secure space in our columns without compensation, we are no less willing to place at his command at all times reasonable means to contradict any statements, the correctness of which he may question.  Before going into a discussion of the matter denied in the foregoing letter, it is better to present the editorial of which he seems to complain, which appeared in these columns on the 3d instant as follows:

"About one hundred and sixty cars of grain and produce were shipped from this city during the month of October, and had merchants been able to secure transportation the number would not have fallen below two hundred and sixty.  The lack of the Frisco to furnish transportation or shipping facilities, caused many to believe there was an intentional discrimination against us, but on further investigation there seems little to base such an opinion.  From all points along the line come similar complaints, and we are forced to believe that the road either lacks the proper cars to move the increasing product or there is very poor management of the transportation department, and from the best information obtained, there appears to be good grounds for the allegation in both instances, which may be supplemented with the further statement that the management seems to have been so wrapped up in outside individual town-lot speculations that the interests of the shareholders of the road have been lost sight of, and the business has been allowed to drift along without care or attention.  While the officials were absorbed in a vain effort to sell lots at $1,000 to $1,500 each in the Hobart-Frisco town, and large sums of money were being expended to find water and make improvements to be advertised in order to induce strangers to invest capital and help build up such town, carloads of freight were allowed to stand from four to six days upon side tracks where loaded before any effort was made to move them.  Under such conditions there is little use in setting forth an excuse of no cars with which to do business.  These cars could and should have gone to their destination and been returned and reloaded in the time they were held loaded without moving.  It has not been our desire to find fault without reason, and we have patiently sought to obtain the real cause of the embargo which has been placed upon the business of the southwest within the last four weeks, and all things considered the following conclusion has been arrived at:  The management of the Frisco railway will find it necessary to confine itself to the legitimate management of the road, or the directory will be called upon by the stockholders to select a management which will do so.  The interests of such a gigantic corporation, doing the carrying business for so vast and rich a territory cannot afford to have those interests neglected by reason of petty speculations along its lines by its officials."

In his first paragraph Mr. O'Day says, "it is charged that this company * * * is the founder and owner of Monett," while we said that the "management" seemed so wrapped up in "outside individual town-lot speculation that the interests of the stockholders of the road have been lost sight of;" and that if it did not confine itself to the legitimate conduct of the road, the directory would be called upon by the stockholders to select a management which would do so.  Had the Frisco corporation been interested in the townsite there would have been no reason for charging the officials with neglecting the interests of the stockholders if the townsite speculation had been a success.  If Mr. O'Day has not yet been able to comprehend this distinction, we trust he will be able to do so now.

His third paragraph is at least amusing, stating that the extra cost of running Arkansas trains to this city would at least cost the Frisco twenty-five thousand dollars annually.  How much more does it cost to double the Arkansas train from Monett to Peirce City, than to double the Vinita train from Peirce City to Monett?  The difference seems to be down one way and down the other, "saying nothing of the loss of time and convenience to the public caused by this unnecessarily increased mileage."  "Annoyance to the public" is a sublime thought, and would be as applicable to the association in hades as in this instance.  Not only have the convenience of the public been wholly disregarded, but employes [sic] were taken from their homes and left to seek shelter of nights in box cars, firemen and engineers sleeping on their engine cabs; a place bearing strong resemblance to the warm regions, where there is a noted scarcity of water.  This subject will have further attention from day to day as it may seem to require.

Mr. O'Day says the officials have no town-lot interests, and would have us believe there had been no effort by them to boom Monett.  Whence came those elegant colored hangers, setting forth the phenomenal town, the subteranean streams and lakes, water and gas works, attested by the signatures of the general manager and the passenger agent of the Frisco.  If there are no interests, why do the operatives high up in the management spend so much time showing, discussing and booming the town, and why, if the Frisco has any regard for its employes [sic] and no interest in the town, is the management so conducted as to require employes [sic] to pay exhorbitant prices for residence lots in the new town.  Again if there is no connection, no mutual interests between the town company and the officials of the Frisco road, why was it that a tract of land reserved for years by the Frisco, was sold for a "song" with the understanding that the title should next pass over to the town company at an advance of one hundred dollars to the go-between?

It isn't always necessary to go to the records to discern who are most interested in outside Frisco speculations.  For some years past there has been a non-official combination always found upon the "ground floor" in every enterprise where a monopoly could be forced by the managers of the road.  A faint understanding of the operators might be found in the Rogers Coal Co., North Springfield Mercantile Co., and a certain bank in Springfield, in which one B. F. Hobart is at the head, John O'Day, division superintendents, and others of the Frisco, appear as directors and stockholders.  Mr. Hobart is president of the Monett Town Co., headquarters at St. Louis, and signs all deeds for the Monett combination.  He is also regarded as a formidable aspirant for a high position in the management of the road.

If Mr. O'Day truly regrets the "inexorable logic of the situation which made it necessary to remove the division headquarters from Peirce City," why is [it] that ample accomodations were not provided for the employes [sic], as was promised by the general manager last winter, when he cited instances where roads provided them transportation a greater distance than intervened between Peirce City and Monett.

From the very beginning of this townsite speculation, the Frisco has appeared to wield every power within its control to boom the town, and none have thought it necessary to seek behind the curtains to ascertain who were able "to read their titles clear" or were most interested in the disposal of high-priced lots.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, November 24, 1887

The Bixler Bros. set a good table at the Monett house, which is neatly fitted throughout, and appear familiar with the requirements of the public.  A dozen or more buildings have been erected on the new townsite since the attempted auction sale Oct. 12.  Allen Miller has built a cheap frame for a hardware store, which he will move from Purdy; Mrs. Guinney's new restaurant will soon be complete; Pat. Martin is now on the second story of his brick saloon, and near by there is a restaurant already running.  The business seems to be mostly done in the old town of Plymouth, and just east of it are a few business houses in course of construction.  Owing to the high prices asked for residence lots in the new town, about fifteen new residences have been built on a strip of land purchased of David Marshal, on the hill south, and an equal number have been built upon the McCormack track north, and so far as indications are concerned, it would appear that there is little outside of the real estate and hotel business represented in the new town.  Quite a number of the railroad boys have built cheap residences so that if they should move again their losses would not be serious.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, November 24, 1887


The town of Turnips was visited Saturday by a wind storm which wrecked the building which was nearly completed for Allen Miller of Verona.  This was a one-story hull, one hundred feet in length, cheaply built, and when the collapse came the carpenter had barely time to escape through the front.  The foundation for this building was pointed to with a great deal of pride on auction day, when we were told that upon those rocks would be built one of the substantial and permanent buildings of the "important point" on the Frisco.  There was a stove in the building, and rumor has it that the fire was extinguished with Pat Martin's whiskey.

Mr. Robert Johnson, general agent for the town company, spent Sunday in Peirce City, and like the many other real estate agents of that town, still expresses confidence in the future of the town.  He says the company have seen the mistake of placing residence lots so high, and will plat some land on the hill south which will be offered to railroad boys much cheaper than present lots are held.

The water supply remains unchanged, and by making occasional trips to Peirce City and Veorna to fill up, the switch engine is kept in serviceable condition.

The pumper is said to have sent in two reports yesterday, one in the forenoon and one in the afternoon, in about the following words: "18 inches in tank, both wells pumped dry."  A number of engines came to Peirce City again last night.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, December 15, 1887

Hobart-Frisco Combination.

It is again reported that the Frisco railway company is putting on the screws to enable the Hobart-Frisco combination to realize upon their town property, and to enable this forcing process all the passenger conductors running in this vicinity have been given to understand that to hold jobs on the road they will be required to take up their homes in the Hobart-Frisco town, which H. L. Morrill, the general manager, and D. Wishart, general passenger agent, say "is the coming big city of the Southwest," and "the important division point of the Frisco line."  With such influences brought to bear upon the employes [sic], the ground floor combination is enabled to find many men who will pay five to ten dollars option on a lot for thirty days, hoping by that time there will be a general surrender by employes to the demands of the company officials.  Recently it was reported in the Hobart-Frisco organ at Springfield that men were seeking by the light of lanterns locations; doubtless this was after the order to conductors, and with a hope of option speculation.  That the whole effort to build a town thus far has been a miserable failure, no one familiar with the progress made will doubt.  The fact is that the whole strength of the well known combination has for the past several months been brought to bear in a desperate effort to repenish individual pockets without greater success than attended the efforts of the Frisco in a half dozen other town site speculations along the road in the Southwest.  The matter of jealousy no longer enters into a consideration of such matters, and our people cannot be truthfully charged with holding envy against attempts to build up rival towns.  They have past that point long ago, believing that the city is able to grow and prosper regardless of any efforts on the part of a railroad to do injury or cripple business according to their pleasure.  The country people who support a town are no less willing to become the dupes of corporations who would use them well a while to become their masters.  The evidences of leading officials being interested in the Hobart-Frisco combination have been strong that but one official had the inexorable audacity to deny any interest, and he would not venture to crowd the point and offer any explanation.

Goodspeed's History of Newton, Lawrence, Barry and McDonald Counties, Missouri (1888), pages 687-691

Monett, the new town at the junction of the St. Louis & Texas Railroad with the Frisco Railroad, 282 miles southwest of St. Louis, is 1,305 feet above the level of that city. . .

The town site of Monett was surveyed by F. W. Bond, on the south half of the northeast quarter of Section 31, and on the north half of the southeast quarter of Section 31, lying north of the railroad, and on parts of Section 32, Township 26, Range 27, for the Monett Town Company, September 12, 1887. . .

The first lot was sold September 20, 1887.  The town in December, 1887, was made up of the following trades and professions:  Saunders & Crewson, B. H. Ager, Robert Johnston, Fulkerson & Co., agents of the Monett Town Company; D. S. Breece & Co.'s lumber yard, L. W. Badger, Draper & Downing and S. L. Redwine, real estate agents; Drs. J. M. Morgan, J. C. Utter, J. N. Dubois, T. H. Jeffries, J. J. Overton and C. S. McCarthy, physicians; Pritchett & Wilburn, George & Brown, H. M. Gilmore, grocers; Crane & Amerman Lumber Company, Long-Bell Lumber Company, P. O. Snyder, jeweler; M. J. Jeffries, drug store; J. T. Williams, saloon; Bicksler Bros., of the Monett [House]; G. W. Jackson, of Hotel Delmonico, and W. J. Piper, of the Central Hotel; the restaurants of Mrs. R. Guinney, I. W. Boggs and Hornish & Loomis were doing a large business, and the dry-goods house of C. Levy & Co.,was established.  Prof. Lipes, principal of schools; E. J. Holland, architect and builder; Haseltine & Timberlake, hardware store; P. Martin, liquor store; J. McColley and Purvines & Gillett, builders; A. C. Murphy and Segerer & Albaugh, painters.  Before the close of the year 1887, McCaffrey & Co., brick masons; A. Wilding, builder; James Dailey's liquor store, J. U. Vermillion's livery stable, C. W. Shelton's meat market, Cary & Brigance, painters, had opened out here.  J. Hess & Co.'s brick-yards, Means & Sweetman's drug store, H. W. Short & Co.'s meat market were established here.  Harrison Attaway leased the brick building just then completed, in January, 1888, and later the Calumet and Occidental were established.  The Attaway House was opened in March.


The entire text of Goodspeed's is online at Missouri Digital Heritage.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, June 14, 1888

The station four and one-half miles east of this place had a novel experience on Friday last.  The dwellers on quality hill had to go without their Friday fish, as the horses on the delivery wagons could not swim the imitation of the Chicago river that ran along the railroad.  It has been so dry since the town was organized and the sewer system not being perfect, they say "the aforesaid river was nowhere."

Peirce City Weekly Empire, July 26, 1888

The boss read orders at Turniptown this morning announcing that employees would no longer be permitted to ride from their homes to their work on free transportation.  This means that employees with families and homes in this city will not be permitted to return to their homes at night and go again to their work in the morning free over the Frisco.  This is not in keeping with promises made by the General manager H. L. Morrill, who said they would provide every reasonable means for the accommodation of employees with homes in this city, and cited cases where roads transported employees a much greater distance, and found that it paid them to do so.  In this last order we think we see the hand of the inexorable vice-president, John O'Day, who will leave no experiment untried to build up the Hobart-Frisco town.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, August 16, 1888

The Monett Eagle is a new paper edited by Geo. H. Willis.  The second number found its way to this office this morning.  It is a 5 column quarto, neatly printed and a well edited Republican paper.


The Frisco railroad has been striving for nearly a year now to build a town at a point where everything except corporation money is lacking.  One of our ministers was passing through there recently, and having occasion to take some medicine was charged five cents for a draught [of water] to wash down a small dose.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, March 14, 1889

The Monett Eagle devotes two columns to the exhilarating task of "mopping the earth" with one Jas. T. Johnson, an impecunious showman, who undertook to make Monett a circus town.  Johnson's worldly effects, when he struck Monett, the Eagle says, was a "collar-box history of P. T. Barnum, four cur dogs and a monkey wrench."  With this capital he attempted to build a hippodrome, opera house, prize fighting ring, rat pit combined in the "greatest town on earth."  "See Monett and die!"  Johnson had the nerve like Napoleon at Waterloo, but he lacked reinforcements.  If Gronchy hadn't taken the wrong road!  It was Blucher or night with Wellington and Blucher got thar.  It was the same with poor Johnson, sunset came too early for him.  Sunset is creeping upon Monett apparently.  Will anybody kick and cuff poor Monie "when she winks out."

Of all sad words of tongue or pen
The saddest are these, "it might have been."

Neosho Mail

Neosho Miner and Mechanic, April 20, 1889

Marshal Segerer of Monett absconded from that city on Wednesday last with $270 of the City's cash in his clothes.  He left a note requesting that his clothes be sent Mrs. Canada living near Monett and that his pictures and trinkets be expressed to his sister in Maryland, and with the words, "I'm going to heaven or hell," bade his friends adieu.  He was a candidate for re-election and leaves his bondsmen holding the bag.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, February 13, 1890

For months past Monett has been the center of attraction for a young drummer, representing a St. Louis wholesale grocery house.  When within fifty miles he arranged to spend Sunday at Monett, that his eyes might feast upon the object of his affections, and enjoy a chat with his much deceived charmer.  It was during the serene and balmy hours of Sunday evening last that the handsome vender of Lion coffee and Cosmo teas met his fate.  Seated beside her who caused his heart to assume an extra motion, he pulled from the confines of a chammy pocket a picture of himself offering it to his lady love, little dreaming that the address of his wife was handsomely written on the other side.  Since the tableau that followed nothing has been heard of the festive drummer. -- Eagle.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, May 14, 1891

Fire at Monett.

At 4:30 this morning the large building at Monett standing close beside the track and used as a depot, hotel, baggage room and telegraph office, was discovered to be on fire.

Every effort was made by the citizens to arrest the flames with the meager means at hand, but it was soon found that the odds were in favor of the flames.

A special engine was then hurriedly dispatched to Pierce City for a hose company and hook and ladder company.

The chief of the fire department at once ordered the fire bell rung, and with what volunteers aid he could get, loaded the hook and ladder truck and one hose cart onto a flat car which was quickly conveyed to Monett with about fifty men on board, but too late to render any assistance.

The building was then almost reduced to ashes.

The origin of the fire is supposed to have been a spark from an engine.

A portion of the contents were saved, but most of them suffered the same fate with the building.

This is another striking illustration of the advantge of a good system of water works and a good fire department to a city.  When a building catches fire at Monett it invariably burns to the ground.  When a fire occurs at Pierce City the building is only damaged and the contents saved.

Peirce City Weekly Empire, April 14, 1892


John Hollingsworth while returning from Peirce City, saw something which he will never forget.  While waiting for the train at Monett, the express from Arkansas pulled in and had a special car attached which contained 35 prisoners from the Ft. Smith United States prison, who were being transferred to an institution of the same kind at Detroit, Michigan.  John said that the men were chained in couples, chains being fastened to their feet but not so closely as to prevent them from walking.  While they were waiting for their train to be made up the guards had them out promenading on the depot platform.  They seemed to delight to hear the chains clank.  They were very boisterous and would frequently swear at the crowd to separate and give them room to pass.  They went through here at 8:35 last night.


Springfield Leader, February 24, 1870

PIERCE CITY. -- We understand this is the name given to the new town on Clear Creek, in the corners of Lawrence, Barry and Newton counties, fifty miles from this city, and the contemplated terminus of the railroad after it leaves Springfield.  Great excitement prevails in that section in regard to land, which has gone up wonderfully.

Missouri Weekly Patriot, Springfield, March 3, 1870

So many and such conflicting reports have been afloat of late, as to the location of a railroad depot at or near the end of the first fifty miles this side of Springfield, and the laying out of a town, which according to report, will soon be the business center of the Southwest, that we gladly embraced the opportunity which was offered us of visiting the place, and viewing for ourselves, the wonders which a few weeks have accomplished.

We learned here that the depot had not as yet been located, and that the city of Mount Pleasant, Magnolia Center or whatever it might be called, had not been located, even in the imagination of the most visionary.  We heard wonderful stories of the immense depots and machine shops, costing millions of dollars, which the railroad was now anxious to immediately put under contract; listened to an interesting debate as to the ability of our Southwest mechanics to undertake a job of the kind; heard the fact uncontrovertably established that the terminus of the road would remain for at least two and a half years, at the nameless city yet to be founded; that this new town has very superior local and natural advantages, as it is so situated as to command the trade of Northwest Arkansas, being the nearest and most accessible point on the line of the South Pacific Railroad; these and various other facts we learned, which we shall make use of from time to time. -- Neosho Investigator.

Carthage Banner, April 7, 1870

Pierce City, is now being surveyed, the sale of lots will commence next Monday, by Young, Robertson & Co.  The Railroad Company will also have an agent present.  Bidding will undoubtedly be lively.  We understand that several parties from Springfield are going in business there, which, with a delegation from Granby will give the town a start.  The Company are proposing to erect a twenty thousand dollar hotel, but we think a house of more modest pretention, will do them for a while. -- Neosho Investigator.  [The ad is from the Carthage Banner of June 16, 1870.]

Carthage Banner, April 14, 1870

Pierce City.

The biggest humbug in Southwest Missouri up to this date is Pierce City.  It is located on paper only on the unfinished line of the S.P.R. Road fifty miles west of Springfield in the southwest corner of Lawrence County, and possibly may in twenty years have a population of two thousand, but that it can ever be made a point of any considerable trade is simply nonsense in the superlative degree.  Such is the lay of the country along this road on the north and south, between Springfield and Neosho, that as a general rule trade will go to the nearest point on the road, so that no one will have an advantage over another in the concentration of trade.  Marionville is surrounded by a good country the trade of which will necessarily concentrate at that point; four or five miles west is Elkhorn, which will command its trade; five miles west of this point is Verona which will have its trade; about the same distance west is Kings Prairie Depot which has its trade; and still west near the same distance is the vaunted paper city of Pierce, where corner lots are selling at $1,000 (bogus).

Those who are running the cut-throat swindling machine, put on long faces and tell their victims that the Railroad will stop at this point no telling how long, it will command the Texas cattle and Indian Territory trade and that all of northwestern Arkansas will come here, and the Lord only knows how much more.  Now the facts are that the road will go on without delay to Neosho, where a share of this trade will for a time concentrate.  The town which is to be a city, where corner lots will be worth $1,000 in cold earnest will be the crossing of Joy's road and the South Pacific, as to where this is to be no on can now tell.  It may possibly be near the State line, or it may be some forty or fifty miles in the Indian Territory; until this matter is settled nobody can with any degree of reason look for much of a city anywhere, except perchance the S. R. Road be built, then as a matter of course it will be at Mt. Vernon, other things being equal. -- Spring River Fountain.


This article's reference to "Kings Prairie Depot" between Verona and Pierce City is an important item of Monett history, suggesting there was a plan to locate a station at the future location of Monett as early as 1870.  The "S.P.R. Road" is the South Pacific Railroad, the mainline from St. Louis to Seneca.  The "S.R. Road" is the Spring River Railroad, which was a plan to build a railroad from Marionville through Mt. Vernon to Carthage.  Instead the road was built from Pierce City to Carthage under the name Memphis, Carthage & Northwestern Railroad.

"Joy's road" was the Missouri River, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad, which ran south in eastern Kansas from Kansas City to Fort Scott and Baxter Springs.  It was controlled by James F. Joy, the president of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, which connected from Kansas City to Chicago.  At the time this was written, the Joy road was in a race to the northern boundary of Indian Territory against the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad (the "MKT"), where federal law said only one railroad would be allowed to build south through Indian lands. Everyone expected the Joy road to win, but the MKT beat it.  Eventually the South Pacific/A&P met the MKT at Vinita, Indian Territory.

Neosho Times, May 5, 1870

Peirce City.

We made a flying visit to this promising young city on Saturday last, and were astonished at the rapid progress being made in the way of building.  New houses are springing up as if by magic, on every hand, and we believe we hazard nothing in saying that, by the time the railroad reaches that point, it will have not much less than five hundred houses.  Among the numerous houses being rapidly pushed forward, we notice Fallis' hotel, which will soon be ready for the reception of guests.

James Fall will soon have a handsome two-story building ready to go into.  Then tear down your chimneys, and prepare for cheap stoves.

Keet, Perkins & Co. are getting on rapidly with their store house, and will soon have a good stock of goods.  It is hardly necessary to say to the people in that section that they know how to sell goods.

We also met our young friend, James Mathews, of Mt. Vernon, who has a neat and substantial market house nearly completed.  James has acted wisely, and we hope he may grow in prosperity as rapidly as his new home is growing in size.

R.T. Cowan, agent for the sale of lots, is rapidly disposing of "corner lots and residence sites," and will be found very courteous to those visiting Peirce.

The Cumberland Presbyterians, we understand, have secured a lot with the view of erecting a church at an early day.

Those who think Pierce City is a humbug are sadly mistaken.  It is a "living, breathing reality," and will hardly be destroyed by the idle vaporings of a few disapppointed old fogies.

Missouri Weekly Patriot, Springfield, May 19, 1870

Another Railroad Enterprise.

A grand mass meeting of the citizens of Barry county will be held at the Court House in Cassville, Mo., on Saturday, May 28th, preparatory to the organization of a company to construct a Railroad from some point on the South Pacific Railroad, to connect through Cassville, with Bentonville and Fort Smith Railroad, via Cassville and Washburn.  Delegates to be appointed to attend the Railroad Convention to be held at Bentonville, Ark., on the 6th day of June next.


The Bentonville convention didn't produce a new railroad, but did spark a bitter debate between Neosho and Verona on where an Arkansas branch might begin.  In this era, dozens of new railroads were planned, and hundreds of meetings were held.  Most of these plans came to nothing, but this article does reflect the early agitation for an Arkansas branch to the South Pacific Railroad.

Springfield Leader, June 16, 1870

Its Growth and Railroad Con-

Correspondence Daily Leader

PEIRCE CITY, June 10. -- In this progressive age the building of railroads, occupies the time, attention and capital of a very large portion of the leading citizens of our country.  Every place of some note, and even new places which spring up as it were in a day, seek communication with the rest of the world by means of the telegraph and railroad.  To-day, Peirce City becomes connected by iron bands . . .

Soon we will have other like connection with the Joy road in Kansas, via. Carthage; and also with the Gulf of Mexico by the way of Fort Smith, in Arkansas.  Three months ago not a stake was driven and Peirce City was a place only in the fertile minds of enterprising men.  To-day it numbers near a thousand inhabitants, is an incorporated town, seeks connection with other important places, and bids fair to rival many older towns.

Among the enterprising men who have planned and executed the greater part of the work that has given us so noted a town, we will mention the name of Henry C. Young, Esq., one of your first citizens, who we trust will soon locate here.  Mr. Young is full of energy and enterprise and has already made arrangements for the survey, with a complete profile and estimate of the expense of the road from Peirce City to Fort Smith.  In taking hold of this road he is the right man in the right place, and with a hearty co-operation from the counties through which this road is to pass, the matter will be pushed with vigor.

Fort Smith will be to Arkansas what Springfield is to Southwest Missouri, a place of considerable importance.  Its location, its railroad connections which are projected, will make it a large city.  We know not the general plan of operation which is contemplated by Mr. Young, and those connected with him in the building of this road, but we have all confidence that the work will be begun soon. . . .


Springfield Leader, June 16, 1870

First Train to Peirce City.

Peirce City and Springfield are now connected by iron rails, and by the kindness of Mr. Peirce and Judge Harwood, your correspondent went over the road Sunday in the first passenger coach that ever passed over the line to Peirce City.  The road is in excellent condition, and the cars run as smoothly as over an older road, which speaks well for the company and the ability of its managing director.  A trip over this line of road will pay anyone who has never visited that part of Southwest Missouri, and to all such our advice is to go.

Leaving Springfield, the first station we pass is one near Mr. Gibson's, and about two miles southeast of Little York (did not learn the name); then Logan, one mile and a half this side of Marionville.  This is a beautiful location, and a town has been laid out.  Thence we pass on, leaving Marionville about one-half mile to the right, the sight of which is obstructed by the timber, to Aurora, better known as McNatt's store; thence we pass down a valley to Verona, on Spring River.  This is a very nice little village, situated in a fertile country.

From Verona, by an easy grade, the divide between the waters of Spring river and Clear creek is reached, and here we strike one of the most beautiful and fertile valleys that I have seen in Southwest Missouri, extending down to Peirce City, a distance of about ten miles.  This is a prairie valley from one-half to three-quarters of a mile wide, with hills on either side, just high enough to overlook the valley and furnish superb building sites, and dotted here and there with beautiful walnut groves.  As an evidence of the richness of this valley, the wheat crops in the same looked more promising than any I have seen elsewhere.  But on to Peirce City.  At 1 o'clock P.M. we reached the end of the track, within one-half mile of the city, where we disembarked, and walked down and found the citizens all in a stir and a great many people in from the surrounding country, awaiting the arrival of the cars.  At 3 1/2 o'clock the track was finished, and the cars moved in alongside the passenger depot.  Just at this time services were being held in the Baptist Church, situated in a splendid grove near the line of the road, and the shrill whistle of the locomotive so disturbed the devotional feelings of the audience that they involuntarily found themselves "de hors" the church.  The eloquence of Bascomb or Beecher, I apprehend, would scarcely have chained them to their seats.  Although we had heard much to the favorable location of Perice City, a hasty glance soon convinced us that the picture was not overdrawn.  The situation and the surroundings are certainly magnificent; and although railroad towns are generally supposed to be mushroom in character, such I think will not be the case with Peirce City.  Surrounded by such fine agricultural lands, and commanding as it must, the trade of Northwest Arkansas, even after the road is completed to the State line, it seems to me a bright future awaits it.  It has now some twenty-five business houses, and still they go up.  I would like to speak of some of its business men, firms, etc., but my letter is already becoming too prolix.

The superintendent of the road, Mr. Patriarche, informed me that on and after Thursday next a passenger coach would be attached to the construction train, and make regular trips between this place and Peirce City.  I was also informed that the road will not be regularly open for business until the 3d of July, except for the transportation of lumber for building purposes.

Thanks are due Mr. Peirce and Mr. Patriarche for their kind attentions.

Missouri Weekly Patriot, Springfield, July 28, 1870

Murder at Peirce City.

A man and woman were murdered at Peirce City on Friday night.  No particulars.  If report is true, this kind of business has become quite a matter of custom about Peirce City, and it hardly pays to look up the facts.  A railroad terminus always enjoys an unenviable reputation, and Pierce City, it seems, is not likely not to be outdone in such little courtesies.

Springfield Leader, August 4, 1870

The Fayetteville, Arkansas, Democrat, says Mr. Innes, engineer of the South Pacific railroad, has been in that place making an examintion of the country preparatory to a survey to be made from Peirce City to Fort Smith.  He says that the country from Fayetteville to Peirce City is admirably adapted to building railroads, and that a road can be constructed over it at less cost to the mile than the South Pacific.

Neosho Times, December 8, 1870

That Border City.

The Peirce City Jacksonian says that the great anxiety which now excites the "followers-up" of the railroad, is to ascertain where the border city is to be located, which will strike a severe blow at the prosperity of Neosho.  We have to say that if the puissant railroad company will only do Neosho the kindness to locate some border city west of here, which will absorb these same "followers-up," it will precisely meet our wishes.  We do not desire the presence of a floating population, such as that which has cursed Peirce City.  If the gypsy tribe can be induced to locate in some hamlet between here and the State line, we shall feel deeply grateful to the railroad directors who lay out the town-plat on which the vagabonds pitch their tents.  Judging from the success which has attended the effort to build a city of ragamuffins in "Decatur" county, we are inclined to think that the railroad directors will fight shy of any new similar enterprise.  The very presence of these "followers-up" in any town, for a few months, is enough to kill it dead as a herring.  Neosho is an established town, with a governing population of respectable citizens, and people will locate here in preference to any place where the Arabs form the bulk of the population.  Moreover, the reputation of the railroad corporation for grabbing all it can get is pretty well established.  The company can be abed till noon on that reputation, but shrewd men will not wake the concern up, asking to buy their town lots.  Neosho has a start which the railroad men will find impossible to check.  There are plain indications that they think so themselves, and are prepared to recognize in this town the centre (sic) of their business in this part of the State.  Peirce City may re-appear in the "border city" for a brief time, but the prosperity of Neosho is something as permanent and steady as the grand old hills which environ our town.  The railroad directors are far from being consummate fools; and they must admit the prestige and progress which Neosho has already made.  That Peirce City, the creation of speculation, has signally failed, is no sign a well located old county town will go into decadence before a mushroom habitation of nomadic people.


The terminus of the South Pacific Railroad moved from Pierce City to Neosho November 15, 1870, quickly followed by camps of prostitutes and a number of killings.  In 1870, a group in Pierce City wanted to form a new county, Decatur, out of parts of Barry, Lawrence and Newton counties.  Nothing came of the scheme.

Missouri Weekly Patriot, Springfield, February 1, 1872

A considerable rivalry exists between Pierce City and Verona, as to the point where a railroad from Texas shall intersect the A. & P. road.  They will probably have some time in which that question may [be] discussed.

Carthage Banner, July 4, 1872

Railroad to Carthage.

The Carthage division of the Memphis, Carthage, and Northwestern railroad is complete between Peirce City, on the Atlantic & Pacific line, and Carthage. . . .

Carthage Banner, July 18, 1872


Peirce City receives many compliments from strangers passing by for its enterprising and thrifty appearance.  This is the only town in Southwest Missouri, that has two railroads in operation, and with so fair a prospect for the third within the year.  That the Gulf Branch of the Atlantic and Pacific railroad, will divulge from this point there can be no reasonable doubt.  No material aid that any other town along the line can offer will overcome the natural advantages possessed by Peirce City.  The situation is such that it is the shortest practicable line to Fort Smith and thence south.  The country is less broken, being the "divide" between the waters flowing west into Grand River and those flowing east into White River.  This road, then, it is admitted on every hand must branch off at this city.  This will give us the pre-eminence over any other town in this section of the country. Parties at the East, contemplating removal to the West to engage in business, and especially manufacturing business, in any branch of its varied departments, should certainly locate here.  Markets are opened up in every direction for manufactured articles, and every facility for transportation and travel that could be desired is secured here.  These advantages will not long go begging, and if one hesitates another will quickly step in and secure the prize. -- Herald.

7 January 1875, Missouri Weekly Patriot, Springfield

The Carthage railway was sold last Tuesday, under a mortgage to Seligman, of New York.


Joseph Seligman was a New York investment banker and principal shareholder of the South Pacific/A&P/Frisco system.  The railroad from Pierce City to Carthage was eventually extended from Carthage to Oswego, Kansas and then to Wichita and became the Kansas division of the Frisco.  Seligman was the namesake for the town in Barry County, founded by the railroad in 1880 as the railhead for a branch to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

29 June 1876, Missouri Weekly Patriot, Springfield

Oswego, Kansas, has complied with the obligations required by Seligman & Macey, of N. Y., by which the Carthage road is to be completed to that place by the 1st of August.  When this is done, it will be operated by the A. & P. R. R., as the main line; the road below Peirce City being only a branch.

14 September 1876, Missouri Weekly Patriot, Springfield


Last Friday the A. & P. R. R. and lands were sold in St. Louis at auction to the highest bidder.  The lands, about 1,000,000 acres, were bought by T. T. Buckley, for $50,000.  The road was knocked down to the same man at $450,000.  Both were bought subject to the mortgages, which amount to $8,000,000 on the road.  The purchasers at once organized a new company to be known as the St. Louis and San Francisco R. R. Co., with a capital of $25,000,000.  The incorporaters and stockholders are Andrew Peirce, five hundred shares; Joseph Seligman, five hundred shares; James D. Fisk, two hundred shares; J. P. Robinson, three hundred shares; W. H. Coflin, three hundred shares; James Baker, two hundred shares; Samuel Hayes, one hundred shares; George F. Stone, three hundred shares; Clinton B. Fisk, three hundred shares; W. F. Buckley, two hundred shares; Thos. W. Peirce, four hundred shares; C. W. Rogers, one hundred shares; Henry F. Verhuven, one hundred shares.  These are also the directors for the first year.

The gentlemen composing the new company and a party of friends passed over the road last Friday, remaining in this city that night and proceeded West the next day.  We wish the new organization every prosperity and shall do everything in our power to advance the mutual interests of the road and the people.

2 November 1876, Springfield Leader

St. Louis & San Francisco R. R.

The first timetable under the name of the St. Louis & San Francisco R. R. went into operation last Sunday....  The road continues under the general superintendency of C. W. Rogers, whose management has given general satisfaction, and is aided by D. H. Nichols as assistant superintendent, who is the most popular official on the road.  It is the intention of the company to push the bill asking aid from Congress, also to build a Texas branch which our citizens should secure for this city.  The road will pass out of the hands of the receivers in a short time and the new company take possession, free from all perplexing difficulties which have annoyed the old company.


The timetable shown is from the Neosho Times of November 2, 1876.  The prior week's timetable still showed an A. & P. R. R. heading.

1880 Annual Report, St. Louis and San Francisco Railway, Year Ending December 31, 1880


The Peirce City Real Estate Company, one half of the stock of which is owned by the Railroad Company, is in a very prosperous condition.  Two dividends have been made during the year, and the stock now held by the Company is more than paid for in full, leaving a valuable amount of real estate still on hand, subject to sale.  [Report of the Land Commissioner, page 29.]

Peirce City Empire, October 9, 1879

More About the Eureka Springs.


While Missouri is so well represented at these Springs, we know our readers are interested in them, and we will here add a little information, gained to-day from Mr. Horace Dumars, who arrived on the noon stage from the south.

The population on Saturday evening, the 27th of Sept., was 977.  No. of tents 140, houses 91, foundations 21, and about 200 lots surveyed; five stores dealing in merchandise, one livery stable and five feed stands; three meat markets, seven boarding houses, two barber shops, four bath houses, seven practicing physicians, generally four to six ministers ready to dish out the gospel; no saloons or whiskey drug stores.  Of this population 546 are Missourians, of Arkansas 409, Kansas 14, Illinois 1, District of Columbia 1, Tennessee 2, Indiana 1.  So far it has been the most quiet and orderly place known, only one arrest having been made.  The city government is vested in a committee elected by the whole people, and all disputes are arbitrated by this committee.  Lumber is cheap. . . . Mr. J. M. Gregory of this city has a little the toniest building in the burg.  Judge Geiger and other gentlemen from Springfield, are erecting buildings now.


The drawing is from Harper's Weekly, December 18, 1886.  The Crescent Hotel, financed by the Frisco railroad and advertised with great fanfare, was completed earlier in the year.  The drawing was originally printed in black & white but has since been hand-colored.

Peirce City Empire, February 26, 1880

Together With Opinions of Experi-
enced Physicians, and with Cer-
tified Statements of Remark-
able Cures Effected By
The Waters from Ju-
ly 1st, 1879, to
Feb. 1st, 1880.
[From the Bentonville Advance.]
By Rev. T. H. Trone.

Eureka Springs are in Carroll county, Arkansas, on section 15, township 20, range 26 -- in what is known as [the] White river mountains, in the northwest part of the state.  Its being in the mountains will give the readers an idea of the surrounding country which is very rough and broken.

The main spring was discovered in 1855, by Mr. Alvah Jackson -- a gentleman living several miles away -- under the following circumstances:  Jackson was bear hunting, and his dogs ran a panther into a cave, and followed it into said cave.  In returning some of the dogs took the wrong road and came to the front where the aperture in the rock was too small for them to get through.  He couldn't get them to go back and take the right road out, and therefore had to go home and get tools to make an opening for them.  His boys returned with him to assist.  One of them had sore eyes, and in working to cut away the rock his eyes pained him very much.  He complained of this, and his father told him to bathe them in a spring near by.  He did so, and found relief.  The party remained there all night and during the following day, and by frequent use of the water, bathing and drinking, the son's eyes were cured in a very short time.  Mr. Jackson then told the people around of the virtue of the water, and the effect it had had on his son's eyes, but they only laughed at the idea.  He, however, continued to use the water as cases required it, and was derided all the time, until last summer, when L. B. Sanders visited the spring with a sore leg, and was greatly benefitted by the use of the water.  Another man, Mathew Harbert, came with rheumatism -- was unable to use his arm -- and in seven days was cured.  This was the first of last July.  There was not a house there at the time; but persons began to go and camp in their wagons and in tents; and now seven months after, there are 1150 houses built, and not less than 500 more in course of erection, and a population of 5,000 persons.


About the first week in last July attention was attracted to these springs, and persons began to build; and very soon it became necessary to survey lots. . . .  The lots were made forty foot square, and no man was allowed to take more than two lots for himself.  Major Anderson, the surveyor, informs me that he had surveyed 3,000 lots, and nearly every lot had been taken. . . .


There have been surveyed seven miles of streets, and the place begins to put on city airs.  There are two large hotels now in course of erection, one nearly complete. . . .


No man that has never been in the western country and witnessed the rapidity with which cities spring up can realize the fact that a population of five thousand persons is now seen, and nearly twelve hundred houses are now standing, were six months ago no house was seen, no man lived; where the hoot of the owl and barking of the fox have been supplanted by the ring of the hammer and the hum of human voices.


There are now seventy-two business houses in operation, consisting of dry-goods, groceries, hardware, provision and drug stores; and even saloons, carpenters, cabinet-makers, stone-cutters, blacksmiths, barbers, and I will add also a cane factory -- carried on by a man who a few months ago came here paralysed to such an extent that he was unable to turn himself in bed, but who now makes a good living by making canes out of native cedar.  He sells them as fast as they can be made.


No church house has yet been built, but steps are taking to erect one or more; and before the summer begins we expect the hills to echo back the chiming of church bells, calling worshippers to the house of prayer.

Plans have been presented for two opera houses, which are in contemplation; and all the appliances of modern city life are here anticipated, and will probably be realized at a very early day.


We have thus endeavored to give the public an impartial and correct history of these wonderful springs, hoping thereby to benefit the human family; that the afflicted may here find ease, the curious may be satisfied, and the weary may find a retreat and some enjoyment, in a world where so little may be enjoyed.

Peirce City Empire, May 20, 1880

Mr. Meridith says he met eighty one wagons on the road on Friday, all bound for Eureka, and another gentleman counted seventy five on Saturday.  The average was about five persons to the wagon.

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