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1876 Atlas Pages 2-3

Copied from: Greene County Archives Bulletin Number Forty-three;
Heritage County Atlas Reprints Volume 6
An Illustrated Historical Atlas Map of Jasper County, Mo.
Published by Brink, McDonough & Co., 1876.

All Southwest Missouri was formerly included in Crawford county, the county seat of which was
Little Piney on the Gasconade. Greene county was subsequently formed and originally extended
from the Arkansas line on the south to the Osage River on the north, and from the line of Kansas
and the Indian Territory on the west, two-thirds of the way eastward across the State. Barry
county was afterward organized comprising the territory included in the present counties of
Barry, Lawrence, Dade, Barton, Jasper, Newton, and McDonald. The county seat was at Mt.
Pleasant, near the present site of Pierce City. The counties of Barry, Dade, Jasper and Newton
were then erected; Lawrence was afterward formed from parts of Barry and Dade; Jasper gave
the northern part of her territory to form the county of Barton, and likewise McDonald was taken
out of the southern part of Newton. It was little expected that Jasper, one of the latest
subdivisions of the immense region of country “formerly comprised in “Old Crawford,” should
grow to surpass not only her parent in wealth, population, and importance, but rank first among
her sister counties of the Southwest.


The earliest name known to have been affixed to this region, was that of the “Country of the Six
Bulls.” All of the earliest settlers knew it by that title. The origin of the name is somewhat
involved in mystery. It might naturally be supposed that it originated with the Indians, and the
tradition has been handed down that the Indians, at an early period killed somewhere in this
region six lusty buffalo bulls, remarkable for their strength and fierceness, and from this
circumstance, the scene of their valorous exploits was ever afterward known as the Country of
the Six Bulls. It has been justly remarked, however, that this explanation would seem more
plausible if we had the name in the Indian language instead of such plain and unmistakable

Several other versions are given, but we are indebted to Judge John C. Cox, of Joplin, for an
explanation which, taking all things into consideration, seems more trustworthy than any other.
According to Judge Cox, the first white man who ever traversed this region was Edmund
, a wild western adventurer whose character was largely similar to that of Daniel
, Simon Kenton, and other pioneers who first penetrated the wilderness and prepared it
for civilization. Jennings was born in North Carolina, and afterward removed to Jackson county,
Tennessee. He was unmarried, possessed of means, and belonged to a family numbering among
its members several prominent and distinguished men. He was adventurous and roving in his
disposition, and struck out on a solitary journey through the vast unexplored regions west of the
Mississippi. This was at a date, now some seventy years ago, when the presence of civilized man
had never disturbed the solitudes of this far off country. On foot and alone he found his way into
this region, and for fifteen years lived on peaceable terms with the Indians, isolated from
civilization, and spending his time in hunting, trapping, and fishing. His friends in Tennessee
gave him up for dead. Occasionally, one of his former neighbors would surmise what unhappy
fate had overtaken Edmund Jennings, but no word came of his whereabouts. One day, however,
to the great surprise of the community among which he had formerly lived, he returned, dressed
in skins and moccasins, and so unused to the English tongue that it was with difficulty he could
make himself understood. The people gathered for miles around to hear his wonderful stories of
his life in the western solitudes. Judge Cox, who at the time was a mere lad, on one of these
occasions hear him relate his adventures. His descriptions of the face of the country were as
accurate as could be given by any one at the present time, and corresponded exactly with the
physical characteristics of Jasper county. He stated, that he had been in the far west in the
“Country of the Six Boils,” and while there had been principally engaged in trapping and fishing.
His pronunciation of the word “boils” was so corrupt that his listeners first conceived it to be
“bulls,” but the old pioneer explained that he referred by the term to six boiling, bubbling streams
of water that traversed his favorite region, and along whose banks for long years he had trapped
and hunted. He doubtless alluded to the Cow Skin, Indian Creek, Shoal Creek, Centre Creek,
Spring River and North fork. He spoke of the droves of buffalo, deer, and other game that
inhabited the country, and his descriptions were so accurate and complete, and the marks of
identification so clearly established, that no doubt remains but that Jennings’ “Country of the Six
Boils” was nothing else than the present Jasper and surrounding counties.


The honor of having made the first permanent settlement in Jasper county belongs to Thacker
, an emigrant from Kentucky, who located at the spring at the foot of the hill in Sarcoxie,
about a stone’s throw southwest of the railroad depot at that place. Vivion is said to have been
the first white man who settled permanently in the region of country west of the Turnback River
in Lawrence county. He went to Texas about thirty years ago, and at a recent date was still living
in that state. About the same time came John M. Fullerton, also from Kentucky, and settled near
Sarcoxie where he died about the year 1850. These settlers were undisturbed for a year or two,
but other pioneers soon began to make their appearance and to occupy the beautiful and
promising country. Ephraim Beasly, Hiram Hanford, Ephraim Jenkins, and Thomas Boxly
all came in the Spring of 1833. Mr. Beasley settled on Centre Creek, four miles west of Sarcoxie,
on the place now owned by Stephen M. Hood. Jenkins made his home on the creek which now
bears his name a mile or two from Dr. Moss’s. William and Tryon Gibson arrived a little later
in the year 1833. Tryon settled on the present site of the High Hill School House five miles
southwest of Carthage. Abraham Onstott, the father of Judge John Onstott arrived with his
family from Indiana, and stopped where Sarcoxie now is on the 13th of November, 1833, a night
made memorable by the “falling of the stars.” Onstott remained there two or three weeks and
then settled five miles south of Carthage. He lived there till 1860, and then removed to Texas and
died there. Judge Onstott, his son, is now in all probability the oldest male settler in the County,
and has lived within its limits longer than any other man. In the fall of 1833 David Lemasters
also came to the County, and made a location on Centre Creek, on the farm now occupied by
Thomas Alexander, five miles southwest of Carthage.

Allusion has been made to only a few pioneer settlers, and others will be mentioned in the
histories of the various townships. The first settlers generally chose locations in the immediate
neighborhood of the beautiful springs of water so abundant in the “Country of the Six Bulls” (or
Boils). They were called upon to endure the usual privations incident to pioneer life, and in their
solitary and isolated situation knew little of the doings of the outside world or of the comforts
and luxuries of civilization. The nearest points of importance were St. Louis and Boonville on
the Missouri River. A mail was a thing unknown, and in the early history of the settlements the
nearest postoffice was Little Piney, the county seat of old Crawford county, over one hundred
and fifty miles east on the Gasconade River. A newspaper was a curiosity, and its columns were
scanned in turn by members of successive families, who read with deep interest of the events
which had transpired two or three months previously in the world which they had forsaken.
Families living within a dozen miles of each other called themselves neighbors, but
circumstances were not favorable toward the promotion of those intimate social visits and the
cultivation of that friendly gossip for which modern society is remarkable.

New arrivals in the colony were welcomed with old-fashioned and practical hospitality. People
would go miles in order to see the new immigrants and form their acquaintance. No better
material could be secured for houses than rough unhewn logs. Floors were a mark of aristocracy
to which the earliest pioneers did not attain, and only became common after several families had
made settlements. Roofs were made of clap boards kept in their places by heavy weight poles.
Nails were only used when absolutely necessary. They were made by hand, and were too
expensive to use on clapboards, when the same end could be otherwise accomplished quite as
easily. Stone could not be readily obtained for chimneys which in consequence were commonly
built of mud and sticks. After a while puncheon floors grew into common use. Glass windows
were unknown for several years. A fire place was erected at one end of the house almost large
enough to accommodate an ox team. Not only were the doors constructed with the purpose of
affording an entrance and exit to the house, but they served as windows and admitted light. They
generally stood wide open in winter as well as in summer, and afforded the most perfect system
of ventilation ever yet invented. Judge Onsttott says that the first bed of which he was possessor
after going to housekeeping was constructed in the following manner: Two auger holes were
bored in logs at a proper distance apart, and in them were place two stakes for the support of one
side of the bed, the other end of the stakes resting on forks driven into the ground. Poles
answered the purpose of slats; his wife sewed together two quilts for a bed tick; the Judge pulled
grass to fill it, and he stated that amid such surroundings and in that primitive state of society, he
passed some of the happiest days of his life.

The early settlements were made in the timber and along the streams. The prairie was
uninhabited and uncultivated. Up till within a couple of years of 1840 there was not a single
settlement in the county a mile distant from the timber. Wild game, such as deer and turkey, were
abundant. In a journey of five miles it was no uncommon thing to count as many as fifty deer.
Wolves were plenty, and all the young pig and sheep had to be carefully looked after to prevent
them from being carried off or devoured. There were no methods of public conveyance, and the
only way of transportation was by the slow going ox team and wagon, with occasionally a team
of horses. All goods and freight were brought from St. Louis. It took from five to eight weeks to
make the round trip. People traveled by horseback. Of course buggies and carriages were

The conveniences of modern life were wanting, and until the erection of mills the pioneers
pounded their corn into meal with a beetle in a hole burnt into a stump or log, and separated the
finer parts with a hand sieve for meal while the coarser they made into hominy. Some of the early
settlers state that instead of this process, it was sometimes the custom to boil the ears of corn so
as to make the kernels adhere to the cob and then grate them on a home-made grater
manufactured out of sheet iron or tin perforated with nail holes. Wheat was not grown for several
years, and corn furnished the only kind of bread known. The settlers were at first accustomed to
go long distances to mill, and often journeyed as far as the neighborhood of Springfield, and also
patronized a mill which stood on the James River some eight miles south of the county-seat of
Greene county.

The first mill was erected at Sarcoxie by Thacker Vivion in the year 1834. The mill was made of
logs and stood about a quarter of a mile east of the public square in Sarcoxie on the same site
now occupied by Mr. Perry’s mill. It was not celebrated for its capacity nor for the fineness of
its work, and in these respects could not compare, we fear, with the modern mills of Jasper
county; but it was a great improvement on hand grinding, and the old settlers rallied to its
support, and the mill was noted for thirty miles around.

Prior to this time Dr. Jewett opened out a small stock of general merchandise, somewhere near
the present northwest corner of the public square in Sarcoxie. A blacksmith shop was also in
operation previous to the date of the building of the mill. The erection of the mill rendered the
place an important point. It was the centre of business for the country of the Six Bulls. Neighbors
living 20 and 30 miles distant from Sarcoxie, would arrange to consolidate their grinding into
one load and one of the party would take it to the mill. As it was only a corn cracker, and a very
slow one at that--its capacity being somewhere in the immediate neighborhood of zero--parties
frequently had to wait a week for their grists to be ground. Meanwhile the patient “waiter”
camped out, and hunted and fished along the mossy banks of Centre creek. The place became
known as Centreville. Why it was called we could not ascertain--unless it was because it was half
way between Springfield and the end of the world.

After the mill ground wheat, there was no bolting apparatus connected with it, and folks sifted
their unbolted flour at home. But business increased, and the enterprising miller to keep up with
the rapid strides of civilization purchased a hand bolt, and each patron could combine business
with pleasure by turning the machine for his own grist.

Mr. Vivion also had the honor of building the first saw mill in the county--an attachment simply
to his grist mill. The more aristocratic settler could then indulge in sawed doors and floors.

About the year 1836 Tingle and Massey settled at Centreville bringing with them quite a large
stock of goods, and for several years they did a thriving business. The town aspired to a post-
office about this time, and the post-office department granted it, but it was necessary to give the
place a new name; as there was one Centreville in the state already. Who it was that suggested
the name Sarcoxie we could not learn. The only light we have been able to obtain on the subject
is as follows: In the early days of occupancy by the whites, and Indian chief frequented that place
with a small tribe of Indians to hunt and fish. The name is said to signify “Rising Sun.” It was a
happy suggestion to give the town that name, for it is easily pronounced, and has the credit of
being original. Mr. Cabaniss says that he came across one of Sarcoxie’s sons engaged in
business in Kansas several years ago, and learned from him that his father was still alive, hale
and hearty, on some Indian reservation in Kansas. Sarcoxie should secure his remains when he
dies, and bury him on one of its sightly hills, and erect a monument to his memory. The town was
laid out by Wm. Tingle and Benj. F. Massey on the 6th of August, 1840, but the plat was not
filed for record until February 11, 1849, when it was enacted by the legislature that D. Saunders
and Andrew Wilson be authorized to record the town plat of Sarcoxie.


The first circuit court was held on the 25th of February, 1841, Judge Charles S. Yancey
presiding. J. P. Osborn acted as sheriff. It is related that that gentleman took a plug of tobacco
from his mouth, stepped to the door of the log shanty about twelve by sixteen feet in size, and
proclaimed to the world at large that the Jasper county circuit court was now in session. That
simple sentence, prefaced of course with the customary “Hear ye, Hear ye,” started the wheels of
the court, which have been running since except during the years of the war, when they became
slightly clogged.

The place of the holding of the first court was at the residence of George Hornback, only a short
distance below the Gaston farm, about two miles west of where the city of Carthage is now
situated. Mr. Hornback at that time kept a small store there, where could be purchased needful
articles, as salt, tobacco and powder. The grand jury, for want of better accommodations, after
receiving their charge from the judge, retired to a large log, and there held their deliberations.
Nothing of great importance was brought before their notice, and only one indictment was found-
-against David Lemasters for forgery, and this was set aside at the subsequent term of court.

The court was composed as follows: Charles S. Yancey, judge; John P. Osborn, sheriff;
Elwood B. James, clerk; and Robert W. Crawford, circuit attorney, pro tem.

The following were the grand jurors: George Hornback, foreman; Henry H. Zachery, David
, Daniel Smith, James Hornback, John Oxford, Daniel Brochus, Thacker Vivion,
Thomas J. Mills, Daniel M. Hopkins, Samuel Teas, John F. Mills, Dubart Murphy, Levi
, Leander Messick, William Laxon, and Robert Neal.

The session of the court lasted two days, and the proceedings covered four pages of the record.
John C. Price was admitted to practice law in the court, and is the only one of the attorneys in
attendance still living. The next session of the circuit court was held at the same place in July
following. The record at this session crept up from four to five pages, but no proceedings
occurred worthy of note. The October term was more lively. A pugilistic encounter occurred in
the immediate and venerable presence of the court, and the participants were each fined ten
dollars. The parties were Robert W. Crawford and John R. Chenault, and the record states that
they were fined each in the sum of ten dollars “for contemptuous behaviour {sic} committed
during the sitting, and in the immediate presence and view of said court, and directly tending to
impair the respect due to its authority, by fighting in the presence and view of said court during
the said sitting, and it is further ordered that execution issue for the same.” Crawford paid his
fine, from which it might be judged that he came off victorious in the contest, and was willing to
pay ten dollars for the satisfaction which resulted from the encounter. Chenault on the other hand
did not tamely submit to the ruling of the court. He filed a motion for the remittance of this fine,
but this was overruled by the judge, whereupon the case was appealed and it there disappears
from mortal scrutiny.

The lawyers of that day were not the only belligerent set, for it is recorded at the March term,
1842, that an indictment against eleven parties was found for riotous conduct. A man by the
name of Skidmore, living seven miles east of Carthage, had incurred the displeasure of those
parties because he gambled and horse-raced and committed other irregularities. So this self-
appointed vigilance committee waited on him one night and systematically whipped him, and
suggested to him that he could take his choice between leaving the country by a certain time, or
faring worse. He concluded to stand his ground. A few nights after that the party went there and
called to him to come out, but he would not do it. So they became boisterous and commenced an
assault an assault on his house. One man, Geo. W. Messick, went to a hole in the wall and
demanded Skidmore to surrender. He replied with a shot from his gun, and missed Messick, but
killed a man by the name of Henry G. Archer, standing behind him. This was too much for the
besiegers and they retired. Skidmore came in and had the parties indicted for riot. The case was
continued for several terms, and finally dismissed.

The fourth term of the court was held at Carthage, commencing June 30th, 1842, and regularly
thereafter until the fortunes of war overpowered the administration of justice, and the last entry
on the record was May 11th, 1861, signed by John R. Chenault judge.

The dispensation of justice in Jasper county was arrested by the war of the rebellion. The county
was in a disorganized condition and citizens were banished from their homes. The courts were
reorganized by special act of the legislature, and the first session of the circuit court held after the
war was at the brick school near Cave Spring, close to the Lawrence county line, on the 10th day
of October, 1865. John C. Price acted as judge, Joseph Estes as circuit attorney, Samuel H.
, sheriff, and William G. Bulgin, clerk. The succeeding spring term was also held at the
same place. In the fall of 1866 the session of the court was removed to Carthage which was then
beginning to grow up again.

The first session of the county court was on February 25th, 1841. The justices were Jeremiah
, Samuel M. Cooly and Samuel B. Bright. The sheriff was John P. Osborn, and
Elwood B. James was appointed clerk.

John Chenault was tendered the position of first surveyor, but refused the office, and on the
petition of a large number of citizens James Nichols was appointed. John Haskins was made
assessor for the year 1841. George Hornback was appointed treasurer and required to give bond
in the sum of $2,000. The clerk was instructed to make a loan of $125 for the county to buy
stationery for court.

The first election for county officers was held on the first Monday in August, 1841. The
following were elected: Jas. Nichols, surveyor; John F. Mills, assessor; James H. Farris, clerk
of circuit and county courts. Farris died shortly after his election, and the court ordered a special
election to be held in December following to fill the vacancy, and Elwood B. James was elected.

John Haskins was allowed $50 for making the first assessment of the county. The report of the
collector for the first year showed total amount of collections $437.99, of which one-third went
to the state, leaving the income to the county alone $292. The second year’s statement showed
total amount collected $322, and expended $746.55 leaving the county in debt $424.56. In the
spring of 1842 the site for the permanent seat of justice was selected, and on the 28th of March it
was named Carthage by order of the court. Peleg Spencer was appointed the first commissioner
of the seat of justice. On the 10th of April, 1842, the (cont.)

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