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Barry County

County History

Barry County.—A county near the southwest corner of the State, bounded north by Lawrence, east by Stone, and west by McDonald and Newton Counties. Its southern boundary is the State of Arkansas. Its area is 810 square miles, of which about forty per cent is rolling prairie and valley lands bearing a rich brown-black loam, under cultivation. The remainder is timber land, bearing white and post oak, hickory, pine, cedar and walnut, much of it affording excellent range for cattle. The southern portion is mountainous, reaching an altitude of 1,572 feet above sea level. It contains excellent building stone. Lead and zinc have been found, but mining has been prosecuted only experimentally. The streams are numerous and flow with abundance of excellent water. White River, fed by Roaring River, and Rock, Big and Butler Creeks, drains the southeastern part of the county; Flat Creek and its feeders, Rock House, Jenkins' and Carney's Creeks, traverse the north and northeast; Shoal, Joyce's and Pogue's Creeks are in the west, and the two Capps' Creeks in the northwest.
Roaring River has its source in a lake formed by an immense spring about nine miles from Exeter. July I, 1899, 10,856 acres were open to entry as public lands. The principal surplus products of the county in 1898 were: Wheat, 155,718 bushels; flour, 1,609,615 pounds; corn meal. 124,650 pounds; ship stuffs, 727,250 pounds; poultry, 1,295,685 pounds; hides, 51,222 pounds; strawberries, 12,711 crates; fresh fruits, 384,700 pounds; dried fruits, 5,946 pounds; cattle, 3,734 head; hogs, 19,610 head; piling and posts, 330,000 feet. Railroads traversing the county are the St. Louis & San Francisco, touching Monett; the southern branch from Monett to Seligman; the Eureka Springs (Arkansas) from Seligman; and the Cassville& Western, connecting Cassville and Exeter. The principal towns besides the railway points named are Cassville, the county scat; Washburn and Purdy.
Barry County was originally included in Crawford County, and afterward in Greene County. It was created January 5, 1835, and named for Commodore Barry, of the American Navy. It comprised all the territory now constituting the counties of Barry, Newton, Lawrence, Jasper, McDonald, Barton and Dade, and part of Cedar County. These were severally detached at various times, until Barry was reduced to its present dimensions, saving an error of survey which was rectified in 1876 by the establishment of the western line two and one-half miles east of the boundary previously recognized.
The first county seat before these separations was at Mount Pleasant, two miles west of the present Pierce City, in Lawrence County. The first county judges were Samuel Vaughn, living near the present Cassville; John Williams, the first settler near Mount Vernon, and Thomas B. Arnett, on Clear Creek. James M. Williams was appointed county clerk; George M. Gibson, sheriff; James Mayfield, assessor: and Gideon B. Henderson, treasurer. Judge Foster P. Wright held the first term of circuit court. Littleberry Mason was the first representative, elected in 1836. In 1839 a new county seat was made necessary by the creation of Newton County, and in 1840 the courts were removed to McDonald, about ten miles northwest of the present Cassville.
Samuel M. Pharis was postmaster then and the only resident. In 1845 the county court made the seat of justice at the house of William Kerr, and ordered a town to be there platted under the name of Cassville, in honor of Lewis Cass, then Secretary of the Navy. John O. Barton, as commissioner, built a log courthouse, where was held the first county court by Judges Isaac Peevey, Alexander McGlothlin and John Charles, with S. M. Pharis as clerk; John Logan as sheriff; Hugh W. Culten as treasurer, and O. H. Oldham as assessor.
The first circuit judge to preside was Foster P. Wright, who was succeeded by C. S. Yancey. In 1854 a two-story courthouse building was erected at a cost of $5,500. This was used as a fort in Civil War times, and suffered such damage that the government appropriated $1,882.69 for repairs. The county court met in 1861 and 1863. but its transactions were nominal. In 1866 civil government was reestablished. In 1872 many of the records were destroyed by an incendiary fire in the office of the circuit clerk. The county is now included in the Twenty-fourth Judicial Circuit.
The earliest settlers and their location were as follows: Samuel Washburn, on the prairie bearing his name, near the present town of that name, in 1828, and near by, Samuel Logan and John W. Finney; William Pogue, who built a tub mill, on Pogue's Creek, in the south. About the same time came James Stone, to Stone Prairie, in the northwest; George W. King, to King's Prairie, in the north; Littleberry Mason, to near the present site of Cassville; C. J. Corder and John Lock farther up Flat Creek; and George Barker, who had a tan yard on Shoal Creek, in the western part. In 1840 Morgan Colton and Christian Whitehead set up a distillery on Little Flat Creek.
The names of others occur in the list of early officers. Religion received attention from the earliest people. In 1836 John N. Mitchell, a Methodist, had the county for his circuit, and in 1844 Cassville was made a station. Baptist preachers were among the earliest in the region, but their record is meager. The Christians and Cumberland Presbyterians had church organizations, which disappeared in war days. In 1844 school townships were organized, mainly for the purpose of securing the school lands and funds. In 1848 T. Stockton was appointed commissioner, and various schools were organized, but disappeared at the beginning of the war, when the enrollment of school children was 2,971.
In 1866 it was found that one frame and five log school houses remained. By 1875 $12,659.76 had been expended in re-establishment; there were then 78 schools in the county, including high schools at Cassville, Washburn and Corsicana. In 1898 there were 114 schools, 137 teachers, 7,794 pupils, and the permanent school fund was $14,064.15. An agricultural society was formed in 1858, but it seems to have accomplished little. In 1851 the county appropriated a small sum of money for the improvement of White River, and in 1854 the General Assembly made a grant of $10,000 for the same purpose, which was expended without adequate result. During the Civil War, the county was the scene of continual conflict, and to the meeting of hostile armies were added atrocities committed by marauding bands. The population was largely dispersed, and much property was destroyed. All trace of the passion of that day has disappeared, and the people are harmonious and prosperous. The population of the county in 1900 was 25,532.
[Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri: Edited by Howard Louis Conard; Publ. 1901; Pg. 165;  Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack]


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