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Greene County

Boone Township

Description – Natural Features – The Ash Grove Lead Mines – Mason’s Cave, or the Cave of Adullam – Early Settlements – Pioneer History – Miscellaneous – The Town of Ash Grove – Baptist Church – Cumberland Presbyterian Church – Biographies of Old Settlers and Prominent Citizens of Boone Township.


Boone is one of the best townships in Greene county.  A considerable portion of its territory is prairie and contains some very excellent farms, while the most of the timbered land is not altogether worthless.  Its economic geology is very valuable and important, the extensive lead and zinc mines in the southwestern part of the township being of great worth and promise.  Ash Grove, the third town in the county, is in Boone township.  A very valuable railroad furnishes communication with the leading marts of the country, while the people as a rule, have more of enterprise and public spirit than many of their neighbors.
Boone township is well supplied with schools, churches, mills, stores, and small manufacturing establishments, which go to advancing the material interests of the community and contribute to the general welfare.
The natural features of the township are to be admired.  Two important and interesting caves are opened and have attracted hundreds of sight-seers, fond of the beautiful and marvelous.  Clear waters and pleasant streams, a variety of fine views and scenes, and much else interesting and profitable to contemplate can here be found by him who will seek it, while an intelligent, enterprising, hospitable, and generous populace make of Boone township a delightful and interesting abiding place.


The first lead known to exist in Greene county was discovered in the locality where now are united the lines of Lawrence, Dade and Greene counties, in section 31, township 30, range 24, soon after the first settlement of the county, but altogether in the form of float mineral and in very small quantities, and, as since discovered, was simply an outlier of the Ash Grove mines.  In the year 1859 large pieces of galena were thrown from a well being sunk on the land of C.F. Corum.  It however led to no discoveries until after the war.
In 1867 Parson Justice, residing in the vicinity of Ash Grove, happened to mention this discovery of 1859 to Judge Ralph Walker, who was then engaged in the mercantile business at that place, and this conversation led to the leasing of the land in question as well as other large tracts adjoining.  A company was soon after formed, composed of Judge Walker, John G. Perryman, A.M. Appleby and others.  A great deal of prospecting was done by this company, in a very crude way however and no profitable results grew out of it.  The company was reorganized and John McGregor, H.C. Tanny, Judge Bray, and Dr. W.C. Swiney were added to the former three names.  Considerable work was done by this company, but the results failed to give satisfaction, as in fact the main bodies of the mineral were not discovered.  This company was in turn disbanded and after some time again reorganized by Judge Walker, J.G. Perryman and Dr. W.C. Swiney, who were fortunate in discovering the main bodies of the mineral, now known as the “Rail Road” and the Rothschilds Mines.”
Judge Walker has yet clung to this interest and is now sole owner of the mines, having bought out the others.  He has made valuable experiments in these mines during last year.  In the “Rail Road” mines he drilled from the bottom of a deep shaft a six inch hole to a depth of 220 feet, carefully preserving specimens from the different strata gone through and subjecting them to a careful examination, so that from this, as also from experience gained at different deep wells sunk in the neighborhood, he has preserved a perfect geological history of the formation of that locality.  In his experiment he has established the fact that lead exists in his mines to a depth of 170 feet.


Boone township abounds in natural curiosities and remarkable features.  The most remarkable of these is the large cave near Ash Grove, known as Mason’s Cave, than which there is no more interesting subterranean feature of the many caves, caverns and other characteristics of Southwest Missouri.  Mason’s cave is about one-half mile southwest of the town of Ash Grove.  Through it runs a small stream, called Dry Branch, from the circumstances of its containing no water the greater part of the year.
The cave proper is about 500 yards in length, and runs nearly east and west.  The mouth, or entrance, is on the bank of Sac river.  The principal entrance, and the one most used by visitors, is about sixty yards from the mouth, and the descent into the cavern is made by means of a long wooden stairway, which runs into a circular opening into the cave.  About seventy-five feet from this entrance, a wing diverges to the right at an angle of twenty degrees, and up a slight incline.  This portion of the cave contains the greater wonders, and is the most accessible.  It is, perhaps, 200 yards in length, and at an average of every hundred feet there are cross sections running at almost right angles to the main gallery.
In nearly all of the sections are rooms, or chambers, whose ceilings are from five to thirty feet high, and from fifteen to thirty-five feet wide.  Some of the rooms have huge stalagmitic pillars or columns, seemingly placed there by the architect and builders who constructed the cave.  These columns are circular, and from three to twenty inches in diameter.  Some of the rooms are ornamented with the whitest and most delicately carved stalactites, which hang from the ceiling and walls in graceful profusion, while from the floor rise those statue-like formations of carbonate of lime denominated stalagmites.  These have suffered no little mutilation and other injuries at the hands of relic-hunters and curiosity seekers.
One large room on the left hand of the entrance is called the “ball room,” from its being so frequently used as such.  The young people of the neighborhood, who are light as to hearts and heels, often assemble here and dance all care and sorrow away, enjoying not only the exhilarating pastime, but the weird surroundings and the plutonian scenery about them.
Mason’s Cave is sometimes called the Cave of Adullam, so named for the one mentioned in scripture, sought by King David as a place of refuge from Saul and his armies, and whither “every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented gathered themselves unto him, and he became a captain over them.”  The modern Boone township Adullam is well known throughout the State.  It is thus mentioned by Prof. J.G. Broadhead, in his Geological Report of 1857: -

On Sac river, in the northwest part of Greene county, we find a cave of beautiful interior, with two entrances, one at the foot of a hill, opening toward Sac river, forty-five feet high and eighty feet wide.  The other entrance is from the hill-top, 150 feet back from the face of the bluff.  These two passages unite.  The exact dimensions of the cave is not known, but there are several beautiful and large rooms, lined with stalagmites and stalactites, which often assume both beautiful and grotesque life-like forms.  The cave has been explored for several hundred yards, showing the formations to be thick silicious beds of the lower carboniferous formations.


Capt. Nathan Boone, son of Daniel Boone, the old Kentucky pioneer, was one of the first settlers of Boone township, and located in the heart of the ash grove – a large grove of timber, lying mostly in sections nine and sixteen, in which the principal timber is ash and walnut.  Nathan Boone’s sons were James, John, Benjamin and Howard.  The Boones came here in 1834.  It was Nathan Boone and his brother, Daniel M. Boone, sons of old Daniel Boone, who came up the Missouri in 1807, to where is now Howard county, and manufactured salt at what afterwards came to be known as “Boone’s Lick.”  The popular conviction is that the old pioneer, Daniel Boone himself, gave his name to “Boone’s Lick” and the “Boone’s Lick country,” when the fact is that he never owned salt springs in Howard county, and never even resided in that settlement.  Old Nathan Boone died in 1856, and is buried in this township, a mile and a half north of Ash Grove, with no monument to mark his resting place, and only one or two books to keep his memory green in the minds of Missourians.  It was for Nathan Boone that this township was named, and perhaps this will prove a more lasting monument than a shaft of marble or brass.
William and Thomas Caulfield and Alfred Hosman were also early pioneers in the grove.  Josiah Burney came from North Carolina, and at an early date settled in this township.  Wm. G. Sumners came to the township from North Carolina in the fall of 1834, and after temporarily locating at the Walnut Grove, came to what is now Boone township, and settled in sections fifteen, thirty and twenty-four.
Other early settlers were Thos. G. Barham, John C. Johnson, William Haralson, William Tatum, Silas Grantham, R.K. Boyd, John Rush, James Cox and John McElhanon.  The latter came from Bedford county, Tennessee, and settled in the ash grove in 1835.  Boyd, Rush and Cox lived on the west side of the grove.  James Dunn settled on Clear creek, on section eleven.  Michael Welsh was an old settler, who lived on Clear creek, in section three.  Peter Ooley located on section five, at an early day.  Some families, named Johnson, lived in the eastern part of Leeper prairie in 1835.


The oldest settler now (March, 1883), living in Boone township is Thomas G. Barham, who says that the first child born in the township was John C. Johnson, whose birth occurred in the fall of 1835.  The first death was that of Thomas Hancock, who lived in the eastern portion of the township, and died in 1836.  William Tatum, a Baptist, held the first religious services.  Dr. Constantine Perkins was the first regular located physician.  Jon H. Tatum was the first school teacher, and the first school house was built near Lotspeich’s, in the eastern part of the township.  The first goods sold in the township were by Howard and John Boone, at the old Boone homestead.
Dr. Constantine Perkins settled on Clear creek in section four, and had a mill there, probably the first in the township, long known as McElhanon’s & Perkins’ mill.  Perkins went to California on the breaking out of the gold fever in 1850, and died there.  The second mill put up in the township was on the Sac, about the year 1848.
Jesse Mason, a Hardshell Calvinistic Baptist preacher, came to the township before 1840, settled on the Sac, and was one of the first preachers living in the township.  The first Baptist church organized in the township was what was known as the Ash Grove church.  It was first organized at the Elm Spring school house.  The first regular pastor was Thomas J. Kelley.  A sort of shed was put up for the purpose of holding meetings, and stood near the present Ash Grove church.
Rev. J.E.B. Justice came from Kentucky in 1843, and settled on section 14, where he lived two years and then removed to a farm which had been improved by William Conrad and Lewis Hospers, two Germans who had come to the place in 1840.  Conrad and Hospers were the pioneer German settlers of that part of the county, and erected a distillery, on a small stream, which is still known as the Dutch Branch.  Peter J. Nicholson, in 1842, came to Greene county from Washington county, Indiana, and settled in the southern part of Boone township.
A few months since there died in this township Wm. Haraldson, an old pioneer, and just before his death the oldest living settler in Boone township, Greene county.  Now Mr. Kindred Rose, of Campbell township is probably the oldest settler of the county, and Mr. Barham, before mentioned, the oldest in the township.  Mr. Haraldson was a native of Tennessee, and at the time of his death had reached the extraordinary age of 96 years.


Among the tragedies and casualties not elsewhere noted that have occurred in Boone township, may be mentioned the killing of Wm. H. Dabbs by Henry Cooper, near Ash Grove, August 23, 1877.  The killing was done with an old musket and was an accident.  Both Dabbs and Cooper were personal friends.
February 14, 1876 James B. Bresby, a little boy of nine years, and a son of Joshua Bresby, went to water the horses, and was found soon after lying speechless.  The little fellow lived but five hours afterward, and it was thought he had been thrown from a
July 23, 1881, in Ash Grove, George Tucker and Paschal Tucker shot and killed one John Sewell.  There had been trouble between the parties, and after the close of a public meeting in Ash Grove, they met on the street, drew their pistols and began firing.  Sewell was shot twice in the head.  The Tuckers escaped.
The cyclone of a year or two since is vividly remembered.  It came from the southwest and struck Greene county near Stony Point.  The Baptist church was blown down, and the storm passed on to Ash Grove, where it did some damage and demolished a number of buildings on the road.  Center school house, three and a half miles from Ash Grove, was torn down.  Fayette West’s house was demolished, and a school teacher at the house was badly burned by being thrown on the stove.


The town of Ash Grove is located in the southern part of section 21 – 30 – 24, and is an important station on the Gulf railroad.  It is already the center of an extensive trade.  The surrounding country is generally fertile and easily and cheaply cultivated, yielding good crops of all kinds of grain, vegetables and fruit.  East of town is a fine rolling prairie, in which almost every acre is under fence, and in good state of cultivation.  On the west side is timber land, and a short distance off Sac river bottom, where are many excellent farms.  Lead was first discovered several years ago, but until recently not in sufficient quantities to pay for working.  Now strikes have been made, and it is probable, judging from the developments thus far, that the lead mines of Ash Grove will prove to be very valuable, and will of course add largely to its income.
The first settler on the present site of Ash Grove was Joseph Kimbrough, who established a store here in 1853.  The first dwelling was built by Mr. Kimbrough.  Afterward the business at the store was conducted by Sheppard & Kimbrough.  Then a Mr. Hyatt established a blacksmith shop, and the store and the smithy comprised about all there was of Ash Grove until after the close of the civil war.
February 2, 1870, the town was incorporated by the county court, but this incorporation was defective, and in May, 1871, the court reincorporated “the town of Ash Grove.”
The town is surrounded by a very rich agricultural country.  It has a peculiarly favorable position for growth and prosperity, as the town is the nearest railway station for the wealthiest portions of Polk, Dade, Lawrence and Cedar counties.  Ash Grove is twenty miles from Springfield, on the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf railroad, and has a population of 600 inhabitants, which is receiving constant accessions, not only in the “natural way,” but by new comers.  The town is regularly laid out, with graded streets, and has many fine business blocks.  It is beautifully situated on gentle undulating ground, the business portion being in a charming valley.  There are many beautiful private residences on the rising ground above the city and overlooking it.  The citizens are wide awake to the growing advantages of their town, and are as enterprising and progressive as one could meet in a month’s travel.
There is in Ash Grove a very fine public school house, of the most modern construction and elegant architecture.  There is a corps of four teachers, well qualified for their positions, and the attendance is large.  The school is considered one of the best in the State.
The following figures of shipments made over the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Gulf railroad from Ash Grove station will give an idea of the capabilities of the town as a shipping point, and show how great the volume of business must be.  The figures are for the year 1880:
Stock     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .   304
Grain     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .   511
Lead      .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     42
Zinc       .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     24
Walnut lumber  .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     22

There is a region of rich, fertile, black soil a mile west of Ash Grove on each side of Sac river, which can be bought at reasonable cost.  Some very fine farms are located near.   A large part of these lands is under the control of the land department of the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad.


The Ash Grove Baptist church is situated on lot number 2, and was organized May 28, 1859.  The original members were Alfred Hosman, William Burney, John Rush, Rebecca Rush, Marion Burney, and Eliza J. Killingsworth.  The church is a frame building, and was built in 1871, at a cost of $907.  It was dedicated in January, 1875, by Rev. J.S. Buchner.  The pastors that have served this church have been Elders Thomas J. Kelley, J.W. White, James Hill, J.S. Buckner, and B. McCord Roberts.  The present membership is 70.


This church was organized March 22, 1868.  The original members were A.R. Clinton, Louisa M. Clinton, A.M. Appleby, L. Appleby, J.W. B. Appleby, J.L. Hamilton, Mary Hamilton, Sarah T. Hamilton, W.R. Hamilton, Wm. Potter, M.S. Kelly, M.J. Lloyd, Sarah Lloyd, John Reynolds, L.P. Brown, Sarah Brown, Leander Smith, Miss Crockett, and others.  The church is a frame building and was built in 1882, at a cost of $2,250.  It was dedicated by Rev. Adkinson.  The pastors that have served this church have been R.J. Sims, J.W. Garrett, Rev. Guthrie, G.W. Brown, Rev. Cole and J.P. Campbell.  The present elders are A.M. Appleby, J.L. Hamilton and A.R. Clinton.
Greene County, Missouri; St. Louis, Western Historical Company (1883); transcribed by S.Gruver

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