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A Brief History of Greene County . . .

Even before Missouri became a state on August 10, 1821, settlers were arriving in southwest Missouri. Claims by the Delaware, Kickapoo, and Osage Indians, however, prevented any type of permanent settlement. It was not until after 1830, the date of the Indian removal, that the future Greene County was opened for settlement.

The county itself, named for Revolutionary War hero, Nathanael Greene, was officially established on January 2, 1833. Its boundaries encompassed most of southwest Missouri, having previously been a part of Wayne County. Its present boundaries were finalized in 1858. As the county prospered and increased in population, small villages arose, particularly along the Frisco Railroad, with names such names as Bois D'Arc, Brookline, Ash Grove, Fair Grove, Republic, Strafford, Walnut Grove, Willard, and Battlefield.


The largest community in Greene County is Springfield, founded by John Polk Campbell, a settler from Maury County, Tennessee. He arrived with his brother, Madison, in 1829, and upon finding a "natural well,” its water flowing into a small stream at the foot of a wooded hill, carved his initials on an ash tree to establish his claim. (The site of the spring is on present-day Water Street, between North Jefferson and North Robberson.) Campbell returned to Tennessee for his family and returned to the Ozarks in March 1830. Other settlers arrived almost daily and it was not long before a rather sizable log cabin settlement developed along with stores, mills, a school, post office, land office and other necessary businesses to service a growing community.


The date for the "birth" of Springfield has not been firmly established. It was incorporated in 1838, but the town site was plated in 1835 when Campbell deeded 50 acres of land for the county seat. There was a post office as early as 1834 for "Springfield" and the first permanent courthouse, a two story brick structure, was constructed in the middle of the public square in 1837. In any event, Springfield grew and prospered and since at least as early as 1878 has been known as the Queen City of the Ozarks.

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