Search billions of records on



Vignette from an 1896 Railroad Stock Certificate


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 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 and dominated it economically for over 70 years.  In 1938, it had 535 employees in Monett and an annual payroll of over $16 million in today's dollars.  As late as the early 1950s, it 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" boom town 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 was completed between Pierce Ciy and Carthage.  This small local road became part of the Frisco system later in the 1870s and was expanded to serve the mining area around Joplin and to reach as far into Kansas as Wichita.  This Kansas branch leaving the main line at Pierce City made it a Frisco division point and an important railroad town.

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/Texas 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.  When it reached Southwest Missouri in 1870, the railroad expected to serve two specialized markets in addition to this general trade.  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 also 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.  Both of these 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 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 railroad had not yet reached Lebanon 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 1869 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/Texas branch as early as 1870 but had continually deferred construction.  Before railroad officials gave final approval to the branch in April, 1880, they personally visited Eureka Springs, and as soon as the railroad reached south Barry County, it created the new town of Seligman as the railhead for a spur to the healing waters.  In March, 1882, almost a year before the spur opened to Eureka February 1, 1883, the Frisco published a promotional booklet on the town.  It then financed construction of the Crescent Hotel there, completed in 1886 at a cost of over $6 million in today's dollars, and opened with great fanfare by James G. Blaine, the Repubican presidential candidate two years earlier.

Plymouth and Monett

When actual construction began on the Arkansas/Texas branch in late June or early July, 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 most of the streams to the west flow west.  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 $1.25 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 or Plymouth Junction.  The train only stopped if it was "flagged" (signaled to stop) or had passengers or freight, and the railroad did not "break bulk" there.  Pierce City remained the local railroad town.  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 Leroy Jeffries' grocery and drug store, the Withers House hotel run by his parents and Gonten's restaurant. 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.  (The ad is from the Peirce City Weekly Empire of March 1, 1883.)

In 1887, the Frisco moved the division point for its Arkansas and Kansas branches from Pierce City to Plymouth, platted a major town expansion east of Central Avenue and renamed it all Monett after another railroad official.  The Frisco gave various business reasons for the move, but Pierce City saw it mainly as a scheme by railroad officials to profit from a real estate promotion selling lots in the new town, which was surely part of the truth.  Town promotion was a well-established way for railroads, and railroad officials, to make money.  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).  When the division point was moved from Pierce City, its newspaper suggested a rivalry between Plymouth and Monett, 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 references in ads to "West Monett" -- i.e. the part Monett that was once Plymouth -- continued into the 20th century.

This page contains contemporary newspaper accounts of the founding of Plymouth and of Monett, especially their railroad history, 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."  Verona in Lawrence County was listed as 278 miles from St. Louis, so "Plymouth" 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 "four miles east of Perice."  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.  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.

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.

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."

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.

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. . . .

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Home: Historical Items from Barry & Newton Counties, Missouri

This site created by Bob Banks.  Comments, corrections and suggestions are welcome.

© 2004-2014 Robert O. Banks, Jr. All Rights Reserved