A brief history of Stone County: 173 years

by AJ Fahr

Stone County celebrates its 173rd birthday this Saturday.

Let’s take a look back at some of the history of how Stone County came to be…Stone County was officially organized on Feb. 10, 1851. The county is named after War of 1812 Veteran William Stone, who was an English pioneer who settled in the area from Tennessee. Stone served as Taney County Judge at the time and was an influential member of the community. Stone County was organized from portions of Greene and Taney counties.

Before the county was officially established it had a unique history due to its natural resources. With its abundance of sources for freshwater, including the White River, its natural marble and lead deposits, and soil which was suitable for growing crops such as corn and wheat, the area became a settling place for Native Americans as they immigrated west. The Delaware Tribe arrived in the area in the early 1800s. They lived along the rivers until they were evacuated by the United States government in 1830 to the Kansas Territory.

Also arriving in the area in the late 1700s into the early 1800s were settlers who generally came from Kentucky and Tennessee. The first of these white settlers known in this region was James Yocum (sometimes spelled Yoachum). Yocum is said to have settled at the junction of the James River and the White River in the 1790s. He developed trading with both the settlers and the Native American tribes of the area. A trade-coin, called the Yocum Dollar, was minted for local commerce. The ‘Yocum Dollar’ was the same size and shape as the American dollar, but it contained more pure silver.

Around 1819, American geographer, geologist, and ethnologist, noted for his early studies of Native American cultures Henry R. Schoolcraft traveled through the county. He later wrote about his journey in a book he published in 1853, just a few years after Stone County was established.

The 1830s and 1840s many immigrants moved to the area. With the influx of white settlers, came industry. James Byrd, an early settler, opened the first grain mill in the area, with many other mills soon to follow.

In 1851, what we now know as Stone County was actually a part of Greene County (created in 1833) and Taney County (created in 1837). Both Green and Taney County were both very large and covered a lot of square miles. Since the purpose of a county is to localize the administration of state sovereignty when a county is so large and has such remote towns and settlements it makes it where citizens would have to travel great distances by foot, horse or wagon. This interrupted the purpose of a county. So it was determined that a portion of Greene County and Taney County would be joined together to create Stone County.

The 16th General Assembly of Missouri convened on December 30, 1850. By its Act of Feb. 10, 1851, Stone County was created. The Stone County seat was Jamestown, which would later change its name to Galena. The first mention of ‘Galena’ is in a County Court record two years after Stone County was established.

In 1904, the White River Railway was extended through the rugged terrain of Stone and Taney counties, which opened up trade and travel to and from Stone County.

Fast forward to February 1951 when Stone County celebrated its centennial. In The Crane Chronicle archives from Feb. 8 and Feb. 15, we learn the county hosted a unique caravan across the county with participants dressed in clothing of the 1860s.

From the Feb. 8, 1951 edition:

On Feb, 10, 1951, Stone County will be 100 years old. And while there may not be a mighty chorus of voices raised in the “Happy Birthday” song, citizens all over the county will be reminiscing and remembering the past as they look forward with courage and fortitude to the future. It’s a grand county with many fine people, a beautiful combination hard to beat!

One hundred years is a long time and yet our county is not one of the oldest in the state. We could have celebrated other birthdays, other centennials just as it was said, of some of the first citizens that lived in three different counties, yet all the while there was no change in residence. We were part of Greene County, and could have observed a centennial with that county in 1933. Again, when Taney County was 100 years old in 1937, we could have observed a birthday with Taney, too, for after Greene County was finished with us we became part of Taney County. But the year that meant Stone County had arrived was 1851, that’s the year we’re interested in!

Last week’s Crane Chronicle and Oracle told about the caravan tour of the county. With another week in which to revise plans for the tour. Metro members wish to remind any interested persons that the caravan will begin forming as early as 8:00 o’clock on Saturday morning. And every car every musician, every person in costume– this should be repeated for it is important that both men and women LOOK like pioneers– must be ready to start moving at 10 o’clock prompt! Since there will be some organizing to do toward getting the souvenir merchandise listed and ready for distribution, Metro members are urged to be on hand as early Saturday morning as possible.

Traveling north on Highway 13, the first stop will be Bradfield, where the caravan will stop, members of the Metro club will address any persons present, the musicians will play a number with a caravan, proceed to the next stop, which will be Brown’s Spring. The same procedure to be used at other stops and other towns.

The Highway Patrol has promised an escort and while it is not known how many cars will be in the procession, any persons who care to, may join us along with the route and go part way. The caravan will travel to Blue Eye and come back by way of Cape Fair. En route there will be stops at Reeds Springs Junction and Abesville, which are off the regular highway to be traveled.

Since the weather is not dependable at this time of year. The idea of taking along saddle horses for parading has been discarded. The Metro Anns will have an opportunity to use their side saddles and riding skirts when the celebration proper takes place. Committees are settling down to work in interest with one thought in mind: to make this Stone County Centennial celebration, which actually begins with the caravan tour of the county next Saturday, a time of remembering and being grateful to our forefathers who established our county and at the same time making it is season of homespun fun for every person who attempts to turn back the clock of time 100 years. By comparing our way of life with the way folks live then all of us may learn a great deal. Few people become so adult they do not enjoy a game of make believe and a centennial celebration is just the time to do that. If you’ve ever thought you’d like to be a Daniel Boone or a frontiersman. Now’s your time to see how it feels! The men already look as if they belong in another era. Just observe the women and girls in the caravan next Saturday and you will see what the well dressed woman of Stone County will be wearing for the next few months or until the very last night of the centennial celebration. Join the fun. You’re welcome.

The caravan celebration was deemed a success just a week later when this story appeared on the front page of the Feb. 15, 1951 edition of The Crane Chronicle

Centennial caravan was very successful.

Stone County may have other birthdays, but there never will be another one just like the county’s 100th, on February 10 1951! There wasn’t any birthday cake with 100 candles, but who cares? Folks were too busy visiting, passing out souvenirs, exclaiming about the different outfits in the caravan and just having a good time generally. With the sound equipment and Metro President D.S. (Tootie) Parsons’ deep voice announcing to all and sundry that the day was an occasion of great importance, a birthday cake or even the birthday song could not have made a difference!

The caravan started out ahead of time, and that fact is hard to believe for parades are most always late. Still, this was MORE than a parade, so perhaps that’s why it started off on the right foot and kept traveling that way, right on through the day. The whole thing was kept moving at a brisk pace. Not too hurried, but just right. So folks did not lose interest. That spirit of enthusiasm was kept at a high pitch largely through the good band music we enjoyed at every stop. Thanks to Mr. Jones and the high school youngsters from Reeds spring and Crane making up the Centennial Bally-hoo Band, folks had music! And they loved it!

And there was music in the air, as we traveled mostly the Missouri Waltz, the strains floating out from the station wagon carrying the sound equipment. As we climbed the hill approaching Cape Fair, the river winding to the left, we looked back and saw the last of the caravan vehicles just starting down the second hill. With background music of the Missouri Waltz, that was something to remember.

But then the whole day was like that! Folks were surprised that we made the trip in the length of time we did, but due to a funeral in Blue Eye we did not stop or make any noise. Knowing about funerals ourselves, we were very sorry we could not meet the fine people of Blue Eye. But a number of cars did go around the square. Coming back through Cape Fair we met Uncle Jim Foster, who told us he is 92 years old. It was a thrill for us to meet him, and I know it was quite an occasion for him to meet the caravan and to talk over the public address system. Uncle Jim Foster sort of grew up with the county down there. For, as you know, settlement was first made in the south end of the county and Jamestown was not far from the present site of Cape Fair. Uncle Jim could tell us a lot of things worth listening to.

There were lots of tired, dirty, hungry caravan-eers that night. But I did not hear one person so much as hint or voice a wish that they hadn’t gone. Rather others were wishing they could have gone.

Many, many “thank yous” are in order, but one hardly knows where to begin with them. A vote of thanks goes to each merchant and place of business furnishing souvenirs for the girls and boys to give away. I wish there had been some way of checking on them in order to list the different places of business and the souvenirs given. My basket had more in it when I got home than when I left! I had a pencil from the Spring Creek Mill, a pencil from May’s Grocery, a little container of honey from Anderson’s Grocery in Hurley, matches from IGA, matches from Rexall, balloons and a keychain from Turks and literature, stick candy and maybe a few other things. I made no attempt to collect things. Thank you, each, many times!

We appreciate having the escort from the highway department, thank you! Then about the best way to do is just say a collective thank you to each person who helped in any way, either by aiding or abetting, as the law book says or boosting the caravan in any way. I’m sorry you couldn’t go all go along! Someone had to be in the different towns to meet us and they did. Why, the whole town of Reeds Spring must have been shopping Saturday afternoon!

The caravan tour was just the beginning. With the help of all of you we can have a celebration when it gets warmer weather, that will really be something to remember. I feel certain, now, that the very thing will come to pass. Let’s not sit down on the job. It’s going to take a lot of hard work.