Springfield - History

Springfield - History

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Those who first established Springfield came from many origins, but the majority were from Scandinavia, Ireland and Germany. After the Civil War ended in 1865, folks started to migrate towards the farm land of Minnesota.

Settlement in Minnesota started in the southeast corner, and it was 1869 when settlers reached the area of present day Springfield. One of these original settlers was John Burns, along with his brother Daniel.

The first houses in the area were built with layers of sod, with a roof made of poles covered by additional sod or hay. The prairie sod was hard to cut through, because it had never been dug up or plowed before! The wild grasses were intertwined and had deep roots.

Railroad construction advanced westward and the name of the station stop here in 1873 was "Burns." A small settlement developed around this and a plat of the village was filed in 1877.

Two years later the community had 250 inhabitants, four stores, over a dozen other businesses, plus a school, two churches, and a doctor.

The village was incorporated in 1881 and the name changed to "Springfield," appropriate due to the large, flowing spring on the townsite.


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Springfield - History

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Background Edit

During the 1898 war with Spain, the Mauser M1893 used by the Spanish Army gained a deadly reputation, particularly from the Battle of San Juan Hill, where 750 Spanish regulars significantly delayed the advance of 15,000 U.S. troops armed with outclassed Springfield Krag–Jørgensen bolt action rifles and older single-shot Springfield trapdoor rifles. The Spanish soldiers inflicted 1,400 U.S. casualties in a matter of minutes. Likewise, earlier in the day, a Spanish force of 540 regulars armed with the same Mauser rifle under Spanish General Vara Del Rey held off General Henry Ware Lawton's Second Division of 6,653 American soldiers and an Independent Brigade of 1,800 men for ten hours in the nearby town of El Caney, keeping that division from assisting in the attack on the San Juan Heights. A U.S. Army board of investigation was commissioned as a direct result of both battles. They recommended replacement of the Krag.

The 1903 adoption of the M1903 was preceded by nearly 30 years of struggle and politics, using lessons learned from the recently adopted Krag–Jørgensen and contemporary German Mauser Gewehr 98 bolt action rifles. The design itself is largely based on the Mauser M1893 and its successive models up to the Gewehr 98 rifle. The M1903's forward receiver ring diameter is 1.305 in (33.15 mm), slightly over the 33 mm (1.30 in) ring diameter of the older 'small ring' Mauser models and less than the 'large ring' 35.8 mm (1.41 in) Gewehr 98. The US military licensed many of the Mauser Company's and other German patents, including the spitzer bullet, later modified into the .30-06 Springfield. [4] The M1903 not only replaced the various versions of the U.S. Army's Krag, but also the Lee M1895 and M1885 Remington–Lee used by the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps, as well as all remaining single-shot trapdoor rifles. While the Krag had been issued in both a long rifle and carbine, the Springfield was issued only as a short 24-inch barrel rifle in keeping with current trends in Switzerland and Great Britain to eliminate the need for both long rifles and carbines. [5]

The two main problems usually cited with the Krag were its slow-to-load magazine and its inability to handle higher chamber pressures for high-velocity rounds. The United States Army attempted to introduce a higher-velocity cartridge in 1899 for the existing Krags, but its single locking lug on the bolt could not withstand the extra chamber pressure. Though a stripper-clip or charger loading modification to the Krag was designed, it was clear to Army authorities that a new rifle was required. After the U.S. military's experience with the Mauser rifle in the 1898 Spanish–American War, authorities decided to adopt a stronger Mauser-derived bolt action design equipped with a charger- or stripper clip-loaded box magazine.

Advances in small arms technology Edit

In 1882, the bolt action Remington Lee rifle design of 1879, with its newly invented detachable box magazine, was purchased in limited numbers by the U.S. Navy. Several hundred M1882 Lee Navy Models (M1882 Remington-Lee) were also subjected to trials by the U.S. Army during the 1880s, though the rifle was not formally adopted. The Navy adopted the M1885, and later different style Lee M1895 (a 6mm straight pull bolt), which saw service in the Boxer Rebellion. In Army service, both the M1885 and M1895 6mm Lee were used in the Spanish–American War, along with the .30-40 Krag and the .45-70. The Lee rifle's detachable box magazine was invented by James Paris Lee, and would be very influential on later rifle designs. [ citation needed ] Other advancements had made it clear that the Army needed a replacement. In 1892, the U.S. military held a series of rifle trials, resulting in the adoption of the .30-40 Krag–Jørgensen rifle. The Krag officially entered U.S. service in 1894, only to be replaced nine years later by the M1903.

Development Edit

Thousands of Spanish Mauser M1893 rifles, surrendered by Spanish troops in Cuba, were returned to the U.S. and extensively studied at Springfield Armory, where it was decided that the Mauser was the superior design.

U.S. Rifle Model 1900 .30 prototype Edit

A prototype rifle was produced in 1900 it was very similar to Rifle No. 5, the final Mauser M92 prototype in the U.S. Army rifle trials of 1892. This design was rejected, and a new design combining features of the M1898 Krag rifle and the Spanish Mauser M1893 was developed.

U.S. Rifle Model 1901 .30 prototype Edit

Springfield began work on creating a rifle that could handle higher loads around the turn of the 20th century. The Springfield Model 1901 prototype combined the cock-on-opening bolt, 30" barrel, magazine cutoff, stock and sights of the Krag–Jørgensen with the dual locking lugs, external claw extractor, and staggered-column magazine of the Mauser M1893. Taking a cue from the Mauser Gewehr 98, a large safety lug was added to the side of the bolt behind the extractor, which would engage the receiver bridge and prevent the bolt moving rearwards. The bolt handle was also bent downwards, to make operation of the bolt faster. The Model 1901 almost entered production. Springfield was sure enough that the Model 1901 prototype would be accepted that they began making some parts, but it was not accepted and further changes were asked for.

Adoption Edit

Following then-current trends in service rifles, the barrel was shortened to 24" after it was discovered that a longer barrel offered no appreciable ballistic advantage, and the shorter barrel was lighter and easier to handle. This "short rifle" also eliminated the need of a shorter carbine for mounted troops or cavalry. [6] A spike-type bayonet with storage in the forend of the stock was added to the design. This new design was accepted, type classified and officially adopted as the United States Rifle, Caliber .30, Model 1903 and entered production in 1903. The M1903 became commonly known among its users as the "ought-three" in reference to the year '03 of first production.

Despite Springfield Armory's use of a two-piece firing pin and other slight design alterations, the 1903 was, in fact, a Mauser design, and after that company brought suit, the U.S. government was judged to pay $250,000 in royalties to Mauser Werke. [7]

By January 1905, over 80,000 of these rifles had been produced at the federally owned Springfield Armory. However, President Theodore Roosevelt objected to the design of the sliding rod-type bayonet used as being too flimsy for combat. In a letter to the Secretary of War, he said:

I must say that I think that ramrod bayonet is about as poor an invention as I ever saw. As you observed, it broke short off as soon as hit with even moderate violence. It would have no moral effect and mighty little physical effect. [8]

All the rifles to that point consequently had to be re-tooled for a blade-type bayonet, called the M1905. The sights were also an area of concern, so the new improved Model 1904 sight was also added. [6] [9]

The retooling was almost complete when it was decided another change would be made. It was to incorporate improvements discovered during experimentation in the interim, most notably the use of pointed ammunition, first adopted by the French in the 1890s and later other countries. The round itself was based on the .30-03, but rather than a 220-grain (14 g) round-tip bullet fired at 2,300 ft/s (700 m/s), it had a 150-grain (9.7 g) pointed bullet fired at 2,800 ft/s (850 m/s) the case neck was a fraction of an inch shorter as well. The new American cartridge was designated "Cartridge, Ball, Caliber .30, Model of 1906". The M1906 cartridge is better known as the .30-06 Springfield round, used in many rifles and machine guns, and is still a popular civilian cartridge to the present day. The rifle's sights were again re-tooled to compensate for the speed and trajectory of the new cartridge.

By the time of the 1916 Pancho Villa Expedition, the M1903 was the standard issue service rifle of US forces. Some rifles were fitted with both the Warner & Swasey Model 1913 and 1908 "Musket Sights" during the campaign, "Musket Sights" being the vernacular at the time for telescopic sights. Anecdotal evidence at the time indicates that some of the rifles were fitted with Maxim suppressors, which would make them the first suppressed rifles used by the US military. [ citation needed ] The Warner & Swasey Model 1913 Musket Sight would continue to see service after the Pancho Villa Expedition and during World War I but would be deemed inadequate and was removed from the US Army's inventory by the 1920s. [10]

World War I and interwar use Edit

By the time of U.S. entry into World War I, 843,239 M1903 rifles had been produced at the Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal. Pre-war production utilized questionable metallurgy. Some receivers constructed of single-heat-treated case-hardened steel were improperly subjected to excessive temperatures during the forging process. The carbon could be "burnt" out of the steel, producing a brittle receiver. [12] Despite documented evidence indicating some early rifles were improperly forged, actual cases of failure were very rare. Although several cases of serious injury from receiver failure were documented, the U.S. Army never reported any fatalities. Many failures were attributed to use of incorrect cartridges, such as the 7.92×57mm Mauser. [13] Evidence also seems to suggest that improperly forged brass cartridge cases could have exacerbated receiver failure. [14]

Pyrometers were installed in December 1917 to accurately measure temperatures during the forging process. The change was made at approximately serial number 800,000 for rifles made at Springfield Armory and at serial number 285,507 at Rock Island Arsenal. Lower serial numbers are known as "low-number" M1903 rifles. Higher serial numbers are said to be "double-heat-treated." [13]

Toward the end of the war, Springfield turned out the Model 1903 Mark I. The Mark I has a cut on the left hand side of the receiver meant to act as an ejection port for the Pedersen Device, a modified sear and cutoff to operate the Pedersen Device a specialized insert that replaced the bolt and allowed the user to fire .30 caliber pistol cartridges semi-automatically from a 40-round detachable magazine. The stock was also slightly cut down on the left side to clear the ejection port. In all other respects, the Mark I is identical to the M1903. Temperature control during forging was improved prior to Mark I production. The receiver alloy was toughened by addition of nickel after Mark I production.

In 1926, after experiencing the effect of long-range German 7.92×57mm rifle and machine gun fire during the war, the U.S. Army adopted the heavy 174-grain boat-tail bullet for its .30-06 cartridge, standardized as 'Cartridge, Ball, caliber 30, M1'. [15] M1 ammunition, intended primarily for long-range machine gun use, soon became known by Army rifle competition teams and expert riflemen for its considerably greater accuracy over that of the M1906-round the new M1 ammunition was issued to infantrymen with the Springfield rifle as well as to machine gun teams. [16] However, during the late 1930s, it became apparent that, with the development of mortars, high-angle artillery, and the .50 caliber M2 Browning machine gun, the need for extreme long-range, rifle-caliber machine-gun fire was decreasing. In 1938, the U.S. army reverted to a .30-06 cartridge with a 152-grain flat-base bullet, now termed M2 Ball, for all rifles and machine guns. [15]

In the 1920s and the 1930s, M1903s were delivered to US allies in Central America, such as Cuba, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Costa Rica troops were equipped with Springfields during the Coto War and some rifles were captured by the opposing Panamanians. [17] The Cuban Springfields were used by Batista forces after WW2 and later by the Revolutionary Armed Forces, for instance during the Bay of Pigs Invasion. [18]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation acquired some M1903 rifles configured like National Rifle Association Sporter Models in response to the 1933 Kansas City Massacre. [19]

In service, the Springfield was generally prized for its reliability and accuracy, though some problems remained. The precision rear aperture sight was located too far from the eye for efficient use, and the narrow, unprotected front sight was both difficult to see in poor light and easily damaged. The Marine Corps issued the Springfield with a sight hood to protect the front sight, along with a thicker front blade. The two-piece firing pin/striker also proved to be no improvement over the original one-piece Mauser design, and was a cause of numerous Ordnance repairs, along with occasional reports of jammed magazine followers. [20]

World War II Edit

World War II saw new production of the Springfield at private manufacturers such as the Remington Arms and Smith-Corona Typewriter companies. Remington began production of the M1903 in September 1941, at serial number 3,000,000, using old tooling from the Rock Island Arsenal which had been in storage since 1919. The very early rifles are almost indistinguishable from 1919-made Rock Island rifles. As the already worn tooling began to wear beyond use Remington began seeking Army approval for a continuously increasing number of changes and simplifications to both speed up manufacture and improve performance. The milled parts on the Remington M1903 were gradually replaced with stamped parts until, at about serial number 3,330,000, the Army and Remington recognized that a new model name was appropriate. Other features of the M1903, such as high-grade walnut stocks with finger grooves, were replaced with less expensive but serviceable substitutes. Most milled parts made by Remington were marked with an "R". [21]

M1903 production was discontinued in favor of the M1903A3. The most noticeable visual difference in the M1903A3 was the replacement of the barrel-mounted rear sight with a smaller, simpler aperture rear sight mounted on the rear of the receiver it was primarily adopted in order to speed familiarization by soldiers already trained on the M1 Garand, which had a similar sighting system. However, the leaf spring providing tension to the elevation adjustment on the new aperture sight tended to weaken with continued use over time, causing the rifle to lose its preset range elevation setting. [20] Other modifications included a new stamped cartridge follower ironically, the rounded edges of the new design largely alleviated the 'fourth-round jam' complaints of the earlier machined part. [20] All stock furniture was also redesigned in stamped metal.

In late 1942, Smith-Corona Typewriter Company also began production of the M1903A3 at its plant in Syracuse, New York. [22] Smith/Corona parts are mostly identified by the absence of markings, except for occasions when time permitting during manufacture, on early to mid production rifles, and also only on certain parts.

To speed up production output, two-groove rifled barrels were adopted, and steel alloy specifications were relaxed under 'War Emergency Steel' criteria for both rifle actions and barrels. [23] M1903A3 rifles with two-groove 'war emergency' barrels were shipped with a printed notation stating that the reduction in rifling grooves did not affect accuracy. [24] As the war progressed, various machining and finishing operations were eliminated on the M1903A3 in order to increase production levels. [24]

Original production rifles at Remington and Smith-Corona had a dark gray/black finish similar to the bluing of late World War I. Beginning in late 1943 a lighter gray/green parkerizing finish was used. This later finish was also used on arsenal repaired weapons.

It is somewhat unusual to find a World War I or early World War II M1903 with its original dated barrel. Most, if not all, World War II .30-06 ammunition used a corrosive primer which left corrosive salts in the barrel. If not removed by frequent and proper barrel cleaning, these residues could cause pitting and excessive wear. In the jungle fighting on various Pacific islands cleaning was sometimes lax and the excessive moisture compounded the corrosive action of the residue. [25]

The M1903 and the M1903A3 rifle were used in combat alongside the M1 Garand by the U.S. military during World War II and saw extensive use and action in the hands of U.S. troops in Europe, North Africa, and the Pacific. The U.S. Marines were initially armed with M1903 rifles in early battles in the Pacific, such as the Battle of Guadalcanal, but the jungle battle environment generally favored self-loading rifles [26] later Army units arriving to the island were armed with the M1 Garand. [27] The U.S. Army Rangers were also a major user of the M1903 and the M1903A3 during World War II with the Springfield being preferred over the M1 Garand for certain commando missions.

According to Bruce Canfield's U.S. Infantry Weapons of WW II, final variants of the M1903 (the A3 and A4) were delivered in February 1944. [21] By then, most American combat troops had been re-equipped with the M1 Garand. However, some front-line infantry units in both the U.S. Army and Marine Corps retained M1903s as infantry rifles beyond that date and continued to use them alongside the M1 Garand until the end of the war in 1945. The Springfield remained in service for snipers (using the M1903A4), grenadiers (using a spigot type rifle 22 mm with the M1 grenade launcher] grenade launcher until the M7 grenade launcher was available for the M1 rifle in late 1943), and Marine Scout Sniper units.

Sniper rifle Edit

The M1903A4 was the U.S. Army's sniper rifle of choice during the Second World War. The M1903A4 was a variation of the M1903A3. The only difference between receivers was that the model and serial number on the receiver were split on M1903A4 to make room for the Redfield scope mount. The Redfield scope mount removed the rear peep sight that was standard on the M1903A3. The scope used on the M1903A4 was a Weaver Model 330 or 330C, which was a 2.75x telescopic sight. The receivers were tested by Remington Arms and those that were deemed best, meaning those closest to design specifications were selected to become M1903A4's. The barrels were also selected specifically to be added to the M1903A4 rifle only if they were within almost exact specifications for the design. The front sight on the barrel was never installed on the A4 barrels, however, the notch for it was still in place. . [20] Barrel specifications were, in general, unchanged between the M1903A3 and M1903A4, however, the War Department did start installing barrels with 2 groove rifling instead of 4 groove, despite the lack of clear changes from the 4 groove rifling that was the standard up until 1942. [28]

By some accounts, the M1903A4 was inadequate as a sniper rifle. The M1903A4 was a relatively accurate rifle with an effective range of about 600 yards (550m). These limitations on long-range targeting were due to the limited field of view present in both the Weaver scopes. From its adoption in 1943 until the end of the war it was used extensively in every theater of operation by both the US Army and the USMC. [29] The Weaver scopes (later standardized as the M73 and M73B1) were not only low-powered in magnification, they were not waterproofed, and frequently fogged over or became waterlogged during humidity changes. In addition, the M81/82 optional scopes also had significant flaws. They most notably had less power (2.2x vs. 2.75x) and, like the other scopes on the M1903A4, had serious issues with the field of view. [20] [29] [30] The USMC and the US Army would eventually switch to a large 8x scope that spanned the length of the rifle designed by John Unertl.

Foreign users Edit

The U.S. Army Military Police (MP) and the U.S. Navy Shore Patrol also used M1903s and M1903A3s throughout the war. Various U.S. allies and friendly irregular forces were also equipped with the weapon. The Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB), operating in the 5th Army in Italy was equipped with M1903 rifles. In August 1943, the Free French Forces of General Charles de Gaulle were re-equipped by the United States primarily with M1903A3 Springfield and M1917 Enfield Rifles. The M1903A3 became one of the primary rifles used by French forces until the end of the war, and was afterwards used in Indochina [31] and by local militia and security forces in French Algeria. [32] Large numbers of M1903 rifles were sent to China. [33]

During the Korean War, South Korean Marines used the M1903A3. [34]

M1903 rifles captured by the Germans were designated Gewehr 249(a). [35]

Post–Korean War service Edit

After the Korean War, active service (as opposed to drill) use of the M1903 was rare. Still, some M1903A4s remained in sniper use as late as the Vietnam War and technical manuals for them were printed as late as 1970. [6] The U.S. Navy also continued to carry some stocks of M1903A3s on board ships for use as anti-mine rifles.

Today Edit

Due to its balance, the M1903 is still popular with various military drill teams and color guards, most notably the U.S. Army Drill Team. [ citation needed ] M1903 rifles (along with the M1 Garand, M1917 Enfield and M14 rifles) are also common at high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) units to teach weapons handling and military drill procedures to the cadets. JROTC units use M1903s for regular and inter-school competition drills, including elaborate exhibition spinning routines. Exhibition teams often use fiberglass stocks in place of wooden stocks, which are heavier and more prone to breakage when dropped. JROTC Color Guards still favor wooden stocks over fiberglass because of their weight characteristics and appearance. The M1903 is the standard parade rifle of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, which has over six hundred M1903s, a very small percentage of which are still fireable. The Summerall Guards of The Citadel also use the M1903 Springfield for their silent drill performances.

U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps color guard rifles bear many similarities to the Springfield. [ clarification needed ]

In 1977, the Army located a rather large cache of unissued M1903A3 rifles which were demilitarized and then issued to JROTC units as a replacement for their previously issued M1 Garand and M14 rifles, which were then returned to Army custody due to concerns about potential break-ins at high school JROTC armories.

For safety reasons, the JROTC M1903s are made permanently unable to fire by plugging the barrel with a steel rod, or having it filled with lead, soldering the bolt and welding the magazine cutoff switch in the ON position. To plug the barrel, a very cold steel rod was inserted after it warmed up it was too tight to remove.

The U.S. rifle, Model of 1903 was 44⅞ inches (1.098 m) long and weighed 8 lb 11 oz (3.95 kg). A bayonet could be attached the M1905 bayonet blade was 16 in (406 mm) long and weighed 1 lb (0.45 kg). From 1906, the rifle was chambered to fire the .30-caliber M1906 cartridge (.30-06 cartridge), later the M1 (1926) and M2 Ball (1938) rounds. There were four standard types of cartridge:

  • Ball: consisted of a brass case or shell, primer, a charge of smokeless powder, and the bullet. The bullet had a sharp point called a spitzer bullet, and was composed of a lead core and a jacket of cupro-nickel (later gilding metal), and in the M1906 design, weighed 150 grains (9.7 g). The bullet of the M1906 cartridge, when fired from the rifle, had an initial velocity of 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s).
  • Blank: contained a paper cup instead of a bullet. It is dangerous up to 33 yd (30 m).
  • Guard: had a smaller charge of powder than the ball cartridge, and five cannelures encircle the body of the shell at about the middle to distinguish it from ball cartridges. It was intended for use on guard or in riot duty, and it gave good results up to 200 yd (180 m). The range of 100 yd (91 m) required a sight elevation of 450 yd (410 m), and the range of 200 yd (180 m) required an elevation of 645 yd (590 m).
  • Dummy: this was tin-plated and the shell was provided with six longitudinal corrugations and three circular holes. The primer contains no percussion composition. It was intended for drill purposes to accustom the soldier to the operation of loading the rifle.

The rifle was a magazine-fed clip-loader and could fire at a rate of 20 shots per minute. Each stripper clip contained five cartridges, and standard issue consisted of 12 clips carried in a cloth bandoleer. When full the bandoleer weighed about 3 lb 14 oz (1.8 kg). Bandoleers were packed 20 in a box, for a total of 1,200 rounds. The full box weighed 100 lb (45 kg).

The bore of the rifle is 0.30 inches (7.62 mm) in diameter. It was then rifled 0.004 in (0.1 mm) deep, making the diameter from the bottom of one groove to the bottom of the opposite groove 0.30787 in (7.82 mm) of the barrel.

The M1903 rifle included a rear sight leaf that could be used to adjust for elevation and windage. This type of rear sight was previously designed by Adelbert R. Buffington of the U.S. Army Ordnance Department. The M1905 rear sight was calibated to match the trajectory of M1906 service ammunition and offered several sighting options. When the leaf and slider were down, the battle sight notch appeared on top. This was set for 547 yd (500 m) for the down position of the slide, and was not adjustable. When the leaf was raised its range slider could be adjusted to a maximum extreme range of 2,850 yd (2,606 m). The .30-06 Springfield M1906 service ammunition long-range performance was originally overstated. When the M1906 cartridge was developed, the range tests had been done to only 1,800 yd (1,646 m) distances beyond that were estimated, but the estimate for extreme range was wrong by almost 40 percent. [36] The external ballistic discrepancy at long-ranges became evident during World War I. The M1905 rear sight could also be adjusted for windage.

The 1903A3 introduced a ramp-type rear aperture sight adjustable both for elevation and windage. It could be adjusted from 100 to 800 yd (91 to 732 m). This new sightline also lengthened the sight radius. [37]

A feature inherent to the M1903 and not found on the Mauser M98 is the cocking piece, a conspicuous knob at the rear of the bolt, allowing the rifle's striker to be released without dry firing, or to cock the rifle if necessary, for example to attempt a second strike on a round that failed to fire.


Springfield is celebrated as the site of a Battle of Springfield between the American Continental Army and British forces on June 23, 1780. The British, under Hessian General Wilhelm von Knyphausen, advanced from Elizabethtown about 5 o'clock in the morning. They were opposed by General Nathanael Greene, but owing to the superior number of the enemy he was compelled to evacuate Springfield, which was then burned by the British. During the action the Rev. James Caldwell, chaplain in the New Jersey brigade, is said to have distributed the Watts hymn books from the neighboring Presbyterian Church among the soldiers for wadding, saying at the same time, "Now put Watts into them, boys." This battle prevented further advance on the part of the British. The American loss was about 15 and that of the British about 150. [26]

Some historical landmarks from the Revolution still stand: the Cannon Ball House, which has since been converted into a museum, was (according to the township's official website) "Built circa 1741 and served as a farmhouse at the time of the Revolutionary War. During the Battle of Springfield (June 23, 1780) the British used it as a hospital. . It was one of only three buildings left standing when all others including the Presbyterian Church where Reverend James Caldwell had taken Watts hymnbooks for rifle wadding, were set on fire. . In later years the house became a tavern to serve travelers on Morris (Ave) Turnpike. The farmland was later sold off, and it served then as a private residence. The property was acquired by the Springfield Historical Society in 1955. It has become known as The Cannon Ball House because a cannonball was found on the west side embedded in a beam. . The Cannon Ball House has five revolutionary era rooms, some American Civil War items, early tools, a Battle diorama and a colonial garden. It has just been (1998) renovated to its original appearance and color." [27]

After being burned down by the British, First Presbyterian Church was rebuilt. A statue of a Continental soldier was erected in 1903 at the site of the smallest state park in New Jersey. [28] [29]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 5.17 square miles (13.40 km 2 ), including 5.16 square miles (13.36 km 2 ) of land and 0.02 square miles (0.04 km 2 ) of water (0.31%). [1] [2]

The Township of Springfield is located on the northern edge of Union County and is bordered by Millburn to the north in Essex County, by Union Township to the east, by Kenilworth to the southeast, by Westfield and Cranford to the south, by Mountainside to the southwest and by Summit to the northwest. [30] [31] [32]

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Baltusrol, Branch Mills and Milltown. [33]

The Rahway River Parkway greenway along the Rahway River runs through the township.

Historical population
Census Pop.
18301,656 −8.2%
18401,651 −0.3%
18501,945 17.8%
1890959 13.6%
19001,073 11.9%
19101,246 16.1%
19201,715 37.6%
19303,725 117.2%
19404,148 11.4%
19507,214 73.9%
196014,467 100.5%
197015,740 8.8%
198013,955 −11.3%
199013,420 −3.8%
200014,429 7.5%
201015,817 9.6%
2019 (est.)17,464 [13] [34] [35] 10.4%
Population sources:
1810-1920 [36] 1840 [37]
1850-1870 [38] 1850 [39] 1870 [40]
1880-1890 [41] 1890-1910 [42] 1910-1930 [43]
1930-1990 [44] 2000 [45] [46] 2010 [10] [11] [12]
* = Lost territory in previous decade. [22]

2010 Census Edit

The 2010 United States census counted 15,817 people, 6,511 households, and 4,265 families in the township. The population density was 3,057.2 per square mile (1,180.4/km 2 ). There were 6,736 housing units at an average density of 1,302.0 per square mile (502.7/km 2 ). The racial makeup was 82.46% (13,042) White, 6.25% (989) Black or African American, 0.06% (10) Native American, 7.70% (1,218) Asian, 0.01% (2) Pacific Islander, 1.75% (277) from other races, and 1.76% (279) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.50% (1,502) of the population. [10]

Of the 6,511 households, 29.0% had children under the age of 18 53.6% were married couples living together 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present and 34.5% were non-families. Of all households, 29.6% were made up of individuals and 14.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.05. [10]

21.1% of the population were under the age of 18, 5.7% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 29.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42.9 years. For every 100 females, the population had 88.8 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 84.7 males. [10]

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $84,038 (with a margin of error of +/- $8,139) and the median family income was $111,359 (+/- $8,121). Males had a median income of $74,335 (+/- $7,959) versus $62,859 (+/- $6,250) for females. The per capita income for the township was $46,393 (+/- $3,175). About 2.9% of families and 6.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.9% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over. [47]

2000 Census Edit

As of the 2000 United States Census [18] there were 14,429 people, 6,001 households, and 4,014 families residing in the township. The population density was 2,801.8 people per square mile (1,081.8/km 2 ). There were 6,204 housing units at an average density of 1,204.7 per square mile (465.1/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the township was 89.72% White, 3.72% African American, 0.02% Native American, 4.69% Asian, 0.96% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 4.14% of the population. [45] [46]

There were 6,001 households, out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.9% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.98. [45] [46]

In the township the population was spread out, with 20.6% under the age of 18, 4.7% from 18 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 24.7% from 45 to 64, and 20.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.0 males. [45] [46]

The median income for a household in the township was $73,790, and the median income for a family was $85,725. Males had a median income of $55,907 versus $39,542 for females. The per capita income for the township was $36,754. About 1.8% of families and 3.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.0% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over. [45] [46]

Local government Edit

The Township of Springfield is governed under the Township form of New Jersey municipal government, one of 141 municipalities (of the 565) statewide that use this form, the second-most commonly used form of government in the state. [48] The Township Committee is comprised of five members, who are elected directly by the voters at-large in partisan elections to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year as part of the November general election in a three-year cycle. [7] [49] At an annual reorganization meeting, usually held on the first day of January, the committee selects one of its members to serve as Mayor and another as Deputy Mayor. [3]

As of 2020 [update] , members of the Springfield Township Committee members are Mayor Christopher Weber (D, term on committee and as mayor ends December 31, 2021), Deputy Mayor Alex Keiser(D, term on committee ends 2021 term as deputy mayor ends 2021), Erica DuBois (D, 2022), Richard Huber (D, 2022) and Christopher Capodice (D, 2023). [3] [50] [51] [52] [53] [54]

In the November 2012 general election, voters approved the formation of a Charter Study Commission that would consider the possibility of changing the existing township form of government and may recommend changing to one the forms available under the Faulkner Act (mayor-council, council-manager, small municipality or mayor-council-administrator), one of the other available forms or to leave the form of government unchanged. [55]

Federal, state and county representation Edit

Springfield Township is located in the 7th Congressional District [56] and is part of New Jersey's 21st state legislative district. [11] [57] [58]

Union County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose nine members are elected at-large to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis with three seats coming up for election each year, with an appointed County Manager overseeing the day-to-day operations of the county. At an annual reorganization meeting held in the beginning of January, the board selects a Chair and Vice Chair from among its members. [65] As of 2019 [update] , Union County's Freeholders are Chair Bette Jane Kowalski (D, Cranford, term ends December 31, 2019), [66] Vice Chair Alexander Mirabella (D, Fanwood, 2021) [67] Angel G. Estrada (D, Elizabeth, 2020), [68] Angela R. Garretson (D, Hillside Township, 2020), [69] Sergio Granados (D, Elizabeth, 2019), [70] Christopher Hudak (D, Linden, term ends December 31, 2020), [71] Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded (D, Westfield, 2021), [72] Andrea Staten (D, Roselle, 2021), [73] and Rebecca Williams (D, Plainfield, 2019). [74] Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi (D, Union, 2020), [75] Sheriff Peter Corvelli (D, Kenilworth, 2020) [76] and Surrogate James S. LaCorte (D, Springfield Township, 2019). [77] The County Manager is Edward Oatman.

Politics Edit

As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 10,078 registered voters in Springfield Township, of which 3,271 (32.5% vs. 41.8% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,795 (17.8% vs. 15.3%) were registered as Republicans and 5,007 (49.7% vs. 42.9%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 5 voters registered to other parties. [78] Among the township's 2010 Census population, 63.7% (vs. 53.3% in Union County) were registered to vote, including 80.7% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 70.6% countywide). [78] [79]

In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 4,083 votes (55.3% vs. 66.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 3,179 votes (43.0% vs. 32.3%) and other candidates with 63 votes (0.9% vs. 0.8%), among the 7,388 ballots cast by the township's 10,772 registered voters, for a turnout of 68.6% (vs. 68.8% in Union County). [80] [81] In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 4,328 votes (53.9% vs. 63.1% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 3,548 votes (44.2% vs. 35.2%) and other candidates with 82 votes (1.0% vs. 0.9%), among the 8,033 ballots cast by the township's 10,379 registered voters, for a turnout of 77.4% (vs. 74.7% in Union County). [82] In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 4,246 votes (55.1% vs. 58.3% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 3,372 votes (43.8% vs. 40.3%) and other candidates with 49 votes (0.6% vs. 0.7%), among the 7,703 ballots cast by the township's 9,885 registered voters, for a turnout of 77.9% (vs. 72.3% in the whole county). [83]

In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 57.0% of the vote (2,624 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 41.7% (1,921 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (59 votes), among the 4,723 ballots cast by the township's 10,771 registered voters (119 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 43.8%. [84] [85] In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 2,477 votes (46.0% vs. 41.7% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 2,447 votes (45.5% vs. 50.6%), Independent Chris Daggett with 359 votes (6.7% vs. 5.9%) and other candidates with 28 votes (0.5% vs. 0.8%), among the 5,380 ballots cast by the township's 10,214 registered voters, yielding a 52.7% turnout (vs. 46.5% in the county). [86]

The Springfield Public Schools serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. [87] As of the 2018–19 school year, the district, comprised of five schools, had an enrollment of 2,273 students and 167.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.6:1. [88] All of the township's schools are named after notable Springfieldians. For instance, the township's high school is named after Jonathan Dayton, a signer of the United States Constitution. Schools in the district (with 2018–19 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics [89] ) are Edward V. Walton Early Childhood Center [90] with 627 students in grades PreK-2, James Caldwell Elementary School [91] with 255 students in grades 3-5, Thelma L. Sandmeier Elementary School [92] with 261 students in grades 3-5, Florence M. Gaudineer Middle School [93] with 512 students in grades 6-8 and Jonathan Dayton High School [94] with 578 students in grades 9-12. [95]

Adjacent to Florence M. Gaudineer Middle School is Saint James the Apostle School, a Catholic school serving students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grades with an enrollment of 148 students, operating under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. [96] [97]

Roads and highways Edit

As of May 2010 [update] , the township had a total of 56.53 miles (90.98 km) of roadways, of which 39.82 miles (64.08 km) were maintained by the municipality, 8.63 miles (13.89 km) by Union County and 8.08 miles (13.00 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. [98]

A number of major highways and roadways pass through Springfield, including Interstate 78, U.S. Route 22, NJ Routes 24 and 124, as well as CR 509 Spur and CR 577.

Public transportation Edit

NJ Transit provides bus service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan in New York City and to points in New Jersey including Newark Penn Station. Parking is available for a fee at a municipal lot near the center of town (Hannah Street and Center Street) and in the Duffy's Corner lot at Morris and Caldwell Place, which provide easy access to all NJ Transit buses that run through town. Annual permits are available from the town hall.

Although there is no train station in Springfield, the Millburn and Short Hills NJ Transit stations are located nearby, though neither allows commuter-hour parking for non-residents, and parking hours are very limited even on weekends. The closest stations that allow out-of-town residents access to parking are Maplewood and Summit, although both are full to capacity very early on weekdays. The 70 bus provides access from the center of town to NJ Transit's Summit and Millburn stations Eastbound it terminates at NJ Transit's Newark Penn Station with connections to Amtrak, NJ Transit trains to New York Penn Station, and Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) trains. The township also runs a jitney that operates on weekdays during morning and evening rush hours from the community pool to NJ Transit's Short Hills station. [99] NJ Transit buses 65, 66 and 70 (to Newark), the 114 (to Midtown Manhattan's Port Authority Bus Terminal) and local service on the 52 route also run along the town's major roadways. [100]

Newark Liberty International Airport is approximately 10 miles (16 km) east of Springfield.

Historical transportation Edit

The Rahway Valley Railroad passed through the community, and during the early 20th century offered both freight and passenger service, but is currently out of service. The section of the railway that extended from Springfield to Summit was taken out of service in 1976, though special trains were operated to provide service to Baltusrol during the 1980 U.S. Open. [101]

A trolley line called the Morris County Traction Company, ran trolley service through Springfield to/from Newark and Morris County, in the early part of the 20th century. [102]

People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Springfield Township include:


Springfield has served for nearly two centuries as a commercial center for the large agricultural region that surrounds it. The soil and climate of the region are ideally suited to the cultivation of dark-fired tobacco and the plant has had a major economic, social and cultural influence on Springfield and Robertson County since the early 19th century. Robertson County was the 7th largest tobacco producing county in the United States by the year 1890 with a total production of nearly 9,000,000 pounds, and it still remains one of the nation&rsquos largest tobacco producing counties to this day. Springfield and Robertson County have become known as the "Home of the World&rsquos Finest Dark Fired Tobacco."

In addition to being Tennessee&rsquos leading tobacco growing county, Robertson County is among the top 5 counties in the production of wheat, corn, and hay. The county is ranked among the top 10 counties in the production of soybeans and among the top 12 counties in both beef cattle and dairy cattle.

Springfield - History

Provided by Springfield Historic Society

As the surge of civilization and building of homes pointed to the west, another town followed in the steps of the newly recognized territory and county. A young farmer-adventurer was responsible for the organization of Springfield, Nebraska. Capt. J. D. Spearman, was born in 1833, near Jacksonville, Ill., of Kentucky parents who moved to Illinois and then to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, before they came to this area. His significant early contribution has formed the major historical background of the town of Springfield.

In the fall of 1862, this young captain was commissioned to raise a company of volunteers. Within five days, he had 105 men, known as Co. H 25th, Iowa. As a captain, he served under Generals Sherman and Grant. In April, 1864, Capt. J. D. Spearman, a wounded, crippled veteran, was honorably discharged, and returned to Iowa.

In 1871, he settled on a farm 1.5 miles south of Springfield, (the Elmer Zeorian farm), later farmed for him by Frank Adair, Sr. and wife. When he learned that the Missouri Pacific railroad would be built through our area, he purchased, in 1873, 160 acres for $822.68, from John and Bridget Cotter, who held a land grant, dated July 7, 1857, and signed by President James Buchanan.

Captain Spearman immediately platted our village, naming it Springfield, because of the numerous springs, one of which has been preserved on the Neitzel property along Highway 50. Sarpy Center was another early town platted by Capt. Spearman, but he was sadly disappointed in his speculations and hopes for Sarpy Center - a town that never materialized. In a sense of word, the town of Sarpy Center was removed to Springfield. With the aid of Frank Adalr, Sr., Solomon Zeorlan (an early settler from Switzerland), Rev. S. J. Stewart, and others, Capt. Spearman transported the buildings from Sarpy Center to the new village of Springfield. The new town began life on October 1, 1881. On its first birthday in 1882, it had a population of 300.

One of Springfield's early settlers, Jacob Fackler, born in Ohio in 1825, came with his parents to Iowa in 1836. On April 17, 1858, he started to drive to Sarpy County, arriving on May 8th. From the national government, he purchased 120 acres at $1.25 an acre. The next year he bought another 120, but in 1865, he sold these farms to purchase a new 120, not far from the Platte River, and soon added another 120 acres. In 1876, he replaced the old log home with "anelegant stone house". It you look for it, you can find it, now occupied by the Robert Keyes, Jr. family. He made cattle raising his chief pursuit, and became successful.

Another successful Springfield farmer, was Clarence Keyes, Sr. of Chippewa Falls, Massachusetts. When he came to Sarpy County in 1868, he "had no thoughts of farming, nor could he even harness a horse." However, with his brother-in-law, he bought a farm in the La-Platte precinct. In 1874, he disposed of it and purchased 160 acres in the Richland precinct from the Union Pacific Railroad. Later, he bought an adjoining 160 acres - all untilled land. Mr. Keyes served as a representative in the 1893 legislature. The farm which has never left family ownership, is now owned and farmed by Chester Keyes son, Donald Keyes.

Among other notable Springfield names, W. H. Peters of Trumbull County, Ohio, came with his parents to Sarpy County in 1856. He followed the wagon and carriage-making trade at his father. In 1879, he purchased 80 acres at $8 per acre, where he built the home now occupied by the William Beck family. That home was finished when Springfield was one year old. A number of business enterprises had sprung up by 1900. Two buildings were the pride of the town - the large hotel owned by the Biakewell family, and the Opera House.

Before automobiles changed the pattern of living, traveling salesmen were numerous, coming by train and staying at the hotel, which had a large dining room, lobby, and parlor, in addition to the bedrooms. When twenty Negro Jubilee Singers made their annual appearances at our Winter Chautauquas, there was no color line for them at the hotel. Our Opera House, situated where Mrs. Anna Armstrong built her home, was truly a community center. It was the place for graduation exercises, for alumni banquets, church bazaars and dinners, home-talent plays, the "Clint and Bessie Robbins" road shows, the Winter Chautauqua, Farmers' Institute, Lodge meetings, and public dances.

Among the earliest merchants were David Brawner, who opened a general store in December, 1881 the J. D. Spearman and Sons general store Louis Bates of Xenia and A. V. Rogers, who handled merchandise and drugs W. E. Miller, a druggist who had transferred from Sarpy County, and much later, in 1891, for $2500, erected the first pressed-brick, two story building, now occupied by Kreifel Brothers.

In February, 1882, in partnership with M. Brown, Charles E. Smith opened the local harness and saddlery shop. All goods was hauled from Omaha by team and wagon. As business grew, he employed two men to assist in the making of harness by hand. His customers came from all parts at the county, for he carried a stock of collars, lap robes, blankets, saddles, buffalo fur coats for men, and stock food. He was the only original business man still operating in 1929, when death called him.

Before 1900, we had two barber shops, each with three chairs a jewelry, watch repair, and gift shop, owned by Mr. Frank Comte, a native of Switzerland, who was our only mortician two drug stores a hardware store two implement houses two butcher shops two banks a post office three rooming and boarding houses a creamery a bakery a large flour mill a millinery shop a green-house a hospital started by Dr. A. G. Hamilton in 1898 a boot shop where Mr. Mumford made boots and repaired shoes two blacksmith shops two livery and feed stables two elevators where coal was also sold two lumber yards two general stores and one grocery one dray service, owned by Mr. Wick Ellis, our Confederate veteran from Mississippi one "ice-house", owned by John Schaal, who delivered ice to homes and stores one small jail, referred to as the cooler, a print shop, where J. C. Miller first published the Springfield Monitor in 1882 two saloons, whose licenses had to be voted upon each year since the license money of $1000 each went into the school funds a pool hail a restaurant. There were carpenters, painters, and masons to do the building.

Rivalry existed between Papillion and Springfield as to which should have the County Fair. Dwindling finances forced the fair to be given up for a time, but 4-H clubs and exhibits renewed interest and lead the way to our present Fair Grounds. The Fair was returned to Springfield, September 3-4, 1937. Rodeo facilities and fine new buildings now make up our attractive Fair Grounds.

Considering the history of our churches, we find a great change. The Methodist and the Congregational Churches had completed wooden structures and were holding services by August 1882, The Baptists erected a church home (now the Masonic Temple) and the Christian Advents built their church, later converted into a home by Lester Ball, and now occupied by Otto Nielsen. In 1927, the Methodists built their new brick church. The Baptists now meet in the old Congregational building, and the Lutherans in the Community Hall. The Community Building was built in the thirties by a W.P.A. labor project.

Springfield's early school was on the outskirts of town. In 1884, a brick building on the hilltop was erected for ten grades. Because of Mr. J. M. Elwell's leadership, an eleventh grade was added, and soon we became an accredited 12-grade school. We have a new modern elementary school building, constructed in 1964, for kindergarten Through third, and high school students are transported by bus to the consolidated Platteview Junior - Senior High School, built in 1960.

Every business house and home had its own deep well or cistern. All sidewalks were wooden street lamps were lighted by a caretaker, who carried his step-ladder from post to post. The streets were lined with hitching posts for the horse and wagon days. To dampen the deep dust, a horse-drawn sprinkling wagon was used. After the destructive fire of 1904 the "town fathers" realized the village should have a water system. At first, Springfield had several trains a day, one passenger train with a pullman car. Mr.J.C.Geib, the station agent for so many years, had relief telegraphers for the day, as well as a night operator. Special passenger service was provided to the Ak-Sar-Ben night parades in downtown Omaha. By the time the train from Falls City had reached Springfield, there was usually "standing room only".

Memories bring back recollections on the Memorial Day parades that ended at the City Park, where orations were delivered and patriotic music was sung. Active in heading up this parade was the Kirkwood Post of the G.A.R., organized by Captain Spearman. Carrying the flag proudly and wearing his blue G.A.R. uniform, Mr. Jim Johnson (a settler along the Platte in 1858) led the procession, year after year. Another G.A.R. member always present at this celebration was I. V. Cornish, who was one of the village Mayors after he retired from farming.

The first citizens of Springfield managed many years without telephones and electricity. Oil lamps were replaced by gasoline burners and a few homes had their own acetylene plants. Telephone switchboards and office were installed in the rear rooms of the old brick bank building (now the Grell apartments) with Miss Ethel Saling as head operator for many years. As the years passed, garages and filling stations supplanted the livery stables mechanized farm machinery drove the blacksmiths and wagon-makers out of business.

Through a generous legacy left to the town by Mr. Taylor Jar man, in 1965, a brick concrete building, in the city park, now houses the fire department and rescue equipment. There is space for a new library and a meeting room for the town board and Woman's Club. The Taylor Jarman Memorial building has been well planned for future growth and is attractively furnished.

Another legacy was given to the town of Springfield, an every day gift, handed down through the years. The pioneer-settler bequest of determination, hope and faith that these men had when they built Springfield, has been turned over to the people of the town. Proof of this same spirit are the fine new homes in the two new additions Springfield has built for her growing "today". This gift of spirit will give Springfield her courage, enthusiasm and growth in the future.

Reference for Biographies: Biographical Record, Saunders and Sarpy Counties, 1900. EARLY SPRINGFIELD SCHOOL.

The earliest settlers were Pennsylvania Dutch and English from Pennsylvania and Connecticut respectively. Not all who came to Springfield Township stayed. Thomas Smith built himself a flat boat that he launched at Massillon. He navigated the Tuscarawas and Muskingum Rivers to the Ohio River and arrived safely at Natchez, Mississippi.

Mr. Ellet and his family came to Springfield. He had been a revolutionary soldier. John Weston, his neighbor, was considered well off because he had a wagon and a yoke of oxen.

2017-12-04 2018-01-25 History Museum 200px 200px

We know Springfield, Missouri as our home, but what do we know about its beginnings? If not for a traveler and a donation of 50 acres, Springfield may have never been the city that it is now. The History Museum on the Square has put together a brief history of the founder of Springfield with a name that you’ll recognize from all over the city.

The Humble Beginnings of Springfield, MO and Greene County History
The story of the founding of Springfield begins in the 1820s, when a man named John Polk Campbell traveled to Southwest Missouri with his brother, Madison. The brothers were originally from Tennessee and wanted land of their own. At the time, the land was occupied by several Native American tribes including the Osage, Delaware and Kickapoo, with no settlers of European descent to be found.

A granddaughter of John Polk Campbell, Louisa Cheairs McKenny Sheppard, detailed the story of her grandfather in her journal which was compiled in the book A Confederate Girlhood . Louisa wrote, “On their outward trip, the two brothers lost their way and when night fell they had no idea where they were but as they were stumbling on in the darkness, seeking a suitable camping place, they happened on an Indian village where they were received with grave kindness. It soon transpired that one of the young Indians was very ill. An old chief led the two white boys to the tepee where the sick lad lay and made them understand that they were to cure him. With all the assurance of youth, they undertook the task, using the medical supplies and herbs provided by their mother for their trip.” Louisa went on to describe that the young boy only got sicker, but the brothers worked harder to improve the young boy’s health. In a few days time, the young boy got better. The Kickapoo Chieftain was so grateful for the rescue of life that he gave John Polk Campbell a tract of land that included a large spring. This land would later become the founding point for the city of Springfield.

Portrait of Louisa Terrell Cheairs Campbell.

Sometime in 1829, John Polk Campbell and his brother camped by a natural well or spring. He decided he would like to use the land around the spring for his home, so he carved his name in an ash tree to claim the land. There are several tellings of just how Springfield got its name. One version claims because the town was founded next to a spring in a field, the town was named after such. A book titled Springfield of the Ozarks suggests the name came from Springfield, Massachusetts. Another record tells that a man proposed the name Springfield after the name of his former hometown in Tennessee.

Not long after establishing his land there, John Polk Campbell returned to Tennessee to marry Louisa Terrell Cheairs. The two went back to Missouri for a brief period, but returned to Tennessee when Louisa became pregnant, not wishing to have their child in such a rural, unsettled region. After the birth of their first child, the two once again returned to Missouri, where they had another nine children, including the first white female to be born in the area. After his return, John Polk Campbell began to build several houses for new settlers to live in. In fact, the first home in Springfield was built by his brother-in-law James Price Gray and was later sold to John Polk Campbell, becoming what we now know as the Gray-Campbell Farmstead. In 1835, fifty acres were donated to the city by John Polk Campbell, including two acres that would become the “public square,” later renamed the Park Central Square. The donation of the land is marked by a historical marker on the square. Springfield was incorporated in 1838, at which point over 500 people lived in the town.

John Polk Campbell carving his initials into a tree, sketched by a volunteer of the History Museum on the Square

John Polk Campbell was also an integral person in the creation of Greene County. With his donation of land to help form Springfield, he also ensured its spot as the county seat. In 1833 the county was formed and named after Nathanael Greene, famed general in the Revolutionary War. The county was huge, and spanned what is now the counties of “McDonald, Newton, Jasper, Barton, Dade, Lawrence, Barry, Stone, Christian, Greene and Webster the greater portions of the counties of Taney, Dallas, Polk and Cedar, and parts of Vernon, Laclede, Wright and Douglass” according to the History of Greene County, Missouri . John Polk Campbell served as the county clerk, which was especially opportune for him since his home was the first courthouse for Greene County. In this role, he helped design the layout of Springfield, modeled after his hometown of Columbia, Tennessee.

The family lived in the town for some time up until the Civil War made its way to Springfield. Four of John Polk Campbell’s sons fought in the war, with two dying as a result. As the Union took Springfield, the Confederate-siding Campbells left Springfield and moved to their homes in Mississippi and Tennessee. Once the war was over, John Polk’s granddaughter Louisa and the rest of the family returned to Springfield and after years of struggle restored their home.

The legacy of the Campbell family lives on to this day. Not only can we thank the family for the founding of Springfield and Greene County, they are also the namesake for Campbell Avenue and the Campbell township. Their donation of land started the city and became the home for the square downtown as well. If not for the charity and hard work of the Campbells, Springfield as we know it would never have existed as it does now.

Watch the video: Springfield Armory 1903 A3 (August 2022).