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For more information, contact:

Greene County
Historical Society
P.O. Box 3466 GS
Springfield, MO 65808

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This site was last
updated on
February 15, 2013

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Friends of the Gray/Campbell Farmstead....

Website: http://www.graycampbellfarmstead.org/

Purpose: To educate the public regarding the significance of the Gray/Campbell Farmstead as an example of Ozarks farmsteads and to raise funds for such education, as well as for the preservation of the structures.

A Brief History of the Farmstead:

The story of the Gray/Campbell Farmstead begins with the arrival of Elijah and Annie Brooks Gray in 1840 or 1841 from Williamson County, Tennessee. The Grays were friends of John Polk Campbell who lived in adjoining Maury County, Tennessee, and had come to Greene County, Missouri, a few years earlier and may have influenced the Grays to relocate in Missouri. Accompanying Elijah Gray and his wife were their children, Annie, Louisa (Polly), James Price, and little Sue. They found temporary residence on a farm two miles west of Springfield while they looked for a suitable site for a house and farm. They eventually purchased 400 acres in Wilson Township on the Kickapoo Prairie, 240 acres in section 14 and 160 acres in section 10. The house which they built and moved into in December 1841, and in which they lived for forty years, occupied the larger tract. A springhouse and family cemetery, known as the Yarbrough Cemetery are still visible today.

Eventually the three daughters were married: Annie to Lee Yarbrough, Polly Ann to John R. Weaver, and Sue at a later time to John Polk Campbell, a nephew of John Polk Campbell, founder of the city of Springfield. James Price, the only son, was married to Mary E. Blakey on January 25, 1856. He had already been given the 160 acre tract originally purchased by his father some years earlier and had commenced the construction of a house. It is this house that would, more than a century later, become one of Greene County's historic sites and the focus of the Friends of the Gray/Campbell Farmstead. The house he built was a frame constructed, two room mirror image, one story structure with matching fireplaces at the gable ends of each room with interior chimneys. An addition of a large room and kitchen was attached to the rear of the house.

In less than two years, James Price Gray would lose his wife and small child and vacate his new house to temporarily live with his parents. On January 10, 1859, James Price Gray was married to Sallie Gilmore and moved back into the house he had vacated. Their 28 year marriage, however, would not all be spent in the Gray/Campbell house as other misfortunes would befall James Price Gray resulting in the loss of his house and farm. Their six children, five daughters and one son, would all be born in the Gray/Campbell house.

The Gray family survived the Civil War, even though the Battle of Wilson's Creek was fought only a few miles south of their home. It was sometime just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War that James Price Gray became involved in some sort of venture along with a friend, Jabez Owen, that resulted in the sale of the Gray farm at auction to settle a debt owed to Colly B. Holland of Springfield. As it turned out, James' sister and brother-in-law, John and Polly Weaver, purchased the farm while James and his family continued to live in the house. Two years later, John Weaver sold the farm to his sister-in-law, Sue, and her husband, John Polk Campbell. Since the Campbells desired to occupy the house, James Price Gray had to move. In 1864 they moved to Montgomery County, Missouri, but a year later were back in Greene County living with his father and mother, Elijah and Annie Gray.

Annie Gray died in 1878 and Elijah in 1882. Both are buried on the family farmstead in a plot known today as the Yarbrough Cemetery. James inherited the farm which he sold in 1883 and moved to Springfield. He died in 1887. Sallie lived in Springfield until her death in 1920. Both are buried in Hazelwood Cemetery.

The occupancy of the Gray/Campbell house and farm now shifts to the Campbells. John Polk and Susan (Gray) Campbell had six children: a daughter, Mary Frances, who married Charles Doling, a successful business man and founder of Doling Park, and five sons: Richard Huntly, John Polk Jr., Junius E., Robert Bruce, and Russell. All of the children were born in the Gray/Campbell house.

Robert Bruce married Della Mae Herndon and farmed the property for years. They had a daughter, June, and a son, James Robert, called Bob. Bob was born in 1906 and moved away from home in 1919 to work for the railroad. After Robert Bruce died, Della Mae lived in the old house until her death in the 1950s. For many years the house was vacant and used as a storage barn. Bob's daughter, Betty Campbell Deskin, was in possession of the farmstead when it was purchased in 1983 by the city of Springfield for the construction of the Kansas and James River expressways.

The Gray/Campbell Farmstead Today

Since Federal money was involved in the building of the Kansas Expressway and James River Freeway, a survey was required to determine if there were any cultural resources that would be impacted by the project. The old farmhouse was overlooked in the survey. When the Springfield Historical Sites Board became aware of the historical significance of the house, the Board requested the city of Springfield move the house to Nathanael Greene Park two miles north of the original site and save it from destruction. In 1984 an agreement was reached whereby the Springfield-Greene County Historical Preservation Society would assume responsibility for the restoration and maintenance of the property and fundraising to finance the project was undertaken. In September of 1984 the house was moved and within a year stabilized on a new foundation made from the original stones. In 1988, responsibility for the development of the farmstead was assumed by the newly formed Friends of the Gray/Campbell Farmstead.

A part of the restoration of the house involved an archaeological study of the original site. Ordinarily this would have been done with Federal funds. Since no funds were available, the study was conducted by interested persons with the help of Southwest Missouri State University archaeological field methods classes, WINGS students, a Pipkin Junior High School science class, Summerscape students, and other volunteers. Excavation began in the summer of 1984 and continued into November. The thousands of recovered artifacts were stored at the Center for Archaeological Research at SMSU. The 1865 addition to the original two room farmhouse was too badly deteriorated to be moved.

During the next few years outbuildings salvaged from other locations were moved to the park to enhance the appearance of a pre-Civil War farmstead on the Kickapoo Prairie. These structures include:

  • A log house, moved from Hurley, MO, was reconstructed in 1988 to be used as a detached kitchen. The original two-room house would suggest the existence of a separate kitchen before the 1865 addition.
  • A barn has also been moved to the site from Hurley, MO. It is used to house farm tools and a Springfield wagon.
  • A log granary from Billings, MO, contains period equipment.
  • The remaining headstones from the cemetery on the Gray property were moved, with the family's permission, to the farmstead to complete an example of an 1860s farm.

The interpretive program at the Gray/Campbell Farmstead includes demonstrations of the lifestyle of the 1860s by docents/volunteers for school groups, the Lifestyle Exposition the third Saturday in September, and Sheep and Wool Day the second Sunday in June. The farmstead is open to the public on Sundays in April and October, Saturdays and Sundays May through September. Hours are 1:30-4:30.

 

Click here to read Charles Gray's history of the Gray-Campbell Farmstead.

 

A note from the webmaster: If you are affiliated with this organization and have up-to-date information, please let me know. Our goal is to keep this site as useful as possible.

   
   
   

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