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.
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
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.
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.