Brookline Township was
organized in January 1873. Its present boundaries include all of
the north 30 sections of T28N, 23W and the south twelve sections
of T29N, 23W. It is bounded by Christian County on the south, Pond
Creek Township on the west, Wilson Township on the east, and Campbell
Township on the north.
There are two principal
municipalities in Brookline Township are Republic and Brookline,
for which the township was named. The towns of Little York and Wilson
Creek that once existed in the township have been abandoned.
The Battle of Wilson's
Creek occurred in Brookline Township.
The town of Republic
did not originate until after the coming of the Frisco Railroad.
W. H. Noe opened a store followed by H. A. White who opened a store
and a hall. The first dwellings were erected by John Summer and
Rev. Loping. The town was not situated alongside the railroad and
the railroad company refused to build a depot or a switch to accommodate
the people until $1,000 was raised and they put in the switch. W.
H. Noe was the force behind the raising of the money.
In l871, when the railroad
had reached a point at which time the railroad laid out a town.
The name for the town is said to have been suggested by railroad
workers from Brooklyn, New York. As is typical of the Ozarks, the
name took on a distinctive pronunciation which changed the syllable
"lyn" to "line."
Little York was the second
town platted after Springfield and for many years served as the
area's trade center. When it became evident that the railroad would
not pass through Little York but a few miles further north at Brookline,
the residents of Little York tore down their houses and moved them
to Brookline on large lots they had purchased from the railroad.
This added immensely to the development of Brookline. Little York
then became one of the famed "lost towns of Greene County."
The town of Wilson Creek
began with the coming of the Springfield Southern Railroad, a thirty-five
mile branch of the Missouri Pacific extending from Crane in Stone
County to Springfield. In 1902 the Missouri Pacific extended a line
from Carthage in Jasper County to a junction with the Iron Mountain
and Southern railroad in northwestern Arkansas. Enough interest
was shown by Springfield businessmen to convince the railroad officials
to consider building a connection from this line to Springfield.
In 1905 the Missouri Pacific agreed to construct this branch and
two years later, in the spring of 1907, the line was ready for operation.
On August 23, 1907, Clarence
Howell, operator of a cheese factory in Republic, filed with the
Greene County Recorder of Deeds the plat of a town he proposed to
call Wilson Creek, a name chosen for the creek that flows nearby.
The land had been purchased from N. C. and Pricilla McCroskey and
J. B. and Lucy Stewart. Mr. Howell was to have free use of the water
from a spring in a small section of land retained by the Stewart.
The location of the town was on level terrain on the east side of
Wilson Creek on a bluff overlooking the stream. A spur off the main
railroad brought in wood and supplies and shipped out the lime.
Clarence Howell had two
things in mind when he purchased this tract of land. He envisioned
a lime kiln operating in the north section with a company town occupying
the south section. The town and lime kiln would mutually support
each other. On July 25, 1907, the Rogers White Lime Company, a corporation
in Rogers, Arkansas, purchased slightly over 29 acres from Clarence
Howell for the purpose of establishing a lime kiln. As the kiln
came into operation, eight or nine company houses were built near
the kiln for the employees. These are said to have been two room
buildings made with 2 x 4's and referred to as 2 by 4 houses. The
limestone was quarried out of the nearby hillside and tailings piled
near the kiln. In addition to those living in the company houses,
the lime kiln employed men from the surrounding community.
Clarence Howell soon
built a large nine room dwelling on the extreme southwest edge of
the town. He also built a barn, granary, chicken house and shop.
He lived there with three of his five children. In addition to managing
the lime kiln, Clarence Howell did the local county road grading
and had the telephone
In September 1907, Christopher
C. Branson purchased three lots in the new town and established
the Wilson Creek Post Office. The records show a Wilson Creek Post
Office operated by John A. Ray in 1856. In 1868 the Post Office
was shown as located in Christian County but discontinued in 1868.
Clarence Howell's son, George, and his wife came to Wilson Creek
in 1910 and operated a general store, but the business closed about
two years later. About this same time, Clarence Howell's brother-in-law,
A. J. Brooks, purchased two lots in Wilson Creek and built a building
which he intended to serve as a general store. Before he could follow
through, Larry Bert Robinson moved into the town and opened the
store instead. The store was a general store in a true sense of
the word because they stocked a wide variety of merchandise. They
lived in the rear portion of the store until they were able to build
a separate house behind the store building. The Post Office was
relocated at the Robinson store
About 1913 the lime kiln
ceased operation. The reason for the closing of the kiln is not
known, but one factor could have been the poor quality of the limestone,
being excessively cherty. The usable materials from the kiln were
salvaged, but the rest was left to be consumed by the elements.
Wilson Creek was only
a whistle or flag stop on the railroad. The depot that served the
town was a two room building that sat on the west side of the tracks.
One room served as a baggage room and the other a waiting room.
Bert Roberson also operated the station and sold the train tickets.
The first depot burned and was replaced by a converted boxcar.
Entrance to the town
could be made from either of two directions, both off the main road
to the west that passed though the valley and forded Wilson Creek.
The north entrance was the one most frequently used. The entrance
on the south end had to use a rather deep ford and was only suitable
for wagon traffic. A suspension footbridge across Wilson Creek also
From time to time other
individuals and families moved into the town, stayed a while and
then moved out. Bill Gray had a blacksmith shop for four of five
years and "Doc" Bloom operated a small general store.
With the limekiln gone, it is a wonder that the town survived. The
few families who remained farmed and did whatever work was available
in the larger communities nearby.
In 1915 Clarence Howell's
son, Orville, purchased about 32 acres comprising the old lime kiln
from the Lime Company. In 1917 Clarence Howell's son-in-law, and
Republic resident, William O'Bryant, and his family arrived in Wilson
Creek to manage a tomato cannery, one of three in the area owned
and operated by a Mr. Bridwell. It was located on a rise at the
north end of the town within easy access to the spring below. The
cannery building was loosely constructed of rough oak lumber. Tomatoes
where trucked in from the surrounding area, processed and shipped
out over the railroad. The tomato cannery operated only about five
years when it was closed about 1924. The closing of the cannery
marked the beginning of the end for the town of Wilson Creek.
In 1923 Clarence Howell
died. In 1927 the Robinson store burned and Bert Robberson sold
his holdings, comprising most of the south part of the town, to
Ora Hart in 1931. The north portion was purchased by I. W. Gardner.
In the late 1960s the State of Missouri began a program of land
acquisition for the future Wilson's Creek National Battlefield,
including the former town of Wilson Creek.
While not included in
the town of Wilson Creek, mention should be made of the town's closest
neighbors, J. B. & Lucy Stewart and Bessie McElhaney, the latter
occupying the historic John Ray house until it too was acquired
by the State of Missouri to become part of Wilson's Creek National
to the list of Greene County's townships.