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

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This site was last
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March 6, 2004

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Brookline Township....

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.


Republic

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.


Brookline

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

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."


Wilson Creek

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 provided access.

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 Battlefield.

Return to the list of Greene County's townships.

 

   
   

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