Center Township was organized
April 7, 1856, as a result of the reduction of the size of Boone
and Polk Townships. It first was named Farmer Township after Judge
W. B. Farmer who was absent the day the township was formed. Upon
his return he made a motion that the name be changed to Center.
Its present boundaries include all of the sections within R23W,
R24W, and T29N except Sections 31-36 of R23W and T29N. It is bounded
on the west by Lawrence County, Boone Township on the north, Pond
Creek and Brookline Townships on the south, and Campbell Township
on the east. The portion of the township lying within R24W is refered
to as West Center Township and the portion within R23W is referred
to as East Center Township. Pond and Pickering Creek in West Center
Township flow into the Sac River which cuts diagonally across the
Township from north to south. Further down the Sac River, Sycamore
Creek joins the Sac. The headwaters of the Sac River and Clear Creek
are within East Center Township.
Grand Prairie is located
in the eastern portion of the township. The first settlers in what
would later become Center Township included a widow by the name
of Leeper and her sons, John, Frank, Guion, who came in 1832. The
area where they settled became known as the Leeper Prairie. The
county poor farm later was located here. The next settlers were
George Young and Joseph Dobbs. In 1837 came Jeptha and Josiah Mason,
Isaac and Townley Redfearn, William Tatum, and James Wison.
Communities once existing
in East Center Township include: Yeakley, Dorchester, later called
Hazletine, Goodlander, and Elwood, also known as Plainfield and
Campbell Junction. The community of Haven, located in the extreme
northwest portion of West Center Township, is one of the lost towns
of Greene County researched by Arthur Paul Moser.
A portion of the Springfield-Branson
Regional Airport is located on the extreme eastern edge of East
The principle community
in West Center Township is Bois d' Arc (pronounced Bowdark), named
after the Osage Orange or Bois d'Arc tree, also known as the hedge
apple. The hedge apple wood made excellent bows as discovered by
the Indians of the area. The French name is derived from this association
meaning the wood of the bow. The hedge apple wood is also quite
resistant to decay. In 1844, Joseph Goodwin, who operated the area
post office, set out a row of the hedge apple on his farm and named
the post office, Bois D'Arc. In 1872 John Bymaster and purchased
six acres of land and the post office moved to his house and he
became the postmaster. The new post office was at first called New
Bois D'Arc. Within the year, Bymaster had built a storehouse and
began a merchandising business. In 1874 John Roth established a
blacksmith shop. In 1878 the Springfield & Western Missouri
Railroad tracks were laid between Springfield and Ash Grove. A resident,
Mr. Burnett, whose land lay in the path of the construction, donated
ten acres of land for a town site. Subsequently Dr. Park and Mr.
Bray purchased the ten acres from the railroad company and laid
off the town of Bois D'Arc.
By 1883 Bois D'Arc could
boast of five stores, two drug stores, two blacksmith shops, one
carpenter shop, a shoe shop, a hotel and one saloon. There was a
Masonic and Odd Fellows lodge, school and church.
to the list of Greene County's townships.