Its First Hundred Years
the present McCroskey farm of 300 acres now owned by a daughter, Miss Pearl McCroskey. The youngest of his ten children, Bessie McCroskey Aven and her husband Elmer Aven live on the land.
Part of the site of the present city of Nixa was first homesteaded by John D. Aven, also a Virginian, who arrived by ox-team in 1854 with a half-dollar in his jeans. When by his industry he had saved up the $750 purchase price he bought 160 acres lying alongside the Wilderness Road. John's son Will later recalled helping his father cultivate this land with yokes of oxen, meanwhile watching caravans of covered wagons, sometimes including as many as fifty, hauling baled cotton from Arkansas into Springfield or to the railhead beyond. John Aven contributed the land and helped build the Christian Church which is still in use today on North Highway 160. He also served the community welfare by riding horseback to Springfield once a week for the mail, often having to stand in line with other outlying community mailmen a half day while the post was sorted and distributed. A stern Presbyterian, John Aven, according to his son Will, would line his children up before the fireplace on Sunday morning and have them read passages from the Bible. No work was done on Sunday, and any childish transgression on that day was punished on the succeeding Monday.
The Keltner family, so long prominent in the business and civic affairs of the county, originated with Henry, who brought his family here from Tennessee. Henry served in the home guards at the Battle of Springfield, and his son, J. M. Keltner was a member of the Unionist 24th Missouri Regiment at the Battle of Wilson's Creek. J. M. Keltner was born in 1842 in Tennessee and in 1866 married Sarah Caroline Patterson, daughter of a pioneer family which had taken up the land north of James River centering about what came to be known as the Patterson Spring. He died in 1928 after a long lifetime of service to his family and community.
The Wassons trace their ancestry back to Sir David Wasson, born in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, in 1779, and his wife Flora Graham Wasson, born in Scotland 1781. Their