George W Smiley came to this township in 1825 from Kentucky and gave it the name of "Bowling Green." He loved his native State and particularly the beautiful town of Bowling Green and with these in view he suggested the name which was adopted. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas railroad runs east through the central part of the township.
The township was laid out when Pettis County was organized, in the winter of 1832 or 1833. At that time Mr. Charles Cravens was the member of the Legislature from Saline County and to this efforts is due the fact of the separation of the counties of Saline and Pettis and the giving of voting places, convenient for the voters. It formerly embraced the townships of Smithton, Heath's Creek and part of Longwood, but was separated near the time the Missouri Pacific railroad came through and each township was given separate voting places. In the organization of the county into municipal townships, this has retained the name of Bowling Green, while the others took their present names. Its northern boundary is Heath's Creek township, east Cooper and Morgan counties, south Smithton township and west Sedalia and Cedar townships. It position is nearly in the center of the county from north to south and lies on the eastern edge of the county. The township contains 23,040 acres.
The early history of this township is so interwoven with that of Smithton, which, at this early day, was a part of Bowling Green, that the early settlers of the one are the early settlers of the other. Among the earliest, and perhaps the earliest settler of the township was Joseph Scott, who came in 1815 from Kentucky. Thus with him the opening wedge entered the virgin territory and from the States of Kentucky, Virginia, Alabama and Tennessee came the heroes of the rough and sturdy of the western empire. Joseph Roberts and wife came in 1820, also from Kentucky; N. Steele came the same year from the same State. John Potter came in 1825 from the same State and Robert Ross came tow years later from the "blue grass" regions. George Small came to the township in 1825, from Kentucky, and also the same year and from the same state came George W Smiley. Mr Smiley was a man of great energy, a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. On his land the first school house built in the township was erected. Daniel Wright came to the township in 1831 from Alabama. Andrew M Wright came from the same state and in the same year. Clinton Young came to the township in 1830 from Tennessee and Clayborne Young four years later from the same state. Judge J W Beeman is another of the pioneers of the township. He came from Alabama here in 1832, and lived on the same homestead for 50 years.
Little is written by former historians of the early schools of this county. The first schools, however, were taught on a kind of subscription plan, the public school system in the early days not having been inaugurated. The first school taught in this township was by James Chalmers.
The first churches were the homes of the settlers, where neighbors would gather for worship. Salem Church, Methodist Episcopal, was situated in the southern part of the township, about seven miles north of Sedalia. The first class was organized at Smiley's school house and the church organized 20 years later. Before the building of this church all denominations met and held services at Smiley's school house and at the old "Provident Baptist Church." Revivals flourished at both of these places under the leadership of Revs. Springer, James Mitchell, Thomas Wallace and J W Jameson.
Prior to 1859, there were organized two churches of the Disciple. One in the northern part of the county was called Union; this was a very strong and flourishing organization, made up of the most influential, intelligent citizens of that part of the county .. Among the members of that time were: Amos Fristoe, Abner Clopton, Dr. Rothwell, John S Jones, Dr. Cartwright, Col. Thomas F Houston, George Anderson, Ben Major, Charles Jones and many others of influence. Amos Fristoe and Ben Major were the leading workers of the church. Fristoe was elder and also a man by the name of Hartison. Elder Allen Wright was their pastor, later Rev. L B Wilks taking up the work. This faith had a strong church at Georgetown in these days. It was organized by Elders Allen Wright and John DeJarnette. This church was still there in 1860, but when the county seat moved to Sedalia the congregation moved with it. Rev. William Ferguson was one of the leading ministers of the county and preached in this township in these days.
Splendidly conducted public schools are found in this township at the present time. There are four in the township. Arator has an enrollment of 18 pupils, and P V Scotten is the teacher. Olive Branch has 72 pupils and Mrs. M B Wood and Myrtle Draffin are the teachers. Salem enrolled 73 this year and Willie Rothrock is the teacher. The school buildings in this township are well built and well kept.
The present day churches are well attended. Different denominations now have their own churches. The Providence Baptist, the oldest church in Pettis County is 8 miles northeast of Sedalia. It was organized at its present location in 1842. Its ministers since 1882 have been Revs. O L Wood, Charles White, M W Humphrey, R L Payne, Jeffries, John Harbaugh, Louis Verts and others. Church is substantial frame building nicely furnished and has library and piano. Building valued at $2,300. A cemetery is in connection and is near the church. Membership is 27, with Sunday School attendance in summer months of 23.
Olive Branch Baptist Church is located a little north of the center of the township. IT was organized in 1872. It has a membership of 201, with an average attendance of 70. The church building is a substantial one and is well equipped. The value of the church property is approximately $1,500.
Salem, a Southern Methodist Episcopal Church, six and a half miles northeast of Sedalia is one of the older churches of the county . The present building is a substantial brick, 28 by 40 feet. It was rebuilt in 1880, much material being used from the old church which was erected in 1858. The membership of the church is 50, with Sunday school attendance of 45. Charles S Danforth is the Sunday school superintendent. Present minister is Rev. Samuel P Cayton. Salem cemetery adjoins the church yard on the south.
The Beaman Christian Church was built about 25 years ago. J R Stewart A J Lane, John Kellerman, Judge Willis Franklin, and John D Franklin were the builders of the church. The present building is a substantial frame 30 by 44 feet, seated with chairs and has a good organ. Church has no services at present, the building being used by Beaman Chapter of the Red Cross.
[Transcribed by Laura Paxton.]