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Early Days

Dallas County was originally organized as the county of Niangua on January 29, 1841. The word Niangua is from an old Indian phrase meaning "I won't go away." Because this name was somewhat difficult to pronounce and spell, on December 10, 1844 the name was changed to Dallas County in honor of the current Vice-President of the United States, George M. Dallas, Vice-President to President James Knox Polk. On March 28, 1845 more accurately defined boudaries between adjoining counties were made as there was some concern about the western border of Polk and Dallas, but no changes were acually made. Then, on December 7, 1855 a change in the southern boundary of the county was made moving parts of Dallas County to Webster County. Apparently this was about a 7 or 8 mile strip of land.

Prairie land abounds in Dallas County although it lies on the northern slope of the Ozark Mountain Range. Bounded on the north by Hickory and Camden Counties, on the south by Webster and Greene Counties, on the East by Laclede County, and on the west by Polk and Hickory Counties, Dallas County is one of the 24 counties that make up Southwest Missouri. The first settler in the area was Mark Reynolds in 1831 who moved his family from near Nashville, TN and settled on a claim on the Pomme-de-Terre River near what is now Pleasant Hope. About 1833, Mr. Reynolds moved his family further north to Buffalo Head Prairie. Mr. Reynolds found a stake on one of the Blue Mounds that had been left there earlier by some unknown traveler and he placed the nearby skull of a buffalo on the stake. Hence the name, Buffalo Head Prairie.

Populated Places in Dallas County, Now and Then

Buffalo, named for the prairie on which it is situated, is the county seat for Dallas County. The land originally was owned by Martin Randleman and William E. Williams. It was surveyed about 1841, although the first buildings were erected about 1838 by Mr. Williams and Joseph F. Miles. Other early inhabitants were brothers Samuel and Caswell Williams, William L. and I.N. Morrow, Alf Moore, Mr. Florence, William M. Lovan and sons Marshall G. and James R. Buffalo now has a population of approximately 2217 residents.

Urbana has a population of about 329 residents (zip code 65767) and is located northwest of Buffalo very near the Hickory-Polk borders. Originally named Andersonville in honor of a local physician; after his death it was changed to Urbana. Early families and residents were Stephen Burris, who opened the first store, L. J. Slavens, C. C. Lightner, J.S. Thurston, Jeremiah Vaughan, Silas Dillon, J. S. Thurston, J. M. Fowler, J. A. Bonner, the Davis', T.M. Turner, and R. Howard.

Louisburg is located about 9 miles northwest of Buffalo and has a population of about 140 residents. Its zip code is 65685. It has a post office listing in the 1860 census. Early residents include the Vaughans, Darbys, Bass, Fowler, Wilson, Padgett, Atchley, Pare, and Persel families.

Long Lane (zip code 65590) had early families named Kelley, Ball, Roberts, Holman, and Hutchinson.

Charity has also been called Hog Eye. Early inhabitants of this small community included the families of Herd, White, Calk, and Legan.

Small places that still exist are Tunas (zip 65764), Lead Mine, Celt, Plad, Pumpkin Center, Wood Hill, Windyville, Cedar Ridge, Wall Street, March (also called Dog Town), Spring Grove, Foose, Olive, Redtop, Thorpe, and Handley.

Small places that are no longer on the map are Tilden, Bailey, Earnestville, Greasy and the Friendship Community. Greasy was a post office located on Greasy Creek, named such because an early settler lost some bacon when his wagon turned over while crossing the creek. Bailey, near Plad and Leadmine, was so named because it was full of Baileys; only Bailey Chapel remains.

Friendship Community has a rather interesting history. Founded by Alcander Longley March 15, 1872, this community was located a few miles west of Buffalo. Mr. Longley was editor of the Communist, a paper dedicated to social reform. The community owned about 500 acres of land and lived as one family with men and women having equal rights, owning all things in common, voting on their affairs. Apparently, the community was left alone to do as it would, but disbanded in the 1880's as members became disillusioned and left. It no longer exists.

The Bennett Spring area is a beautiful place to visit about 22 miles northeast of Buffalo in Dallas and Laclede Counties, primarily Laclede, but mentioned here as well. Acquired in 1924 by the State of Missouri, great scenery, camping sites, hiking, picnicking areas, and trout fishing make it one of the most popular parks in Missouri. It was first settled in 1844 when James A. Brice came from Illinois and camped by a big spring which emptied into the Niangua River. Mr. Brice homesteaded this land and built a mill. The post office of Brice, Missouri was established and named for Mr. Brice. Later, another mill was built by another Illinois man named Bennett. Both mills washed away. Peter Bennett and Anna Brice, James Brice's only daughter married; they built another mill called Bennett's Mill. Anna inherited her father's land upon his death, combining the two families properties. When the Bennett Mill burned in the late 1800's, the family leased the property out. Peter and Anna's two children, Sherman and Josie, sold the property in 1924 allowing this scenic area to become one of Missouri's first state parks. Motels, camping sites, canoe rentals, and restaurants are easy to find. Bennett Spring's address is Lebanon and the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce includes Bennett Spring. Visit the Bennett Spring State Park web site.

Townships

Original townships are Green, Miller, Jasper, Washington, Jackson, and Benton. Green was later divided into Lincoln and Grant in 1868. Sheridan, North Benton and South Benton, Wilson and Sherman townships have been added in recent years.

See also:

  • A Directory of Towns, Villages, and Hamlets Past and Present of Dallas County, Missouri.

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    Last updated: Wednesday, 22-Oct-2008 19:30:53 MDT