RURAL HERITAGE DRIVING TRAILS
GREENE COUNTY, MISSOURI
Trail No. 4, Northeast
(Click on Map to enlarge)
1. Crystal Cave 2. Mt. Comfort Church 3. RWS Samuel Steele Grave 4. RWS David Bedell and Elisha Headlee Graves 5. Elm Spring Church and Cemetery 6. Chandler Homestead 7. Locust Prairie School 8. W.C. Potter House 9. Elementary and Agricultural Buildings 10. Wommack Mill
On FR WW, continue driving east. You will pass the Missouri Century Farms of Paul Reed Golden Oaks Missouri Century Farm, est. 1867, Kenneth Funkhouser Missouri Century Farm, est. 1883, and McMurray, est. 1884. Just after these Missouri Century Farms, you will take a right (south) onto State Hwy H and wind around to Crystal Cave (at the junction of H and KK). Crystal Cave, on the left at 725 Crystal Cave Lane, has been open continuously to the public as a commercial cave since 1893. It was originally in a large park called Avalon. Crystal Cave served as a model for many subsequent cavern operations in southwest Missouri. The first owner was English-born Alfred Mann, who grew celery and mushrooms in the cave. Human skeletal remains and other tools and debris dating back to 1,000-1200 A.D. have been found in this cave.
From Crystal Cave, take Highway KK north and continue on KK as it veers to the right. Turn right (south) onto FR 66. Mount Comfort Church is located at 2376 East FR 66. This church was established in 1834, originally known as Kickapoo Church. The present building, dedicated May 10, 1925, was built by the congregation who used materials from the old Grace Methodist Church in Springfield (originally known as Bentley Chapel). The original road went between Mount Comfort Church and Mount Comfort Cemetery.
Mount Comfort Church
(click here to see Mt. Comfort Church interior)
The Grave of Revolutionary War Soldier Samuel Steele who was a light horseman with the North Carolina Company against the Tories under Cornwallis. He came to Greene County in 1836. The grave is located in Mount Comfort Cemetery and has a Historic sign. Notice the Hickory Barren Extension Club Marker which is located between the church entry doors and the cemetery that gives a detailed history of this church.
The Grave of Revolutionary War Soldier Samuel Steele
(click here to see the Dedication of RWS Samuel Steele's Grave)
Return to Highway KK and cross over KK a short distance to Shelby Road. Turn right (east) onto Shelby Road and continue to FR 173 (Fruitland Road). [Note: The Roberts Missouri Century Farm (1842) is at 3035 Shelby Road and the Headlee Missouri Century Farm (1848) joins it on the east.] Turn left (north) onto FR 173, cross over FR 48, and continue a short distance to Old Salem Cemetery which is on the right (east) side at 8850 North FR 173. The cemetery is currently overgrown and a bit hard to see from the road due to the grass growth. This cemetery is the final resting place of Revolutionary War Soldiers David Bedell and Elisha Headlee. These two men homesteaded many acres in 1834 and 1836 (bounty land for their war service) and were life-long friends, compatriots in the Revolutionary War and brothers-in-law. Five of Elisha Headlee’s sons married five of Samuel Steele’s daughters. This cemetery is on what was Elisha Headlee’s land; the Bedell land was on the west side directly across the road. There are more than two hundred slave graves in this cemetery, which is privately owned.
Revolutionary War Soldiers David Bedell and Elisha Headlee
(click here to see the Dedication of RWSs David Bedell and Elisha Headlee's Graves)
Reverse your route and go south on FR 173 to FR 48. Turn left (east) onto FR 48. The land on the north side of FR 48 was Headlee land and Painted Spring Lane leads to the old estate of Samuel Headlee with its Headlee Cemetery. (This land is no longer in the Headlee family). Turn right (south) onto FR 181. Then turn left (east) onto Shelby Road to FR 52. Turn right onto FR 52 and follow it to FR 193. Turn right (south) onto FR 193 then turn left at the first road, FR 197. Follow FR 197 and then turn right onto FR 52.
You should see the Elm Spring Church on your left and the gravel road on the right leads to Elm Spring Cemetery. Elm Spring (on the north side of FR 197 at FR 52) was a source of water for Indians and pioneers. A church, school and cemetery were built in close proximity to the spring. The church, constructed of native oak on a field stone foundation, was built in 1869. Elm Spring Cemetery contains the graves of many early pioneers, soldiers of the War of 1812, and in the Civil War. This cemetery retains a semblance of what it was like in the past with original headstones, large cedar trees and surrounded by forest.
Elm Spring Church
Elm Spring Cemetery
Reverse direction on FR 52. Turn left onto FR 197, and left again onto FR 193 to Highway KK. Turn right (west) onto Highway KK and continue to FR 189. Turn left (south) onto FR 189 to the “T” intersection with FR 66. Turn left (east) onto FR 66 to Liberty Baptist Church on the right. It was established in 1843 and is the second oldest Baptist Church in Greene County, the oldest Baptist Church with a continuous Baptist membership. There is a cemetery with this church. The original wood church is in the middle of the west building and can be seen hidden within the brick church.
(click here to see the History of Liberty Baptist Church)
[If you were to turn right (west) onto FR 66 for two miles, you would find the Liberty School, which is scheduled to be moved to the Gray-Campbell Farm at Nathaniel Greene Park in Springfield.]
Continue east on FR 66 which will curve south and you will find yourself on FR 197. Continue south. You will cross the tail-end of Fellows Lake. Turn right onto FR 74. This is a dead end road at the end of which is the Chandler Missouri Century Farm, est. 1845, and Chandler Homestead, circa 1871. This house is one of the few remaining double-pen, mirror (two front doors) designs left in Greene County and is a 2-1/2-story frame house with two side porches and a wraparound covered porch, and maintains its 1880s appearance. Originally known as Walnut Lawn Farm, it is the home of Vera K. Price Chandler. Much—almost 180 acres -- of the original farm was inundated by Fellows Lake. The red barn west of the house was moved to its present location to save it from the lake waters. Chandler Spring is now a part of Fellows Lake.
Reverse your route and return to FR 197. Turn right (south) onto FR 197 and continue south to the stop sign. Continue straight onto Highway AA around the curve and at the bottom of the hill take the second road to the left (Rim Rock Road). The log cabin built by John Carson Price in the 1870s can be seen in the first house at 5844 North Rimrock. The original well and smokehouse are still in place. Turn around and reverse your route to Highway AA. Turn right on Highway AA and go east, cross over Highway 65 and you will find that your are now on Highway C continuing east. After a few miles, you will see Dishman Cemetery on your left. In the cemetery, at the flag, are two monuments. One gives the history of the Dishman family. The other honors Veterans. Continue in the same direction on Highway C to its “T” intersection with Highway 125. Turn left (north) onto Highway 125.
Continuing north on Highway 125, travel about one mile. Then turn right (east) at the Southwest Dairy Farm Sign on FR 239 and follow FR 239 which will soon turn to the north. The Coble Registered Holstein Dairy Farm is a Missouri Century Farm (1872). On FR 239, you will travel through this farm’s land. Continue north on FR 239 to its “T” intersection with FR 56. On the right, you will see Locust Prairie School, District #36, located at 8830 FR 56. This school was organized in 1853. The current building was constructed at the turn-of-the century. It was reorganized as part of the Strafford School District. [Another Coble Dairy Farm can be seen directly north at this intersection.]
Locust Prairie School
Turn left (west) onto FR 56 and travel for about a mile to a "T" intersection with FR 231. Turn right (north) onto FR 231 which will take you through three Missouri Century Farms . . . Marvin Murrell (est. 1853), Jackie E. Allen (est. 1874) and Carmen Wommack (est. 1856), before FR 56 turns east and becomes FR 44. The Murrell, Wommack and Owen families came by wagon train from Rowan County, North Carolina in 1854. Continue east on FR 44 to its intersection with FR 239. Turn left (north) onto FR 239. Continue on FR 239 until you reach its intersection with Highway E.
At this intersection, you will see the Cedar Bluff Baptist Church, established in 1858, is at 8505 East State Highway E and there is a large cemetery behind the church. Many early pioneer settlers of this part of Greene County are buried here, including the Wommacks , Owens and Murrells. Nancy Morris Murrell was the wife of Revolutionary War Patriot Reverend George Murrell. The ground for the church building site and cemetery was purchased from Rev. J. H. and Mary Wommack. A church of native lumber was dedicated on September 25, 1858. The present brick structure was completed in 1927. Salem School was also at the intersection just north of the church. Cedar Bluff School was located just east at the corner of E and FR 30.
Now turn left (west) onto Highway E and continue on it to FR 221 (at the Fair Grove city limits sign). Here, turn right (north) onto FR 221. The Highfill farm is on the right. The W. C. Potter house, a large stone Italianate structure at 11505 North FR 221, was built of stone quarried on this land (Glen Valley Stock Farm) in 1881. It remains among the most unique homes in the county and is open to the public at this time by prior arrangement (Contact Sue Garard at 417-933-2053.). Mr. Potter was president of the Bank of Fair Grove at its organization in 1905 until his death. Continue in the same direction on FR 221 which turns east in front of the W. C. Potter house.
W. C. Potter house
(click here to see W.C. Potter House interior)
Follow FR 122 north across the bridges and you will notice Pleasant Ridge Cemetery on a hill to your left. This cemetery dates to 1884 and has a chapel used for funerals. In the cemetery, there is an interesting memorial stone to all veterans. W. C. Potter is buried in this cemetery, as are many early pioneers of this area.
Continue on to the intersection of FR 2 (which goes to the right) and FR 221. Turn to the left (north), and continue on Farm Road 221. You will cross a small concrete bridge over Cabin Creek before coming to the two log cabin structures which have been moved to this park-like area by the McCurry family who own the dairy farm on the left. The 1830 log cabin home was moved here from its original location northeast at Elkland. The McCurry family traded two cords of wood for it. The owner was going to cut it up for firewood and estimated it would make about two cords. The Hego School House was built in 1820, about five miles from Linn Creek. The McCurry family moved it to this location in 1972. [Note: The McCurry family farm, Cabin Creek Farm, is in Dallas County.]
Continue north on FR 221 to its “T” intersection with AA. Turn left (west) onto AA, and travel one mile to its junction with Highway 65. Turn left onto Highway 65 and drive south [back into Greene County] toward Fair Grove. Just before the Fair Grove exit, notice the large two-story farm house on your right. This is one of two Thomas Missouri Century Farms in this area. The other farm is across the highway on the left.
Exit Highway 65 at the Fair Grove Exit (125/CC) and turn left (east) onto Highway 125 (Old Mill Road). Go east on Highway 125 (Old Mill Road) and turn left onto Main Street. Fair Grove was first settled in 1853 and, in 1860, had a post office and a population of 29.
The Fair Grove Elementary and Agriculture Buildings are located at 132 North Main. There are two historic signs at this location. The one for the Fair Grove Elementary Building is located on Main Street. The sign for the Fair Grove Agriculture Buildings is located on the south side of Hickory Street. These buildings were constructed out of local stone by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression. [Note: The Fair Grove United Methodist Church, east of the Agriculture Buildings sign, was established in 1891.]
Fair Grove Elementary Building
Fair Grove Agricultural Building
You can drive north in front of the school buildings to turn around, and then drive south on Main Street, cross Old Mill Road, and you will be in Fair Grove’s Historical Park. You will see the Boegel & Hine Flour (Wommack) Mill on the east side of Main Street (north of the square in Fair Grove). Built in 1882 by John Boegel and Joseph Hine, it was later sold to Clifford Wommack who operated it continuously until December 24, 1969 when he died. This mill, on the National Register of Historic Places, is the oldest standing commercial structure in Fair Grove. Although situated near a stream the mill was never water powered. It was steam powered until the late 1920s. Take time to enjoy this beautiful park area for it has several old buildings, including a two-story log house. The sign at Wommack Mill entrance (on the left of the driveway) lists the historic owners and operators of the mill. The mill is now owned by the Fair Grove Historical & Preservation Society.
Reverse your route now, and return (north) to Old Mill Road/ Highway 125. Turn right (east) onto Old Mill Road/Highway 125 which bends to the south (still Highway 125). Turn right (west) onto FR 44 and you will pass the Huff Missouri Century Farm at 6679 East FR 44 which was established in 1838. After the road turns south the Jack and Janet Brooks Missouri Century Farm, established in 1838, is on the left. Janet Brooks is a descendant of the Bass family who originally owned the land. Continue on around the curve and turn left (south) on FR 48 and follow it as it turns back east to Highway 125.
Turn right (south) onto Highway 125. Just around the curve, you will see Bass Chapel and Bass Cemetery. In the cemetery at the location of the flag are the walled graves of Elinor (Smith) and Andrew J. Bass, pioneers who came to Greene County from Tennessee in 1829. They had 18 children. Their son James, born in 1831, was the first known white child born in Greene County. This area was the hamlet of Bassville, with its general store, blacksmith shop, post office, Wommack School (all torn down in the 1960s). Bass Mill, which was east of Bassville, was built in 1839 by pioneer Sampson Bass (son of Elinor and Andrew) who owned 700 acres of land. Bass Mill ground for both sides during the Civil War -- one day for the North and the next day for the South, when there wasn’t another mill nearby.
Continue on Highway 125 to the south to Strafford, a railroad town. Highway 125 crosses over Interstate 44.
Trail No. 4 is approximately 54 miles and takes about 2 hours to drive without stops. There are 2 gas stations located on this trail.
Continue on to Trail No. 5, Southeast...