Ozarks History Journal

Tag: Springfield (Page 1 of 3)

The Death of Julia Patterson

Springfield Daily Leader,
May 21, 1886

Julia knew she was going to die. She had been shot in the chest and left arm and her left thumb was blown apart. But her concern was for her family—” How bad my mother will feel, and my poor sister, how she will miss me.”

Just a few minutes earlier she sat reading on the front porch of the Morrison house, where she worked as a servant. Deciding that her time was better spent reading the Bible rather than a novel, she went inside to get it. She was walking down the hallway and into the kitchen when she was shot by Theodore Morrison, the son of Nathan Morrison, the first president of what was then Drury College.

That was on May 14. Julia lingered, in considerable pain, for a week. Part of that time she was lucid; sometimes she was delirious. But regardless of her mental state, she was worried about her family.

“She spoke of different members of her family, and…how they would grieve for her, showing very plainly that she believed she would die…I noticed particularly the fact that she was so perfectly willing to die. All that she said on this point showed a beautiful, trusting, Christian character,” stated a witness.

Julia was also worried about Theo. According to the testimony of Frances Fowler, a Drury art teacher who was nearby when the shooting occurred, Julia expressed particular concern that Theo not be blamed. She “seemed to feel keenly that Theo would be severely blamed by his parents, and she felt that it was…an accidental move of Theo’s that caused the gun to go off.”

Julia Patterson died on July 21st. She had been “born of poor but respectable parents, and had recently joined the Christian Church…she and her sister [had] been saving their hard earnings for years in order to assist their parents in purchasing a home, and it almost prostrated them to see her cut down in the bloom of womanhood.”

There was no inquest held in Julia’s death; the coroner was out of town, and in any case, her father objected. The funeral was held the afternoon of her death at the home of relatives, some sixteen miles southeast of Springfield.

Prosecutor John A. Patterson declined to hold a preliminary examination; he thought the grand jury could handle the case. Theo was arrested on May 27 after the grand jury indicted him for 2nd degree murder; he pled not guilty. Theo’s $1500 bond was paid by a few prominent Springfield men, including T. B. Holland. Since he was underage, he could not be sent to prison; according to the Springfield Leader and Press, the charge would become a misdemeanor that would likely land Theo in the county jail for only a year.

Theo didn’t go to trial until February 1887. Dr. Tefft, witness for the state, testified about Julia’s injuries and her mental condition. He said the only thing he heard Julia say about the shooting was that it was “accidental,” which she repeated “a good many times” in front of everyone, including her family. By the time of her death on Thursday, Tefft stated that “she was more or less delirious…not all the time, but part of the time.

Another witness, an art teacher at Drury College, confirmed that Julia said the shooting was an accident. She also recounted that Theo had no contact with Julia other than asking if there was anything he could do to help.

There was much discussion at the trail about the condition of the gun and whether or not Theo knew it was loaded. Theo claimed that he did not; his younger brother Douglas had loaded it to hunt rabbits without Theo’s knowledge. Also, it had been taken to a gunsmith a few weeks prior to the shooting to have a new hammer installed. Theo and his brother complained that the gun wasn’t reliable; sometimes it would shoot, sometimes not. The gun was not repaired because the gunsmith couldn’t find a hammer that would fit.

The trial lasted four days. On Sunday, February 5th, Theodore Morrison was found guilty of manslaughter and fined $500.

After the trial, the Morrison family moved to Wichita, Kansas, where Nathan became the first president of Fairmont College (now Wichita State University). He died in 1907 and his wife in 1926.

Theo graduated from Marietta College in Ohio in 1902, then obtained a law degree from Northwestern University. Due to hearing loss, possibly caused by the scarlet fever, he gave up law and became a librarian at Fairmont College. In July 1906, Theodore married Belle McHenry at her home in Aberdeen Mississippi. They had one child, a son also named Theodore, born in 1910.

Theodore H. Morrison died in July 1912. A notice in the Springfield Republic reported that Theo’s death was caused “by an abcess (sic) on the brain, the result of an attack of scarlet fever in childhood.” There was no mention of his manslaughter trial.

The Reed-Underwood House

The  Reed-Underwood house inhabits land that was originally part of Hawthorn Place subdivision, which was platted in 1903 by John R. Hegiman, president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in New York. The first owner of the lot was J.W. Drumwright; by the end of that year it had been sold to H.F. Denton. In 1905, the lot was owned by W.H. Johnson, as were several other lots in Hawthorn Place. By 1907, Samuel A. Reed and his wife Susan, had acquired the lot along with two others. Construction likely began on the house in 1907 and was completed by 1909. The house sits on approximately 1/4 acre and according to a 1965 appraisal, contained a total of eight rooms, with four bedrooms, one bath, and three closets. The house contains only one fireplace. Out buildings included a barn and a tool shed. The two-story enclosed porch and the garage were later additions, as is the wood deck in back. The kitchen counters are made of beautiful Phenix marble. The house now boasts five bedrooms and four baths and still claims the same 1/4 acre plot.

 

In 1914, a portion of Hawthorn Place was subdivided into Reed’s Addition by Samuel A. and Susan Reed. Reed was a prominent member of the Springfield community and served as clerk of the circuit court for many years before becoming a District 1 judge. The Reed family lived in their new home for a few years before moving to another house just down the street. Susan Reed died in 1934 and Samuel in 1937.

By 1920, the house was owned by Thomas F. Underwood, a mechanic for the Frisco railroad, and his wife, Jennie.  When Thomas died in 1922, Jennie became sole owner. When Jennie died in 1927, the house was left jointly to their seven children. During the 1930s, the house was inhabited by Shane M. Wallace, the Underwood’s son-in-law who was married to their daughter, Esther. 

During the 1940s and 1950s, the house saw a succession of owners and even stood vacant for a couple of years.  Thankfully, the home has been lovingly maintained throughout its 100+ year history.

The Welsh House

Located in Springfield’s lovely Rountree neighborhood, this 1939 house is part of McMillan Place subdivision, 2nd edition, which was platted in April 1914 by Otho McMillan and his wife, Laura. Otho was a businessman of varied interests; in addition to real estate development, he was also a restaurateur and and a meat-market owner. When Otho died in 1927, Laura became sole owner of the development, which included 28 lots.

The original owner of the house was Thomas J. Welsh, who was born in Springfield and grew up in a house on S. National. He was the son of Thomas N. and Agnes Glynn Welsh. Thomas N. was part owner of what would eventually be called the Welsh Meat Packing Company. The business began operating in 1895 under the ownership of A. Clas. He sold the company to the Tegarden brothers in 1904; in 1912, they sold the plant to a group of local businessmen. One of those businessmen was Thomas N. Welsh. His partners included his wife’s uncle, Thomas H. Glynn, as well as  Dr. Robert Glynn. 

In 1930, Thomas N. is listed on the census as the secretary of a meat packing company and his son, Thomas J., as an employee of a college bookstore. The bookstore was likely located at present-day Missouri State University, where he was a student. While attending college, Thomas J. was a member of the men’s group called the “S” Club in 1929 and 1930. Also in 1930, he was part of a men’s pep club called the “Grizzlies.”

By 1940, Thomas J. was married to Mary Mildred, had two children, and was an accountant at his father’s  meat packing company. Thomas J. and his family lived in this house for over 20 years.

In 1961, Thomas N. Welsh and his wife Agnes died within two days of each other, both deaths due to bronchopneumonia. Thomas J. Welsh died the following August. He was only 53-years-old. Mary Mildred died in 1966. The house went to their son, Michael, who owned it for several years.  

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