Ozarks History Journal

Tag: Springfield (Page 1 of 4)

The Ozarks in World War I – William Ellis Clingan

William Ellis Clingan

Did you know there is a World War I memorial in Springfield? The memorial was placed in Grant Beach Park in 1924 and contains the names of 66 local soldiers who died during the war. It was dedicated on November 11, on the sixth anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. This is the first in a series about the Ozarks in World War I, particularly the men and women who served. We’ll meet the men on the monument, Red Cross Nurses, and much more. Let’s begin with William Clingan.

World War I began on July 28, 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The United States entered the war on April 6, 1917. Hundreds of men from the Ozarks enlisted in the armed forces, including William Ellis Clingan of Springfield.

Ellis, as he was known, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, though the family lived in Springfield by 1903, in a house that once stood at the northwest corner of Kansas Avenue Nichols Street. One of four children of Adonijah and Sue, he was a tall, slender man, with gray eyes and dark hair. He had a brother, Eugene, a sister, Iva, and a twin sister, Ella. The family was active in the community and often held parties at their home that were noted in local newspapers. Iva and Ella were teachers; Eugene was a fireman. Ellis worked as a blacksmith.

Just over one month after the US entered the war, the Selective Service Act was passed, requiring all males between 21-30 to register. Ellis registered on June 5th; it wasn’t until April 1918 that he enlisted and was sent to Camp Funston for training. He was eventually assigned to Company M, 354th Infantry, and left for Europe out of Montreal, Canada, aboard the transport ship Ascamus.

In a letter to his mother the following October, he reported having spent several days in “the front trenches,” and had “made several trips across No Man’s Land…in the midst of heavy firing.” Ellis died November 1, 1918 after being struck in the head by a machine gun bullet. (Military records show his death as November 1st, not November 5th as is shown in the above image.)

Originally buried in the American Cemetery at Barricourt, in June 1919, Ellis was disinterred and reburied at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.


The Ford/Wear House

This may be one of the oldest houses in Springfield. The real estate listing dates it from 1866, which I have not yet verified. In any case, it is certainly over 100 years old.

Michael Ford and his wife Catherine, both Irish immigrants, lived in the house by 1890. Ford was a grocer and had a store at 302 W. College near Patton Alley, although the location is, not surprisingly, now a parking lot.

In 1892, the Ford’s youngest child, Mary Ellen “Ella,” married Vincent Stillwagen, a local attorney. In less than a year, Ella was a widow; some two months later she gave birth to their daughter, Elizabeth.

Ambrose Hunter Wear, known as Hunter, married for the first time in 1879 to Mary Ona McConnell in Cassville. Cassville was their home for a number of years while Hunter served as prosecuting attorney for Barry County. The family was living in Springfield by 1896, when Mary Ona died, leaving him with the care of three children.

In 1900, Ella Ford Stillwagen married Hunter, likely at the house on Nichols. The blended Ford and Wear family lived together in the 5200 square foot house until Hunter died in November 1910. The Springfield Republican reported that the “Well Known Democratic Attorney Pass[ed] Away Surrounded by His Family.” The funeral service was held in the family home.

The following October, Michael Ford died, leaving Ella without her father and husband. The Springfield New-Leader referred to him as “one of the pioneer citizens of Springfield.” His wife Catherine died in 1917, leaving the large house to Ella and two of the Wear daughters, Olive and Madeline. Ella continued to live in the family home until her death in 1937.

The home must have seemed quiet without the Ford and Wear families. I imagine that it still misses them.

The interior of the house has undergone extensive renovations. More pictures are available here: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/641-W-Nichols-St-Springfield-MO-65802/50253514_zpid/


Forgotten Women of Missouri – Dr. Fannie Williams

Galena, Kansas, Weekly Republican, October 10, 1885.

Dr. Fannie Williams is elusive. Though she was well known in the Joplin area during the 1870s and 1880s, little is known about her.

Fannie may have been born and raised in Kansas. (In 1885, her father and brother both lived in Kansas.)

She attended medical school at the University of Iowa and graduated in 1876.

By 1877, she was living in Joplin and treating patients. Although it was uncommon for female doctors to treat male patients, Fannie treated men, women, and children.

She was known occasionally as Mrs. Dr. Fannie E. Williams.  In the 1880 Joplin census record, she was listed as a widow. Unfortunately, I have yet to determine her husbands name or find her marriage record.

In 1885, she was living and working in Carthage. “Her fame as a skillful surgeon and successful practitioner [enabled] her to establish herself in the new home in a short time.” She apparently had recently moved from Joplin to Carthage. Despite being a female in this era, she seemed to have little or no problem in being accepted as a qualified, competent doctor and was thus able to have a successful practice.

By 1886, Fannie was the superintendent of the Department of Health for the Carthage WCTU and regularly gave scientific lectures. At this time, the WCTU had a scientific education department, mainly focused on health, particularly the health benefits of abstaining from alcohol.

She still had ties to Kansas and even spoke in Garland as a state lecturer for the WCTU. She was invited to give a lecture there on July 3rd, 1886.

In 1886, the Missouri WCTU convention was held in Carthage and of course, Fannie was one of the speakers. She lectured the ladies on wearing too tight clothing, apparently a pet peeve of hers.

Throughout the month of June, 1887, Fannie spent her time in an Ozark court room with Cora Lee. She was with her throughout her trial for the murder of Sarah Graham. (For more about the murder, click here.) Fannie and Cora likely met through the WCTU.

In December 1887, Fannie left the Ozarks and moved to Riverside, California, apparently for her health. She continued to practice medicine and work with the WCTU, lecturing about health.

Riverside (California) Daily Press, January 18, 1888

Fannie was sick for much of the year in 1889. In October, the Riverside Daily Press reported that her health was much improved and she hoped to return to work soon. Unfortunately, her condition worsened and she died in early November.

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