History of Republic, by Clifford E. Kubat
In every inhabitated part of the world, we find abundant evidence of occupation by more than one race of people. Everywhere in Greene County, as well as through the State of Missouri, we find traces of prehistoric dwellers. In many of our caves there has been found proof of their existence and some of these artifacts have been displayed in the Museum of Drury College.
When the French and Spanish explorers first penetrated this region, they found it to be the hunting ground, and at times the permanent home of the Osage Indians. This was the tallest Indian tribe in North America. Few were less than six feet and many were seven feet tall. About 1806 the Delaware Indians moved into this territory because of the settlers in their Eastern lands. They had a village on Wilson’s creek, southwest of what is now Springfield. Phelps Grove Park is believed to be the site of a Kickapoo settlement about 1812. Needless to say they were all reluctant to leave this lush prairie country where they found good hunting and fishing. Republic was crossed by two Indian trails, the Virginia Warrior Trail going southwest and the Osage Trail that went north and south.
The first white men to come into this territory are thought to be one of Desoto’s exploring bands in 1541. Around 1715 the French voyageurs from the north and the Spanish from the south came looking for gold and silver. Some of the first travelers to leave a record of what they saw and did were Henry R. Schoolcraft and Rufus Pettibone in 1818. The names of Pettijohn, Patterson, Price, Friend, Pierson, Purrill, Prosser, Wells and Ingle appear in the story of early pioneer immigration to this region. In those days of early settlers, floors were of earth, bedsteads were fastened to the walls in the corners of a house and stood on one leg, wagon grease was made of honey, which was about one cent a pound in the comb and food was scarce, especially bread until the building of mills to grind the flour. Mortars were burned and carved out of stumps or logs and corn was ground in them by hand. In most cases the only implement was the faithful axe.
In July, 1889, Republic Township was created from parts of Pond Creek, Center and Brookline townships. Its origin dates back to the extension of the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad through this vicinity in the fall and winter of 1871 and 1872. There was no town then, nothing but prairie and very few houses. To make matters worse, the railroad company refused to build a switch or even a station for the accommodation of the people A few hustling citizens, consisting of such men as Josiah F. Brooks, W. H. Noe, H. A. Noe, H. A. White, E. T. Anderson and perhaps others, got together and raised one thousand dollars and built and graded the ground for a switch. It was under such conditions and circumstances as these, and backed by men of pluck and energy that Republic was born. The first building was a two-story frame store-building erected by W. H. Noe across the tracks and was known as the “red” building. Then H. A. White built a store and a hall. The first dwelling house was erected by John Summer and Rev. Loping, the second built by Dr. Bartlett. The post office was established and was located about one-half mile south of the depot and the first postmaster was Mark Ritter. Much credit is due to “old man” Brooks, as he was called. He led in the fight for a depot and switch. He contributed largely of his time and means and set out the shade trees on Elm Street. He also founded and fostered the beautiful Evergreen Cemetery, where his body now rests. It is a fitting tribute to say that Josiah F. Brooks, the man from New York State who was a quarter of a century ahead of the times, was really and truly the “Father of Republic”.
In 1883 Republic contained two general merchandise stores, two drug stores, one hardware and agricultural implement house, one shoe shop, three blacksmith shops, a livery stable, two grain houses, a good grist mill with three run of burrs, two churches, Congregational and Baptist, and a population of 150 people. Sometimes one of the churches was used as a school.
The Congregational Church as organized in September, 1876. The original members were P. L. Anderson and wife, Edward Howell, Phoebe Tibbets, W. S. McCleary and wife, Armita Criswell, Mary Hackett, Mrs. J. F. Brooks, Minnie Smith and Hattie Brooks. The church building was completed in 1880 at the cost of $2,000.00 and dedicated to Rev. Robert West.
The Baptist Church was organized in 1874 by Elder J. M. Lapin. Original members were W. B. Searcy, W. H. Harrison, and J. P .Youngblood, A. E. Searcy, T. J. Harrison, F. A. Youngblood, Anna Newberry, Celia Stamps and Ella Decher. The church was built at the cost of $1,000.00 and was out of debt with a membership of 36 in 1915.
Other early churches were Methodist Episcopal in the year 1891 and the Christian Church in 1872. In 1915 the attendance at the various Sunday Schools averaged between four and five hundred. This was certainly a great showing for a town the size of Republic.
The first Board of Trustees of Republic in 1890 was: Dr. E. L. Beal, Chairman; Henry Hayes, Treasurer; H. A. Noe, Secretary; John House and B. E. Williams. C. Howell was Street Commissioner at $1.50 per day; John Rose was Assessor for $2.00 a working day; and B. E. Williams was the Marshall who was paid 75¢ for each arrest resulting in a conviction and 25¢ for each summons or subpoena served. J. A. Youngblood was the City Attorney. There were 593 residents.
The first copy of the Monitor was issued by J. J. and I. S. Jones, April 7, 1894. The printing was done on a Washington hand press in a small frame building on the east side of Main Street known as “smoke row”. Charles E. Gentry was the first “paid up” subscriber.
In and about Republic were to be found many small tracts of land devoted to small farming, fruits and vegetables. The soil is peculiarly adapted to strawberry culture. Under the direction of Dr. E. L. Beal, quite an enviable record was made in fruit growing. The township contained about ten miles of macadamized rock roads in 1915 that cost about a thousand dollars per mile, all of which was paid for by public donations. Republic enjoyed the distinction of having a city lot enclosed with sheds and stalls for the accommodation of the horses and vehicles, free of charge, from the heat of summer and the chilly black of winter.
The famous Wilson Creek battleground where General Lyon fell August 10, 1861, is some four of five miles south and east of Republic.
Republic can boast of having had one of the largest and best equipped flour mills in the state. The first small mill was founded in 1890 by R. C. Stone and L. E. Prickett. This mill went up in flames in 1894. In 1897, through the efforts of the citizens of Republic, who contributed one thousand dollars as a donation, R. C. Stone re-established a much larger mill of five hundred barrels capacity, which was known as the R. C. Stone Milling company. In 1903, through the efforts and contributions of the citizens, the mill capacity was increased to one thousand, five hundred barrels and several hundred feet of warehouses were built, together with several large elevators, making this mill the largest exclusive soft wheat mill in the U. S. A.
The Republic Custom Mill, known as the “little mill” was organized in 1904, through the efforts of G. W. Thurman and P. A. Chaffin. In 1911 the mill owners purchased the electric lighting plant, which was then in its infancy and ran it in connection with the mill.
The Republic public school was the pride of its citizens and had the distinction of having the best high school, outside of Springfield, in Greene County. The building was a large two-story brick, modern in improvements and built in the year 1893. It was centrally located on a beautiful campus with nice shade trees and had concrete walks extending entirely around the building. In 1915 the enrollment was about 350 and more than one hundred students had graduated in the high school course. Many students from the surrounding country attended the school. The following members composed the school board of that year: Walter A. Coon, President; J. P. Kitchen, vice-president; Dr. O. N. Carter, H. B. Ingler, Ed Gammon and W. S. Cliborne. W. P. Anderson was Treasurer and J. __. Robertson was the clerk. High School teachers were: W. B. Rice. Superintendent; Ira H. B. Welch, Principal; and Gladys G. Sherwood, Language. Grade teachers were: Miss Gracie Youngblood, Mrs. Fannie Washam Garbee, Miss Cleo Youngblood, Mrs. Ira Welch, Mrs. Virginia McGuire Squibb and Charles Roper.
At the present time our school enrollment is 1034 students. The 1960 census shows 1519 residents. Today it would be safe to say we have over 2,000 residents. We are growing in every direction and it’s a great town to live in.
Most of this information was taken from a book entitled Green County, Missouri, published in 1915.