Bob Mitchell: Some interesting Cassville history

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

What now stands on the southwest corner of the square in Cassville once served as a hospital for Federal Troops during the Civil War.

With the community pretty well split down the middle so far as loyalty was concerned in those days, Confederate forces roamed the streets at one time or another.

Old Wire Road

The old Wire Road, running from Springfield to Arkansas, which is well marked in Barry County during modern times, gave forces from both sides ample access in their moving about.

Following Flat Creek during its way through this part of southwest Missouri, there have long been rumors of a cannon being lost in holes of water in the creek.

J.A. Hull spent days with equipment, across the creek from Ash Cave on the possibility of equipment being lost in front of his former property.

There were never any Civil War relics found in all the diggings, but a nice lake remains there today.


After the battle of Wilson’s Creek, southern forces occupied Cassville for a short time, later joining other forces preparing for the Battle of Pea Ridge just south of Seligman.

Federal forces won this battle. Some of their wounded were brought to Cassville and housed in the McConnell Hotel, which had been appropriated by the Union Army. At the same time, they subscribed Dr. John Ray, Cassville physician, to run the hospital. Dr. Ray was my great-grandfather, who in 1872 left his practice and purchased the Cassville Democrat.

Burial Site

Soldiers who died in the battle were first taken to the hospital and later buried on land owned by McConnell, which is now a city park.

The bodies were later exhumed and moved to other locations, including the National Cemetery in Springfield.

McConnell was later placed under house arrest for his southern leanings.

Cassville’s population at this time was estimated at 500 persons.

Later Years

The hotel continued operation in more modern times, once owned by the Harry Dillards. Their tenure ran into the 1940s when they sold and moved to Galena near Bib Rock on White River. They were assisted by Charley High, who was always dressed in a suit, white shirt and tie, for whatever duty he was assigned.

Following owner was Shorty Webster. He and Mrs. Webster operated a successful restaurant and limited hostel with the lobby frequently hosting a number of loafers prior to Rotary and regular meals.

Became Law Firm

When Joe Ellis joined his father, Royle Ellis, in the practice, the senior lawyer moved from the second floor of the courthouse where he had held offices for a number of years.

Moving with the lawyers was Josephine Fisher, a longtime secretary to the firm.

Their departure left Thomas Abstract the only private firm in the government building.

When Henry and Goldie Thomas closed their business, it became part of Barry County Abstract, owned by the Ellises.

After the Cassville Republican closed, the law firm took all space in the building.

Current firm owners are Ellis, Cupps, Herrin and Hannam, headed by Don Cupps.

Irwin Hotel

Cassville’s other hotel, The Ben Irwin, was located on Main Street between Sixth and Seventh Streets.

The establishment was known throughout southwest Missouri by its requirement to be early for Sunday dinner. Parking during the week was at a premium. With adjoining businesses closed on the weekend, that problem was relieved.

The Irwins were Democrats through and through, always hosting election returns over the best radio in town. Their lobby was always jam-packed as returns came in late in the evening.

My Opinion

Why in the world would a reputable television network broadcast extensive information stating that birds are not real but instead they are drones provided by the government to watch the public?

Why they would devote so much time to such ridiculous information when there are legitimate subjects the public wants and needs to know.

All respectable birds should fly over their headquarters and deposit whatever they could on the windows of the building to give them something useful to do.

Even though it might have been intended to be a farce, there may be people in the world today who might take the information as real and use it for some harmful purpose.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.