Lynn Hilburn: Work still needed on Bayless-Salyer house

We have finally completed the placing of the columns on the front porch at the Bayless-Salyer House at 9th and Townsend streets.

The Barry County Historical and Genealogical Society would like to thank the people, families and businesses who have contributed money to pay for the purchase and installation of the new columns. Between the purchase, delivery, painting and installation, it costs or will have cost (there is still some caulking and painting to be completed plus the re-installation of the handrails) approximately $1,000 per new column.

The Historical and Genealogical Society greatly appreciates the contributions made to enable us to install these new columns. As many of you have witnessed by seeing the pictures or actually seeing the old columns on the ground, they were a wood product that were being rotted away by too much moisture. The new columns are a fiberglass reinforced polymer that contains limestone chips that are non-porous, waterproof and are practically impervious to termite and carpenter ant attack and fire damage. These columns should last as long as the building will last.

Even with the most urgent problem having been taken care of, the Bayless-Salyer house still needs a lot of work just to keep it standing and insurable. To stabilize the foundation around the exterior of the house, to replace the roof including the underlayment, to fix all the eaves and gutters, to repair around all the windows and to tuck point and paint the exterior, it has been estimated that it would cost another approximately $70,000.

We know we don’t have that kind of money available (and we are investigating some grants), but with the assistance of some volunteered labor of local contractors, we hope to get the roof “patched” to put a band aid on some of the eaves and gutters, to repair a couple of the worst windows, and to power wash and paint the exterior of the building.

We still need donations from our local residents to help complete this work. We are going to create an enhanced “shadowbox” to be hung inside by the fireplace, in which we will place metal plaques, similar to our metal porch column plaques, to recognize contributions greater than $250. Please help as you can.

I realize many readers will say, “Why spend this kind of money on a 150-year-old house?” That is exactly why a lot of us feel that it is necessary to spend this kind of money, because it is (or soon will be) a 150-year-old house.

How many 150-yearold houses do we have in Barry County? How many other older homes do we have that are still standing that share in the history of the early beginnings of Cassville and Barry County?

The following may be old news to a lot of you, but I wanted to help explain why this particular home is important. It is a symbol of the foresight, hard work and prosperity of a couple of early Barry County families. The family of John Bayless came to Barry County from Tennessee after the Civil War and settled in the Keetsville (Washburn) area, where John’s dad had a mercantile store and a farm.

After John returned to Tennessee to get a degree, he returned to the area and became a teacher. After teaching school for two years, John served as County Collector and opened his own Mercantile shop and Lumber Company in Cassville. He started the Barry County Bank and built the “brick” Barry Hotel after the devastating fire of 1893.

He also got a group of men together who paid for and built the Cassville-Exeter Railroad line, and he helped bring the telephone and telephone lines into Cassville in the early 1900s. An important note, John’s Barry County Bank made money more readily available for people to rebuild after the 1893 fire if they would rebuild with brick. After John’s first wife died, he married a local lady, Miss Mary Stubblefield, and they purchased the lot at 9th and Townsend and built the beautiful “mansion” that is still there today.

Rufus G. Salyer purchased the house in 1907. The Salyers were a family of doctors, dentists and pharmacists and provided much needed medical assistance for Cassville. The Salyers added the large wrap-around front porch, and some member of the family occupied the home until 1944. In 1945 the house converted to rental units and was used as apartments until 1981, serving as living quarters to such notables as Jim Lassiter, Truman Baker and John Q. Hammons. Jim Lassiter is notable because he is ”Jim,” but also because he donated for columns and donated other money to help with repairs on the house.

For you history buffs: Questions to be thinking about (answers in a later column).

Why is Flat Creek called Flat Creek when it has never been flat or without water?

What wild west character, who participated in a gun fight in Springfield and who later was to become very famous, spent a night or two in Cassville during the Civil War?

Was the population of Cassville larger in 1860 or 1866, and what was the reason for the change?

What was another ‘not so friendly or likable’ name for the Old Wire Road between Pea Ridge and Springfield during the Civil War? Hint – it has the word Mile in it.

The first person under 20 years of age and the first person 20 years and older who email me the correct answers will receive a prize.

Please help us and if you want to share your family info/story, please come to one of our meetings and tell your story. We meet the third Saturday of the month at 1 p.m. at the Bayless-Salyer House. Please contact me at hlhilburn@hotmail. com with any questions about the house, if you want to arrange a visit to the house or about donations of labor skills or money.

We all have a history and a family — let us help you get closer to yours.

Lynn Hilburn is an officer in the Barry County Genealogical and Historical Society, and invites all to come and join meetings, to provide information about their families or to look up information about their families. Hilburn may be reached at