From the conference held at McKendre's chapel, Cape Girardeau county, Missouri, beginning September 15, 1831, Rev. J. H. Slavens, who, after two years on trial as a minister, had been received into the conference, was appointed to what was called the James Fork of White River Mission. Rev. Slavens spent the first Sabbath after conference at Greenville, Wayne county; the next on the Gasconade river; he reached Springfield about the middle of that week, and stopped with Wm. Fulbright, who lived near the large spring bearing his name, now in the western part of town. The next Sabbath, which was October 10th, he preached in Mr. Fulbright's house, and this was the first sermon ever preached in Greene county. Three weeks thereafter or on October 31, 1831 Rev. Slavens preached again and organized the first class of members of the M. E. church West of the Gasconade and south of the Osage river. The original members, eight in number, were Mrs. Ruth Fulbright, Isaac Woods and wife, Jane Woods, Bennett Robberson, Elvira Robberson, Samuel S. Mackay, and Sarah Mackay. (The last named afterward became Mrs. Sarth Mitchell). [801]

Polly Alsup, who afterward lived in Robberson township, north of Ebenezer, was the first person who made a profession of religion on this mission. Rev. Slavens reported 47 members on his circuit at the close of the year 1831. Of this circuit, take Springfield as a center and Bolivar, Greenfield, James Fork, Hartville and Buffalo as points on its periphery, and some idea may be found of its extent. During the first decade the mission became a district, with 1,850 members. "Springfield circuit" had 580; but how many there were connected with Springfield church cannot now be learned.

The first house of worship occupied by the Methodists of Springfield was built in the spring of 1832, only a short time after the organization of the first class, and stood about one mile east of the public square, near a large spring. It was a log house, with a puncheon floor, and furnished with slab benches, and a very plain pulpit. William Fulbright was the architect and contractor and built the house complete for $18. It was named and known as the Kickapoo Meeting House. As the land on which it stood had not yet been put on the market by the government, the site was never deeded to the church. The first quarterly conference of which there was any record was held in this meeting house, April 27, 1833. Rev. Jesse Green was presiding elder; James McMahan, P. C.; Rev. J. H. Slavens, secretary. The minutes of the conference 1831-2 (if any conferences were held) were never recorded. [802]

The next house, a neat frame building, was erected in 1843, on a lot some two blocks southwest of the public square in Springfield. The site was deeded to Rev. J. H. Slavens, J. R. Danforth, E. Headlee, and E. Perkins, trustees, who had been appointed by the quarterly conference held January 1, 1842.

Dr. Slavens was received on trial in 1829, into full connection in 1831, and, located in 1835. He was a practicing physician in Greene conuty for many years. On his way to James' Fork of White River Mission, in 1831, he overtook some movers at noon one day. He alighted and took lunch with them. The family settled near where Springfield now is, some of whom were present when he organized the class and one of whom became his wife. They were married the next summer and Brother Slavens had to go to Cooper county to get a preacher to marry them.


The first marriage in the neighborhood of the settlements in Franklin township was that of Lawson Fulbright and Elizabeth Roper, at the house of the bride's father, David Roper, in 1831. The ceremony was performed by Rev. J. H. Slavens, the pioneer Methodist minister. At that time, however, old David Roper lived in what is now Campbell township. This is claimed by some to have been the first marriage of white persons in Greene county at least within the present limits. [896]

Probably the first marriage in this township proper was that of Harrison Joplin and Miss Sims, a daughter of the widow Sims (or Simms). This marriage occurred in 1833, at the house of Mrs. Sims, on section 4. Rev. Slavens officiated.

Dr. C. D. Terrill, of Springfield, was the first physician who practiced his profession in the township, and Rev. J. H. Slavens held the first religious services.

History of Greene County, Missouri. R.I. Holcombe, Editing Historian.
Western Historical Company, St. Louis, 1883.

Professional Men

Among the professional men that were early settlers in Dallas County were Dr. D. A. Barrett, Dr. James Slavens, Dr. Randle, Dr. Lewey, and Dr. McCall. Dr. Slavens was also a pioneer Methodist minister.


Many of the early settlers that immigrated to Dallas County were deeply religious and all through the hardships and privations of frontier life, there in their cabin homes, would gather together and preach the scriptures and point out the way of salvation. The most active of these pioneer ministers were Elijah F. Yeager and James Slavens of the Methodist Episcopal Church...

Early Days in Dallas County, Missouri, p. 30, 35,
by Elva M. Hemphill, 1954.
Dallas County, MO MoGenWeb