Z.L. Slavens, a physician and farmer of Urbana, Dallas County, is a native of Springfield, Mo., and was born February 13, 1834, being the second child born in Springfield. His parents were James H. and Amanda L. (Roundtree) Slavens, natives, respectively, of Kentucky and North Carolina. James H. Slavens, was born in 1809, and when a boy went from his native State to Illinois, and from there to Montgomery County, Mo., in 1815, locating where Springfield now stands, in Southwestern Missouri, in 1831, and he was the first minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in that part of Missouri. The following year, 1832, he married Miss Amanda L. Roundtree, who was born in 1816, and was a daughter of Joseph Roundtree and Nancy (Nichols) Roundtree, who moved from North Carolina in 1818, and thence to Springfield, Mo., in 1829, taking as a claim the land upon which Springfield is now built. To James H. and Amanda L. Slavens were born seven children, of whom four are now living, viz.: Dr. Z. L., Nancy A. Price, Lucius B. and Luther J. James H. Slavens was sent as a missionary to the Peoria and Shawnee Indians in Kansas, among whom he labored one year, when he returned to his home in Greene County, Mo., where he engaged in farming and teaching. In 1843 he took up the study of medicine, to the practice of which he devoted considerable attention until his death, which occurred in 1888. He served as surgeon in Gov. Phelps’ Enrolled Militia during the late war. The paternal grandfather of our subject, Stewart Slavens, who was a farmer by occupation, was born in Virginia in 1786, and died in 1866. Mrs. Amanda L. Slavens died March 16, 1886. Dr. Z. L. Slavens spent his early life principally in his native place. He attended the high-school at Ebenezer, Mo., two years, and later John A. Stephens’ Select School, of Springfield, Mo., one year. He began the study of medicine in 1856, under Dr. E. T. Robertson, of Springfield, and in 1857 and 1858 he attended lectures at the Missouri Medical College, St. Louis. He began the practice of his chosen profession in Laclede County, Mo., in 1858, and from there went to Buffalo, Dallas County, in 1859, where he practiced until the war broke out, when he took his family to Indiana. In 1862 he entered the army as surgeon of the One Hundred and Fifteenth Indiana Infantry, under command of Col. John Mahan, and served one year, receiving an honorable discharge. He returned to Indiana and practiced medicine until 1865, when he again went to Buffalo, Mo., where, with the exception of a short time spent in Webster County, be remained until 1875, at that time removing to Urbana. In February, 1860, Dr. Slavens married Irene Z. Stanley, who was born in Indiana in February, 1839. Her parents were Horace and Sarah (Willoughby) Stanley, natives of Tennessee. They located in Buffalo, Mo., in April, 1839, and built one of the first houses on Buffalo Head Prairie. Horace Stanley died in 1863. Sarah Stanley died in 1877. They have three children living, viz.: Mrs. Minerva Morrow, Mrs. I. V. Cummins and Mrs. Slavens. Dr. and Mrs. Slavens have four children, viz.: Mrs. Alice L. Lightner, Lieut. T. H. Slavens, Mrs. M. I. Reser, of Urbana, and Robert B. Slavens, still at home. Lieut. T. H. Slavens graduated with honor from the West Point Military Academy in 1887, and was commissioned a lieutenant and assigned to duty in the Fourth Cavalry, United States Army, now stationed at Fort Lowell, Arizona Territory. Dr. Slavens is a member of the Masonic fraternity, is a Methodist, and in politics a Republican.
History of Laclede, Camden, Dallas, Webster, Wright, Texas, Pulaski, Phelps and Dent Counties, Missouri, The Goodspeed Publishing Co., Chicago, 1889.
Dr. Z. L. Slavens was a pioneer doctor an farmer at Urbana in Dallas County, Missouri. He was born February 13, 1834 and was the second white child to be born in Springfield, Missouri. His parents were James H. and Amanda L. (Roundtree) Slavens, natives of Kentucky and North Carolina. Dr. Z. L. Slavens spent his early life in Dallas County. He attended high school at Ebenezer, Missouri, for two years then enrolled in John A. Stephens' Select School at Springfield, Missouri, for one year. In the year 1856 he began to study medicine under Dr. E. T. Robertson at Springfield and he attended lectures at Missouri Medical College at St. Louis in the years 1857 and 1858.
He began to practice medicine in the year 1858 in Laclede County and went from there back to Dallas County in 1859 where he practiced medicine until the outbreak of the Civil War when he took his family to Indiana.
In February, 1860, Dr. Z. L. Slavens married Miss Irene Z. Stanley who had been born in Indiana in February, 1839. Her parents were Haroce and Sarah (Willowby) Stanley, natives of Tennessee. They immigrated to Buffalo in the year 1839 and built a comfortable home on Buffalo Prairie.
Dr. Z. L. Slavens and his wife, Irene (Stanley) Slavens, had four children, Alice, T. H. Slavens, Mrs. M. I. Reser or Urbana and Robert B. Slavens.
After the end of the Civil war Dr. Slavens brought his family back to Buffalo and then he moved back to Urbana in the year 1875. He was a Methodist and his political belief was Republican.
Early Days in Dallas County, Missouri, p. 98-100, by Elva Murrell Hemphill, 1954.
The dream of rails west created many a boom and bust town in the decades following the Civil War. Buffalo (MO) was among the dreamers. However, the dream of rails through Buffalo, launched with jubilation, became a 70-year nightmare for Dallas County.
It began before the war, on January 11, 1860, when the state legislature granted a charter for a railroad to run from Laclede County to Fort Scott, Kansas. Organizers met that June in Stockton, but the conflict of civil war put the project on hold.
In April, 1869, the railroad was reorganized at a meeting in Bolivar. In June, a rally was held on the Buffalo square, with Dr. C.E. Hovey serving as master of ceremonies. The Laclede and Fort Scott Railroad Company proposed to run through Buffalo, building a freight and passenger depot within a quarter-mile of the square..
The county's commitment was to raise $150,000 in subscription to capital stock of the railroad. Twenty-year bonds of $1,000 each were to be sold at seven percent interest. Proceeds from the sale of bonds was to be paid to the railroad company as work proceeded: a fourth when the roadbed reached either edge of the county, a fourth when it was a quarter-way across, a fourth when it was halfway across and the final fourth when it was three-quarters of the way across the county.
No election was held, but the crowd gave boisterous assent, and the court proceeded. In August, John O'Bannon was named agent to negotiate the sale of bonds and the county clerk and presiding judge were given the right to sign bonds. Meanwhile, county landowners were turning over railroad right-of-way for token payments. According to one account, one elderly woman granted the right-of-way for having a tooth pulled.
In 1872, railroad company president J.N.B. Dodson reported that $284,500 had been spent: Laclede County, $100,000; Dallas County, $150,000; and Polk County, $34,500. Dallas County had added another $85,000 to it's commitment, for a total of $235,000. Work had stopped. The roadbed was completed from Lebanon to the eastern edge of Polk County, but no rails were laid.
At a mass meeting in a pasture at the edge of town, Dallas County citizens determined not to pay for a railroad they didn't get. The bond holders filed suit in U.S. District Court. In April, 1874, the U.S. District Court in Jefferson City passed a $2,000 judgment against Dallas County.
From there, thing got personal. A deputy U.S. marshal came to Buffalo to serve the order on county treasurer George W. O'Bannon. His report was to be back in Jefferson City by April 30. It arrived three days later, and the postmaster, Dr. Z.L. Slavens, was deemed responsible. The court set the railroad debt at $250,000, and had Dr. Slavens arrested and hauled to jail in Jefferson City.
A writ was also issued for the arrest of county judges Lewis W. Hart, John E. Haynes and John W. Scott. A deputy marshal arrived while the court was in session, but the judges escaped arrest by jumping from the windows.
From 1874 until the compromise of 1919, officers of the Dallas County Court were under constant threat of arrest by U.S. Marshals. In 1879, Judge John W. Scott was arrested near his Windyville home and taken to Jefferson City. He was released on the promise he would return, in order to cut wood and gather crops for his family; but, he caught pneumonia and died on the day he was to be back in jail.
County Attorney Haymes argued the county's case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. His arguments that the bonds were illegally issued and that it was morally wrong for citizens to pay for a railroad they never received, failed to sway the court. However, he was effective in negotiating a compromise obligating the county to pay $300,000 at 5 percent over a 20-year period. Dallas County voters accepted the compromise 1,637 to 16 on September 6, 1919. An 8 percent tax was levied and on July 1, 1920, the first payment was made..
The last payment was made on July 1, 1940, seven decades after the first railroad bonds were issued. The Fourth of July celebration of that year held special significance for Dallas County, as the bonds were ceremoniously burned in the Buffalo city park. As a solemn congregation watched, 70 years of bondage ended in a few moments of smoke and fire. It was truly Independence Day.
by Jim Hamilton, Buffalo Reflex (Buffalo, Missouri newspaper)