Freeman Barrows the First County Clerk of Bates County

The first story this year will be about Freeman Barrows and his connection with Harmony Mission, Papinville and Bates County. If you have read the stories or heard them on the radio last year you will remember that Harmony Mission closed in 1836. The American Board had their annual meeting in September of 1935 and had decided to send some people to investigate how the mission was doing and to see if it still served a purpose to the Osage.

Revs Kingbury and Byington were sent to the mission in the autumn of 1834 spending some time at the mission to talk to the ministers and laborers at the mission. They brought back the information to the board that the mission should be closed, because most of the Osage had left the area. 

Freeman Barrows came to the mission in 1838. He was born in Middleboro, Massachusetts and later moved to New Bradford with his family to establish a wholesale grocery business. Freeman decided he was going to head west and arrived at Harmony Mission. When he first came to Harmony he taught at a private school for George Douglas. William Waldo owned a store in the large building at Harmony that was built for the school, housing the Osage children and church services. Waldo hired Freeman to be the manager of the Waldo-Douglas store and he managed the store for two years.

In 1841 Bates County was established.  With permission being obtained from the governor, Thomas Reynold, on March 11, 1841, Harmony Mission was renamed Batesville.  It was the third county south of the Missouri River. Freeman was elected County Clerk, recorder, and circuit clerk. The post office was also located in the building and Freeman was also the postmaster. Batesville had the first post office, voting precinct and where court was held.

Freeman married Asenath A Vaill on August 23, 1842. She had come to Balltown to visit her sister Elizabeth (who was married to Waldo owner of the store Freeman managed) and one year later they married. They lived in a log cabin two miles to the east of Papinville. Freeman was still working at the county seat and worked there for twelve years. Later he built a nice house which is still standing today. It is now the home of Elsie Klinksick.

About 1858 Freeman’s health was declining so he gave up his county seats positions. He died in April 1861 of tuberculosis and is buried at the Green Lawn Cemetery in Rich Hill, Missouri.

The next story will be about Asenath Barrows. She had a very interesting life, and I am sure you will enjoy reading the story. The Papinville Historical Association is planning on doing the Harmony Mission Tour this spring. Those of you who made reservations last year will be called to let you know when the tour will take place. If you haven’t made reservation and would like to go to the location where Harmony Mission and Bates County was established call either of these telephone numbers 417-395-4288 or 417-395-2594 and make your reservation. There will be two tours 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Lunch will be served on both tours so you can eat on the grounds where Harmony and Batesville were established. Pray we won’t have a flood this year.

The Papinville Historical and Cemetery Association would like to thank everyone who donated to the donation drive. Since we haven’t been able to have any events for two years this helped with our finances which was greatly appreciated. If there is any organization or school that would like to see the museum, school, or hear more about the history of Harmony Mission or Papinville call the numbers that were given to make the reservations. We have a nice shelter house that can be used for family reunions with a kitchen and restrooms. Anyone that is interested in helping with the Papinville Association (to keep the history alive for the future generations )you are welcome. We would love your help. 

              Submitted by Phyllis Stewart

Information for this story was taken from the following books:

“Papinville History Book 1997” Co-Compilers Beverly Sullins and Phyllis Stewart

“The First Protestant Osage Missions 1820-1837 “ Wm. W. Graves

“History of Bates County Missouri” W.O. Atkeson 1918