Neosho and Southwest MO
Newton County is located in southwest corner area of Missouri. It is patched with a wide variety of Ozark scenery. There are farmlands, forest clad hills, numerous streams with growing towns.
The organization of Newton County took place in 1839, when Hugh Shannon, John Reed and Jacob Testerman were commissioned justices of the county court by the governor of Missouri.
Since the first settlement in the two-county area in 1831, the population has grown to 56,000 (2007 census) and ranks fourteenth in the state. Prior to the first settlers, there were no regular inhabitants, not even Indians. Indians did roam over this area as "hunting grounds," but never established permanent abode.
During the years of the Civil War, Newton County and Neosho, the county seat, saw many events occur within their boundaries. Neosho was a natural gateway to Arkansas with roads leading toward the state border just 30 miles south.
Also, Neosho was easily defended because of the heights surrounding it on three sides. The courthouse had been looped-hold for musketry to withstand almost any type of assault. Many homes had tunnels leading to others' basements for use in the famed "Underground Railroad."
Newton County itself was named after a military man, Sergeant Newton, one of Marion's "Swamp Fox" sergeants. The town of Newtonia was a direct descendent from the county acclaimed name, and the town, too, was a battlefield site for two outstanding battles of the Civil War.
Granby and the lead mines located there were a vital supply point, especially for the Confederates. Possession of the mines was considered an import cog for the military operations.
Information provided by the Newton County Assessor's Office.
Neosho is populated by about 11,000 people. The name, Ne-o-zho or Ne-u-zhu, is of Indian derivation meaning "clear to abundant water."
The area was first settled in the early 17th century and Neosho has been the county seat of Newton County since 1839.
The area was deeply involved in the Civil War, although no major battles were fought there. Much of the downtown was burned in 1863.
A combination of geography and opportunity drew the earliest settlers to Neosho area. Prior to the Civil War, the economy revolved around agriculture, retail trade, and eventually mining. After the war, economic growth and settlement revolved around agriculture.
One of the area's most famous citizens emerged from this agricultural boom. George Washington Carver, born a slave near Diamond and first educated in Neosho, became a nationally eminent agronomist, botanist, educator, and artist. Neosho, nationally known as the Flower Box City, received a grant in 1955 to launch an experiment in city beautification. Flower boxes are now in front of business establishments, churches, schools, and residential homes. Many new residences and businesses have flower boxes incorporated as part of their landscaping plans.