Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Headlee Family

I wrote an article for the October-November 2001 issue of The Ozarks Mountaineer entitled "Murdered for Preaching the Gospel?" about Samuel S. Headlee, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church South who was killed on July 28, 1866, in the aftermath of the Civil War, when he attempted to preach at an M. E. Church North (Pleasant View) in northwest Webster County near Elkland, Missouri; and I have had more than a passing interest in the Headlees, one of the prominent families of early Greene County, ever since. So, recently as I was perusing the Missouri in the Civil War message board (http://history-sites.com/cgi-bin/bbs53x/mocwmb/webbs_config.pl) , a thread entitled "Who Was Capt. Headlee?" caught my attention.
"Capt. Headlee" refers to Samuel W. Headlee, who, as one of the postings pointed out, served as a Union captain in both the 72nd Enrolled Missouri Militia and the 16th Regiment of the Missouri Cavalry. One of the respondents to the original post also pointed out that there were two Samuel Headlees, presumably first cousins, and that Samuel W. Headlee was not to be confused with Rev. Samuel S. Headlee, the man who was killed near Elkland. All of this is true, except that there were actually five Samuel Headlees who were first cousins.
Revolutionary War veteran Elisha Headlee and most of his adult sons and daughters moved from Maury County, Tennessee, to Greene County during the early to mid 1830s, accompanied by the family of fellow Revolutionary War patriot Samuel Steele, five of whose daughters had married five of Headlee's sons. Most of the Headlees settled in the Hickory Barrens area between Springfield and Fair Grove, although some lived near Ebenezer, and all five of the Headlee-Steele marriages resulted in a son named Samuel, after the wives' father.
After the Civil War, Samuel W. Headlee served several terms as a state representative and one term as a state senator, and he ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor. Another of the like-named cousins, Samuel H. Headlee, became a prominent physician and moved to Phelps County, where he, too, served a term as a state senator, and at least a couple of the other Greene County Headlees were prominent in the post-Civil War politics and civic affairs of the county.
Some of the Headlees helped found Mount Comfort Church, and Samuel Steele is buried there. Many of the Headlees, including Samuel S. Headlee's father (Joseph) and grandfather (Elisha) are buried at Old Salem Cemetery on Fruitland Road (Farm Road 173) just a mile or so west of Old Highway 65 between Springfield and Fair Grove, but the reverend himself was brought back to Elm Springs Cemetery for burial (just north of the Hickory Barrens area) after he was killed in Webster County.
On a personal note, I would like to thank my friend and fellow writer Marilyn Smith for helping with my Headlee research. I'd also like to thank Mary Nida Smith, whose recent article in the Missouri Writers' Guild newsletter inspired me to start this blog, for her tips and advice on blogging. You can check out her blog at http://marynidasmith.blogspot.com/.

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