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City of Neosho, Missouri
—  City  —
Nickname(s): City of Springs, Flower Box City, Gateway to the Ozarks
Location of Neosho, Missouri
Coordinates: 36°51′20″N 94°22′35″W / 36.85556°N 94.37639°W / 36.85556; -94.37639Coordinates: 36°51′20″N 94°22′35″W / 36.85556°N 94.37639°W / 36.85556; -94.37639
Country United States
State Missouri
County Newton
Founded 1839
Incorporated August 20, 1847, again in 1878
 - Type Council-Manager
 - City Manager vacant
 - Total 14.93 sq mi (38.67 km2)
 - Land 14.93 sq mi (38.67 km2)
 - Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation 1,037 ft (316 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 10,505
 Density 703.55/sq mi (271.64/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 64850
Area code(s) 417
FIPS code 29-51572[1]
GNIS feature ID 0723172[2]

Neosho (officially City of Neosho[3])(pronounced /niːˈoʊʃoʊ/; originally IPA: [niˈoʒo] or [niˈoʒu]) is the most populous city in and the county seat of Newton County, Missouri, United States. Neosho is an integral part of the Joplin, Missouri Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Located in southwestern Missouri on the southern edge of the Midwest, Neosho lies at the western edge of the Missouri Ozarks. The population was 10,505 at the time of the 2000 census.

The name "Neosho" is generally accepted to be of Native American (most likely Osage) derivation, meaning "clear, cold water", referring to the natural freshwater springs found within the original city limits. Nicknamed "City of Springs", this uninterrupted availability of fresh water made the area ideal for settlement for the original inhabitants of the area as well as the settlers who founded the city. Much of Neosho's history revolves around these springs, including its onetime place as an agricultural center as well as the location for a National Fish Hatchery. Neosho is also known locally as "Gateway to the Ozarks" and, since the 1950s, "The Flower Box City".

Originally inhabited by indigenous Native Americans, Neosho was first settled by people of European descent around 1833[4] and incorporated in 1878.

Neosho has made a number of contributions to the cultural fabric of America by producing and inspiring several individuals who are notable in U.S. history including painter and Regionalist muralist Thomas Hart Benton, ragtime composer and pianist James Scott, and celebrated African-American inventor and botanist George Washington Carver. Neosho has also played a key role in several historic events, including Missouri's secession during the Civil War and serving as home to the rocket engine program responsible for carrying the first American into space and carrying the first men to the moon.

Today, Neosho is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance, particularly in the historic downtown area. Through a combination of private investment and public resources, the historic city center is seeing a number of restoration and revitalization projects aimed at restoring the original charm, upgrading the infrastructure, and generally improving the quality of life of downtown Neosho.

Neosho also seems poised to play a pivotal role in America's transition to alternative energy. Neosho's Crowder College has been deeply involved in education and research since the early 1980s, building the first solar-powered vehicle to successfully complete a coast to coast journey across the United States in 1984. In the spring of 2009, the college is scheduled to break ground on the MARET (Missouri Alternative & Renewable Energy Technology) Center, a facility entended to provide an experimental platform to develop alternative energy systems.[5]



Settlement: 1829–1845

Starting in the late 1820s, European settlers of English, Scottish, and Irish descent began moving into the area which was to become Neosho. The first known of these settlers was Lunsford Oliver who arrived from Tennessee in 1829 and located near Shoal Creek giving his name to the adjacent prairie, Oliver's Prairie. His nearest neighbors were in Springfield sixty miles to the east. Starting two years later, in 1831, came Nathaniel Turner, John Smith, Joseph Ross, Campbell Pure, Blake Wilson, Levi Lee, Carmac Ratcliffe, and George McInturf, the latter of whom built a corn mill, the first mill of any kind in the area. Soon afterward came Mathew H. Ritchie and John W. McCord, the former of whom founded the town of Newtonia near Oliver's Prairie and the latter of whom settled near Walbridge Spring with Levie Lee and founded the town Neosho twelve miles to the west. During these early years the entire area was called "Six Bulls", a coloquialization of "six boils", referring to several large streams flowing through the area, including Shoal Creek, Center Creek, Indian Creek, Spring River, and North Fork.

Education received early attention in the county. By 1835, at least three schools had been established along Shoal Creek and a Mr. Billingsley taught near Neosho. The earliest known organized religious effort dates to 1836 when Methodist Circuit riders visited the area holding meetings in log cabins. In 1843, the Rev. Anthony Bewley was appointed to the Neosho and Granby circuit, effectively establishing the first permanent churches in the area. Rev. John W. McCord was involved in organizing Neosho Presbytery, a Cumberland Presbyterian congregation at New Salem Campground on May 15, 1837.[6] These early settlers were sometimes visited by the Native Americans who recently been relocated from Georgia to the Indian Territory, a few miles to the west, and who periodically came into the area on hunting expeditions.

Newton County was originally contained in Crawford County and afterward in Barry County. It was separated from the Barry County on December 31, 1838, and established as a county under its present name, given in honor of the often fictionalized American Revolutionary War veteran Sergeant John Newton the fellow of Sergeant William Jasper of Fort Moultrie fame. It then included the present counties of Jasper, McDonald, and Barton, which were successively created from it.

The first county court session was held at Reed's residence on April 13, 1839. John Reed, Hugh Shannon, and Jacob Testerman sitting as judges under appointment by Lilburn Boggs the Governor of Missouri. John Reed was made presiding judge, Thomas Mosely, Jr. clerk, John Haskins assessor, and Isaac Gibson sheriff. Townships were established and roads laid out by this body. On November 12, the commissioners reported Neosho as the permanent seat of justice and James Wilson was appointed a special commissioner to lay out the town. The first elected county judges were Edward V. Warren, Larkin Newton, and Samuel V. Warren, and Samuel M. Cooley, with Milton Sexton as clerk in 1840. That same year, Milton Sexton, as superintendent, built the first courthouse, a log structure occupied in March 1841. In 1840, Lemuel B. Hearrell conducted a school on Hickory Creek, which at times numbered forty pupils. In 1841, Charles S. Yancey became circuit judge of the Thirteenth Judicial District, to which Newton County was attached. The first state representative was John Wilson. In 1842, he opened the first school in Neosho and taught Latin and higher mathematics. The Southern Methodist presence in the area dates to 1845.

During the 1840s, mining became a part of Neosho when lead was discovered. Neosho's early commercial development was dominated by lead and zinc mining and Newton County established one of Missouri's earliest commercial operations. Lead was transported by wagon from Neosho to Indian Territory, then shipped down the Arkansas River and Mississippi River toNew Orleans.

Realignment: 1846–1861

In 1846 a strip two miles wide was detached from northern Newton and attached to southern Jasper County. A survey of the community was undertaken in 1846 by F. M. Duncan which laid out the courthouse square and surrounding blocks. According to the survey, the town covered an area of about 40 acres and was laid off beginning at the "west edge of the large spring and...northeast of a large white oak", which included land originally belonging to John McCord. Part of McCord's relinquished land was returned to him, which he then subdivided because of its close proximity to Neosho. This subdivision, later incorporated into the city limits, is still called "McCord's Addition to Neosho". On August 20, 1847, Neosho was legally incorporated with William C. Jones, Jackson C. McKay, Samuel Rice, William B. Holmes, and William B. Mooney as trustees. A Baptist congregation was organized at Neosho in 1847, with the Rev. W.H. Farmer as pastor who served until 1859.

In 1849, McDonald County was created by an act of the state legislature from the southern portion of Newton County reducing it to its present dimensions. The same act named John Williams of Taney County, James Williams of Barry County, and Chesley Cannifex of Greene County as commissioners to locate the seat of justice within five miles of the new geographical center of the county and made the temporary seat at the home of John Reed, one and one half miles east of the present site of downtown Neosho. Later the same year a log jail was built.

The design of the courthouse square followed that of the Shelbyville Square Plan which has lots arranged to face a central courthouse block. A brick courthouse built in 1850 at a cost of $3,000 replaced the earlier log structure and over the next decade numerous residential and commercial buildings were constructed in and around the courthouse square. The first newspaper printed in the county was the Neosho Chief, founded in 1854 by J. Webb Graves. It afterward became the Neosho Herald and was removed in 1861 to Arkansas where the material was captured by the Union Army.

By special act passed on August 3, 1854, Congress laid out a monthly Pony Express mail route from Neosho to Albuquerque, New Mexico with an annual budget of $17,000. Although following the Mexican-American War, this region had come to be of great commercial and military importance, the line was not a commercial success. In March of the following year the route was changed to run from Independence, Missouri to Stockton, California, via Albuquerque.

Civil War: 1861–1865

During the entire course of the Civil War the county was overrun by both Union and Confederate forces. Severe engagements were fought in and around Neosho, Newtonia, and Granby, some places repeatedly, while frequent skirmishes occurred between small groups and raids by predatory parties were a frequent occurrence. The schools were all closed during the war and most of the school buildings were destroyed. The new courthouse was occupied by troops of both Union and Confederate troops during the war and was destroyed about 1862. The county records were later found intact in a cell in the jail where they were concealed by R.W. Ellis, the county clerk in 1861, before he departed to join the Confederate Army. On July 2, 1861, during the Civil War, the Neosho State Guards Captain Henderson Jennings assisted in the capture of Captain Conrad and a company of Colonel Sigel's Third Missouri Infantry Regiment which had recently occupied Neosho taking quarters in the courthouse.

On October 21, Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson and the Confederate members of the Missouri General Assembly who had fled from Jefferson City on the approach of the Union troops, held next to their last session there. On October 28, 1861, they set up a provisional capital which convened in Neosho. Jackson and the Missouri General Assembly met in the Masonic Hall and numbered thirty nine members of the House and ten of the Senate. An ordinance of secession was passed and the event was celebrated with cannon firing by General Price's troops who occupied the adjacent hills. The results of the vote were accepted by the Confederate government and Missouri was admitted as the 12th state of the Confederacy. However, the pro-Union State Convention had already reconvened, and with the support of the federal government and troops, had summarily deposed Jackson and the refugee representatives, and had set up a their own provisional government with Hamilton R. Gamble as governor.

General Sterling Price made an effort to reorganize a Confederate campaign in Missouri, but any chance for concerted pro-Southern action ended when he was defeated in March 1862 at Pea Ridge.

During 1862 various engagements between the hostile forces occurred in the vicinity of Neosho. In 1863, Neosho was garrisoned by Union troops, part of the time with loyal Native American soldiers occupying the courthouse. On October 4, 1863, a portion of the town was burned by Confederate General Shelby who appeared before the town with 1,100 men and, after shelling the courthouse, received the surrender of Captain McAfee and 200 men. Resulting Confederate casualties included 7 dead, 22 wounded.[7]

There was no court held from May 22, 1861 until June 19, 1865 when Tipton O. Wood, Frederick Gallimore, and James R. Pearson sat as a county court with W.I.I. Morrow as clerk and Harvey Conly as sheriff, all temporarily commissioned by the Governor. In 1866, elections were held and order was established. And, starting in 1866, a board of education was organized consisting of Lyman Beebe, J.H. Price Sr., R.V. Keller, E.H. Benham, Hubbard F. Jones and Edwin Ebert. A school site was purchased and the old building repaired.[8] In 1867, a small two-story building was erected for courthouse purposes and the county officers were provided for there and in private buildings until 1878, when a substantial stone and brick building was completed at a cost of $16,250. In 1887, a jail was built. The first circuit court session was held at the house of Judge John Reed on July 22, 1839, Judge Foster P. Wright presiding.

Debate flourishes to this day regarding the legitimacy of these actions. Jackson would continue serving as the governor in the Confederate held portions of the state. But by the end of the year, the Union forces would occupy almost all of Missouri and Jackson took refuge in Arkansas. A Union victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas in early 1862 solidified Union control of Missouri for the remainder of the war.

In 1863 much of the original downtown was burned to the ground by retreating Confederate forces.

Reconstruction: 1866–1899

Following the Civil War, Neosho became a prominent commercial center of southwest Missouri during the late 19th century. The population of the small community grew in size from approximately 500 to 2,725 between 1870 and 1900. During these decades dozens of brick commercial buildings were built around the central courthouse square containing a wide variety of private businesses including lumber yards, livery stables, general stores, and hotels. In addition to retail shops and stores the city also boasted numerous manufacturing companies such as wagon factories, mills, and even a cigar factory. A new brick courthouse was constructed in 1878 followed by a county jail in 1888.

The Southern Belle offered passenger service to Neosho until 1969.

The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad reached Neosho in 1870. The A& P eventually became the San Francisco and St Louis railroad. In 1878, Neosho was incorporated and the first permanent courthouse was constructed in the center of the town square. In 1887 the Kansas City-Fort Smith and Southern Railroad entered Neosho. The KCFS& S served the Neosho National Fish Hatchery, the oldest Federal Fish Hatchery still operating today, which was built the following year. This railroad was eventually sold to the Kansas City Southern Railroad which still operates and runs through Neosho today.

In the 1882, after the vineyards of France, Spain, and Portugal were struck by the deadly phylloxera louse, it was determined that grapes bred by Neosho winemaker Hermann Jaeger were resistant to the louse. His work proved to be a savior for the great vineyards of Europe. Working with other scholars and grape growers, Jaeger supplied cuttings from his Monark Springs vineyards to help replant those lost in Europe. For his contribution to the grape and wine industries of France, Jaeger was awarded the coveted French Legion of Honour, the highest award that that nation can bestow on a civilian.

By 1898, there were 101 schools in Newton County with 139 teachers and 7,618 pupils. The permanent school fund was $23,260.28. The population of the county in 1900 was 28,001. By the turn of the century the city Neosho was a thriving community connected by three rail lines and exporting a variety of products and agricultural produce. The courthouse square continued as Neosho's commercial and governmental center well into the 20th century. Numerous commercial building were constructed from 1900 to 1930 including the four-story Haas Building on the north side of the square. The Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad ran from the Arkansas resort town of Eureka Springs to Neosho where it connected with the Frisco and Kansas City Southern tracks in 1908.

Early 20th Century: 1900–1934

On the Wednesday, August 5, 1914 there was a head on collision between gasoline-electric motorcar No. 103 of passenger train No. 209 of the Missouri & North Arkansas Railroad Company carrying passengers and locomotive No. 805, a regular passenger train of the Kansas City Southern Railway Company, near Tipton Ford, a few miles north of Neosho. Motorcar No. 103 was carrying about 105 gallons of gasoline at the time of the collision. Forty-three passengers on the motorcar were killed, many of them burned beyond recognition, and several others were injured and the motorcar was entirely demolished.[9] Two days later a funeral was held on the Newton County courthouse lawn for over thirty unidentified individuals, who were buried in a mass grave in the Neosho I.O.O.F. cemetery.

New Deal & World War II: 1935–1951

Newton County's Art Deco-style courthouse, built in 1936

During the Great Depression the federal government assisted in the completion of the Neosho City Hall and Municipal Auditorium, as well as the current Newton County Courthouse. Funded by the Works Progress Administration, the original courthouse was razed in December 1935 to make way for the current Carthage stone Art Deco-style courthouse which was designed by architect Neal C. Davis, a Newton County native. Construction of the new courthouse began in April 1936. A memorial tablet replaced the traditional cornerstone, which was no longer a construction component, and ceremonies took place July 30, 1936. U.S. Senator and future president Harry S. Truman, Grand Steward of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, was the speaker. In 1938, another Davis-designed, WPA-funded project, the Auditorium and City Hall project was completed as well. This building underwent an extensive, multi-million dollar restoration and modernization completed in September 2008.

Neosho is the home of Fort Crowder, originally established as Camp Crowder south of town in 1941 at the height of World War II, the post was to serve as an armored training center. By 1943 the army had acquired 42,786.41 acres (173.151 km2) in Newton and McDonald Counties. As it was constructed, it was re-designated as a U.S. Army Signal Corps training center. It was named for Enoch Crowder, a Missouri general who was instrumental in developing the draft for World War I and the Selective Service. The post also served as an infantry replacement center and had a small German prisoner-of-war detention facility.

Some of the soldiers stationed at Camp Crowder went on to find greater fame, including Carl Reiner, Dick Van Dyke, Mort Walker, Tillman Franks, and Jean Shepherd. Writers for the 1960s-era The Dick Van Dyke Show, made the post the setting where Rob and Laura Petrie, portrayed by actors Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, met; Rob was a sergeant in Special Services and Laura was a USO dancer. Well-known to its residents for being muddy and swampy during the rainy season Camp Crowder served as a model for Cartoonist Mort Walker, who was stationed there, for the fictional "Camp Swampy" in his long-running newspaper comic strip, Beetle Bailey.

Camp Crowder was deactivated in 1951 and placed in a caretaker status. While the core of the post was retained, many of the wood temporary barracks were declared surplus and sold. The base's movie theatre was disassembled and reassembled on the campus of what is today the University of Missouri - Kansas City where it was the Kansas City Playhouse until being torn down for a new theatre. A portion of its wall that contains statues of Comedy and Tragedy are landmarks on the university campus. The permanent barracks, were obtained as surplus and formed the core of the community college campus for Crowder College.

The Flower Box City: 1952–1968

Since the 1950s Neosho has been locally well-known as "The Flower Box City", the name dubbed after the city earned the All-America City Award in the 1950s. In 1955 the town applied for and received a $5,000 grant from the New York Community Trust for a civic beautification project. Local companies provided lumber at cost, and the Jaycees formed an assembly line to build more than 200 wooden flower boxes. Pet Milk Company donated 400 used, wooden barrels for container gardens, and town nurseries supplied plants at reduced rates. The city even dressed up trash cans and parking meters around the courthouse square with flower baskets.

The effort earned Neosho a coveted All-America City Award from Look magazine and the National Municipal League in 1957. The Flower Box Promotion Committee has supported beautification ever since, awarding 'Beauty Spot' prizes each spring and summer to homes and businesses with outstanding yards, flower gardens, and flower boxes.

Life magazine photojournalist Wallace Kirkland covered the event for the magazine. A life collection of his photographs from this assignment, many previously unpublished, can be found in the Life photo archive, hosted by Google.

In the early 1950s, local congressman Dewey Jackson Short, senior member of the House Armed Services Committee secured authorization and some funding to build two permanent barracks and a disciplinary barracks and reactivate the former Camp Crowder as a permanent installation, Fort Crowder. Its mission was to be a permanent home for the Army's military police training school. With Short's defeat in the 1956 election, the fort was deactivated again.

As that took place, about 2,000 acres of the post was turned over to the U. S. Air Force to construct Plant 65, a rocket engine manufacturing facility that was operated by contract to North American Aviation, later known as Rocketdyne. This facility was to become Rocketdyne's primary manufacturing and testing complex for the H-1 rocket engine component of the Saturn V rocket, popularly known as the Moon Rocket, used in NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs until its contract ended in 1968.[10]

Recent events

On April 24, 1975, a major tornado caused massive destruction, killing three. A motel, apartment complex, and mobile home park were all destroyed along with dozens of homes and businesses.

Neosho made national news in the United States following the August 12, 2007 shooting at a downtown church, where a disgruntled parishioner entered the First Congregational Church during the Sunday afternoon service for the local Micronesian community and took the occupants hostage. After releasing the children from the church he opened fire on the remaining occupants, killing three including two fellow parishioners and the pastor and wounding several others before being apprehended by members of the local police.

In 2010, the controversial city manager was fired after being indicted for official misconduct.[1]

Other noteworthy events

  • 1878 - First county courthouse is built in the center of the downtown square. Neosho is incorporated.
  • 1887 - Kansas City, Fort Smith and Southern Railroad reaches Neosho.
  • 1892 - E. R. Matters establishes his jewelry store - today, one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the state of Missouri.
  • 1966 - The landmark Big Spring Inn burns to the ground. Arson is suspected, but never proven.
  • 1978 - Neosho is named recipient of the All-Missouri Certified City Award.
  • 2007 - 3 people are killed and at least 5 others injured when Eiken Elam Saimon takes about 30 people hostage at First Congregational Church.[11]
  • 2007 - The body of a girl is found in a cave near Neosho. Six days later, her stepfather and one of his close friends were arrested and charged in her death.

Famous sons

James Scott - ragtime composer and Neosho native

Neosho is the birthplace of:

The Neosho area was also home to several notables, including:

Neosho also served as a stopover in the lives of other celebrated individuals, including: cowboy philosopher and humorist Will Rogers who, as a young man, briefly attended Scarritt College; Dick Van Dyke who was stationed at Camp Crowder during World War II, inspiring fictionalized events portrayed in The Dick Van Dyke Show, episode #6, November 6, 1961 on CBS; and Billy James Hargis, a sometimes controversial Christian evangelist. Also stationed at Camp Crowder was cartoonist Mort Walker who used Camp Crowder as the inspiration for Camp Swampy in His cartoon series Beetle Bailey. Noted writer Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy currently makes her home in Neosho.

Geography & climate


Neosho, elevation 1035 feet, is located in the extreme southwest corner of Missouri.

The springs of Neosho

Although by Missouri standards the springs of Neosho are not large, there are many of them. Big Spring, Neosho's largest and arguably most well-known spring is located near the historic downtown in the city's main park, the aptly-named Big Spring Park. This spring issues at the base of a high bluff of Mississippian limestone from a series of cavernous openings developed along a bedding plane, flows through the city park. Many other springs can still be found throughout the city including Bell's Iron Spring and Hobo Springs.

Bartholic, Elm, Hearrell, and McMahon Springs supply water to the Neosho National Fish Hatchery. The flow of these four springs, as they arrive at the hatchery is about 2,000,000 gallons per day.[12] While Hearrell Spring is at the hatchery, water from the other springs is piped several miles by pipeline to the hatchery.

  • Big Spring - a limestone water, clear and cold, rushing from beneath a rocky cliff and forming a swift creek or river capable of running many mills. Currently the only spring accessible to the public.
  • Bell's Iron Spring - also known as Walbridge Spring, 900 feet east of the Big Spring, rising in the valley and capable of supplying a city of 50,000 people.
  • Brock's Spring - on the eastern line of Neosho.
  • Sevier's Springs - two soft water springs just south of Brock's Spring.
  • Hearrell Springs - on the southeast line of the Neosho producing the same quality of water as the Big Spring and one an equal quantity.
  • Carter & Clark Springs - in the northern part of town. Considered by early residents to have medicinal qualities.
  • Bethesda Spring - in the northeast section. Also historically famous for its purported healing properties. The water is always about 75 degrees Fahrenheit, soft and clear.
  • Birch Spring - a strong spring just south of the Bethesda Spring.
  • Merlin (or Mertin) Springs - three springs north of the Bethesda spring, rushing from beneath the cliff and each producing a different water. *McElhany Springs - forming a bold stream of freestone water in the western part of the town.
  • Hobo Spring - also known as Williams Spring, west of downtown.


Neosho lies near the geographic center of the contiguous United States, in an area with a high concentration of freshwater streams and lakes. This makes for a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa) with moderate precipitation and extremes of hot and cold. Summers can be very humid, with moist air riding up from the Gulf of Mexico, and during July and August daytime highs can reach into the triple digits. Winters vary from mild days to bitterly cold, with lows reaching into the teens below zero a few times a year.

Neosho is situated in "Tornado Alley", a broad region where cold air from the Rocky Mountains and Canada collides with warm air from the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the formation of powerful storms. Neosho has had many severe outbreaks of tornados, including an EF4 tornado hit the Neosho area on May 10, 2008 and traveled about 80 miles in 2 states, as well as a major tornado that caused massive destruction on April 24, 1975 with three killed, many injured. The region is also prone to ice storms, such as the 2007 ice storm during which hundreds of thousands lost power for days and (in some cases) weeks. The White House declared 34 counties in Missouri disaster areas. Damage in Missouri totaled $352.9 million (2007 USD).

Climate data for Neosho, Missouri
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 44
Average low °F (°C) 20
Precipitation inches (cm) 1.7
Source: Weatherbase[13] 2008-12-12


Cultural institutions

Historic district

View of Neosho's town square. The building directly opposite was the site of the provisional Confederate state capitol building.

A large portion of downtown Neosho, described as the Neosho Commercial Historic District, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Also listed in the register is the Second Baptist Church, located several blocks north of downtown and built in the Victorian Gothic style of 1896. Since around 2001, in an ongoing effort to revitalize downtown Neosho, through both private and public means portions of the historic district have undergone restoration & renovation efforts including new street lights, renovated storefronts and new sidewalks.

Historic resources

Neosho currently has three properties listed with the National Register of Historic Places:

  • Neosho Commercial Historic District
  • Neosho High School
  • Second Baptist Church of Neosho


Entertainment & performing arts

  • Neosho Civic Center (also known as "The Civic", formerly the Neosho Municipal Auditorium)



  • KBTN, 1420 AM - country, news
  • KNEO, 91.7 FM - Christian


  • Neosho Daily News
  • The Post
  • Newton County News

Legends & folklore

Confederate gold

Legend suggests that Confederate gold is buried somewhere within the town. Some believe that a cave holds both the remains of the soldiers as well as the gold itself. Others contend that the cave, adjacent to Big Spring Park, was closed after a number of local children were lost forever while exploring the cave in the early 20th century.

The spooklight

The Spooklight, also called the Hornet Spook Light or Devil's Promenade, is a mysterious visual phenomenon allegedly experienced by witnesses in a small area known locally as the "Devil's Promenade" on the border between Newton County, Missouri and northeastern Oklahoma west of the small town of Hornet, Missouri, a few miles northwest of Neosho.



Local Businesses


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 10,505 people, 4,136 households, and 2,725 families residing in the city. Thepopulation density was 703.6 people per square mile (271.7/km2). There were 4,510 housing units at an average density of 302.0/sq mi (116.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.99% White, 1.04% African American, 1.61% Native American, 0.39% Asian, 1.00% Pacific Islander, 2.73% from other races, and 2.24% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.23% of the population.

There were 4,136 households out of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.1% were non-families. 29.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,225, and the median income for a family was $37,790. Males had a median income of $27,672 versus $20,632 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,847. About 8.7% of families and 12.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.3% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.


Neosho's municipal organization provided for under the city charter is a home rule council-manager government.


Public Schools

  • Neosho R-5 School District
  • Crowder College (A. A., A. A. S., A. S.) (N. C. A. C. S., Regional Accreditation)

Private schools

  • Neosho Beauty College
  • Neosho Christian Schools (K-12)
  • Ozark Bible Institute and College (B. B. L., B. B. S., B. C. E.)
  • Trinity Learning Center

History of Schools in Neosho

The first public school in Neosho was opened under the leadership Lemuel Hearrell in 1842 in the old Masonic hall.

Most of the school buildings in Neosho were destroyed during the Civil War. In 1866 the first school board was organized and the schoolhouse known as 'old brick' was repaired. It was located on the hill where the current Central Elementary is. In 1872, a new schoolhouse was constructed north of the 'old brick'. Also in 1872, the school board purchased lot 6 in the Hennings addition for a black school.

A new school was constructed on the same site as the original brick building in 1883 to replace the one built in 1872. The building was a two-story, eight-room structure that had two towers that were visible from the downtown square. The Third Ward School was constructed in 1891, as well as, Lincoln School for the blacks. The M. E. Benton School was constructed in 1898. The Third Ward School burned in 1898 and was rebuilt in 1899. It was renamed Eugene Field School after the St. Louis poet. In 1913, the Board purchased the old Scarritt College north of the square for the purpose of constructing a new high school which opened in 1916.

In April 1927, the school board decided that only experienced teachers would be hired. They also decided that there would be no employment of married women and teachers were not allowed to attend public dances. It was recommended that the Bible be read each day with no comment.

The old Central School building was razed and a new one built in 1930. The M. E. Benton School, named for Maecenas Eason Benton, U.S. Representative for Missouri and father of Thomas Hart Benton, was completely changed in 1937, and a new building for Eugene Field was constructed at the same time. A new high school was constructed for Neosho in 1953 on Neosho Boulevard (renovated & added on in 2007-2008). The same year the old high school building was repurposed as Intermediate School.

Neosho had the unique distinction of never being a consolidated school until the era of reorganization in the 1960s. At which time Belfast School, Jaybird School, and Hammer School were consolidated into the Neosho R-V School District. To meet the demand of growing enrollment, South Elementary School was built in the 1960s. The site of the original Benton School was moved to a new location in 1990. Neosho Middle School was then built west of the Neosho municipal golf course. Today, Neosho serves a quarter of the rural school districts which were in Newton County in 1910.


Sister city


Further reading

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