SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield has been around since the early 1800s, and many significant events have occurred over the last 200 years.

Here’s a timeline of significant events that have happened in the month of May since 1852:

1852Word reached Springfield on this date that John Polk Campbell, founder of the city, had died in Oil Springs, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma. He was returning from a business trip. Death was caused by scurvy, contracted while serving in the war against Mexico. He died on his 25th wedding anniversary.
1858Tobacco at this time was a very profitable crop in Greene County with more than 250,000 pounds of tobacco on hand at the close of the season to be used by four cigar factories in town. Sales for the year from tobacco were approximately $50,000.
1868The first Springfield Memorial Day (called Decoration Day) featured a National Cemetery Program. The speakers were S.H. Boyd and William E. Gilmore.
1869A monument to U.S. soldiers in the Battle of Springfield, built with a $5000 bequest in the will of Dr. T. J. Bailey, was, dedicated at National Cemetery.
1878The first train of the Western Missouri Railroad Company, organized by Springfield businessmen, came in over a track connecting Mill Street Station and Ash Grove.
1894Springfield Normal School at 600 South Pickwick was established by J.A. Taylor, who advertised: “Good wholesome board at $1.75 a week or $12.00 per term.” The enrollment reached 700 in 1904 before the school closed to rent its building to Missouri State Normal (later SMSU) the following year. When renting the building no longer was possible, the school building was razed and bricks were used to construct homes in the area.
1901The Frisco System and Memphis line were consolidated and the Commercial Street station was abandoned.
1904Springfieldians began using the Frisco Railroad’s passenger trains to enjoy the St. Louis World’s Fair–with more than 800 tickets sold thus far in May.
1910Springfieldians were in awe as Haley’s Comet swished overhead.
1913Convention Hall, which cost $75,000, opened at Campbell and McDaniel. About 20 years later it was occupied under lease to Sears-Roebuck and Company, then razed in 1958 for a parking lot.
1913The first Springfield Park Board was appointed. The city owned two small parks, Washington and Lafayette, which were part of North Springfield when the two towns consolidated. Phelps Grove Park was the first purchase of the new board.
1922Tom Watkins, Jr., of Citizens Bank and detective Ben Lamb were robbed of $20,000 in currency and $500 in silver by five masked men as the money was being delivered to a local bank for cashing a railroad payroll. Watkins was wounded and Lamb was “critically injured” after the robbers stopped the car being driven by Watkins at Lynn and Boonville.
The West Frisco Shops employed 1,200 to 1,500 men in shifts as 32 passenger trains per day passed through Springfield. Frisco began rebuilding older locomotives to increase power and speed. The Springfield shops rebuilt Engine 4300 which once pulled a train at speeds of 70 miles per hour.
Lou Sharp, the commissioner of health, urged Springfieldians to abolish barrels at the corners of their homes for catching rainwater. The barrels, warned Sharp, were breeding places for mosquitoes. If citizens wished to catch water from rain, they should cover barrels and add oil.
1933The Press, The Leader, and The News were combined as Springfield Newspapers, Inc.
1935There was talk of a community recreation center to provide facilities for tennis, softball, baseball, football and track. It was said that one of the greatest problems of the country was too much leisure. The area was proposed between Clay and Summit south of Center. At the same time, a new field house was proposed at SMS.
1953Council-manager form of government was approved by Springfieldians.
1954Passenger service over Frisco High Line between Kansas City and Springfield, through Clinton, which had operated for half a century, was abandoned.
The last eligible burial in National Cemetery, May 22, 1964, was Mrs. Martha Ann Hadden, widow of Thomas Henry Hadden, Confederate cavalryman.
1972Dedicated May 21, 1972, were three senior housing units: Heritage Tower, 515 Mt. Vernon; Madison Tower, 421 West Madison; and South Tower, 770 South.
1974American Revolutionary Bicentennial flag was raised at Park Central Square with a military ceremony as Springfield-Greene County became a Bicentennial Community.
A new structure at the corner of Hammons Parkway and St. Louis St. was opened to house the Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Assistance Center.
Courtesy: History Museum on the Square