History of Webster County

Information on the tornado of 1880

Webster County was formed on March 3, 1855 from parts of Greene, Dallas, Christian, and Wright Counties. It borders Wright County on the east, Laclede and Dallas Counties on the north, Dallas and Greene Counties on the west, and Christian and Douglas Counties on the south on the summit of the beautiful Ozark Mountains.

Webster County was named in honor of Daniel Webster and the county seat for his homestead, Marshfield. Burial lands of the Shawnee near Seymour date from about 1800 and many other Indian tribes passed through as they were moved westward. The earliest white settler appears to be William Mooney, according to Goodspeed, who came to the now Webster County area in the 1830's and lived for awhile in Washington township. The Flanagans, Bowers, John Starnes (Staines), and the Marlins appeared to be in the area by 1834. Lazarus Nichols settled in Pleasant Prairie about 1837. Other early families included Allen, Bails, Blunt, Bodenhamer, Burfords, Cass, Cantrell, Cardwell, Davis, Gentry, Griers, Haggard, Haymes, Hailey, Hargus, Harltley, Hoover, Jump, Jones, Keller, Letterman, Martin, Neaves, Patterson, Prior, Rhodes, Silvys, and Smith.

Currently Webster County has a population of 23,470. The coldest month is January with temperatures ranging between 22 - 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 - 6 degrees Celsius). The hottest month is July with temperatures ranging from 67 - 89 degrees Fahrenheit (19 - 32 degrees Celsius). Annual average rainfall is 40 inches, with the wettest month being June and the driest month January (I guess ice is considered dry until it melts!)


One of the more notable events in Webster County History occurred on April 18, 1880 with a tornado that began in McDonald County, MO (SW Corner), moved through Barry County, joined forces with the "Mike's Creek" tornado moving towards Greene County where the Mike's Creek tornado went southeast entering Webster County and demolishing the county seat, killing 87 persons. The suffering and destruction that was created by this storm is depicted in detail in the Wilson and Goodspeed's histories.

Goodspeed lists the following killed at Marshfield: John R. Kelso, Stephen Doss, Mrs. Short, Fannie Hicks, John F. Wedemeyer, Matilda Wedemeyer, W. E. Gilleland, Mary Knight, Mrs. Journegan, Dr. Thomas Bradford, Sydney Bradford, Cora Crisman, Rebecca Sutherlin, Albert Sutherlin, Henry Bollinger, J.W. Underwood with wife and child, J. Morris Leeds, with wife and two children, Mrs. Florence Moore, Mrs. Haily and child, Samuel Crisman, Mrs. Crisman, Minnie Crisman, Charlie Chrisman, Eddie Gilleland, girls named Smith, Mrs. Francis E. Rush, Mrs. Lizzie P. Fyan, Ryan Hampton, Mrs. Jabez Smith, Mrs. Evans and child, Hugh Kelso, Dan Wright and wife, Mrs. Jeff Potter, Rev. E. E. Condo, Isom Smith's child, Mrs. Rebecca Todd, Leona Evans, Mrs. Clementine A. Smith, Minnie Smith, Louisa Hick,.Mrs. King, Mollie Smith, George Smith, Orange Smith, Jr., Mrs. Dunk Rudd, Nora Smith and child, Lucinda Goodall, Fannie Jones, Marshal Jones, Willie Johnson, Mrs. Star and child, Ann Woods, Jimmie Woods, one unknown black, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Mayberry, Fannie Jarrett's two children, Kittie White, Richard Kessinger, John Rose and two children Johnnie and Bell, Mr. Neice and two children, Polly Scott, William Neice's child, Sarah Scott, child of Sarah Scott, Reuben Yates, child of Miles Bruton, and John Neice.

Many, many others were injured, some seriously. This horrible storm took it's toll on the town with massive devastation and loss. The town was rebuilt. The people recovered. No one forgot.

More about the Marshfield Tornado