Description of Neosho
Neosho, a county seat town of 12,157, is located in Newton County on the western edge of the Missouri Ozarks. The name, Ne-o-zho or Ne-u-zhu, is of Indian derivation meaning "clear or abundant water." The nine springs within the city limits played an important part in the early development of Neosho.
The area was first settled in the early 19th century, with Neosho being named the county seat of Newton County in 1839. Missouri entered the Union as a slave state under the Missouri Compromise. During the Civil War, Neosho residents were divided in their loyalties, though leaned pro-Southern. Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson, who was Pro-Southern, was forced to evacuate the State Capitol by federal troops. Following battlefield victories at Carthage and Wilson's Creek (outside of Springfield and near present-day Republic) by the Missouri State Guard and Confederate forces, Jackson convened a special meeting of the elected legislature in the Masonic Hall in Neosho. This meeting was short of a quorum, so the legislature met again three days later in Cassville and voted to secede from the Union. Although no major battles were fought in Neosho, much of the downtown area was burned in 1863.
The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (A&P) reached Neosho in 1870. The A&P eventually became the San Francisco and St Louis railroad (Frisco). In 1887, the Kansas City / Fort Smith and Southern Railroad entered Neosho. This railroad was eventually sold to the Kansas City Southern Railroad (KCS) and still runs through Neosho today. 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.
The Scotch-Irish community was joined by immigrants from Germany, France, and Switzerland. Neosho houses the nations oldest operating federal fish hatchery established in 1888. The city's most famous spring is the Big Spring, located in downtown Neosho in Big Spring Park. By 1920, the population of Neosho was 3,700 and growing. During World War II, Camp Crowder was built to train members of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Camp Crowder was deactivated in 1958.
The late Thomas Hart Benton, world renowned artist, is the city's most famous citizen. His days as a youth in Neosho are captured in his famous mural in the Missouri State Capitol Building. Some of Benton's original lithographs, a gift to the city, are on display in the Neosho High School library. George Washington Carver, famed scientist, was born near Neosho and received his early schooling in the city. Humorist Will Rogers attended Scarritt College, the site of the former intermediate school.
The Flower Box City
Neosho is known as the "Flower Box City" and that theme is carried throughout the business and residential areas. Colorful blooms abound in flower boxes in front of many business firms and on top of trash containers. Big Spring Park is a favorite of townspeople and tourists, with its many varieties of roses, flowers, plants and trees. The picturesque footbridge over the clear spring waterfall, the floral clock, picnic tables, and benches provide a natural gathering place for family reunion, or a restful spot just to sit and enjoy the surroundings. In 1957, Neosho was one of 11 cities in the nation to receive the National Municipal League and Look Magazine All-America City award for outstanding civic effort.
The city's interest in and support of quality education is long standing. Through reorganization in the past decade, the local school district has been enlarged to encompass 223 square miles. Total enrollment in the district now exceeds 3,839 students. In 1963, the citizens of Newton and McDonald counties established a community junior college district now named Crowder College.
The Crowder Industrial area, located in the south part of Neosho, encompasses 2,000 acres for industrial purposes. The area has all utilities in, paved streets, railroad access, and is adjacent to the Neosho Municipal Airport. Furniture, wire products, turbine engine overhaul, barbecue equipment, garment manufacturing, poultry processing, egg products, and wood products are among the many local industries based in Neosho. The Crowder Sheltered Workshop is one of the largest In the state and is known as Crowder Industries Inc.
City Profile & Activities
Neosho is the home for 37 churches, comprising most faiths found in southwest Missouri. Ozark Bible Institute is also located here. Recreation needs are met with five parks, eight tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, the Southwest Family YMCA, youth baseball and soccer programs, and a public swimming pool. On Park Street is the U.S. Fish Hatchery, the oldest one in the United States. The Newton County Historical Museum is open to keep the past an important part of today's world.
Each spring is welcomed in Neosho by the Annual Dogwood Tour. Maps of the town and surrounding countryside are made available during a weekend in early spring when the dogwood and redbud trees are at their blooming peak. Fall is not forgotten in the annual Fall Festival. This lively event is held the first weekend in October around the Square and in the Municipal Auditorium.
Craftspeople from near and far gather with their handmade goods. A parade, contests, art exhibits, chess and horseshoe pitching tournaments, and antique car displays combined with the talents of so many nice people, make the Fall Festival a great tradition.
Neosho is one of four cities in the state of Missouri receiving the All-Missouri Certified City Award In 1978. The many active civic, educational, cultural, and social groups locally attest to the civic pride so characteristic of the cordial people of the city. Those who have shaped Neosho's 163-year history have given the city and surrounding area a unique heritage of cherished traditions, combined with a progressive community spirit which make it like no other city in the nation.