A photo of Glenstone Avenue in 2007. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

On Friday, I opened a thumb drive and reviewed my extensive repository of all the Answer Man questions I’ve been asked over the last several years.

Back on Dec. 28, 2016, Jenny Fillmer Edwards, spokeswoman for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, asked if I could find out the history of “Glenstone,” as in “Glenstone Avenue.”

I had never answered her question, although my notes indicate I asked Deputy Answer Man John Sellars, former executive director of the History Museum on the Square.

Sellars didn’t know, either.

On Friday, I made a more determined effort for this column and found the answer; it surprised me because it was not one suggested by others.

First, I methodically went through News-Leader archives to find the first year in which “Glenstone” was mentioned in the paper. 

It was 1915.  A news story said residents of East Walnut Street wanted to extend their street beyond city limits to Glenstone.

But I found nothing on the origins of “Glenstone.”

I called Richard Crabtree, a local historian and real estate agent who authors the Facebook page “Springfield, MO History, Landmarks & Vintage Photography.”

Crabtree assured me that “Glenstone” was not a family name. 

Answer is in an unpublished manuscript

Instead, he said the trail leads to noted Springieldian John T. Woodruff, who was instrumental in creating Route 66.

Woodruff was a lawyer, businessman, developer and civic leader. He played a role in bringing a federal medical hospital for prisoners to Springfield.

He was involved in the formation of the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, the Kentwood Arms Hotel (now a Missouri State University dormitory,) the Hickory Hills Country Club, the Woodruff Building (now Sky 11) and the Springfield Normal School, which eventually became MSU.

Crabtree said my answer is found somewhere — in a middle chapter — in the unpublished loose-leaf autobiography that Woodruff wrote.  

I probably could find that manuscript, he said,  at the Greene County Archives building at 1126 N. Boonville Ave.

I hustled over there.

That loose-leaf manuscript is 322 pages.  The title page says “Reminiscences of an Ozarkian.”  Woodruff dated it April 1, 1941.

(Woodruff was born in poverty in Franklin County in 1868. He died in 1949 at age 81.) 

I should note that in his manuscript Woodruff often interspersed poems and other snippets of writing he admired.

Woodruff wrote that in 1912 he acquired “76 acres between the southern boundary of Springfield and the Country Club. I laid out and platted this land as a subdivision and called it Country Club District.”

This is also where he built a home.  According to records with the Greene County Assessor, it was constructed in 1917. Woodruff wrote he and his wife lived in this house for only about two years.

Both Crabtree and Thomas Peters, MSU’s dean of library services, say Woodruff sold the home after only a few years because his wife did not like it.  

Peters also is the author of  “John T. Woodruff of Springfield, Missouri in the Ozarks: An Encyclopedic Biography.” 

The distinctive building that was his home still stands. Today, it belongs to the law firm of Hyde, Love & Overby at 1121 S. Glenstone Ave.

Woodruff wrote:

“We laid out on the eastern boundary, a highway called Glenstone Road. That road is the eastern boundary of the city and extends beyond the limits both north and south.

“The word ‘Glenstone’ was used because (sic) rather alluring. I sought to imitate the name of the great author, Shenston. I believe he wrote:

“Who’er has traveled life’s dull round,

“Where’er his stages may have been,

“May sigh to think he still has found

“The warmest welcome, at an inn.”

Woodruff had misspelled the last name William Shenstone, an 18th century English poet.

Woodruff created the word “Glenstone” because it rhymes with “Shenstone,” a poet he apparently admired.

This is Answer Man column No. 3.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin