Historic Pertle Springs Warrensburg Missouri 1884-1889


Founding of Pertle Springs

J. H. Christopher purchased the land just one and half miles south of Warrensburg in 1884 that came to be known as Pertle Springs. The faith leaders of the community approached Christopher in 1886 and asked if he would support bringing Sam Jones and Sam Small, traveling evangelists, to the community for a summer encampment. Jones was well known and traveled the United States where he preached to crowds who gathered to hear him preach in structures that were referred to as tabernacles.

In 1886 Christopher constructed Hotel Minnewawa to serve guests and built a large tabernacle specifically to accommodate the anticipated crowds that would come to hear Sam Jones. Other attendees, who did not stay at the Hotel Minnewawa, lived in tents, which were erected on the grounds of Pertle Springs. Some organizations erected permanent "cottages" that dotted the Pertle Springs landscape for years to come. The 1886 summer encampment was successful and other fraternal, civic, and political organizations sought Warrensburg as a place to hold annual meetings and conferences, including a Chautauqua Assembly that focused on temperance and an assembly by the Grand Army of the Republic.

Conveniently situated on the East/West traversing Missouri Pacific Line, Warrensburg and J. H. Christopher continued to develop Pertle Springs as an attraction by building a series a lakes where visitors could engage in boating and swimming during their visits. In 1887 the St. Louis Sunday School Association erected a building to use for the St. Louis Sunday Schools during the Sam Jones' camp meetings. The building was constructed on the hill south of the springs and was a "twelve sided building, 30 feet across, the foundations of stone, the walls 38 or 40 feet, and surrounded with a Turkish roof." The Johnson County Missouri camp headquarters was constructed just east of the St. Louis building. In 1888 a bowling alley, temporary merry-go-round, and boat house were added. The Fourth of July celebrations held there were legendary.

Despite these additions, local leaders announced in July of 1889: "The Chautauqua idea has not yet taken deep hold of the community, and the people do not rally to the support of the directors." The directors noted: "The present system of transportation is not only expensive to families, but to busy people involves too much inconvenience and loss of time. We must have a dummy line before the beginning of another assembly." Another catalyst for the creation of a dummy line was that the Dunkards, known as German Baptists, and today known as the Church of the Brethren, agreed to have their annual assembly in Pertle Springs in 1890. The estimated attendance numbered 10,000 and Pertle Springs would have to expand its infrastructure to accommodate the expected increase in visitation.