Town History

Main St -- 2004

Seligman is south centrally located in Sections 22-23 Township 21, Range 28 of the Sugar Creek Township (est. Feb. 16, 1835).  The village originally known as Herdsville  was the home of Jacob Roller who moved to this area around 1838. The Roller family moved to this area from Scotts County, VA. The village was renamed Roller Ridge in honor of Jacob Roller and had only one store -- possibly built by G. W. Neely and E.W. Moore.

Scroll over image to see change from then to now
During the mid to late 1800's, villagers in Roller Ridge had to haul their grain to Pierce City, MO. At that time, Pierce City had the closest railroad and was a two day trip. The villagers could also exchange their products in Keetsville (now Washburn MO) for many items like coffee, sugar, and material for cloths. In the winter of 1879 and 1880, the Atlantic and Pacific Railway (A & P at that time a franchise of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway ) built the railroad which was a run from Pierce City to Seligman. The village was platted St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad Co., and the plat was acknowledged by the company president, E. F. Winslow, September 27, 1880, who donated 80 acres for the purpose of building a town. The town was renamed Seligman in honor of Joseph Seligman. Seligman became the temporary terminal point of the Arkansas Division of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway.  The town was incorporated in March 8, 1881.
Union Church Est. 1884 The original road built by A & P connected Pierce City and Seligman, but it was eventually extended south and was taken over by the Frisco.  The line reached from St. Louis to points in the southwest to Fort Smith, Arkansas.  

Joseph Seligman, the namesake of our town, was an investment banker and founder of J & W Seligman & Company, Inc. immigrated from Baiersdorf, Bavaria in 1837.   He, his brother, and cousin invested in the railroad industry.  Establishing himself as the original "finance capitalist", he insisted on a place on the board of directors of the A & P, in order to protect his investment. Through financial manipulations, political pay offs, and synchronization  with his European supporters,  Joseph Seligman managed to retain control over the A & P for many years.     

According to "Goodspeed's 1888 History of Barry County", Joseph Seligman passed away in April of 1881.  When the town was named in his honor, his widow, Babette, was so pleased she donated 1 acre of land and $500 to erect a church house.  The local Seligman residents raised another $300, and the Union Church was constructed in 1884.


In 1882 the Missouri and Arkansas railroad constructed the North Arkansas line which ran through scenic Butler Hollow to Eureka Springs, AR to the Crescent Hotel.

The arrival of the railroad brought prosperity to the town. Local residents continued to harvest the land. An attempt to drill for oil in 1912, near Seligman in Gateway AR failed. Also around 1914, an attempt was made to mine silver. Local residents harvested peaches, apples, cantaloupe, strawberries, livestock, and pure spring water from Radium Springs.

Although life was hard in those days, the local residents still found time to enjoy themselves also. The picture to the right is dated 1900 and is of the traveling circus coming to town.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's, Seligman was plagued by an outbreak of fires. The first, on January 22, 1883, was a major fire destroying a great number of businesses. In 1909, the Frisco depot was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1910. It was at that time, the first city well was built and was believed to be an "inexhaustible fountain".

The Cassville Democrat reported on March 9, 1966 the Frisco Station would be destroyed. The loss of a landmark saddened the community. Although rebuilt many times, Seligman has remained same as is did in earlier days. Cargo trains still run through town several times a day. The horn of the train can still be heard as the train rolls thru town reminding all residents this town was founded by rail.

Interesting Stories

During the Civil War, this area was divided into Union and Confederate supporters (mostly Confederate) and was infested with "bushwhackers".  The bushwhackers would resort to torture and murder to obtain information on where gold or silver was buried.  They would also confiscate grist mills in the area which caused the price of flour to be $300 a barrel.  It has been speculated that the bushwhackers in Missouri caused so much destruction, that they actually slowed the completion of the Frisco Line.  

Seligman, AZ was named in honor of Jessie Seligman, his brother and is the end of the Frisco line.

The oldest recorded business in Barry County was Faver and Co. located 1 1/2 miles west of Seligman was established in 1888.


Mitchell, Franschon, Releford, Zelda, and Hllburn, Gwen. Looking Back Over - The First Century of Seligman, Missouri - 1881-1981. Seligman City Council "Centennial Committee". Cassville: Litho Printers, 1981.

Office of Planning Department and Community Affairs. Comprehensive Plan for Seligman, Missouri -- Pride in the Past - Faith in the Future,1972.

We also would like to express our thanks to:
The City of Seligman

PO BOX 250
Phone (417)662-1113
Or       (417)662-3611



2004 Seligman Greater Area Chamber of Commerce