Spruce lies east of Shawnee, and its eastern line is the county line between Bates and Henry. The lands are
rolling, but it is one of the richest corn producing townships in the county. There is abundant timber. It is drained
by Peter and Cove creeks, flowing north, and Stewart's creek, flowing southeast, and its tributaries.
James Stewart was the first settler in 1832. He located where Johnstown now is, and Stewart's creek took its name
from him. He was a blacksmith, came from Lafayette county, remained a few years and then went to Johnson county.
John Pyle came from Kentucky in 1834. He bought the Stewart claim; had the usual pioneer experiences, remained
eight years, and died in 1842, while his neighbors were still few and far between. Samuel Pyle, a brother, came
to Spruce on his bridal tour in a one horse wagon in 1836. He was a Union man and lived in Butler the forepart
of the war and was the last to leave in obedience to Order No. 11, and looking back, he could see the smoke of
their burning home when five miles away. James McCool and wife came from Ohio, had sickness on the road in Illinois,
they sold their team and came to Boonville by water, thence to Bates county in a hired wagon. They settled one
mile north of Johnstown. This was in 1840. When the war came on he and his sons, except Peter V., adhered to the
Union. The family moved over into Henry county under Order No. 11 and Mr. Mcçool died there in 1865. Mrs.
McCool and her children returned to Spruce township and they lived in and around Johnstown many years.
The first store in Johnstown was established by Jim and Dan Johnson in 1845. They were followed by Dick McClure
and John Harbert & Son. John Hull was the first blacksmith. Harmony Mission, West Point, Harrisonville and
Clinton were the nearest towns. The first postoffice was in 1848 or 1849. Prior to that time the Spruce settlers:
got their mail in Deepwater, Henry county. Johnstown was an important business center before the war, and had five
stores, two saloons, three blacksmith shops, a good mill, a cabinet shop, shoe and harness shops. It is said to
have enjoyed a larger volume of business than any other town in this section prior to the Civil War. Among those
who dwelt in Johnstown and in that vicinity before that date may be mentioned William B. and Nicholas Page, who
came in 1842; then George Cooper, Nicholas Payne, R. L., B. J., and D. B. Pettus, and George Ludwick, but the date
of their settlement is not known, except that George Ludwiek, wife and two of her brothers, Henry and Jacob Lutsenhizer,
arrived overland from Boonville, after a river trip from Licking county, Ohio, in October, 1839, at the home of
William Lutsenhizer, who had arrived some time before and settled on the farm now owned and occupied by Hon. John
B. Newberry. John E. Morgan and A. M. Odneal were among the pioneers. In obedience to Order No. 11, all the people
left Bates county, and most of those in and near Johnstown went to Henry or Pettis county. It does not appear that
any great depredations occurred in their absence in that vicinity and after the war they generally returned to
their homes and business; but Johnstown never regained its thrift and importance; and it is now a small inland
town, a scattering village, with little to indicate its former greatness.
Ballard Postoffice is located in the northwest corner of section 16, and is a community center for that part of
the township. It has one or two stores.