Farmer, Hedgpeth, Preston, Bogart, Allison, Bruton, Adams
John Welker, a prominent notary of Billings, has made his home in that town for over ten years, and his career presents an example of industry, perseverance and good management rewarded by substantial results. Like other representative men of the county, he is a native of the Buckeye State, being born in Stark County May 8, 1838. He has inherited his push and energy from his German ancestors. He is the son of John and Mary (Eply) Welker, and grandson of John Welker, who was born in Pennsylvania of old German stock. The father of our subject was also a native of the Keystone State, but at an early day moved to Stark County, Ohio, and thence to Cumberland County, Ill., about 1842. He is still living near Hazel Dell, but is eighty-four year of age, having been born in February, 1809. The mother of our subject died in the Prairie State in 1855. To this estimable couple were born these children: James, Samuel, Jacob, John, William, Joseph, Elijah, Edward and Mary A. By the father’s second marriage there were two children: Harry and Sarah. Mr. Welker was formerly a Whig, but became a Republican in his political views, and in religion was a United Brethren. By occupation he was a farmer and millwright, and became a man of some means. He had four sons in the Rebellion: William, John, Joseph and Elijah. Joseph was killed in the battle of Perryville, Ky.; William was wounded at Pea Ridge, Ark., but survived, and is now living at Hazel Dell, Ill.; and Elijah is living at Yale, Ill.
John Welker, our subject, was a small boy when the family moved to Illinois, and in the Prairie State he received a good education, sufficient to enable him to branch out as a teacher. Later he engaged in the photographing business, and followed that for twenty years at Newton, Ill. In January, 1883, he came to Billings and embarked in the produce business. Later he was elected mayor of the city and justice of the peace, and filled both offices in a capable and satisfactory manner. He is now notary, and for some time edited the Billings Bee. At present he gives his attention to notary business and pensions, loans and real estate. In August, 1862, he enlisted in Company E., One Hundred and Twenty-third Illinois Infantry, for three years, participating in some hard services, but was finally discharged on account of having heart disease. Mr. Welker is the owner of real estate in the city and country, and has been quite successful in a business way. In politics he takes a deep interest, and is an ardent supporter of Republican principles. He is a member of the A. O. U. W. in Illinois and Billings Post No. 166,
G. A. R. In the year 1864 he married at Newton, Ill., Miss Alice Sutton, daughter of William and Catherine (Lyons) Sutton. The Suttons were among the pioneer families of Indiana, and Mr. Sutton was a soldier in the Thirty-eighth Illinois Regiment during the Rebellion. He is now deceased, but the mother is living. Mr. Welker and family reside at Billings, where they have a handsome home, and are connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which Mr. Welker is one of the trustees. Seven children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Welker; three are dead, while James D., Gilbert T., Effie C. and William J. are living.
The man from Tennessee has always been a potential element in the civilization and development of Missouri, and in early days along the woodsman’s trail came men of all avocations and of every degree of social life. No better blood ever infused pioneer life; no sturdier arm ever set about the task of subduing the wilderness and no less vigorous mental activity could have raised a great commonwealth, amid the unbroken elements of nature, within the limits of half a century. William Thompson, who is one of the pioneers of the county, is now retired from the active duties of life and is living in peace and quiet at Billings. He was born in Williamson County, Tenn., May 10, 1832, and is a son of Thomas and Lucinda (Baker) Thompson, natives respectively of Indiana and Kentucky. The parents moved to Tennessee at an early date and there passed the remainder of their days. The Thompson family is of Scotch-Irish and the Baker family of Irish descent. Our subject was one of nine children as follows: Hugh, Elizabeth, Joseph, Nancy, Richard, Alexander, Jane, William and Lucinda. Joseph, Alexander and our subject were in the Civil War, while Hugh, Joseph and Richard participated in the Mexican War. The only ones now living are Alexander, Richard, William and Lucinda. Richard resides on the Wilson Creek battleground in Christian County, and is engaged in farming. During his youthful days our subject attend only private schools and when he had reach mature years he married Miss Mary A. Meacheam, a native of Tennessee and the daughter of Green and Elizabeth (Cowen) Meacheam. Mr. and Mrs. Meacheam died in Tennessee and after marriage their daughter came with our subject to Missouri. This was in 1854, and they settled in Dunklin County, where they remained until 1856, when they moved to Greene County, locating on Wilson Creek. In 1862 Mr. Thompson enlisted in the Home Guards at Springfield and was on guard during the Wilson Creek battle. After this he enlisted in the Fourth Missouri Cavalry of volunteers and served three years, ranking as sergeant and taking part in the Marmaduke and Springfield fights. He was disabled in the former fight, his horse falling with him and breaking his arm between the elbow and wrist, but he was not discharged until the expiration of his term. After this he followed farming and part of the time was engaged in merchandising in Christian County, near Billings. He was with Kelson on the campaign after bushwhackers through Christian, Taney and other counties, and was in many a skirmish and fight under that leader.
Mr. Thompson retired from active farm life about 1879 and came to Billings, and part of the time since has been engaged in the hardware business. He has also been engaged in general merchandising and the harness business, and has been successful in all. He and his wife are worthy members of the Congregational and Christian Churches respectively. They have reared five children as follows: Joseph G., a farmer on James River; D. F., the county sheriff; William, a painter of Billings; Ozias, clerk in store; Nancy, the wife of Mr. Thornton. Since the war Mr. Thompson has been a Republican in his political views, but previous to that was a Democrat. He is a G. A. R. man and commander of Billings Post No. 266, and he is also a Mason, a member of Lodge No. 379 at Billings. In 1875 he was elected to the office of county assessor, served two years and has held other positions of trust. On the 4th of January 1893, he fell and broke his arm in the same place where it was broken during the war, and it had to be amputated. He is receiving a pension from the Government. Mr. Thompson is the owner of real estate in Billings principally, and is a wide-awake, energetic citizen. He is deeply interested in all worthy movements and is at present building up Billings Woman’s Relief Corps No. 111, and also a soldier’s home, and is looking for a location for the same at the present time.
D. F. THOMPSON
D. F. Thompson is the very efficient and popular sheriff of Christian County is a man of energy, enterprise and judgment, and his career has been useful in the best sense of the term. He was born on the Willow Creek battleground, in Greene County, Mo., October 6, 1857, to the union of William and Mary A. (Heacheam) Thompson, who are now residing at Billings, this county. The parents came originally from Tennessee, the father having been born and reared in Williamson County, of that State, and after reaching the State of Missouri, in 1848 made settlement on Wilson’s Creek, where the father tilled the soil until 1861. After serving in the Home Guards for some time he enlisted in the Fourteenth Missouri Cavalry, and fought bravely for the Union for three years and eighteen days. He participated in many prominent battles, but owing to the injury to one of his arms he was discharged before the close of the war. Of the seven children born to his marriage two died in infancy. The original of this notice grew to manhood in Greene and Christian Counties, Mo., and received the rudiments of his education in the district schools of the same. Born on a farm, he involuntarily grew up with a better knowledge of agricultural affairs then one who was not reared to the life, and at an early period he was made to feel that he was equally responsible for harmony, justice, and equity in governmental affairs as in social relations. In 1877 he started out to make his own way in life and for some time worked on a farm. For five years he was constable of Lincoln Township, this county, and served in that capacity in a very satisfactory manner. In 1892 he was elected sheriff of the county by the Republican party, and no man has filled the position in a more satisfactory manner. He has always voted the Republican ticket and in all matters of moment he takes a decided interest. He was married in this county to Miss Nancy C. Wise, daughter of Henry Wise, of this county. Five children have been born to this union, one of whom is deceased. The others are: Henry G., Ada B., Malinda O. and Ida May. Mr. Thompson and wife are members of the Christian Church and are highly esteemed citizens. Socially Mr. Thompson is an Odd Fellow, a member of Ozark Lodge No. 205. As sheriff of the county Mr. Thompson is active and fearless in the discharge of his duty and has had a number of important criminals under his charge.
J. W. SANDERS
The J. W. Sanders Mercantile Company, of Billings, is one of the oldest and largest institutions of its kind in southwest Missouri, and certainly is the oldest and largest of its kind in Christian County. It was established by J. W. Sanders, in 1879, who came to Billings from Carbondale, Ill., in 1875, when a boy, and here grew to mature years, married, and his family is living here at the present time. His death occurred in January 1890. When he first settled in this town, he learned telegraphy at Logan, five miles from Billings, and took the Billings office on the Frisco Railraod in 1877. In 1880 he became railroad agent at Billings, but later engaged in general merchandising and buying produce. In 1880 he started a lumberyard, and in 1883 took in as partner M. T. Russell, with whom he continued in business until 1887, when the latter sold out and moved to Alabama. Mr. Sanders then continued the business alone until his death. For the first few years he carried on his business and was also agent for the Frisco Railroad, but in 1882 he found that his business had grown to such an extent that it would require his entire time, and so resigned his position on the railroad. Mr. Sanders was born September 28, 1857, at Carbondale, Ill., son of Henry Sanders, and when he came to Billings he was only about sixteen years of age. He was a man of excellent business acumen, and was prominent and active in all worthy matters. In politics he was an ardent supporter of Democratic principles. He was married at Billings to Miss Elizabeth Tipper, daughter of William Tipper, a resident of that town.
After the death of Mr. Sanders, or in 1890, the company was incorporated under the Missouri laws, with a capital stock of $12,000, while Mrs. Sanders retained the controlling interest. She is now president and J. B. Berghaus is general manager. The business is composed of seven distinct branches, and each is represented by a fine line of goods belonging to them. The stock carried is valued at about $20,000, and nine hands are employed. The building is owned by the Sanders Estate and the annex is the property of the company. An excellent business is carried on, ranging from $75,000 upward. This company owns its own elevator and buys and ships grain of all kinds, doing a large business in that line. Produce is bought and shipped, and a large trade is carried on in that department. From small beginning this concern has grown to be one of the most flourishing enterprises in the State, all owing to energy and good business management. Mr. J. B. Berghaus, the general manager and businessman of the concern, is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, born February 2, 1853. He received his early education in that city. In 1883 he came to Billings and entered the store of Sanders & Russell, becoming connected with the business in 1890, when it was incorporated. In political matters he is with the Democratic party, and he is active in all public matters. He has a pleasant and cheerful home on Elm Street in Billings, and is a prominent young man.
Among the enterprising and successful produce merchants of Billings, Mo., Alfred H. Purdy holds a prominent position. He has been in business in this city since 1880, has developed a permanent patronage, and his house is one of the creditable monuments to the business circles of this place. He came originally from south Illinois, born December 28, 1857 to the union of Henry I. and Mary (Varnum) Purdy. Our subject passed his boyhood and youth in his native county, and in addition to a common-school education attended college at Carbondale, where he was thoroughly educated. For a short time he clerked in Carbondale, but later came to Missouri, and clerked in a store in Joplin for a number of years. In 1880 he came to Billings, leased the mill, and was engaged in the milling business from that time until 1884, under the firm name of Purdy & Goesling. After that he and his brother, C. E. Purdy, embarked in the grocery business, which they followed for about six years, when our subject bought out his partner. Later he sold this, and still later branched out in the produce business with L. M. Wolfe, now the vice-president of Billings Mercantile Company. In 1890 Mr. Purdy and George M. Scott bought out Mr. John Seide, mercantile store, also the store of C. E. Purdy, consolidated the business, and followed it until 1892. Since that time he has been engaged in the produce business, buying all kinds of produce and game, shipping to all points, and doing a large business. Mr. Purdy is a young man, but experience has brought him reflection, coolness and judgment. He is held in much esteem for his many excellent qualities, and for his straight and manly action. This worthy young man has held a number of offices in the town, and was the one who presented the petition to the court to make Billings an incorporated town. Since then he has been one of the trustees, and has held the office of city clerk three terms. He has also been assessor of the town. He is one of the prominent men of the county, is active in political matters, and has been at the head of the Republican ticket. Socially he is a member of the A. O. U. W., Select Knights of the A. O. U. W., and also the Sons of Veterans. June 18, 1882, he selected his wife in the person of Miss Minnie M. Scott, a native of Iowa, born in 1865, the daughter of Dr. J. Z. Scott, who has been a resident of Billings since 1881, with the exception of one year, and who served in the Mexican War. Two children have born to Mr. And Mrs. Purdy: Clarence, born May 1, 1885, and Ollie March 5, 1888. Mr. Purdy and wife are members of the Christian Church, and they are much respected by all.
Many of the residents of Christian County, Mo., are of British birth and have engrafted upon western ways the habits of the sturdy Saxon race. George Napper was born in England about fifty-nine years ago, and when young learned the blacksmith’s trade, following the same for about thirty-two years. For some years he was in the service of the British Government, but about 1870 he came to the United States and for about three years resided at Rock, Wis., where he worked at his trade. Thence he moved to Christian County, Mo., and located north of Billings, where he resided for two years, when he moved two and a half miles southeast of that town and made his home there until a few years ago, when he removed to Verona. His farm of 400 acres, near Billings is one of the best improved tracts in southwest Missouri and on it is a good dwelling. Everything about the place indicates that an experienced hand is at the helm, for the house and farm are in the best of order. Mr. Napper also owns considerable real estate at Billings and more at Verona. He is a thoroughgoing, active business man, and, although he came to this country with very little capital, by industry and good management he has become one of the substantial men of the county. He was married in the old country to Miss Mary A. Peters, who died in 1888. She was an excellent woman and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Their daughter is now Mrs. Dr. York, of Billings. Mr. Napper selected his second wife in the person of a Miss Brown.
Joseph Meyer, manager and president of the Billings Mercantile Company at Billings, has been a resident of this city since 1886, and his reputation stands high in commercial circles for sound integrity and honorable business methods. He is a native of south Indiana, born March 6, 1852, and is a son of Joseph and Barbara (Boehm) Meyer, both natives of Germany. The father emigrated from that country to America in 1845, and made a location in Troy, Ind., but resided one year in New Orleans, La., previous to that. He is still living and is engaged in the manufacture of harness and saddles. He has been an unusually successful businessman. His wife died when our subject was only about a year old. They were married after coming to this country. One child besides our subject was born to this union, George, who was killed in an accident on the Frisco Railroad in 1888. He was married, and his family is living in Indiana at the present time. The boyhood and youth of our subject was passed in the Hoosier State, where he received but a limited amount of schooling on account of the Civil War. Realizing a good education was one of the things to be desired, by studious habits and perseverance he became a well-posted man, particularly in business matters. During the war, and when quite young, he learned the harness makers’ trade and followed this until twenty-six years of age, at first for his father and then for himself. For some time he was in business in Tennessee, and then came to Jamestown, this State, where he became manager of the Jamestown Mercantile Company, being very successful in that position. Thence he moved to Billings and embarked in the hardware business with P. E. Sweeney, but later sold out and started a general store, which he carried on alone for a year and then took in as partner J. S. Carmare, the company being known as Meyer & Carmare for four years. In February 1893, the company was incorporated with a paid-up capital of $25,000. Mr. Meyer is the president and manager; L. M. Wolfe, vice-president; J. B. McHenry, secretary; and C. B. Swift, treasurer. These men are all residents of Billings, and stand among the first in trade and society. The concern they carry on has seven distinct departments-dry-goods, groceries, clothing, furnishing goods, furniture, hardware, and boots and shoes. This is the largest concern in the county and one of the largest in southwest Missouri. They carry a stock of goods valued at from $25,000 to $30,000, and own the large building in which the business is transacted. This is a large, double, two-story brick structure, and is used entirely for this business. The gentlemen conducting it are rapidly increasing their trade, and aim to conduct all operations upon the ground of strict loyalty to honor, a policy by which they are reaping a most desirable profit. Aside from the mercantile interests, Mr. Meyer and Mr. Carmare are carrying on a grain and livestock business. They have an elevator, and are doing an extensive trade in shipping stock and grain, and also own the stockyards.
Mr. Meyer is one of the leading business men of the city, and what he has accumulated in the way of this world’s goods is the result of his own industry, perseverance and good business management. He was married while residing in Jamestown, to Miss Lizzie Nickles, daughter of Peter Nickles, and four children have been born to this union: Lizzie, Alma, Olive A. and Joseph. In politics Mr. Meyer is with the Democratic party, and he is public spirited and interested in all worthy movements. He is a member of the Catholic Church, and one of its most liberal contributors. He has held a number of the city offices, and discharged the duties incumbent on the same in a very efficient manner.
WILLIAM A. MAPLES
Mr. Maples, though just in the prime of life, has made his way to the front ranks among the energetic farmers of this county, and owing to the attention he has always paid to each minor detail, he has accumulated a fair share of this world’s goods. He is a native of Tennessee, born in Bradley County in 1842, and is a son of Thomas and Rhoda (Maples) Maples, natives of East Tennessee, where they made their home until about 1855. This worthy couple then made their way to Christian County, Mo., and located on a claim on Terrell Creek. On this they remained for many years, improving and adding to the place, but a few years ago Mr. Maples moved to near Highlandville, where he now resides. Although eighty years of age, time has dealt leniently with him and he is unusually bright and active for his years. For some time Mr. Maples was a teacher, but in connection also carried on farming and continued that until recently. Now he is retired. For a number of years he was justice of the peace of Polk Township. During the early part of the war he was in the Home Guards, and although once captured, he was soon released. For many years he has been an exemplary member of the Missionary Baptist Church. His brothers and sisters were: Ephraim, Absalom, Pleasant, Noah, Perry, Hannah and Polly Ann. The sons all came to Christian County. Their father, Josiah Maples, came to Christian County, where he and his wife died before the war. He was a farmer and he and wife were members of the Methodist Church. Our subject’s maternal grandfather, Ephraim Maples, was a brother of Josiah Maples, and he too came to Christian County, Mo. He also followed farming and his death occurred soon after the war. He was the father of a large family. The mother of our subject died in Christian County in 1860, and the father subsequently married Miss Fannie Cavender, by whom he has two children, James and Curtis, both farmers and residents of Christian County. The following children were born to our subject’s parents: Catherine, wife of Oliver Gardner, of Stone County; Eliza J. was the wife of James Wells and died during the war; Mary, wife of M. Johnson of Stone County; subject; Leander; Adeline, wife of Jeff White, of Stone County.
The educational advantages of our subject were limited but early in life he became familiar with every detail of farm life. In 1861 he joined the Home Guards for three months and then enlisted in the Company D, Twenty-fourth Missouri Infantry for three years, participating in many of the leading engagements of the war, viz: Nashville, Mobile, Franklin, Pleasant Hill and many others. At the expiration of three years he joined Company K, Twenty-first Missouri Infantry, and served three months, being discharged at Montgomery, Ala., in May, 1865. He came by steamer to St. Louis and then by railroad to Rolla, Mo., after which he made the rest of the way on foot. He resumed the implements of husbandry and in 1865 was married to Miss Martha Maples, daughter of Simeon Perry and Elizabeth Maples (see sketch of Simeon P. Maples). Ten children have been the fruits of our subject’s union, as follows: Dillworth, Elizabeth, Eli, Marion, Columbus, Jerome, Rebecca and Mary. The two eldest, Edward and an infant, died in youth. For five years after his marriage, Mr. Maples lived in Stone County, but since then he has been on his present farm of 210 acres, 125 acres in cultivation, ten miles southeast of Billings. All this is the result of his own industry and good management. He is a member of the G.A.R. at Republic, and he and wife hold membership in the Missionary Baptist Church. The Maples family is one of the best known in the county. Fifty members of this family are voters, all of whom vote the Republican ticket, and not one but what is respected and esteemed as an honest, upright citizen.
JUDGE E. F. HOWCROFT
Not without justice, Judge E. F. Howcroft is conceded to hold an enviable position among the prominent and successful men of Christian County, for he has not only rendered it valuable service as a reliable public official, but as an industrious farmer and law-abiding citizen. He is a native of the Old Bay State, born at Fall River, November 18, 1838, to the marriage of David and Ruth (Bindley) Howcroft, and like other British-American citizens, has done good stalwart work in the cultivation and development of this section. His father, David Howcroft, who for many years was a seaman on a whaling vessel, was born in England and came to this country with his father, John Howcroft, who settled in Massachusetts. After growing to mature years, the father of our subject moved to Dover, N. H., and there lived for many years. He was a Republican in politics. Mrs. Howcroft died in 1838, when our subject was only six months old. The latter was the younger of two children. Sarah, the other child, is now residing in Massachusetts, the wife of Andrew Walden. Until about sixteen years of age, our subject remained in his native State. He then went to Penobscot County, Me., where he remained until twenty-four years of age, and returned to Massachusetts, where he remained until 1876.
He married, in Maine, Miss Ann Hacking, a native of England, daughter of Robert and Mary (Taylor) Hacking. In 1876 Mr. Howcroft and family turned their faces toward the setting sun and first located in Dunn County, Wis., where they remained for one year. From there Mr. Howcroft made his way to Billings, Christian County, Mo., and being satisfied with the appearance of everything, purchased land and engaged in farming. When a boy, he had learned the molder’s trade and followed it for some time in his native State. Since coming to this State, he has given his undivided attention to agricultural pursuits, and substantial results have rewarded his efforts. His farm is about a quarter of a mile south of Billings, and is a fine place. In political matters Mr. Howcroft is an ardent supporter of Democratic principles, and has ever been active in public affairs. He received a fair common-school education, and, by reading and observation, has added to his store of knowledge, until he is classed among the best posted men of the county. He has held many positions of trust, being deputy sheriff for some time, and in 1893 he was appointed county judge of Christian County by Gov. Stone. This position he is filling in a most creditable and satisfactory manner. To his marriage have been born three children, as follows: Emma, wife of Harry Penman, residing at Scranton, Pa.; Lellice A., the wife of Newton Hale, of this county, and David E., who is married and resides near Billings. Mr. Howcroft is well and favorably known all over the county and is a very pleasant and agreeable man to meet. He is a member of the A.O.U.W. at Billings, and is also a member of the Knights of Horse.