Polk County Biographies by Goodspeed  & Obituaries



History Of Hickory, Polk, Cedar, Dade And Barton Counties, Missouri; 1889, published by Goodspeed, Pgs. 693, 694

J. C. Smith, deputy collector of Polk County, Mo., was born in East Tennessee, in 1844, and is the son of Morris and Amanda (Jarnagin) Smith. Morris Smith was born in Alabama, in 1822, and resided in that State until over fourteen years of age, when he moved with his parents to East Tennessee. He there grew to manhood and there married Miss Jarnagin, who was born in Tennessee.  After marriage, or in 1853, they emigrated to Missouri and located in Polk County, where the mother died in 1857, and the father in 1885. Mr. Smith was in principle a Union man, serving in the Polk County Home Guards; was a Republican and took an active
part in politics. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. To his marriage were born six children, four now living, J. C. Smith being the eldest and only son. The latter attained his growth in Polk County, and supplemented a common school education with a course in the graded school at Bolivar. He then needed nothing but discipline to fit him for the teacher's profession, and during the fourteen years that he was in the school-room he was accounted one of the most popular educators in this and adjoining counties. In connection with his school duties he also carried on farming, and is now the owner of 300 acres of land.
He was elected assessor of Polk County, but the township organization took effect, and, as a consequence, he did not serve. He filled the position of deputy assessor in 1872. He was deputy collector of revenue for Polk County, in 1887, and has served two years.   During the late war he was a member of Company D, Eighth Regiment Missouri State Militia, for three years, enlisting March 1, 1862, and being discharged March 5, 1865. He is a member of the G. A. R. and was first commander of the post at Fair Play, and is also a member of the Knights of Pythias. He was married to Miss Maggie E. Thompson, on September 7, 1869.  She was born in Polk County, Mo., March 25, 1846, and by her marriage became the mother of eight children: Vida, wife of A. C. Mead; J. Ira, Nora A., Ada M., John M., Eugene, Orlena (deceased), and William. Mr. and Mrs. Smith are members of the Missionary Baptist Church. The paternal grandfather was a native of Scotland, and emigrated to Alabama, where he died, and the paternal great-grandfather was also a native of Scotland.  The paternal great-grandmother was a native of Ireland.


History Of Hickory, Polk, Cedar, Dade And Barton Counties, Missouri; 1889, published by Goodspeed, Pgs. 696, 697--Polk County Biographies Section

John M. Smith. Among the very first settlers of this county were John T. and Mary (Russell) Williams, natives of Virginia, where they were married, and lived until about 1811, when they moved to Monroe County, Ky., and in 1830 to this county, locating one and a half miles west of Brighton. They were the first white family in the county, although the same year five other families came in, viz.: John Mooney, Jacob Yocum, Absalom Renfrow, Cyrus Patterson and Andy Bass. The nearest neighbor to Mr. William, when he first located here, was at Springfield. The only living child of that family in this county, and the lady who wove the first piece of cloth in this county, is Mrs. Martha Smith, widow of James H. M. Smith. She was born in Monroe County, Ky., March 31, 1811, and has lived continuously in Polk County since 1830. Nine children were born to her marriage, six of whom are now living. Her husband, James H. M. Smith, was born in Mercer County, Ky., January 26, 1806, and with his parents came to the northern part of Missouri, and in 1833 to this county. He was a farmer and stock-raiser by occupation, and filled the office of justice of the peace for several years. He and wife were married January 4, 1835, and the names of their living children are: Lenna H., John M., Annie J., Hugh L., William T. and Margaret E. Mr. Smith died September 16, 1867.  Mrs. Smith's father paid rent to the Indians the second year he was in this county, the rent being two sides of bacon and five bushels of shelled corn. John M. Smith, one of the above-mentioned children, and now postmaster at Morrisville, Mo., was born in Looney Township, Polk County, Mo., September 7, 1837, was reared on a farm, and educated in the district schools. Having worked at home until September 14, 1858, he married Miss Sarah F. McKnight, a native of Jackson County, Mo., and ten children, nine now living, were born to this union. The children were named as follows: Martha L. B., Mary D., Robert M., Montie L.,
Homer E., Leda E., Sarah F., Beulah and Georgie A. Both Mr. and Mrs. Smith are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In June, 1861, he enlisted in Capt. B. F. Mitchell's company, Clarkston's Confederate State Guards, and served six months. Early in 1862 he joined Capt. A. C. Bradford's company, Gibbons' Battalion Confederate Cavalry, and soon after his company dismounted and became infantry.  In February, 1862, he was commissioned third lieutenant, and served in that capacity until his discharge at Tupelo, Miss., in July, 1862.  On his way home he was captured, taken to Springfield and paroled. He was at the battles of Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge. At the former battle a piece of shell struck him, cutting to the bone, in his cheek, and breaking his collar bone. In December, 1865, he opened a store at Evansville, Ark., and continued in the same for four years, after which he returned to this county, and followed agricultural pursuits until 1885, when he moved to Morrisville. In August, 1885, he was appointed postmaster, and has held that position since. He is also insurance agent; has been justice of the peace several years, and took the census of Looney Township in 1880. He has lived in the county for forty-six years, and since his majority has voted the Democratic ticket. 


History Of Hickory, Polk, Cedar, Dade And Barton Counties, Missouri; 1889, published by Goodspeed, Pgs. 698, 699

Alexander Snodgrass, his wife Malinda, and their three children --William L., Thomas A. and James C.--emigrated from Sullivan County, Tenn., in the fall of 1854, and settled in Madison Twp. Polk County, Mo., on "Jump Off" Creek, near the Cedar County line. The family was very poor, having one old horse, ten dollars in money, and such articles of furniture as could be brought in a two-horse wagon, in which they came upon reaching the county. It was one of those "dry years," consequently this family had a very hard time to get along. The other horse and the wagon belonged to one William J. Lyon, who, with his family, came with them. That winter the meat diet of the family consisted chiefly of rabbits, opossums and the like, which, in those days, were quite plentiful. Their household furniture for several years was of the plainest description, the two bedsteads used being made of hickory poles with one leg--the side railing, a pole, stuck into a log of the house at one end, and the foot-board, also a pole, stuck into another log, and the other end of each put into this corner leg. The bedcords consisted of smaller poles. The table was made of round poles, and covered with shaved three-foot clapboards. For the first winter the main lights at night were a pile of dry limbs and brush thrown up in a corner of the room to be convenient and ready for use. About three years after their arrival they bought eighty acres of land, also lying on "Jump Off" Creek, formerly owned by one Louis Igo. This farm the family continued to own, and here the sons were principally reared until 1866. While living there, December 19, 1859, the mother died, and was buried at Red Hill graveyard, then in the woods. The sons of the family received but very limited educational advantages, and the first school attended by William Snodgrass was at "Possum Hollow," a log school-house painted with yellow mud, one log cut out of the side for a window, split logs for benches, the ends of some of them resting on large rocks, answering as bench-legs. This session attended by William was a subscription school, taught by J. J. Gravelly, who afterward became colonel in the War of the Rebellion, and later a member of Congress and Lieutenant-Governor of Missouri. William taught his first term of school in 1856, in a similar structure higher up the creek, but in the neighborhood, and received   eighteen dollars per month and could not, at that time, cipher out all the "sums" in Ray's third part of arithmetic. His brothers, Thomas and James, attended school to him at "Possum Hollow," "Red Hill," "Jump Off," and Wesley Chapel, all in the neighborhood.   The first certificate given to William to teach was by Nathaniel A. Anderson, school commissioner of the county, and read thus, "W. L. Snodgrass, having produced to me satisfactory evidence of a good moral character, was this day examined by me, and I find him qualified to teach orthography, reading, writing, arithmetic, English grammar and geography, in the public schools of this county." Mr. Snodgrass continued to teach until the war broke out. Thomas married in the summer of 1860, and moved to Vernon County about the close of the war. William married Miss Melissa L. Marshall, December 4, 1860, and moved, with her, his father and his brother James, to Bolivar, in October, 1865. and, while there, was appointed public administrator, but resigned before any estate was in his charge. In September, 1864, Mr. Snodgrass brought the family back to the farm, but, on the 8th of November, 1864, he was appointed clerk of the circuit court by the Hon. Burr H. Emerson, then circuit court judge of the judicial circuit in which Polk County was situated. On the 1st of February, 1864, he returned, with his family, to Bolivar. The cause of his appointment to the office of clerk came about in this manner: While at Bolivar in the winter of 1863, he set "copies" for the judge's children, and the judge, taking a fancy to his old-fashioned round hand, appointed him to fill a vacancy in the office, November 8, 1864. He continued to serve as such until January 1, 1874, when A. J. Hunter succeeded him, but appointed William L. his deputy. Since that time Mr. Snodgrass has served continuously as deputy under the different clerks, until the present. The father, Alexander Snodgrass, died November 28, 1872. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church, as was also his wife, and was a Republican in politics, as are all his sons. James C. Snodgrass died April 26, 1870, and, at the time of his death, was deputy clerk of the circuit court under his brother, W. L.          


History Of Hickory, Polk, Cedar, Dade And Barton Counties, Missouri; 1889, published by Goodspeed, Pgs. 699,700

Jasper N. Sperry, real estate and loan agent, of the firm of J. N. Sperry & Co., was born in Vinton County, Ohio, January 23, 1851, and is the son of James and Ruth (Claypoole) Sperry, natives of Pennsylvania and Ohio respectively. James when a small boy emigrated to Ohio with his parents, and was there married to Miss Claypoole. In 1869 they moved to Champaign County, Ill., where the mother died in 1886. She was a member of the Christian Church. Mr. Sperry is now living in Polk County, Mo. He has followed farming all his life, and has been quite successful in this occupation. The father is Democrat, and has affiliated with that party since old enough to vote.  Jasper N. Sperry was the eldest of six children, four sons and two daughters, and received his education in the district schools. At the age of sixteen he began teaching, and after accumulating some means, he attended Illinois Industrial University for some time. In 1874 he began reading law with Cunningham & Webber, of Urbana, Ill., completing his course with U. S. Claypoole of Ohio, and was admitted to the bar in 1876.  After practicing a few months he returned to Urbana, Ill., and taught a school for some time. In 1878 he married Miss Ruth Ratcliff, a native of this county, but who was in Illinois on a visit. The following year they moved to Polk County, Mo., and here Mr. Sperry was engaged in farming, teaching school and merchandising until 1883, when he opened a real estate office, and is now also connected with the Bolivar Loan and Trust Company.  [See page 322.] As a business man Mr. Sperry has been quite successful; having come to this county with almost nothing, he has accumulated a handsome property. He is a member of the A. F. & A. M.; he and wife are members of the Christian Church.


History Of Hickory, Polk, Cedar, Dade And Barton Counties, Missouri; 1889, published by Goodspeed, Pg. 700

Judge Louis Stahl, superintendent of the yard for the T. A. Miller Lumber Company, at Bolivar, is a native of Munich, Germany, where he grew up and received a good college education. In his native city he met Mrs. Anna Brass, nee Bay, who was a native of Albany, New York, but who was visiting in Europe, and they soon became fast friends, then husband and wife. Having sailed for America, they landed in New York in 1867, where Mr. Stahl engaged in the lumber business, and this continued until 1881, when they moved to Seward, Nebraska. There he also ran a lumber establishment, and was quite a prominent man, having held the position of police judge of that city for some time. Since coming to Polk County, Mo., he has been superintendent of the lumber yard of the above mentioned company, and does an extensive business, handling over 600,000 feet of lumber and over 1,000,000 shingles. He is one of the most successful business men of the county.


History Of Hickory, Polk, Cedar, Dade And Barton Counties, Missouri; 1889, published by Goodspeed, Pgs. 700, 701

Francis M. Stewart. Among the prominent farmers of Marion township, Polk County, Mo., stands the name of the above named gentleman, who was born in this county, August 12, 1838, and was reared to farm labor. His education was obtained in the old log school-house, and as a consequence was not of the best, but this he has aided materially by observation and reading.  He was married August 4, 1858, to Miss Rebecca Zumwalt, who was born August 30, 1837, in Franklin County, Mo., and who is the daughter of Jesse Zumwalt. Eight children were the result of this union: John W., Jesse T., Francis M., Augustus S., James V., Richard E., Effie F. and Sidney H. In June, 1862, Mr. Stewart enlisted in Company A, of Elliott's Battalion, Confederate Army, and served until July, 1865. He was in the battles of Prairie Grove, Helena, Cape Girardeau, Cane Hill, Little Rock and Jefferson City. He was never wounded or taken prisoner, although he was in many tight places, but was fortunate enough to escape without either of the occurrences happening. After the war Mr. Stewart lived three years in Moniteau County, and in 1868 he came back to Polk County, Mo., and located on the farm where he now lives, which consists of 328 acres, with about ninety acres under cultivation. He had accumulated some property before the war, but when he returned from the service all had been destroyed, and he was obliged to commence at the beginning. His parents, Evan and Nancy B. (Jenkins) Stewart, were both reared in Tennessee, where they remained until 1836, and then came to this State. The father followed tilling the soil all his life, though for about twenty years he drove stock south to Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. He was a soldier of 1812, and now draws a pension, as he is still living, and is about ninety-three years of age. He is a Democrat in his political views. He accumulated a large fortune before the war, but during that stirring period lost lands, stock, negroes, etc. The mother was a member of the Baptist Church, and was the mother of eleven children, nine sons and two daughters. Six of the sons enlisted in the Confederate army. After the death of the mother, which occurred in 1865, Mr. Stewart married Mrs. Melvina Bridges nee Todd. Grandfather Jenkins was a Revolutionary soldier.           ~~>TOP<~~


History Of Hickory, Polk, Cedar, Dade And Barton Counties, Missouri; 1889, published by Goodspeed, Pgs. 701, 702

Samuel D. Strain, county assessor of Polk County, Mo., was born in Washington County, Tenn., October 1, 1833, and is the son of John A. and Sarah W. (Brewer) Strain, and grandson of John and Isabella Strain, both of whom died in Washington County, Tenn.,   in 1837 and 1835, respectively. The maternal grandparents, Samuel and Sarah Brewer, were both natives of Tennessee. The grandfather died in his native State in 1837 or 1838. They were the parents of six children, three surviving. John A. Strain, father of our subject, was born in Washington County, Tenn., in 1804, and attained his majority in that State. He was a farmer by occupation, but in connection conducted a saw-mill. He was married in Greene County, Tenn., about 1825, to Miss Brewer, moved to Dade County, Mo., in 1842, soon afterward to Polk County, and rebuilt the old Davis Mill, which is one of the oldest mills in this section of country. He died at his home in Polk County, about 1879. To his marriage were born eight children, seven now living, and Samuel D. Strain being the fifth in order of birth. The mother was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and died at the old home in Polk County, at the age of sixty-five years. Samuel D. Strain came to Missouri from Tennessee with his parents when ten years of age, grew to manhood in Polk County, and assisted his father in the mill until January, 1861, when he enlisted in Company F, Enrolled Missouri Militia, and served about three years. He entered the ranks as a private, but was promoted to corporal, and afterward to orderly sergeant, which position he held until the close of the war.  He then returned home, farmed for about two years, and in 1869 bought the old Orleans Mill, in partnership with B. B. Rice. In 1880 he engaged in mercantile pursuits at Orleans, but in 1882 sold the store, and did not resume business again until 1885, when he continued until 1887. After that he transferred his mercantile business from Orleans to Sharon, a station on the Gulf Railroad, three miles southwest of Orleans, and the business is managed by his son. In the fall of 1888 Mr. Strain was elected on the Republican ticket to the office of assessor. He is a member of the Presbyterian Church. He was married to Miss Martha L. Leith, who was born in Cooper County, Mo., in 1843, and who died in 1881. To this marriage were born eight children, five of whom are now living: Charles L. (deceased), William J., Samuel D., Jr., Oliver D., James R., Arthur B., and two infants (deceased). In 1883 Mr. Strain married Miss Anna Walker, who was born in Scotland about 1849, and came to America at the age of twelve years with a brother. She became the mother of two children, one living, Matthew R. (deceased) and Eva W. Mrs. Strain is a member of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Strain was appointed postmaster at Orleans about 1871, serving in that capacity until February, 1889, when he was succeeded by D. M. Strain. Orleans is one of the oldest post offices in the County, being established some time in the thirties.

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Questions or comments:  Kay Griffin Snow

19 Jan 2001; 2003  All Rights Reserved.

Updated:  22 Apr 2003