The subject of this sketch is a gentleman in the prime of life, who by patient application has won for himself distinction at the Bar and the confidence and respect of his fellow-citizens.  He was born in Kearney Township, Clay County, Mo., May12, 1843, being the son of Archibald C. Courtney, a native of Kentucky, and a farmer by occupation.  Grandfather John Courtney, who was a native of Pennsylvania, served as a soldier of the Revolutionary War, and became an early settler of Kentucky.  The Courtney family is of English descent and has a number of branches. The mother of our subject, Elyann Estes, was born in Clay County, Mo., and was a daughter of Henry and Lucinda Estes.  The father of our subject was a famer and stock-raiser and also followed mercantile pursuits.  Of his twelve children, eight attained to maturity and seven are now living, our subject being the eldest.
William J. Courtney passed his youth upon the farm and attended the common schools.  In 1863, when about twenty years of age, he enlisted in the Confederate army as a member of Company B., Shanks’ regiment, Shelby’s brigade, and Gen. Price’s army.  He remained in service until the close of the war and participated in a number of battles and engagements.  Entering a private, he retired in June, 1865, as First Lieutenant, having served faithfully to the close of the war.
Once more resuming the occupation of civic life, Mr. Courtney was employed as clerk by the firm of Moss & Armstrong for a period of about two years, and at the expiration of that time he bought out the business, which he conducted for two years and then sold.   Afterward he became proprietor of the Arthur House, the leading hotel of Liberty.  He studied law with Henry L. Routt and Thomas McCarty, of Liberty; was admitted to the Bar at this place in 1874, Judge George W. Dunn presiding, and practiced law at Liberty for several years.  Removing to Kearney, he followed his profession there for some time, and then came back to Liberty, where he has since resided, practicing in all the courts.
Our subject was married, in 1867, to Miss Maria E., daughter of Judge Ninian Letton, of Lexington, Mo., she being a native of that place.  Mr. and Mrs. Courtney are the parents of two children:  William Malcolm and Thomas M., editors of the Clay County Progress.  In politics, Mr. Courtney is a Democrat, his convictions being embodied in the platform of that party.
(Source: PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD of Clay, Ray, Carroll, Chariton and Linn Counties, Missouri, Page 291, Chicago:, CHAPMAN Bros., 1893. Transcribed by Genealogy Trails Transcription Team)