RUFUS M. MAJORS, a successful agriculturist and prominent citizen of Washington Township, Clay County Mo., was born upon the homestead where he now resides in the year 1841. Spending his busy life amid the scenes of his childhood, he has brought the fine farm located in township 53, range 30, section 15, up to a high state of cultivation, and is widely known throughout the county as a man of sterling integrity and honor. The paternal grandfather of our subject, John Majors, was a soldier of the Revolutionary War and served his country faithfully for three years. He was a brave, resolute man, and bequeathed to his descendants the patriotism and love of liberty which distinguished his career.
The father of our subject was Elisha Majors, who was born in Burke County, N. C. in 1804, and when a little lad of eight years removed to Tennessee with his father John Majors. He afterward made his home in Wayne County, KY., and finally located with his wife and family in Missouri, making this latter State his permanent residence in 1837. Some fourteen years prior to his arrival in Missouri, Elisha Majors had, in 1823, married Miss Catherine Huffaker, who became the mother of eight children. The sons and daughters who clustered around the family hearth were Michael, Louisa, John, Granville, Elizabeth, Perry, Rufus (our subject), and Merelda Catherine, who died in infancy. Elisha Majors bought and sold land at various times, and owned for many years three hundred and twenty acres of valuable farming property, which he prosperously devoted to agricultural purposes, and aside from tilling the soil was a successful stock-raiser. He and his good wife passed peacefully away in 1878 and 1876, respectively, leaving behind them the memory of well-spent, useful lives. The old homestead, which had been entered from the Government when the surrounding country was little more than a wilderness, yet remains in the family, and is mostly in the possession of our subject.
Rufus Major received an education in the primitive schools of his home neighborhood, and early shared in the labors of the farm. His entire life has been given to agricultural pursuits, with the exception of a brief period during the war, when, in 1864, he drove a Government train across the plains. Mr. Majors owns two hundred and ninety-one acres of excellent land, all under a high state of cultivation. In 1880, he was united in marriage with Miss Sarah M. Wilhoite, a daughter of Thomas and Mourning (Benton) Wilhoite, and one of a family of seven children, two of whom died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Majors are both valued members of the Missionary Baptist church and are among the active workers in that denomination. Our subject is also connected with the fraternal society, F. & L. U., and for two terms has held the position of lecturer in the lodge.
Mr. Majors is politically a Democrat, and while never an active politician ever takes a deep interest in both local and national affairs. For over half a century a constant resident in his present locality, our subject has been an eye-witness of the wonderful changes in his native State, and has always sided in the material improvements and enterprises of his neighborhood and vicinity. Energetic and self-reliant, he has won his way, and, an earnest Christian man, faithful friend and kind neighbor, holds the esteem and confidence of all who know him.
(Source: PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD of Clay, Ray, Carroll, Chariton and Linn Counties, Missouri, Page 313, Chicago:, CHAPMAN Bros., 1893. Transcribed by Genealogy Trails Transcription Team)
HON. WILLIAM BELL MORRIS, President of the Kearney Commercial bank, was born at May’s Lick, Mason County, Ky., December 12, 1822. His father, James Morris, was a native of New Jersey, but removed to Kentucky when a youth. The paternal grandfather was born in Scotland, whence he emigrated to the United States and settled in Virginia. Later he removed to Kentucky and in that beautiful State passed his last years.
A prominent man in public affairs, James Morris for many years served his fellow-citizens as County Judge, Sheriff and Magistrate, and still later was the choice of the people for several terms in the Legislature of the State. In his Kentucky home he also engaged in farming, and when he changed his location to Clay County, in 1850, he purchased a farm, and upon it he died when in his eighty-second year. A Whig as long as the party lasted, he then became a Democrat, and at his death, June 17, 1861, was one of the most prominent members of his party in his section. During the war of 1812 he served as a soldier. He wrote the deeds and legal documents for his neighborhood and was freely consulted upon all legal questions, his decisions being marked by shrewd discernment and excellent judgment. For thirty years he was an Elder in the Christian Church and lived the life of a good man. When young he was very slight in build, but later in life he weighed two hundred and fifty pounds.
The mother of our subject was a native of Virginia and removed to Kentucky when young. She bore the maiden name of Nancy Bell, and was the honored mother of thirteen children, twelve of whom grew to maturity. Mary became the wife of Rev. A. H. Payne, who organized the first Christian Church in this county, and was prominent in establishing the church here. The next daughter, Ellen, never married, but died at the age of fifty years. The next in order of birth was James M. Eliza became Mrs. McGinnis, and died when seventy-eight years old. Helen married Emmons Johnson, and died here in 1884. Charity became the wife of Joseph V. Burgess, and resides in this city. Ann was the wife of the late Alfred Riley, a prominent citizen and early settler of this community; she still resides in Kearney. Lydia became the wife of William P. Riley, and both died here. William B. is the subject of this sketch. John is an insurance agent in Liberty. David is deceased. George died in the Confederate army. One child died during infancy. The mother passed away November 12, 1875. She was a good and pious woman and a member of the Christian Church. Her father, Daniel Bell, was a native of Virginia and served throughout the Revolutionary War in Washington’s army. He removed from the Old Dominion to Kentucky, and died when more than ninety years old.
Our subject was the ninth child in the family and was reared upon the home farm in Kentucky. In the district schools he gained the rudiments of an education and at the age of seventeen was given the advantages of a course at Bacon College, located in Georgetown, Scott County, Ky., where he spent two terms. At that early age he gave promise of the brilliant man he was destined to become in the future. When twenty years of age he came West on a visit and was so pleased with the aspect of the country that he decided to locate here. In 1842 he started on the journey, taking the only route possible, by steamboat down the beautiful Ohio, whose scenery is as lovely as that of more noted streams, and then up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The water was low and the journey was slow. When the boat got fast on the sand bars our subject would get off and hunt pawpaws and then overtake the steamboat at the next bar. It was a tedious and sleepy journey, but just such an one as the weary sightseer of the present day would enjoy.
Our subject was not embarrassed with an over-plus of wealth when he landed in Kearny, as his capital was represented by $21.10 and this amount was soon invested in a horse. On land secured in Liberty Township, Mr. Morris embarked in agricultural pursuits. The country at that time was but sparsely settled and for the sportsman it was a paradise. Deer and wild turkeys abounded and some fell under the rifle of Mr. Morris. He cultivated his land, which was located on the northern line of the township, and through unwearied toil on his part it was made into one of the finest farms in the county. The place contained four hundred and ninety acres, and upon it Mr. Morris raised many fine cattle, especially Shorthorns.
Upon his farm Mr. Morris resided until the demands made upon him in a public way influenced him to locate in a more accessible part of the county. In 1888 he sold the farm and moved to Liberty, where he remained one year, and then came to Kearney. In 1888 he was one of the organizers of the Kearney Commercial Bank and was made its President. This is a State institution with $10,000 capital and is doing a fine business. Mr. Morris is one of the largest stockholders, and loans large sums of money. He inherited from his father a judicial turn of mind and this has been recognized by his fellow-citizens, who elected him County Judge in the fall of 1876. After having served for four years he was re-elected in 1880 for another term of four years. He was never absent but one day from the Bench in eight years, and that was caused by sickness. During his administration the bonded debt was reduced $100,000, and he also decreased the rate of taxation. He has served as delegate to the State conventions. At present he is serving his second term as Notary Public and writes deeds, mortgages and wills.
The Democratic party claims the allegiance of our subject and in it he is a man of might. His religious convictions have made him a member of the Christian Church, in which he is highly regarded. Mr. Morris chose Miss Mattie Wason to be his bride, and they were married April 4, 1878. She was born in Gallatin Township Clay County, Mo., and was the daughter of James and Ann Wason, who were natives of Kentucky and early settlers of Clay County. They have no children. Mr. and Mrs. Morris have witnessed much of the growth of the county and have taken an active interest in its welfare. Mr. Morris has here a neat residence and four acres of land, with fruit and pasture for a cow. He is a man of strong convictions, a forcible and convincing speaker, and has faith in himself, a quality which in public life gains half the battle.
(Source: PORTRAIT AND BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD of Clay, Ray, Carroll, Chariton and Linn Counties, Missouri, Page 309, Chicago:, CHAPMAN Bros., 1893. Transcribed by Genealogy Trails Transcription Team)
James Franklin Munkres. The claim of James Franklin Munkres upon the good will and confidence of the people of Andrew County rests upon his long residence here, his high standing as a public-spirited and stirring citizen, the success of his labors and the development of a good agricultural property, and the straightforward manner in which all of his dealings have been carried on. Mr. Munkres is now the owner of Brookdale Farm, a well-cultivated tract of land located in section 26, Benton Township, which has been developed under his supervision into one of the really valuable properties of this locality.
Born in Clay County, Missouri, October 12, 1854, Mr. Munkres is a son of William and Frances Jane (Thorpe) Munkres, both of which families were represented in Howard County, Missouri, as early as November, 1819, or two years before the admission of the state to the Union. The Munkres family originated in Cornwall, England, and came to the shores of America, settling at Jamestown, Virginia. The great-grandfather of James Franklin Munkres, William Munkres, was a native of Virginia, served as a soldier throughout the War of the Revolution, and in his declining years came to Clay County, Missouri, dying at the home of one of his sons. The maternal grandparents of Mr. Munkres, John and Elizabeth (Crowley) Thorpe, came from Tennessee to Missouri about the same time as the Munkres, and the family history is practically the same, the family having originated in England and gone thence to Virginia.
Elizabeth (Crowley) Thorpe was a sister of Sam Crowley, a sketch of whose life appears elsewhere in this work. The paternal grandfather both he and the grandmother passed away. They reared a family of ten children, as follows: James, William, Redmond, John, David, Washington, Melvin, Mary, Louisa and Rachael. William Munkres, the father of James F. Munkres, was born in Tennessee in April, 1813, was six years of age when the family moved to Howard County, Missouri, and subsequently went to Clay County, where he continued to have interests throughout his life, although in 1858 he moved to Andrew County, where he was engaged in farming until his death, at the home of his son, in 1894. Mrs. Munkres, who was born in Holt County, Missouri, in 1828, died in Clay County in January, 1856, aged twenty-eight years.
James Franklin Munkres, the only child of his parents, was two years of age when his mother died, and for about three years thereafter resided with his grandparents. In 1860 he came to Andrew County, Missouri, and for about ten years boarded around at different houses, while he was securing his education in the public schools, and William Jewell College, at Liberty, Missouri, which he attended about two years. In 1868 Mr. Munkres and his father began "baching it" on the farm, and thus continued until the marriage of the younger man, when he set up an establishment of his own. Mr. Munkres has continued to be engaged in general farming and stockraising, and has met with good success in each department, raising large crops of grain annually and feeding large herds of stock. Brookdale Farm is a tract of 240 acres, the northwest quarter of section 26, and the south quarter of the southwest quarter of section 23, township 61, range 35, 1 and 1/3 miles northwest of Rosendale. Here are located fine, substantial buildings, including a handsome residence, located on an elevation, sixty-eight rods from the highway, with a grove and creek to the south of the residence. Mr. Munkres is a skilled and practical farmer, ready at all times to experiment with new discoveries and inventions, and keeping fully abreast of his vocation. He is a democrat in his political views, and has served capably as justice of the peace for one term and as a member of the school board for twenty years.
On October 6, 1878, Mr. Munkres was married to Miss Mary A. Wilhelm, who was born in Andrew County, Missouri, March 19, 1860, a daughter of Ferdinand and Anna (Benner) Wilhelm, the former a native of Stotzen, and the latter of Hirschleheim, both towns in the Province of Hanover, Germany. They were married in St. Charles County, Missouri, December 24,1847, and both died in Andrew County, the father in 1874, when fifty-nine years of age, and the mother June 24, 1909, when eighty-four years of age, at the home of her son-in-law, Mr. Munkres, with whom she had resided for fourteen years. They were the parents of one son and four daughters: J. L., a resident of Benton Township; Helen C., the wife of Jacob Schunek, of Benton Township; Henrietta D., who was the wife of Owen Deardoff and is now deceased; Elizabeth, deceased, who was the wife of J. B. Guinn; and Mrs. Munkres. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Munkres: Clara C., born July 11, 1879, a teacher in the public schools of Andrew County, educated at Gallatin (Missouri) College and the business college at Shenandoah, Iowa; Nellie C., born August 30, 1881, who graduated from Grand Business College, received instruction in instrumental music, and is now a teacher of music; and Anna Frances, born February 7, 1892, educated in the Savannah High School, married Frank E. Johnson, in February, 1910, resides at Bolckow, and has one daughter,—Mary Louise. Both Mr. and Mrs. Munkres are well educated, she being a graduate of Savannah High School, and he having been a school teacher in the rural schools of Andrew County, in 1875 and 1876 and the winter of 1877 and 1878.
Source: A history of northwest Missouri, Volume 3; Edited by Walter Williams; Publ. 1915; Pgs. 1775-1776; Transcribed and submitted by Andrea Stawski Pack]