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Biography of Charles F. Debrunner

Charles F. Debrunner is local manager of the United Iron Works Company’s plant at Independence. He is a young man, but his business career covers all the years since he was about fifteen or sixteen, and had been identified almost entirely with one line of manufacturing. He is one of the live and enterprising young men who have been attracted to this important industrial center in Southern Kansas, and had made his influence felt in its business and civic circles. He was born at Billings, Christian County, Missouri, May 16, 1882. His father, Frederick DeBrunner, was born in 1839 in Switzerland. The grandfather, who was of French descent, spent his life as a farmer in Switzerland. Frederick DeBrunner came to this country when a young man, lived and worked for two years in Chicago, and then returned to Switzerland where he married Mary Werder, who was born in that country in 1842 and is now living at Billings, Missouri. He brought his bride to America and for ten years was in the grocery business at Sigourney, Iowa. In 1879 he removed to Billings, Missouri, and remained an active merchant there until his death in 1906. While at Billings he served as city clerk for ten years, was an active democrat, and was a member of the German Evangelical Church, in which he seryed as deacon several years. He was also affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The children were: Ida, wife of Henry Scholz, a retired farmer at Billings, Missouri; Clara, who lives at Billings, the widow of Ward Combs, who was principal of schools; Bertha, wife...

Biography of Fenton T. Stockard

In this country where so many young men are thrown upon their own resources at an early age and are often obliged, while yet inexperienced and unfamiliar with their own tendencies and inclinations, to choose their occupation in life, it can not be expected that the most suitable or congenial pursuit will be selected. Consequently it should be impressed upon the minds of youth that they ought to begin at an early age to practice introspection and seriously study the famous Delphic oracle, ” Know thyself.” They will thus find as suitable an occupation as did Fenton T. Stockard, who from an early age evinced a strong liking for law, which was apparently just suited to his qualifications and desires. Mr. Stockard is now one of the prominent attorneys of Billings, and has been a resident of that city for the past twelve years. He came originally from Gibson County, Tennessee. his birth occurring December, 16, 1867, and is one of a family of six children born to C. H. and Patience E. (White) Stockard. The father is also a native of Gibson County, Tennessee, and is now a prominent farmer and highly esteemed citizen of Christian County, residing near Billings. The Stockards are of Irish origin, and our subject’s great-great-grandfather was born on the ocean while his parents were coming to this country. William Stockard, grandfather of our subject, was one of the very early settlers of est Tennessee, and was a soldier and officer in the War of 1812. He was also in the Seminole War and lived to be eighty-six years of age. The father of...

Biography of Alfred H. Purdy

ALFRED H. PURDY. Among the enterprising and successful produce merchants of Billings, Missouri, 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...

Biography of Charles B. Swift

CHARLES B. SWIFT. It would be difficult to conceive an industry which occupies a more important standing in any country than that allied to the mercantile trade. In this business millions of dollars are invested, while the number of persons employed count up into the hundreds of thousands. One of the leading corporations in this connection is the Billings Mercantile Company, of Billings, Missouri. Mr. Charles B. Swift, who is treasurer of this company, is an excellent type of a prosperous merchant, who owes his success in life to his own industry, and who is ever ready to do all in his power to favor his customers. He has resided in this county since 1870, and has been in business in this city since 1875; therefore the people have had every opportunity to judge of his character and standing. A product of Weakley County, Tennessee, where he was born July 31, 1851, he is a son of C. W. and Martha D. (McClain) Swift, and the grandson of Charles Swift. This family is of English origin and came to this country at an early date. Some members became noted soldiers and statesmen, and all were honorable, upright citizens. The father of our subject was born in Hanover County, Virginia, and was one of a large old-fashioned family of eleven children. Three of his brothers were in the Mexican War, and one was in the war with Texas in 1836. C. W. Swift, father of our subject, passed his youthful days in his native State, and in early manhood moved to Tennessee, locating in Wilson County at first, but subsequently...

Biography of James Hildrith

JAMES HILDRITH. James Hildrith, one of the prominent citizens of the county, came here in the year 1877, and his intelligence, enterprise and energy, with many other estimable qualities, have secured for him a popularity not derived from any factitious circumstance, but a permanent and spontaneous tribute to his merit. He is a native of the Keystone State, born in Clearfield County, Pa., October 23, 1842, to William N. and Priscilla (Fernsides) Hildrith, natives of Yorkshire, England, where they were married. At an early date they came to the United States and settled in the City of Brotherly Love, where Mr. Hildrith followed the tanner’s trade for some time. Later they located in Clearfield County, Pa., where Mr. Hildrith opened up a tannery, but two years later they moved to Jefferson County, where they resided for many years. There Mrs. Hildrith died, and a few years later Mr. Hildrith returned to England and died there in 1882, when quite an aged man. Seven children were born to his marriage, four of whom are still living, as follows: Louisa, who is in Jefferson County, Penn.; Mary, a resident of Elk County, Penn.; Rachel, in Jefferson County of the same State, and our subject. All are married and have families. One son, Thomas, who was wounded in the battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia, and died at Annapolis, Md., from the effects of the wound, enlisted in Company B, One Hundred and Fifth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and took part in all the battles from the first of the war until his death. He was single. Sarah, single, died in Pennsylvania in 1864....

Biography of Henry I. Purdy

HENRY I. PURDY. In the year 1842 some eight or ten families emigrated from Vermont and settled in Jackson County, Illinois, forming what was and is known today as Vergennes Colony. Isham Purdy’s family, consisting of father, mother and seven children, formed a part of this colony-three boys and four girls. Henry I., the subject of this sketch, being the oldest son. Edwin P. married and has made his home in Carbondale, Illinois, and has been extensively engaged in the lumber business for the last twenty years. Charles W. Purdy, the third son, married and settled in the old neighborhood and has resided on his pleasant and fine farm ever since the war. He enlisted at the beginning of the war and marched by the side of his eldest brother, Henry, and his sixteen-year old son, John W., making music with his fife and the father and son with their drums through many a weary and dangerous day. He was discharged as disabled in 1863, and was sent home to his family, where he resides today. The girls of the family all married prosperous farmers of the neighborhood and still reside in the vicinity of their father’s old home. After buying land and making a small payment thereon the Purdy family, like all new settlers, found themselves very poor and with many obstacles to discourage them in their undertaking. But that true blue Yankee blood in their veins gave them determination to do or die. After living for a winter on a dirt floor they managed to build themselves a comfortable house, and shelter for their stock, from proceeds...

Biography of John M. French

JOHN M. FRENCH. It should be impressed upon the minds of youth that at an early age they should practice introspection and should seriously study the famous Delphic oracle, “know thyself.” They will thus find as suitable an occupation as did John M. French, who at an early age showed much ability as an agriculturist. While Mr. French would unquestionably have made a success as a business man, or as a practitioner of law or many other of the learned professions, it is likewise true that no farmer of the county has gone deeper into the details of his occupation, or carried the same to greater perfection. Mr. French is a native of this county, born on his father’s old homestead, October 22, 1853, and is the youngest child of the family. Like the majority of farmer boys, he attended the district school which was taught in an old log building erected before the war, but his school days were limited, attending only a short time during the winter months. Until 1872 he remained under the parental roof and was then married to Miss Sarah L., daughter of William and Lucinda Jones, born on the 3d of September, 1854, in Christian County. William Jones and wife were among the pioneers of this county, coming here from the Blue Grass State and locating in the neighborhood of Billings, in 1849. There Mr. Jones died in 1889. His widow resides on the old home place. Five children were born to this worthy couple, as follows: William T., James J., Mary E., W. A. and Sarah L. These children are all residing...

Biography of Joseph Meyer

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, Indiana, 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 business man. 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 that 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,...

Biography of Dr. James W. York

DR. JAMES W. YORK. This prominent physician has been a close student of his profession and in his mission of “healing the sick,” his generous treatment of his patients, his liberality and kindness of heart, have won for him not the respect alone, but the earnest regard of the large clientele, he has gathered around him. For thirteen years be has resided in Billings and is known as a man of untarnished integrity of character and of high moral standing. His birth occurred at Richland, Keokuk County, Iowa, March 27, 1851, and he is a son of James M. and Frances C. (Ward) York, natives of North Carolina. The York family came to this country from England and settled in the Old North State, where they were classed among the best citizens. Several members of this family served in the Revolutionary War and later other members served in the War of 1812. Jacob York, grandfather of subject, was born in North Carolina and there passed his entire life. The brother of that veteran, Capt. Bill York, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Our subject’s maternal grandparents were James and Martha Ward, and the family is of Irish descent. The first members of the Ward family to settle in America came here prior to the Revolutionary War, and Great-grandfather Ward took part in the struggle for independence. He had a number of sons in the War of 1812, the grandfather of our subject being one of them. The latter was a man of education and held the office of justice of the peace for years, that being considered quite...

Biography of Judge E. F. Howcroft

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 Waldren. 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 then 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, Wisconsin, where they remained for one year....
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