JOHN F. CHURCH, senior member of the well-known firm of Church & Kissel, Winona, Missouri, is one who has built by years of industry and good management a business that is recognized as being one of the best of its kind in the country, a credit to Winona and Shannon County. Mr. Church is a man who possesses the inherent qualities requisite to commercial success, in a very high degree, and in his chosen calling has attained an eminent position among his compeers, and the high regard of his fellow-citizens, entirely through his own efforts and sterling personal qualities.
Mr. Church was born in St. Genevieve, Missouri, in 1863, while the war cloud hung darkly over the nation, and was a son of Sylvester Church who was born in Illinois. The father came to southeast Missouri when a young man and located in the iron district. He was a practical engineer and operated machinery for the different iron mines until his death, which occurred in Crawford County in 1879, when he was about fifty years of age.
John F. Church grew to manhood in the mining district and when fifteen years of age commenced learning the blacksmith’s trade in Dent County, Missouri, at the Nova Scotia Iron Works. After serving an apprenticeship of six years he went to New Mexico and engaged in different occupations, black smithing, real estate, etc. After meeting with prosperity, and then with poverty, he came back and made Thayer his place of business for two years. He followed black smithing and subsequently became connected with the Gulf Railroad, contracting, etc. From there he came to Winona, where he bought a lot and was one of the first to go into business here. A good blacksmith was in great demand and for one year he gave his attention to his old trade. At that place he became a salesman in the employ of A. J. Lasley, then L. W. Keen, and was with the last named gentleman until his failure in business. Soon after he and Jacob Kissel formed a partnership with a capital of $2,100, the most of which was borrowed, and started a general store. They met with success from the beginning and their trade now extends over a large territory. They handle all kinds of goods, provisions, feed, furniture, dry goods, clothing, boots, shoes, groceries, farm implements, etc., and do an annual business of from $50,000 to $60,000, with excellent prospects for an increasing trade. They are extensive owners of real estate in Winona, and also do an immense railroad tie and post business. Aside from this they are mail contractors and carry the mail between Winona and Alton. No business men of the county are more straightforward, honorable or upright than these young men, who have accumulated all their property by industry and excellent business acumen. Mr. Church was married February 14, 1891, to Miss Rosie Draper, of Illinois. He is a member of the I. O. O. F., and in politics is an ardent Republican.