JUDGE DANIEL K. PONDER. In recounting the forces that have combined to make Ripley County, Missouri, what it is, more than a passing reference must be paid to the life and labors of Judge Daniel K. Ponder, of whom it may be truthfully said that no one has done more to lay the foundations of the country’s prosperity deep, and to build upon them surely and well. His ability has been backed by enterprising business measures and progressive ideas, and since 1890 he has ably filled the responsible position of county judge, and has discharged his duties with impartial fairness.
He was born in Hickman County, Tennessee, in 1831, a son of Archibald and Sarah (Kinzie) Ponder, a notice of whom is given in the sketch of A. J. Ponder. The youthful days of Judge Ponder were spent in attending the public schools of Ripley County and in assisting his father to clear up the homestead, and while thus employed he learned lessons of industry and perseverance that were the stepping stones to his success in later years. At the age of twenty he turned his attention to farming on the Calumet River on his own account, and here his early experience and hard work were of material use to him, and there he laid the foundations of his present comfortable fortune. The land was quite heavily covered with timber, but he set energetically about the work of clearing, and was successfully engaged in tilling the soil up to the opening of the Civil War, when he gave up that business to open a hotel in Doniphan, and in 1869 became the owner of the fine farm where he now lives, comprising 200 acres adjoining the city limits of Doniphan, of which sixty are under cultivation, and are carefully and wisely tilled.
In 1886 he built the Commercial Hotel of Doniphan, which is a large and well-appointed establishment, but the management of this is intrusted to others, for his time is fully occupied in discharging the duties of his office and in looking after his farm and his stockraising interests. Although he lost heavily during the war, he has retrieved his fallen fortunes in a great measure, and now has a sufficient amount of this world’s goods to keep him in comfort. He is a man of superior mental endowments, possessing sound judgment and quick perception, and the cases which have come before him have been handied with ease and ability. He is just, yet always generous in his criticisms, and no more fitting man to wear the judicial robe could be found than Judge Ponder. In 1851 he was married to Miss Emeline Merrell, a daughter of John Merrell, who was a pioneer of this section, and in this county she was born, and here she also passed from life in 1863, having become the mother of two children: John P., a merchant of Doniphan, and Frania, wife of Thomas Thannisch, of Texas. The following children are deceased: Sarah, wife of E. W. Wright, of Doniphan; James, who was sixteen years old at the time of his death; and Sarah, who was fourteen years old when she died. In 1865 Judge Ponder wedded Margaret Lowe, by whom he has one child, Archibald R., who is farming on the home place. The Judge is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, in which he is an elder, and since 1861 he has been a member of the A. F. & A. M., and has been master of Composite Lodge No. 369 for twenty years. He has represented his lodge at various times in the Grand Lodge, and is a member of Jerusalem Chapter at Poplar Bluff. He has ever been a Democrat politically.