HON. CONRAD H. DRYER. The labor of compiling a review of the industrial institutions of Howell County, Missouri, involves an arduous task, and no subject is found more worthy of the historian’s attention than the mercantile trade, of which Hon. Conrad H. Dryer is a most honorable exponent. In addition to this he is a successful follower of the primitive occupation of man -farming-and the success which has attended his efforts is owing to his own good fighting qualities. He was born in Minden, Prussia, and many of his most worthy business qualities have been inherited from his worthy German ancestors, that people which have so largely settled in the United States and are among her most worthy and substantial citizens.
His birth occurred June 21, 1838. His parents, Conrad H. and Wilhelmina (Newman) Dryer, were born in France and Hesse Darmstadt, Germany, respectively, and were married in the city of Minden. During the French Revolution Mr. Dryer’s people were driven from France and took refuge in Germany. Conrad H. Dryer, the father, died in that country in September, 1861, his occupation being that of hotel keeping and dealing in horses for the Government. He and his wife became the parents of four children: Maximillian, who was killed in the Hungarian War; Conrad H.; Johanna, who died in Germany, the wife of August Kuhlman, and Augusta, who died single. Conrad H. Dryer received a good common-school education, and after finishing his education began preparing himself for a sea-faring life, and in 1853 made his first trip to the United States, but during this voyage, a schoolmate of his, who had also expected to become a sailor, was lost at sea, and this caused Mr. Dryer to abandon the idea of the life. After spending some time in New Orleans, he went to Hickman, Kentucky, and then worked on various river steamers for a time, as assistant clerk, after which he clerked in a store. In the winter of 1855-56 he came to Webster County, Missouri, where he followed clerking and farming up to 1858, when Howell County became his home. He was married in 1860 to Martha, daughter of Samuel and Millie Gunter, natives of Tennessee, who in 1850 removed to Oregon County, Missouri, at which time the country was wild and unsettled. About 1853 or 1854 they settled in what is known as Gunter’s Valley, which was named for him, and there lived until the war, when he moved to Oregon County, where he followed farming until his death in 1864. His widow died in Howell County in 1886. Her maiden name was Stone, and Stone River in Tennessee was named for her father, William Stone. Mrs. Dryer’s brothers and sisters were: David R., who died in Jackson, Missouri; Ruthie, widow of Marshall Howell, lives in Arkansas; John was a soldier of the Confederate Army, and is dead; Melvina is the wife of James Burroughs; Tennessee is the wife of J. D. Barrett; Parzoda is the deceased wife of Thomas Bragg; and Samuel, who is a resident of Howell County, Missouri Mrs Dryer, born in Woodbury, Cannon County, Tennessee, is the mother of five children: Benjamin A., Conrad H., Dr. S., James D. and Sam.
Judge Conrad H. Dryer is one of the pioneers of the county of Howell, and is one of its most substantial, best known and popular citizens. He settled on the farm on which he now lives over thirty-five years ago, but has not occupied it all the time. Soon after the war he opened a general store where White Church now is, where he sold goods for many years, and was postmaster of what was then Peace Valley Post office. In 1881 he removed to his farm and the post office was also removed thither, and he has since discharged the duties of postmaster and has continued to successfully sell general merchandise, being now one of the oldest merchants of the county. He was formerly one of the leading land owners of his section, but has divided much of his land among his children, although he still owns a comfortable competency. He was an active Southern sympathizer during the war, and after being for some time in the State service, he enlisted in the First Missouri Infan-try, and operated in that State and in Arkansas. He was in command of a squadron of scouts about eighteen months during the latter part of his service and was in a number of hot engagements. He was captured three times, but soon managed to escape twice. The last time he was captured at Boonville, Missouri, during the Price raid, and was imprisoned at Alton, Illinois, until May 15, 1865, when he was released and returned to his family in Oregon County, Missouri He was in public life a good many years. and in 1860 was elected assessor of Howell County, he being the first to fill that position. Soon after the war he served four years as public administrator, and from 1870 served two terms as associate justice of the County Court from the North District, and was then for four years presiding judge, which office he filled with dignity, intelligence and impartiality. He is a member of Mt. Zion Lodge No. 327 of the A. F. & A. M. at West Plains and is also a member of Mazeppa Lodge of the A. O. U. W. at that place. He has always been a Democrat in politics, and his first presidential vote was cast for Douglas in 186O, and for a good many years he was a very active worker for his party. He and his wife are members of the Missionary Baptist Church, and are among the most highly respected people of their section.