Biography of Hon. William A. Lawing
HON. WILLIAM A. LAWING. Within the limits of Christian County, Missouri, there is not a man of greater personal popularity than Hon. William A. Lawing, whose recognized worth and progressive spirit are well known. He was born at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, November 17, 1818, to the union of Robert and Mary Ann (Sublett) Lawing, natives, respectively, of North Carolina and Virginia. The parents were married at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Mrs. Lawing died in 1843. Afterward, the father married Miss Ellen Ward, who now resides in Jasper County, Missouri. While a resident of Tennessee the father followed the occupation of cotton planter and cotton-gin maker, but later moved to Mississippi, where he was engaged as a planter alone. In 1856 he came to Christian County, Missouri, and located on the Finley, near Ozark, where his death occurred during the war. He sympathized with the South, but took no part in the war. Honest and industrious, he was an ideal neighbor, and a representative citizen. His father was a Welshman, who came to America and passed the closing scenes of his life in the Old North State, where he reared a large family. Grandfather Sublett was a native Virginian, but an early settler of Rutherford, County, Tennessee, where he spent his last days, dying about 1840. All his life he tilled the soil. He came of Irish descent. His wife was a Miss Akin, and they reared a large family.
The original of this notice was the second in order of birth of eight children, viz.: Sarah, who died in Tennessee when young; Mary, who became the wife of Preston Hatchett, of Winchester, Tennessee; Allen, who died in Arkansas, and left a family; Frances, who died in Tennessee; Robert, a farmer in this county; Louisa, a resident in Ozark, and James V., who died in the Confederate Army. Our subject had several half brothers and sisters. His youthful days were passed in assisting on the farm, in Rutherford County, Tennessee, and in attending the common schools. He learned the carpenter’s trade, and when sixteen years of age started out to make his own way in life. He first went to Mississippi, soon after to Florida and Alabama, and about 1835 went to Texas, where he remained about two years and a half building houses at Houston and Galveston. Returning to Tennessee, in 1843, he remained there a short time and then came to Christian County, Missouri, where he was engaged in mill building for some time. About 1847 he was married to Miss Angelina R. Weaver, daughter of John and Barbara Weaver, who came from Marshall County, Tennessee, to Christian County, Missouri, about 1841. There Mrs. Weaver died, and the father died at Memphis, Tennessee, of cholera while there on business. Mrs. Lawing was born in Marshall County, Tennessee
Our subject’s marriage resulted in the birth of ten children, as follows: Martha Susan (deceased), was the wife of Henry Clark, who now resides at Dallas, Tex.; Mary Frances, is the widow of Dr. Joseph Bertier; William Thomas; Barbara, widow of William Wrightsman; Lela, wife of Stephen Bain; Adelaide, wife of Joseph A. Hammond, of Billings, Missouri; John R., of Cherokee Strip; Blanche, wife of Lora Horn, of St. Louis; Amie, wife of Thomas L. Robertson, and Lola, wife of L. H. Crawford, of Idaho. When first married Mr. Lawing settled in the woods on his present farm, three miles southeast of Ozark, where he now owns a fine farm of 300 acres. At one time he was the owner of 1,400 acres, all the result of his own efforts. He built many of the mills in Christian County, also the bridge and the court house at Ozark, in connection with John R. Weaver, his brother-in-law. For a number of years he owned and operated the mill at Ozark, with John R. Weaver. Soon after its erection it was taken possession of by the Confederates, who ran it for a few months. Of late years Mr. Lawing has turned his attention to farming.
Although a Southern man, he was a stanch Unionist from the beginning of the war, and belonged to the Home Guards, doing valuable service for the Union, and sparing no pains or expense in informing the Federals of the movements of the enemy. He was harassed many times by both armies, was captured several times, and was a prisoner at Springfield for several weeks at one time. A few weeks after the Pea Ridge fight Capt. Gunning and about seventeen of his guerrilla band attacked his house, about 2 or 3 o’clock in the night, and demanded that the door be opened. This Mrs. Lawing, with characteristic firmness and bravery, refused to do. Preparations were then made to break down the door, but Mr. Lawing fired into the crowd, wounding Capt. Gunning quite seriously. This brought forth a general firing from the latter’s men, and they made several unsuccessful attempts to burn the house; daylight, however, caused them to disappear.
In 1862 Mr. Lawing was elected to represent Christian County in the Legislature as a Union man. Politically, he was formerly a Whig, and cast his first presidential vote for Clay, in 1840. He voted for Bell and Everett in 1860 and for McClellan in 1864. Since 1864 he has been an uncompromising Democrat. Socially he is a member of Friend Lodge, A. F: & A. M., No. 352, at Ozark. Mr. Lawing is among the oldest settlers of Christian County, and one of its best-known citizens.