In the following sketch is strikingly illustrated the force of well-directed energy, steadfast purpose and never-ceasing effort for the accomplishment of noble ends, and the successful overthrow of those obstacles which beset the progress of every young man who, unaided and alone, starts out to combat life’s stern realities and hew his own way to distinction and fortune. To ambitious, struggling youths, with only the broad, perhaps cheerless, highway of the future before them, this narrative of a self-made man-a successful life-presents an example worthy of consideration and earnest emulation, and might even fill a faltering heart with strong zeal, or a youthful mind with greater determination and a fuller recognition of those attributes which constitute true manhood-natures patent of nobility-industry, integrity, temperance and consistent Christianity.
Ranson D. Blades, Sr., who, since 1881, has resided in Christian County, within a quarter of a mile of Billings, Missouri, came to Greene County, this State, with his parents when a boy fourteen years of age. His father, Edward Blades, and his mother, Ellen (Maynor) Blades, were natives of North Carolina, but at an early day they emigrated to McMinn County, Tennessee, where our subject was born on the 29th of January, 1821. The father came to Greene County, Missouri, as early as 1836 and settled in Pond Creek Township, where his death occurred in 1848. Farming was his principal occupation in life, but he also followed the hatter’s trade for some time. He prospered in this new country and became fairly well off. He enjoyed hunting and had many opportunities of trying his skill as a marksman, for the woods abounded in game of all kinds. In politics he was a Democrat. His wife died on the old farm. For a number of years this worthy couple and two other families were about the only settlers in the township, and only a few lived in Springfield or around that town. For forty miles south of them there were no settlers. The mother made all the clothing for the large family and no small task it was, for there were sixteen children, twelve of whom grew to mature years. These children were named as follows: Sally A.; R. D., subject; Nancy; Isaac; Edward; Cynthia; William; Rebecca; James; Elizabeth; Fannie and George. Sally, Nancy and Rebecca are now deceased.
Our subject grew to manhood amid the rude surroundings of pioneer life and under such circumstances received but little schooling, attending only a few days in Tennessee. In 1841 he was married to Miss Frances Garoutte, daughter of Samuel Garoutte. whose father came from Fiance to this country with Lafayette during the Revolutionary War. Mr. Garoutte was born in New Jersey and at an early day moved to Tennessee and later to Gasconade County, Missouri, where Mrs. Blades was born. Thence he moved to Greene County, in 1838, and there passed the remainder of his days. After his marriage our subject settled on a piece of Government land, but soon after entered a tract. Young Blades was poor, but rich in integrity, industry and resolution. He went to work and by perseverance, industry and good management became one of the largest land owners in Greene County, at one time being the possessor of 1,000 acres of land. He and wife reared eleven children, all but one now living, as follows: Samuel A., a resident of Greene County; Nancy E., deceased, was the wife of Amos Lafayette, who is also deceased; John M., a resident of Greene County; Isaac T., on the old home place in Greene County; Sarah, the wife of James Brashears of Greene County; Patience, wife of John Gardner of the Indian Nation; Mary, wife of William Rickman of Texas; William, who lives in Christian County; Thomas B., also a resident of Christian County; Martha, wife of Henry Colter of this county, and James, living in Greene County.
Mr. and Mrs. Blades reared a large family, and Mr. Blades has the satisfaction of knowing that all are doing well, and that the sons are prominent young men. He lost his first wife in 1863, and for his second wife he took Mrs. Gillie S. Davis, widow of William Davis and daughter of Samuel Williams. She was born in Lawrence County, Missouri, and her father was an early pioneer. William Davis was killed by bushwhackers in 1862. The Williams family settled west of Springfield, and Mrs. Blades was the first white child born in Lawrence County.
Our subject lost his second wife in 1884, but in 1885 he married Miss Mary E. Swift, a native of Tennessee and the daughter of C. W. Swift. In religion Mr. Blades was first a Baptist, but is now with the Methodist Episcopal Church. Up to the breaking out of the Civil War he was a Democrat in politics, but at that time he became a Republican and has remained with that party since. He was a strong Union man and helped to fight bushwhackers during the war. On account of being a well-known Union man he was obliged to leave home and spent three months in Kansas in the latter part of 1861 and first part of 1862. Mr. Blades has given his sons good farms and now has about 400 acres left. His life and its success affords another evidence that industry, economy and integrity constitute the keynote to honorable competency. His sons, Isaac and John, were soldiers in the war. Mr. Blades is now living a mile and a quarter north of Billings, where he has 160 acres of fine land and a pleasant home. He has always contributed liberally to churches and schools and built the first school house in Pond Creek Township. He also helped build churches all over the county, and in the neighborhood where he lived in Greene County he spent about $400 in building a church which is called Blades’ Chapel. No better man makes his home in this county.