William Earl was born in Monroe county, New York, April 13, 1816. His parents, John and Frances Earl, were natives of New Jersey. They located near Rochester, New York, and Mr. Earl engaged in the mercantile business. When young Earl was five years of age his father died and four years later his mother also died. At this early age he started to earn his own living. He first worked near Buffalo, New York, next in different parts of Ohio; and after making a little money attended school at Carthage and by hard study acquired a fair education in the common school branches. He then began steamboating on the Ohio River, first, shipping as a deck sweeper and from that through all the intermediate duties till he secured the position of mate, and after this came to Missouri and located in Ray county, but bought land in Daviess county.
In 1853 be married Miss Paulina Linnville, of Gentry county, and settled upon his land in Daviess county and began improving it. He now owns 380 acres of fine, well improved land. Five children have blessed their marriage; namely, Mary J., a teacher in Gallatin; George D., in business in Gentry county; F. B. and Lee Ann, both at home; John.. H., died January 10, 1875, at the age of nineteen years. Mr. Earl has filled many positions of honor and trust, such as county judge and justice of the peace.
Mr. Earl has done much for the development of his part of Daviess county, having labored hard to secure bridges in the western part of the county, and after twenty years has secured a bridge on Sampson Creek. He is public spirited and whenever an enterprise is started in the interest of his county it finds a warm and efficient advocate in him. He is also one of the most prominent members of the A. F. & A. M. order in this part of the State.