WILLIAM RAYFIELD. This well-known and successful farmer and stock-man of Middle Fork, Reynolds County, Missouri, was born in Cumberland County, Kentucky, in 1829, of which State his parents, John and Nancy (King) Rayfield, were also natives. They resided in Kentucky until the subject of this sketch was about one year old, then came by wagon to what is now Reynolds County, Missouri, and were among the very first settlers of this section, and for many years experienced severe hardships and privations, which always fall to the lot of the pioneer. Indians were very numerous in that early day, wild animals abounded in the woods, and there was a marked scarcity of white settlers. They improved a fine farm in this section, but it was long before they had anything but the barest necessities of civilized life. Their nearest market and post-office was Potosi, forty miles away, but they were very frequently compelled to go to St. Louis to market their farm products. Mr. Reynolds died just prior to the opening of the Civil War, having been an industrious farmer, a substantial citizen and an accommodating friend and neighbor. He and his wife, who died soon after the war, were worthy members of the Missionary Baptist Church. The maternal grandfather, William King, also came to Reynolds County in a very early day and here was engaged in farming until his death, his wife also dying here. William Rayfield was the third of nine children born to his parents, the other members being: Andrew, who died at about the close of the war; Lucinda, widow of Andrew Parks; Mary, wife of John Ketcherside, of Iron County; Matilda, widow of James Parks; Martha, wife of William C. Brooks; Alfred who died in early manhood; James, who also died at about that time, and Catherine Welsh.
William spent his early days in assisting his father and received such education as that wild and unsettled country afforded. Upon reaching manhood he was married to Lucy, daughter of John and Elizabeth Boyd, who came from Kentucky to Reynolds County, and in this section spent the rest of their lives. Mrs. Rayfield was born in Kentucky, and has borne her husband twelve children: Nancy E., who died in childhood; Sarah Jane, who is the deceased wife of William Goggins; James F. is postmaster and merchant of Centreville, Missouri; George W.; John A.; William H., in Oklahoma; Andrew J., Alfred G., Henry Thomas, and Mary L., wife of Thomas Whortonberry. Two children died in infancy. For a good many years Mr. Rayfield was engaged in black smithing in connection with farming, but later became an extensive stock dealer, and is now one of the most extensive stock men and farmers of the county. For about three years he has been a member of the firm of Adams & Rayfield, general merchants at Lesterville, and in 1883 he and his son James F. embarked in the same business at Centreville, under the firm name of Rayfield & Son, and are doing a thriving and constantly increasing business. He is a wide-awake man of affairs, pushing, enterprising and industrious, and in addition to these most necessary qualities he is strictly honorable. He is a member of Hopewell Lodge No. 329, of the A. F & A. M. of Lesterville, and he was formerly a member of the I. 0. O. F. He and his wife are members of the Missionary Baptist Church, and although he has always been a stanch Democrat he has never been a political aspirant.