Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


DABNEY COSBY DADE. To rescue from fading tradition the personal annals of the pioneers of our country is a pleasing but laborious task; not so laborious, perhaps, as perplexing, by reason of memoirs from which many impressions of the early days have long since faded. To gather up the broken threads of strange yet simple stories of individual lives, to catch the fleeting chronicles and fireside stories and hand them down to posterity is a laudable ambition worthy of encouragement on the part of every one interested in his community. Dabney Cosby Dade, long since a traveler to "that undiscovered bourne," of which the world's greatest poet wrote, was one of the pioneers of Springfield, who were in the van of civilization moving to new frontiers of the West, who passed through years of toil and hardship such as few now living have ever experienced. A western man in the broad sense of the term, and a native of the country which the Indians named "the high muddy water," he had the sagacity to realize what the people needed in his day and generation and with strong hand and active brain sought to supply the demand generously and unsparingly. It would require a volume to properly write the interesting life history of this man, his struggles for recognition during his youth, his hazardous journey across the wild Western plains with the famous band of "forty-niners," his life in the mines of the Pacific coast, his voyage around Cape Horn, the southernmost point in the Western Hemisphere, his struggles as a leading lawyer and politician, his efforts in behalf of the Union during the great crisis of the sixties and his influence as a citizen in the movements for the betterment of his locality, would all form chapters interesting and helpful to the rising generation. He ranked high among the citizens of Greene county of his day, and was in every respect a most commendable example of the courageous, unselfish successful self-made man.

Mr. Dade was born September 30, 1830, in Boonville, Missouri, and was a son of John and Agnes (Bullock) Dade, both natives of Kentucky where they spent their earlier years but removed to Cooper county, Missouri, in pioneer days, remaining there until in the early forties when they removed to Springfield. John Dade followed merchandising in his earlier years, but engaged in the real estate business after locating here, and he became owner of considerable land in Greene county. He was twice married, the subject of this memoir being the youngest of four sons, all now deceased, by his first wife.

Dabney Cosby Dade spent his early childhood in Cooper county and was about twelve years old when he came with his parents to Springfield and here he grew to manhood. He had little opportunity to obtain an education, but later in life made up for this lack by extensive home study and contact with the world, thus educating himself, and was through life a great miscellaneous reader. When but nineteen years old he made the long and dangerous journey across the trackless plains to California, with the great band of gold seekers, and there he worked in the mines for some time, later going to Oregon and many other places in the far West, and he made the return trip east by ship down the western coast around Cape Horn and up the eastern coast of South America to New York City. He then made the long journey to Texas and after much wandering finally settled permanently in Springfield, Missouri, began the study of law and was admitted to the bar in an early day and this remained his life work until the end. Possessing a brilliant mind and rare tact, industry and perseverance he forged to the front ranks of his professional brethren and for many years was regarded as one of the leading lawyers in southern Missouri, his name figuring conspicuously in important trials in various courts and he met with uniform success. He was a man of pronounced convictions, always ready to take a stand for what he believed to be right, and while in Texas prior to the breaking out of the Civil war he announced that he favored the Union cause. He joined the Home Guards in Springfield in 1860 under Colonel Holland, but was not called into actual service. After the war he formed a partnership here with judge Geiger which continued for several years. Active in politics and influential in local public matters Mr. Dade was elected to represent Greene county, on the Greenback ticket, in the state legislature, in 1879, and he served his time there in a faithful and commendable manner. At one time he was police judge of Springfield, being the only Democrat elected on the ticket of that year, which is sufficient indication of his popularity here. He remained faithful to Democratic principles the rest of his life. Religiously he was a member of the Christian church, and was prominent in church work, was a teacher in the Sunday school for some time. He was a member of the Masonic order from the age of twenty-one years.

Mr. Dade was married, January 1, 1872, to Donna Mack, who was born in Maury county, Tennessee, September 1, 1845. She is a daughter of John and Sarah V. Mack, the father a native of North Carolina and the mother of Virginia, the former born in 1800 and the latter in 1802. Mr. Mack's death occurred in 1854, and his widow survived until 1867. They were married in Tennessee and in 1852 the family removed to Greene County. Missouri, locating in Springfield where they became well established, and here Mrs. Dade grew to womanhood, being seven years old when. she came here with her parents and here she was educated, being a student in the first college. She is one of nine children six daughters and three sons, two of whom are living at this writing, Mrs. Donna Dade, and Mrs. Narcissa Edwards.

Three children Were born to Mr. and Mrs. Dade, namely: Agnes, born April 26, 1873, is the wife of Dr. R. M. Cowan; Matilda, born September 18, 1876, is at home; Virginia born on September 11, 1882, married George B. Rayfield, and they have one child, Dabney Dade Rayfield, born on January 1, 1906, and is now attending school.

The death of Dabney Cosby Dade occurred on May 25, 1912. His life was an open book, known and read by his many friends, who found therein no blank pages and nothing to offend, for he always endeavored to measure his life by strict principles of rectitude, and few of his contemporaries could present a character so nearly flawless or a reputation against which so little in the way of criticism could be uttered.

[870-872]


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