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


SAMUEL W. HEADLEE. As one reviews the history of Greene county and looks into the past to see what people were prominent in its early development, he will find that for more than three-quarters of a century, the period covering its first settlement to the present time, the Tennesseeans have been closely connected with the progress and advancement of this section of the state. Wild was the region into which they came. Its forests stood in their primeval strength, the prairie land was still unbroken, and the Indians still roamed through the woodlands and over the plains, seeking the deer and lesser game which could be found in abundance. The Headlee family, while not so early as some, yet figured in the early-day development of this locality. The late Samuel W. Headlee was of this number, and for a long lapse of years he was one of the most prominent men of the county, playing well his part in the local drama of civilization, not only clearing and developing the land, but aiding in the establishment of schools and churches, and was a public servant of unquestioned ability and integrity; in fact, the various members of this sterling old family have ever manifested the characteristic thrift of the emigrants from the old state of "Hickory" Jackson, and justly entitled to representation in this work.

Samuel W. Headlee was born in, Maury county, Tennessee, March 6, 1823. He was a son of Caleb and Mary (Steele) Headlee. His parents were from North Carolina, but emigrated to Tennessee in a very early day, where they lived until 1836, when they emigrated overland to Missouri and settled in Greene county, began life in true pioneer fashion, and here Caleb Headlee spent the rest of his life engaged in farming, dying in 1847. Samuel W. Headlee was thirteen years old when he accompanied his parents to Greene county. He grew to manhood on the farm and received such educational advantages as the schools of those early days afforded, and for some time taught school in this county. In 1850 having caught the "gold fever," he crossed the great western plains to California, where he spent four years, engaging successfully in mining. Upon his return here he purchased the old homestead upon which he spent the rest of his life, and was regarded as one of the county's leading farmers of that period. He was elected to the lower house of the state Legislature by the Benton Democracy, re-elected in 1862 and in 1864. In 1866 he was elected by the Republicans to the state Senate, and in 1872, he, to heal the breaches in his party, became a candidate for the lower house, and was elected by a handsome majority. He was again elected to the Legislature in 1876. In all that period of sixteen years he voted as his conscience and judgment dictated, and won for himself the applause and approval of all good men, doing much for the general good of his county and looking carefully after the interest of his constituents. He was a faithful and conscientious servant of the people, and his long retention in important official positions would indicate that the people here reposed implicit confidence in his ability and honesty. During the Civil war he took an active part in the service of the Union and in 1862, to that end, was commissioned captain of a militia company. From 1863 to the close of the war, he was captain in the Sixteenth Missouri Cavalry of the Federal army. In 1874 he was complimented by a nomination by the people's committee as their candidate for lieutenant-governor upon the ticket headed by Major Gentry. After retiring from public life he devoted his attention to general farming on a large scale, and in the decline of a long, useful and honorable life enjoyed the satisfaction of peace with himself and the full confidence of those who knew him best. His death occurred on February 6, 1900.

Samuel W. Headlee was married May 2, 1855, to Emily L. Armor, a daughter of Washington and Nancy S. (Kerr) Armor, natives of Georgia and North Carolina, respectively. They immigrated to Missouri in 1846 and settled in Polk county. After remaining there until about 1848, the Armor family removed to Greene county and here the parents spent the rest of their lives, being long since deceased.

To Samuel W. Headlee and wife nine children were born, namely: Warren E., born on July 27, 1857; Arthur B., born on April 12, 1858, died in infancy; Margaret E., born on July4, 1859; Blondville D., born on September 4, 1861; Samuel M., born on February 5, 1865, died on August 14, 1887; James W., born on July 28, 1867; Claude L., born on November 20, 1871; Cora M., born on June 16, 1873, died on November 20, 1903; she was the wife of Avery Robards, and to their union one child was born, Jessie Margaret, whose birth occurred September 30, 1903; she was taken by her grandmother when six weeks old and is still living in her home. Jessie E. Headlee, youngest of our subject's children, was born on September 13, 1875, and died on August 26, 1899.

Claude Leslie Headlee was born on November 20, 1871, on the home farm in Franklin township, Greene county, and here he grew to manhood and received his education in the district schools. He has been a life-long farmer; however, he learned the carpenter's trade when a young man and has since followed it to some extent. He is the owner of one hundred and thirty acres of good land, eighty-five acres of which is tinder cultivation. He lives but a short distance from the old residence where he was born. He married, on January 24, 1879, Lona M. Knighten, a daughter of, Ammon and Mary E. (Dotson) Knighten. Mr. Knighten is one of Franklin township's leading farmers and stockmen, and formerly was engaged in blacksmithing and mercantile pursuits at Hickory Barrens, this county. A complete sketch of himself and family appears on another page of this volume. To Claude L. Headlee and wife three children have been born, namely: Arthur Harry, Samuel Leslie and William B. Politically, Mr. Headlee is a Republican. His wife belongs to the Baptist church at Pleasant Hope, Polk county.

Blondville D. Headlee, son of the immediate subject of this sketch, was born on September 4, 1861, on the homestead in Franklin township, this county, and here he spent his boyhood and was educated in the common schools, remaining on his father's farm until he was thirty years of age. On February 3, 1892, he married Nanny Norman, who was born near Brookline, Greene county. She is a daughter of William and Mary (Gibson) Norman. To this union two children have been born, Frank and Grace, both at home. Mr. Headlee has devoted his life to general farming, making a specialty of grain and live stock. He owns a well-improved place of one hundred and ten acres. Politically, he is a Republican. His wife is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church at Mt. Comfort. Her father, William Norman, was born on August 4, 1823, in Maury county, Tennessee, and in an early day he came with his family from his native state to Missouri and settled in Greene county, developing a farm in Brookline township, where he owned a large tract of land and was a successful farmer. Here he spent the rest of his life, his death occurring October 24, 1895, three miles from Nichols junction, in the western part of the county. Politically, he was a Democrat, and was a member of the Brookline Congregational church. His wife was born in Tennessee and died in this county in 1879. She was a faithful member of the Presbyterian church, and was buried in the cemetery at Brookline. To Mr. and Mrs. Norman eight children were born, three, of whom are now living--Frank N., who makes his home in Oklahoma City; Marshall is a resident of Shawnee, Oklahoma; and Nanny, wife of Blondville D. Headlee.

James Ward Headlee was born on the old homestead here, and here he grew to manhood and was educated in the public schools at Hickory Barrens. He, too, has devoted his life to general farming, and is now owner of a very productive place of eighty-three acres, which lies close to the old homestead. He learned the blacksmith's trade when he was a boy and this he has followed to some extent ever since, following the same fourteen years in connection with farming, maintaining his shop at his home place. He is a natural mechanic, and is regarded as a very highly skilled blacksmith. On December 2, 1894, he married Dora Kesterson, a native of Greene county, and a daughter of David C. and Minerva (Ketcherside) Kesterson, natives of Ohio and Georgia, respectively. They came first to Arkansas, and from there to Missouri, locating on a farm in Franklin township, Greene county, where Mr. Kesterson spent the remainder of his days engaged in general farming. During the Civil war he enlisted in Company K, Second Arkansas Cavalry, was appointed second corporal of his regiment on April 28, 1864, and was mustered out of the service and honorably discharged at the close .of the war at Memphis, Tennessee. He was in the command of Col. John E. Phelps, of Springfield, Missouri. Mr. Kesterson was born on March 18, 1837, and died on November 8, 1911. He was a tanner by trade, which he followed in Arkansas and also for a time after coming to Greene county, but after his marriage devoted his attention to farming. He came to this county immediately after the close of the war, in 1865. His wife was born on September 14, 1841. She was a daughter of James and Genette (Scabberry) Ketcherside. Her death occurred in November, 1903. He died at the Soldiers' Home at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, while her death occurred on the farm in Franklin township. James and Genette (Scabberry) Ketcherside were both natives of Tennessee, but from that state they moved to Georgia, where they spent the remaining years of their lives. David C. Kesterson's family consisted of seven children, of whom Mrs. Dora Headlee was the fourth in order of birth. She has three brothers living at this writing--John E., of Kansas City; Arthur U., who is farming near Hickory Barrens, this county; and Arvel D., of Los Angeles, California. Politically, Mr. Headlee is a Republican, and he belongs to the Cumberland Presbyterian church at Mt. Comfort, to which Mrs. Headlee also belongs.

The Headlees have always enjoyed excellent reputations, being neighborly and honorable in all the relations of life.

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