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


CAPT. WILLIAM H. KERSHNER. Fame may look to the clash of resounding arms for its heroes; history's pages may be filled with a record of the deeds of the so-called great who have deluged the world with blood, destroyed kingdoms, created dynasties and left their names as plague spots upon civilization's escutcheon; the poet may embalm in deathless song the short and simple annals of the poor; but there have been comparatively few to sound the praise of the brave and sturdy pioneer who among the truly great and noble, is certainly deserving of at least a little space on the category of the immortals. One of the pioneers of Greene county is William H. Kershner, Clay township's venerable citizen, who located in our midst three-quarters of a century ago, and thus he has lived to see the growth of the county from the beginning, for this has been his place of abode with the exception of a few years in the far West during the days of the rush for the gold beyond the Sierras.

Mr. Kershner was born in Hawkins county, Tennessee, March 12, 1835. He is a son of John H. and Martha (Amis) Kershner. The father was born in the same county and state and was reared on a farm there, married and in 1841 removed with his family to Greene county, Missouri, locating on the James river, buying a two hundred acre farm on which he spent the rest of his life and died there in December, 1856. His wife was also born and reared in Hawkins county, Tennessee, Her death occurred on the home place in Greene county in 1868. She was a member of the Methodist church. The Amis family were very early pioneers of Hawkins county, Tennessee, They were influential in milling and agricultural circles. They never left Tennessee. To these parents ten children were born, namely: Mrs. Elizabeth Cloud, deceased; Mrs. Frances Muncie, deceased; Mrs. Sarah Bench lives in Greene county; William H., of this sketch; John, who was a soldier in the Civil war, died after the close of the conflict; Mrs. Martha Crane, deceased; Mrs. Harriet Wills lives in Greene county; DeWitt C. lives in Montana; Mary, deceased; James, deceased.

William H. Kershner was five years old when he accompanied his parents from Tennessee to Greene county. He worked on his father's farm until he was twenty-one years old, and received a common school education. In April, 1856, he started from Springfield across the great western plains, to California with an ox team, arriving in the gold fields in September of the same year. He spent five years in the Pacific coast country and was fairly successful. He returned home in 1861, and joined the Federal army, under Capt. John W. Matthews, of Company A. Eighth Missouri Cavalry. His captain was wounded December 1, 1863 and died twelve days later whereupon our subject was promoted to captain of his company, the duties, of which responsible position he very ably and courageously discharged until he was mustered out of the service in August, 1865. He took part in the battles of Wilson's Creek, Prairie Grove, Arkansas; Chalk Bluffs, Arkansas, and a number of smaller engagements, and was with the troops that took the city of Little Rock. He was an excellent officer, according to his soldiers, and never shirked his duty no matter how arduous or dangerous. After the war he returned to the family home in Greene county, and here purchased a fine farm of three hundred acres and has since devoted his attention to general agricultural pursuits, ranking among the leading farmers of the county.

Mr. Kershner was married in 1867 to Lucy E. Dodson, who was born on the place where our subject is now living, in December, 1858. She was a daughter of George and Eliza (Samuel) Dodson, both natives of Maury county, Tennessee. They immigrated to Greene county, Missouri in 1840 and owned a farm of one hundred and eighty acres here on which they spent the rest of their lives, both dying some years ago. Mrs. Kershner was reared on the farm here and was educated in the district schools. Her death occurred May 23, 1910. She was an excellent woman and had a host of friends. She was a worthy member of the Christian church.

To Mr. and Mrs. Kershner ten children have been born namely: Mrs. Martha Collison, Mrs. Lonie Masoner, Willie is deceased; Ora Olive lives at home; Mrs. Fannie Inghram, Lennie, deceased; Mrs. Annie Smith, Jennie is deceased; Fred, at home and Johnnie, the latter deceased.

Politically, Mr. Kershner is a Republican. He is a member of the John Matthews Post, Grand Army of the Republic, at Springfield, which post was named after his captain when he first went into the army. He has had a great deal of adventure and talks interestingly but never boastfully of what he has seen and experienced.

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