Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
FRANK R. MASSEY. The prosperity and substantial welfare of a town or community are in a large measure due to the enterprise and wise foresight of its business men. It is progressive, wide-awake men of affairs that make the real history of a community, and their influence in shaping and directing its varied interests is difficult to estimate. Frank R. Massey, a representative of one of the most prominent families of southwestern Missouri during the past quarter of a century or more, and for a number of years one of Springfield's most progressive merchants and business men, who is now engaged in mining, is one of the enterprising gentlemen of the Queen City of the Ozarks.
Mr. Massey was born in Jasper county, Missouri, April 12, 1850. He is a son of Benjamin F. and Mirah (Withers) Massey, the former being one of the sterling early pioneers of Missouri. He was born at Massey's Cross Roads, Kent county, Maryland, near Chestertown, in 1811, and was a son of Benjamin Massey. He grew to manhood in his native state and received a common school education at Baltimore, where his boyhood days were spent. Having a desire to investigate the then little known country west of the Mississippi river, in 1831, when about twenty-one years of age, he made the prolix and somewhat hazardous overland journey from the Monument City to Mound City (St. Louis), and embarked in business, but subsequently went to Fayette, Howard county, Missouri, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits from 1837 to 1839, but in the last mentioned year he moved to what is now the city of Sarcoxie, Jasper county, this state, and there laid out the town, and continued to reside there until 1856, being the principal guardian of Sarcoxie's interests during that period, and doing more than any other man, for her general development. He engaged successfully in business there until he entered politics, being elected secretary of state in 1856, becoming one of the efficient and popular officers of the state of Missouri in that troublous period. Prior to that time he had served his district as state senator. He was occupying the office of secretary of state when the Civil war broke out, when he went South with Governor Claiborne Jackson and the other officers of the state government, and served four years in a gallant and faithful manner in the Confederate army. After the war he returned to Missouri and published a newspaper, The Jeffersonian at Pierce City, which became one of the most influential and widely known newspapers in southern Missouri. He was not only a good business man and made this a successful venture from a financial standpoint, but was a trenchant and versatile writer and most capable editor in every way. He continued in the newspaper business until his retirement from the active affairs of life, whereupon he came to Springfield to spend his last years with his son, Frank R., of this sketch, at whose home he passed from earthly scenes a few years later, in 1887, after a useful, industrious and honorable career. His name will go down in the history of the state as one of the most prominent, able and enterprising citizens of southwestern Missouri a half century ago.
Benjamin F. Massey and Mirah Withers were married in Boonville, Cooper county, Missouri, in 1838. She was born in Fauquier county, Virginia, in which state she grew to womanhood and was educated, and from that state emigrated with her parents to Missouri during the latter thirties, the family locating in Boonville. She was a woman of fine mind and charming personality, a true type of that fine Southern womanhood of antebellum days. Her death occurred in 1864. Benjamin F. Massey and wife were the parents of ten children.
Frank R. Massey is a fine type of the successful self-made American, and this title is the proudest that anyone can bear in our great Republic of the west. He never went to school a day in his life, but being a man of natural strong endowments and ambitions he has become a well-informed man through actual contact with the world, and by wide home reading. When a child he went to Virginia, where he was reared to manhood, leaving there in 1866, he came back to Missouri and began his splendid business career as a merchant, in which line of endeavor he was successful from the first. He organized what is now known as the Springfield Grocery Company, one of the most successful concerns of its kind in the great Southwest. It paid one hundred percent the first six years of its existence under the able management of Mr. Massey, who managed it for seven years, then he retired two years, and then organized the Massey-Herndon Shoe Company in Springfield, which partnership continued fairly successful for five years, when Mr. Massey purchased Mr. Herndon's interests and merged the concern with the Keet-Rountree Shoe Company, of which large establishment our subject was general manager for five years, during which time the company did a very extensive wholesale business all over this section of the country; but on account of failing health Mr. Massey was forced to retire from the firm, and he later went into the mining business at Granby, Missouri, and is still actively engaged there, being general, manager of extensive mining interests at that place, and, as usual, this venture has been a highly successful one from a business standpoint.
Politically, Mr. Massey is a loyal Democrat and influential in the party. Fraternally he belongs to the Masonic Order.
Springfield-Greene County Library