Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
RICHARD MASSEY. The Massey family is one of those who cast their fortunes in the locality of which this history treats when it was little better than a wilderness, but being courageous and resourceful people, they forged to the front ranks and have been well and favorably known in Greene county since the pioneer epoch. One of the best known of the family is Richard Massey, a contractor of Springfield, who has spent his life of over fifty-seven years here and is therefore a connecting link between the first period of development of this vicinity and the present.
Mr. Massey was born September 15, 1857, just east of Springfield, on the old homestead. He is a son of Capt. James and Martha (Anderson) Massey. The father was born in Ireland, where he spent his boyhood and attended school, and when eighteen years of age he ran away from home and sailed on the broad Atlantic toward the United States seek his fortune. He first settled in Knox county, Tennessee, at the foot of the Cumberland Mountains, regarding whose picturesque inhabitants so much has been written, and in that locality he was married and made his home until the year 1832, when he made the tedious and somewhat hazardous overland trip to Greene county, Missouri, bringing his family in a primitive wagon, and thus the Masseys were among the earliest pioneers of this locality. He secured a tract of land just east of what is now the thriving city of Springfield, but which was at that time an encampment of the Kickapoo Indians. He set to work with a will, cleared, broke and fenced his land, erected a log cabin and by perseverance and hard work became very comfortably fixed in due course of time, and was a man of influence among the early frontiersmen, his neighbors being, however, very few and most of them some miles distant, until more Tennesseeans followed him, the Fulbrights, the Freemans and others. Although he devoted the major portion of his life to farming, he was a mechanic by trade and a skilled workman. He made the first separator, or "ground-hog" thresher, ever seen in this part of the country. During the War of 1812, he enlisted in defense of his adopted country, gladly fighting against the flag under which he was born, and for meritorious conduct on the field of battle he was promoted from a private to a captain, and served with distinction throughout the war. Politically he was first a Whig, then a Republican after that party was organized in the fifties. His death occurred on his farm here in 1863. His wife was a native of Tennessee, where she grew up and received a limited education. She lived to an advanced age, dying in Stone county, Missouri, in February, 1899. To these parents nine children were born, only four of whom are living at this writing: Robert, Richard of this sketch, Sally and Emma.
Richard Massey grew to manhood on the old homestead, where he helped with the general work when a boy, and he received his education mostly by home study. When his father died he was a small boy, and as soon as he could, he was compelled to work and assist in supporting the family. He followed farming for some time, then took up carpenter work, then railroad grade contracting and at the present time he is engaged in general contracting. He has been very successful in his line and has handled some large jobs, among which was the Valley water falls, the Grant street subway, did the work for the filtering plant at the pump station for the Springfield water works, and he built the first piece of special road that was ever seen in Greene county. He has been very successful in a business way, and owns a commodious home on South Campbell street, surrounded by a lot containing five acres.
Mr. Massey was married, first on April 14, 1874, in Stone county, Missouri, to Hannah Prier, who was born in Henry county, Iowa. Her death occurred in Stone county. She was a daughter of Allen and Mary (Brown) Prier, who were pioneer settlers in Henry county, Iowa. By this first union of our subject seven children were born, namely: Clara, Guy, James Allen, Robert E., Ernest, Laura and Sally. Mr. Massey was married a second time in Stone county, to Mary J. Prier, a sister of his first wife, and to this union five children have been born, namely: Floyd Glenn, Zella, Percy, Carrol and Kenneth.
Politically Mr. Massey is a Democrat. He belongs to the Knights and Ladies of Security, and is a charter member of the Supreme Court of Honor. The Massey family are members of the Christian church.
Springfield-Greene County Library