Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
JUDGE WILLIAM H. PERKINS. Examples that impress force of character on all who study them are worthy of record in the annals of history wherever they are found. By a few general observations the biographer hopes to convey in the following paragraphs, succinctly and yet without fulsome encomium, some idea of the high standing of William H. Perkins, ex-judge of the Greene county court, as a leading agriculturist and stockman, one of the representative citizens of the county and a public benefactor. Those who know him best will readily acquiesce in the statement that many elements of a solid and practical nature are united in his composition and which, during a series of years, have brought him into prominent notice at least throughout the western portion of the county, his life and achievements earning for him a conspicuous place among his compeers.
Judge Perkins was born on a farm in Brookline township, Greene county, Missouri, February 18, 1850, and is a scion of one of our pioneer families, being a son of William G. and Martha A. (Beal) Perkins. The father was a native of Logan county, Kentucky, where he was reared. When a young man he came to Greene county, Missouri, and entered two tracts of land from the government, the first in 1848 and the last in 1851. These he developed by hard work and became a successful farmer and business man. Both these tracts of land, now very valuable and comprising as fine farming land as the vicinity affords, have remained in the family, being now owned by the subject of this sketch. The father was known as "Grief" Perkins, his middle name being used instead of his first name. He was an influential man in his community, especially in the affairs of the Presbyterian church, in which he was an elder for many years, being the founder of the church of this denomination in this community. He had two brothers and two sisters, all now deceased but Mrs. Hayden, who lives in Texas. The death of William G. Perkins occurred in 1908 at the advanced age of eighty-seven years. He was known to all as a man of fine personal character, a "gentleman of the old school" who never was known to neglect his duties as a neighbor or citizen. His faithful life companion, a woman of beautiful old-time Christian faith, survived him only six weeks, passing away at the age, of eighty-one years. She was a native of Tennessee, and when young in years accompanied a party of emigrants from that state to the Ozark mountain country. They reached a certain stream, since known as "Turnback" creek, from the fact that here this party of home seekers turned back on their route. They finally located on Wilson's creek, which stream was destined to become famous in history. Here Mrs. Perkins's father, Daniel Beal, entered land from the government, which he developed into a good farm, which remained in possession of the family until recently, when our subject turned the patents over to purchasers. This place lies some four miles west of Springfield. There Mr. Beal spent the rest of his life. He was an energetic man, and was active as a member of the Baptist church.
Judge Perkins is the second of nine children, all born in Greene county, where the parents were married; they were named as follows: Mrs. Mary O. Norman, a widow, is living eight miles southwest of Springfield; William H., of this review; Mrs. Nannie Crenshaw, a widow, lives nine miles south of Springfield; John T. is farming in Oklahoma; Laura is the wife of Rev. W. H. Wilson, now residing in Oklahoma; Mrs. Minerva Dillard lives nine miles east of Springfield; Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson, Mrs. Jennie Stephens and Daniel are all three deceased.
Judge Perkins was reared on the old homestead, where he did his full share of the work when growing to manhood, and in that neighborhood he received a common school education, which has been greatly supplemented in after years by contact with the world and wide home reading. Early in life he turned his attention to general agricultural pursuits which he followed successfully and continuously up to a few years ago. He paid especial attention to the live stock business, and no small portion of his comfortable competency was derived from this source. Growing up among stock and having a liking for them he became an exceptionally good judge of all kinds. He still owns a part of the old home place, but now lives in Springfield, where he removed in 1909.
A stanch Democrat, Judge Perkins always took an abiding interest in political affairs, and in the fall of 1910 he was elected county judge and presided at the sessions of the Greene county court in a manner that stamped him as a man of ability, far-seeing, impartial and having the best interests of the county at heart, unbiased in his efforts to benefit the general public, and his course has been entirely satisfactory to his constituents. Religiously, he is a member of the Presbyterian church.
Judge Perkins was married in Greene county, in the year 1873, to Martha J. Ellison, a daughter of John Ellison, an early settler in this county, and here he became a successful farmer. Mrs. Perkins was born here in 1853 and reared and educated in her native community. She proved to be an excellent helpmate, sympathetic, kind and industrious. Her death occurred in February, 1909 at the age of fifty-six years. Her only brother also died a few years ago.
Three children were born to our subject and wife, named as follows: Clarence, now forty years old, is farming in the state of Louisiana; Bessie is the wife of George Langston, at present postmaster at Texhoma, in western Oklahoma, where he has a ranch, and they have one son, Maurice, now six years old; Eunice, youngest of the trio, is living with her father in Springfield.
The Judge was always a man who made friends easily, and after his career on the bench began they rapidly multiplied, and all who know him will agree that he is deserving of the respect in which he is so widely held.
Springfield-Greene County Library