Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
CLAYTON R. PICKERING. That the career of such a man as the late Clayton R. Pickering, for many years a popular justice of the peace in Greene county, besides being treasured in the hearts of relatives and friends, should have its public record also, is peculiarly proper because a knowledge of men whose substantial reputation rests upon their attainments and character must exert a wholesome influence upon the rising generation. While transmitting to future generations the chronicle of such a life, it is with the hope of instilling into the minds of those who come after the important lesson that honor and station are sure rewards of individual exertion.
Mr. Pickering was born near Greenville, Tennessee, May 27, 1841. He was a son of Samuel Pickering and wife, both natives of Tennessee, where they were reared and married. Our subject's mother died when he was quite small and he was reared by his step-mother, who was Margaret Johnson before her marriage. Samuel Pickering devoted his active life to farming. A few years after the Civil war he removed with his family, including our subject, to Missouri, locating in Greene county. He was the father of eight children, four by each of his wives, our subject being one of the first union, and was a first cousin of David Crockett, the famous scout and adventurer.
Clayton R. Pickering grew to manhood in Tennessee and worked on the farm when a boy. He received a limited education in the common schools there, and later in life became a well informed man by home study. He left school when the Civil war began and enlisted in the First Tennessee Cavalry, serving in the Union army under Gen. Sherman, and was in the Atlanta campaign and on the march to the sea, and was in many important engagements and saw considerable hard service during the three years of his enlistment. He narrowly escaped death many times, once in particular when his horse was shot from under him, wounding him by the fall. When a young man he learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed after locating in Greene county, Missouri, and was regarded as an exceptionally skilled workman. He finally located in the town of Republic, this county, where he served as postmaster for some time, then was elected justice of the peace for two terms. In 1902 he located in Springfield, where he spent the last years of his life, and served as justice of the peace, in which capacity he proved to be an efficient, unbiased and popular public servant, his decisions always being fair to all parties and showing a sound knowledge of the basic principles of jurisprudence, and they seldom met with reversal at the hands of higher tribunals.
Mr. Pickering was married July 3, 1902, in Springfield, to Mrs. Vassie (Douglass) Morris, who was born in Greene county, Missouri, on April 1, 1863, and here grew to womanhood and was educated in the common schools. She is a daughter of Rufus and Caroline (Bottom) Douglass, both natives of Tennessee, where they grew up and were married, and from there moved to Springfield, Missouri, in an early day and they spent the rest of their lives on a farm in Greene county. Mr. Douglass was also a trader in live stock, etc., and was a highly respected man. His political relations were with the Republican party. His family consisted of these children: Jonathan, Elizabeth, Jane Vassie, our subject's wife, and Amanda. Mr. Douglass came to Greene county, Missouri, on horseback in an early day, but died soon thereafter. The death of Mrs. Pickering's, father occurred on December 31, 1891, and her mother died on August 13, 1902.
Mrs. Pickering was first married to Elvis Morris, by whom she had one child, Opal Morris, who was born October 18, 1889, and she was reared in Springfield, where she received a good education. She is living with her mother in their home on West Mount Vernon street. The union of Mr. and Mrs. Pickering was without issue.
Politically Mr. Pickering was a Republican, and religiously he belonged to the Congregational church. His death occurred on November 1, 1911, when past his three score and ten.
Mrs. Pickering's uncle, James Douglass, had a good many slaves before the Civil war, but finally freed them, however, but not until one of them murdered his wife. The guilty negro was hanged. This uncle raised an orphan child, Seley Johnson, who was well known here.
Springfield-Greene County Library