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


WALTER L. PURSSELLEY. M. D. It is a pleasure to write the biography of a man who has forced his way from the common ranks up the ladder of professional success, having overcome obstacles that would have downed, and does down, myriads of men of less sterling fiber. But this is just the thing, that Dr. Walter L. Pursselley, physician and surgeon of Springfield, has done, and he is therefore entitled to his success and to the respect that is accorded him by a wide acquaintance in Greene county. He infuses his personality, courage and conscience into his work, is active at his books during every spare moment, is determined and has the strength of will for achievement. Habits of systematized thought, study and reflection have invigorated his mind, and he has clear discernments of his profession, comprehensive of its principles, and, to points obscure to many of his professional brethren, the genius of their application. He is a good doctor, a safe and competent adviser in consultation and with a constantly growing practice, to which he applies himself with faithful and conscientious zeal, no oracle, such as the ancient Greeks applied to when in doubt of the future, is required to forecast his professional success in years to come.

Doctor Pursselley was born in Greene county, Missouri, August 30, 1866. He is a son of William and Sarah (Beasley) Pursselley. The father devoted his life, to general farming, retiring from active work a few years prior to his death which occurred at the age of seventy-three years. During the Civil war he was a soldier in the Union Army, having enlisted in the Eighth Missouri Volunteer Infantry, under Colonel Lisenby, and was in active service three and one-half years, serving his country faithfully. Among the many engagements in which he participated was the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas. The mother of our subject died at the age of sixty-three years. The paternal grandfather, John Addison Pursselley, belonged to the band of brave, sterling frontiersmen who pushed the borders of civilization westward. He emigrated from Tennessee to Missouri in a very early day, transporting his family and household effects by wagon over rough roads and unbridged streams. Inheriting the same elements of the pioneer adventurer, his son. William Pursselley, father of the Doctor, joined the famous band of "forty-niners" and crossed the great western plains to the gold fields of California. He had many thrilling escapes from the hostile Indians of the West while en route, and he assisted in recovering a herd of cattle which the red men had stolen from white emigrants. The Pursselleys are of Scotch-Irish and German-American ancestry.

Dr. Pursselley grew to manhood on the home farm and he received his early education in the district schools and the Henderson Academy, at Henderson, Missouri, lacking two months of graduating when he quit to take up teaching. Ambitious to enter the medical profession when a young man, he taught school six years in order to obtain funds to defray the expense of a medical course. He entered the Missouri Medical College at St. Louis in 1894, and was graduated from that institution in 1897. Soon thereafter he came to Springfield and began the practice of his profession, remaining here ever-since, and enjoying a constantly growing practice as a general practitioner, however, he has of late years devoted special attention to surgery in which he seems to be especially gifted. He is generally known to his friends as "the busy doctor," which may be interpreted to mean that he does a large business.

Doctor Pursselley is one of seven children, five boys and two girls, both girls being deceased, and subject being the eldest of family; William T. W., John W., Clay W. and James W., all living in Polk county, farming, except one, John W., who is in the milling business at Brighton, Missouri.

Doctor Pursselley is a member of the Greene County Medical Society, the Southwest Missouri Medical Society, the Missouri State Medical Association and the American Medical Association. Fraternally he belongs to the Masonic Order, the Woodmen, Order of the Maccabees, Royal Neighbors and many others. Politically, he is a Republican, and religiously, is a member of Grace Methodist Episcopal, church.

Doctor Pursselley was married, December 26, 1898, to Nora M. Potter, of Palmetto, Greene county, Missouri. She was born there in November, 1876, was educated in the public schools and the Henderson Academy. She is a daughter of Judge W. H. F. and Amanda (Pickle) Potter. The father is a prominent citizen of Greene county, where he has long been active and influential in political affairs, and is an earnest worker in the Masonic Order, of which he is now chancellor. He held one term as county judge of Greene county. He has devoted his life successfully to general farming, but is now living in retirement. Mrs. Pursselley has the following brothers and sisters: Mrs. Monnie Burris, of Bolivar, Polk county, Missouri; Jefferson Potter, of Pleasant Hope, Polk county; George Potter, who lives seven miles east of Springfield; Ople Potter, unmarried, of Palmetto, Missouri, and Willie Dennis Potter, also living at Palmetto.

To Doctor Pursselley and wife one child has been born, Mary Pursselley, whose birth occurred in Springfield, April 6, 1900. She is making an excellent record in school, being in the eighth grade, and has nearly finished the third grade in music in which she has decided talent.

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