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


EUGENE JOSEPH RHODES. There could be no more comprehensive history written of a community or even of a state and its people than that which deals with the life work of those who, by their own endeavor and indomitable energy, have placed themselves where they well deserve the title of progressive, and in this sketch will be found the record of one who has outstripped the less active plodders on the highway of life, one who has not been subdued by the many obstacles and failures that come to every one, but who has made them stepping stones to higher things and at the same time that Mr. Rhodes has been winning his way to the front in business affairs he has gained a reputation for uprightness and honor.

Eugene Joseph Rhodes, a well known citizen of Springfield, formerly of northern Arkansas, was born in Jefferson county, Iowa, March 17, 1845. He is a son of Ira G. and Ann Emelia (Botts) Rhodes. Ira G. Rhodes was born in the state of New York on August 29, 1814, but when a child he was brought to Trumbull county, Ohio, where he grew to manhood and received his education. His father was of German ancestry, his mother English, though the former was born in Massachusetts and the latter in Connecticut. The family record shows that John Rhodes, grandfather of Ira G., was born May 2, 1779, and died June 24, 1819. His wife, Hannah Graves, was born June 17, 1783, and died September 10, 1835. Their son, Joseph, father of Ira G., was married to Polly Waters, February 15, 1801. The parents of Polly Waters were named Guerdon and Eliza, the former dying December 25, 1813, and the latter dying January 24, 1819. Joseph and Polly Rhodes were the parents of eight children, five girls and three boys, Ira G. being the sixth child. The exact place of his birth is not known. In 1814 his parents left Connecticut to go to Ohio, and while en route this son was born. It seems that the trip from the old Nutmeg state to the Buckeye state required quite a long time, and when the family reached Ohio their infant son was one year old. Thus it was in 1815 that the Rhodeses took up their residence in what was then the western frontier or wilderness, still the domain of the red men, and there endured the usual hardships and privations of early pioneers. There Ira G. Rhodes' parents spent the rest of their lives and there their children grew to maturity and then left the old home to become, themselves pioneers in the still farther West. Ira G. remained with his parents until twenty-one years old, working on the farm in summer and attending district school in winter. Although he had no other schooling than was afforded by the common schools of Ohio, yet he prepared himself for a successful teacher and taught several terms of school before he became of age. His first school was a winter term of three months, at eleven dollars per month, and "board around," which necessitated going to the poorest cabins, sleeping with dirty children, with scant covering, and in huts where through the cracks between the logs the snow sifted in winter and the stars were visible through the roof, and the usual fare nothing but "hog and hominy." Though his early life was that of the farm boy, he eventually had good training, his parents being people of sturdy character and strong minds. In his early life Ira G. Rhodes was a Whig and first cast his vote for Gen. William Henry Harrison; following his father, however, he later joined the Free Soilers and became a Republican on the organization of that party. He was all his life a stanch advocate of temperance. His father died at the old farm in Trumbull county, Ohio, December 30, 1853, and his mother died there on November 1, 1848.

Soon after reaching the age of twenty-one, Ira G. Rhodes, with only a capital of one hundred dollars, started West to seek his fortune, traveling horseback through the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, locating in Hancock county in the last named state, where he engaged in teaching school for seven years. Here he met and married Ann Emelia Botts. She was born in Kentucky, May 14, 1820. Her ancestors were originally from England. Her father, Joseph Botts, was the ninth child of John and Lucy (Gaines) Botts, and was born in Virginia. He married Sabra Wilkes, of Boone county, Kentucky, and they became the parents of twelve children, of whom Ann Emelia was the fourth. She lived with her parents on the farm in the old Blue Grass state until she was sixteen years of age, when they emigrated to Hancock county, Illinois, the journey requiring four weeks, Ann Emelia riding the entire distance on horseback. Illinois was then principally a wild, unbroken prairie, with a settlement here and there. Mr. Botts was a slave owner in Kentucky, but finally freed his slaves and sought a country where slave holding was not the custom. He was a minister in the Baptist church for over a half century and a great preacher among the pioneers.

It was on January 15, 1843, that Ira G. Rhodes and wife were married, and in April of that year they went to Iowa to make their future home, settling in the timbered lands bordering the Skunk river in the northeast corner of Jefferson county. Here, six years before Iowa became a state, on the outskirts of civilization, where the tracks of the Indians were still fresh in the soil, far away from relations and friends, with only a few scattered neighbors, they began housekeeping and homebuilding. On that farm in the woods, carved out of Nature's raw material by their own hands, they lived for nearly fifty years, rearing their family of eight children, their way being hard and toilsome, but it was always cheerful and hopeful. By persistent, well directed labor and judicious economy, they won prosperity and secured a competence, so they were enabled to spend their old age in quiet and comfort. Mr. Rhodes was always active in school matters, and for many years after he gave up teaching he was a school director. He was a good debater and took an active part in all literary and debating societies of the neighborhood. Before and during the Civil war he took great interest in politics and was active in his locality. In 1874 he allied himself with the Grangers and was elected by that party county treasurer, holding the office two years in an able manner, this being the only public office he ever held, and this he did not seek. However, he was often urged to become a candidate for the legislature, but always refused. Upon his election to the office of county treasurer he abandoned his farm and moved to Fairfield, the county seat. At the close of his official career he purchased a home in Brighton, four miles from the old home, and there they continued to reside, spending a portion of each year visiting their children in Missouri, Arkansas and other places. Mr. Rhodes was a robust man physically, was never known to be sick. He never used tobacco and liquor or indulged in profane language. He was a kind husband, father and neighbor and beloved by all who knew him, as was also his good wife. He was a man of liberal religious views and never belonged to any church, although his daily life was that of an honest, upright man and his character was always exemplary. He was a thinking man and all his life he was true to himself and the world. Mrs. Rhodes also shared her husband's views on religion, and they believed in right for right's sake, opposing the dogmas and creeds of orthodox churches. They both closed their days in Jefferson county, Iowa, his death occurring in March, 1898, and she followed him to the grave on November 9, 1912.

To Ira G. Rhodes and wife nine children were born, all of whom grew to manhood and womanhood but the fifth, Helen Louise, who died in infancy. Lucilia Jane Rhodes, the oldest child, was born October 22, 1843, taught school three years prior to her marriage, which occurred October 23, 1863, to R. H. L. Barricklow, a farmer of her own neighborhood, and to this union six children were born, Grace, Irvin Ernest, James Luther, Dell Eugene, Ira G., and Lulu Lillian; the Barricklow family removed from Iowa to Arkansas in 1887 and settled at Stuttgart. Eugene J. Rhodes, the immediate subject of this sketch was the second child in order of birth. The next in order was Luther Graves Rhodes, whose birth occurred February 24, 1847, was educated for a teacher, which profession he followed nearly twenty years in Iowa, Illinois and California; February 28, 1877, he married Sadie Irvin, and to them three sons were born, Claudie Irvin, Glenn Vernon and Lester Ray; after giving up teaching, Mr. Rhodes located in Yolo county, California, and engaged in horticultural pursuits and official work. Mary Sophronia Rhodes, the fourth child, was born February 8, 1849, and engaged in teaching for a short time before her marriage, which occurred on November 11, 1868, to John W. Townsley; to this union one child was born, Nettie; her second husband was A. S. Bailey, whom she married December 28, 1879, and to this union three children were born, Homer Garfield, Ralph Emerson and Faith. Mr. Bailey is now engaged in newspaper work in Iowa at Shenandoah, where he is active at the age of eighty years. William E. Rhodes was born May 31, 1853, and was also educated for a teacher, which profession he followed many years in Iowa, Kansas and Alabama, in which state he established his permanent residence, where he finally engaged in the jewelry business and merchandising, also was farmer, justice of the peace, postmaster, surveyor and now a banker at Linden, Alabama; he married Sarah Emma Miller, and to them four children were born, Ray Gustavius, Charles Eugene, Ira George and Carrie Alvaretta. Myrtle Ann Rhodes was born January 5, 1856, taught school a while before her marriage, on December 24, 1873, to Gideon G. Sampson, a native of England, who followed teaching for twenty years, finally removing from Iowa to Boone county, Arkansas, in 1890, and to this couple four children were born. Ernest Eugene, Fred Vernon, Grace Helen and Myrtle Agnes. Florence Alvaretta Rhodes was born September 2, 1858, the youngest daughter; she married, May 14, 1887, Nathan A. Heacock, for many years engaged in the United States postal railway service, and to the union of this couple one daughter was born, Florence Natalie. Homer Ellsworth Rhodes, youngest of the nine children, was born November 18, 1861, married Ida Barricklow, on September 27, 1882, and to this union the following children were born: Mabel Irene, Earl Edwin, Margaret Ann (deceased), Hazel Adline, Victor William (deceased), Arthur, Marie, Gladys, Garland, Mildred and Lucile. After their marriage this couple lived on a farm in Iowa until 1889, when they emigrated to Arkansas, establishing their future home at Stuttgart, where Mr. Rhodes engaged in the hardware business, and is now living retired.

Eugene J. Rhodes, of this review, grew to manhood on the old homestead in Jefferson county, Iowa, where he assisted with the general work during the summer months and during the winter he attended the district schools, remaining at home until he was twenty-one years of age; then he entered Eastman's National Business College, at Poughkeepsie, New York, where he made an excellent record and from which institution he was graduated in the spring of 1867. He then attended the State University of Iowa at Iowa City, graduating from the normal department of the same in June, 1869. In July of that year he left his native state and located in Johnson county, Arkansas, where he engaged in teaching school for a short period; locating in Fayetteville, two years later, he was appointed register of the United States land office at Harrison, removing the office from Clarksville, and he began upon his duties in 1871. After filling this office very acceptably for a period of three years, during which his ability and faithfulness, courtesy and high integrity commended him to all concerned, he went to California, in May, 1873, where he engaged in teaching for four years and also in bookkeeping for some time. In 1878 he returned to Arkansas and located in Boone county, and on November 14, 1878, was married there to Mattie Keener, who was born in Pennsylvania September 30, 1859. She is a daughter of Judge William Keener, who removed with his family from the old Keystone state to Missouri when she was a child, and here and in Arkansas she grew to womanhood and received a common school education; in 1872 the Keener family removed to Arkansas.

After his marriage Mr. Rhodes resided some time in Harrison and later moved to the pinery, where he resided a number of years, enjoying the comforts of a home in the pine-clad, picturesque hills, and engaged successfully in the manufacture of lumber and in commercial orcharding. Here he owned a tract of land comprising three thousand one hundred acres and many acres of mining land, and was also engaged in farming, stock raising , and operating his mines, besides discharging the duties of United States mineral surveyor for a period of ten years for the state of Arkansas. In his locality he held the office of justice of the peace and also that of notary public. He was always a stanch Republican and was influential in public affairs in Boone county, having been for some time an active member of the county central committee. While there he was a director of the Boone County Bank. His principal business for a number of years there was the manufacture and sale of pine and oak lumber, and he was president of the Arkansas Zinc and Lead Company, which was incorporated in 1890 to operate in the mining regions of Arkansas, and which had control of twelve hundred acres of rich mining land in Marion county. He was half owner of the well-known Diamond Cave in Newton county, Arkansas, and it can of truth be said of him that he has done as much as any man in Arkansas to push forward the zinc and lead industry. He was regarded as one of the most substantial and foremost citizens of Boone county, and owned one of the finest homes and one of the largest orchards in that county.

Mr. Rhodes left Arkansas in 1895 and located in Springfield, Missouri, where he has since resided, and has been engaged extensively in the lumber business here, both retail and wholesale, his business extending over a vast territory of the Southwest. He has also engaged in the coal and wood business on a large scale, and has done considerable engineering work for various railroads, also surveying, having served as deputy surveyor under Surveyor Phillips and also Massey, and ten years ago he was elected county surveyor of Greene county, serving one term with ability and general satisfaction. At this writing he is extensively engaged in the ornamental and concrete business, and he was the first person to introduce the manufacture of artificial marble, a splendid imitation of marble. He is regarded as one of the leading men of affairs of this locality and is a man who has always enjoyed the good will and confidence of those with whom he has come in contact. He owns much valuable property here.

Seven children, five sons and two daughters, have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Eugene J. Rhodes, named as follows: Homer, born September 23, 1879, died September 6, 1880; Florence Ethel, born February 3, 1881, teaching in Harrison, Arkansas; Eugene Joseph, Jr., born March 26, 1883, is engaged in business in Springfield; William Ira, born January 12, 1885, is engaged in the feed and fuel business in Springfield; Clarence Julius, born February 1, 1887, lives in Springfield and is engaged in business here; Carrie Lena, born March 17, 1889, married Trevor Sanks, and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Arthur Clyde, born September 18, 1891, is in the motorcycle business in Springfield.

[1107-1112]


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