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


BENNETTE J. ROSS. It is well for us all that Nature tries to conserve her fertile fields. Man has ever been a robber of the soil and at this late day he is beginning to realize that Nature, and her multitudinous servants, cannot forever maintain the pristine fertility of alluvial valley and loamy plain unless the reckless waste of soil riches is checked by scientific rotation of crops or intelligent use of the legumes. A diminishing yield per acre of cereals is Nature's warning to the children of men that they cannot eat their cake and keep it, too. One of the successful farmers of Murray township, Greene county, who has long been fully awake to these conditions and such others as pertain to high-grade twentieth-century husbandry is Bennette J. Ross, a scion of one of the worthy pioneer families of this locality, where he has been content to spend his life of over three score years.

Mr. Ross was born in Robberson township, Greene county, February 3, 1853. He is a son of David and Louisa (Robinson) Ross. The birth of David Ross occurred in Kentucky, March 12, 1812, and when a small boy he came with his parents to Boonville, Missouri. He was a son of William and Elizabeth Ross, also natives of Kentucky. William Ross, who was a surveyor, laid off the town of Boonville, Missouri. While living there he became a surveyor for the Mexican government and helped survey the major portion of what is now the state of Texas. Leaving Boonville, Cooper county, he moved with his family to Greene county, and took up a claim from the government in Robberson township, but subsequently moved to Bolivar, Polk county, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits for seven years, then located at Versailles, Morgan county, this state, where he spent the rest of his life, dying when past eighty years of age. His wife died at the home of David Ross when past twenty-eight years of age. David Ross lived in Boonville until he was twelve years of age, then came with the family to Greene county and here engaged in farming and married here, later purchasing a farm and building a residence in Robberson township, where he lived the rest of his life, and was one of the prominent men among the early settlers here. He not only managed his farm, but was a minister in the Methodist Episcopal church, South, and preached at Springfield for years and all over this section of the state, and was a powerful preacher of the old school, remaining in the work over thirty-five years, and his death occurred in 1869 at his home in Robberson township while still in the fullness of his powers, at the age of fifty-seven years. He owned over five hundred acres of excellent land here and carried on general farming and stock raising on an extensive scale. His wife, Louisa Robinson, was born in Tennessee about 1815, and her death occurred on the homestead in Greene county at an advanced age. To these parents twelve children were born, namely: Lafayette A., who is farming in Murray township; William Monroe, deceased; Francis Emery, who was for over a quarter of a century one of the leading physicians of Springfield, is deceased; Mrs. Elizabeth Jane Whitlock lives in Springfield; Mrs. Mary Louisa Skeen lives in Ash Grove, this county; David W. lives at Willard, Greene county; Mrs. Sarah Melissa Watson, who resides at Morrisville, Polk county; Mrs. Henrietta Josephine Robinson makes her home in Texas; Mrs. Cordelia Robinson lives in Oklahoma; Bennette Jackson is farming near Willard; Mrs. Laura Emma Appleby lives in Topeka, Kansas; Leonidas Clark is practicing medicine in Springfield.

Bennette J. Ross grew to manhood on the home farm and did his share of the work there when a boy, and he received his education in the township schools and spent a year in high school at Ebenezer and two years at Drury College, taking a scientific course; this was in 1876 and he was, therefore, one of the first students of this now noted institution. He was forced to leave college on account of measles, which affected his eyes.

November 24, 1897, Mr. Ross married Ida Ella Knox, a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Locke) Knox. The father was born January 15, 1832, in Giles county, Tennessee, but came to Greene county, Missouri, and took up a claim from the government, later returning to Tennessee, where he married. He brought his bride back to Missouri and settled on his claim in Robberson township, near Percy's cave, which he discovered, and in that vicinity he cleared and developed a farm, later selling out and purchased another tract of one hundred and sixty acres in Murray township, which he farmed until his death, in 1891. Politically, he was a Democrat, and was an ardent member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, and an elder in the same for many years. His wife was born in Giles county, Tennessee, in 1830, and her death occurred on the homestead in Robberson township in 1879. She was an active member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church. To Mr. and Mrs. Knox nine children were born, namely: Joseph William lives in Springfield; John McClain lives near Willard; Samuel Edgar lives near Verona, Missouri; the fourth and fifth children died in infancy; Mrs. Mary Belle Sneed lives at Willard; DeWitt Clinton lives on the old homestead near Willard; Mrs. Sarah Alice Gillespie lives at Willard; and Ida Ella, wife of Mr. Ross, of this sketch.

To the union of Mr. and Mrs. Ross four children have been born, named as follows: Lockie, born March 25, 1900; Marie Anna Fay, born February 3, 1902; Bennette Knox, born September 16, 1905, and Pauline, born February 22, 1911.

Mr. Ross spent his earlier years on the home farm, remaining there until the fall of 1911, when he purchased eighty-seven acres of excellent land, where he now resides—"Maple Grove Farm," and is making a pronounced success as a general farmer and stockman. He has a comfortable residence, surrounded by a fine grove. His farm is well drained and well fenced.

Politically, Mr. Ross is a Prohibitionist and has taken an active part in the work of the same for years. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church, South, at Willard, in which he has been steward, trustee and Sunday school superintendent for many years, and at this writing holds the office of steward. He is also a trustee in the church of this denomination at Ebenezer, Robberson township. His wife is also a member of the same church as our subject and takes an active part in the work of the Sunday school, missionary and other societies of the church. At this writing Mr. Ross is assistant superintendent of the Sunday school and is a teacher of the Ladies' Bible class at Willard. He is a man who has always stood high in the community owing to his industry, honesty and activity in church, school and whatever pertains to the general good of his township, never shirking his part in any good work.

[804-806]


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