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


LAFAYETTE A. ROSS. One of the venerable and most widely known citizens of the northern part of Greene county is Lafayette A. Ross, who has spent practically the entirety of his nearly four score years in this locality, which he has seen grow from a wild and sparsely settled prairie, dotted with log cabins when land could be secured for one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre to its present thriving state when some of the best acres are worth one hundred and seventy-five dollars each and modernly appointed homes are numerous. And in this great transformation he has played well his part in every respect. His long life of usefulness, industry and charitable acts has won for him the sincere affection of almost every man, woman and child in Murray township, and of many of those living in townships adjacent. His early industry has resulted in his possession of a neat competence, and while he still enjoys the glow of the golden rays of the sun of life that must eventually set behind the horizon of the inevitable, he shares that enjoyment with no stint in the companionship of the members of his family and his wide circle of friends, won through his residence here of more than three-quarters of a century.

Mr. Ross was born in Robberson township, Greene county, Missouri, February 21, 1835. He is a son of David and Louisa (Robinson) Ross. David Ross, who was one of the noted pioneer preachers of southwestern Missouri, and one of the most extensive agriculturists and stock men of. Greene county, was born in Kentucky, March 12, 1812, and he was six years of age when his parents, William and Elizabeth Ross, removed with their family to Boonville, Cooper county, Missouri. William Ross was a man of ability and an expert surveyor. While living in Cooper county he laid off the town of Boonville, and about that time was employed by the government of Mexico to assist in surveying the greater portion of what is now the state of Texas. After returning from the Southwest to Cooper county he brought his family to Greene county, having maintained his home in the former county six years. He took up a claim in Robberson township, before this locality had been surveyed, and on this he erected a log cabin, made such other improvements as were necessary in placing raw prairie land under cultivation, but he subsequently moved to Bolivar, Polk county, and 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 widow died at the home of their son, David Ross, when past eighty-two years of age. They were a sterling old pioneer couple and did much for the advancement of early civilizing influences in this section of the state. David Ross was twelve years of age when he accompanied his parents to Robberson township Greene county, from Boonville. Here he engaged in farming, erecting a log cabin and starting in true primitive fashion, and, being a hard worker, a man of rare foresight and good judgment he prospered with advancing years and became owner of over five hundred acres of fine farming land here, which he brought up to a high state of cultivation and improvement and carried on general farming and stock raising on an extensive scale, raising large numbers of horses, mules, cattle, hogs and sheep annually, and was a most excellent judge of live stock. He was one of the best known and most influential of the early settlers in this locality. For a period of over thirty-five years he was a minister in the Methodist Episcopal church, South, and preached in Springfield for many years and all over this country. He was profoundly versed in the Bible, was an earnest, forceful and eloquent preacher of the old school. His wife, Louisa Robinson, was born in Tennessee about 18l5, and her death occurred on the home place in Greene county at an advanced age. He died in 1869 at the age of fifty-six years, when in the zenith of his powers.

To David Ross and wife twelve children were born, namely: Lafayette A., subject of this sketch, is the eldest; William Monroe; Dr. Francis Emery, now deceased, was for over a quarter of a century one of the leading physicians of Springfield; Mrs. Elizabeth Jane Whitlock lives in Springfield; Mrs. Mary L. Skeen lives in Ash Grove, this county; David W. lives at Willard; Mrs. Sarah Melissa Watson lives at Morrisville, Polk county; Mrs. Henrietta Josephine Robinson lives in Texas; Mrs. Cordelia Robinson lives in Oklahoma; Bennett J. is farming in Murray township; Mrs. Laura Emma Appleby lives in Topeka, Kansas.; Dr. Leonadus Clark is practicing medicine in Springfield.

Lafayette A. Ross grew to manhood on the home farm and worked hard when a boy, and received such educational advantages as the early schools afforded. He remained on the farm until he was nineteen years of age, when, on April 10, 1853, he started overland across the great western plains to the gold fields of California where he remained three years, returning home on July 7, 1856. His experiences on his long journey to and from the Pacific coast and while in the West forms a most important and interesting chapter in his life record. With the exception of this brief period he has always lived in the locality of his birth, and has resided in his present home since in April, 1868, or over forty-six years. He owns a finely improved and well-kept farm of one hundred and twenty acres, which was a raw, unpromising looking tract when he purchased it, but by hard work and close application he has made a fine farm of it and has a commodious residence and substantial group of outbuildings, his place being now well worth one hundred and seventy-five dollars per acre. He has always followed general farming and stock raising, and he is still active, although the frosts of old age are upon him, but he has had an exceptionally robust constitution and has lived a careful life. He is a man of fine business judgment and broad-minded in practical affairs.

Mr. Ross was married on September 21, 1856, to Malinda Evans, a daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Leathers) Evans, all three natives of North Carolina. Joseph Evans was born in 1804, and was fourth in a family of seven children. He grew up in his native state and when a young, man learned the millwright's trade which he followed in connection with farming, plying his trade during the winter months. He removed with his family to Greene county, Missouri, in 1840, locating in Robberson township, at the edge of what has long been known as Robberson Prairie. He built the first frame house in Greene county, and also had the distinction of building here the first saw mill and grist mill. He sawed logs. for his home out of black walnut trees that would now be worth a small fortune. He became a prosperous farmer and influential citizen among the early day residents. His death occurred in September, 1888, at the advanced age of eighty-five years. Ten children were born to Joseph Evans and wife, four of whom are living at this writing, namely: Alexander makes his home in Springfield; Malinda, wife of the subject of this sketch; Mrs. Emma McDaniel, who resides in Springfield; Daniel McCord lives in Willard, this county. The paternal grandparents of these children were Daniel Evans and wife, who, with their son, John, emigrated from England to the United States in an early day and settled in North Carolina.

Eight children have been born to Lafayette A. Ross and wife, namely: George Emery lives in Texas; William J. makes his home at Morrisville, Polk county; Mrs. Emma Ault lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Mrs. Lula R. Appleby is living on the home place with her parents; David Edward lives in Willard; Walter Evans makes his home in Oklahoma. Two died in infancy.

Mr. Ross, is a Democrat but he has never held public office or desired to be other than a quiet, honorable and unobtrusive citizen. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, at Willard, has been secretary and trustee of the church at different times. His wife is also a member of the same church, and both are much interested in general church affairs.

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