Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
WILLIAM RILEY SELF. Among the professional and public men of Springfield and Greene county the name of William Riley Self occupies a conspicuous position. In his earlier years he was a successful banker, later popular politician and servant of the people, and for many years he has ranked among the leading lawyers of this section of the state. When in court he is prepared; if he fails and must go higher, or if he wins and is forced up, he leaves no weak or broken links in the chain that begins where he starts and ends where he must go. As an advocate he may not have the fascinations and gifts that "universities can bestow," or the poet's blooming fancy, or the "fine phrensy" of passionate declamation. We know that the dangerous brilliancy of genius may attract, and the melody of eloquent words may charm for the moment, but the voice of reason, the sturdy legal sense, the plain language, the stern, unerring logic of the law, which are a strong part in the contentious force of Mr. Self, are powerful weapons in the hands skilled in the use of them.
Mr. Self was born at Buffalo, Dallas county, Missouri, January 15, 1863. He is a son of William J. and Cynthia (Cowden) Self. The father was born in Dallas county on January 26, 1839. His father, one of the first settlers of that county, emigrated from Tennessee in pioneer days; in fact, was among the very first settlers. The mother of our subject was born in Georgia in 1844, her parents having been natives of that state. She was young in years when she came to Dallas county, Missouri, and there she married William J. Self, and died on the home farm near Buffalo, in July, 1863, and there the father of our subject is still living. He has devoted his life to general farming and stock raising, is one of the well known and esteemed citizens of that county. During the Civil war he enlisted in 1861, in the Fifteenth Missouri Cavalry, and served three years in the Union, army in a gallant and faithful manner, being honorably discharged during the latter part of the war. His family by his second marriage consists of three children, namely: James H., who is engaged in the hardware business at Crowell, Texas; Francis M. is a banker at Buffalo, Missouri; and William R., of this sketch.
Mr. Self, of this review, grew to manhood on the home farm in his native county and there he worked hard when a boy, and received a common school education in the district schools, later attended the Buffalo high school, then took a scientific course at the Valparaiso University at Valparaiso, Indiana, from which institution he was graduated in 1887, having made an exceptionally good record and was president of his class. Returning to Buffalo, Missouri, he began reading law in the office of Thomas M. Brown, with whom he remained until he was admitted to the bar in 1888, but he did not begin the practice of his profession at once, entering the banking business in Buffalo instead, becoming cashier of the Dallas County Bank, holding that position from 1890 until 1897 to the satisfaction of the stockholders and patrons of the bank. Taking an active interest in politics, he was elected on the Republican ticket to the lower house of the Legislature from Dallas county in 1892, serving one term. On June 30, 1897, he located in Springfield, where he has since made his home, practicing law without a partner all the while. He was elected city attorney in April, 1902, and served in this office until April, 1904, then was elected representative from Greene county to the Legislature, serving one term of two years. He was elected prosecuting attorney of Greene county in 1906 and served one term of two years. As a public servant he gave in all these offices the highest grade of service, his ability, fidelity and honesty and unquestioned public spirit, winning not only the hearty commendation of his constituents, but of all concerned. He is now engaged in the active practice of the law, maintaining an office at 304 ½ College street. He is vice-president of the Bank of Greene County, located in Springfield.
Mr. Self was married on November 8, 1889, in Valparaiso, Indiana, to Frances E. Bost, who was born in central Illinois, November 17, 1862. She received a common school education, later attended high school and the University of Valparaiso. The union of our subject and wife has been without issue.
Mr. Self has been loyal to the Republican party since attaining his majority. He is a member of the South Street Christian church of which he is an elder, and is also Sunday school superintendent, and takes an abiding interest in church and Sunday school work. His record from boyhood up has been that of a scrupulously honest, conservative and safe man in business, professional and public affairs and he has ever enjoyed the implicit confidence and the good will of all with whom he has come in contact.
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