Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
JOHN J. UNDERWOOD. Those who belong to the respectable middle classes of society, being early taught the necessity of relying upon their own exertions, will he more apt to acquire that information and those business habits which alone can fit them for the discharge of life's duties, and indeed it has long been a noticeable fact that our great men in nearly all walks of life in America spring from this class. The subject of this sketch, whose life history we herewith delineate, is a worthy representative of this class, from which the true noblemen of the republic spring; but he has made no effort to be a leader of men, contented to lead an honest, industrious and conservative life, desiring no other title than that of a good citizen.
John J. Underwood, president of the Springfield Stone & Fuel Company, was born near Bolivar, Polk county, Missouri, August 25, 1872. He is a son of Abraham Alexander Underwood and Martha Ellen (Nenninger) Underwood. The father was a native of Pennsylvania, and the mother of Ohio. They grew up, were educated and married in the East, and resided there until 1870, when they removed to Bolivar, Missouri. A. A. Underwood was one of five children. When the Civil war came on he enlisted for service in the One Hundred and First Ohio Volunteer Infantry, from Bucyrus county, Ohio, and saw considerable hard service, including the greatest battle of modern times, Gettysburg, and he was also in a number of other important engagements. After a gallant service of two and a half years he was mustered out and honorably discharged. He studied law, and after coming to Bolivar, built up one of the largest practices in southwest Missouri and was one of the leaders of the Democratic party in this section of the state and prominent in public affairs. He was a candidate for Congress in 1876. His family consisted of eight children, namely: Mrs. Jennie Farrer, of Springfield; Gertrude died in infancy; Mrs. Mary West lives in Oklahoma City; Sherwood is deceased; Alex is in South America; John J., of this review; Thomas lives in Springfield; and Charles, deceased.
John J. Underwood was reared in his native community and received his education in the schools of Bolivar; his sisters were graduates of the Southwest Baptist College there. Our subject attended school until he was eighteen years of age, then moved to a farm with his parents, near Bolivar, where he worked for a number of years, then went to Oklahoma City, and took up a claim near there, where he remained a year in the city and a year on the claim, then returned to the home farm and lived there until 1907, when he located in Springfield and started in the feed and fuel business on Commercial street, and a year later took up the commission business, and later helped organize the Merchants Baking Company and operated one of the best bakeries, although not so extensive as some, in the state, and was highly complimented by the state inspector, who stated that our subject's bakery was the cleanest and most sanitary on his record or that he had inspected in his territory. Mr. Underwood made this venture a paying one and operated the bakery until 1911, when he was one of the incorporators of the Springfield Stone & Fuel Company, which was capitalized at ten thousand dollars, and which has been a pronounced success under his able management, he being president and manager of the same, and he now owns all the stock of the company. The other two incorporators were M. H. Southworth and A. L. Farrer.
Mr. Underwood carries on a general stone contracting business and also deals in cement, stone and fuel, but makes contracting his principal business and handles large jobs, and in recent years he has furnished the materials for a number of the most important new buildings in Springfield, such as the addition to the government building, State Normal School building, all the material for the state home of the Knights of Pythias, such as sand and cement, and he did all the stone work on the State Normal School, also many other of the best modern buildings here. His work has been eminently satisfactory in every respect, and prompt and high-grade work is his aim, as well as scrupulous honesty. He understands thoroughly every phase of his business, which is rapidly growing, and he is one of the best known contractors in his line in this section of the state. He also enjoys a large trade in fuel.
Mr. Underwood was married September 9, 1895, to Carrie Farrer, a daughter of Bucher and Elizabeth (Rafferty) Farrer. Her father was a native of Iowa and her mother of Ohio. They located in Dallas county, Missouri, in an early day and lived there until the father's death. His family consisted of three children, namely: A. L., Carrie, who married Mr. Underwood; and Charles. Mrs. Underwood grew to womanhood in Dallas county and was educated in the common schools there.
Three children have been born to our subject and wife, namely: Edna, Earl and Mary.
Politically Mr. Underwood is a Democrat. He is a member of the Christian church, and fraternally he belongs to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America. His wife belongs to the Mothers' Club of the Boys' School, and she is an active member of Campbell Street Methodist Episcopal church, South.
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