Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
JAMES D. VAN BIBBER. The late James D. Van Bibber, was a well-known man throughout Greene county during a past generation, having been clerk of the county court for a period of twelve years, and long a successful merchant and agriculturist in the northern end of the county. He will long be remembered in this locality as a man of public-spirit, comprehensive ideas and as a man of honest impulses and genial and sociable personality.
Mr. Van Bibber was born on May 3, 1828, at Liberty, Clay county, Missouri. He sprang from old Colonial stock of Holland Dutch ancestry--three brothers, sea captains--coming to America from Holland in the early part of the seventeenth century, and located in New York and Virginia, and were among the early founders of the country. Joseph Van Bibber, grandfather of our subject, was born in Virginia from which state he moved to Missouri in 1800 with his family and settled in Callaway county, in the wilderness. He married a Miss Irwin, of Irish stock. He owned a large tract of land and passed the remainder of his days in Callaway county. He was the father of seven children, namely: Lucinda, Minerva, Melissa, Joseph, Irwin, Frank and Daniel. Joseph Van Bibber, son of above and father of our subject, was born in Greenbriar county, Virginia, in 1797 and was but three years old when brought by his parents to Callaway county, Missouri, and was, therefore, reared in this state, received a common education and was a gunsmith by trade and employed by the United States government at Liberty, Missouri, when there was an Indian agency at that point. He married in St. Charles county, Missouri, Susan Boone, a daughter of Nathan and Olive (Van Bibber) Boone. Nathan Boone was the son of the most famous of all pioneers--Daniel Boone, of Kentucky. It will be remembered that this noted hunter and Indian fighter moved to Missouri about 1795 and settled in St. Charles county, having been preceded by his son, Daniel. Morgan Boone came a few years previously. Nathan, who came in 1800, was born in Kentucky in 1781 and married there before he was twenty-one years of age, and he and his wife became the parents of thirteen children, twelve of whom lived to be married men and women, namely, James, Jeremiah, Delinda, Susan, Olive, Nancy, Benjamin H., John C., Levica, Melcena, Mary, Sarah and Mahala. Mr. Boone resided on his farm in St. Charles county until 1834. He was a captain in the Dragoon service of the United States army and stationed at Fort Leavenworth many years. He was engaged in the early Indian troubles, and resigned when he became an aged man, being lieutenant-colonel at the time. In 1834 he moved to Greene county and settled on land near Ash Grove which he purchased from the government, several hundred acres, and here he passed the remainder of his days, an honored citizen, and reached the age of seventy-five years.
After his marriage Joseph Van Bibber lived at Liberty until 1832, when he went to Arkansas and settled in Randolph county, in the wilderness, and was one of the first settlers in that county, and was one of the surveyors who laid out the town of Pocahontas, the county-seat of that county, and there he died at the age of forty-two years, and his wife died a few years previously. They were the parents of four children who lived to grow up, namely: Letitia, James D., Sarah and Emulus C.
James D. Van Bibber, subject of this memoir, was left an orphan when he was thirteen years of age, after which he lived with his grandfather Col. Nathan Boone, at Ash Grove, until between fifteen and sixteen years of age, when he began to work out for himself. He worked and paid his tuition at a subscription school, and attended school at Springfield two terms and thus gained a common education and began life, in an industrial way as a clerk at Cave Spring, Greene county, later engaging in the mercantile business there for himself in which he built up a good trade and continued in this line of endeavor until the breaking out of the Civil war. He then exchanged his stock of goods for land near Cave Spring, and continued purchasing until he owned about seven hundred acres, and lived on this land until 1862 when he came to Springfield and engaged in the mercantile business until the close of the war. In 1874 he was elected clerk of the county court, and held this office twelve years, being elected three times. He discharged the duties of the same in a manner that reflected much credit upon himself and to the satisfaction of all concerned. He owned a good farm just north of the city limits of, Springfield which he sold in 1887 and bought two hundred and forty-three acres upon which he built a large residence. He spent the rest of his life engaged successfully in general agricultural pursuits.
Mr. Van Bibber was married in 1854 at the age of twenty-six years, to Caroline Staley, daughter of Alfred and Lucinda (Brower) Staley. Alfred Staley was born in North Carolina where he spent his earlier years and from that state he emigrated to Missouri in 1846 and settled in Greene county. In 1848 he went into the mercantile business at Cave Spring, where he was a prominent merchant until his death in 1853.
To Mr. and Mrs. Van Bibber two children were born, namely: Alfred H., a sketch of whom appears on another page of this volume; and Laura Belle, who has remained unmarried and is living on the old homestead with her mother, the latter being now advanced in years.
Politically, Mr. Van Bibber was a Democrat, and fraternally he belonged to the Masonic Order, being a member of O'Sullivan Lodge No. 7, of Walnut Grove, and held the office of secretary for three years. He was a man of high Christian character and when his death occurred in 1909, sincere regret was expressed in the community in which he lived.
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