Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
MAJOR WILLIAM MARION WEAVER. For many reasons Major William Marion Weaver, a venerable pioneer of Springfield, is entitled to specific mention in the present historical compendium, not the least of which reasons is the fact that he enjoys the distinction of being the only survivor of the Mexican war in Greene county, and in fact, one of the few men still living in Missouri who engaged in that memorable conflict sixty-seven years ago, within itself a span of years longer than is vouchsafed to but comparatively few men. He is one of our oldest native-born citizens, being the second white child born in the county.
Major Weaver was born April 25, 1830, in Greene county, Missouri, and is a son of Samuel and Rhody (Fulbright) Weaver, she having been the only daughter in a family of thirteen children. Samuel Weaver was a native of North Carolina, where he spent his earlier years, finally emigrating to Missouri and settling in Greene county, and was the founder of Delaware town. His death occurred in 1833, when our subject was an infant. The mother of our subject was also a native of North Carolina and her death occurred in Greene county, Missouri, at the birth of Major Weaver. These parents were married in Tennessee, where they settled when young with their parents, and soon after their marriage they emigrated to Missouri, with our subject's maternal grandparents. Samuel Weaver and wife received limited educational advantages, and they spent their lives on a farm. To them only one child was born. Our subject's paternal grandfather, Jacob W. Weaver, was born in Normandy, France, from which country he emigrated to the United States with Gen. Lafayette, and he served in the Revolutionary war under Lafayette for several years, and after the conflict he located in North Carolina. His name was originally Weber, in German, he having been of Teutonic blood, but the name was subsequently changed to the English spelling, Weaver. He married a North Carolina woman and they reared three children, namely: Samuel, father of our subject, Robert and Fred. The parents of these children spent their lives on a farm in the old Tar State, and so far as known, died there. William Fulbright, the maternal grandfather of our subject, was also a native of North Carolina, as was also his wife, Ruth Hollingsworth, and they grew to maturity in that state and were married there. To them thirteen children were born the mother of our subject having been the fourth in order of birth. From North Carolina this family removed to Tennessee, but did not remain there long, coming on to Missouri in 1829, and in the autumn of that year Mr. Fulbright settled the land on which the main portion of Springfield is now -located, from the "Jordan" or properly Wilson's creek on the north and west to Campbell street on the east and the old "wire road" on the south. Mr. Fulbright became a prosperous farmer and owned about thirty slaves. He was widely known among the frontiersmen. Physically he was a very large man, weighing about three hundred pounds. He was very hospitable and visitors were always welcome at his board. His death occurred when Major Weaver was about thirteen years of age.
As stated in a preceding paragraph Major Weaver was the second white child born in the county, his uncle, Col. Daniel N. Fulbright, being the first, both first seeing the light of day in the same house, there being only three months difference to a day in their ages. Our subject grew to manhood in his native community. Being left an orphan when an infant he was reared in the home of his grandparents, the Fulbrights. When he became of proper age he attended the subscription school in an old-fashioned log cabin that was located on what is now College street. School lasted but a few months during the winter, and his education was meager, however, he has since become a learned man through wide reading and contact with the world. The day he was seventeen years of age, April 25, 1847, he enlisted for service in the Mexican war, and on June 14th following went to the front. It was about the middle of May that year when one hundred and nine young men left Springfield, he being among them, with instructions to proceed at once to Independence, Missouri, the nearest mobilization point. They represented some of the best families in southwestern Missouri. This band of youthful patriots who composed Company G, Third Missouri Mounted Volunteers, was made up almost wholly of young fellows from around Springfield, which at that time was little more than a crossroads with a store and a blacksmith shop. They were under command of Col. John Ralls, of Ralls county, who was regimental commander under Gen. Zachary Taylor. In 1848 half of the men in Company G returned home. Lieutenant Robert Love, a brother of Thomas Love, who is now a resident of Springfield and a former postmaster here, died en route overland to Santa Fe. The others responded to the final and eternal ring of taps on the battlefield. Fourteen went down in one battle with the Mexicans. Major Weaver is the only man left of the one hundred and nine in that company, and although eighty-five years of age, is well preserved and vigorous. He was one of the young men to enlist with the first Missouri troops and he was among the last to be mustered out in Independence after the Stars and Stripes had been planted on the citadel of the Montezumas. His memory of the incidents of the overland trip to the border, of the movements of General Taylor's troops, and of the various incidents of the war is as clear as if it were but yesterday that the happenings took place.
Young Weaver was made a bugler, and the troops with which he was serving were sent to what is now El Paso, Texas. From there the march into Chihuahua state and to the city of Chihuahua was begun. Juarez, Santa Cruz and Chihuahua were taken in turn. Troops stopped their southward march at Chihuahua. General Taylor sent reinforcements to General Scott, who was advancing upon Mexico City from Vera Cruz, having first taken the city of Monterey. General Taylor's men got as far as Buena Vista, where the final and greatest battle of the war was fought, and in 1848 started bark to the United States, the war having been terminated.
After the war Major Weaver returned to his native county. On December 24, 1848, he was united in marriage to Ester Ann Clements, who was born in Wisconsin in 1830, and, with a sister, was left an orphan when a child. The two moved to Greene county, Missouri, with a cousin, Jesse Gerard, and here Mrs. Weaver received her education. By this Mr. Weaver's first marriage, three children were born, namely: Mary Frances, who married James Stewart, lives in California; Leonidas is deceased: Emma O. is deceased. On March 6, 1868, our subject was married a second time, his last wife being Jenna Ann Catts, who was born in West Virginia, from which state she came to Mt. Vernon, Lawrence county, Missouri, when a child, where she was reared. She is a daughter of George and Mary (Tarr) Catts, a highly respected pioneer family of Mt. Vernon. Mrs. Weaver received her education in the common schools of that place. She is still living. To this last union two children were born: Charles, born January 23, 1869; he was killed in an accident on the Frisco near Lebanon on July 29, 1903. Emma, whose birth occurred September 3, 1871, in Lawrence county, this state; she is the wife of Harry L. Bissitt, and they reside in Springfield. A sketch of this family occurs in this volume under the caption of James Bissitt. To Harry L. Bissitt and wife one child has been born, Marian Weaver Bissitt, whose birth occurred in 1903; she has made an excellent record in the ward schools and entered high school in September, 1914.
Major Weaver is entitled to be called a "forty-niners" for he was one of the courageous gold seekers who made the precarious journey across the vast, wild western plains to California—not, it is true, in the year i849, but only a few months later in the spring of 1850. He engaged in mining for some time on the Pacific coast, later returning to Greene county and "wound up" his business affairs, and returned with his family to the Golden State in 1852, and went into the hotel business there. He was successful in this venture and remained in California until 1867, when he returned to Missouri, the four long journeys having been made without especial incident of importance. Upon his return he located in Barry county in the southwestern part of the state and engaged in the saw milling business, later removing to Lawrence county, this state, and engaged successfully in mercantile pursuits until 1889 when he took up his residence again in Springfield, after an absence of nearly thirty years, and practiced law for twelve years and has been living a retired life ever since, enjoying the fruits of his former years of activity and excellent business ability. He owns a pleasant home on West Walnut street. Major Weaver was elected in 1896 to the Missouri Lower House as a Democrat, of which party he has always been a stanch supporters Major Weaver is well and favorably known all over Missouri, the phenomenal growth of which he has been deeply interested in, for he has lived to see it develop from a wilderness on the then western frontier to one of the opulent and important localities of the Union. He is a man of public spirit and is hospitable, genial, likable, a man of never failing courtesy of the old school, and now, in the golden Indian summer of his years he is held in the highest esteem by a wide circle of admiring friends, and he can look backward over a useful and well-spent life, and forward with no misgivings or fears.
Springfield-Greene County Library