Pictorial and Genealogical Record
of Greene County, Missouri

Together with Bibliographies of Prominent Men of Other Portions of the State, Both Living and Dead


MARZAVAN J. ROUNDTREE, Springfield, Mo., is one of the honored and respected citizens of Greene County, and one of the original pioneer settlers. He came when there was not one dozen families living in Greene County, and when there was not a sign of the settlement of Springfield, except the clearing of John C. Campbell and his log cabin which stood about 300 yards east of what is now the public square. Mr. Roundtree springs from Scotch-Irish stock his grandfather coming from Ireland before the Revolutionary War bringing his wife, a Miss Sturges, and it is believed some of the older children, and settled in Orange County, N. C., and was one of the pioneers of the State. He was a ship carpenter by trade, and the father of eight children: William, Charles, John, Andrew, Thomas, Joseph, Rachel and Lydia. Mr. Roundtree owned a fine and large tract of land, lived to be an aged man and died on his homestead in North Carolina, where his wife also died. He was a man of stanch moral character, sterling worth, and the founder of the Roundtree family in America. Joseph, youngest son of above and father of our subject, was born in North Carolina on the old homestead and received a good education for his day and became a school teacher. He was a good mathematician and a surveyor. He married in North Carolina at about twenty-three years of age Nancy Nichols of Welsh descent, and to them were born eight children: Junius M., Zenus M., Lucius A., Louisa A., Marzavan J., Almus L., Allen J., and Almiranda C.; this is the order of birth. In 1819 Mr. Roundtree moved to Maury County, Tenn., and settled on a tract of land, cleared it and made a good home and taught school also. Education was rare among the pioneers of Tennessee and Mr. Roundtree was in great demand to read the letters of the settlers and attend to business for them requiring an education. December, 1830, he moved with his family to Greene County, Mo., making the journey of 500 miles with a six-horse wagon, a two-horse wagon and an ox- cart drawn by a yoke of oxen; the family camped at night by the roadside. The journey was made in about thirty days, but was delayed two weeks more by the ice in the Mississippi River. They arrived at the spot afterward known as the "Old Roundtree Homestead," January 16, 1831, being attracted here by a fine spring of clear water, the magnificent timber consisting of black walnut, hickory, every kind of oak and other valuable woods, and a fine prairie to the west, and here Mr. Roundtree built an old fashioned log cabin with a stone chimney. He bad been out the fall before and selected his claim and built a rough log cabin 14 feet square, and upon their arrival, the boys and himself built a puncheon floor, cut a place for a door and fireplace with there axes and with flat stones from the creek they lined up the inside of the chimney and the next day were ready for house-keeping. The boys built huge fires out doors, the snow being about 16 inches deep, and thus the hardy pioneers were not only comfortable but happy, and here Mr. Roundtree passed all the remainder of his days. Joseph Roundtree was about forty years of age when he settled in Greene County, and being a man of intelligence, he took an active part in the organization of the county and held the office of county judge and justice of the peace. Mrs. Roundtree was a member of the Methodist Church. Judge Roundtree was a friend of education and assisted liberally with his means to establish schools in this new country. He was a slave owner and a typical representative of the American pioneer. He had a vigorous constitution, coming from a race of long lived people and he lived to the great age of ninety-three years. He was well and favorably known to all the old settlers and stood high among them for integrity of character. Marzavan J. Roundtree, our subject, was born March 24, 1820, in Maury County, middle Tennessee, in a church, in the President Polk settlement. His father had bought land on which there was no house and lived in a church which stood near his laud, for a few months. Marzavan came to Greene County, Mo., with his parents when in his tenth year. He bad attended school but little but was taught at home by his father and gained a common education. He remembers the journey to Greene County well and grew up among the pioneers. His playmates were the sons and daughters of pioneers and the young Delaware Indians both boys and girls, and he well remembers their sports, games and swimming matches. Mr. Roundtree states that the young Indiana of both sexes were as virtuous and moral as the young white people. The Indiana were strictly honorable with the whites and very friendly and the settlers had no trouble with them at all. Our subject, like all frontier boys of his day, wore buckskin breeches, the skins for which were mostly obtained from the Indians. Mr. Roundtree married March 7, 1841, Mary L. daughter of William and Mary (Mitchell) Winton. The Wintons were of Scotch-Iritsh stock and settlers of east Tennessee. William Winton settled in Polk County, Mo., in 1837, and after the war moved to Benton County, Ark. Himself and wife were the parents of nine children.- Betsy, Mariah, Jane, Josiah, George M., Clementine, Mary L., Sarah A. and James H. Mr. Winton was a substantial farmer of considerable wealth, and stood high among the people. He was a prominent member of the Methodist Church as were all his children, and nearly all his son-in-laws were either ministers in that church or local preachers. The Mitchells were of Irish descent and intermarried among the Germans. They were a very numerous family in Polk and Cedar Counties, Mo., which contained at one time 800 persons of the blood. After marriage, Mr. Roundtree settled on the edge of Round Prairie four miles west of Springfield on 100 acres of land also owning some timber, and lived here for some years. He finally moved six miles southeast of Spring- field on the James, and here by thrift, finally owned 280 acres of land. One year after the breaking out of the war, he moved to Springfield, engaged in the mercantile business and was elected justice of the peace, which exempted him. from military duty. One year after the war, Mr. Roundtree bought eighty acres of land east of Springfield, lived here six years and then returned to the city about 1871 where he still resides. He engaged in the nursery business immediately after the war, which was the first business of its kind established soon after that struggle. There was but one nursery in this county before the war. Mr. Roundtree is one of the oldest nurserymen in the State of Missouri, and has always been successful in business. He has also traded extensively in Springfield real estate and now owns six houses and lots besides his home. His nursery is now located on lot 4, Kickapoo Avenue, and is one of the most beautiful spots in southwest Missouri, and here Mr. Roundtree has also a fancy poultry ranch on which he raises fancy thoroughbred fowls. He is a Democrat in politics and has held the office of judge of the county court six. years and was mayor of Springfield one term He is one of the directors of the Zoological gardens. Mr. and Mrs. Roundtree are the parents of five children who lived to grow up: Sarah F. (deceased at nineteen years of age), Bentley, Joseph W., Lizzie and Thomas J. Mr. Roundtree is one of the best known men among the farmers in Greene County, and has always maintained an honorable position in life. Springing from old pioneer stock he possesses a sturdy constitution and at seventy-three years of age presents the appearance of a man of sixty. While he is entirely a self- educated and self-made man, he has a wide command of the English language which he speaks easily and well, having gained a great deal of knowledge by the persual of valuable books. He has contributed several papers of importance to agricultural journals and periodicals. The origin of the name. Roundtree occurred in the following manner: During the " Wars of the Roses," in England, between the Houses of York and Lancaster, and after a great battle in which many were killed and many homes made desolate and the families scattered, a young male child was found beneath an ash or Rowen tree. He was picked up, cared for and given the name of Rowentree, and hence Roundtree by corruption. The Grandfather of our subject was the youngest of seven brothers who came to America and settled in Pennsylvania, leaving him a child sick with the small-pox in the old country. The family were engaged in the Protestant Invasion of Ireland and were settlers.

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