Pictorial and Genealogical Record
of Greene County, Missouri

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


JOHN N. TATUM. One of the old and honored settlers of Greene County, Mo., is John N. Tatum, who springs from an old American Colonial family, of English descent. His remote ancestors settled in Virginia and his great grandfather was a native of that State, his name being John Tatum. His son, Thomas, the grandfather of John N. Tatum, was a North Carolinian. He was married to Miss Nancy Britton, and between 1813 and 1818 he removed to Logan County, western Kentucky, where he cleared up a farm on which he resided the remainder of his days. He lived to be seventy-five years old, and for many years was a prominent member of the Baptist Church. He and his wife became the parents of nine children: Alfred, Seth, William, Frederick, Mary, Sarah, Martha and two whose names are not remembered. Their son Alfred Tatum was born in North Carolina but at the age of eighteen went to Kentucky with his parents and there turned his attention to farming. When twenty-two or twenty-three years of age he was married to Nancy Barrow, a daughter of William and Susan (Mischal) Barrow, the former of whom was a Revolutionary solder and was in the battles of Bunker Hill and Cowpens. He was taken prisoner and entertained his British captors by singing rebel songs. Alfred Tatum was the father of fourteen children, twelve of whom lived to mature years: Susan who died at the age of fifteen, Rebecca., Thomas J., William B., Amanda F., John N., Silas W., Sarah B., Frederick N., James M., and Joseph W. and Morgan H. (twins). After his marriage Mr. Tatum resided for some time on wild land in Kentucky, but by energy and industry soon cleared it and converted it into a fine farm, on which the rest of his days were spent. He was honest, industrious and patriotic and instilled into the minds of his children principles of honor, justice and right. John N. Tatum, his son, was born on the old home farm in Logan County, Ky., December 18, 1829, and in his youthful days attended the old pioneer log school-house but obtained only a limited education. By attending school after he had attained his twenty-first year he fitted himself for teaching in the common schools, and first "wielded the ferule" in his old home district at the age of twenty-four, continuing there two terms with good success. July 13, 1856, he left Kentucky; he went to Green County, Mo., July 23, on a visit, but liking the .country never returned to his old home and in the fall of that year began teaching in East Center Township, at what is now known as the Edgewood school, and for five years continued his labors, with the exception of one term which he taught at Rock Prairie in Dade County. December 23, 1860, he married Sarah M. Robinson, daughter of James and Eliza (Swagerty) Robinson and granddaughter of Charles Robinson, who came of an old Colonial family and became one of the early Pioneers of Kentucky. James Robinson was married at Clarksville, Ark., where he drove a stage for some time but about 1842 moved to Greene County, Mo., and settled on Leeper Prairie, where he became the owner of 300 acres and an extensive stock raiser. He died at the age of sixty-five years. His union resulted in the birth of the following. children: John S., Sarah M., August, I., Prudence E., Jale E., Mary S., Emily F., James B., Lorenzo L., (a daughter), and two children who died in infancy. After his marriage Mr. and Mrs. Tatum resided on the old Robinson homestead for five years. When the war came up he naturally sympathized with the South but did not believe in warfare and refused to enlist in the service. For this reason be was arrested by the Federal authorities, imprisoned three months at Springfield and was forced to work on the fortifications. He finally enrolled in the militia and served about five days. In February, 1866, he bought 120 acres of wild land on Grand Prairie and by thrift and industry he has added to it until he is now the owner of about 200 acres, well cultivated and well improved and very favorably divided as to prairie and woodland. He has always been a Democrat politically, and while often solicited to do so, he has never given up his private business to enter the political arena, although thoroughly competent to fill any office. He and his wife are devout members of the Missionary Baptist Church, in which he has held the office of clerk and deacon for many years. He has been a member of the Executive Board of the Missionary Baptist Association for many years and has held the office of chairman for three years. He has contributed largely of his means to build churches in the county and has liberally assisted toward their support. He has also been interested in school work. To Mr. and Mrs. Tatum eight children have been born: Sophronia O., Ophelia A., Francis M., Minnie A. who died at the age of nineteen (a married woman), Hattie E., Beverly A., James A., and William A. Mr. Tatum is a man of sound good sense, is finely educated (mainly by studying at home by the light of the hickory bark fire in the old fashioned fire place after the day's work was done), has a retentive memory, is a clear thinker and is a vigorous and convincing speaker. He has lived for the benefit of his community, being interested in all matters for the benefit of the people of his section, and he fully deserves the high respect and regard in which he is held.

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