Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens

JAMES THOMPSON CANTRELL. As an agricultural region of which Greene county, Missouri, forms a part is not surpassed by any state in the Union. It is indeed the farmer's kingdom, where he always reaps an abundant harvest of one kind or another. The soil in most portions of Greene and adjoining counties, has an open flexible structure, quickly absorbs the excessive rains, and retains moisture with great tenacity. This being the case it is not so easily affected by drouth. The prairies are covered by esculent, luxurious grass, equally good for grazing and hay; grass not surpassed by the famous Kentucky blue grass, the best of clover and timothy in raising live stock. This grass is now as full of life-giving nutriment as it was when cropped by the buffalo, the elk, antelope, and the deer. One of the enterprising men of Greene county who took advantage of the naturally favorable conditions for agricultural purposes in this locality and was adequately repaid for his pains, is James Thompson Cantrell, now living in the town of Walnut Grove, Greene county, after a long, active and successful career as general farmer and stock raiser. He has also a good record as a public servant, having filled a number of county offices in an adjoining county, and he is also a veteran of the Civil war and a citizen who has ever enjoyed the respect and confidence of his fellow men.

Mr. Cantrell was born in DeKalb county, Tennessee, on a farm, October 29, 1842. He is a son of Peter and Elizabeth (Cantrell) Cantrell. Peter Cantrell was a native of Tennessee also, where his parents located in an early day, having removed from South Carolina. After spending his earlier years in his native state, Peter Cantrell came to Dade county, Missouri, arriving there. November 3, 1848, and entered two hundred and forty acres of land from the government, one hundred and twenty acres of which his son, James E., of this sketch now owns. Here he worked hard developing his raw land into a good farm, the work of clearing and improving being an arduous task, but he was not a man lacking grit and courage, and here he farmed successfully until his death on June 24, 1874. Politically, he was a Republican and was quite active in political affairs, was always ready to defend his position on any public question. Religiously he was a Baptist, and active in the work of the church. He married his cousin, Elizabeth Cantrell, in Tennessee, where she was born and reared. Her death occurred in 1862. To them a large family, fifteen children, were born, two of whom died in infancy. Seven of the sons were all soldiers in the Union army during the Civil war, and all survived the conflict except one who was killed by a guerrilla near Dadeville, Missouri.

James T. Cantrell grew to manhood on the home farm, being six years old when his parents brought him to Dade county, this state. He assisted his father clear and develop the homestead, and he received what education he could in a few books at home by the old fire place, school advantages of those days being very limited in his locality. On August 8, 1862, when but eighteen years of age, he enlisted in the Missouri-State Militia in which he served a year, then enlisted in the Fifteenth Missouri Cavalry, and was continuously fighting guerrillas while in this regiment. While in the service he contracted rheumatism from which he has never recovered. He was honorably discharged on June 30, 1865, in Springfield, after which he returned home and resumed work on the farm, and continued farming in Dade county, which joins Greene county on the west, until 1890 when he was elected recorder of Dade county, which office he held four years, then returned to farming, which he continued with his usual gratifying results until 1911 when he retired from active life and located in Walnut Grove, Greene county. He always kept his farm in Dade county under a high state of cultivation and improvement and was regarded as one of the leading farmers of his community. He served as clerk of his township for some time, and was also assessor of his township for two years.

Politically, Mr. Cantrell is a Republican and has been more or less active in the affairs of his party for many years. He attends the Baptist church, and he belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic.

James T. Cantrell was married on December 8, 1867, to Mary E. York, who was born in Kentucky, April 15, 1852, a daughter of Greenberry and Elizabeth (Hardcastle) York, and when young in years she came to Dade county, Missouri. Ten children have been born to our subject and wife, three of whom are now deceased, namely: Alva B. is the wife of William Carlock and they live in Dade county; Louis E. is practicing dentistry at Everton, Dade county; Nora E. is the wife of T. J. Drisdel, and they make their home in Dadeville, Missouri; Benjamin F. is practicing dentistry in Walnut Grove; Homer A. lives on the home farm; Henry C. lives in San Pedro, California, and Kate B. is the wife of F. A. Wheeler, of Walnut Grove.


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