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

W. C. POTTER. In a brief sketch of any living citizen it is difficult to do him exact and impartial justice, not so much, however, for lack of space or words to set forth the familiar and passing events of his personal history, as for want of the perfect and rounded conception of his whole life, which grows, develops and ripens, like fruit, to disclose its true and best flavor only when it is mellowed by time. Daily contact with the man so familiarizes us with his many virtues that we ordinarily overlook them and commonly underestimate their possessor. Nevertheless, while the man passes away, his deeds of virtue live on, and will in due time bear fruit and do him the justice which our pen fails to record. There are, however, a number of elements in the life record of W. C. Potter, president of the Bank of Fair Grove and one of the most progressive agriculturists and representative citizens of Greene county, that even now serve as examples well worthy of emulation, and his scores of friends and acquaintances are not unappreciative of these. He is one of the leading native citizens of this section of the state, and here he has been content to spend his life, which has already reached the Psalmist's specified outpost of three score and ten, and during that long period he has done much toward the general development of the country, which he has seen reclaimed from the wilderness and transformed into a splendid agricultural section. For he is a scion of one of the earliest pioneers of southwestern Missouri, his parents having located here, "far from the maddening crowd's ignoble strife," " like the "rude forefathers" in Gray's Elegy, over three-quarters of a century ago.


Mr. Potter was born September 18, 1844, in Dallas county, Missouri. He is a son of Benjamin T. and Sarah (Adams) Potter. The father was born in Tennessee, June 15, 1815, and died in Texas, December 16, 1891; the mother was born in Virginia, in May, 1820, and died August 4, 1874, in Greene county, Missouri. These parents spent their childhood in the East and received limited educations in the old-time schools. When a mere boy B. T. Potter and his elder brother, Col. Tom Potter, emigrated to Missouri in 1828, and were the first settlers in Dallas county (then Crawford county), locating there about the time the Fulbrights emigrated to Greene county. B.T. Potter spent his early life in Dallas county, clearing and improving a farm. He and Sarah Adams were married in Greene county in 1838. In 1860 he was one of two men in the township where he was living to vote for Abraham Lincoln. However, in later life he was a Democrat. He reared his family on his farm in Dallas county, there being twelve in number, namely: Elizabeth Jane is living; Louise Ann and John W. are deceased; W.C. of this sketch; Lewis and Clark twins, are deceased; Martha is the wife of A. J. Hankin; Josephine is deceased; Benjamin F., Napoleon D., D.L. and C. L. are all living.

W.C. Potter, of this review, grew to manhood in the old homestead in Dallas county, where he worked hard when a boy. He had little opportunity of obtaining an education, partly because of lack of schools and partly because of the interruption of the Civil war. However, he has made up for this deficiency in later years by contact with the world and by wide miscellaneous home reading, and is a fine type of the successful self-made man. He remained in Dallas county until 1881, having devoted his attention to trading in live stock, cattle and mules especially. In that year he purchased the fine farm where he now resides, the place then consisting of three hundred and twenty acres, known as the old Adams farm. During his residence here of thirty-three years he has made many important improvements, and having prospered, is now owner of over six hundred acres of valuable and productive land in this vicinity, all well fenced and properly improved, and he has long carried on general farming and stock raising on an extensive scale. His farm ranks with the best in the county in every respect. He has an attractive, substantial two-story stone residence, modern in its appointments and elegantly furnished, a place where he can spend the "twilight of his years" in comfort and happiness. He has a large number of convenient and well arranged outbuildings, in fact, everything about his place denotes thrift and prosperity. He built his handsome residence in 1888 of stone quarried from his own lands. This home is known to the many friends of the family as a place of old-fashioned hospitality and good cheer. He has continued to handle annually large numbers of live stock of various grades,and there is no better judge of live stock in the county than Mr. Potter.


Mr. Potter has been president of the Bank of Fair Grove, near which village his farm lies, since its organization in 1905, and its pronounced success has been due for the most part to his conservative, honest and able management. It is regarded as one of the sound and safe banking institutions of southwestern Missouri, and a general banking business is carried on. Its capital stock is ten thousand dollars. J. W. B. Appleby is cashier and H. E. Gault is assistant cashier. All three of these gentlemen well known about Fair Grove and they have the confidence of the patrons of the bank to the fullest extent.

Mr. Potter was married December 30, 1886. in Greene county, to Emma Anthis, who was born in Madison county, Illinois, January 28, 1856. She is a daughter of George and Maria (Ellis) Anthis, the father born in Indiana in 1828, and died in Alton, Illinois; December 25, 1898; the mother was born in Delaware in 1830, and died in Springfield, Missouri, October 26, 1911. These parents were married January 30, 1851, in Madison county, Illinois, where Mr. Anthis devoted his active life to farming until 1876,when he removed to Greene county, Missouri. His family consisted of eight children, namely: Frances E., deceased; Wesley, deceased; Emma, wife of our subject; Hiram, deceased; Stephen; Morton; Anna, wife of J. Ferguson, and Ida, widow of J. S. Reed.

Mrs. Potter grew to womanhood in Illinois, where she received a good education and she taught school a year in that state, and after coming with her parents to Greene county, Missouri, taught six years in the schools here, Prof. J. Fairbanks being superintendent of schools at that time.

The union of Mr. and Mrs. Potter has been without issue.

Politically, Mr. Potter is a Democrat, and although he has always been deeply interested in the public affairs of his township and county, as well as state and national, he has never held public office, being essentially a home and business man. Fraternally, he belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a charter member of Lodge No. 387, at Fair Grove, in which he has passed all the chairs. His wife is a charter member of the Rebekahs at Fair Grove, and they both belong to the Baptist church at that place and are liberal supporters of the same.

Mr. Potter is a splendid example of the virile, broad-minded man of affairs, who has always believed in doing well whatever is worth doing at all, a man of keen discernment and sound judgment and at the same time a follower of the principles embodied in the Golden Rule in all his relations with his fellow men, and therefore be enjoys their confidence and good will.

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