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

DAVID EDWARD ROSS. Many people are of the opinion that the word farming means the same the world over, and so it does in a sense, but yet, like many another word in our complicated language, it has what one might call an elastic meaning. At least the methods of farming vary radically in different countries. So the word means one thing to the tiller of the soil in the Ozark region and quite another to the husbandman in Mexico, Brazil India or Ceylon. Such decidedly different methods have to be employed in coaxing from Mother Earth the grains, fruit and vegetables by which we live that the expert farmer of one country would be a decided failure in another. And many years are required to become properly acquainted with the methods of successful agriculture in any land and clime. This being the case the world over, that man is wise who remains in his own country if he intends to devote his attention to this vocation all his life.

David Edward Ross, a successful general farmer and stockman of Murray township, Greene county, has been content to spend his life in his native community, and, being a man of industry, sound judgment and a close observer he has forged ahead until he now ranks among the leading men of his calling in this locality. Mr. Ross was born near Willard, Greene county, Missouri, July 11, 1869. He is a son of Lafayette A. and Malinda (Evans) Ross. The father of our subject was born in Robberson township, this county, February 21, 1835, the son of David and Louisa (Robinson) Ross. David Ross, who was born in Kentucky in 1812, was one of the prominent pioneer preachers of the Methodist church in southwestern Missouri and one of the leading farmers of Greene county of that period, having come here when he was twelve years of age from Cooper county, Missouri with his parents, William and Elizabeth Ross. William Ross was a surveyor and he laid out the town of Boonville, this state, and was also employed by the government of Mexico to help survey what is now the state of Texas. He left Greene county and engaged in merchandising in Bolivar, Polk county, for a number of years, later moving to Versailles, Morgan county, where his death occurred at an advanced age, he and his wife both passing their four-score mile-post. David Ross engaged in farming in the northern portion of Greene county, erecting a log cabin on wild land, and, working hard and managing well, finally had a fine farm of about five hundred acres and a large comfortable home took the place of his little primitive dwelling. He handles large numbers of live stock of various kinds and is a good judge of stock. For a period of over thirty-five years he preached the gospel all over this country and was a powerful preacher of his type. His wife, Louisa Robinson, was born in Tennessee about 1815 and her death occurred on the homestead here, and he died on January 6, 1869, at the age of fifty-six years, after a successful and useful career, although comparatively brief. To these parents twelve children were born, namely: Lafayette A., father of the immediate subject of this sketch; William, Dr. Francis E., Mrs. Elizabeth J. Whitlock; Mrs. Mary L. Skeen, David W., Mrs. Sarah M. Watson, Mrs. Henrietta J. Robinson, Mrs. Cordelia Robinson, Bennett J., Mrs. Laura M. Appleby, and Dr. Leonidas C.

Lafayette A. Ross has spent his entire life in the vicinity of his birth with the exception of three years in California during the early fifties, the gold-fever days, having been but nineteen years of age when he made the hazardous trip across the plains. Returning home in 1856, he took up farming and stock raising here, which has since claimed his attention, and he is owner of an excellent farm in Murray township of one hundred and twenty acres, having lived on the same farm for a period of forty-six years. He and Malinda A. Evans were married September 21, 1856. She is a daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth (Leathers) Evans, all three of whom were born in North Carolina. Joseph Evans was a millwright by trade, which he followed during the winter months and farmed in the summer time. He moved his family to Greene county, Missouri, in 1840, locating on a farm at the edge of Robberson Prairie. He built the first frame house, also the first saw mill and grist-mill in this county, and became a prosperous and influential citizen here. His death occurred in 1888, when eighty-five years of age. His family consisted of ten children, all now deceased but four, namely: Alexander, of Springfield; Daniel M., of Willard; Malinda A., who is the mother of our subject; and Mrs. Emma McDaniel, of Springfield. To Lafayette A. Ross and wife six children were born, named as follows: George Emery lives in Texas; William J. is a resident of Morrisville, Polk county, Mrs. Emma Ault lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Mrs. Lula R. Appleby lives with her parents; David Edward, of this sketch; and Walter Evans, who lives in Oklahoma.

David Edward Ross, always called "Ed Ross," grew to manhood on his father's farm and there he worked when a boy, and he received his education in the public schools of his community and at Morrisville College in Polk county. He remained on the home farm until his marriage at the age of twenty-four years, after which he rented a farm just north of his present place which he operated one year, and in 1894 moved to Willard and engaged in mercantile pursuits, which he continued until in February, 1901, enjoying a good business and an extensive trade with the town and community as a result of his straightforward and courteous dealings with his customers and the fact that he always carried a well-selected stock of general merchandise. He moved back to his father's farm in 1900, where he now resides and has been very successful as a general farmer and stockman, dealing extensively in buying and selling mules during the winter months. He raises large numbers of mules for the market, also horses, and it is safe to say that there is no better judge of both mules and horses than he, and no small portion of his comfortable competence has been secured through the judicious handling of these animals. In 1911 he moved to Springfield, where he was in the horse and mule business and engaged in trading until 1913, when he returned to the farm and is now active in general agricultural pursuits. His counsel is often sought by his neighbors and friends in regard to the horse and mule market and as to the value of certain animals and his advice is usually followed with gratifying results. His farm is well kept, well improved and indicates that a gentleman of thrift and good taste has its management in hand.

Mr. Ross was married September 28, 1893, to Ida M. Watson, who was born, reared and educated in the vicinity of Willard. She is a daughter of John P. and Nancy (Bryant) Watson. Mr. Watson was born in Tennessee, October 22, 1840, where he spent his early boyhood, making the tedious overland journey from his native state to Greene county, Missouri, when he was ten years of age, with his parents, Barney and Jane Watson, who settled on a farm in Murray township, and here John P. grew to manhood and received his education in the early schools of this vicinity. His father took up a claim in this township, which he developed into a good farm and here devoted his remaining years to general farming and died here. John P. Watson has devoted his active life to general agricultural pursuits, becoming owner of a good farm in this locality but for several years has been living retired, having bought a home at Morrisville. Polk county, about 1904, where he still lives. He has been twice married. He is the father of four children by his marriage to Nancy Bryant, who was born in 1839, being a native of Missouri, and her death occurred when her daughter, Ida M. was six years of age. These children were named: Mollie, who is the wife of William J. Ross, a merchant of Morrisville, Missouri; David is deceased; Mrs. Lula Appleby lives near Willard, this county; and Ida M., wife of the subject of this sketch. The second wife of John P. Watson was Sarah Ross, and to this union one child was born, Ross Watson, who is engaged in business at Willard.

Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Ed. Ross, of this sketch, namely: Charles H., who is working in the oil fields of Oklahoma with his uncle, Walter Ross; and John A., who is at home with his parents.

Mr. Ross is a Democrat but has never been an aspirant for political honors, although he is active in all movements looking to the general progress of his township and county. Fraternally, he is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America and of the Masonic Blue Lodge. He and his wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, at Willard and are active in the affairs of the same. Mrs. Ross is third vice-president of the Foreign Missionary Society of the same.


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