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 PURSSELLEY, Mumford, Mo. This is one of the oldest settlers in the southeast part of Campbell Township. The great-grandfather of our subject, William Pursselley, came from Ireland with his brother David, before the Revolutionary War. William, the son of the above, settled eight miles above Knoxville, Tenn., when that country was a wilderness. He was a hatter by trade, a farmer, slave owner and became a wealthy man. He was the father of eleven children. He died on his farm in Tennessee, an old man. He was widely known as a prominent and able farmer. His father, the great grandfather of our subject, passed his last days with him and lived to be an aged man. William, the son of the above, and the third William in the family, and the father of our subject, was born on his father's farm near Knoxville. He married Martha, daughter of John Gallion, and to Mr. And Mrs. Pursselley were born seven children: Addison, John, Sarah, James, Martha, William and Washington, who died a soldier in the Civil War. Mr. Pursselley moved to Greene County, Mo., in 1838, bringing his family. He was then about fifty years of age and bad been a soldier in the Black Hawk War. The family came to Greene County with a large ox wagon drawn by two yoke of oxen and a four-horse team and settled on the old Pursselley homestead now owned by his son John and grandson Walter--son of William, who still lives on the old farm. This was a beautiful prairie, there being no timber except on the banks of the James River. Mr. Pursselley broke up the first year thirty-five acres and put in corn and raised a good crop. He had brought with him several slaves, men, women and children. He did not live long to enjoy his property, but died from the effects of an accident. He cut his knee seriously with an adze. Mr. Pursselley had the common school education of his day, and was one of the typical pioneers of Greene County, and his word was as good as his bond. In fact, most of the old pioneers of this county were men of sterling principles. John, our subject, was born in Roan County, Tenn., fifty mile below Knoxville, on Pond Creek. March 11, 1827, and was eleven years of age when he came with the family to Greene County, and well remembers the journey. The country was full of game--deer and wild turkey--and the boys used to hunt them. John had little chance to gain an education, but attended the old log school house which his father built on his farm, afterward attending the district school for two months during the winter, and thus gained a common education. He married at the age of twenty-two, in 1849, January 31, Rebecca, daughter of William and Martha (Roberts) McFarland. William McFarland was a Scotch Irishman, born in South Carolina, and settled in Greene County, Mo., in 1837 at what is now known as the Jones' Spring, where Mr. Roberts, his father-in-law, had a mill and distillery. Mr. McFarland was a prominent man, and owned 1,000 acres of land and several slaves. He was a member of the Missouri State Legislature, and was sheriff of Greene County one term. He died during the War at about sixty-five years of age. He was the father of eight children: Rebecca, Harriett, George, Martha, John, Nancy, Lucinda and James. He was thought highly of by the people and was honorable and upright. After marriage John Pursselley and wife settled on his present farm, then consisting of eighty acres, to which he added by thrift and industry, assisted by his faithful wife, until he now owns over 500 acres, about 300 in cultivation. To Mr. and Mrs. Pursselley have been born six children. Martha, William, Letitia, John, Leander and Florence. In politics Mr. Pursselley was formally an old line Whig, and is now a Democrat, but takes no interest in office holding. Himself and wife are members of the Protestant Methodist Church, and Mr. Pursselley has hold the office of church trustee, and has assisted with his means to build the church and Support the Gospel. He was school director for many years. Mr. Pursselley is one of our industrious, hardworking men, and is well known for his honest and steady course in life. The Pursselley family is one of the old Colonial families, than which there is no better.


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