Biography of James F. Purcell
Jasper County, MO Biographies





JAMES F. PURCELL.
James Frederick Purcell is a representative of one of the pioneer families of Jasper county, and was born in this county at the family home near Alba, May 12, 1856. His paternal grandparents were James and Rachel (Falker) Purcell, and the father of our subject was John Purcell, a native of Hardin county, Kentucky, born July 22, 1818. On leaving the place of his nativity he became a resident of Henry county, Missouri, removing thence to Jasper county in 1843. He settled upon a farm near what is now Alba, and finally became owner of six hundred acres of land that he transformed into a highly cultivated farm supplied with all modern improvements. There he spent the remainder of his days, becoming one of the leading and representative agriculturists of this part of the state: He gave the site for the Quaker mill on Spring river, and was deeply interested in the growth and upbuilding of the county, to which he contributed in no small degree through the development of its agricultural resources. With the exception of three years, which he spent in Kansas during the Civil War, he continuously remained on the home farm and there spent his last day. For six years he served as judge of the county court of Jasper county and gave uniform satisfaction by the just and impartial manner in which he disëharged his duties. In his political views he was first a Whig and afterward anIndependent.

John Purcell was twice married. On the 14th of August, 1839, he wedded Lucy Ann Stith, who died July 1, 1850, leaving three children: Benjamin F., Mary J. and George D. For his second wife the father chose Miss Elizabeth C. Bowers, a native of Ohio. Their wedding was celebrated August 27, 1851. The lady was born in Darke county, Ohio, January 19, 1825, and was of Holland lineage, the family having been founded in America by Frederick Bowers, who was born near Amsterdam, Holland, April 3, 1730, and in 1743 came to the new world, locating in Adams county, Pennsylvania. The parents of Mrs. Purcell were Frederick and Mary (Sharp) Bowers, who were married October 6, 1817, in Pickaway county, Ohio, and afterward removed to Miami county. Subsequently they took up their abode in Darke county, and in 1841 Mr. Bowers removed his family to Lawrence county, Missouri, locating at what is known as Bowers Mills. He built a mill on Spring river and engaged in the manufacture of flour, lumber and woolen goods until a short time prior to his death, which occurred December 28, 1848. His wife, who survived him for some time, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. John Purcell. The parents of our subject began their domestic life in a log cabin and in the early days experienced many of the hardships and difficulties of pioneer life. When the father first came to the county he traded one of his horses for his claim, and during the high water in the spring of 1844 the other horse was drowned. He worked by the day for twenty five cents per day and at night engaged in making shoes for twenty five cents per pair. As time passed, however, the comforts and conveniences of the east were introduced, crops brought a good financial return and the family became well situated in a pleasant home. By the second marriage there are four living children: Cordelia E.; James F.; Daniel B., who is living in Oregon; and Franz Siegel, who is living on a part of the old homestead in Mineral township, Jasper county. The mother died April 5, 1884, and the father, surviving her only a brief period, passed away on the 30th of October of the same year.

James F. Purcell, whose name introduces this review, is indebted to the district schools for the educational privileges which he enjoyed in his youth. He remained upon the home farm a greater part of the time until twenty four years of age and assisted in the labors of field and meadow. He learned the trade of carpentering with his half brother, Benjamin F., and then engaged in contracting and building, and also carried on agricultural pursuits in connection with his building interests. In 1890 he was elected sheriff of Jasper county, serving for two years, and on the expiration of the first term was made the candidate of the Democratic and Populist parties, opposing W. S. Crane, the Republican candidate. He was then elected and served for two years more. He discharged his duties in a most prompt, efficient and laudable manner, and on the expiration of his time retired from office and turned his attention to lead and zinc mining in Jasper county. He was one of the organizers of the Rubber Neck Mining Company, and is now actively concerned in developing the mineral resources of this portion of the state.

Mr. Purcell was married, on the 8th of February, 1877, to Miss Mary E. Draper, of Jasper county, a daughter of Jesse and Naomi (Johnson) Draper. She died April 10, 1880, leaving two children, Philip L. and Ralph D. For his second wife Mr. Purcell chose Rebecca A. Sims, who became his wife on the 22d of April, 1884. They also have two children, Frederick Carlton and Cora Ethel. Our subject is a member of Carthage Lodge, F. & A. M., also of the Knights of Pythias fraternity, and is a worthy representative of the beneficent principles of these organizations.

From:
The Biographical History of Jasper County, Missouri
By Hon. Malcolm G. McGregor
The Lewis Publishing Co.
Chiago 1901


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