Biography of David Magness

DAVID MAGNESS. It matters little what vocation a man selects as his life occupation so long as it is an honorable one. If he is an honest, upright man, courteous in his intercourse with his fellowmen, and possessed of the average amount of energy and perseverance, he is bound to make a success of what-ever he undertakes. One of the most noted and successful firms in Newton County is that of Cantrell, Magness & Co., general merchants, cotton buyers, etc., of Western Grove. David Magness is a native of this State, born in Marion County in 1845.

He is a son of Samuel and Almira (Onstott) Magness. The father was a native of the Old North State, born in 1818, and came with his parents to Marion County, Arkansas, at a very early day. There he grew to mature years, received a limited education, and married. A prominent and successful farmer and stockraiser, and an honest, industrious citizen, no man in the county had more friends. His death occurred in Marion County in 1857, when in the prime of life. He was a FreeWill Baptist in his religious belief. His brothers and sisters were named as follows: Joseph, William, Wilshire, Robert, Hugh, Teaff, Elizabeth, Annie, and Jane, who is the wife of Mr. Pumphry, of Lead Hill, the only one now living. Their father, Joseph Magness, came to Marion County in a very early day and settled in Pawpaw thickets, where he improved a good farm, and died many years ago. He was a prominent farmer and stockraiser. The mother of David Magness died in 1875, when fifty-three years of age. She held membership in the Christian Church. Her father, David Onstott, came to Taney County, Missouri, in a very early day, located at the mouth of Beaver Creek, and improved a good farm. There his death occurred many years ago. He had two sons: Mariam, who went to California in an early day, and Henry, who died before the war. He also had several daughters. David Magness is the eldest of seven children, as follows: Will-iam, of Lead Hill; Parthena, deceased, was the wife of Peyton Keesee; Eliza, deceased, was the wife of Isaac Keesee; Annie. wife of Isaac Keesee; Patsey, deceased, was single, and Margaret F., deceased, was also single.

Owing to circumstances over which he had no control Mr. Magness received a very limited education in his youth. When the war broke out he served a short time in the Confederate Army, and then took a trip to Texas, where he remained for some time. Returning, he was married in 1872 to Miss Savannah J. Hefner, a native of Georgia, and the daughter of Levi Hefner, who came to Marion County in 1868. Mrs. Magness died in 1890, leaving three children: Horace R., Bertie M. and Ottus H. In 1890 Mr. Magness married Miss Paralee Roland, daughter of Robert and Jane Roland, old settlers of Boone County, where Mrs. Magness was born.

In the year 1853 Mr. Magness began merchandising at Powell, Marion County, and six years later moved to Lead Hill, where he had a thriving business until 1880. He then moved to Western Grove, where he farmed for eight years, and then the present firm was established. This is the strongest mercantile firm in the county, and one of the most prosperous in northwest Arkansas. Mr. Magness is a thoroughgoing and live business man, and all his enterprises meet with success. During the year 1893 the firm’s sales amounted to over $35,000, and thus far this season has handled 535 bales of cotton. Mr. Magness has full charge of the business, as Messrs. Cantrell and Pumphrey are established at Lead Hill. He resides one-half mile north of town, where he has a fine farm of 148 acres, well improved and well stocked. He started in business in 1870 with $250, and his success is due to his energy, perseverance and good management. He is a member of the Christian Church, as was also his first wife, but the present wife holds membership in the Methodist Church. In politics he is a Democrat.


A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region: comprising a condensed general history, a brief descriptive history of each county, and numerous biographical sketches of prominent citizens of such counties. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers Publishers. 1894.

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