Biography of William French

WILLIAM FRENCH. The French family are among the prominent of the early families of Christian County, Missouri, and have for many years ranked among the leading agriculturists, in following which calling the male members of the family have been pronouncedly successful. William French, one of the early citizens of the county near Billings, is a native of Kentucky, born in Caldwell County, in 1835, to the union of Joseph and Lucy (Scott) French. The father was also a native of Kentucky and was a son of William and Jane (Ross) French, the former a descendant of German ancestors. The French family came to the United States at an early day and made their home in the South until about 1800, when they came to Kentucky. They became very prominent there. The grandmother of our subject had seven brothers in the Revolutionary War. Joseph French, father of our subject, was reared in the Blue Grass State and remained there until 1851, when he came to Missouri, locating in Greene County (now Christian County ), where he took up Government land. This place was located about two and a half miles from Billings. He had married Miss Scott in Kentucky and their union was blessed by the birth of ten children, seven of whom are living: William, subject; Irene M., Joseph, Sarah J., Adelia C., Polly P., George, James, John and Lucy J., who died when a child. The mother of these children died in 1875 when sixty-five years of age. She was a daughter of Hubbard Scott and a native of Virginia. She was reared in Tennessee, whither her father had moved when she was small. Joseph French was a Democrat in his political views up to the breaking out of the Civil War, but later he affiliated with the Republican party. Three of his sons were in the war: George, Joseph and William. George, who was single, died near Nashville, Tennessee, while in service. Joseph served about eighteen months in the United States service. Mr. French became a wealthy farmer and stock raiser and was ever public spirited and enterprising. He and his first wife experienced many of the hardships and privations of pioneer life, but were never weary with well doing. He was a member of the Baptist and she of the Christian Church. Mr. French’s second marriage was with Miss Sarah Foster. He died in 1888, when eighty-three years of age.

The original of this notice grew to mature years in Kentucky and received but a limited education. He was seventeen years of age when he came with his parents to this county and here he has remained ever since, witnessing the growth and improvement of his section and assisting materially in its advancement. He selected his wife in the person of Miss Martha Pettil, daughter of George H. and Jane (Cathrey) Pettil, and their union was celebrated in 1853. Her parents emigrated from Kentucky to this county about 1847 and here passed the remainder of their days. After marriage Mr. and Mrs. French located on the farm where they now live, and, with the exception of about six years spent in Billings, have remained here ever since. During the Civil War Mr. French enlisted for three months in the United States Army, but was dis-charged before his time was out. He held the rank of corporal. After leaving the army he was in the State Militia for some time. Until the breaking out of the war Mr. French was a stanch Democrat, but later he became a Republican and now he is with the People’s party. He has ever been active in political matters, was justice of the peace at an early day and is one of the honored and highly esteemed citizens of the county. He owns a good farm of 160 acres two miles north of Billings, adjoining th town, and he also has twenty-five acres where he lives. He and family attend the Missionary Baptist Church, in which he is a deacon. All measures of morality, education, temperance and others of like nature find in him a strong advocate. By his first union he became the father of the following children: Julia A., wife of George H. Gardner; Irene M., wife of John L. Williams, of Greene County; William, a railroad man, is married; George W. resides east of Billings; Thomas, a single man, in Kansas; John, a resident of this county; Lucy J., wife of Benjamin Ealy, of this county, and Elizabeth, who is single and at home. Mr. French lost his first wife in 1888. His second marriage was with Miss Drucilla M. Sanders, who bore him three children: Paule, Charlotte C. and one died small. He is vice-commander of the post, G. A. R., and has held other offices. This family is one of the most influential ones of the county and its members have ever shown themselves to be useful and progressive citizens.



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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