Biography of Levi L. Munsell

LEVI L. MUNSELL. Among Shannon County’s younger business men are many whose interests in this section of the Ozark Region are going to make it a few years hence what it is today as compared with a generation ago. Many of these have already made their mark, but few have attained the distinction that Levi L. Munsell can justly claim and is proud of. He is a live and enterprising citizen, and is considered to be one of the best, if not the best, posted real estate dealers in the county.

Mr. Munsell was born at Centerville, Gallia County, Ohio, in 1850, to the union of Rev. Levi W. and Mary T. (Dean) Munsell. Rev. Levi W. Munsell was born in Mason County, W. Virginia, November 13, 1817, and was a son of Levi and Lucretia (Oliver) Munsell, natives, respectively, of Connecticut and Massachusetts, the former was born in 1864 and the latter in 1772. Levi Munsell went to Ohio in 1785 among the early settlers of the then Northwestern Territory, and settled at Marietta, where he was married in 1789 to Miss Oliver, a daughter of Alexander Oliver, a native of Massachusetts, but who was one of the original settlers of Marietta, on April 7, 1788, when the first settlement was made in what is now the State of Ohio. He died about 1828, and was a colonel in the Revolutionary War. Mr. Levi Munsell and Miss Oliver were the fourth white couple married in the North-western Territory. About the year 1792 they moved to Cincinnati, where Mr. Munsell engaged in merchandising, and later moved to various places in the State, from which they subsequently moved to Mason County. W. Virginia, where the father of our subject was born, returning to Ohio in 1818, and settling in Miami County, where Mr. Munsell died February 15, 1849. He was a Revolutionary soldier, serving three years under George Washington, and fought bravely for independence. He also served under Gen. St. Clair as a lieutenant in the expedition against the Indians in the Northwestern Territory, and while upon this expedition saw the land which he moved upon in 1818, and from which he cleared his farm in Miami County. His wife died in Ross County, Ohio, January 4, 1853. Both were Methodists.

Henry Munsell, Levi’s father, was born in Connecticut and there spent his entire life upon a farm. He was of French descent. Rev. Levi W. Munsell was married in Athens County, Ohio, in 1843, to Miss Dean. At the time of his marriage he was a traveling Methodist minister, and in the fall of 1843 was sent to West Virginia by the conference, returning to Ohio in 1844 traveled over the various circuits of southern Ohio until 1858, when he removed to Illinois, but in 1866 again returned to the Buckeye State. In 1872 he came to Shannon County, Missouri, where he now lives, and is a man honored and respected by all. He was elected probate judge of Shannon County, the first one under the present Constitution, and his eldest brother, Leander Munsell, was the first native Ohioan who became a member of the Ohio General Assembly. Mr. Munsell’s wife was born in Athens County, Ohio, in 1820, and is still living. She was a daughter of Oliver Dean (a native of Massachusetts) and Mary (Cutler) Dean, who was a daughter of Judge Ephraim Cutler, who was one of the pioneers of Ohio and a member of the Territorial Legislature, and one of the delegates from Washington County to the convention which drafted the first constitution for the State of Ohio under which the Territory was admitted as a State to the Union. And it was he who presented and succeeded in having adopted the article granting to the State the free-school system. In politics Mr. Munsell was a Whig in early life, but since the formation of the Republican party he has been an active Republican. To his marriage were born eight children, five of whom are living.

The eldest of these children and the only living son, our subject, spent his school days in the common schools of Illinois and Ohio. He attended the Amesville Academy in Athens County, Ohio, two years, and also two years at the Ohio University at Athens. He went through the sophomore year, and then commenced work with the county surveyor of Morgan County, Ohio, to acquire the practical knowledge of surveying and engineering. Later he came to Missouri with his father, and here did a great deal of surveying in Shannon and neighboring counties, also some work on the Current River Railroad. In 1888 he turned his attention more especially to the real estate and abstract business. He read law and was admitted to the bar in 1877, practicing as a lawyer but little, however, although an excellent counselor; he preferred the more active pursuits of surveying and the real estate business. But at one term of the circuit court, in the absence of the judge, was elected by the bar to hold the term. He has held the office of county surveyor and also probate clerk, as well as other official positions. He at one time was a partner of Judge James Orchard (now of West Plains) in the law and real estate business, afterward was a partner of S. H. Ware, the present circuit clerk, but since 1892 he has been alone. He has the only complete set of abstract records in the county, and now lives at Birch Tree, where he has a flourishing real estate business, and has done and is doing more to the upbuilding of and development of the resources of Shannon County than perhaps any other man in it in inducing immigration and in settling up the wild lands of the county.

Mr. Munsell was married in 1878 to Miss Maggie A. Isaminger, of this county, who was a daughter of Col. James Isaminger. They have had eight children, three boys and four girls now living and one son, the eldest, died in 1887. Mr. Munsell is an Odd Fellow, and in politics is an active and ardent Republican.



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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