Blair & Beckley Families of Howell County Missouri

Contributor: Rebecca Hensen

William and Mary Catherine (Beckley) Blair came to the West Plains, Howell Co., Missouri area in 1897. Prior to moving into the town of West Plains, they resided for a short time on a farm on Bakersfield road, three miles southwest of town.

William BlairWilliam Blair was born in Vermont on the 30th of May, 1841 and died in West Plains, Howell Co., Missouri on the 8th of April 1910.

In 1862 he enlisted as a private in the Union Army at Malone, NY and served with Co. A, 98th regiment N.Y. Inf. (as is written on his tombstone), during which time he was promoted to full corporal. He was discharged at Chaffins Farm, Virginia in January of 1865.

It is not known exactly when the young Mr. Blair ‘went West’. According to pension papers found in the old family bible, he was in the area of Wakeeney, Trego Co., Kansas in the year of 1881. A newspaper article from 1889 tells us that he was in the Kansas City area from about 1885 to 1897, where he was first on the Kansas City Metropolitan Police force & later officer Blair was chief in charge of an eight man force stationed at the Junction to guard against accidents on the cable roads.

Mary BlairDecember 22nd, 1890 Willliam Blair obtained a marriage license (appears to be No. 4751) from the Office of Recorder of Deeds, Johnson County, Missouri, at Kansas City and on the 23rd of December 1890 William Blair and Mary Catherine Beckley were married in Livingston Co., Missouri. They resided in Kansas City for a few years. Presumably their address there was 912 E. 11th (Kittie Blair, 912 E. 11th, Kansas City is handwritten on the inside cover of an old photoalbum).

According to the obituary of William Blair, he and his wife, Mary C., came to West Plains, Missouri in 1897. The 1900 census record (series T623 microfilm 860 book 1 page 64a) shows William & Mary C. as living Howell twp. Howell Co., Missouri dwelling no. 109.

William Blair was elected the first police judge of West Plains, possibly about 1902, although it is not known for sure during which time period he held this position. It appears as though poor health began to take its toll on Mr. Blair. However, he later became janitor of the county court house and held that position until his failing health forced him to remain home.

William Blair died on the 8th of April 1910 leaving his wife and their seven year old son, Frank, to mourn his death. * In the obituary of William Blair it is stated that “he was a member of Mt.Zion Lodge No.327 A.F.& A.M. of this city (West Plains)....The funeral services at the grave were conducted by the Masonic fraternity and the internment was in the Masonic cemetery.” (Although to my knowledge the photos of the gravesites of William & Mary are from the Oak Lawn Cemetery).

The family tale speaks of Frank as possibly having a twin brother or sister, who died at or shortly after birth. In addition to this, Frank spoke of a half-sister and that his father, William Blair, had been married, perhaps more than once, prior to his marriage to Mary C. Beckley. There is further evidence to support this story, but believe that part of the answer to this lies in the State of Vermont and the other in northern Missouri.

Mary C. and son, Frank, remained in West Plains for a number of years. According to the 1910 census they are still living in the city of West Plains at the time; the obituary of her mother, Sarah Jane (Grim) Beckley, states Mary is living at 309 East Broadway, West Plains, Missouri in 1916 and the 1920 census shows Mary as still living in West Plains..

It is not known exactly when Mary C. (better known as Aunt Kit or Grandma Naylor) moved to Mountain View, but in a letter from Mrs. Fay (Boone) Eidson, she mentions that her parents "spent their wedding night in March of 1922 at the rooming house Grandma Naylor ran at the time". Mary C.’s grandson tells us that Elmer Boone had a service station across the street from Grandma Naylor. The blacksmith in town was a man named Ross Derks. He was the widower of Ada Naylor, daughter of Etta (Beckley) and Thomas Naylor.

Ada (Naylor) Derks died on the 16th of February, 1920 at her home in the Gotchey Addition. Ross Derks died in April of 1974. They are both listed as burried in the Reese Cemetery. Mary C.’s (or Aunt Kit’s) grandchildren recall Ross Derks as having a rather large family. However, Ida’s obituary only mentions a daughter, Esther.

On the 6th of Dec 1924 Mary C. remarries, to Thomas Naylor (the widower of her younger sister Etta Mae – born November of 1868 died January of 1920). However, they have but little more than a year together as Thomas Naylor died on the 26th of January, 1926. Thomas Naylor and his first wife Etta are possibly buried on the Naylor Farm in Platte Co., Missouri.

In the 1940’s ‘Aunt Kit’s’ health began to fail her. Her son Frank came and took her to stay with him and his family in Iowa. She lived with them for a time at 809 Grove Street, Cedar Falls until her daughter-in-law could no longer care for her. Mary then moved to a nursing home on 6th Street where she passed away on the 1st of November, 1949. She is buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery, beside her 1st husband, as Mary Blair.

Beckley Family

The information I have on the Beckley family in the West Plains / Mountain View areas is a bit vague, but to the best of my knowledge as follows.

Adam & Sarah Jane (Grim) Beckley came to the West Plains area in 1892 from Pettis township, Platte Co., Missouri.

Adam Beckley was born in Harrison Co., Ohio on the 3rd of July, 1838. On the 20th of September, 1859 he married Sarah Jane Grim who was born in Ohio on the 24th of February, 1838. They moved to Platte Co., Missouri about 1868. The Platte Co. Annals state him as being an enterprising agriculturist contributing to the advancement and promotion of farming interests and his estate embracing 130 acres at one time. They were the parents of 10 children; Laura, Richard, William, Mary C., Etta Mae, Absolem, Debby, Charles, John H. and Bert). Birth, marriage & death dates of Adam & Sarah’s 10 children are handwritten in the family Bible (up until Mary C.’ death in 1949).

Richard b. 1862; and William b. 1864, both died in October 1881. Laura was married in 1875, Etta in 1886, Absolem in 1887, Mary C. in 1890, and Debby in 1891. They all appear to be residing in northern Missouri in 1892.

It does though appear as if in 1892 the 3 youngest of Adam & Sarah’s 10 children (Charles Franklin, John Harrison "Harry", and Bert Leroy "Bertie") are with them when they make their home in Homeland.

John Harrison died the 31st of October, 1896.

On the 22nd of December 1895 Charles Franklin marries Ida Hester Hunt.

About 1899 Adam & Sarah Beckley move into the city of West Plains. The 1900 census lists them as living there in Ward no. 3. Their son, Bert, age 15 is living with them at the time.

Adam Beckley died on the 27th of December 1902 and Sarah Jane (Grim) Beckley died on the 5th of March 1916. Both are buried in Homeland Cemetery, West Plains, Missouri.

It appears from newspaper clippings as if Charles and Ida are the parents of at least 4 children (Gordon, Marjory, Orval and Gertrude). Ida died the 22nd of October, 1923. On the 25th of November 1924 Charles marries a woman named Mattie (the widow of the late T.J.Bardick or Bardrick). Attributed to despondency over financial losses and that the fact that his present position required him to be away from home much of the time, Charles Beckley took his own life in his home on South Hill Street, by means of consuming carbolic acid, on the 30th of May, 1927. Charles Beckley was laid to rest in Homeland Cemetery, West Plains, Missouri as was Ida (Hunt) Beckley. Mattie Bardick Beckley died in 1953 and is listed as being buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery.

There is no mention as to what occupation Bert Leroy had. However there are photos of him in the family album from childhood to age 25. Burt died on the 27th of January, 1930 and is buried in Homeland Cemetery.

Sig and Deb Debby Beckley also lived in the Mountain View area. She married Newton Seigle Taylor in October of 1891. They lived in a log house outside of Mountain View, where they planted and raised peanuts along with other things. In the late 1920’s, under the depression, they used a team of mules to do the plowing. There is a photo in the family album "NS Taylor residence" of a young couple standing in front of their log cabin with 4 small children. Aunt Deb and Uncle Sig possibly had 7 children, all boys. One of the boys they called ‘King’, he was married to a lady by the name of Ruby. After ‘Uncle Sig’ died in 1932, ‘King’ and Ruby helped ‘Aunt Deb’ farm for a while. King and Ruby may have moved to Michigan in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. Both Newton Seigle and Debby (Beckley) Taylor are buried in Homeland Cemetery. 

Photo Sig and Deb Taylor.

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