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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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John W. Fonville, whose name is a synonym of activity and enterprise, was born in Marshall County, Tenn., in 1848, and is the youngest of a family of three children born to Jury and Frances (Smith) Fonville, of that State. The father died the year after John W. was born, and the widowed mother again married five years afterward, her husband being John J. Hazlewood, a well-known resident of that section. Mr. Fonville’s educational facilities were somewhat limited in his youth; he succeeded, however, in obtaining a fair amount of learning at the schools of Tennessee, and was in a position to cope with the world when starting in life for himself. In 1862 the family moved to Mississippi County, Ark., where the step-father was engaged by Mr. John McGavock as overseer for his extensive plantation. In this capacity he remained two years, and then moved about five miles west of the river to Shawnee Village, where he purchased 160 acres of timber land and immediately began to improve it. He cleared about thirty acres and made a good farm, living here until his death in 1873; he was followed by his wife in 1877. John W. remained with them until he had attained his majority, and then commenced farming for himself on rented land. After three years of labor, he purchased 160 acres of wild land on the river near Shawnee Village, and on this he made a great many improvements, and cleared about forty acres. He then sold out to good advantage and bought 160 acres where he now resides, the land being some of the finest in that section. He has cleared some 100 acres, and promises to soon have the entire lot under cultivation, which, with five good dwellings, an excellent barn and all the necessary adjuncts, will made one of the finest farms in Mississippi County. Mr. Fonville was married in 1871, to Miss Barbara Simpson of Georgia, who moved to this State with her parents. This lady died in 1883, leaving two children: Drew and Minnie O. In 1883, he was again married, his second wife being Miss Frances Smith, and this union gave them one child, Laddus, who died at the age of four years. Mr. Fonville is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and belongs to Pecan Point Lodge, in which he holds the office of S. D. He owns a large number of horses, cattle and hogs, and is said to be one of the best judges of cattle in that section.

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This family biography is one of 162 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi County, Arkansas published in 1889.  View the complete description here: Mississippi County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Mississippi County, Arkansas family biographies here: Mississippi County, Arkansas Biographies

View a map of 1889 Mississippi County, Arkansas here: Mississippi County, Arkansas Map

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