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Below is a family biography included in The History of Franklin County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1888.  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. Purves, senior member of the firm of Degen, Breckenkamp & Co., planing and flour mills, lumber yard, and carpenters and builders, was born in Kings County, New Brunswick, in 1840, the son of Thomas and Amy C. (Rulofson) Purves. The father was born in Scotland, in 1801, and when twenty-one years of age immigrated to New Brunswick, and here followed agricultural pursuits. It was here, also, that he passed his last days, dying in 1887. His wife was born in New Brunswick, in 1806, and was the daughter of Maj. Rulofson, who took an active part in the ever-memorable battle of Waterloo, and who afterward came to America and then to New Brunswick with the Loyalists. The mother is still living on the old homestead. Of their six children that lived to be grown, five are now living: Robert S., Ruloff, John W., George T. and Agnes E. John W. was educated in the home schools, and grew to manhood on the farm. At the age of seventeen he began carpentering on the railroad, afterward was brakeman, baggage master and then conductor. In 1864 he came to Washington, Mo., and hired as carpenter on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and worked at the same for about five years. In 1889 he and R. P. Lutes became partners in Washington, as contractors and builders. The following year they dissolved partner ship, and Mr. Purves went to Labaddie and established the business on his own responsibility. January 12, 1871, he married Miss Cynthia M. Gregory, daughter of John Gregory, and granddaughter of R. R. Gregory. Mrs. Purves was born in Franklin County, Mo., in 1848, and by her marriage became the mother of five children: Ruloff G., John E., Minnie A., Mary G. and Hattie F. In 1875 Mr. Purves moved his business to Washington, where John C. Bryan, H. Moore and himself became partners. They built the “May Bryan” in Louisville, Ky., and brought it to Washington, where it has since been used as a ferry boat. Mr. Purves was master of it until April, 1878, when he and Joseph Gregory bought the Washington Planing and Sawmills, and also erected a flouring-mill and conducted the entire business until 1880, when A. H. Breckenkamp purchased one-third interest. In 1881 Mr. Gregory sold out, and J. M. Degen, H. H. Brinkmann and A. H. Wehmueller were taken in as partners. In 1886 Mr. Brinkman sold his interest to the other members. Mr. Purves is superintendent of the milling and grain department, and is a first-class business man in every respect. In 1887 the firm put in a full roller system, and has a capacity of 100 barrels per day. Our subject is a Democrat in politics, is a Master Mason, and he and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, of which he is class-leader, steward and Sunday-school superintendent. Mrs. J. W. Purves is a granddaughter of John B. Goode (deceased), who, with a large family and servants, moved to Missouri from Virginia by the wagon route, and was among the first settlers of Franklin County.

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This family biography is one of 305 biographies included in The History of Franklin County, Missouri published in 1888.  For the complete description, click here: Franklin County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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