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Below is a family biography included in The History of Jefferson 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 T. Byrd, a native of Plattin Township (Survey 1245), Jefferson Co., Mo., and a successful farmer and stock-raiser of the same, was born in 1827, and is the fourth of twelve children born to Benjamin B. and Mary Ann (Johnston) Byrd. Benjamin B. Byrd was born at Salisbury, Md., in 1796, and received a good English education. He came with his father to Jefferson County in 1818, and one year later married and settled on the tract of land where John T. now resides. He was one of the enterprising, industrious citizens of the county, and spared no pains to give his children a good education. He served many years as justice of the peace, and did a great deal toward the advancement of the country. He died in July, 1860, and was one of the few who paid any attention to education. His father, John Byrd, was born in Maryland, and at the age of twenty had served five years’ apprenticeship at the carpenter’s trade. After he had accumulated some means he purchased a $4,000 farm and a negro. He married a widow with some means, and continued to accumulate wealth. In 1818 he boarded a keel boat at Wheeling, Va., came to St. Louis, but, not being satisfied with the society there, then a small French trading post of French Creoles and Indians, he dropped down to Herculaneum, bringing with him thirty negroes and about $70,000 from Maryland. He then purchased the survey already mentioned, where he lived about two years. He then went to Washington County, where he died, in 1840, at the age of eighty-six. His father was an English doctor, but came to America at an early day. The mother of John T. was born near Louisville, Ky., in 1799, and when four years of age came with her parents to what is now Jefferson County, and there died in 1864. Her father, Benjamin Johnston, settled on Sandy Creek, where he passed his last days. He was a man of education and of influence in Jefferson County. He was in public office for many years, and, perhaps, married more couples than any other man in Jefferson County in his day. His wife was a daughter of old Col. Thompson, so famous in early Tennessee days. The subject of this sketch was reared at home, and educated by a private tutor. In 1849 he crossed the plains to California, being seven months in making the trip. After spending two years in successful mining he returned, and in 1852 married Miss Lou Catherine, daughter of Achilles and Patience Smith. Mr. Smith was born in Virginia, and at the age of twelve went to Davidson County, Tenn., and served with Johnson in the War of 1812. He soon after came to St. Louis County, Mo., where he married, and where he passed the remainder of his days. He died in Jefferson County, in 1883. His wife was born in Jefferson County, and, when but a child, came with her parents to St. Louis County, where Mrs. Byrd was born. Mrs. Smith was a sister of Gov. Marmaduke’s mother. Of the six children born to Mr. Byrd and wife, two are now living: Mary Ann, now Mrs. William A. Smith, who lives on the farm with our subject; and Prof. Thomas S., a teacher and merchant at Hematite, one of the foremost educators of Jefferson County. Mr. Byrd has always made his home on the farm where he was born, which consists of 321 acres well cultivated and well improved. After coming from California he purchased 360 acres. From 1864 to 1865 he spent eleven months on the Pacific Coast, California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington Territory, etc. He is one of the prominent and upright citizens of Jefferson County, where he is universally esteemed. His son spent three years at Caledonia High School and one year at Fayette. Politically, Mr. Byrd was formerly a Whig but is rather conservative, acting with the Democratic party. His first vote was for Fillmore, in 1856. He is a member of the I. O. O. F., and also a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, of which his wife was also a member. She died December, 1884.

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This family biography is one of 224 biographies included in The History of Jefferson County, Missouri published in 1888.  For the complete description, click here: Jefferson County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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