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Below is a family biography included in the book, Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson and Pettis County Missouri published by Chapman Publishing Company in 1895.  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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JAMES DOUGLASS, an enterprising business man and farmer, who owns a good homestead on section 27, township 46, range 29, Johnson County, has become wealthy by the exercise of his native characteristics of thrift and industry. He is a native of this state, having been born in Howard County, August 29, 1829. His father bore the name of Andy J. Douglass, and was a native of Albemarle County, Va.

The father of our subject was an old pioneer of Missouri, having emigrated hither as early as 1828. He first located in Howard County, and after one year spent there removed to Cooper County, where he lived for many years, dying there when in his fifty-second year, after having accomplished much pioneer work. One of his ambitions was to give his children the best educational privileges in his power, and to assist them to become successful in business, so that they might be able to perform creditably all those duties which devolve upon loyal and respected citizens of this country. The subscription school was the only institution of learning in the county, and this the sons and daughters attended when they could be spared from the farm duties.

Our subject’s mother, who was formerly known as Miss Martha McCullough, died when past her fiftieth birthday. To herself and husband there were born seven children, of whom James was the eldest; Aim married William George, and is living in Cass County; Thomas is a farmer near East Lynne, that county; Margaret married C. D. Mobery, and is living near Gun City; Martillus is a resident of Pisgah, Cooper County; John is living in the Indian Nation; and William also makes his home in Pisgah.

The subject of this sketch was born in Howard County, on the old home place, in 1829. When a young man of twenty years, in 1849, he caught the gold fever, and like many others of that period he fitted up an ox-team to convey him across the plains to California. He joined a party of about seventy-five who were going to make the trip, and in order that they might cling together, they appointed a leader or director in the person of Captain Pope, who was thoroughly acquainted with the route across the mountains. The journey proved a very trying and tedious one, but they arrived in the Gold State after one hundred and twenty days, the only serious mishap which occurred being the drowning of one of their party while crossing the Humboldt River, Mr. Douglass made money in the mines, but being young, and not having learned the value of gold, did not save it. He worked in almost all the noted mines of the state, and in 1854, when tired of camp life, returned home, together with ten of his companions. The journey was accomplished on mule back and consumed sixty-five days. They often rested for hours at a time at various points, and when night overtook them stopped wherever they happened to be and lay down. They arrived home safely, however, and Mr. Douglass considers this a valuable experience in his life. He lived in Cooper County until 1868, when he came to Johnson County and purchased a quarter-section of raw land, on which there was not even a stick large enough for a riding switch. The ground was covered with tall prairie grass, and in order to place the soil under cultivation he was compelled to work early and late. This he did uncomplainingly, and now is rewarded with the knowledge that he has one of the finest tracts of land in the county. The cabin which he first built on the place is still standing, but in 1882 the family moved into a more comfortable and commodious structure. In former years he raised large numbers of cattle, but now gives the greater part of his attention to raising the various cereals, for which his land is particularly adapted.

Mr. Douglass married, in 1856, Miss Virginia Barr, of Cooper County. Her parents, who were Virginians, were people greatly honored in their community. Mrs. Douglass survived her marriage only two years, and the lady whom our subject chose for his second companion was Zerilda Fryer. To them have been born five children. James K., a farmer of this county, married Miss Ida Blackburn and has a daughter, Mabel; Alvin married Myrtie Banfield, and is living a mile and a-half from the family homestead; Benton is a dentist of Harrisonville; Mattie is attending school at Warrensburg; and Frank is at home.

In political affairs Mr. Douglass is a Democrat, casting his first vote in 1852, while in California, for Franklin Pierce. He holds membership with the Universalist Church, to the support of which he is a liberal contributor. He is public-spirited and in favor of all measure that will elevate and improve the moral and social standard of his community.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Johnson County, Missouri portion of the book,  Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson and Pettis County Missouri published in 1895 by Chapman Publishing Co.  For the complete description, click here: Johnson County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Johnson County, Missouri family biographies here: Johnson County, Missouri Biographies

View a map of 1904 Johnson County, Missouri here: Johnson County, Missouri Map

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