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Below is a family biography included in The History of Lawrence 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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J. M. Wilkerson is a son of James and Lydia (Messick) Wilkerson, who were born in Bedford County, Tenn., in 1808, and Kentucky, respectively. The father acquired a meager education, and under his father learned the stone and brick mason’s trade, which occupation he followed until his marriage in 1833. He was constable for twelve years, and held the office of deputy sheriff for ten years. He and family moved to Carroll County, Ark., in 1842, where he purchased 260 acres of land, and farmed until the breaking out of the war, but was exempt from service owing to his age. He moved his family to Fayetteville, Ark., for protection, but at the end of two years moved back to his farm. He sold out shortly afterward, and came to Lawrence County, Mo., and bought eighty acres of land, and after living there about ten years moved to Lawrenceburg, and died there in 1879. His widow lives with her children, and is seventy-three years of age. Charles and Betsy (Perkins)Wilkerson are the grandparents of our subject. The former was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, and was a weaver by trade. After immigrating to the United States he located in Tennessee, and was there married. He and wife died in Madison County, Ala. The maternal grandparents were Richard and Katie Messick, and his great-grandparents were Richard and Katie (Kohneaur) Messick. Richard Messick, the latter, was born in Delaware, and from there went to North Carolina, where he married, thence moved to Kentucky, and then to Tennessee, where he and wife died, both being over one hundred years of age. J. W. Wilkerson, whose name heads this sketch, was born in Coffee County, Tenn., July 15, 1835, and there resided until sixteen years of age. At the age of eighteen he began fighting life’s battles for himself, and taught school in Texas for some time. He returned to Arkansas, and in November, 1855, was married to Margaret, daughter of George and Polly Henry, by whom, he became the father of five children, four living: William J., Mary (wife of Franklin Gilmore), Martha (wife of Z. Harrison), Roxy A. (wife of James Gribble) and Coliman, who is dead. The mother of these children died March 10, 1862, and March 10, 1866, Mr. Wilkerson married Elizabeth, a daughter of Miles Hooper, and five of their six children are living: James, John M., Archibald S., Josie and Alfred; Laura is deceased. Mrs. Wilkerson died July 25, 1878, and July 25, 1880, he was married to Nettie Morrison, of Benton County, Ark., and their union resulted in the birth of four children, three of whom are living: Minnie A., William G., Luther Guy, and Paul, who is deceased. Since 1868 Mr. Wilkerson has been a resident of Lawrence County, Mo., and has a fine farm of 140 acres. He served in the Union army during the late war, under Col. Harrison, and was in twenty-nine engagements. After his return home he was on the first grand jury that sat in Madison County, Ark., after the war. He has held a number of offices since coming to Missouri, and is numbered among the influential and reliable citizens of the county. His wife is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

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This family biography is one of 272 biographies included in The History of Lawrence County, Missouri published in 1888.  For the complete description, click here: Lawrence County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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