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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 M. BYLER, of Sedalia, has been longer engaged in the real-estate business here than any other citizen, and he also deals in loans. It was in June, 1865, that he established an office for the transaction of the real-estate business, there then being less than one thousand inhabitants in the city. In 1867 he commenced a set of abstracts of titles, being the first person to accomplish this undertaking in the county, and in 1872 also engaged in the loan business. He has handled several additions to the city, and saw the foundations of the first brick house in the place laid on Ohio Street. Besides his extensive landed interests in this immediate locality, he also owns property in other places. For three years he published a journal known as the “Great Western Real-estate Register.” Few men have been more influential in securing for Sedalia various advantages, which have increased her growth and usefulness, and in nothing has he been more active than in securing for her the railroad facilities which have been so prominent in her development.

It is found by tracing the records of the Byler family, that the progenitor of the American branch came from Switzerland early in the seventeenth century, and was a Lutheran. Our subject’s great-grandfather, and also his grandfather, Joseph Byler, were natives of Lancaster County, Pa. The latter owned a powder-mill in the Keystone State, and late in life moved to Buncombe County, N. C., where he engaged in farming. He married a Mrs. Walker, widow of General Walker of Revolutionary fame, and three years later, emigrating to eastern Tennessee, settled on a farm. In 18 18 he came to Missouri, locating seven miles south of Boonville, Cooper County, and was one of the first County Judges there. He was reared in a Quaker settlement, but after coming to this state he joined the Universalist Church. He lived to be nearly eighty-five years of age, and his mother attained the ripe old age of ninety-one years, dying in his Missouri home. In his political faith he was a Whig of the strictest and most conservative stamp.

David C. Byler, father of our subject, was born in North Carolina, and with his parents came across the country to Missouri in 1818 in a wagon. His only educational advantages were comprised within a three-months term in a school held five miles from his home. Thus he was forced to rely on himself for such knowledge as he was able to compass. Like his father, he devoted his energies to farming, but did not confine himself to one occupation. At different times he was engaged in freighting to Arkansas and the Indian Territory; he also conducted a brick-making plant, and mined coal on his farm three miles and a-half from Boonville, and during the war moved to that place, where he carried on a tobacco commission business. After the Rebellion had ceased he located on a farm in Cass County, where he accumulated over one thousand acres of fine land. His demise occurred in January, 1885, when he was nearly seventy-two years of age, as a result of a fall on the ice. He was a devoted member of the Christian Church, and was beloved and esteemed by hosts of sincere friends. His first wife, Nancy E., was a daughter of David and Malinda (Burris) Lilly, and both were natives of Clark County, Ky., born near Winchester. In 1826 Mr. Lillie started with wagons for Cooper County, and bought land adjacent to the site of the first fort ever built at Boonville. He served as Sheriff of Cooper County more than once, but resigned his office on a certain occasion when a man was condemned to be hung. He was a Baptist of the old school, and one of six men who organized the first church in his community. His death occurred at the age of sixty-six years, in 1866, Mrs. Nancy Byler died March 21, 1856, aged thirty-nine years.

J. M. Byler is one of fifteen children, ten of whom are living. Eleven of the number were of his father’s first marriage, and the others were the result of his second union. The birth of our subject occurred in Boonville, Mo., June 2, 1833, and his education was completed in Kemper’s School, after which he became a teacher. For five years he remained in one locality, and then, going to Clinton, established the first high school there. In September, 1860, he went into the stationery and drug business at Warrensburg, but closed out his interest when the war broke out. He then resumed teaching, and for nine months conducted a school in Warrensburg, after which, in 1862, he taught in an academy in Boonville. In company with Rev. X. X. Buckner, he organized and incorporated the Cooper Institute at Boonville, and operated the same until he saw fit to resign, but the institution is still in existence. In April, 1865, he came to this city as a lecturer on commercial science, and was thus employed about one year. For over three decades he was a great student in all of the scientific and philosophical branches, including medicine, psychology, phrenology, etc. In 1859 he was made a charter member of the Missouri State Teachers’ Association, which was formed in St. Louis, and continued an active member of the same for many years. At their twenty-first anniversary he was called upon to deliver an address on “Reminiscences of the Past,” the meeting having convened at Sweet Springs, Mo.

In December, 1858, Mr. Byler was married, in Clinton, Mo., to Emma Shumway, who was born on the Connecticut River, in New Hampshire. Her father, Royal Shumway, was Postmaster and a merchant in the village of Langdon for thirty-seven years. Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Byler, namely: Homer E., who is traveling agent for the Equitable Life Association, and is a resident of Trinidad, Colo.; Lilly W., wife of Dr. G. W. Robinson, also of Trinidad; James William, a graduate of the Columbia Law School, from which he received the degrees of LL. B. and LL. M.; and General Lee, now a prominent railroad man of Denver. James W. was, until recently, a law clerk in the Judge Advocate’s office in the General War Department of Washington, D. C., but is now engaged in general practice at Sedalia. Mr. Byler has always been a stanch supporter of the Democracy, and has inculcated his ideas in the training of his sons.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the Pettis 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: Pettis County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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

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

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