William B. Reynolds is an intelligent and thoroughly practical farmer, who is actively and prosperously prosecuting his vocation on one of the finest farms in Southern Nebraska; 120 acres of his land, that on which he makes his home, lies on sections 34 and 35, Liberty Precinct, and the remaining 120 acres in Otoe County, adjoining his homestead.
The subject of this sketch was born in Clay County, Mo, May 11, 1826. He is of Scotch origin, although his immediate ancestry were of Irish birth. The first of the family to make his appearance on American soil was Joseph Reynolds, great-grandfather of our subject, who was a native of the North of Ireland, and a descendant of the Scotch Presbyterians who had settled in that part of Ireland. He came directly from that country to Virginia when he was a young man, and spent the remainder of his life in the old Dominion, dying there at a ripe old age. William Reynolds, his son, grandfather of our subject, was born in Virginia, and was reared to the occupation of farmer. He married Elizabeth Fugett, also a native of Virginia, and of German parentage. Soon after marriage they moved from Virginia to Kentucky, and became early pioneers of Garrard County, where most of their children were born. In 1810 Mr. Reynolds and his wife, with quite a large family, made another move toward the distant frontier in Missouri, and finally settled in Howard County on a piece of land now the town site of Fayette, it being a wild, unbroken country around there then. After he became quite an old man William Reynolds again took up his pilgrimage, accompanied by all of his family except some of the children who had died during their sojourn in Howard County, and in 1840 went into Andrew County, then a part of Buchanan County, Mo., and there he and his wife abode until their death. He dying in 1850, at the venerable age of eighty-four years, and his wife, who survived him until 1857, dying at the same age. They were staunch Methodists, and led blameless Christian lives. They had ten children, and their son Rueben R., the father of our subject, was their eldest child. He was born in Garrard County, Ky., in 1799, and was a boy of eleven years when his parents emigrated to Missouri. He attained his majority in Howard County, that State, and was there married to Fannie Monroe. She was born in Garrard County, Ky., in 1801, and was a daughter of William and Agnes (West) Monroe, natives of Virginia. Her father was a cousin of President Monroe. He was a farmer, and had gone to Garrard County in its pioneer days when a young man, and was there married. After their marriage and the birth of some of their children, they migrated to Missouri, and were there all through the troublous times with the Osage and Comanche Indians. They finally moved about 1820 to Clay County, in the same State, and were pioneers there, settling on wild, unbroken land. About 1840 William Monroe made another move with his family, and we next hear of him in Savannah, Andrew Co., Mo., and there he and his wife closed lengthy and useful lives. Mr. Monroe had been very successful in life and had accumulated a large fortune. He was a man of many peculiar habits, but of few words. He was indirectly related to Daniel Boone and Stephen Cooper, the famous pioneers and Indian warriors of Kentucky and Missouri. Reuben Reynolds and wife were married in Howard County, but began their wedded lives in Clay County, where Mr. Reynolds entered land from the Government and engaged in farming. Reuben Reynolds was appointed Colonel of Militia by Gov. John B. Clark, during the trouble with the Mormons in 1837 in Missouri. He took his regiment to the scene of trouble at "Far West," Caldwell County, Mo., where the Mormons were fortified. He ever after was known as Col. Reynolds. He was a man who in his time was prominent in all enterprises of a public nature. He made a number of improvements, and then moved with his family to within six miles of Savannah, in Andrew County; there he carried on farming and he and his wife passed their remaining days there, he dying in December, 1859, and she in August, 1875. They were both members of the Old-school Baptist Church, and adhered quite strictly to their religious views. He was a large, strong man, with good mental as well as physical endowments. To him and his wife were born ten children, three sons and seven daughters. He of whom we write was the first son and fourth child of the family, eight of whom lived to maturity, six of whom married, and three of whom are still living. He was reared by good parents, and grew to a noble manhood, of great strength, flue (sic) physical proportions, and a well-balanced intellect. He early selected the occupation to which he had been reared, that of farmer, for his life calling, and on his father's homestead was initiated into the mysteries of agriculture. He was married near Savannah, Andrew County, to Susan Kelly, a native of Pulaski County, Ky, her birth occurring there in 1826. She lost her father in Kentucky, and came to Missouri with her mother, who died in Andrew County. Mrs. Reynolds departed this life in 1854, leaving four children: Henry C., a farmer in California; Joseph, a farmer in Holt County, Mo., who married Miss Nannie Parish; Fanny, wife of G. S. Upton, of whom see biography; Reuben R. who is in the West.
Mr. Reynolds was also married to his present wife in Andrew County. Her maiden name was Amanda A. Florence, and she was born in Richland County, Ohio, Feb. 14, 1835. Her parents, James and Emily (Fish) Florence, were natives of Virginia, and there they were both reared and married, and Mr. Florence began his life work as a farmer in that State. He was left an orphan in his babyhood, and nothing definite could be learned of his parentage by his daughter, Mrs. Reynolds. He and his wife, with a small family, ultimately moved from Virginia to Richland County, Ohio, about 1833, and were pioneers there. In 1843 they made another move still further westward, and crossing the Father of Waters settled on a farm in Andrew County, Mo., and there the father died in 1865, at the age of sixty-five, and the mother in 1846, in the prime of life. Mrs. Reynolds was the second child of the three daughters and one son born to her parents. Her brother ROBERT H. now dead, as is also her sister Ora. Her sister Mary is the wife of William Thrailkill, of Andrew County, Mo.
Mrs. Reynolds made her home with her father after her mother's death until her marriage. She is the mother of four children, one of whom is dead, William H.., a promising young man, of good education, who died of typhoid fever at the age of twenty-three years. The living children are: James T., who married Laura Mason, is engaged as postal clerk on the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad, and has his residence at Lincoln; Elizabeth, the wife of Dr. C. W. Davis, a practicing physician of Bernard, Nodaway Co., Mo.; and Barnett L., at home with his parents.
In 1865 Mr. Reynolds and his family left their old Missouri home and came to Nebraska to reside. For nearly six years they lived in the vicinity of Nebraska City. In the fall of 1871 Mr. Reynolds purchased 160 acres of land in this vicinity, eighty acres of which are still included in his farm. He afterward had a good chance to dispose of eighty acres of his land at a great advance on the original price, and he hastened to do so. Since that he has bought 160 acres more land, and now has 240 acres of exceedingly arable and productive land, all under good improvements, with an excellent set of buildings, which he erected himself.
Mr. Reynolds is a man of sterling worth, whose good qualities render him one of the best citizens. He and his wife are members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and all schemes for the advancement of the religious interests of the community and in them cordial and hearty support. Mr. Reynolds is identified with the Democratic party, his political views being well expressed in the party platform.
Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Otoe and Cass Counties, Nebraska, 1889, pp. 1268-1269
Submitted: Monica Schirmer Eshelman