John Freebairn, a prominent pioneer business man of Versailles, Mo., was born in Rutherglen, near Glasgow, Scotland, in 1834, his parents, who were John Freebairn and Leah Hamilton, being also born there. Owing to his father's early death, he had to begin fighting the battle of life for himself at an early day, and learned the butcher's trade, and also worked as a farm hand for three years. He then learned engineering, at which he worked five years, under his stepfather, Robert Hood, who was manager of the coal works at Rutherglen, and at the end of the five years, in August, 1858, he set sail for America, and after a very rough voyage of twenty-two days he landed at New York City. After remaining here two weeks he came westward to St. Louis, and a few weeks later came to Versailles, and worked at whatever he could find to do. After a short time he purchased sixty acres of land adjoining the town on the west, on which his elevator and the depot are now situated. In 1859 he opened the first meat-market in the place, which he conducted until the breaking out of the late Civil War, when he engaged in farming on his sixty acres. At the end of one year he opened a saloon, but discontinued it at the end of six months, and in 1862 established a general mercantile establishment, but in 1864 abandoned this business and started for Montana, where he was interested in mining for twelve years, being also occupied in lumbering, blacksmithing, gunsmithing, and various other occupations. He was fairly successful, and in 1876 returned to Versailles, and in the fall of the same year opened his present general mercantile establishment, which brings him in a handsome annual income. He now owns 920 acres of land, and an interest in 440 acres of mineral land, and all his business ventures are meeting with good success.
History of Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Benton, Miller, Maries and Osage Counties, Missouri, Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.