Benjamin B. Gaither


Benjamin B. Gaither, one of the most prominent citizens of Scott County, Mo., was born in Kentucky, in 1824. He is a son of John Gaither, of English descent, born near the District of Columbia, in Maryland. When young, the latter's parents came to Maryland, and resided there until their deaths. They had three children: Horace, Harriet (Pierce) and John. The last named removed to Kentucky, where he married Rebecca Bell, a native of Kentucky, of Welsh parentage. In March, 1833, they came to Cape Girardeau County, Mo., and purchased land on which they located, and afterward improved and made their home. John Gaither died in September, 1837, and his wife in September, 1836. They were the parents of eight children, viz.: Benjamin B., James W. (of Texas), John T. (a merchant of Commerce, Mo.), Harriet (wife of Jackson Ellis, residing near Commerce), Margaret, Mary, Harriet and Rebecca. The last four are dead. Margaret, Rebecca and Harriet were married, and reared families. Benjamin B. was thirteen years old when his father died. He went to Jackson, Mo., and learned the tanner's trade with James M. McGuire, by serving an apprenticeship of six and one-half years. In 1845 he went to Commerce and established a tan-yard, which he managed until 1856, after which he engaged in general merchandising at Benton, and continued two years, when he returned to Commerce and engaged in the grocery and milling business. During the war he dealt in grain, mostly corn, which he sold to the Government, and after the war engaged in merchandising and milling. He built the first store-house in Morley, and sold goods there until 1870. In 1872 he traded the store and goods at Morley to his brother, John T., for the farm on which he now resides. On January 26, 1847, he was united in marriage with Susan Ellis, a native of Scott County, born on what is now the county poor farm. She was born January 4, 1828, and is the daughter of Edward and Harriet (Nelson) Ellis. natives of Maryland and Virginia, respectively, who removed to Kentucky, and from thence to Southeast Missouri, in 1827. They had thirteen children, viz.: Emily, Eliza, Nelson, Susan, Elizabeth, Jackson, Benjamin, Nancy, Sarah. Mary. Harriet, William and Edward. The last nine are dead. Emily lives in Benton, Eliza is the wife of Daniel H. Loody, and Nelson lives in Scott County, engaged in farming. Mr. Ellis died in the spring of 1858, and his widow in 1859. In 1859 or 1860 Mr. Gaither was appointed justice of the county court, and in 1881 was elected to represent, Scott County in the Legislature. Mr. Gaither is extensively engaged in stock-raising. He has about 1,200 acres of land under cultivation, most of which he rents. He is a member of the A. F. & A. M. His wife is an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. They have no children of their own, but have reared sixteen orphan children, only two of whom are with them now: Jefferson Tisdle and Lizzie Davis, a daughter of Samuel T. Davis, a prominent attorney of New Madrid County, who died in 1881. Mr. Gaither and wife are highly esteemed by all who know them, and are two of Scott County's best citizens. John T. Gaither, a merchant of Commerce, Mo., was born in 1832, in Davidson County, Ky., and when one year old, came with his parents, John and Rebecca (Bell) Gaither, to Southeast Missouri, and located in Cape Girardeau County. He remained with his parents until the death of his father, in 1840, when he was bound for three years to Mr. McGuire, of Jackson. Mo., to learn the tanner's trade. He then came to Scott County, and was engaged with his brother in the tanning business until 1849, after which he went to New Orleans and remained one year. Returning home, he entered school at Cape Girardeau, where he finished his education in 1852. In company with his brother, James W., and others, he then went overland, with ox-teams, to California, the trip requiring 110 days, during which he drove the team every third day. . Upon reaching California he began prospecting for gold, and after remaining there two years engaged in mining and farming. He returned, in 1854, to Commerce. John T. Gaither, after his return home, purchased the tan-yard of his brother, B. B. Gaither, and managed the business until the commencement of the Civil War. During the war he was engaged in farming and dealing in wood on Big Island, in the Mississippi River. From 1866 until 1870 he was engaged in farming in Scott County, and from 1870 until 1875 in merchandising at Morley, at which time he removed to Commerce and engaged in his present general merchandising business. He was elected treasurer of Scott County in 1868, and served one term. For twenty-seven years he served as school director, and retired in 1887, refusing to serve longer. In 1858 he married Columbia Daugherty, a native of Dunklin County, Mo., born in 1839. They have had nine children, viz.: Hettie (wife of Herbert Ranney, of Cape Girardeau County), Emma (wife of James Ranney, of the same county as above), John W. (deceased), Anna, Arthur, Birtie, Belle, o B. and Edna. Mr. and Mrs. Gaither are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, he having been a member since 1869. He is also a member of the A. F. & A. M., and A. O. U. W.

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