Goodspeed's  Biographical and Historical
Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas
M through R

J. J. Mardis  (CHART), attorney at law. The name of Mardis is identified with the professional standing, the welfare and material and social happiness of Poinsett County, of which he is a native-born resident, his birth occurring November 18, 1850. He is the youngest of a family of six children of John P. and Delilah (Hamrick) Mardis, the former a native of Virginia and the latter of Alabama. They were early settlers of Poinsett County, and entered Government land, on which they resided until his death, which occurred in 1856; in addition to managing his farm, he was actively engaged in the practice of medicine, his services being required over a very large area. His widow still survives him, and resides on the old homestead. Their children are as follows: Amanda J. (Mrs. Thorn), B. R. J. (married, and residing on the old homestead), N. B. (a widower, residing in Scott Township), and J. J. (our subject.) The latter was educated in the schools of Harrisburg and vicinity, and, after reading law in that town for some time, he was admitted to the bar in 1886, since which time he has been actively engaged in practicing his profession, and is considered by all to be a practical thinker and an earnest and forcible speaker. His property has been acquired through his own exertions, and 100 acres of his farm are under cultivation. He was married here in April, 1872, to Miss Sue Harris, and of seven children born to their union six are living: John A., Agnew, Henry, Maggie Lee, Simmie and Freddie. Dovie died in August, 1886, at the age of eleven years. Mrs. Mardis is a daughter of John and Sarah (Copeland) Harris, who were Tennesseeans, and came to Poinsett County, Ark, in 1829, taking up their abode on a farm near Harrisburg, where the father died in 1885, the mother in 1884. Mr. Mardis has taken quits an active interest in politics, and always votes with the Democratic party; he served on that ticket in the capacity of magistrate for six years. He is a member of the A. F. & A. M., Harrisburg Lodge, No. 184, and also belongs to the K of H. He and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and since December, 1887, have been residents of Harrisburg, where Mr. Mardis has built up a large and constantly increasing clientage. He is well versed in the intricacies of the law, and is thoroughly competent and reliable.

Michael Mayer  (CHART), farmer and stock raiser, Weiner, Ark. The reader is herewith handed a plain statement of a useful life; for certainly, if what is of the most use is of the most value, then, indeed, it is in recording the lives of representative men that biography is to be useful to posterity. Mr. Mayer was born in Bavaria, Germany, in 1844, and was the seventh in a family of eight children born to the marriage of Michael and Mary (Markworth) Mayer, the father a native of Bavaria, and the mother of Canton Worms, France. Michael Mayer, Sr., was reared in his native country, and became a successful agriculturist. He owned a very large vineyard, but sold out in 1853 and came direct from Germany to Illinois, where he later purchased land in Vermilion County, and made his home for some time. Later he moved to Danville, Ill., where his death occurred in October, 1870, and one year later his excellent wife also closed her eyes to the scenes of this earth. The early life of Michael Mayer, Jr., was passed between assisting on the farm and in attending the public schools of Danville, Ill. When the late war broke out he enlisted in Company B, Tenth Illinois Cavalry, Independent Regiment, at Camp Butler, Springfield, Ill., and was assigned to the Western Department. He was in the battles of Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, Prairie Grove, Arkansas Post, Little Rock, Saline River, Pleasant Hill, Helena, Vicksburg, Nashville, was at Stone River, siege of
Atlanta, and was in the memorable march to the sea. He was at Mobile, New Orleans, and was also in the Red River campaign; was also in the battles of Corinth and Pittsburg Landing. He received his discharge at San Antonio, Tex., in 1865, but was on the border during that winter, guarding the railroads. He then returned to Danville, Ill., and engaged in merchandising, which he continued for about five years. In 1866 he was married, in Danville, Ill., to Miss Mary Klaege, a native of Germany, and the daughter of John and Mary (Geise) Klaege, also natives of Germany. Mr. and Mrs. Klaege came to the United States in 1856, settling in the city of Brooklyn, where the father was employed for some time, and then moved to Danville, Ill., in 1865. He died there in the fall of 1868. The mother moved to Poinsett County, Ark., in 1882, and made her home with the subject of this sketch until her death, which occurred one year later. Michael Mayer continued his mercantile pursuits, as before stated, for five years in Danville, Ill.; then embarked in contracting, and worked on the I. B. & W. R. R. He remained in Danville until 1881, when he moved to Poinsett County, and in September purchased a timber tract of 280 acres. He now has good buildings, and has 100 acres under fence. He also owns 160 acres partly under cultivation, with a good two story house, etc. He raises considerable cattle of the Ayrshire grade, and is one of the wide-awake farmers of the county. He votes with the Democratic party. but is not very active in polities. While living at Danville, Mr. Mayer was a member of the board of alderman, and since living here he has been a member of the school board, he being deeply interested in educational affairs, having been instrumental in organizing the school district. Mr. and Mrs. Mayer are members of the Catholic Church. To their united lives has been born one child, Emma Elizabeth, who is now Mrs. J. M. Steele [see sketch], and resides in Poinsett County. They have an adopted son, Thomas Leonard, whom they took when four years of age. He now bears the name of Thomas Mayer.

Joseph W. Moss  (CHART), Joseph W. Moss, a leading farmer and stock dealer of Craighead County, whose parents, Willis and Sarah Mullinax Moss, were both natives of South Carolina, was born in that state, Aug. 25, 1829. His father died in his native state, his mother in Tennessee. He was reared on a farm, and had but limited educational advantages. When, in 1851, his brother Barnett came on a prospecting tour to Arkansas, and located in Poinsett (now Craighead) County, Joseph W. came with him, and for a while made his brother's house his home. He at first bought 25 acres, and has since added to it, until now he owns about 1,000 acres, mostly woodland. He began $60 in debt, but by industry, economy and thrift, he has cancelled this indebtedness and accumulated a competency, which he has from time to time invested in land and stock. He lost 50 fine horses in the disastrous overflow of 1882. He was married in 1853, to Mary Simonds, a native of Illinois, and to this union was born one child, Henry, married to Mattie Wilson. His first wife died, and Mr. Moss was married again, 1861, to Lousina Kelsoe, a native of Tennessee. This union was blessed with nine children, all living, John R. (married to Florence Stotts), Sarah (wife of Morgan Denham), Joseph L. (married to Jane Patterson), Mary (wife of Theodore Johnson), Carroll Barnett, Hettie, Newton B. and Wallace. Mrs. Moss died in 1880 and Mr. Moss married Mrs. Martha Patterson, a native of the county and daughter of Andrew Stotts (now deceased), an early settler of the county. Mr. Moss is a Democrat in politics, has held various offices and taken great interest in educational matters. From N.E. ARK Goodspeed, 1889.

P.J. Murray  (CHART) is possessed of those advanced ideas and progressive principles regarding agricultural life which seem to be the chief prerogative of the average native of Illinois. He was born in Kane County in 1852, and is the eldest of four children born to Patrick and Ann (Kane) Murray, both of whom were born in the “Emerald Isle.” At an early day they emigrated to the United States, and after residing some time in Pennsylvania, they removed to Illinois, and here they both died in Kane County, some years ago. P. J. Murray received such education as the district schools of Kane County afforded, and his youth and early manhood were spent in aiding in the development of the home farm. After working in the pineries of Northern Michigan for some time, he went to Louisiana, and in January, 1882, came to Poinsett County, where he engaged in mercantile business, and also had the contract for grading five miles of the Kansas City & Memphis Railroad. After completing one mile the company raised the grade, and Mr. Murray threw up the job, then returning to his store, to which he gave his undivided attention for some eighteen months. He then commenced farming, and purchased a timber tract of eighty acres, which he began immediately to improve. He now has forty acres cleared and under cultivation, and is making a good living. He is an active Democrat in his political views, and is at present serving his third term as magistrate. He was instrumental in organizing a good school in his district. Socially, he is a member of the A. F. & A. M., and belongs to Jonesboro Chapter. He was married in Little River Township, in 1883, to Miss Lydia A. Davidson, a native of Dunklin County, Mo., and a daughter of Zachariah and Sarah Davidson, who were natives of that State. They removed to this county in 1877, and the father is now living with Mr. Murray, his wife having died some years ago. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Murray: Zachariah and Felix. Since locating here Mr. Murray has seen many changes take place, and the country rapidly fill up with a good class of settlers. The soil here is fertile, and will readily yield fifty bushels of corn to the acre.

T. H. Peck  (CHART), through good management and energy, has become the owner of 180 acres of excellent land, of which about forty acres are under cultivation, and eighty are in timber land. He was born in Jefferson County, Tenn., in 1834, and is the eldest of a family of six children born to the marriage of William R. Peck and J. C. Arledge, the former a Tennesseean, and the latter a native of South Carolina. The latter attended school in Columbia, in her native State, being a schoolmate of Gen. Wade Hampton. The parents were married in the latter State, and in 1846 removed to Poinsett County, where they resided on a farm in Bolivar Township until their respective deaths, in 1846 and 1872. The early educational advantages of T. H. Peck were somewhat limited, as he remained faithfully by his mother, assisting her on the farm until he was twenty-five years of age. In 1869, he was married in Crittenden County, Ark., to Miss Mary M. Dean, a native of Mississippi, whose death occurred in 1870. she having borne Mr. Peck two children: William L., who is married and resides in the county, and George W. In the latter part of 1870 Mr. Peck was married, in Poinsett County, to Miss Mary S. Ware, of Middle Tennessee, but after bearing one child, Mary O., she died in 1873. He espoused his third wife, Miss Mary E. Allen, a native of South Carolina, in 1875. In 1861, Mr. Peck enlisted from Poinsett County in Company C, Capt. Benjamin Harris' Company, and was in the battles of Shiloh and Belmont, being wounded in the former engagement by a gun-shot. After serving one year, he returned to Poinsett County, and for some time was engaged in buying and selling land, but for a number of years has given his attention to farming. He is an active politician, voting the Republican ticket, and has served as magistrate of his township for seven years. He has always been deeply interested in schools, and for a number of years has been a member of the school board. He belongs to the Agricultural Wheel.

George C. Peters  (CHART) is the senior member of the firm of Peters & Oats, who are the proprietors of a saw-mill at Weiner, Ark., which has an extensive capacity and a forty horsepower engine. They manufacture hardwood lumber, of all kinds, and make a specialty of wagon materials, shipping their product to Hawley, Paddock & Co., and the Missouri Car & Foundry Works, at St. Louis, Mo. They have been established in business here some little time, and, judging from the patronage they already command, they can look forward to a prosperous and successful future. Mr. Peters was born in Dutchess County, N. Y., in 1853, and possesses the many admirable qualities which are so characteristic of natives of the “Empire State.” He was the third of five children born to Henry W. and Caroline E. (Flint) Peters, also natives of New York, and inherits English blood from his father. The latter was for many years one of the honest “sons of the soil,” but is now living in Poughkeepsie, N. Y., retired from the active duties of life. His children are Alfred H., who resides in Poughkeepsie, and devotes his time to literature, being a contributor to the Century and Harpers' magazines, also other noted periodicals; Jacob O., who is married and resides on the old homestead of 400 acres, near Amenia, N. Y.; G. C.; K. E., wife of S. F. Davidson, residing in Topeka, Kas., and is chief clerk in the treasurer's office of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé Railroad, and Carrie, a twin sister of Jacob O., who resides in Poughkeepsie. George C. Peters was roared principally in
 the City of New York, but received the greater part of his education at Poughkeepsie, in Bisbee's Military Academy, and after completing his course there he went to New York City, and engaged in business on Wall Street, but removed from there some time after to Topeka, Kas. (in 1874), and had charge of the Wells Fargo Express Company, and later the Adams Express Company. In 1879 he went to San Juan County, Colo., on a prospecting tour, but soon after returned to New York, and, in 1880, went to Chicago, and until 1885 was employed in the Union Stock Yards. In the latter year he came to Harrisburg, Poinsett County, Ark., and from there moved to Weiner, where he dealt in stock until embarking in his present enterprise. He was married in 1889 to Miss Belle F. Duke, a native of Wayne County, Iowa, their marriage taking place in Poinsett County. She is a daughter of James M. and Ann E. (Scudder) Duke, and from them inherits Scotch blood. Her mother was a member of the same family as Dr. Scudder, of Chicago, Mr. Peters has seen many improvements in the county since locating, and considers this an exceptionally healthy locality. It is an excellent grazing region, and in any ordinary season will pasture stock the year round. He has 800 acres of land, which he expects soon to open to settlers; and he and his business partner have a timber tract of 240 acres. He has always been interested in schools, and, owing to his influence in District No. 2, the building is equipped with all modern improvements, and they have adopted the Harpers' and Standard systems of books.

B. F. Powell  (CHART) is a well-to-do planter of the county, this occupation having received his attention from early boyhood, and after his marriage, which occurred in Poinsett County, Ark., in 1872, he purchased a timber tract embracing 160 acres of land, and now has 100 acres cleared and under cultivation, which he devotes to raising cotton and corn. He is independent in his political views, but is an active advocate of schools, and has been a member of the school board in his district for twelve years, in every respect being a publicspirited citizen. On the 26th of February, 1862 he enlisted in Company A, Twenty third Arkansas Infantry, and was a participant in the battles of Corinth, Iuka, Port Hudson and others, remaining on active duty until the close of the war. The maiden name of his wife was Miss S. L. J. Clampet, a native of Tennessee, and a daughter of Henry and Mary (Riley) Clampet, also of that State, who came to Arkansas at an early day. The mother died a few years ago, but the father is still living, a resident of this county. The union of Mr. and Mrs. Powell was blessed in the birth of eight children, five now living: Mary H., Sue E., Arthur Lee, David C. and Daisy, Those deceased are Laura M., who died in 1882, at the age of eight years; Anna Jane, whose death occurred in 1885, at the age of five years, and Henry E., who died in 1889, at the age of eleven years. Mr. Powell was born in Greene County, Ala., in 1845, and is the fifth in a family of eight children born to James E. and Harriet H. (Burton) Powell, who were born in the “Palmetto State,” but settled in Alabama, and in 1849 removed to Poinsett County, Ark., making this State their permanent abode until their respective deaths, March 4, 1861, and June 27, 1861. The father was a farmer throughout life.

John W. Rooks,  (CHART) real estate agent and hotel keeper, Harrisburg, Ark. This prominent and successful citizen is a native of Tennessee, whose birth occurred in Shelby County, December 5, 1848, and is the son of Joseph Rooks, a native of Middle Tennessee, who was married in his native State to Miss Melinda Montgomery, also a native of Middle Tennessee. They moved to Arkansas about 1856, settled on the Bay Road, five miles east of Harrisburg, in Bolivar Township, and there the father opened up 160 acres of wild land, clearing about fifty acres, and erecting buildings, etc. Later he moved to the west side of Crowley's Ridge, in Scott Township, and there purchased 240 acres of land, of which he cleared 100 acres. He was a farmer and brick mason, and a very industrious, enterprising man. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity, and he and his family were consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He died in 1860. The mother Mrs. Melinda (Montgomery) Rooks, was born in Bedford (now Crawford) County, Tenn., in the year 1807, and is still living. She is the daughter of William and Mary (Lyons) Montgomery, natives of North Carolina, and early settlers of the State of Arkansas. Her father was a farmer, and removed to Middle Tennessee about 1800. When a very old man, he returned to his native State to settle up a legacy, and was never afterward heard from. Her mother died in Middle Tennessee, when about fifty years of age. Mrs. Rooks was one of five children born to her parents, and is the only one living. She was married at the age of seventeen years to Mr. Rooks, a son of one of the oldest families of North Carolina, and in 1856 removed to Arkansas. To their union were born twelve children, ten of whom lived to be grown, became married and had families. The children were as follows: Mrs. N. E. Flowers, died in 1870 and left two children; Eli, who was engaged in merchandising at Bay Village, and who died December 15, 1878; James W., died in 1864 at the age of forty years; Martha A., widow of Henry Gilbert; Sarah J., wife of T. C. Broadster; Eliza, wife of J. W. Killough; James K., died about 1867; Michael K. died in his tenth year; Mary E., died in infancy; Evalyn, wife of Rev. A. C. Griffith, an elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church, at Harrisburg; John W. (subject of this sketch), and one who died unnamed. Mrs. Rooks furnished three sons for the late war, and one son-in-law. William, one of the sons, died during that struggle, but the others served the entire time without harm. As before stated, Mrs. Rooks was left a widow in 1860, just at the outbreak of the late war, and she bravely struggled to support her family, but lost all her property during the conflict. She was left in debt to the amount of $2,500, but this, by skillful management, she contrived to pay off. She has long been a Christian, and a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which her children are also members. In 1868 she gave up housekeeping, and has since made the homes of her children happy by her presence. Her son, John W. Rooks, was taught the principles of farm life when young, and received his education in the common country schools, and supplementing the same by a course in the high school, at Harrisburg, under the tutorship of Prof. C. O. Turbeville. In 1871, when twenty-one years of age, he began clerking in the store of Kellough, Mitchell & Co., at a place called Lick Skillet, five miles south of Harrisburg, and worked one year. In 1871 he began clerking in Wittsburg, and continued in that work until 1875, when he opened a general store under the firm name of J. W. Rooks & Co. This business he continued with success until 1882, when he sold out and built a store at Cherry Valley, in Cross County, Ark. In 1885 he sold out and returned to Harrisburg, where he built the Rooks House and opened that hotel to the public. This he built in 1878, and it was destroyed by fire, with all its contents, in 1882. The same year the present hotel was built, and this he still conducts. In the year 1887 Mr. Rooks originated the real estate firm of Rooks & Ainsworth, it being the only recognized real estate firm in Poinsett County, and they do a very successful business. Mr. Rooks has always taken a decided interest in polities, and has twice been defeated for county treasurer by a small majority. He served one term as deputy clerk for T. B. Sparks. He votes with the Democratic party, and is an earnest temperance worker. On the 18th of April, 1877, he was united in marriage to Miss Julia E. Gant, daughter of J. W. and S. S. (Keller) Gant, natives of North Carolina, who settled in Craighead County, Ark., in 1860. To Mr. and Mrs. Rooks were born the following children: Mary B., Joseph W., and Harry G. Mr. Rooks is a member of the Masonic fraternity, also the K. of H., and he and wife are active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Judge John T. Roy, Poinsett, Ark.  (CHART) Judge Roy is a man who needs no introduction to the readers of this volume. His birth occurred in Shelby County, Tenn., April 15, 1834, and he is the son of Merida and Susan (Gentry) Roy, natives of South Carolina and Tennessee, respectively. To the parents were born ten children, eight of whom lived to be grown. They are named as follows: John Thomas; W. A., farmer and stock raiser, lives in Jackson County, Ark., and is justice of the peace; Eliza, wife of Lemuel Crane, a farmer residing in Shelby County, Tenn.; Frances, wife of William Crarage, a book-keeper; Jesse; Merida, a farmer, and resides in the house where he was born; Alfred, a farmer, who lives in Scott Township; Daniel, farmer, living in Scott Township; Nathaniel G., died at the age of seven years, and Elmira, died in childhood. The father of these children, Merida Roy, was born September 19, 1805, and died May 1, 1885. He was well educated, was a farmer, and followed tilling the soil all his life. He was also a minister in the Primitive Baptist Church, a member of the Masonic order, and in polities a Democrat. His wife, Susan (Gentry) Roy, was the daughter of Thomas Gentry, a native of Virginia, and a near relative of Merideth Gentry, the famous senator from Tennessee. Judge John T. Roy assisted his father on the farm until grown, and December 3, 1853, he was united in marriage to Miss Frances Goswick, a native of Tennessee, and the daughter of George W. Goswick, a native of South Carolina. To the Judge and wife were born eight children, five of whom are now living: Susan, wife of W. D. Gray, a farmer, living in Poinsett County; Theodosia A., married to Joseph Cooper; Martha M., wife of Joshua Cartis, farmer; Frances, wife of William Bledsoe, merchant, of the firm of Bledsoe & Tillery, at Bay Village, Cross County, Ark., and William Edward, at home. The children deceased were named: Annie D., Luella and Ophelia P. The mother of these children died in June, 1876. She was a member of the Primitive Baptist Church. Mr. Roy has remained single since that time. He came with his family to Poinsett County in 1872, and bought 160 acres of land, which he cleared and improved. He has forty-five acres under cultivation, has a good orchard, and is one of the representative farmers of the county. He has served as a school director for nine years, and in 1880 was elected presiding judge of the county court, serving two years. In 1888 he was again elected to the same office, which position he still holds. He is a man whose decisions are not made carelessly and without study, but are the result of much care and painstaking, so that all feel that he can be relied upon. In 1862 he enlisted in Company D, Capt. J. Hazlewood. Twelfth Tennessee Cavalry, but in July, 1864, left the army on account of sickness, and was in the hospital until in November of the same year. He then returned home, and served as a courier and recruiter until the close of the war, and consequently participated in very few engagements. Judge Roy is a man honored and respected by all acquainted with him, and is a liberal supporter of all schools and churches and all laudable public enterprises. In his political views he is Democratic.