Jefferson County Historical Society

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John W. Bement, proprietor of the De Soto House, De Soto, is a native
of Devonshire, England, and was born in 1829.  His parents were Robert
and Mary (Smith) Bement, also natives of England, the former of whom,
a farmer by occupation, died about 1835, at the age of forty-five 
years; the latter came to America in 1874, and died in De Soto in 1883,
aged nearly ninety years.  Of the six children in this family two are
now in De Soto, John W. and Martha, wife of Robert Coxwell, furniture 
dealer.  John W. Bement was but seven years of age when his father 
died, and at the age of fourteen he was bound out as an apprentice to
learn the cooper's trade, but the following year, in 1844, he left his
native country and emigrated to Canada, first locating in Quebec, where
he remained three years; he then came to the United States, and settled
near Owego, N. Y., where he learned the carpenter's trade.  In 1854 he
went to California by water, remaining in the State four years, working
at his trade and contracting.  He returned to New York in 1858, and the
following year went to Delaware County, Iowa, where he bought a farm 
and also engaged in contracting; he erected the courthouse and other
public buildings in Delaware County.  About 1862 he sold out and again
returned to New York, and in 1868 located in Jefferson County, Mo., 
buying a farm of forty acres, three miles south of De Soto.  In July of
the same year he was employed as a bridge carpenter on the St. Louis,
Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad, where he was soon made foreman, 
which position he held for fifteen years.  In 1883 he established a
boarding house in De Soto, and in March, 1885 became proprietor of the
De Soto House, which he has since successfully conducted as one of the
leading hotels of the place.  In 1851 Mr. Bement married Miss Mary Hale
who was born in the State of New York in 1830.  They have three children:
William, Frederick and Viola.  Politically, Mr. Bement is a Democrat; 
he is a member of the Masonic Order. Mrs. Bement is a member of the 
Congregational Church.