Jefferson County Historical Society

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J. N. Douglas, a merchant and farmer of Big River Township, was born in
Shannon County, Mo., in 1847, and is the second of five children born to 
Samuel and Letitia (Davis) Douglas.  The former was a native of Randolph
County, Tenn., and when but a boy came with his father, Thomas Douglas, 
to Shannon County, Mo., where the father passed the remainder of his life.  
He was a farmer and stock raiser, was a soldier in the Black Hawk War, and 
was one of the first to settle in Shannon County. Among the wilds of Shannon 
County was Samuel reared, with no educational advantages, and in a community 
where Indians and wild animals reveled. He was married about 1843 in Reynolds 
County, but located in the county in which he was reared, and twenty miles 
from where Mrs. Douglas' people lived, there being but one house between the 
places.  Mr. Douglas served in the Mormon War, at Nauvoo, and was a successful 
farmer and stock raiser.  In about 1854 he sold his property and intended going 
to California, but was taken sick and died just before the company was ready to 
embark.  He was a member of the Presbyterian Church.  The mother was born in 
Kentucky, but came with her parents to Missouri, where they settled in Reynolds 
County, and where they were among the first settlers.  The subject of this sketch 
was reared by his mother, and received but meager educational advantages. At the 
age of sixteen he enlisted in Company D, Twenty-first Missouri Cavalry, was in the 
Army of the Cumberland under Gen. Thomas, was in the battle of Murfreesboro, also 
the last Nashville fight, and in a great many minor engagements. He was discharged 
at Nashville, Tenn., September 19, 1865. Just prior to the war his mother removed to 
Jefferson County, to which place our subject returned from the war.  After about one 
year at school he spent two and a half years in the lead mines of Washington County, 
and during the night time attended school.  He then came to Jefferson County and 
took charge of the "Old Ditch Coal Mines" for about six years. While there, and in 
1871, he married Miss Susan Isabella, daughter of James and Susan Cook, and a native 
of St. Louis, Mo.  The fruits of this union were eight children, six now living: 
Anna, Walter, William, Malcom, Bertie and Cora.  May and Mabel (twins) are deceased.  
Soon after marriage Mr. Douglas resumed agricultural pursuits and also engaged in 
merchandising in Big River Township, where he remained until 1882, when he was 
elected collector of Jefferson County, and re-elected in 1884.  In March, 1885, he 
resigned and soon after removed to Big River Township, and purchased a farm of 295 
acres, all well improved and in a fine state of cultivation.  He is also running a 
general store in connection with this.  Politically a Democrat, he cast his first
presidential vote for Lincoln, while in the service.  Mrs. Douglas is a member of 
the Catholic Church.