Col. J. W. Fletcher, speculator, of De Soto, was born in Jefferson 
County, Mo., in 1819, and is a son of Clement B. and Margaret S. (Byrd)
Fletcher.  Clement B. Fletcher was a native of Maryland, and there was
married, in Somerset County, in 1817, Margaret S. Byrd, a member of one
of the earliest families of Maryland, the maternal great-grandfather of
our subject having been a member of Lord Baltimore's colony, which settled
in Maryland in 1634.  The year following his marriage, or in 1818,
Clement B. Fletcher came to Missouri and located at Herculaneum, Jefferson 
County, at about the same time the Byrd family removed from Maryland to 
Missouri, settling in Jefferson County, and then went to Washington County, 
in the neighborhood of Caledonia.  Mr. Fletcher did an extensive mercantile 
business for many years in Herculaneum, and several other places; he moved 
to Hillsboro and afterward to De Soto, of which latter place he was the 
first postmaster.  He died in November, 1870 at the age of seventy-eight 
years, the father of nine children, one of whom, Thomas C., is ex-Governor 
of the State of Missouri, having been elected in 1864.  Col. J. W. Fletcher 
was educated in the schools of his native county, and at Marion College.  
In early life he was engaged as a clerk on a steamboat, and in 1849 went to 
California and Mexico, where he was engaged in mining and speculating two 
years; in 1852 he returned to Missouri, remaining but six months, when he 
again turned his face toward the "Eureka" State, whence, after four years, 
he sought his home.  He erected a large sawmill at De Soto, purchased several 
hundred acres of land, and did a large and prosperous business. During the 
late war he was a strong Union man, and in May, 1861, organized the first 
company south of St. Louis, known as Company B, Sixth Missouri Infantry, of 
which he was elected captain, and the following November made major; he 
participated in the siege of Corinth and numerous other severe skirmishes, 
when he resigned, returned home, and organized the Thirtieth Missouri Regiment, 
of which he was made lieutenant colonel.  He took part in the siege of 
Vicksburg and Arkansas Post, when he again resigned and returned home; and in 
company with his brother Thomas Fletcher, ex-Governor of Missouri, organized the 
Forty seventh Regiment, of which Mr. Fletcher was made lieutenant colonel, in
which capacity he served until the close of the war.  In the fall of 1865 he was 
elected delegate to the State Convention, and since that time has been engaged 
in speculating in real estate and mining; he owns the Old Ditch Lead Mine, one 
of the best in the State.  In 1845 Mr. Fletcher married Miss Kate B. Taylor, who 
was born in 1822 and died in 1882.  Col. Fletcher is a Republican in politics, 
and a member of the Masonic order.