Chapter 179

William Riley Wilson and John J. Collard as Citizens of South Pike

WILLIAM RILEY WILSON, fourth of the children of David Wilson and Isaphena Collard, was born on Section 13 in Pleasant Hill township, April 17, 1843 (Chapman's 1880 history says April 17, 1844). He grew to manhood on the home farm near Pleasant Hill. Later he engaged in business in the village of Nebo, in Spring Creek township. In 1880 he was elected circuit clerk of Pike county and served in that office for four years.

On May 13, 1869, Riley Wilson married Ellen J. Fry, a daughter of Harrison and Matilda Fry of Pike county, Missouri. They had three children.

In 1868 Mr. Wilson went into the mercantile business in Nebo, continuing in that business for 12 years. In 1880 he sold to Fowler & Son of near Pittsfield and make the race that year for circuit clerk of Pike county, to which office he was elected.

William Riley Wilson died in Chicago, April 3, 1893.
Lydia E. Wilson, fifth of the David Wilson children, was born September 18, 1846. She married Joseph G. Thompson in Pike county, February 3, 1876. He was born March 19, 1840 and died April 30, 1892.

Mary K. Wilson, sixth child, was born in Pike county June 4, 1849. She married, at Sideview, Marion Lyles, a son of Icie Lyles. They moved to California.

Erastus E. Wilson was born in Pike county, November 28, 1851. He died September 26, 1908.

Margaret Catherine Wilson, last of the eight children of David and Isaphena (Collard) Wilson, was born in Pike county May 23, 1854. She married John Ralston November 8, 1872, at Nebo, with the Reverend J. H. Horner, Baptist minister, officiating. Albert Ewers and Mattie Fry were official witnesses.

John Ralston was one of the men who figured so conspicuously in the missionary work of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Association more than a half century ago. Records of the 21st annual meeting of this association, held in the Baptist church at Martinsburg in September 1884, when Elder Frank H. Lewis (great grandson of Samuel Hardin Lewis) was moderator, records that J. A. Sitton, M. V. Shive and John Ralston were named to the missionary board of the church for the ensuing year. John Ralston and Marion Zumwalt also agreed on this occasion to visit the Salt River Association at New London, Missouri, with a view to enlarging the missionary scope of the church's influence.

These records indicate that the Pleasant Hill church, which emanated from the pioneer Baptist church at Martinsburg, was hard pressed for funds in this period. James O. Lewis (grandson of Samuel Hardin Lewis) and J. A. Sitton constituted the association's finance committee. They employed Elder Frank H. Lewis for $120 a year but were able to pay him only $48.50 for the year, leaving an unpaid balance of $71.50. J. G. Sitton was clerk, and William E. Smith the treasurer of the association.

The chair, in the course of a meeting held on September 5, 1884, appointed W. R. Moore of Pleasant Hill, Nathan Zumwalt of Martinsburg, James Scranton of Nebo, and J. G. Sitton of Oakland as committeemen from the various churches to solicit and carry on the work within the bounds of the association.

John and Mary Catherine (Katie) Ralston went to California in September, 1879, but returned again to Pike county in December, 1881. They had three children, all still-born. A son was born at Louisiana, Missouri, April 24, 1884, and twin girls were born at Nebo, May 13, 1891.

John Ralston was born February 1, 1851 and died January 22, 1913.

Much of the foregoing record of the Wilson family is taken from an old Bible, owned by Katie Wilson Ralston, on the flyleaf of which is inscribed: "Katie Ralston's book, presented by her father (David Wilson) as a New Year's gift, January 1, 1875." There is also written in Katie Ralston's hand: "Holy Bible, book divine, Precious treasure, thou art mine."

David Wilson, 1834 settler near Pleasant Hill, died October 7, 1875; his wife, Isaphena Collard Wilson, preceded him on January 24, 1874.

Rachel Collard, third of the children of John Collard and Lydia Cannon and the little-known sister of Felix Alver and Isaphena Collard of previous accounts, was born in Christian county, Kentucky, in 1815. She was not yet three years old when her parents came to the Missouri frontier, locating near present Troy, county seat of Lincoln county, in what was then Missouri Territory. This was in 1818.

Rachel's father, as previously related, was killed in a runaway accident, shortly after he reached the Missouri border. Rachel, following her mother's marriage to Isaac Thurman, spent part of her early girlhood in the Missouri home of an uncle, the Reverend Charles Collard.

On September 15, 1831, in Lincoln county, Missouri, Rachel Collard, then 16 years of age, married Robert Stubblefield, with the Reverend David Hubbard, later the grand old preacher of the Martinsburg and Pleasant Hill Baptist churches, officiating.

Robert Stubblefield had previously married Polly Cannon, a daughter of James Cannon and Rachel Stark, and a younger sister of Rachel Collard's mother. Robert Stubblefield and Polly Cannon were married in Lincoln county April 3, 1828. David Hubbard, an ordained minister, officiated. Polly Cannon Stubblefield, who was born February 28, 1802, lived only a short time following her marriage.

Robert Stubblefield, after his second marriage, took his bride across the Mississippi into Pike county, Illinois, in 1838. They were among the earliest settlers in the pioneer town of Fairfield (now Pleasant Hill). Here, in the town laid out by Eli and Charles Hubbard and John McMullen in 1836, Robert Stubblefield, on July 18, 1838, bought from John and Susana Morrow a town lot, described as Lot 5 in Block 7, in the original town. Stubblefield paid $17.50 for the town lot. On this he built his log house.

Little is known of the Stubblefields. Rachel lived but a short time following the 1838 settlement. She died some time in 1839 or in the beginning of 1840. She was dead prior to January 27, 1840, when Robert Stubblefield transferred the Fairfield cabin home to James S. Cannon for $100. The transfer was certified by John G. Sitton, an acting justice of the peace.

Neighbors of the Stubblefields in the Fairfield settlement, according to records of the period, included the Eli Hubbards, John Sapps, William Sapps, Lawson Turners, John J. and Felix A. Collard (brothers of Rachel Stubblefield and partners in Fairfield's pioneer store), John McMullen, Charles Hubbard, Robinson Copeland, John A. Rowley, Isaac Lawson, Thomas Barton, Benjamin Morrow, Miles Baldridge and John Morrow and their families.

Robert Stubblefield, following his wife's death, returned to Missouri. What later became of him is unknown. He belonged to an adventuring family that in very early times set out from an older settlement in the east to try their fortune in the west. Over mountainous trails they came, with their wagons and oxen, making ways for the wagons where the trails were not wide enough or were eaten away by mountain freshets. Sometimes they traveled all day along trails that wound around and around some mountain steep in spiral ascent or descent, and at night-fall could look across the valley and see the smoke from their smouldering campfire of the night before. They were weeks on their journey westward, every mile of their journey fraught with peril.

Once they forded the Ohio. The river was high and they missed the ford. Their wagon boxes were lifted almost to the tops of the standards. Some of their equipment was lost. They at length found footing on a wooden islet in the river, where they set their wagons to rights, breathed the oxen and dried their clothing, while they waited for the water to subside.

John J. Collard, fourth and last of the children of John Collard and Lydia Cannon, is the most intimately associated with Pike county history of any of John and Lydia's family. John J. was prominent in educational circles and was active in the political and public life of the county through a long period of years. He was the maternal grandfather of Alvin T. Brant of Pittsfield and of Mrs. Jennie C. Yokem of Pleasant Hill, both of whom have contributed liberally to this history.

John J. Collard always signed himself as "John J., " never using a middle name. Mrs. Jennie Yokem is quite sure that his middle name was James. He had an uncle by the name of James Collard and his mother's father (James Cannon of the Revolution) also bore the name. In the Pike county court records is an affidavit which begins, "I, John Jasper Collard, being first duly sworn, etc.," the same being signed "John J. Collard." Jasper is also a Collard family name.

John J. Collard, son of John and grandson of Joseph of the Revolution, was born in Christian county, Kentucky, September 7, 1817. He was only a few months old when his parents set out from near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, to found a home in Missouri Territory in what is now Lincoln county, Missouri. He was not yet a year old when his father was killed. His mother later married Isaac L. Thurman and John J. was reared partly in his stepfather's home in Missouri.

John J. Collard and his elder brother, Felix Alver, had a combination log residence and store in the early town of Fairfield. Records of estates of persons who died in that vicinity in those early years frequently contain the claims of the Collard Brothers for groceries and other frontier necessities. John J. and Felix Alver were among the earliest merchants in that region.

John J. Collard also appears early in the school history of the county. A minute book found years ago by D. E. Bower when a wooden structure was being removed from the Swainson corner in Pleasant Hill, contains a record of the earliest teachers employed in the Pleasant Hill region.

At a meeting of the school trustees held on January 6, 1840, the minutes record that the schedule of John Collard was examined and being found in correct order it was directed that the treasurer pay John Collard the sum of $66.25 for his teaching service. Henry Ferguson was then president of the board of school trustees and David Hubbard was secretary.

On July 6, 1840, the trustees employed J. J. Collard as teacher of School No. 2 in what is now Pleasant Hill township. Mrs. Aretta Berry at the same meeting was employed to teach School No. 1 and C. B. Daniels to teach School No. 3.

On January 4, 1841, school funds apparently were running low as the trustees directed the treasurer to pay to C. B. Daniels, John J. Collard and Aretta Berry only fifty percent of their claims.

John J. Collard received $2.25 per quarter per pupil for his teaching. The rate of compensation to be allowed to teachers of schools was thus fixed by the trustees at a meeting held in the town of Fairfield on the 4th day of August, 1837. The rate of $2.25 was for a period of thirteen weeks.

At a meeting of the school trustees on the first Saturday in October, 1841, J. J. Collard was elected to take census of the children on the south side of the line between Sections 16 and 21, and F. A. Collard and Joseph Hubbard were elected to take the census in other portions of the township. David Wilson, husband of John J. Collard's sister, Isaphena Collard, was then president of the board of trustees and David Hubbard was the treasurer.