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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Lawrence County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Capt. J. M. Phelps, senior member of the firm of Phelps Bros., general merchandise, was born in McNairy County, Tenn., July 17, 1841. His father came to Arkansas when twelve years of age, and located at a point near Dardanelle, in Yell County. Four years later he went to Northwest Missouri, where he remained a year, and then came back to Randolph and Greene Counties. He entered into mercantile life at Gainesville; thence to Southern Missouri, and from there to Lawrence County, Ark., in the latter part of 1860. His son, Capt. James M., received only a common school education in Tennessee and Arkansas, but his natural aptitude made up for any loss in that direction. When war was announced he was a resident of this county, and first joined the Seventh Arkansas Infantry, Company F, in April, 1861, Joseph Martin, captain. He was discharged in February, 1862, and returned home, where he remained until Hindman’s call for volunteers, and, in April, 1862, he was captured, after having raised a cavalry company in response. That entire summer was spent by him in prison at St. Louis, Chicago and Johnson’s Island. In 1862 he was exchanged, and joined Tim Reeves’ company of Missouri cavalry, and served with them until the spring of 1864, when he raised a cavalry company, which he commanded until he surrendered, June 6, 1865, Company F, Fourteenth Missouri Cavalry. At the close of the war he returned to Lawrence County, which has been his home ever since, and embarked in farming and merchandising. Later on he spent three or four years traveling through Texas and Mexico, and in the spring of 1876 came to Walnut Ridge and established the business of Z. Phelps & Sons (J. M. & A.C.). The firm continued under that head until the year 1880, when it was merged into Z. Phelps & Son (J. M.). The present firm of Phelps Bros., was started up in 1884, with J. M., A. C. and Z. C. Phelps as partners. They do a heavy business in general supplies, their transactions in 1888 amounting to $125,000, and are one of the largest firms in their line in the county. J. M., the eldest, has practically retired from active business. Capt. Phelps owns probably 1,500 acres of land, divided into several fine farms, and, in conjunction with his father and brother, has a great amount of other lands in Lawrence and adjoining counties. He is a member of the Knights of Honor, and the Blue Lodge, Chapter and Commandery of the Masonic order, belonging to Hugh DePayne Commandery at Little Rock; is a member also of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. This year (1889) he was a delegate to the district conference at Corning. He is a Democrat in politics, and was mayor of Walnut Ridge for several years. In 1864 (February 18th) he was married to Miss Victoria Kinian, of Lawrence County, Ark., whose father, Hensen Kinian, was a pioneer settler of Lawrence County. They have had one child, Virgil D., a little boy, who died in November, 1876, aged about nine years; and, having no other children of their own, the Captain and his wife are rearing a niece, Jessie Vinson.

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This family biography is one of 111 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Lawrence County, Arkansas published in 1889.  View the complete description here: Lawrence County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Lawrence County, Arkansas family biographies here: Lawrence County, Arkansas Biographies

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