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Below is a family biography included in The History of Warren County, Tennessee published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1887.  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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William H. Magness was born in Warren County, Tenn., February 15, 1824. Being reared on a farm his education was limited to the meager advantages of the free schools. At twenty he was engaged as salesman in a dry goods store at Smithville, De Kalb Co., Tenn. In 1845 he commenced business at the same place on his own account, continuing at this with much success until 1881 when he moved to McMinnville. With the profits of his trade together with valuable tanning interests he was enabled to invest largely in the stock of several of the leading banks in the State. In 1874 he established the National Bank of McMinnville. At the organization he was elected president which position he has held with honor ever since. On the 25th of June, 1845, he was married to Miss E. J. West of DeKalb County, and it is to her habits of industry, prudence and economy that he attributes much of his success. There were born to them seven children, four of whom are now living: W. H., Edgar, Ella and Cordelia, wife of Judge Smallman. Strict habits of exercise and temperance have given him a robust constitution and his general health is good. His sons are connected with the national bank, W. H., Jr., being assistant cashier and Edgar bookkeeper. The father of our subject, P. G. Magness, was born in Spartanburg, S. C., in 1796. He moved to Warren County when twelve years of age and at eighteen was married to Mary Cantrell. The result of the union was twelve children. His father was a farmer, merchant and trader and secured a fair competency of this world’s goods. He was remarkable for his unexampled energy and perseverance. He was a thorough Democrat and a strict member of the Baptist Church. His death occurred on March 1, 1884. It was quite a pleasure to this exemplary man to watch, in his old age, the multiplication and growth of the large family he had founded; and it was truly an object of gratification for there were born in direct line from him over 600 children, grandchildren, great-grand and great-great-grandchildren. Mr. Magness is a Democrat in politics and an influential member of the Missionary Baptist Church; he is also a Past Master Mason. He wishes particularly to exhort the young men to be temperate. Then he thinks it will be revealed to them more clearly the wise words: “Do justice and love mercy.”

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This family biography is one of 55 biographies included in The History of Warren County, Tennessee published in 1887.  The History of Warren County was included within The History of Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Warren & White Counties of Tennessee. For the complete description, click here: History of Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Warren, White Counties of Tennessee

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