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James & Rachel Ann (Sons) Wasson

My Grandmother Margaret came from a family that came to America in the early 18th century from Germany. The family name, Wasserman, was changed to Wasson by her great great grandfather, Isaiah, when he arrived in Philadelphia in 1740. For reasons unknown he migrated six years later to North Carolina. One of his sons, John, born 1776, migrated from Carolina to Chicago in 1799, and one of his sons, Joseph, born 1813, moved to St.Louis 1835 where he became a brewmeister. Margaret's father, James M. Wasson, was born in St. Louis in 1847.

When he was twenty, James had to decide between cheap land in southern Missouri and following his father's footstep in the brewery business in St. Louis. He decided to try farming, and nobody in the family knew why. With his father's help he acquired a section of land east of Seligman, land which touched the Missouri-Arkansas border. Seligman, named after the railroad baron, was a community like Washburn that the new St. Louis—San Francisco Railroad (The Frisco") was to traverse. James then married Rachel Ann Sons from St. Louis in 1869, and the two of them moved to Seligman and built a home on their land.

Rachel was the daughter of Louisa Gibson, whose brother was Charles Dana Gibson, the artist who created the famous, popular and idealized American girl of the 1890s, The Gibson Girl.

James was a terrible and uninterested and lazy farmer, but also the land he had purchased was so rocky and hi that even an excellent and dedicated farmer would fail to make a living on it. His land, now covered by a huge interstate lake, was more for recreational not occupational purposes. I am sure he said, "Now they tell me;" or "I should have looked first."

In 1870 he gave up farming, borrowed money from his father, and opened a general merchandise and grocery store in Seligman, calling it simply "The Wasson Dry Goods and Grocery Store." His store was only half the size of the Windes Store five miles north in Washburn, but he made a respectable living from it. He operated the store from 1871 until his early death in 1904, age fifty-seven, in a train and buggy accident south of town. Nobody could ever tell me just what happened. Either the train hit him at a crossing, or the horse became afraid and ran away, overturning the buggy. Fortunately, all the children were adults and on their own. Ironically, his two sons, James and Elbert, had at the time of the accident only recently left to work and live in San Francisco, and there was nobody in the family to take over the store. Rachel Sons Wasson sold it a year after James died. Rachel lived to be 90 years old and divided her time between Seligman and St. Louis.

Incredibly, from 1870 to 1888 James and Rachel had twelve children, eleven who survived.

 

 

 

 

 

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