Biography of Major J. Steele

The subject of this article was one of the first settlers on the Central ridge and now he is the possessor of one of the finest ranches in the County. He owns two hundred and forty acres of well tilled and fertile land, all improved in good shape with fences, orchard, commodious barns and out buildings, while the modern ten room residence is a structure of beauty and one of the best in the County.

Much credit is due Mr. Steele for the energy and push manifested in developing the country and he is a leading citizen today. His parents, William M. and Nancy (Wallis) Steele, were early pioneers of Missouri and the father is living in Moberly now, aged eighty-four. He has been in the state seventy-two years and for thirty-four farmed near Moberly. He was born December 30, 1819, near Lexington, Kentucky. The mother of our subject was born in 1822, in the Blue Mountains and came to Howard County, Missouri, with her parents in 1830. She was married in 1840 and in 1853 they removed to Randolph County, where our subject was born on January 13, 1856. His mother died on August 28, 1873, having been the mother of nine children, five of whom are living.

Our subject grew to be twenty in the native place, having received a common schooling and then he entered Mount Pleasant College and one year later began teaching. Following a period at this, he entered the State Normal School, taking a two years’ course. This was at Kirksville, Missouri. He followed the calling of the educator for a number of years, then took the management of a wholesale lumber company in Kansas City. On account of failing health in subsequent years, he was forced to abandon this labor and in 1892 came west. He bought the paper afterward known as the Times Democrat, which he operated in Moscow for a time and then sold. Then farming occupied Mr. Steele until 1895. The year previous to this he was nominated by the fusionist party as state superintendent of instruction, but suffered defeat with the rest, although he was ahead of the ticket. In March, 1896, Mr. Steele located the present estate, which has been increased by purchase to two hundred and forty acres.

On April 10, 1890, Mr. Steele married Miss Cora B., daughter of Josephus and Jennie Lentz, in Richmond, Missouri. Two children were born to this happy union, but both died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Lentz were early pioneers in Ray County, Missouri. Mr. Steele has done a commendable labor in up building and developing this section of the country and he is marked by a progressive energy and a public spirit that stamp him a real leader.

Back to: Nez Perce Biographies

Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903

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