William H. Berry August 10, 1848 - January 31, 1917
William H. Berry, ca. 1880s
(Photo courtesy of the Berry Family)
William Berry wedding photo 1866
(William H. Berry, ca. 1880s (Photo courtesy of the Berry Family)
William Huston Berry's early life is difficult to trace. His death certificate states that he was born on August 10, 1848, in West Virginia. Census records variously list his birthplace as Arkansas, Tennessee, or Virginia. Though his consistently Southern origin and his birth year would tend to suggest he was born a slave, Berry family tradition says that William was always free, and that he arrived in Ash Grove from parts unknown, driving a team of matched Percherons with brass-studded harnesses. The first known record of William is the 1870 Greene County Census. In that year, he was living near Ash Grove in the house of African-American farmer Jackson Robberson. 21 year-old William was employed as a farmhand. He claimed no real estate but valued his personal estate at $250. On November 24, 1872, in the town of Stockton, William married Caroline Boone of Cedar County, Missouri. In 1875, he purchased 10 acres of land on the southern boundary of Ash Grove from Ransom Perryman. In 1880, William was listed as a farmer, living within the village of Ash Grove with his wife, mother-in-law, and three young children. One year later, William purchased 40 acres west of Ash Grove from the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad for $300. William and Caroline had seven children together before her death in 1914 at age 64. William died of pneumonia at his home on January 31, 1917, at age 68 (Russel 2012).
Grave marker: The Grave marker for William H. Berry is a pulpit style marble monument on a marble upper base and limestone lower base. Excluding the two-part base, the monument is 41 x 18 x 8 inches in size. The two-part base is 18 x 28 x 18 inches in size. Text and an image incorporating palms, pillars, a gate, a walkway, and an anchor symbol are engraved on the west face of the monument. A relief of an open bible forms the top of the marker. An image of a dove is engraved on the upper south side and north side of the monument. By 2010, the upper part of the monument had detached from the lower part. In 2017, through a grant from the Phenix Marble Company, the upper part was re-set on the base. The marker is now in relatively good condition.
West face of monument
Text on west face of headstone:
WM. H. BERRY AUG. 10, 1848 JAN. 31, 1917
The monument for William Berry in 2010, before repair.
Image engraved above text on west face of monument. Drawing by Allison Tiller.
Footstone engraved "W.H.B."
Fr. Moses Berry stands between the monument for William Berry (left of Fr. Moses) and Caroline Berry (right of Fr. Moses).