John Laffoon West and Family


John Laffoon and Permelia Emaline (Fancher) West were my great-great-great-grandparents. They certainly lived colorful lives. He was an early pioneer settler of Miller Co., MO, but left the county and fled to Illinois, evidently around the time that Civil War bushwhackers burned down his house. He and his family then resettled in Crawford Co., MO.

People have confused John Laffoon West with another John West in Leasburg, Crawford Co., MO, who was called “Peg” because of his wooden leg. They were in no way related, except that there was one intermarriage between these families.

John Laffoon West was born in SC on 4 Jun 1811. He is said to have been born in Pendleton District, and to have been a son of Abner and Sarah (Laffoon) West. Abner West is said to have been born about 1772/1775 in York District, SC and is believed to have died around 1840 in Missouri. His wife Sarah (Laffoon) West is believed to have been born about 1784/1786 in SC and to have died 10 Mar 1855 in Richwoods Twp., Miller Co., MO. Abner and Sarah lived in Hopkins Co., KY before coming to MO, if indeed they ever made it that far west. At least one source asserts that Abner West came to MO in 1807, but he appears to be listed in the 1820 census in Hopkins Co., KY (3-1-0-0-1-0 / 1-1-0-1-0). This census listing suggests a head of household aged 26-45 and wife aged 26-45, which fits with the presumed data.

John’s brother William West is believed to have been the “first white settler” in Miller Co., MO. Several sources refer to his body having become petrified after he was buried alongside a road. His body was supposedly recovered during later roadwork and exhibited in a museum. Evidently several other petrified humans were exhibited in various places in the U.S. during the 19th century, as mentioned in various newspaper accounts.

Another brother of John Laffoon West was Thomas Woodson West, who was born around 1822 at Ilsley, Hopkins Co., KY. He married Barbara E. Rothwell.


His father in the census

John Laffoon West’s father Abner West appeared in the 1810 census in Pendleton District, South Carolina, on the same page as the household of Abner West’s father-in-law William Laffoon. John Laffoon West was not, however, born by this time.


Included in his father’s census listing

John Laffoon West’s father Abner West appeared in the 1820 census in Hopkins County, Kentucky. John was born by this time, so he should be among the three free white males aged under 10 who were counted in the household. The household of the widow of Abner West’s father-in-law William Laffoon appears in the same county. (The household is listed as that of William Laffoon, but with no males in the household. The woman aged 45 or older was presumably William Laffoon’s widow.) The 1810 and 1820 census listings show that the William Laffoon family moved from Pendleton District, South Carolina as did the Abner West family.


Included in his father’s census listing

John Laffoon West’s father Abner West appeared in the 1830 census in Hopkins County, Kentucky. John would have been about 19 by then, so he may have been the individual counted in the fourth column, for those aged 15 to 20. Although other Laffoons (Rutherford and Washington) are listed in Hopkins Co., KY in the 1830 census, the name of William Laffoon has disappeared from the census in Hopkins Co. by this time.


Election petition

Miller County was organized 6 Feb 1837, almost exactly three years before John and Permelia’s marriage. One of the earliest records that have been located regarding John Laffoon West in Missouri is dated 18 October 1837. John Laffoon West signed a petition on that date for an election to be held on his side of the Osage River to avoid travel over rough and wild terrain.


Land acquisition

According to land records abstracted by Mrs. Blodwest Boyle, John Laffoon West acquired land in 1838 in Section 28, Township 41, Range 13 in Miller Co., MO. The Osage River runs right through the middle of this section, which, at least in later years, was known as Jim Henry Township. The section is south of Mary’s Home.

Road petition

As the West family made their home in Miller County, they were living on the frontier and life was hard. This is reflected in the following quote from a petition for the establishment of a road in Miller County in 1838:

. . . for we think it not of good utility to go up dog creek, and we find it to be all most an endless job to cut threw them swamps and thickets and beware of turdles & reptiles. . . .


Investment in Mount Pleasant

The town of Mount Pleasant in Miller County was laid out in 1837.  The enterprise went under due to debt brought on by depression.  Miller County residents began to buy back the proposed town’s land in 1839, and one of these purchasers was John Laffoon West.  According to land records abstracted by Mrs. Blodwest Boyle, he acquired land in Mt. Pleasant in 1839.  That land was located in Section 25, Township 42, Range 15.  A 1930 plat map shows this section as being located in Saline Township east of Etterville and south of Spring Garden.


Marriage to Permelia Emaline Fancher

John Laffoon West married Permelia Emaline Fancher in 3 Feb 1840 in Miller Co., MO, according to a book of marriage records in the courthouse in Tuscumbia, Miller Co., MO. Evidently she was pregnant at the time. In that year, the county’s population was 2,282.

Permelia appears to have perhaps been a daughter of Gray (Grey) Bynum Fancher and his first wife, Celia Matlock. Others believe she was more probably a daughter of Gray Bynum Fancher’s brother Isaac Fancher.

Strong family tradition asserts that after the death of John Laffoon West in 1869, Permelia joined her daughter Livonia Givens (West) Griffith, my great-great-grandmother, in the general area of Waco, TX to be with relatives. This is where Gray Bynum was living late in life.

A biography of one of Gray Bynum Fancher’s sons published in 1892 refers to the parents of Gray Bynum Fancher as having been Richard Fancher and his wife “nee” Patsy Gray. “Nee” means, of course, that she was born Patsy Gray.

1840 census

After his marriage in 1840 but within the same year, John Laffoon West appears in the federal census as residing in Richwoods Twp., Miller Co., MO. His age at the time was between 20 and 30 years. Also in the same household was a female, aged 15-20, who we can identify as his wife Permelia Emaline (Fancher) West. John was involved in agriculture at the time:

Males: 1 at least age 20 but under age 30
Females: 1 at least age 15 but under age 20
Total in household: 2
No. employed in agriculture: 1


Service as state representative

John Laffoon West served as state representative in the 12th General Assembly from Miller County, Missouri in 1842. He succeeded the first representative, Edmund Wilkes, from that county. (The census enumerator in 1840 for Miller County appears to have been the same Edmund Wilkes.)


Land acquisition

According to records abstracted by Mrs. Blodwen Boyle, John Laffoon West acquired Miller Co., MO land in Section 6, Township 41, Range 12, and Section 5, Township 41, Range 12. In a 1930 plat map, this section appears in the northwest corner of Jim Henry Township, northwest of Mary’s Home.


Ear mark

In 1849 in Miller Co., MO, a livestock ear mark was recorded for John L. West: ” . . . a smooth crop and a split in the right ear and a crop and upper bit in the left ear and directs the same be entered of record the 29th December 1849 . . . . ” (Book of Marks and Brands, 1837-1856).

Land patent

The following land patent was issued by the federal land office in Clinton, MO to John L. West of Miller Co., MO on 1 Aug 1849 for land in Miller Co.:

  • Certificate number 28,266 for 40 acres in NW 1/4 of NW 1/4 of Section 11, Township 39, Range 13


1850 census

The John Laffoon West family appears in Miller County in the 1850 census:

John West age 31 (37?), male, farmer, born in SC, property worth $500
Permelia West age 26, female, born in TN
Josephine West age 8, female, born in MO
Susan West age 6, female, born in MO
Caroline? West age 3, female, born in MO
Mary West age 6 mos., female, born in MO
Martha Watson age 18, female, born in IL
Joab Watson age 17, male, born in IL
Elizabeth Watson age 14, female, born in IL
Hanah Watson age 8, female, born in MO

(NOTE: Josephine, Joab, and Hanah (Hannah) attended school during the census year.)


In addition to appearing in the 1850 census, John L. West appears in Miller Co., MO records in that year as guardian of an individual or individual listed as “minors” with the surname of Watson.   As noted above, the 1850 census shows Martha, Joab, Elizabeth, and Hanah living in the same household.


Land patent

The following land patent was issued by the federal land office in Clinton, MO to John L. West of Miller Co., MO on 1 Feb 1851 for land in Miller Co.:

  • Certificate number 29707 for 40 acres in SW 1/4 of SW 1/4 of Section 2, Township 39, Range 13. In a 1930 plat map, this section appears as just barely southeast of Ulman.


Land patent

The following land patent was issued by the federal land office in Clinton, MO to John L. West of Miller Co., MO on 15 May 1852 for land in Miller Co.:

  • Certificate number 31310 for 40 acres in NW 1/4 of SW 1/4 of Section 2, Township 39, Range 13. In a 1930 plat map, this section appears as just barely southeast of Ulman.


State Supreme Court case

John Laffoon West was a respondent in an 1855 Missouri Supreme Court case from Miller Co. involving William A. Shelton et al. This was a civil case regarding an action on debt. Records are in the State Archives in Folder 3, Box 208, location 16A/6/1.


Land patent

The following land patent was issued by the federal land office in Warsaw, MO to John L. West of Miller Co., MO on 1 Apr 1857 for land in Miller Co.:

  • Certificate number 48,053 for 119.14 acres in SE 1/4 of SE 1/4 and E 1/4 of Lot 1 of NE 1/4 of Section 3; and W 1/2 of Lot 1 of NW 1/4 of Section 2, Township 39, Range 13. On a 1930 plat map, Section 2 appears just barely southeast of Ulman, and Section 3 just barely southwest of Ulman.


Land patents

The following land patents were issued by the federal land office in Warsaw, MO to John L. West of Miller Co., MO on 1 Jun 1859 for land in Miller Co.:

  • Graduation A.F. certificate number 55,009 for 40 acres in NW 1/4 of NE 1/4 of Section 11, Township 39, Range 13. Section 11 is the next section immediately to the south of Section 2, which has been mentioned above as well as in the next listing.
  • Graduation A.F., certificate number 54, 414 for 39.27 acres in W 1/2 of Lot 2 of NW 1/4 of Section 2, Township 39, Range 13. Section 2 appears on a 1930 plat map as just barely southeast of Ulman.
  • Graduation A.F. certificate number 54,419 for 120 acres in E 1/2 of SW 1/4, Section 2, and NW 1/4 of SW 1/4, Section 11, Township 39, Range 13. Section 11 is the next section immediately to the south of Section 2, which has been mentioned in above listings.


1860 census

John Laffoon West was living in the Iberia area of Miller Co., MO in 1860. In the 1860 census, John Laffoon West is listed with his household as follows, in Richwoods Township, Iberia Post Office, Miller County, Missouri, 4 July 1860:

John L. West age 46, farmer, real estate value $7000, personal property value $4125, born SC
Permelia E. West age 36, born TN
Susan C. West age 16, born MO
Satira A. West age 13, born MO
Mary O. West age 11, born MO
Livonia G. West age 7, born MO
John C.C. West age 4, born MO
Byron P. West age 3, born MO
“Baby” West age 3? mos., born MO

(Evidently “Baby” was Binum Melvin West, who would have been about 3 months old.)

Road commissioner

Also in 1860 in Miller Co., MO, John L. West was one of three commissioners responsible for seeing that a state road was surveyed and established, going from the Iberia Post Office and across the Osage River to Hickory Hill.

Land patents

The following land patents were issued by the federal land office in Warsaw, MO to John L. West of Miller Co., MO on 1 Jun 1860 for land in Miller Co.:

  • Certificate number 60020 for 40 acres in NE 1/4 of NE 1/4 of Section 11, Township 39, Range 13. Section 11 has been mentioned above, and is immediately south of Section 2, which in turn is immediately southeast of Ulman.
  • Certificate number 60021, for 40 acres in SW 1/4 of NE 1/4, Section 11, Township 39, Range 13. (See previous listing for location.)


Civil War squabbles

In the spring of 1861, Miller County’s State Guard companies were led by Confederate sympathizers. The secessionist State Guard at Iberia in Miller Co., MO included my great-great-great grandfather John Laffoon West. (It is interesting to note that one of the companies of militia organized in the fall of 1862 in neighboring Maries County was led by an unidentified Captain West.)

The members of this guard threatened the Union residents of Richwoods Twp., Miller Co., MO. They told them they needed to swear an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. The guard went door to door, requiring residents to swear allegiance. Those who refused were told they would need to move out of Miller Co.

This Confederate guard was later pursued by William Carroll Brumley and his men. Brumley was a Union lieutenant colonel. When they arrived in Iberia, Miller Co., MO, they captured John Laffoon West and his friend Wright Shelton at a local store where they were buying tobacco and other provisions.

Brumley and his men stripped West and Shelton of their clothes and shoes, telling them that if they ever saw them again they would skin them alive. Eventually, some men found John Laffoon West and Wright Shelton south of Iberia, where they were naked and shivering.

A bit later, Mark H. Whitaker stopped Brumley while he was on his way to a mill, and asked to speak to him. Whitaker, who was born about 1842, was the oldest son of John Laffoon West’s brother-in-law Thomas W. Whitaker.

Brumley walked out of the mill house and began to talk in a pleasant way to Whitaker. In the course of the conversation, Brumley happened to mention John L. West and Wright Shelton in a way that offended Mark Whitaker.

As a result, Whitaker threatened to kill Brumley with a rock, and said that if he had his revolver he would have used it on him. The fight broke up, however, and Brumley went back into the mill house while Whitaker went to the carding machine.

Later on, Brumley again walked outside. This time he was carryng an iron bar. Whitaker went to the creek to get rocks. Finally, Whitaker called Brumley over to talk. The two made up, shook hands. Then Mark Whitaker then told Carroll Brumley that he had been hired to kill him, but that he would not do it.

Brumley tried to get Whitaker to say who hired him to kill Brumley, but he refused. Finally, Whitaker pulled a revolver out of his clothing. Whitaker admitted that it was John Laffoon West and Wright Shelton who hired Whitaker to kill Brumley. They told him they would give him a mule and saddle, the revolver, and $300.

Land acquisition

Bounty land was reassigned to John L. West by the federal land office in Warsaw, MO on 1 Aug 1861 for 80 acres in Miller Co., MO as follows:

  • Warrant number 48,740 was granted to Harriet Griffin, widow of John Griffin. Griffin had been a private in Capt. Ellis’ Company of the Tennessee Militia in the War of 1812. Harriet Griffin then assigned this land to John L. West. The land was located in W 1/2 of SE 1/4 of Section 3, Township 39, Range 13. This section is immediately southwest of Ulman.


Forced to swear Union allegiance

A letter dated 14 Feb 1862 authorized attorney John L. West to assign names of several people, including Thomas W. Whitaker, to bonds before the Provost Marshal at Rolla, Pulaski Co., MO:

We Joseph Johnson, Henry Brockman, Wm. P. Gardner, James M. Castleman & Thos W. Whitaker of the County of Miller State of Missouri hereby authorize and empower John L. West of the County and State of Missouri aforesaid as our true and lawful attorney ro assign our names and each of our names to any bond required by the provost Marshal at Rolla State of Missouri, or other United States officer, Either for the good conduct and faithful performance of the said John L. West as a legal citizen of the United States of America, or for his appearance before said provost Marshal, at any time or for his appearance before any other officer or c[unreadable] at any time or place he may be required so to appear by said Provost Marshal or other United States authorities, said West being now under recognizance for his appearance at said post of Rolla on the 30th Febry 1862 and we respectively and solemnly swear we are worth in personal property & Real Estate, respectively the amount set opposite our respective names – to wit –
Joseph Johnson $2400.00
Henry Brockman $1200.00
Wm. P. Gardner $2100.00
James M. Castleman $[unreadable due to ink smudge; looks like perhaps 2000.00]
Thos W. Whitaker $2100.00
Given under our hand and Seal this 14th day of Feby 1862 [signed]
Joseph Johnson
Henry Brockman
W.P. Gardner
James M. Castleman
T.W. Whitaker
Daniel Cummings
Sworn to & Subscribed before me the Clerk of the County Court in and for Miller County Missouri this 14th February AD 1862

Witness my hand and official Seal at office day & year aforesaid
E. B. Farley Clerk

State of Missouri

County of Miller

On this 14th day of February A.D. 1862 before me the under signed Clerk of the Circuit Court in and for said County of Miller personally came Joseph Johnson Henry Brockman Wm. P. Gardner James M. Castleman Thos. W. Whitaker and Daniel Cummings, who are personally Known to me to be the persons whose names are subscribed to the foregoing power of attorney as having executed the same and Severally acknowledge the same to be their act and deed for the uses and purposes therein mentioned

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my official Seal at office in Tuscumbia this 14th day of February A D 1867
E. B. Farley Clerk

The following additional document was found in the Provost Marshal papers:

Know all men by these presents that we J. L. West as principal and Joseph Johnson Henry Brockman Wm P Gardner James M Castleman and Thomas W. Whitaker as securities are held and firmly bound unto the Commander of the Department of the Missouri of the U.S. Army, in the sum of Two thousand Dollars, for the true payment of which we bind ourselves our heirs executors and administrators firmly by these presents, upon this condition that if the said John L. West who has taken this oath of allegiance to the U.S. before the Provose Marshall at the Post Rolla Mo. shall be and remain a true & Loyal citizen of the U.S. and shall not take up arms against the same or give aid & comfort to the enimies there in any manner whatever, then this bond to be void otherwise to remain in full force and effect. In witness whereof we hereto subscribe our names and affix our seals this 20th day of Feby. 1862 [signed]
J. L. West
Joseph Johnson
Wm P gardner
James M Castleman
Thos W Whitaker

One more document was also found. This one used a printed form. Only the names, dates, and places were filled in, while the rest was printed. One must certainly question to what extent he signed this “freely and voluntarily:”

Office of the Provost Marshal, for the South Western District, Rolla Mo Feb 1862

The undersigned solemnly swears that he will bear true faith and allegiance to the Government of the United States of America, and support the Constitution thereof, as the supreme law of the land; that he will never take up arms against said Government, or those who may be acting under the authority, that he will never, by word, act or deed, knowingly give aid or comfort, or in any manner encourage armed opposition to the Government of the United States, but that, on the contrary, he will do all in his power as a citizen to prevent such opposition, and to discourage the same wherever it is being made. He makes this oath freely and voluntarily, with no mental reservation or restrictions whatever, honestly intending at all times hereafter to keep the same, in spirit as well as in letter, and to conduct himself as a peaceful law-abiding citizen of the United States. This I do solemnly swear so help me God [signed]
J. L. West
Sworn to before me this 20th day of Feb 1862 [signed]


Indictment for robbery

John L. West was indicted by the Miller Co., Circuit Court for robbery (still during the war) in Apr 1863, according to an Internet researcher. That individual says that a $500 bond was posted by his brother-in-law Thomas W. Whitaker. I attempted to read this on microfilm supplied by the MO State Archives, but found it, for the most part, to be unreadable. The document is found on p. 130 of the Miller Circuit Court records for April Session, 1863.

Civil War Period

John L. West and the bushwhackers

According to family tradition, around the time of the Civil War he freed his slaves and sent them away, but they kept coming back for food. Because of this, he was repeatedly harrassed by Union troops. According to a descendant, he was put in jail in Rolla, MO for a time for this reason, and he went to IL until after the war ended. A family tradition asserts that he owned 16 slaves and that the best cost $1600. In 1859, however, the Miller Co. Assessor recorded that he owned 2 slaves for a total value of $1600. (There were only 214 slaves in the entire county). In 1860 he had 2 slaves worth $1400 together, and in 1862 only 1, worth only $100).

According to my grandmother, the family’s home was burned by bushwhackers. John’s wife Permelia told the men who burned down their home, “Surely you would not deny me some cracklings for the children.” When they allowed her to go to the smokehouse to get them, she filled the apron with the cracklings, but underneath was gold she had hidden in the smokehouse. As a result, she was able to gather the gold with the cracklings, undetected in her apron. The family had also hidden blankets in a dry cistern. In this way, after their house was burned, they were able to return and retrieve the blankets. With the blankets and gold, they made their way out of Miller Co. Although this story is not documented, it is clear that Miller Co. was heavily besieged by bushwhackers who continued to operate there until 1874.

After fleeing from Miller Co., MO and before resettling in Crawford Co., MO, the family spent time in IL. Evidently they spent several years there, long enough for Permelia to give birth to daughter Martha Ellen West and to become pregnant with son Edward Laffoon West. They appear to have spent at least part of their time in IL in Sangamon Co., since the death certificate for John’s grandson Floyd W. Haley, son of John’s daughter Martha Ellen (West) Haley, says that Martha Ellen was born there. A family story asserts that on the way back to MO, because John’s pregnant wife could not travel any further, they rented the General Grant farm in St. Louis Co., MO, and as a result son Edward Laffoon West was born in Grant’s Cabin (which still stands). This may sound unlikely, especially because of the family’s Confederate orientation, but it might have been possible. Although the cabin remained in Grant family hands until 1885, General Grant’s immediate family appears to have moved out of the cabin in 1857. Edward’s death certificate does indeed say that he was born in St. Louis County, where the family was not otherwise known to have resided. The story further asserts that they then came through Leasburg, Crawford Co., MO, where they stopped to see relatives, and ended up settling there.

By 1869, the family had resettled in Crawford Co. In December of that year, Miller County experienced a mass exodus of South Carolinians from Miller County to the more hospitable environment of Crawford County. John L. West, however, moved to Crawford County at least a bit earlier, as he was there by June of that year.


Death of John Laffoon West

John Laffoon West died on 7 Jun 1869 near Leasburg, Crawford Co., MO. He was buried near Leasburg in Lea Cemetery.


Widow in 1870 census

John’s widow Permelia Emaline (Fancher) West appears in the 1870 census in Liberty Twp., Crawford Co., MO, with post office at Cuba. She is listed with her children.


Widow in 1880 census

John’s widow Permelia Emaline (Fancher) West appears in the 1880 census in Liberty Twp., Crawford Co., MO. She is listed with her children and with six boarders listed as railroad workers.


Presumed death of widow

John’s widow Permelia Emaline (Fancher) West does not appear in the 1900 census in Crawford Co., MO. She is believed to have moved to Texas and to have died there between the 1880 census and the 1900 census.

Children of John Laffoon and Permelia Emaline (Fancher) West

Thomas Hampton Benton West
  • Born 11 May 1840 Miller Co., MO
  • Died 11 Oct 1840 Miller Co., MO
Samantha Josephine West
  • Born 4 Jun 1842 Miller Co., MO
  • Married 17 Oct 1858 to Anderson W. Shelton, who was born abt 1837 in TN
  • Died Feb 1864
Susan Caroline West
  • Born 27 Nov 1844 Miller Co., MO
  • Married 24 Dec 1863 to William DeKalb Rowden, who was born 7 May 1845 in Maries Co., MO and who died 16 Oct 1921 in Tavern Twp., Pulaski Co., MO
  • Died 19 Apr 1933 at Crocker, Pulaski Co., MO, bur. Crocker Memorial Cemetery
Satyra Adeline West
  • Born 9 Sep 1847 Miller Co., MO
  • Married 2 Jun 1861 Miller Co., MO to Jordan A. Allen
  • Died 16 Jul 1866
Mary Olivia West
  • Born Mar 1850 Miller Co., MO
  • Married 1866 to Thomas Reed, who was born abt 1846 in Miller Co., MO
  • Died 15 Nov 1869
Livonia Givens West
  • My great-great-grandmother
  • Her middle name was “Givens,” not “Given” as someone once spelled it and as it has been copied and recopied on the Internet. Middle names of nineteenth century individuals were often derived from the surnames of neighboring families. Note that at least eight separate households headed by individuals named “Givens” (and never “Given”) appear in the 1830 census in Hopkins Co., KY. The household of Abner West, John Laffoon West’s father, is also listed in the same county at the time.
  • Born 16 Dec 1852 Miller Co., MO
  • Married 14 May 1871 in the home of her mother, Permelia Emaline (Fancher) West, near Leasburg, Crawford Co., MO, to Charles Wesley Griffith; he was born 28 Feb 1846 near Columbus, Franklin Co., OH and died 27 Aug 1912 in Albuquerque, Bernalillo Co., NM
  • Died 1 Jan 1916 Linn Co., OR, buried Ranier, OR
John C. Calhoun West
  • Born 13 Jun 1854 Miller Co., MO
  • Married (1) 4 Feb 1877 at Leasburg, Crawford Co., MO to Mary Elizabeth Felilica (“Libby”) West, who was born 15 May 1859 at sea off the coast of Canada and who died 4 Mar 1893 (no relation; dau. of George and Harriet (Birkett) West; George West was born in Lincolnshire, England)
  • Married (2) abt 1896 to Jennie Weatherly, who was born Mar 1868 in TN and who died 1941
  • Died 2 Sep 1925 Liberty Twp., Crawford Co., MO of tuberculosis, buried Lea Cemetery near Leasburg
Byron Perry West (called Perry)
  • Born abt 1856/1858 Miller Co., MO
  • Died 6 Sep 1902 Leasburg, Crawford Co., MO of consumption (tuberculosis), buried Lea Cemetery near Leasburg (One source says he died 5 Sep 1909, probably based on a tombstone in Lea Cemetery in Leasburg, for a “Perry West” who died on that date, but that Perry West was born 10 Feb 1843, too early to be the correct person.)
Bynum Melvin West
  • Born 22 Mar 1860 Miller Co., MO
  • Married (1) 3 Aug 1887 Leasburg, Crawford Co., MO to Eliza Jane Weatherly who was born 14 Jan 1870 in TN
  • Married (2) 1899 Crawford Co., MO to Mary Lea (Lea was her surname), who was born 13 Jun 1864 or 1865 in MO and who died 30 Oct 1933 Liberty Twp., Crawford Co., MO of lobar pneumonia, bur. Lea Cemetery near Leasburg
  • Died 4 May 1933 Leasburg, Crawford Co., MO of chronic endocarditis, bur. Lea Cemetery near Leasburg
Martha Ellen West (called Mattie)
  • Born 1862 or 1863 Sangamon Co., IL
  • Married John Monroe Haley, who was born 24 Apr 1854 Lawrence Co., MO and died 22 Mar 1916 Liberty Twp., Crawford Co., MO of tuberculosis, buried Lea Cemetery
  • Living in Fresno, CA in 1925
  • Died 7 Oct 1942
Edward Laffoon West
  • Born 19 Jan 1866 in St. Louis Co., MO (according to tradition, he was born in Gen. Grant’s cabin; see discussion above)
  • Married 8 Jul 1888 Leasburg, Crawford Co., MO to Frances Weatherly, who was born 14 Jan 1870 TN and who died 22 Aug 1937 Sullivan, Franklin Co., MO of cardiac dilitation, bur. Lea Cemetery near Leasburg
  • Died 3 Sep 1931 Barnes Hospital, St. Louis, MO, bur. Lea Cemetery near Leasburg, Crawford Co., MO

See the comments by clicking on the comment button below.

11 responses to “John Laffoon West and Family

  1. It was always told to me that John Laffoon West actually only “owned” 2 or 3 slaves but that he frequently leased more from other slaveowners. This was a common practice and would account for the difference in numbers in the census. There was an article published a few years ago about this in “The Missouri Historical Review”.

  2. Has anyone from this West family tree been dna tested on the WestDNA site run by Dennis West? If so did they match any of the family groups. My West line was in Pulaski Co. Mo in 1840 census under Jeptha
    West. Also, in Dade Co. Mo under Isham and William Y. West.

  3. Gwen Bilbrey-Reynolds

    Thank you so much for all your hard work! Gwen Bilbrey-Reynolds

  4. John Lafoon West is my great,great,great,great grandfather.
    father of John Calhoon,of Pearl Earnest,of Floyd Edward,of Nadine Naomi,of Judy Byrd.I’m Shawn F Pryor.

  5. John Laffoon West was my Great-great Grandfather. My Great Grandfather was Bynum Melvin (Mel) West. My Grandfather was John Cecil West and my father is the youngest child of John (Cecil), Alvin Lee West. My full name is Alvin Lee West Jr. I appreciate the info provided here and would welcome any inquries about our common ancestors that I can provide.
    -A. Lee West Jr.-

    • Mr. West,

      Do you have a photo of William West, brother of John West, you could email me? I am president of the Miller County Historical Society and would like to add a photo of William to our files as he was our earliest settler. You can visit our website at

      Thank you.

      Joe Pryor

      • Susan Benson Laffoon

        I am interested in finding any living relatives of Van Carl Laffoon (the family once resided at 233 Wisconsin Ave., NE , in Albuquerque). Please contac my Email address.

      • Sorry but I have no photos of William West. I am looking to find out which West was the Captain West of the Missouri Militia in Maries or Miller County. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
        Lee West

      • I would also like to know about Capt. West. Answers might be in the Provost Marshall papers at the Missouri State Archives in Jefferson City.

  6. You said that “despite stories indicating that Richard’s wife was Patsy Gray, there is no proof of that at all,” but (1) you didn’t cite any proof of alternative parentage, and (2) no one mentioned Gray Bynum and Martha Hampton. In addition, (3) I am unable to see the relevance of the statement about Sarah moving with son James to Arkansas and being buried there.
    The 19th century biographical account was most likely the result of interviewing family members. Perhaps the family was mistaken about its own ancestry. Maybe your assertions are entirely correct. I know, however, of no proof to support your assertions, and you didn’t provide any.
    If you do have documentation, would you please share it with us? You made a number of claims in your post. You may be entirely correct. You attacked a 19th century biography, however, as being incorrect, stating that there’s “no proof of that at all,” while you haven’t shared with us any proof of anything.
    If you have documentation pertaining to my great-great-great grandmother Permelia’s move to Miller County, Missouri, I sure wish you’d show it to me. If you can provide documentation for your other statements, other than the fact that Sarah is buried in Arkansas, I’m sure you would make many family historians very happy.

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