Richard Tolliver Southard: A Resilient Life

For many years I have been drawn to the story of my third great uncle, Richard Tolliver Southard (1844-1934). His early life had to have been traumatic, seemingly always in turmoil.  The challenges to his family began before his birth and would last through the early years of his marriage when he and his wife lost three of their four young children.  For much of his life he resided among extended family, but those closest to him seemed to be transitory.  His is a story of pioneer life on the Missouri prairie. 

Richard Tolliver Southard was born on February 12, 1844, in Maries County, Missouri, to Lydia (John) and Aaron Southard.  Lydia and Aaron married on March 2, 1843.  Aaron was born in 1819 in Orange County, North Carolina to Gilliam (1788-1855) and Rebecca Southard.  Lydia was born in November 1824, in McMinn County, Tennessee to Ezekiel (1780-1840) and Lydia (Harrison) John (1778-1860).  Aaron and Lydia made the decision to migrate with a large group of people from McMinn County to the Spanish Needle Prairie, an area that lay in a small corner of modern-day Maries and Crawford Counties in Missouri.

The group included members of the John[1], Southard, Moreland, Chambers, and Hart families.  It is believed that Aaron never made it to Missouri.  The family legend is that Aaron fell off the boat crossing the Mississippi River and drowned.  Lydia, pregnant with Richard, continued the journey as an eighteen-year-old widow.

Following Aaron’s death and the family’s subsequent arrival in Missouri, Lydia met and married Elias Thomas Spencer in 1848.  On June 1, 1850, Elias Spencer was granted a land patent in Crawford County comprised of forty acres:  NW quarter of SW quarter of Section 20 in Township 39 of Range 7W in the District of Lands Subject to Sale at St. Louis, MO.  When the census taker came to the farm in the summer of 1850, he found the young family with two children.  Elias was a 34-year-old farmer from Tennessee with his 26-year-old wife (also from TN) and two children, Richard Southard and WT Spencer (1848-1912).[2]  Their property was valued at $150.


Sister Lydia Louvenia (1851-1877) was born the following year, but tragedy soon would befall the young family.  It is not known how or why, but Lydia and Elias would die sometime before December 1852, according to probate records.  The three young siblings would be divided between relatives.  According to some accounts, Richard lived with his uncle William Southard.[3]  By 1860, however, the 17-year-old was living with A.R. and Mary Coppedge in Maries County.  He was listed as a clerk. A.R. Coppedge is listed as a Merchant.[4] Lydia Louvenia was 8 years old living with M.B. and Mary Johns, also in Maries County. One year old James Moreland is also living with the Johns, making it seem another family might have experienced tragedy.  WT Spencer has not been located in either 1860 or 1870 census, but by 1874 is married to Martha Hough in Laclede County.

The red lines represent the southern commander under whom RT would have served. Source: Trans-Mississippi Civil War. en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain,

When the Civil War broke out, 24-year-old Richard, along with several of his extended family (Hart, Moreland and Southard) joined the Confederate cause.  Richard was mustered in the Confederate Army by 27 June 1861 in Capt. T.J. Phillips’ Company, Bowens Regiment, Missouri Volunteers at Camp Calhoun near Memphis, TN for one year of service.[5]  RT was wounded at Shiloh, one of the fiercest battles of the war fought on April 6-7, 1862.[6]  He was in the hospital in Memphis from April 9th until at least April 30th but was back in the ranks by May.  On December 23, 1862, his records state that he was transferred to the 2nd Kentucky Regiment, “Rec’d pay Bounty and commutation to date.”[7]

A 1926 Laclede County history book by Leo Nyberg has a photo of Richard Southard in the Confederate veterans section with the following text:

Richard T. Southard, near Southard, served in Company E, Tenth Missouri Infantry, Parsons Brigade, of Price’s army.  He saw service mostly in Arkansas. He was captured at the end of twenty-two months and was paroled after taking the oath of allegiance.[8]

Company E of the Tenth Missouri was formed in Maries County and as the map shows, most of the battles were in southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas.[9]

Richard has muster cards (basically attendance records) and was paid by the Confederate Army from June 1861 through December 1862, when the record ends.  His service cards do show that Richard was transferred to the 2nd Kentucky, with no additional information about his service there.  Fold3 has linked Richard Southard’s file with “Richard Southern”, who enlisted July 16, 1861, at Camp Boone, TN for 3 years.  But the record clearly states that Southern was killed in Dallas, GA on 28 May 1864 and thus it is impossible for him to be Richard Tolliver Southard of Maries and Laclede County, Missouri.[10]

Family lore states that Richard joined the Union, was captured, and made to swear an oath and switch sides. He served as a government teamster in the deep South. He was captured again, this time by Union forces and was released after taking the oath. He was later refused a pension, having been labeled as a deserter.[11]  Records, thus far do not support this, although more research is needed.

On December 20, 1866, at age 22 Richard married Margaret Louramey Hart in Phelps Co., Missouri. Margaret was born on February 8, 1848, in Maries County, Missouri to Dennis and Rebecca Jane (Moreland) Hart.  The couple resided in Maries County until 1874 near his uncle Edward Southard’s residence. During this time, Richard and Margaret had four children, only to bury three of them within a year. The children were interred in Rock Spring Cemetery near the future resting place of their uncle. Attempting to leave the pain behind, the family of three relocated to Saint Clair County, Missouri in about 1875. Over the next thirteen years, Margaret would give birth to another eight children; the last three of whom were triplets, two of whom lived for only a short time.[12]

Left to right: Richard T. Southard, John Avery, Lydia Jane, Margaret, Otis Franklin, Thomas Albert, Fred Oscar, James Edward, possibly Margaret’s father Dennis Hart ca. 1888, St. Clair County, MO.

In all, the Southards would have thirteen children:

  1. Permelia Livaney, 1869-1874
  2. William Charlie, 1871-1873
  3. Rosetta, 1874-1874
  4. Darius Tolliver, 1875-1946
  5. John Avery, 1877-1945
  6. Lydia Jane, 1878-1945
  7. James Edward, 1880-1937
  8. Fred Oscar, 1883-1926
  9. Thomas Albert, 1885-1888
  10. Otis Franklin, 1887-1935 (surviving triplet)
  11. Unnamed 1887 (triplet)
  12. Unnamed 1887 (trplet)
  13. Unnamed (date unknown)

Margaret’s brother, James K. Polk Hart married Richard’s sister Lydia Louvenia in 1874, but Lydia would die (likely in childbirth) only three years later at age twenty-six years and twenty-two days. Richard would outlive his parents and sister by many decades.  The little Southard-Spencer family that began in Maries County did not have much of an opportunity to thrive together.  While Richard and his half-brother, WT Spencer lived roughly in the same area in Laclede County from the late 1890s, there is not much proof they stayed in touch, although Reverend William T. Spencer would perform the wedding ceremony of Richard’s daughter Lydia when she married Love Carter.[13] Richard would outlive WT by another two decades.

In about 1893, the family relocated from St. Clair County to Laclede County near the small town of Nebo, where his neighbors would include the many of my ancestors in the Kembel, Barnes, Adams, and Hough families. Richard established a freighting business using teams of horses. He shipped products to and from larger cities utilizing rail stations.[14]

Situated in Section 33, Twp 13, Range 6 in 1897, Richard Southard paid taxes on 115 horses, 5 mules (worth $75), 10 cattle ($75) and 37 hogs. Additionally, Richard had $75 in other personal property, giving him a total of $370 in total value. His state property tax was $.93, base tax per $100 was $.74, County tax paid $1.67, Road tax $.19 for a total tax liability of $3.53.  The Richard Tolliver Southard family, with its seven children, was considered to be quite prosperous for that day. The family resided on a beautiful farm in a large frame house. Both Richard and Margaret are buried at Pine Creek Cemetery in Laclede County.

The family story is poignant; Richard persevered through early hardships, and eventually would thrive with the 55-year marriage to Margaret and their thirteen children, seven of who would survive to adulthood and leave their imprints on the history of Laclede County.  In February 1933, the local newspaper reported a party to celebrate RT’s 89th birthday, attended by many friends and relatives.[15]  Richard Tolliver Southard died on July 13, 1934, in an “unincorporated” area called “Southard” in Laclede County; named for his son and first postmaster, Darius Tolliver Southard.  Southard lies near Nebo where Richard and Margaret settled forty years before, somehow a fitting end to a hard-won life.  Sometimes memories fade, but the spirit of Richard and his family live on in the soil.



[1] John and Johns is used interchangeably.

[2] Elias Spencer, 1850 United States Federal Census, District 24, Crawford, Missouri; Roll: M432_397; Page: 204A; Image: 416, enumerated on 20 August 1850.  Accessed on 29 May 2021 on

[3] Other researchers state that probate records grant guardianship of the children in December 1855.  I have located the dispensation of property but not the guardianship records.

[4] George Coppedge was one of the first merchants to open for business on Spanish Prairie in Maries County. It is possible the Coppedge family were neighbors or acquaintances of the Southard family. History of Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Benton, Miller Maries and Osage Counties. Chicago, IL: Goodspeed Pub. Co., 1889, 593.

[5] Richard Southard. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Missouri. National Archives, Record Group 109, Roll 96, 2.  Accessed on 28 May 2021 on

[6] Ibid, 6.

[7] Ibid, 7.

[8] Leo Nyberg.  A History of Laclede County. Lebanon, MO: The Rustic Printers, 1926. 46-47.

[9] 10th Missouri Infantry Regiment (Confederate). Wikipedia. Accessed on 9 Jun 2021.

[10] Richard Southard. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Missouri. National Archives, Record Group 109, Roll 96, 17.  Accessed on 28 May 2021 on

[11] Richard Ender. 2013-06-23 Ender Baldwin Tree A. RootWeb’s WorldConnect Project. Accessed on 26 May 2021 on

[12] Ibid.

[13] Laclede County Sentinel. 30 Aug 1901, 8.

[14] Richard Ender. 2013-06-23 Ender Baldwin Tree notes, accessed on 29 May 2021.

[15] Laclede County Republican. 17 Feb 1933, 8.

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