Willard Rariden



Willard B. Rariden, postmaster at Farmington, Mo., is a native of St. Francois County, Mo., born July 3, 1860, being a son of Theodore F. Rariden and Mary (Patterson) Rariden. The father was born in the state of Indiana and when a young man came to St. Francois County, Mo., and began teaching school. He was married in this county and taught school the remainder of his life. He died in 1871. He resided near French Village and was the owner of 125 acres. His wife was born in St. Francois County, Mo. and after the death of her husband Theodore, she married Pleasant Becket who now resides near French Village. She was the mother of ten children by her first marriage to Theodore Rariden and one by the second, Pleasant Becket. The names of the children from the first marriage to Theodore are as follows:  Alexander (farmer), Maggie (Mrs. William Offer), James, Willard B., Kennett T., Mattie, Sallie, Wesley and Nanie.  The child by the last marriage is named Clark Beckett.

Willard B. Rariden was left fatherless at the age of eleven. Two years later he left home and began business upon his own responsibility. He worked on the farm of B. I. Morris for seven years and received from $8 to $16 per month compensation. In 1881 he began trading in stock and followed this business four years. In 1885, he began clerking in a store in Farmington, Missouri and in February of the following year he was appointed postmaster of that city by Postmaster General-General William F. Vilas. December 29, 1885, he married Miss Mary A. Highley, daughter of Robert Highley, of Washington County. She was born in the last county named in 1858 and is the mother of one child, Walter. Mr. Rariden attends strictly to his postoffice business and makes a first class postmaster. He is a Democrat, politically and his first presidential vote was for Cleveland in 1884. He is a K.P. and his wife is a member of Methodist Episcopal Church South.

Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1888.

February 24, 1934

Willard B. Rariden
Former Sheriff, Postmaster; School Board President, Dies

     Willard B. Rariden was born near French Village, Missouri, July 3, 1860, and died at his home near Farmington February 19, 1939, aged 78 years, seven months, and 16 days.

     He was married to Miss Mollie A. Highley in December 1885. To this union three children were born -- Walter, who died when only two and one-half years old, R. Lynn and Lee, of Farmington. Two grandchildren, Lynn Bowman Rariden and Billy Lee Rariden, also survive. Mr. Rariden had four brothers and three sisters, and two brothers and two sisters survive him. They are: Mrs. Sallie Highley, of Farmington, Mrs. Nannie Shaw, of Seattle, Washington; Wesley Rariden of Oklahoma, and Kennett, of St. Francois County.

     His entire life was spent in this community. He had served his community as Postmaster, appointed in 1886, and Sheriff, elected in 1894. He also served on the local school board for 24 years. In addition to these activities he was a dealer in livestock and acted as special agent for the Missouri Pacific Railway for many years.

     A good citizen, a loyal husband, and a father who was a friend to many.

     Services were held at the home, Tuesday, February 21, conducted by Rev. A. C. Johnson, of the M. E. Church, South, with interment in the Masonic Cemetery under the direction of Cozean Funeral Service.


     Willard B. Rariden, on of this community's best known citizens, passed away at his home one mile north of Farmington at 11 o'clock Sunday night. Death was caused from pneumonia. It was believed on last Thursday that he was very much better and had passed the crisis. However, on Friday afternoon he suffered a sinking spell and from that time until the end his condition gradually grew worse.

     Willard Rariden was 78 years, 7 months and 16 days of age and had enjoyed a long, active and useful life in this community. He was one of the best known stockmen in all Southeast Missouri and had during a period of half a century bought and sold thousands of head of livestock. He had also been a life-long active Democrat and had been honored by his party of many occasions. He was first recognized by his party during the first Cleveland Administration when he was appointed postmaster. In 1894 he was elected Sheriff of St. Francois County. In later years he was elected a member of the Democratic State Committee and served his party in this capacity for a number of years. His activities were not entirely confined, however, to his political party. He took a keen interest in the civic welfare of the community and served as a member of the Farmington School board for six terms, giving unselfishly of his time and means to the improvement of our public schools.

     Willard Rariden was born near French Village on July 3, 1860, son of Theodore F. and Mary Patterson Rariden. He was united in marriage to Miss Mary A. Highley on Dec. 29, 1885. To this union were born three children, one son dying when about 2 1/2 years old. The other two children, both sons, R. Lynn and Lee, and Mrs. Rariden survive and all live here. He is also survived by two grandsons, Lynn Bowman and Billy Lee; also two sisters, Mrs. Sallie Highley, of Farmington, and Mrs. Nannie Shaw, of Seattle, Wash., and two brothers, Wesley Rariden, of Oklahoma, and Kennett, of near Esther.

     Funeral services were held at the home on Tuesday, Feb. 21st, and conducted by Rev. A. C. Johnson, pastor of the Murphy-Long Memorial Church. Interment was in the Masonic Cemetery.

[ The above was contributed by Rebecca Highley May  ]