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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 2. Biographies
by Major A. J. Roof. 1913
Among the residents of Chillicothe whose well directed energies and intelligently applied labors in former years now make it possible for them to live in honorable retirement is David Alexander French, who for a long period was closely associated with agricultural interests. He was born in Richland county, Ohio, September 12, 1840, and is a son of Enoch and Elizabeth (Harford) French, natives of Pennsylvania, who in later years moved to Iowa. There the father followed the trade of a wagon maker until his death. The mother has also passed away. To their union were born eleven children: Mary, William, Charles and Anna, all of whom are now deceased; Daniel, whose home is in Kansas; Samuel, a resident of Iowa; David Alexander, of his review; Allena, deceased; Berthena, a twin to Allena and the wife of George W. Putman, of Kansas City, Missouri; Sarah, who has passed away; and John, who makes his home in Iowa.
David Alexander French acquired his education in the Iowa public schools and remained with his parents until he was twenty years of age, at which time he enlisted in the Federal army, joining the Third Iowa Volunteer Cavalry at Farmington. He saw active service through four years and four months of the war and was present at all of the most important engagements, including the battles of Pea Ridge, Vicksburg, Jackson, Fayetteville, Hartsville, Madison, Big Creek, St. Francis River, La Grange, Chalk Bluff, Helena, Prairie Du Chien, Moscow, Camden, Monks Mills, Jenkins Ferry, Granada, and Little Rock. At the battle of Guntown a bullet passed so near his right ear that it knocked him down and left him deaf ever since. Mr. French was also present at the battles of Independence, Ebenezer Church, Mapleville Station, Selma and Columbus, Georgia. At the close of the war he was mustered out at Atlanta, Georgia, and with a very creditable military record returned to Iowa and engaged in farming. For one year he remained upon his first tract of land but in 1866 came to the vicinity of Chillicothe and purchased one hundred acres in Fairview township. This also he sold at the end of a year and purchased two hundred and twelve acres in Chillicothe township. For twenty-eight years he remained upon this property, devoting his energies to general farming. He employed up-to-date, business-like methods and in the conduct of this enterprise was energetic, industrious and far-sighted and as the years went by his close application and wise management were factors in the building up of a prosperity which now enables him to live retired from active life, He sold his farm and moved into Chillicothe, where he owns a fine residence at No. 1305 Cooper street.
On December 13, 1866, Mr. French was united in marriage to Miss Mary J. Weaver, a daughter of Isaac and Amy (Law) Weaver, natives of Ohio. Mrs. French's mother passed away and after her death Mr. Weaver married Miss Nancy Page, by whom he had six children: Emma, who married J. W. Summers, of Keokuk, Irene, who has passed away; Elizabeth, the wife of Martin Hanlon, of Farmington, Iowa; Edward L., who resides in Clark county, Missouri; and Susan and Clark, who have passed away. Mr. and Mrs. French became the parents of six children: Paul, who is a railroad engineer in Topeka, Kansas; Bertha, who married B. F. Beazell, of Chillicothe; Ethel, deceased, who was the wife of H. L. Gilbert; Elizabeth, the wife of W. R. Rensch, of Chillicothe; David, a traveling salesman whose home is in Kansas City, Missouri; and Fred, who was killed in a railroad wreck at Dallas, Texas. The family are devout members of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Mr. French is well known in the Masonic order and his political allegiance is given to the progressive party. He never seeks public office but is eminently practical and progressive in all matters of citizenship and served in 1898 as presiding judge of the county court. Since taking up his residence in Chillicothe he has been deeply interested in the public welfare and exerts his influence in every way for the city's development and upbuilding. He occupies a prominent position in the community, which is due not so much to the success which he has attained along material lines as to his many honorable and upright characteristics.