Col. Willis Miles Ponder
Kinsman of Paul Ponder
A Picture of Col. W. M. Ponder
Colonel W. M. Ponder was raised on a farm in Tennessee and received a limited education because of the scarcity of schools in his community in that day and age. He farmed until he reached his 24th year when his father moved to Missouri. In Missouri he farmed and dealt in produce and stock. He also served six years as County and Probate Clerk of Ripley County Missouri and two terms as Tax Assessor.
The Colonel increased his land holdings from 200 to 2600 acres and was rapidly approaching the pinnacle of success when the War Between the States broke out. He left his businesses enlisted in the 9th Regiment, Missouri State Guards under command of Colonel Lowe of General Jeff Thompson's Brigade.
His first battle was near Fredericktown Missouri where he lost several friends and relatives. He was rapidly promoted from Sergeant to Colonel. As a Colonel he commanded the 7th Missouri Infantry Regiment until it surrendered at Shreveport Louisiana. on June 25, 1865.
After the war he moved to Arkansas and bought 200 acres in the area now known as Old Walnut Ridge. He then went to work and with hard work came success. He bought 200 acres, commenced farming and merchandising, and built a sawmill and cotton gin.
In 1873 he
bought some of the land on which Walnut Ridge is now situated, laid out the town
and built the first residences in the town.
He was instrumental in securing the location of the Eastern District Courthouse and also in the erection of the First Presbyterian and Methodist Churches.
Colonel Ponder was a Democrat politically and was a County Judge in 1873-74. He served in the State Legislature in 1882 and 1883. He lived a long, useful and honorable life, leaving behind him the commendations of his fellow man as a lasting tribute to his integrity and splendid manhood. he died on April 11, 1904 at the age of 81 full of years and honor.
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