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Photograph of Robert D. Billingsly and family

Source: History of Boone County, Indiana, by Hon. L.M. Crist, 1914.

ROBERT D. BILLINGSLY There can be no impropriety in scanning the acts of any
man as they affect his public, social and business relations, so in this biographical work will
be found mention of worthy citizens of all vocations, and at this juncture we are permitted
to offer a resume of the career of one of the substantial and highly esteemed
representatives of the agricultural interests of Jefferson township, Boone county, for Mr.
Billingsly has maintained his home for many years where he has not only attained a high
degree of success in his chosen field of labor and enterprise, but also established an
imperishable reputuation for uprightness in all the relations of life.

Robert D. Billingsly was born in Johnson county, Indiana, November 4, 1841. He is a son
of Samuel and Maria Louisa (Harbert) Billingsly, the former a native of North Carolina
and the latter of Indiana. Samuel Billingsly came to this state in an early day, when he was
a young man, making the long overland journey with three sisters. They located in
Johnson county, where he took up forty acres of land from the government. He improved
this and added to it until he became owner of a half section and was one of the leading
farmers of his vicinity. His death occurred in 1896, his widow surviving until in 1903.

Robert D. Billingsly grew to manhood on the home farm and received his education in the
district schools. He remained on the home place until he was twenty-eight years old then
started in life for himself. In the spring of 1863 he enlisted in the Confederate army, in the
Fourth Kentucky Mounted Infantry, under Colonel Giltner, and he served gallantly until
the close of the war, having taken part in numerous campaigns and engagements, including
the battle of Knoxville. Although he had two horses shot from under him he was never
injured. After the war he returned home and remained with his parents four or five years.
He was married February 12, 1871, to Delila Kaplinger, a native of Johnson county where
she was reared and educated. He later removed to Boone county and purchased one
hundred and sixty acres in section II, Jefferson township, the land being timbered,
however, much of it had previously been blown down by a cyclone which swept a strip
through Boone county in the sixties. Our subject lived in a tent a few days until he could
erect a cabin, his wife remaining with him through it all. He began clearing the land and
placing it under cultivation. Much ditching was required, some of the land being swampy,
and several years passed before he had it under proper improvement and cultivation, but he
persevered, worked hard and managed well and in due time a large measure of success
attended his efforts. It was not until 1880 that he got a ditch surveyed which gave him an
outlet, then he began tilling, and laid one thousand rods of tile, and he now has one of the
most productive and valuable farms in the township. He purchased and improved forty
acres in his neighborhood, which he later sold and his place now consists of one hundred
and sixty acres, his original homestead. In 1889 he built a large brick residence, also
substantial barns and other buildings. He has been very successful as a general farmer and
stock raiser.

Mr. Billingsly's first wife died in 1875, leaving two children, Maria Ann, born January 13,
1872, married Melvin Eddington, a farmer of Jefferson township and they have two
children, Edna and Gracie; and Jane, born May 9, 1873, married Thomas DeBard, a
farmer of Michigan, and they have five children, Bertha, Maria (deceased), Harry,
Raymond and Wilbur; Edgar born January 17, 1875, died in infancy. On March 10, 1878,
our subject married Mary J. Miller, who was born in Boone county, August 5, 1854; she is
a daughter of Morgan M. Brenninger. She had been previously married and had one child,
Gertrude Miller, who married Clinton DeBard, and they live in Lebanon. The following
children have been born to our subject and his second wife: Carrie B., born December 31,
1879, married Judge W.H. Parr, of Lebanon, and they have three children; a sketch of
Judge Parr and family appears elsewhere in this work. Samuel Z. Billingsly was born
August 22, 1881, and he married Lenna Knox, a native of Boone county; they live on a
farm in Jefferson township, and have two children, Rush and Mary. Amy, born March 1,
1883, married Carl Ferguson, a farmer of Jefferson township, and they have two children,
Ray and Freda; Ada, born February 14, 1887, married D. Butler of Jamestown and they
have one child, Pauline; Minnie, born January 20, 1889, married Roy Kibbey, a farmer of
Hendricks county, and they have three children: Bessie, born September 20, 1891,
married Ralph Painter and they live in Lebanon; Robert M., born January 5, 1894 is
attending school at Valparaiso, Indiana; Nova, born February 18, 1896 is the youngest of
the family, and is at home with her parents. There are eighteen grandchildren. The second
wife of our subject was called to her rest February 26, 1896.

Mr. Billingsly belongs to the Christian church at Advance. Politically, he is a strong
Democrat and is influential in party affairs. Fraternally, he belongs to the Masonic Order,
Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, No. 664 at Advance. He is now practically retired
from active life, his son taking charge of the farm about a year ago.


Submitted by Amy K. Davis