Biography of Rev. Thomas Toney of Greenfield

Rev. Thomas Toney, A.M., M.D., born November 3, 1836, in Warren County, Kentucky, is a notable figure in Greenfield, Missouri, known for his roles in education, real estate, and insurance. An orphan, he worked through Mount Mary Seminary and Glenville College, eventually earning medical degrees from the University of Nashville and Vanderbilt University. Toney served as a captain in the Confederate Army and was involved in numerous battles. He founded several educational institutions and served as president of Ozark College from 1883 to 1887. A committed Cumberland Presbyterian pastor, he was also active in Masonic, Odd Fellow, and other fraternal organizations. He married Mintie Truitt and was a staunch temperance advocate.

Rev. Thomas Toney, A. M., M. D., ex-president of Ozark College, now real estate, loan and insurance agent, Greenfield, Mo., was born in Warren County, Ky., November 3, 1836. His parents were Jesse and Mary (Elliott) Toney. Jesse Toney was a native of Virginia, born in the year 1795, near Richmond; and his mother was named Susan Putnam before her marriage to Joab Toney. Jesse Toney was a professional teacher but engaged in merchandising before his death. He died in 1837. His wife, Mary Elliott, was a native of Virginia, and the daughter of Maj. William C. Elliott, who was a soldier in the War for Independence and 1812. Maj. Elliott married Miss Phoebe Porter. Both were born in Scotland. Dr. Thomas Toney, the subject of this sketch, is of Scotch descent and is a fair type of the American Scotchman. He received his education principally at the Mt. Mary Seminary, in Kentucky, and Glenville College, in Alabama, and received the degree of B. S. from the latter institution. The degree of A.M. was conferred on him by Cumberland University. He graduated in the medical department of the University of Nashville and was also one of the first graduates in the medical department of Vanderbilt University. The subject of this sketch is strictly a self-made man, having been left an orphan when but a child, and had to work his way through every department, and that without assistance. He commenced teaching very young, at Walnut Grove, Ky., in the same house where he learned his alphabet, and here among the friends of his childhood he taught for the money that carried him through school until the breaking out of the war. In 1862 he volunteered in the First Kentucky Cavalry, of the Southern army. He was forced to this, as he thought, by threats made against him if he did not join the United States army. He was opposed to secession, but he was also opposed to being driven or dictated to by any man or set of men. He was in the battles of Gallatin (Tenn.), Bacon Creek, Munfordsville, Perryville, Crab Orchard, Lexington, Lancaster, Augusta, in Kentucky; and Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and about 150 other smaller engagements. He was paroled as captain with 184 men, on the 24th of May 1865, at Albany, Ga. He was wounded several times, but not so as to be permanently disabled. While in the army he led an active and vigorous life, and had perfect control of men, even in the midst of “shot and shell.” The life of Dr. Toney has been a laborious one. He has always worked hard and has been devoted to teaching and preaching. He was instrumental in founding the Tullahoma (Tenn.) Masonic Institute, the Beach Grove College, the Wartrace (classical) Academy, and the Lebanon Business College and Telegraph Institute. While engaged in teaching he usually preached every Sunday. He has been pastor of the following congregations of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church: Tullahoma, Shelbyville, Mt. Hebron, Green Hill, and Chattanooga. To some of the above, he preached several years. While principal of the Lebanon Business College, which was a department of Cumberland University, he was also president and superintendent of the Lebanon and Nashville Telegraph Company, which position he held for years. He has always been a strong temperance man, yet very many of his strongest friends have been of the opposite party. In 1880 he moved from his home in Nashville, Tenn., to Fredonia, in Kansas. He took part as temperance lecturer in the great temperance wave that swept over that State soon after his arrival there, which resulted in the prohibitory amendment to the constitution. Dr. Toney was elected president of Ozark College, December 26, 1883. He served as such until June 1887, when he resigned. The college under his administration was a great success, there being the largest attendance during the last year the institution has ever had. He is a Master Mason, also Royal Arch, Council and Sir Knights Templar. He is an Odd Fellow, having taken the highest degrees in that order. He is a member of the K. of H., also of E. A. W. Though he was in the Confederate army, yet his best and most intimate friends have been among the ex-Federal soldiers. He has waited upon many of them in their afflictions, and preached their funerals, mingling tears of sympathy and sorrow with their bereaved. Dr. Toney is a public-spirited, educated Christian gentleman, of large means, always willing to do his part in every enterprise that tends to advance society and better the condition of his fellowmen. He is a logical, fluent speaker, a popular lecturer, and a skillful presiding officer. He has had the honor of presiding over many noted public assemblies, such as the Southwest Missouri Immigration Association, which met in Springfield in 1888, the Railroad Extension Convention at Stockton, and many other important assemblies. He married Miss Mintie Truitt, of Warren County, Ky., who still lives. In closing this little sketch of Dr. Toney, it will not be out of place to say that he is a man of strong convictions; as a friend, he is faithful and loving to the last; as an opponent, he is fair, yet pushing, persevering and unfaltering; as an enemy, he is fearless and undaunted. Such characteristics will usually stir up some enemies, but their friends will be many, and of the class known as “true and tried.”


Goodspeed, History of Hickory, Polk, Cedar, Dade and Barton Counties, Missouri; Chicago, The Goodspeed publishing co., 1889.

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