William Russell Pickering was born December 31, 1849, in St. Louis county, Missouri. His father was born and reared in Derbyshire, in the Midlands of England. The English Pickering came to Missouri at an early day in the history of that state and became a teacher in the public schools. Later in life he was interested in the politics of his section and, in his maturer years, was for many terms a county judge.
The Pickering family, when William Russell was 10 years of age, moved to Waynesville, Mo., and there lived until he was 21 years old, in which year of his life he married Jane Coggburn, of Miller county, Missouri. That was in 1869.
W. R. Pickering’s first business interest was lead mining in Joplin, Mo., where we find him located in 1872.
In 1880 he formed a partnership with Ellis Short, the firm entering the business of merchandising at Joplin. This business eventually was extended into Arkansas, where the firm of Short & Pickering became interested in timber lands. Their first purchase of timber, however, was in southern Missouri, near the town of Seligman. They handled timber and had to do largely with the business of the Eureka Springs branch of the St. Louis & San Francisco railroad. In 1883 and 1884 their business was extended as far south as Batesville, Ark., located on the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern railway.
Messrs. Short and Pickering dissolved partnership some time in the early ‘90s, after the headquarters of the company had been moved to Springfield, Mo.
In 1894 W. R. Pickering organized the W. R. Pickering Lumber Company, of Springfield, and then was begun the retail lumber business with yards at Springfield, Lebanon, Deepwater, Ozark and Pierce City, in Missouri, and at Fayetteville and Van Buren, Ark., with a planning mill at Tuskahoma, I.T.
While Mr. Pickering’s chief interest has always been in the lumber business he at one time did a banking business at Marionville, Mo., running between 1893 and 1897, and even now he holds large stock interests in the Bank of Springfield, at Springfield, Mo.
Since the removal of the headquarters offices from Springfield to Kansas City, in 1899, the Pickering family home has been in a magnificent residence on Forest avenue, in the last named city.
While not looking closely after the details or even the policies of the business, W. R. Pickering yet keeps in intimate touch with the affairs of the company as a whole, being more than willing to accord to his son, William A. Pickering, that position of trust at the head of the affairs of the company which the son has achieved by such force of character as seldom has been displayed in the earlier years of any man’s life.