Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written fifteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Bushwhacker Belles, Wicked Women of Missouri, and Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Lapine Murders and a Double Hanging

When Washington County sheriff John Clark trailed John Armstrong and Charles Jolly into neighboring Jefferson County in late November, 1870, after the two villains had slaughtered five people, including Louise and Mary Christopher, the lawman stopped near Hematite at the home of the young women’s mother to inform her of the tragedy. The officer was surprised, according to the Washington County Journal, by the mother’s stoical manner and indifferent reply: “Well, I knew they were bad girls, but I think the two men have done enough now; they ought to be taken up.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Tried and convicted of first degree murder, Armstrong and Jolly were sentenced to hang and were “taken up” at Potosi in late January of 1871, just two months after their heinous crime.
On Saturday, November 19, 1870, forty-year-old Armstrong and thirty-five-year-old Jolly, lead miners living north of Potosi, had gone into town to sell their mineral. Also with them was Jolly’s sixteen-year-old brother, Leon. The men, who were cousins, spent the day drinking and then started back home, still imbibing from a jug of whiskey they’d purchased in Potosi.
A mile and half north of Potosi, they stopped at the home of another cousin, fifty-year-old David Lapine. Living with Lapine as his wife was twenty-three-year-old Louisa “Fanny” Christopher, and the couple had small child together. Also living with the family was Fanny’s twenty-two-year-old sister, Mary Christopher, and her baby.
Lapine had worked the mines in the area for years and was considered an inoffensive old man. The women of the house, though, bore dubious reputations, and Armstrong and Jolly were considered dangerous and worthless characters.
Arriving at the Lapine place, Armstrong and Jolly went inside, while Jolly’s teenage brother stayed outside in the wagon. After a while, Leon Jolly got cold and started to go inside. Approaching the cabin, he was startled by loud curses coming from within.
He stepped closer and, peeking through a crack, saw Armstrong and Charles Jolly engaged in a heated argument with Mary Christopher. Lapine tried to intercede, and Jolly drew his revolver and shot him four times, killing him almost instantly. When Fanny Christopher rushed to her husband’s aid, Jolly knocked her down and then shot and killed her, too. In the meantime, Armstrong picked up an ax and hit Mary in the head with it. He then chopped her head off and also severed the heads of the previous two victims. The two children roused from their beds and made a dash for freedom but never reached the door. Armstrong struck one of them in the head with the ax, while Jolly hurled the other one against the stone hearth, dashing its brains out.
The monstrous villains then set fire to the cabin with the bodies inside. Meanwhile, Leon Jolly slipped back to the wagon and pretended to be asleep when his brother and John Armstrong returned from their deadly work.
The murderers drove to the nearby home of Jolly’s brother-in-law, where they stayed until early Monday morning, November 21. Then, leaving Leon Jolly behind, they started north into Jefferson County on foot.
Because Lapine’s cabin was in an isolated part of the country, the crime scene was not discovered until late Monday. An alarm was raised, and the entire community flocked to the scene. After Sheriff Clark arrived, Leon Jolly readily confessed that he had witnessed the crime.
After hearing young Jolly’s story, the sheriff and two deputies set out on horseback on the trail of the murderers Monday evening. The search took them into Jefferson County, where the fugitives were arrested late Tuesday afternoon.
They were brought back to Potosi on Wednesday the 23rd and lodged in the Washington County jail. Late on the night of November 26, a mob tried to take the prisoners from the jail, but Sheriff Clark offered a strong resistance. The crowd was finally dispersed after both sides opened fire and one of the vigilantes was shot and killed. The next day, a state militia detail took Armstrong and Jolly to St. Louis for safekeeping.
They were brought back to Potosi for trial in late December and convicted of first-degree murder on the 22nd. Judge J. H. Vail sentenced the prisoners to die by hanging on January 27, 1871, and they were again taken to St. Louis to await their date with death.
On the early morning of the appointed day, Armstrong and Jolly were brought to Potosi by train, arriving about noon. The condemned men were led from the railroad station to the courthouse grounds, where a gallows had been erected beside the jail. At approximately 1:00 p.m., Armstrong and Jolly were dropped into eternity before a crowd of about 3,000 curious spectators.
The story is condensed from a chapter in my book Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Triple Tragedy in Dallas County

On the morning of August 15, 1898, a man called at the farm of German immigrant Charles Duffner living about five miles north of Fair Grove, Missouri, in southern Dallas County and bought some wine from Duffner and his wife. As the customer was leaving, he said he'd probably be back for more wine that evening. About dusk, two strangers showed up, and Mrs. Duffner, who was standing in the yard with her husband, remarked that their morning customer must have returned. Instead of asking for wine, however, one of the men, who was wearing a false beard, demanded Duffner's money.
Duffner at first thought it was a joke and started laughing, and Mrs. Duffner walked up to the man and pulled off his fake beard. He immediately pulled out a revolver and shot at the woman, barely grazing her. Duffner raced to his wife's aid and grabbed hold of the assailant. Duffner was able to pull out a knife and cut the villain across the throat, and the would-be thief fell to the ground mortally wounded. Meanwhile, Otto Duffner, the couple's grown son, arrived on the scene and helped his mother hold the other culprit. The elder Duffner started toward the second man and slashed at him with the knife, but a third robber suddenly appeared from his hiding spot and started shooting. When one of the shots struck and killed Charles Duffner, Otto turned loose of the man he was holding, and the two remaining crooks made their escape on horses stolen from the Duffner barnyard.
A hastily formed posse trailed the robbers north and found the two Duffner horses shot to death about four miles north of the crime scene, but no trace of the bandits could be found after that.
Back at the Duffner place, a revolver was taken off the dead robber, and a satchel that one of the robbers had dropped in scaling the barnyard fence was also found. It contained three cups with the names of Silas Sprague's three children etched on them. This led authorities to believe the crime might have been the work of Sprague and his notorious brothers-in-law, the Jones boys. Sprague was a 29-year-old ex-schoolteacher who was married to Sarah Jones, daughter of Sam Jones, a farmer who lived about three miles south of Buffalo. About 1892 or 1893, Sprague and his brothers-in-law Tom and James Jones had been arrested on a charge of robbery. Sprague was convicted and sentenced to five years in state prison. Tom Jones took a change of venue to Webster County, escaped from jail at Marshfield, and had not been heard from since. James Jones had also somehow escaped or jumped bail, and he and Tom made their way to Texas, where James was charged with killing a lawmen who was attempting to arrest him. He and Tom stayed on the run, roaming into Montana and other western states, and they were reportedly joined by their younger brother, George, in their criminal pursuits about four years before the Duffner killing.
On September 20, five days after the murder of Charles Duffner, George Jones was arrested in Springfield on suspicion of participating in the crime. He was released for lack of evidence, and he later unsuccessfully sued a Springfield newspaper, claiming the paper had libeled him by suggesting that he was one of the culprits who had killed Duffner. Meanwhile, his brothers, who were still suspected of the Duffner killing, stayed on the run. Sprague was apparently cleared of involvement in the crime.
On October 22, 1898, just slightly over a month after Charles Duffner was killed, his 16-year-old daughter, Freida, was shot and killed with the same pistol that had been taken off the dead robber. Freida and a Duffner hired hand named Powell, were sitting at the dinner table in the Duffner home when young Powell picked up the weapon and it discharged. They were alone at the residence at the time, and Powell claimed Freida's death was an accident. He was nonetheless arrested on suspicion. It was thought by some that Powell might have been working in cahoots with the men who had killed Charles Duffner and that he had killed Frieda because she was a potential witness against them, but Powell was later released for lack of evidence.
In early August of 1900, James Jones was killed in western Kansas after he and another man had held up a train in eastern Colorado a few days earlier. The pair were trailed into Kansas to a farmhouse, where they holed up. James was killed in a shootout with the posse, and the house was set on fire. The charred body of the second man was found inside the house after it had burned. It was thought at the time that he was Jim's brother Tom, but this is not certain, because a later report said Tom was arrested in Missouri after being on the run for almost ten years.
A third tragedy in less than three years occurred at the Duffner farm when Leo Herzog, a brother-in-law of another Duffner daughter, was accidentally killed on June 11, 1901, when lightning spooked the team of horses he was working. His leg became caught in the cultivator the runaway horses were pulling, and he was dragged a considerable distance, mangling his entire left side and crushing his skull. Young Herzog had come from Germany to visit his brother and had been in the United States less than a month. He was buried at the nearby Union Grove Cemetery, just across the Polk County line.
On a personal note, I'd like to thank Fair Grove native David Beckerdite for putting me on the trail of this story.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Wild West Shooting Affray at Nixa

What the Springfield Leader-Democrat called "a genuine wild west shooting affray" occurred at Nixa, Missouri, on the night of Saturday, December 26, 1896. Twenty-four-year-old Ben Slay, who, according to the Leader-Democrat, had "an inclination to bulldoze the town in desperado fashion when he (got) drunk," went into Peter Adams's drugstore in an intoxicated state and commenced to "bully the crowd" that had gathered there to smoke and tell stories, even though he had no particular grievance against any of the men.
Slay then stepped just outside the door and flourished his revolver, daring anyone inside the store to follow him out. Finally proprietor Peter Adams went to the door with his pistol and ordered Slay to leave. He was backed up by Charles, John, and Harvey McConnell, who went to the door also in case any trouble started. The next thing anyone knew shots rang out. Who commenced shooting first was supposedly unknown, but by the time the shooting ceased, twenty or more rounds had been fired. Slay suffered three gunshot wounds, through the right breast, the left groin, and the right leg; and he was given little chance of surviving. Meanwhile, Charles McConnell retreated into the store with a wound to one arm. The whole affray last only about a minute.
Slay's wounds were dressed, and he was carried to his home in Nixa.
In reporting the incident, the Springfield newspaper noted that the Nixa trouble marked the third shooting affair Slay had been involved in. A few years earlier, he'd been shot almost to death by a man named John McClain, and just a three months before the most recent episode he'd been badly wounded by William Fought in another scrape at Nixa. The newspaper failed to mention that back in 1894 Slay had been charged with arson for burning down a barn near Billings.
A day or so after its initial report, the Leader-Democrat issued an update saying that Slay was improving and was expected to live after all. The newspaper also revised its earlier report to say that two McConnell boys and Pete Edwards were the three men who'd followed Slay to the door of the drugstore, with only one or two of them having revolvers. During the initial barrage of gunfire, Slay dropped his revolver and ran, but one of his pursuers picked it up and shot Slay twice more with his own gun.
One of the McConnells was arrested, but he was released upon his preliminary examination, when it was determined that he was acting in self defense.
Slay, contrary to expectation, did not recover but instead died from his wounds on January 21, 1897, not quite a month after the Nixa shootout. He was eulogized at the time as "the hero of several shooting scrapes in Christian County."

Sunday, March 25, 2018

I Hope I Burn Forever

The Cameron (MO) Daily Observer reported on December 17, 1907, that Mrs. Albert Filley, living five miles southeast of Cameron on the road that separated Clinton and Caldwell counties, had been kicked in the head by a horse and seriously injured on the 14th, but, as future events and testimony would reveal, that’s not what happened.
On December 21, exactly a week after Mrs. Filley had supposedly been kicked by a horse, the Filley neighborhood was horrorstricken when they awoke to learn that Albert Filley had killed his wife, his little girl, and his brother. He’d also tried to kill his sister-in-law, but she had escaped in her nightclothes and raced to the neighboring home of J. W. Chaffin to give an alarm.
A local constable was summoned, and he and a small posse arrested Albert Filley without incident as he emerged from his house. Inside the Filley home, the neighbors found Albert’s wife, Fannie, lying dead in her bed. Her skull was crushed from several blows to the head, and a bloody hammer was found nearby. Lying partly beneath the bed was the body of seven-year-old Dolly Filley, the couple’s daughter, and her head also showed evidence of having been struck with a blunt instrument.
Clay Filley, who’d been staying with his brother to help out with the chores ever since Fanny had been injured, was found dead on the floor near the doorway separating Albert and Fanny’s bedroom from the room where Clay and his family had been sleeping. He’d apparently died of a single gunshot wound, as no other marks of violence were found on his body. Clay’s wife, Elsie, had been knocked senseless, but she regained consciousness while Filley was outside at a well. Still bleeding from her head wound, she had escaped to the Chaffin residence, taking her infant child with her.
After his arrest, Filley was guarded at his home until the Caldwell County sheriff could arrive and take him to the county jail at Kingston, almost twenty miles away.
Recuperating at a neighbor’s home, Elsie Filley soon rallied enough to relate the crime in more detail. She said her husband, Clay, was sitting up with Fannie when his brother suddenly burst into the room without provocation about 4:00 a.m. and shot him with a revolver. The wounded Clay sprang up, and the two men wrestled over the pistol. Albert Finney finally broke loose and fled outdoors, while Clay went to the kitchen, where his wife and child were sleeping. He awakened Elsie and told her what had happened. She and Clay barricaded the house to keep Albert out, but he soon returned with a hammer and a stick of wood and smashed the glass in the kitchen door. Elsie and Clay fought with Albert at the door to keep him out, and he soon retreated to the well and started pumping water. By now, Clay Filley was so weak from his bullet wound that he sank to the floor dying. When Elsie heard her crazed brother-in-law returning to the house, she grabbed a bottle of carbolic acid and threw it on him, but it didn’t keep him from forcing his way into the house. Albert struck Elsie down with the stick of wood and stalked into his wife’s room. As Filley went to work smashing in the brains of his wife and daughter, Elsie revived, snatched her baby girl from bed, and dashed out of the house toward the Chaffin place.
A newspaperman called at the county jail in Kingston on December 22 to get Albert Filley’s side of the story. Albert said that he, Clay, and Elsie were all sitting up with Fannie on the night in question. Near morning, he went outside to check on his chickens. When he returned after about thirty minutes, he found his wife and child lying dead, and Elsie immediately attacked him with a wooden club. Clay, also armed with a club, promptly joined his wife in the assault. After fighting the pair a short while, Albert managed to get the revolver he’d taken with him to the chicken coop out of his pocket and shoot his brother. Despite being shot, Clay continued fighting, and he and Elsie knocked Albert down. Clay collapsed about the same time, and while Albert lay stunned on the floor, Elsie escaped.
The prisoner denied having assaulted his wife in the barn a week earlier in an attempt to kill her, as nearly everyone now suspected.
Filley’s first-degree murder trial for the death of his wife got underway at Kingston on June 22, 1908. The state’s theory of the crime was that Filley had tried to kill his wife a week before the murders, clubbing her in the barn and falsely reporting that she’d been kicked by a horse. When he realized that she was likely going to recover from her injuries, he determined once again to kill her. The doctor who treated Fannie after the December 14 incident testified that her injuries were more consistent with having been struck repeatedly with a board than with having been kicked by a horse. Neighbor Chaffin said that Filley came to his house to tell him his wife had been kicked by a horse and that he (Chaffin) hurried to the scene but that Filley himself showed virtually no inclination to help his wife. Another neighbor testified he saw the couple having an altercation at the barn.
Filley’s lawyers pursued an insanity defense, but the jury came back on June 27 with a guilty verdict, fixing punishment at death. After an appeal to the Missouri governor, the execution was set for September 21. Three days before the fateful date, Filley refused an offer to see a spiritual advisor, explaining, “If I did what they say I did, I hope I’ll burn forever.”
Filley was hanged at Kingston on the 21st and afterwards buried in McDaniel Cemetery beside the wife and child he’d killed.
This post is condensed from a chapter in my book Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Charivari Turns Deadly

On February 1, 1907, 24-year-old Robert Threet married 16-year-old Maud Merryfield in Benton County, Arkansas. When the newlyweds went home to spend their first night together, they were met by a rowdy charivari that Threet thought went a little too far. A couple of Threet's brothers participated in the revelry, but Threet was angry in particular at 23-year-old Eli Ecton, a former sweetheart of Maud's, who supposedly tried to "gain admittance to the bridal chamber." It was also said that Threet thought Ecton, who was engaged to another young woman and had apparently moved on from Maud, was nonetheless spreading rumors about the young bride.
The spat between the two young men came to a head a few weeks later, on February 20, 1907, when both of them attended a service at Tuck's Chapel, about five miles north of Rogers. Accounts differ as to exactly what happened. According to one story, at the close of the service Ecton exited the building first and Threet followed him out. Picking up a limb or similar instrument, Threet clubbed Ecton over the back of head without warning, knocking him down, and then pounced on him with a knife, stabbing him three times. Another version of the story says that Ecton accosted and threatened Threet first before the stabbing incident occurred. In either case, Threet fled the area immediately afterwards with no trace of where he'd gone. Meanwhile, Ecton lingered on his deathbed for about three weeks before finally dying about the middle of March.
No leads as to Threet's whereabouts were gained until over a year later, in the spring of 1908, when one of Threet's brothers borrowed an envelope from a local businessman and used it to send a letter to Threet, under the assumed name Arthur James, at Ritzville in the state of Washington. When Threet did not promptly pick up the letter at the Ritzville post office, it was returned to the businessman, whose name was in the return address. He opened the letter and, realizing the suspicious nature of its contents, turned it over to local authorities. Threet was soon arrested and brought back to Arkansas. His young wife, who'd joined him in Washington just a week or two before, was also brought back.
Threet was charged with murder, and the case came to trial in September 1908. I've been unable to readily determine the exact outcome of the trial, but apparently Threet was acquitted, because two years later, at the time of the 1900 census, he and Maud were living in Rogers with their one-year-old baby. If this is true, the jury must not have believed the version of the crime that said Ecton had been attacked without provocation.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Greene County's "First" County Fair

A piece in a June 1911 issue of the Springfield Republican announced that a plan to revive the Greene County Fair, which was "once so popular" but had endured "a several years' period of somnolence," was being developed by a new fair organization. When the new group's first fair came off two years later, it was sometimes called the first Greene County Fair, but that was not entirely accurate. As the 1911 newspaper article rightly pointed out, it was actually just a revival of an older, similar event, not a brand new event.
Although I'm not sure exactly when the first Greene County Fair was held, I know that an annual fair was held in Springfield at the Hefferman and Reilly Zoological Gardens (often called simply the Zoo Gardens or Zoo Park) during the early 1890s. It was officially called the Greene County Breeders' Fair, but it was often referred to simply as the Greene County Fair. The zoo (and the fair) closed in 1894, and the grounds of the Zoological Gardens were purchased by Springfield businessman Jerome Dickerson. The property would not become a zoo again until the early 1920s when the City of Springfield purchased the land from Dickerson's estate and turned it into what is known today as Dickerson Park Zoo.
After the zoo park changed hands in 1894, there was apparently a gap of almost twenty years before Springfield hosted its next Greene County Fair. The fair organization that was formed in 1911 finally put on its first fair, called simply the Greene County Fair, in October of 1913. It was held on grounds just east of where a new Pythian home (now called the Pythian Castle) had just been constructed. This was in the general area of what today are the grounds of Evangel University.
The first day of the 1913 fair, Tuesday, October 7, brought threatening weather, which held down attendance at the event. The next day, though, brought clearer skies and three times as many attendees at the fair as during the previous day. Attendees on the first two days of the fair were mostly locals, and the City of Springfield ran special carriages taking people to the fair from the downtown area and back.
On Thursday, the third day of the fair, people flooded into Springfield from the surrounding countryside and communities to attend the fair. Called "Big Thursday," the day's attendance was even greater than it had been on the second day.
The climax, though, came on Saturday, the last day of the fair, when an estimated 10,000 people attended. About 8,000 of these were paying customers, while approximately 2,000 school children were given free admission. Among the events that ran throughout the fair were livestock showings, art exhibits, and baby contests, and most of the winners of these contests were announced on Saturday. One of the prize winning animals was a 1,000 pound Poland China hog from Highland Farms at Bolivar.
The biggest draw of the fair, though, was horse racing, which took place every afternoon on a track constructed for that purpose. Spectators were seated in a grandstand along one straightaway. A band entertained the spectators during intervals between races. In addition to the races themselves, there were also exhibitions of trick and fast riding.
Another attraction was the "pike" or what we would probably call the midway today. It featured games and amusements that were said, according to the Springfield Republican, to be "better than the Sedalia State Fair."
Perhaps the biggest attraction next to the horse racing was the "aeroplane." Pilot William Hetlich put on exhibitions flying his 70-horsepower Curtiss biplane, and daring and affluent individuals could go up in the plane with him for $50. The plane drew many "admirers and curious ones," said the Republican. "Men, women, and children alike swarmed about the queer-looking mechanical bird, wondering how it could ride in the sky." But apparently Hetlich didn't get many takers on the opportunity to actually fly in the machine, because "when the engine cranked and the propeller began its work, they drew back" as if afraid the machine might "seek its prey."
The fair came off with no serious accidents, injuries, or crimes. About the only thing to mar the occasion was the arrest of three men for running a "jingle board" on the pike. This was a device consisting of rings and a board with coins laid on it. The object was to toss a ring and encircle one of the coins. If you did so, you were given the amount of money represented by the coin. Apparently very few people were winning any money and some started complaining. So, the three men were arrested and charged with gambling.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Kissin’ Cousin Turned Killin’ Cousin

At Ernest Clevenger’s murder trial in November of 1899 in Clay County, Missouri, defense lawyers argued that their client was insane. The events surrounding Clevenger’s crime lend a certain credence to the insanity plea, but it didn’t save their client from the gallows.
Clevenger came from Tennessee to Missouri in the early 1890s to live with relatives in southeast Clay County. Sometime prior to the fall of 1898, he started working for Jerome Clevenger, his father’s first cousin. The twenty-three-year-old Ernest took a liking to Jerome’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Jennie, and started escorting her to social functions. He soon declared his love for her, but the girl didn’t quite share his passion.
Jennie’s father didn’t like the match either. Jerome Clevenger thought his young kinsman was too disreputable for his daughter, and when he learned that the relationship between Ernest and Jennie had turned serious, he kicked the young man off his farm and told him not to come back.
Young Clevenger, though, wasn’t easily deterred. Despite Jerome Clevenger’s ultimatum, Ernest kept coming around trying to see Jennie. When he learned that another young man, George Allen, had started courting her, he became crazed with jealousy and made threats.
On Thursday, December 8, 1898, Clevenger spent the day drinking with a buddy, Charles West. In the afternoon, they showed up under the influence at Miltondale, about a mile north of the Clevenger School House. Clevenger, who was said to have a good disposition except when he was drinking, declared that he was looking for George Allen, because he had a score to settle with him.
A few hours later, Clevenger, riding double behind West on the latter’s horse, met Allen and Jennie in a buggy as they approached the Clevenger School, where a revival meeting was in session. Clevenger tried to flag them down, but Allen whipped up the team and sped away, continuing on to the schoolhouse.
Allen and his girlfriend entered and sat near the middle of the large meeting room next to Jennie’s fifteen-year-old sister, Della. Clevenger followed and took a seat just behind the group after the divine service had already begun. At the end of the service, as the congregation rose for the benediction, Clevenger stalked toward Jennie and her group. He pulled out a revolver and shot Allen in the back of the head. Allen collapsed, and Jennie grabbed him, trying to support him, just as Clevenger turned to fire at her. The weight of Allen’s body pulled her down, and the shot missed, hitting Della instead.
When Clevenger fled, several men gave chase before returning to the schoolhouse to find George Allen dead and Della gravely wounded with a bullet to the head. Clevenger was located the next morning at his grandfather’s house less than a mile away and taken to the county jail at Liberty. Later on the 9th, a coroner’s jury charged him with murder in the first degree. On December 10, he pled not guilty before a justice of the peace and was remanded to jail without bond. A grand jury officially indicted him at the February 1899 term of the Clay County Circuit Court, but the case was continued.
On April 6, Clevenger and three other prisoners made their escape from the Clay County Jail. Clevenger was recaptured on April 17 in neighboring Ray County and brought back to Liberty. The next day, Della Clevenger died of the wound he’d inflicted on her four months earlier, and talk of lynching the prisoner flared up.
Clevenger’s trial finally got underway in early November, and the jury found the defendant guilty of first-degree murder on the 8th. Two weeks later, the judge pronounced a death sentence by hanging and set the execution for January 5, 1900. Clevenger’s lawyers appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, and the hanging was postponed.
On May 8, 1900, the high court affirmed the lower court’s decision in the Clevenger case and reset the execution for June 15. Clevenger was led to the gallows at 5:00 a.m. that morning. Asked if he had any final words to say, he declared “I ain’t worthy of the death I am dying” before being dropped through the trap.
This entry is condensed from a chapter in my book Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri.

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