Ozarks History

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

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written eleven nonfiction books, two novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Springfield: The Seamy Side of the Queen City, Murder and Mayhem in Missouri, and The Siege of Lexington, Missouri: the Battle of the Hemp Bales.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Samuel S. Headlee

Another chapter in my new book is about the murder of the Rev. Samuel S. Headlee at the Pleasant View Church in northwest Webster County near Elkland shortly after the Civil War. I mentioned Headlee in a previous post about a year ago and discussed the Headlee family fairly extensively, but I went into very little detail about the murder itself. Without giving away the whole story (which you'll have to read my book to get), I will briefly outline the circumstances surrounding the killing.
Before and during the early part of the war, Headlee was a circuit-riding minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church who often preached at Pleasant View. The Civil War tore the church apart, and it split into two factions, the ME Church North and the ME Church South. Although the Northern faction came to dominate the church by the time the war ended, the Southern faction still claimed title to the building.
The Drake Constitution, adopted in Missouri shortly after the war, forbade anyone who had sympathized with the Confederacy from holding a responsible job like teaching, preaching, or practicing law without first taking an oath of allegiance to the Union. Headlee, as an unrepentant Confederate sympathizer, refused to take the oath but decided nonetheless to try to reclaim the Pleasant View Church for the Southern faction. When he announced that he was going to hold a revival meeting there near the end of July 1866, the Northern faction organized to oppose him and warned him not to try to carry through on his plans.
The headstrong Headlee showed up anyway on the appointed day insisting on his right to preach, but a mob that had gathered to challenge him forced him off the church grounds. As he was removing to some land he owned in the vicinity with plans to preach on his own property, he was shot and killed about a quarter of a mile from the church.

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3 Comments:

Blogger James Ezell said...

Is this the same Headlee who ran against Rush for a seat in the MO state senate in 1866?

September 5, 2012 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

No, the man who ran against Rush probably would have been Samuel W. Headlee, who was a first cousin of Samuel S. Headlee, the preacher who was killed. Samuel S. Headlee, to my knowledge, never ran for political office. In fact, he would not have been eligible to run for office in Missouri in 1866, because he was an unapologetic Confederate sympathizer. He and Samuel W. Headlee had three other first cousins with the name Samuel Headlee, all with a different middle initial. Samuel W. Headlee, the one who ran against Rush, was a Union captain during the war and, at one time, commander of the Union post at Fair Grove.

September 7, 2012 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

In checking Holcombe's History of Greene County, I see why you asked whether Samuel S. Headlee the preacher ran against Rush for State Senator in 1866--that's what Holcombe says. However, this is an obvious error. There was only one man named Samuel S. Headlee, and he was dead over three months before the November election. Samuel W. Headlee was the one who was very active in political circles in Greene County and the one who was elected to state senator in 1866. Samuel W. Headlee was son of Caleb Headlee, and Samuel S. Headlee was son of Joel Headlee, Caleb's brother. Another cousin, Samuel G. Headlee, was son of David Headlee. There were also a Sameul H. Headlee and a Samuel N. Headlee.

September 7, 2012 at 10:45 AM  

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