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 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.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Emma Molloy

Last time I mentioned the notorious Graham murder case that happened in Greene County in the mid 1880s. The main reason it received such notoriety was because of the involvement of nationally known evangelist and temperance revivalist Emma Molloy. Molloy came to Greene County in the winter of 84-85 and held a series of revival meetings at a Springfield church. A younger man named George Graham, with whom Molloy had previously been involved in the publication of a temperance newspaper, showed up shortly after the meetings began and started courting Ms. Molloy's foster daughter, Cora Lee. After the meetings were over, Molloy purchased a farm near Brookline and was assisted in the transaction by James Baker, a prominent Springfield citizen who had helped bring the revivalist to Greene County to begin with.
Molloy, her foster daughter, and Graham started living at the residence, and Graham soon married Cora Lee. The problem was that he hadn't told anyone he was still married to his first wife. When Sarah Graham showed up, George killed her and dumped her body in an abandoned well on the Molloy farm.
When the body was finally discovered, George Graham was charged with murder, Cora Lee with being an accessory before the fact, and Emma Molloy with being an accessory after the fact. Before Graham came to trial, he was lynched by a mob, and the cases against Cora and Emma were eventually dismissed after preliminary hearings that attracted many spectators and drew sensational publicity. Ms. Molloy then went on to re-establish her reputation in the nationwide temperance movement.
Even today, however, the extent of Molloy's involvement, if any, in the murder of Sarah Graham and the coverup of the crime, remains a subject of debate among those few individuals familiar with the case. Part of what fuels the debate is the involvement of James Baker as Ms. Molloy's patron. Twenty years earlier Baker had been a strong defender of the vigilante Regulators in Greene County, and it is thought by some that he was one of the organizers of the mob that lynched George Graham (so that George couldn't implicate Cora and Emma).
You can read a more detailed account of this case in my book about notorious Ozarks incidents.

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