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.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hudspeth-Watkins Murder Case

The Andrew Hudspeth-George Watkins murder case that occurred in Marion County, Arkansas, in the late 1880s is one of the most interesting in the history of the Ozarks. The families of the two men were living together on the same farm west of Yellville, and apparently the intimate living arrangements proved too much temptation for Hudspeth and Watkins's wife. One day Hudspeth and Watkins came to Yellville together in Watkins's wagon, and that night Hudspeth came home alone driving the wagon. After the disappearance came to light, Rebecca Watkins admitted that she and Hudspeth were lovers, that they had plotted her husband's murder together, and that she was sure Andy had carried it out, although she wasn't present at the time and didn't know what he had done with the body. Much of her story was supported by the testimony of her and George's eleven-year-old son.
Andy Hudspeth was convicted of the murder, and, after considerable delay caused by his escape from jail and by numerous appeals on his behalf, he was eventually hanged in late 1892. In the meantime, Rebecca, awaiting indictment on a charge of being an accessory to the crime, died while in custody. The case took a strange twist in the summer of 1893 when George Watkins was supposedly found alive living on a farm in Kansas. The report was soon followed by a second story claiming the first one was a hoax, but the idea that George Watkins was found alive after Andy Hudspeth was executed for his murder is repeated as gospel even today on certain websites dedicated to exposing abuse in the American justice system. Obviously, if the story were true, it would be an extreme miscarriage of justice, but there is considerable evidence to suggest that Hudspeth did, in fact, kill George Watkins. The same websites that claim George Watkins was found alive after Hudspeth was executed also give Hudspeth's name as Charles Hudspeth. His name was Andrew J. Hudspeth. Failure to get the name of one of the principal characters right is, in and of itself, reason enough to distrust the rest of their version of the story.

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