Missouri and 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, May 17, 2010

Jesse Roper

I first ran onto the name of Jesse Roper when I was reading about the infamous train robbery that occurred at Olyphant, Arkansas, in the fall of 1893. At the time Roper had been on the run from the law for over a year, after having killed Sheriff Byler of Baxter County in mid June of 1892. When one of the robbers was caught a few days after the train holdup, it was first thought that he was Jesse Roper. After a man who knew Roper viewed the prisoner and said positively that he was not Roper, it was still thought, however, that Roper was probably one of the eight men who had held up the train. (He wasn't.)
While researching other topics, I have since run onto Roper's name two or three more times. From what I've been able to ascertain so far, Roper was apparently never caught, but there were numerous false sightings of the fugitive, and a number of men were captured who were first thought to be Roper but who turned out not to be.
So, now I'm starting to get hooked, and sooner or later I'll probably have to end up delving into the Roper story a little deeper. That's usually how it happens. I run onto the name of a colorful character in Ozarks history or the mention of an infamous incident, and I lodge the name in the back of my mind but don't think much about it at first. If I run onto a second or third mention of the same character or incident, though, I start thinking more seriously about it and usually end up having to write about it in one fashion or another.

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