Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, 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 sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Douglas County Murder

It's not unusual for me, while researching a historical topic, to run across newspaper stories about other interesting topics. In fact, that's how I come up with about half of my ideas. Recently, while researching the early history of Joplin, I came across a 1902 account of a murder trial which was getting ready to take place in Douglas County involving a crime that had occurred there in 1870, over thirty years before, at the beginning of what the newspaper called "the famous Alsup feud."
The Alsup family dominated politics in Douglas County for many years after the Civil War and made many enemies, but the term "feud" is a bit of a misnomer if we think of the word as implying a fight between two different families. At first the feud did involve the Alsups and their allies against John Hatfield and his few allies, but Hatfield was killed in the spring of 1871. So, the feud became one between the pro-Alsup faction and the anti-Alsup faction.
The murder about which I recently found the newspaper piece was committed by a follower of the Alsups named James Wilson, and the victim's name was Orville Lynn. After the murder, Wilson hid out in the woods awhile and ended up killing a second man named Hall when he heard Hall approaching in some bushes and, thinking his pursuers were closing in on him, fired at the noise.
Wilson later surrendered, but because he was an Alsup ally, he was not prosecuted and soon left the county. In 1889, almost twenty years later, after the Alsup reign had finally run its course, Wilson was finally indicted, but he was not captured until around the beginning of 1902, when he was caught in Oklahoma and brought back to Douglas County to stand trial. I'd be interested to know how the trial turned out, if anyone can fill me in.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


Just saw your post and thought I would share with you that my great great grandfather, William R. Prock, was murdered by the Alsup gang in July 1865 at his home in Wright County, Missouri. William Prock was a county Judge and had supported the Confederacy during the Civil War. He was called out of his home by the Alsups and shot in front of his wife and young children while standing on his front porch. The Alsup's then proceeded to burn his barn and steal his livestock. I haven't been able to find any newspaper accounts of this murder, but continue searching for any documentation. Thanks for posting your note. --Alan Cody

August 29, 2010 at 7:38 PM  

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