Recently I visited the Oak Hill Cemetery at Butler, Mo. to take pictures of the tombstones of J. H. Morgan and John P. Willis. The two men killed each other in 1889 while Morgan was serving as the city marshal of Butler and Willis was a deputy U. S. marshal. The incident will be one of the subjects covered in my next book; so more about them later. While I was at the cemetery, though, the sexton told me about another Butler lawmen, A. J. Aleshire, who also lost his life in the line of duty. A little research revealed that Aleshire was a night watchman and was killed by a man named Summer Holcomb when the two got into a dispute. Holcomb was eventually found not guilty of murder, something that seemed to happen with regularity in the Wild West days. If two men got mad at each other and one or both went for their weapons, the killer was often not convicted of any crime. Murder, it seems, almost had to be premeditated and cold-blooded in order to result in conviction of a crime. Aleshire's tombstone says that he died in March of 1893. However, a genealogy website that I found says the incident happened in March of 1883. I think the 1893 date is right, but I'll have to do a little more research to find out for sure. Interestingly, Aleshire's oldest son was killed in Butler just a little over a year after Aleshire was killed. Again the assailant was found not guilty.
I'm scheduled to give a presentation at the Grove (Oklahoma) Public Library at noon on November 18. I'll be talking about both my Ozarks gunfights book and my book on the two battles of Newtonia.
Labels: A. J. Aleshire, Butler, J. H. Morgan, John P. Willis, Mo.