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.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pre-Civil War Southwest Missouri Records

Most of my historical writing has been about either the Civil War or events (often notorious events) that have occurred since the Civil War. One reason for this is simply that the Civil War provides a natural dividing point, but the main reason that I haven't written much, if anything, about pre-Civil War events is that there is a dearth of primary sources pertaining to those events, particularly if the events occurred in the southwest Missouri area, my primary area of interest. For instance, almost no southwest Missouri newspapers from the pre-Civil War era survive, mainly because they were burned during the war by bushwhackers or other raiding parties. Most county records were likewise destroyed when courthouses were burned. (Many county records were also destroyed by accidental fire after the war during the late 1800s.) There are a few scattered issues of Springfield newspapers from the pre-Civil War era that are extant, but that's about the extent of antebellum newspapers from southwest Missouri.
So, it's unusual to find a newspaper account of something that happened in southwest Missouri during the 1840s, 1850s, or early 1860s. Occasionally, however, if an event was newsworthy enough, other newspapers in Missouri or elsewhere might publish an account of the event from a special correspondent, or more likely they would reprint an account of the event that had originally appeared in a southwest Missouri newspaper. That is what happened in the case of the burning of two slaves at Carthage by a vigilante mob in late July of 1853. A brief story of the event was published in the Springfield Advertiser but then was reprinted in the Liberty (Mo.) Tribune. So, thanks to the Tribune, we do have at least a brief contemporaneous account of this event. (The event is also described in Jasper County histories written years after the fact.) I'll describe what the Tribune (i.e. the Advertiser) said about the event next time.

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