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.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Swain Anderson Murder

An interesting criminal case in the Ozarks during the late 1800s that I've been aware of for a long time is the murder of Swain Anderson in Wright County, Missouri on the night of May 22, 1886 as he was walking home from a Masonic meeting at Mountain Grove. I say it is an interesting case, and yet it has never struck me as quite interesting enough for me to want to write extensively about it as I have many other notorious crimes in the Ozarks during the same time frame.
The case contains a bit of intrigue in that the the accused murderers included the victim's own wife and his own sons acting in conspiracy. The wife, Hannah, and one of the sons, Henry, were charged as accomplices, while another son, Ed, and a neighbor named Ewing Sanders were charged as the principals in the crime. Hannah was initially arrested on suspicion but later released. When the oldest daughter, Jennie, died unexpectedly, it was rumored that she had been poisoned by Hannah to keep her from testifying against her brother, Ed, and it was even suggested that a romantic rivalry of sorts had developed between the two women over a young preacher.
So, as I say, the case has some interesting elements to it. Yet, I've never really been moved to investigate it or write about it in more depth. I suppose part of the reason is that I doubt that the more sensational elements of the case, such as the wife poisoning the daughter, were true, and if you take those sensational elements away, there's really not much left except a fairly routine murder case. No vigilante justice. Not even a legal hanging. In fact, the only person convicted in the case was Sanders, and his sentence was later commuted to time served after Ed Anderson had been acquitted.

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