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 eleven nonfiction books, two novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Springfield: The Seamy Side of the Queen City, Murder and Mayhem in Missouri, and The Siege of Lexington, Missouri: the Battle of the Hemp Bales.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Roy Daugherty

One of the most interesting notorious characters of the Old West era from the Ozarks was Roy "Arkansas Tom" Daugherty; yet he is someone that many people are not familiar with. Actually, Daughterty's criminal career merely started during the Old West era with his participation in the Doolin gang's infamous shootout at Ingalls in Oklahoma Territory in 1893. It continued well into the twentieth century until he was finally killed in a shootout with Joplin police in 1924.
Daugherty was born in Missouri but apparently spent enough time in Arkansas to acquire his colorful nickname before drifting into Oklahoma Territory and hooking up with Doolin. Daugherty was captured at Ingalls, although the rest of the gang escaped. He spent a good while in prison but was paroled in the early 1900s and was even in a movie called Passing of the Oklahoma Outlaws, in which Henry Starr also had a bit part. Daugherty, though, apparently decided that being an outlaw was more fun than playing one in the movies, because he soon resorted to bank robbery, except that now he was using motor vehicles instead of horses as his means of transportation (and escape). He robbed banks at Oronogo, Fairview, and Asbury (all in southwest Missouri) and perhaps other places as well before his encounter in west Joplin with the constabulary of that town proved to be his undoing. After he was killed, his body was taken to a Joplin undertaker, and the next day thousands of spectators filed through the mortuary, anxious to get a glimpse of a man who was one of the last links to the Wild West days of yesteryear.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Eureka Springs Bank Robbery

Henry Starr, as I pointed out last time, was killed in a bank robbery at Harrison, Arkansas, in February of 1921. The rest of the gang escaped, but apparently they didn't learn much from the fatal outcome of the crime. A year and a half later, in September of 1922, the attempted holdup of a bank in Eureka Springs ended even worse for the remnants of the gang than the Harrison caper had. Local citizens armed themselves when they realized a crime was in progress, and three of the gang members were killed and the other two wounded and captured in the ensuing shootout. Commenting on the downfall of the gang, some people have pointed to various mistakes the robbers made, such as the fact that they chose a difficult target with few easy escape routes and the fact that they brought along a raw, inexperienced kid as the driver of the getaway car. There is little doubt that the gang was pretty inept, but the main mistake they made was not taking into account the determined resistance the townspeople put up. As one newspaperman pointed out at the time, maybe they didn't realize they were in Arkansas, and standing idly by while their bank was getting robbed was not how they did things in Arkansas back then.
I recently had an article in The Ozarks Mountaineer about the failed Eureka Springs bank robbery, and you can also read a version of the story in my book about notorious Ozarks incidents, which, by the way, I've finally received a copy of. So, it should be available in bookstores very soon if it isn't already. I thought it was going to be out long before now, but the wheels always turn slowly in the publishing world and sometimes even more slowly than others.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Henry Starr

If a tendency toward violence and crime is inherited or even if one's social environment plays an important role, it is little wonder that Henry Starr, the so-called "King of the Bandits," grew up to become a notorious outlaw. Also sometimes called the "Cherokee Badman," Starr's mixed-race Cherokee family had a long history of violence dating back to the feud that developed between the John Ross faction (mostly purebreds) and the Major Ridge faction (mostly mixed-race Cherokees) over the question of removal of the Indians from their native homelands in the southeastern United States. Henry's great grandfather, James (whose mother was a full-blooded Cherokee and whose father was white) was a member of the Ridge faction, which favored the removal treaty. After the removal to Indian Territory in the late 1830s, bitterness lingered, and open warfare erupted between the two sides during the 1840s. James's son Tom (Henry's grandfather)was suspected of killing several members of the Ross faction, and James was killed in retaliation for his son's actions. Tom then supposedly killed several more pro-Ross Cherokees in revenge for his father's death before a treaty between the two warring factions finally brought the bloodshed to a close, at least until the Civil War. During the war, Tom Starr served with Stand Watie and most of the other other mixed-race Cherokees in the Confederate Army, while many of the purebreds served in the Union. After the war, Tom's son Sam became notorious in his own right and later married Belle Shirley Reed, the widow of outlaw Jim Reed, who became infamous as Belle Starr. Another of Tom's sons, George, was the father of Henry, who went on, according to legend, to carry out more robberies than any other outlaw in American history, beginning during the Old West days of the 1890s and ending in February of 1921 when he was killed trying to rob a bank in Harrison, Arkansas. You can read more about Henry Starr and particularly the Harrison bank robbery in my book about notorious Ozarks incidents.

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