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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Double Killing in Butler

I said a few weeks ago that my next several posts would deal with subjects covered in my upcoming book Desperadoes of the Ozarks. I've begun to realize, however, that many of the subjects in the book I've already touched on in previous posts. Two more examples are Pink Fagg and the Hudspeth-Watkins murder case. Each of these subjects constititues a chapter in my upcoming book, but I've already mentioned both in previous posts on this blog. So, I'll skip over them, as I have a couple of other chapters, and move on to the next. It concerns the incident in Butler, Missouri, in December of 1889 in which city marshal J. H. Morgan and deputy U. S. marshal John P. Willis killed each other in a shootout. In fact, this is an incident that I've also mentioned in a previous post but only in passing. I don't believe I've given the particulars of the incident. It occurred when Willis tried to arrest Morgan on what was basically a trumped-up charge motivated by a personal grudge. The previous day, Morgan had arrested Willis for disorderly conduct when the latter appeared on the streets of Butler in a state of intoxication and started verbally abusing citizens. Willis was released after only a couple of hours, and he promptly boarded a train for Kansas City, where he obtained a warrant for Morgan's arrest on a dubious charge of interfering with a deputy U. S. marshal during the legal performance of his duty. Willis got back to Butler late at night and went almost directly to Morgan's home, rapped on the door, and stated his business when Morgan came to the door. When Morgan asked to see the warrant, Willis whipped out a gun instead, and the two lawmen exchanged fire, mortally wounding each other.

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