Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of the Ozarks region and surrounding area.

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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.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Meadows-Bilyeu Feud

Another chapter in my Desperadoes book is about the Meadows-Bilyeu feud that culminated in the killing of Steve Bilyeu and two of his sons by Bud Meadows and his cohorts in late November of 1898 south of Ozark near the Christian-Taney county line. One newspaper called the feud, which had been building for months, a neighborhood feud, but it was really more like a family feud, because both Bud Meadows and his brother Bob had married into the Bilyeu family. Steve Bilyeu's land and Bud Meadows's land adjoined, and the source of the dispute was a fence separating their properties. The two men had put up the fence together, but Meadows apparently felt that Bilyeu was not contributing his fair share to the upkeep of the fence. The argument came to a head on Nov. 28, 1898, when Meadows and his pals started taking down the fence, and Bilyeu and his associates showed up armed to try to stop them. The confrontation left three Bilyeus dead and Meadows and four of his sidekicks indicted for murder. Meadows was convicted of 1st degree murder but later had the conviction overturned and was granted a new trial. However, the second trial never took place, as the charges were basically dropped.

6 Comments:

Blogger Chris Meadows said...

You've got a spam comment here you might want to get rid of.

Interesting footnotes to the feud:

The current generation of the Bilyeu family, a couple of pairs of cousins, formed an Ozarks folk and bluegrass band called "Big Smith" which just broke up after 16 years together.

The land where the feud began is now owned by the real estate developer Saddlebrook Estates, and there's a Meadows who works at Saddlebrook.

June 23, 2012 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

Thanks, Chris. Yes, I know about "Big Smith. Went to see them a couple of times during the past year, once at Ozarks Mountain Daredevils 40-year reunion concert at Drury and once here in
Joplin.

June 30, 2012 at 3:20 PM  
Blogger Randy Pace said...

Chris Meadows, who are you? My grandfather was Chris Meadows and my great great grandfather was Chris Meadows.

June 28, 2013 at 7:51 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Hey Randy!

Chris is my older brother.

Here's our linage back to the revolutionary war:

Christopher Edward Meadows(1973)
Mark Douglas Meadows (1943)
Lester "Mash" Irving Meadows (1915)
Washington "Wash" Irving Meadows (1875)
John Hanson Meadows (1832)
William Alexander Meadows (1781)
Israel Meadows (1755)

Bud Meadows from the feud was probably a 1st or 2nd cousin to Washington Irving Meadows, I'd have to do some research to be sure.

Was your grandfather part of the Passion Play?

July 15, 2013 at 7:56 AM  
Blogger ckvalley Grant said...

My family are the Bilyeu's. A lot of history there.

February 21, 2014 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

Yes, a lot of history involving the Meadows-Bilyeu feud, the Payton-Matthews feud, and the Bald Knobbers, and they all are somewhat connected. Not just because all these events happened in the same general vicinity, but also because some of the same people were connected, at least indirectly, to more than one of these events.

February 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM  

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