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 ten nonfiction books, two novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Civil War Springfield, Wicked Springfield: The Seamy Side of the Queen City, and Murder and Mayhem in Missouri.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Carney Murders

My book entitled Desperadoes of the Ozarks , which is more or less a followup to my Ozarks Gunfights book, will soon be released by Pelican Publishing. In fact, I think it's already available for pre-purchase on sites like Amazon. Each chapter in the book, as was the case with the gunfights book, is devoted to a different notorious character or incident. So, for the next several posts, I'll briefly describe some of the chapters.
The first chapter is about the killing of Jackson Carney and his wife, Cordelia Carney, by Carney's cousin George Moore at Shell Knob in December of 1869. Moore had grown up in the Carney home almost like a brother to Jackson, but he had left home about a year earlier and had apparently led a wayward life during the intervening year. He showed back up in Barry County in December and on the fateful day hung around Carney's store all day apparently just waiting to enact his murderous design. After the store closed, he killed both Carney and his wife, stole a couple of hundred dollars, and took off. He was captured a day or two later and taken to the Barry County jail at Cassville. A day or two after that, he was strung up on a corner of the Cassville square by an indignant mob bent on vengeance for the foul murders. Carney and his wife were buried at the Carney Cemetery, now called the Old Carney Cemetery, which is located about ten or fifteen miles south of Aurora just a few miles off Highway 39.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Wild Bill in Springfield

I have written on this blog before about Wild Bill Hickok's shootout on the Springfield square with Dave Tutt shortly after the close of the Civil War, and one chapter in my book entitled Ozarks Gunfights and Other Notorious Incidents is about this episode. However, as many people know but others may not, Wild Bill also spent considerable time in and around Springfield while the war was still going on. He served as a Union scout and spy during the latter part of the war, and General John Sanborn, commanding the Southwest District of Missouri, sent him on missions of reconnaissance and espionage throughout southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. When he was in Springfield, he helped the provost marshal enforce martial law, serving more or less as an MP (although I don't think the abbreviation "MP" was a commonly used term back then). For instance, I know that he testified or gave depositions against the defendants and for the military in at least one or two cases involving minor infractions like illegal liquor sales and was identified as a lawman in at least one of those cases.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wilson's Creek

Yesterday, I went to the 150th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Wilson's Creek. I guess the thing that struck me most about the occasion was the number of people in attendance. I couldn't venture a guess as to the number who were there during Saturday morning while I was there, but it was a lot. It seems there has been a renewed interest in the Civil War over the past ten to fifteen years (or maybe it's just that my own interest has increased during that time frame), and the interest seems to have increased even more during the past year or two with the approach of the sesquicentennial of the war. Now that the first events of the sesquicentennial are actually occurring, the interest is really peaking.
I've been working on a book about Springfield during the Civil War, and one thing I learned in researching the book was that there was almost a second battle of Wilson's Creek. At least the Union thought for a while that there might be such a battle. It was during the fall of 1861 while Gen. John C. Fremont and his forces were occupying Springfield. Rumors that Southern forces under Gen. McCulloch and Gen. Price (the same officers who defeated Lyon at the Wilson's Creek battle two and a half months earlier) were amassing in the Cassville area and marching toward Wilson's Creek kept filtering in to Springfield, but the rumors proved to be just that--rumors. The Southern force in the Wilson Creek area was actually rather small, and before Fremont could act against even that force, he was removed from command at Springfield and his army withdrawn to Rolla and Sedalia.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Joplin and Marshfield Tornadoes

For the first month or two after the Joplin tornado, the affected area looked like a war zone in time of war. Now, after two and half months of debris removal, the affected area looks like a war zone after the war is over. For the first couple of months, the main impression I got upon driving through town was one of destruction. Now, the impression I get is one of desolation.
The Ozarks and the whole 4-State area, of course, has a long history of violent, tornadic weather. In April of 1880, for instance, a tornado virtually wiped Marshfield off the face of the map and killed over ninety people. In the number of people killed and certainly in the total amount of destruction, the Marshfield tornado did not rival the recent Joplin storm, but since Marshfield was a much smaller town, the 1880 storm at Marshfield destroyed a much larger portion of the town's buildings and killed a higher percentage of its people than did the Joplin tornado.
Although a sense of destruction and desolation is inevitable for those of us who drive through the affected area of Joplin on a daily basis, something else has made just as strong an impression on most of us as the images of ruin, and that is the outpouring of support that Joplin has received in the wake of the tornado.
Marshfield, too, received a lot of aid in the aftermath of its tornado. Help arrived from Springfield, for instance, within a matter of hours. In fact, Joplin was one of the communities that pitched in to help Marshfield back in the spring of 1880. Some citizens from Joplin, including notorious jayhawker Charles "Doc" Jennison, trekked to Marshfield to view the devastation for themselves in the days after the storm, then came back to Joplin and organized a local relief effort to benefit Marshfield, with Jennison leading the effort.
One other thing that the Joplin and Marshfield tornadoes have in common besides the widespread death and destruction and the outpouring of suppport afterward is the fact that in both instances the storm happened on a Sunday evening.

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