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.

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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lane Britton

Another chapter in my upcoming Desperadoes of the Ozarks concerns the Alsups of Douglas County, Mo., especially the gunfight between sheriff Hardin Vickery and ex-sheriff Shelt Alsup in March of 1879 that left both men dead. However, since I've already discussed the Alsups in a previous post less than a year ago, I'm going to skip over this chapter and go to the next chapter, which deals with a desperado named Lane Britton, who hailed from Neosho, Mo.
The younger brother of Wiley Britton (who later gained fame as a Civil War author), Lane Britton first gained notoriety in 1875 when he was just a lad of 17 years. A night or two before Christmas, he was lounging at a "disreputable house" near the tracks in Neosho kept by Lizzie Sanford when a gentleman caller named Huffaker rapped on the door and demanded admittance. Both Lizzie and Britton told the man to leave, and when he kept banging on the door, Britton shot him through the door, killing him almost instantly.
The killing was eventually ruled justifiable homicide, and Britton settled in the booming mining town of Blende City (near present-day Carl Junction) in the early 1880s. He somehow got himself appointed city marshal but got in trouble in early 1883 for supposedly terrorizing the town instead of upholding the law. Soon afterwards, he killed two deputies who tried to arrest him on a warrant from Newton County on a felonious assault charge resulting from an incident a couple of years earlier. He fled west and turned up in Phoenix in the summer of 1885. He was captured but broke jail, eluded an intensive manhunt, and was never heard from again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Granby Outlaws Revisited

I said a couple of weeks ago that, in my next several posts, I would be discussing some of the chapters of my upcoming book entitled Desperadoes of the Ozarks. One of those chapters is about George Hudson and another is about Bob Layton, two of Granby's notorious outlaws. However, since I've discussed both of these men in previous posts, I'll lump them together here rather than devote a separate post to each man, and I'll be brief. Suffice it to say about George Hudson that, during the post-Civil War era, Granby was home to a lot of desperate characters, and he was the most desperate of the bunch. Based on the number of crimes he committed, what amazes me most about him is that he wasn't gunned down or brought to justice much sooner than he was. Layton, on the other hand, was probably a victim of circumstances to a certain extent. Growing up in Granby, he fell in with the Blount-Hudson gang, and the association quickly led to his downfall. He was never one of the leaders of the gang, but he paid with his life for his allegiance to the group, in particular his allegiance to Hudson.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bud Blount

I've previously mentioned all the desperadoes who came out of the rough and tumble mining town of Granby, Missouri, and I think I've specifically talked at least a little about Allen "Bud" Blount (often spelled Blunt). One of the chapters in my Desperadoes book will be about Blount. In fact, it will be one of the longer chapters in the book, because, to say the least, Bud Blount led an eventful life. So, to condense his life to a few lines here will be difficult, but I'll give it a try.
Born near Poplar Bluff, Missouri, around 1850, Bud moved west with his family about ten years later and eventually settled in Granby, where he grew up among the rough characters who populated the mining town. Bud, also called Newt, first got in serious trouble in 1871 when he was implicated as a possible accessory in the murder of a man on the streets of Granby. A few months later he was charged with felonious assault in Newton County. In the mid 1870s the whole Blount family moved to Arizona but came back to Mo. and settled at Carterville. Shortly afterward, Bud and his sidekicks terrorized Webb City in what became known as the "Webb City Riot" or the "Blunt Raid."
Not long after this, Blount went west again, committed several crimes in Colorado, and killed a man in Arizona.
Back in this territory in the mid 1880s after a hitch in the Arizona prison, he was sent to the Kansas State Prison for stealing horses or cattle in Mongomery County. When he got out around 1890, he came back to Carterville, and, on a visit to his old hometown of Granby, killed a railroad brakeman. He was sentenced to death but the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. Still later, he was paroled and still later pardoned altogether. Around 1900 or shortly after, he came back to his hometown area and became a bartender at Joplin. In his old age, he went to the State Hospital at Nevada, where he died in the 1920s.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Baxter Springs Again

I've written on this blog a couple of times before about Baxter Springs, but because a chapter in my upcoming book, Desperadoes of the Ozarks, deals with the early history of the town, I'm going to briefly mention it again. The chapter in my book concentrates on the town's early cow town days and especially on the killing of two of the town's early marshals.
The first Baxter marshal to lose his life in the line of duty was H. C. Seaman, who was killed by Texas cow poke Thomas Good in the fall of 1870 when he tried to arrest Good's carousing partner, a sporting lady named Nellie Starr, for disturbing the peace.
Seaman's successor, Cassisus M. Taylor, was appointed by Baxter mayor J. R. Boyd, but the two men soon became political enemies. Boyd killed Taylor in the summer of 1872 when the marshal tried to arrest him for assaulting a local lumber dealer over a disputed debt.

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