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, June 6, 2012

The Hanging of Sam Orr

In the late afternoon of December 14, 1872, some unknown men called at the home of George W. Davis in Christian County, Missouri, and inquired about feed for their horses. They were referred to the barn, where Davis was doing his evening chores. After exchanging a few words with Davis, the men opened fire on him, hitting him several times in different parts of the body. The men fled and Davis was carried into his house dead.
At first, several parties who had previously assaulted Davis were suspected of the crime, but suspicion soon settled on Sam Orr and Albert Cox. They were indicted in Christian County for murder, but in the meantime, they had fled the country. Orr was captured in June of 1874 at St. Joseph and brought back to the Springfield jail but escaped in December. Cox, meanwhile, was captured in Texas and brought back to Missouri to stand trial.
Orr was caught again, this time in Arkansas, and brought back a second time in March of 1875. After several continuances and changes of venue, he was finally convicted in Lawrence County of first degree murder and scheduled to hang on May 3, 1877. He was granted a delay, and the date was rescheduled for May 18. His hanging at Mt. Vernon on the latter date was, according to Goodspeed's History of Lawrence County "a dreadful spectacle." A large crowd gathered to watch the murderer "launched into eternity. Owing to some error, the wretch was choked slowly before that crowd, taking twenty-three minutes to die."
After Orr had been convicted and while he was waiting to swing, Cox was also convicted and sentenced to hang.  

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