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.

Monday, June 11, 2012

William Taylor's Murder of Nathan Gann

I have mentioned Elkton in Hickory County, Missouri, a couple of times previously on this blog--once in connection with infamous fan dancer Sally Rand, who was born there in the very early 1900s.
Elkton was also the setting for a notorious murder in the fall of 1876. On October 23 of that year, William Taylor, an older family man of about 55; and Nathan Gann, a young single man of about 25; and several other men were pitching horsehoes and engaging in some friendly banter when Taylor took offense at something Gann said or did. They argued and had to be separated by the other men. The quarrel resumed a couple of times later in the day, but the other men again intervened. Finally, Taylor went home and got his gun and started back to town, telling several people along the way that Gann would be a dead man before the sun went down. In town, he went into a store and spotted a man turned away from him whom he took to be Gann. He pointed his shotgun at the man's back and was getting ready to pull the trigger when the man turned around, and he realized it wasn't Gann. He turned, marched out of the store, and met Gann just outside the door. Without a word of warning, he fired a load of buckshot into Gann, who collapsed and died within minutes.
Taylor was apprehended and indicted for murder in Hickory County, but he took a change of venue to Webster County. The case was argued at Marshfield in the spring of 1877, and Taylor was convicted on April 3 and sentenced to hang in May. However, he later was granted a new trial on appeal and was given a fifteen-year prison sentence.

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