Missouri and 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, July 3, 2013

Slicker War

Chapter One in my forthcoming book entitled Murder and Mayhem in Missouri is about the so-called Slicker War that occurred in the 1840s in Benton County, Missouri. I wrote previously about the Slickers in a post on this blog dated November 12, 2010. At the time, I lamented the fact that first-hand historical records in Missouri, particularly southwest Missouri, that predate the Civil War are few and far between, because many such records were lost during the war or afterwards because of courthouse fires and so forth. Indeed, one of the reasons I had not tried to write extensively about the Slicker War until I began my current book is that I had always assumed that first-hand documentation about the episode was scarce, just as it is in the case of almost everything else that happened before the war. The fact that nearly all the accounts I had ever read about the Slickers were reminiscences written many years later seemed to bear out my assumption.
However, I also indicated at the time of my previous post that, despite the seeming dearth of primary records, I might try to research the Slicker War a little more thoroughly sometime and try to write more extensively about it. What I have learned, as it turns out, is that the Slicker War is somewhat of an exception to the rule that little firsthand documentation survives concerning events prior to the Civil War. This is due mainly to the fact that almost all county records for the counties of Benton and Polk (which the Slicker War spilled into) have been preserved. This is rare, indeed, among Missouri counties. In addition to the county records, there are also some records pertaining to the Slicker War at the state level. And there are a few, although not many, contemporaneous newspaper accounts pertaining to the Slickers.
In my previous post about the Slicker War, I commented on the seeming confusion in the various reminiscent accounts, noting that some of them ascribed the events as having occurred in Benton County and some placed them in Hickory County. What I learned during my recent research is that there really is no discrepancy here. All, or almost all, of the events pertaining to the the Slicker War happened in what today is Hickory County. However, in the early 1840s, the northern part of the territory that became Hickory County was in Benton County, and the southern portion was in Polk County.

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