Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Melee at Quincy, Missouri

In the 1840s, the Quincy (Mo.) community, then called Judy's Gap, was the center of the so-called Slicker Wars, which started out mainly as a vigilante movement but soon disintegrated into what was basically a family feud between the families of the Slickers and the families of the anti-Slickers. Apparently the tendency toward both violence and vigilantism in the area carried over until at least sometime after the Civil War. Quincy, located in what became Hickory County in 1845, was the scene in the spring of 1869 of what the Bolivar (Mo.) Free Press called a "serious affray," during which the local citizens took the law into their own hands.
On Saturday night, May 2, two young men named Wilson and Hyatt, described by the newspaper as "desperate characters," came into town armed with revolvers and bowie knives and started raising hell. The men had been in the habit of coming into town armed, threatening local citizens, and "otherwise behaving in an outrageous manner." During their latest visit, they got drunk, became quarrelsome, and started threatening the lives of certain citizens. They then got into a heated argument with a young man and fired a couple of shots at him but failed to hit him.
"This so exasperated some of the citizens," according to the Free Press, "that they armed themselves and returned the fire." Hyatt was struck in the head by a bullet as he threatened one of the citizens with his bowie knife, and Wilson was hit on the head with a big rock, crushing his skull. Hyatt died on Monday, two days later, while Wilson was still clinging to life but was not expected to live.
It was reported that Hyatt and Wilson had emptied their revolvers except for one bullet before they fell and that 25 to 30 shots were fired altogether during the melee. According to the newspaper, "It seemed to be a matter of general congratulation among the people of Quincy that the desperadoes had been disposed of, and that the entire community would be safer in the future." Nothing was said about whether any of the local citizens who took the law into their own hands were held to account, but presumably not. Apparently, vigilantism still reigned in Quincy.


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