Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of 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 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.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sarah Parkinson: Mother of Guerrilla Leader Tom Livingston

Thomas R. Livingston moved from Washington County (Potosi area) to Jasper County a few years before the Civil War broke out, and he went on to become a notorious guerrilla leader during the war. His mother, Sarah Parkinson, who still lived in Washington County, was, like her son, considered disloyal, or at least she was suspected of disloyalty by some of her Union neighbors and by certain Federal officers and was closely watched for any disloyal activity that she might engage in.
Near the middle of the war (shortly before her son was killed at Stockton in Cedar County), she became the target of a Union investigation for allegedly harboring a Confederate soldier. Near the end of May, 1863, a Lieutenant McBride of Confederate general Daniel Frost's command was found at Mrs. Livingston's home and arrested there by the local Enrolled Missouri Militia, and she was accused of having harbored him. Shortly afterwards, Captain Benjamin F. Crail of the Third Iowa Cavalry confiscated a stallion from Mrs. Livingston when he was informed that she was a Confederate sympathizer and had harbored McBride.
It was not, however, until several weeks later when Mrs. Parkinson petitioned for return of the horse that Union authorities started trying to build a case against her. It was alleged at that time that, in addition to harboring McBride, she had allowed her home to be used as a distribution point for Rebel mail. Presumably because he thought it would strengthen the case against her, F. Kellerman, provost marshal at Potosi, also noted that she was the mother of guerrilla leader Thomas Livingston. In early July, according to Union records, McBride signed an affidavit that Sarah Parkinson had, indeed, harbored him, but the affidavit itself apparently does not survive.
Over the next several weeks, Union officials took a number of conflicting statements from Mrs. Parkinson's neighbors and acquaintances concerning her loyalty or lack thereof. Several of the deponents, including the sheriff of Washington County, said they considered Mrs. Parkinson loyal, had never heard of her harboring or feeding bushwhackers or Rebel soldiers, and had never heard her utter disloyal sentiments. A couple of the witnesses added that they knew Tom Livingston but that they were sure he had not been back to Washington County since the war started. Several other affiants, however, stated just the opposite. They said they considered her a "dreadful rebel" and had heard her express herself in opposition to Federal authorities.
The evidence against Mrs. Parkinson was forwarded from Potosi to St. Louis, but the case against her was finally dropped about the middle of August and the animal returned to her.

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