Missouri and 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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Killing of Ed Daugherty

A shooting affray disrupted the small town of Willow Springs, Missouri, on the evening of June 25, 1885. According to one report, Ed Daugherty, "a gambler and a hard case generally," had for about two months been embroiled in a feud with William Hughes, proprietor of the Willow Springs Hotel, supposedly because Hughes objected to Daugherty using the hotel for his gambling operations. On the night in question, Daugherty reportedly went to the hotel, where he confronted and theatened Hughes, using "the foulest language known to the blackguard ilk."
Afterwards, Daugherty met Hughes on the street and, flourishing a pistol, commanded the hotelkeeper to arm and defend himself. Hughes (who was called "Captain Hughes" and presumably was a veteran of the Civil War) then went home, retrieved a shotgun, and went back out on the street. When he neared Lockey's saloon, Daugherty reportedly fired a shot at him from inside the saloon, and Hughes advanced into the building and returned fire. The shot struck his assailant in the breast and face, and Daugherty died within thirty minutes.
In the aftermath of the incident, the Springfield Express reported, "Public sentiment justifies Hughes in the killing on the grounds of self defense." Another newspaper account said essentially the same thing in more expressive language, stating that "the verdict rendered is, 'Served him right.'"
Daugherty was reported to be about 35 years of age at the time of his death, and he left a wife, who was said to be "an estimable lady," and one child.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Murder of Thomas Budd

I have mentioned before that the murder of Thomas Budd is one of the crimes often attributed to notorious Taney County guerrilla Alf Bolin. Budd is usually referred to as "Old Man Budd" and his age given as about eighty years old in the legendary accounts, but he was actually only about fifty-five years old at the time of his death, which no longer seems particularly old to this aging writer. According to the legend, Budd had made a trip from Christian County into Taney County to get a load of corn, was on his way back home, and had just crossed the White River when he was waylaid by Bolin's gang. He was supposedly forced to get out of his wagon and wade back into the river, where he was shot several times, and the current carried his body away after he was dead.
It may be true that Budd had ventured into Taney County from Christian County when he was killed, but the 1860 census lists him as living in Taney County. At any rate, he lived close to where southwest Christian County borders Taney County, in the present-day vicinity of Spokane. About the only other things that are known with some degree of certainty about this incident come from a statement given by Jacob Aleshire to a Union provost marshal.
Although the exact date of the document is unknown, the murder happened, according to Aleshire, sometime near the end of September 1861. Aleshire, who himself lived in southwest Christian County, said that Budd was at his house when about thirty men under David Jackson came to the house and took Budd away. Aleshire's statement is somewhat contradictory in that he first seems to say that Jackson himself was in charge of the band that came to his house. This cannot be true, however, since David Jackson was killed at Forsyth in July of 1861 during the skirmish in which Union general Thomas Sweeny ran the Southern forces out of town. Aleshire later says that Dan Hilliard was in command of the men who took Budd away. At any rate, Aleshire makes no mention whatsoever of Alf Bolin. It's quite possible that Bolin was among the band, but he almost certainly was not its leader.
Aleshire said that three days after Budd's abduction, he and some other men went out and found Budd's body on Camp Creek in Christian County (near present-day Highlandville) about a quarter of a mile from Green Gideon's place. The body had been burned and disfigured, the ears and nose having been cut off. Aleshire complained that, in addition to kidnapping and killing Budd, the gang also stole some store goods and some clothing from him and his family, including some shoes and a table cloth that belonged to his daughter. They also took Budd's horse and saddle.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Neosho Bank Robbery

In my previous post about the Irish O'Malley gang's 1932 robbery of the Avilla (Mo.) bank, I mentioned that the gang later also robbed a bank at Neosho. The latter caper occurred on March 2, 1935. The men who pulled off the job were unidentified at the time but were later reported to be the O'Malley gang.
In the early morning of March 2, which was a Saturday, Leslie Cooper, janitor of the First National Bank of Neosho, was waylaid as he walked across the public square in Neosho and forced him to open the door to the bank on the south side of the square. From inside the building, the bandits "greeted" the bank's employees as the business opened for the day, tying them up and guarding them as they awaited the opening of the vault, which was controlled by a time lock.
The Joplin Globe reported the following day that the gang consisted of four or five bandits but that only three participated in the actual robbery, the others acting as lookouts or getaway drivers. Another report put the total number of gang members at seven or eight, and Leo O'Malley himself was supposedly one of the men who stood lookout outside the bank. No one was harmed during the holdup, but according to the Globe report, the bandits "used threatening language" toward the hostages. After securing between $8,000 and $18,000 in currency and negotiable bonds, the gang fled in two cars, one of which was reported to be a 1934 Chevrolet coach. The bandits went west out of Neosho before separating a short distance outside town and going in two different directions.
About three months after the Neosho caper, the O'Malley gang was broken up and most of the members arrested when they started ratting each other out after one or more of them were captured following a Fort Smith (Ark.) bank robbery. O'Malley was captured in Kansas City and extradited to Illinois on a prior kidnapping charge. Declared insane, he died there in 1944.
Sources: Joplin Globe, March 3, 1935 and Wes Franklin's "Our Gangster Connection" in January 5, 2013 Neosho Daily News.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Avilla (Mo.) Bank Robbery

About two o'clock in the afternoon of May 18, 1932, the Bank of Avilla, Missouri, was held up by two bandits who entered the bank with revolvers drawn. Neither man wore a mask, although one wore sun glasses and the other had his face painted with some sort of brown substance to disguise his appearance. In a report published in a Joplin newspaper later that same afternoon, the pair were described as young men, but the next day a different Joplin newspaper said they were middle-aged.
The holdup men forced cashier Ivy Russell and bookkeeper Evelyn Shelton to lie down behind the teller's cage, and they and ordered Mrs. C.R. Stemmons, who was Russell's sister and a customer of the bank at the time, to take a seat in a chair at the front of the bank. Another customer, Harry Hightower, entered during the robbery, and he, like the bank officials, was made to lie on the floor.
The robbers then forced Russell to get up and retrieve the bank's cash from the safe. The take amounted to about $2,000. Threatening Russell, the bandits ordered him outside to their car and took him along as a hostage during their getaway. The bandit car, reported to be a 1929 Model A Ford sedan, sped west out of town along Route 66. The bandits turned north about two miles outside Avilla and drove about two more miles before stopping at the side of the road, where they bound Russell's hands and feet with tape, shoved him through a hedge row into a wheat field, and sped away.
The telephone operator at Avilla reported the robbery immediately after it happened, and law officers from Joplin and other surrounding towns were put on the lookout. Meanwhile, Russell was able to work his way free, and, hailing a ride, he was back at the bank less than an hour after the holdup. He reported that he saw the bandits head west on a back road after they shoved him through the hedge row, but no further trace of the outlaws was reported.
The men who held up the Avilla bank were later identified as part of the Leo "Irish" O'Malley gang, although two men hardly constitute a gang, and I'm not sure whether it's even definitely known that O'Malley himself was one of the two men who pulled off the Avilla job. In addition, the title "O'Malley Gang" was apparently something of a misnomer, as Leo O'Malley was supposedly not even the leader of the gang. The gang was reportedly made up mainly of ex-cons from Missouri who had started out as the Ozark Mountain Boys. However, newspapers had dubbed the outfit the Irish O'Malley gang after they pulled off a number of robberies in southwest Missouri, northeast Oklahoma, and surrounding region. Another report says the O'Malley gang came about as a result of the merging of the Ozark Mountain Boys with another gang.
After the Avilla robbery, the O'Malley gang committed a number of other crimes in the four-state region over the next few years, including robbing a bank at Neosho, Missouri, in early March of 1935. About three months after the Neosho job, the gang held up a bank at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and most of the members of the gang were caught and sentenced to prison in the wake of the Fort Smith robbery.

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lynching of Hewett Hayden at Monett

Many, if not most, of the victims during America's lynching era (concentrated especially between 1890 and the early 1920s) were black men lynched by white mobs. As I have pointed out in the past, many whites were also lynched during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Whether the victim was black or white, a lot of them, I'm sure, were innocent and wrongly strung up, but as a general rule, I think it is probably pretty safe to say that blacks were more likely to be the victims of such miscarriages of justice than whites. The case of Hewett Hayden of Monett, Missouri, seems to be a prime example.
In June of 1894, the blacks of Monett, apparently deciding that they had been oppressed for too long, decided to make a stand, and a confrontation ensued between a group of black men and a group of white men. One of the blacks, later identified as Geroge Macklin, pulled out a pistol and fired a shot, killing one of the white men, Robert Greenwood. The black men fled the scene before any of them could be taken into custody, but a week or so after the incident, Hewett Hayden was captured and was being transported by rail to the county seat at Cassville on June 28 when a mob of about 60 men boarded the train at Monett and took Hayden from the two law officers who were escorting him. Despite the fact that a coroner's inquest into Greenwood's death had already concluded that Macklin was the man who had fired the fatal shot, the mob dragged Hayden from the train and strung him up to a nearby telegraph pole. Somebody also fired a shot into his body as he dangled from the makeshift gallows. Although Hayden had not fired the fatal shot and may not have even displayed a gun during the confrontation in mid-June, he had been present, and that was enough for the enraged mob. A coroner's jury called to investigate Hayden's death came to the usual dubious verdict that he had been killed by parties unknown.
The Cassville Republican, in reporting the lynching, lamented the hotheadedness of the mob in taking the law into their own hands and hanging an innocent man. However, the paper went on to try to mitigate the culpability of the mob by explaining that an inability of crime victims to have their grievances redressed in the legal court system had led indirectly to the vigilantism. By way of argument, the newspaper enumerated over twenty felonious assaults and murders that had occurred in Barry County during the previous decade, giving the final disposition of the criminal in each case. In almost all of them, the criminal either faced no charges or had gotten off with a very light sentence. "Attorneys have gone to unusual and uncalled for efforts to acquit or secure the pardon of accused whom they must have known were murderers under the law and dangerous in the community," said the newspaper. "While it is proper that a client's interest should be protected, there is a limit beyond which the safety of society is endangered. The safety and good name of the county should be paramount to the liberty of any criminal." Thus was Hewett Hayden's life rationalized away.

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