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.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Murder of Philip Schall

I think most people have a general notion of the division caused by the Civil War, but I sometimes doubt whether we fully appreciate the depth of the rancor and the length of time it lingered even after the war. I know that the amount of bitterness left over from the war in Missouri and surrounding regions during the late 1800s never ceases to amaze me, even after years of researching and writing about the period. I've previously written about a number of violent incidents in the late 1860s, 1870s, and 1880s that were brought about to a large extent by personal and political rancor that lingered after the war. Another example was the killing of Philip Schall in Fredericktown, Missouri, on August 17, 1872. In what was a considerable exaggeration, given the frequency of such incidents, one report in the wake of the killing called it "the most brutal murder for political hatred ever committed."
Schall, who was described as "a harmless man and a Republican" noted for his docile disposition, was driving his team of oxen home while under the influence of liquor when he encountered Thomas Mathews upon "the most public street" of Fredericktown. Mathews, a young man who was connected to some of the most prominent families of Madison County, was described as "a violent, blood-thirsty and revengeful man," and it was believed he was a leader of the local KKK, which had recently been threatening and abusing peaceable citizens in the area. Schall hurrahed for Grant, and Mathews shouted for Greeley (presidential candidates), saying he could whip Schall or any other Radical in the county.
Mathews continued to taunt Schall trying to get him to fight, and the two men finally got into a shoving match. Some bystanders pulled the two apart, but Mathews continued to taunt the other man while holding his right hand on a pistol in his pocket. Suddenly he struck Schall with his left hand and at the same time drew the pistol and fired two quick shots at Schall. Up to this point, Schall had not fought back other than to exchange shoves with his assailant. But now he cried, "Damn you, you have shot me!" and knocked Mathews down with his fist. He jumped on top of Mathews and commenced beating and kicking him, while Mathews drew a dagger and stabbed Schall in the hand. Suddenly, Schall collapsed and died almost on top of his assailant, having been shot through the head.
Mathews was arrested on the evening of the killing (a Saturday), and a coroner's jury that met that very night reached a conclusion in accordance with the facts stated above. Mathews was to be arraigned on Monday, but I have not seen a later report that gives the disposition of his case.
This report is from a Union sympathizing newspaper, so it might be a little biased. However, the facts are probably fairly accurate. I know, for instance, that the KKK was, in fact, very active in south central and southeast Missouri in the years after the war. At any rate, the incident is one more example of the incredible amount of hatred and bitterness engendered by and left over from the Civil War.

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